Since I am still 40 for a few more months, and the new year is here, it makes sense I would be concerned with how much time I have left on this planet and what I intend to do with that time. I figure I have up to 350,000 more hours here, if I live until age 80 and 150,000 hours left if I live until age 60. Even with 300,000 hours, that is not really a lot of time, and thus the expression "a blink of an eye." Many people do not take that expression seriously and are always focused on the "here and now" and some, sadly, seriously focused on what they can get out of other people.
If I give myself a "middle of the road prognosis" of 225,000 hours left, I need to remember 75,000 of that I will be sleeping. So, I still default back to 150,000 hours of activity. So what to do with 150,000 hours? Some people wait in line for 10 hours to just to get tickets to the Rolling Stones. So that would leave them with 149,990 hours if I were them, and using my timeline. Some people watch TV all day, oops there goes about 75,000 hours. Bottom line is, we often forget how precious each hour is and those things we choose to do with our time suddenly becomes very important when the hours are all up. This year I resolve to put the Twinkies down. On a more serious note, Debbie Phillips, one of my reader's, did find much truth to this as she recently wrote me. Click here to see the story of Mrs. Phillips.
I am thrilled to announce we not only made it through our first official holiday. We did ten times the business we normally do and I was not sure we would be able to meet the holiday demand. For years the site was only informational, as we do love crafts. This season the Mabel site experienced 172,000 visitors each holiday month, although we are used to 40,000 unique visitors each month. We also met many GREAT people during this last holiday season! I would say that was the best result of all the chaos.
Because of our ability to now buy in volume, we are able to buy direct from wholesale manufacturers across the board and not just in some areas, as when we first started. This takes us to a higher platform where we were able to reduce our prices this month and increase our variety. We hope to continue to reduce our prices as we buy in even larger volumes. A complete new line of state of the art Body Butters has been added to the site, along with price reductions in almost every department. The price of our SoyWax™ has been greatly reduced, by our new liaison with the manufacturer, discussed below, the inventor of SoyWax™ in candle use.
Providing simple lotion and crème making supplies has also been our hallmark at the end of year 2003, and we are very thrilled we mastered that art. We will be working this month at getting the prices of our essential oils down and expanding that line as we buy in volume. Many shop owners as well as craft makers are frustrated that it is hard to find good prices on quality essential oils. Keep an eye on our supply store as we increase our quality and reduce our prices during 2004!
Gabrielle is the new Editor in Chief of our Family Pet's division, and yes, you can bet we will be improving that whole department. What is in store? Um, holistic care for dogs to start with.
I named her Gabrielle after the angel of miracles, because I think she qualifies as a true miracle. See, I had always wanted a Golden Retriever after I lost a husband at a young age to cancer. I just did don't think with the hustle and bustle of three kids, and me running a huge company at that time, that I could really care for, or train a pet properly. Well, the kids are in college or heading there, and quiet is not the word. The major corporate life is a few good years behind me, and I write a ton of books these days. People that sit next to me, do expect that I write mystery books. I don't know why. I used to write law books, now I write craft books. But if you want a good mystery, well here is Gabby's story...
She showed up in my kitchen one afternoon. Now, my house is not that easy to get into, nor is my kitchen. My youngest daughter came home and yelled up stairs "Moooom, doooo you knoooow we have a doooog in the kitchen?" I was writing as usual, and I yelled down a quick "Nooooooooo." In adult words that means, "for your information I did not know there was a dog in the kitchen, wise guy." And I went back to writing. Three hours later I went down to eat, and guess what? We had a Golden Retriever in the living room. She was so sweet and nice, I figured she must have an owner. No collar, not a good sign. She seemed very tired, as if she were on the run for days. I called the local's and no one reported a Lab of any kind as missing. Maybe not enough time had passed. After I fed her, I let her back outside hoping she would find "home." I went to bed that night, wishing I could have kept her, I did want a Lab for Christmas, but not if she was stolen. I did not hear a sound outside as I slept with one eye open. At 3:00 AM Florida had a bad freezing rain, and I went outside just to make sure the dog had left. She was quietly at the front door, looking at me like "It is about time dummy...," she was wet and now shivering. I took her in, dried her off, and she seemed oddly like she was at home. Weird. Of course by now I wanted to really keep her, but this is a mystery so please hang on.
So the next day, I called the pound, and drove by a few peoples home's that were missing a lab in a nearby city. I really did not have time for all that, Christmas was in another week. But I was very happy no one claimed her because the households looked very abusive and people were screaming at each other. The dog looked at me the whole time like "Give me a break."
My last resort was to assume she was seriously sick, and if so, I promised myself I could not afford to keep her. There was just no way at that time I could. So, I took her to my vet, Nancy, who told me on the phone I was over-reacting, and being dramatic. Well, I am an author. After Nancy took a look at her, the diagnosis was in. She had heartworms as well as cancer and an agenda too numerous to mention. Now, I was crying for the dogs sake and asking how much was this all gonna cost? And "is she pregnant too?" I was not really going to any pound. And I would not want someone to put me to sleep because they did not have $2,000 handy. Nancy worked it out with me and to make a long story short, Gabrielle is doing splendid. I spent all Christmas talking to the Lab websites and they were all so great. Gabby has helped me as much as I helped her. The vet said she was clearly abused, no front teeth and obviously chewed her way free from where she came. She likes to watch Sue Thomas, FBI, and I think she has a thing for Levi. She also loves Animal Planet, sits right in front of the TV wagging her tail. I think she wants a piece of "Steve" the reptile guy, besides my Fed Ex, UPS men, and any joggers. She does get in the way of photo shoots, and finds our props pretty interesting, but otherwise, she is great. She watched enough Animal Planet, I thought she might get the drift of being a "search and rescue dog" but after I tried playing "help, help" with her, she just found me boring and fell asleep during the mission.
If anyone out there possibly thinks this is their dog, I made this whole story up. If anyone has tips on how to use essential oils on a dog's fur and what oil to put on their food for a better coat, and so on, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org Attention: Gabrielle. I have read allot of stuff on the net, regarding pet care, but long forgot most of it.
Maybe cooking "good food fast" is an oxymoron, but yet, it is still possible. Maybe not fast--but how about hard to notice the time and something you do not have to be on top of? I wish I had known about something as simple as a $20 rice steamer when my kids were young. I used to be such a "rice burner" I avoided even making it. After using one the last few years, I find you cannot burn the rice, the unit generally lasts for years, and you simply add more water to heat your food back up if you forgot all about it. My steamer is made by Rival an is just known as an "automatic steamer." They sell many fancier models, but I feel I do not need anything more than this simple unit, and it is way too easy to clean. With my rice steamer, I noticed I can steam all kinds of rice, ignore it as long as I like, and the rice is still perfect when I am ready. It cannot burn, because the water you put at the bottom runs out after the rice is done. If I want to warm it up--I just put a little more water in it. You can also steam vegetables as well as potatoes. My favorite rice to prepare is Coconut rice. That is made with one part jasmine rice to two parts coconut milk. It is not very sweet and you can barely tell it was anything beyond water. Subtle is a good word. Coconut milk is also very good for you, kids love it, and cannot tell it is not your average rice. For the meat part, hey, there is always the grill.
Typically my coconut rice becomes rice pudding for desert, adding a little milk and cream of coconut which is sweet and different than coconut milk. I get my coconut milk for cheap at the local dented can food store! Making rice pudding is another feat that takes very little effort, yet is appreciated and very popular by recipients. I use my Chai spices on top of the rice pudding, since they are all the main C's spices, Cinnamon, Coriander and Clove. We also use the coconut rice that is already done as a warm breakfast cereal if we are in a morning rush. In that case we slap a little maple syrup and milk on the sticky rice. Recently I have been making rice mixes, such as yellow saffron rice and black beans and rice with the same small amount of effort. Our favorite fast meal is cubed steaks & gravy (simply dipped in seasoned flour and fried in butter--making gravy with the fat) and putting the gravy on top of the already made rice. The varieties are endless and as a last inspiration, you can make paella in the steamer, just throwing in sautéed clams, shrimp and chicken in at the end, as well as making chicken and yellow rice sometime. I think in conjunction with a grill, which also offers easy clean up--you have a winning combination of fast and healthy food. I hope this helps busy families as it sure works like a charm for mine!
I have been using SoyWax™ since it hit the market a few years ago. I am so in love with it--for many reasons. Because it has only been on the market since late 1999, very few people really know how great it is. First of all, it is appears cheaper than paraffin and does not come in hard to cut blocks. It comes in either flakes or beads. Both are just as great, as long as they are not selling you donut oil which will drown your candle. SoyWax™ looks just like hydrogenated donut as well as pizza dough oil. I may not have pursued making candles further than I have, if I had to use a highly combustionable and hard to clean up paraffin all of the time. Paraffin cannot be simply melted in the microwave as SoyWax™ flakes and beads can.
So, I find SoyWax™ as user friendly as it gets. It is cheaper, by far, than paraffin, burns longer, throws fragrance just as well, does not leave any "soot," is easy to manage in the microwave and easy to clean up. Probably the most important attribute of SoyWax™, is that it supports our American Farmer's and paraffin surely does not. Our SoyWax™ is 100% food grade and we use it for not only making candles, but for balms such as lip balms. Mabel now buys our SoyWax™ in bulk--from the manufacturer, so we know we are not selling a cheaper inferior product.
One of the cutest soy container candles I ever made was few years ago and my daughter still has. It is the pinkish red one on the left. The key to its beauty was the cute former jelly jar I used as well as the scent being very appropriate for the container which was spiced apple. These were so cute, I kept buying more fig jelly to get more jars! The photo on the right was made with the Soy Votive Wax which has not been perfected by any company I know as of yet. It tends to be brittle and break in half--so I have removed it as an item for sale on our site. It does pour a lovely antique white and has a melting point of 150 degrees. It is so strong, I made more of a pillar candle with it. You cannot see the fruit detail, but I actually poured this into a decorative jelly jar, 30 cents, and gently broke the jar afterwards to extract the actual candle that conformed to the pretty jar decor. I did use 5% beeswax which helped with the brittle nature and cracking I was experiencing previous, but I usually add 5% beeswax to most all of my soy candles for a "rich" effect. If I had added fragrance oil, as votive soy is designed for, that may have solved any brittle issues with the votive or pillar blends now just hitting the market.. For more about making soy candles click here.
Many people think more expensive must be better for their body. At times this is not true at all being just a marketing illusion that the product "must be better than others" because it is pricey. This is not true for affordable soy. What qualities do soy based ingredients have for your toiletries needs? Beyond helping support American farmer's and being much more affordable to obtain than most oils, soy oil is long known for it's health benefits. Soy for skin care has shown wonderful benefits and is gentle enough for everyday use. This beautiful moisturizing oil has been proven to even skin tone and texture, resulting in brighter and more radiant skin. In cold process soap making, soy oil provides a very stable lather and we use soy oil as 1/3 part of our recipe when making cold process soap. In the melt and pour glycerin's, we use 5% soy oil if we desire to call it "soy melt and pour soap." This is still gentle enough for babies. In our lip balm base, which we copyrighted the recipe for last year--we use 1/2 SoyWax™ to 1/2 soy oil to make a totally soy product. Again, it is important to buy SoyaWax when making balm bases, so you know they are 100% vegetable and not cut with anything frightening. Basically, the cheaper the wax, the more it is clear the seller is cutting it with something other than SoyWax™. We even use soy for great lotion and crème' preparations. Due to an article I wrote in a syndicated column on making lotions and crème's we came up with an affordable and simple Lotion Making Savings Pack. Click here to see that offer. Soy oil, or even safflower oil for that matter, can usually be purchased right tat the grocery store
As crafters, we recycle things you would never even think of. If you have any great tips, PLEASE e-mail us and we will post them in this ongoing section. The first thing we started to recycle was all of the plastic and glass bottles sent to us from fragrance companies and manufacturers. Some bottles we incurred locally. Whenever we are done with a bottle, we have an office sized garbage bucket we drop them into. We have two tasteful looking buckets, one for glass and one for plastics. Once a month, or when the bin gets full--we steam the labels off the glass bottles in a pressure cooker. As far as the plastic bottles, we just simply place new and blank labels over the old label and make sure the bottle is cleaned inside. This usually gives us 30 or 40 glass bottles, large as well as small, and many nice plastic bottles, for future experiments or whatever we are doing over here at Mabel. To see how we actually steam labels off glass, please click here to read our previous and specific article on that.
As you may also know, we use left over wax chips to make chunk candles, simply pouring clear soy votive wax over them, and for left over soap chips, we simply make new chunk soap. We keep soap scraps in buckets by color, as we do wax chips. SO, basically we have several buckets of soap chips and several bucket of wax chips. When there seems to be plenty of them, and we are in a soap or candle making kind of mood, we can easily pick which colors we want to incorporate from the buckets into our soap or candle making pursuits. We tend to do have enough scraps to do this every four to six months. We do this with melt and pour as well as cold process. The strange part it--these are the soaps and candles people LOVE the most! They are pretty. I wonder what they would think if they knew it was 80% recycled? Please click here to see recycling soap chips.
Now beyond glass, plastic, candles and soap--we get down and dirty. You know those clear plastic domes that slide over 25, 50 or 100 blank CD ROMS? We scarf those right up for mixing items like melt and pour soap later. So, we place these near the melt and pour soap supplies. With these humdingers, we can throw away the plastic when we are done using and also save trying to wash a bowl. We use small 4 ounce mason jars for formula testing. They are easy enough to clean out later. Just about ANYTHING mailed to us gets taken apart and re-used later. Packing peanuts go into a drum or big garbage can marked as such--packing bubbles of into another drum or big garbage can demarcated as such. Boxes, always get saved, although we drew the line on a few boxes proclaiming "Ant and roach Killer" across them. Not cool. We have a paper shredder to shred paper that is not needed, and again, the shredded paper is placed into a drum or garbage pail demarcating such. At times we throw in a bright colored shred to the general shred for pizzaz. In fact, we get so frugal, if friends want more free lip balm or container candles, we make them produce the used ones so we can just fill them back up. I hope this article provoked more thought on ways to truly recycle.
Mabel is pleased to announce it is now offering "private label" Lip Balm Sticks and lip balm tins. Private Label means we prepare high quality products at low minimum entry fees so you can place you companies name or theme across the product. Beyond low minimums to gain entry, we work with your company on what natural formulas you prefer. We handle the ingredients labels also, and seal the products in tamper resistant packaging so you need not worry about tampering issue either. By the end of the year, we will have added other products such as body butters, crèmes and lotions. The dip mixes we will be presenting September first for the 2004 holiday season will also be offered in a "private label" fashion beyond the attractive Mabel White labeling we are selecting now. Click here to see the start of our private label line. Feel free to inquire about your ideas, as we are very eager to work with anyone wanting to get into private labeling.
We have been asked many times about sunscreen agents and we really were not sure until recently. A reader let us know some oils, such as sesame oil, and avocado are rich, natural sunscreens in their own right. Avocado oil, for example, has a sun protection factor of 7, and when combined with beeswax, the SPF jumps to nearly 12. The trouble is lip balm companies cannot say so on their labels because neither avocado nor beeswax are FDA-approved sunscreens. Beeswax is used as a thickener and stiffening agent, and easily stays on lips and helps protect them from wind and sun—it has a natural SPF of about 5.
Many of Burt's Bees' lip balms do not flaunt their protective qualities, although it contains titanium dioxide, a chalky, white natural sunscreen that, like zinc dioxide, passes FDA muster. Calling the product a sunscreen would put it in an over-the-counter-drug category and require courting FDA approval—a time-consuming and expensive process. "We say it's for sun and wind and weather," says Burt's Bees president Roxanne Quimby. "We give the customer enough clues that it is about sun protection without actually saying this has sunscreen in it."
We believe our SoyWax™ is a sun block, or at least and SPF, as it has a deep natural frost, and we started testing that theory last year to take to patent. Proclaiming such here helps establish it is our invention, if we find it does work and at what level of protection to the skin.
If you know how to make bath salts, you know you simply place plain salts in a plastic bag, add a few drops of essential or fragrance oil and shake. We prefer not to color ours. Over the holiday season, we were tired and aching from having to physically all chip in and help our shipping department out. Suddenly, a hot bath with some great salts sounded wonderful. More so, since I cut myself quite a bit and salt would help my skin to heal. I just grabbed one of our one pound bags of Spa Salts and noticed the bag they come in left 2/3 room for shaking. So, I just opened the bag up and dropped just a few drops of essential oils. I knew rosemary, geranium and bergamot were supposed to have healing and relaxing qualities, so I used a few drops of each. Then I closed the bag and shook the wahzoo out of it. The subsequent baths were some of my most memorable and wonderful. To this day that is one ritual I will promise to keep for myself. That is, scenting and shaking for a custom bath each time. I know I have written about this stuff for years, but it does not mean I get to do it all of the time.
Two important attributes I noticed in my "make and shake" was that I only needed about ten large salts in the bath. That was more than powerful enough to do the job. So, each one pound bag lasts me about 20 baths. The other thing I noticed was that no one wanted me to clean the bath tub for their shower. They loved the smell left behind.
New Years Resolutions: Here are a few good ones....
Great Quotes by Great Ladies! Submitted by
Last but not least "You
cannot have EVERYTHING....Where would you put it all?"
Hi, Deb. I'm sure you don't remember me, but I spoke to you sometime last year. I am the one who fast-cures soap in the oven and did not want to divulge-boy, it sure didn't take you long to find out THAT secret! :) Anyway, we talked about several things that day, one of them being about my excitement to try a few of your fragrance oils (mostly Irish Spring and Downy). Well, you never heard from me again because, as usually happens to many people, one thing led to another and another and I couldn't afford to try ANYBODY'S new FO's. But I'm contacting you now.
Why? Because I am one of those people who is always SO BUSY and well-intentioned. Problem is, no matter how great your intentions are, they mean nothing if you don't follow through. Several things have recently happened in my life that have caused me to stop "meaning" to do things, and just MAKE THE TIME TO DO THEM! The last straw was last week when, due to icy road conditions and my haste to not be late for work, I drove my van through a guardrail. This was a new stretch of road they'd been working on for about a year. When this happened, I THOUGHT that was the end of me. I THOUGHT it would just drop off (like it does the entire length of that guardrail), I would go sailing head-first into the river and be done with. What came into my head? My 9-month old, my 22-month old and my husband. What ACTUALLY happened is that there was a slope of land there and I went sliding down it. It seemed to take forever as the water got closer and closer and the van didn't show any sign of stopping. I waited to roll over and start feeling the icy waters. Well, that didn't happen. Instead, the van never rolled and I never went in the water. It stopped and, were it not for my spaghetti-legs, I could have walked away, untouched.
I found my cell phone, called my husband, and, to shorten your misery, I'm just fine. The van, however, is totaled. But several good things came out of this wreck. One, it didn't happen the day before when I was on that same road, driving my baby girl to the doctor. Two, it's made me realize that we all really have NO IDEA how much longer we're going to be here. And three, as I mentioned to you earlier, it's made me a "doer" and not just a "thinker". What's this to you?
Well, reading your Jan 14th newsletter, it reinforced this new thinking where you basically say these same things when talking about how many hours you may have left. I just wanted to let you know that it really strengthened the new "me". And to go along with my "doing instead of intending to do", I want you to know that talking to you that day sparked new creativity in me which I think I've taken for granted. I ALWAYS enjoy your newsletters, Deb! I not only learn things from EACH and every issue, they make me feel good! You never fail, as I have, to credit people and I want to finally tell you that. I know there are many more people like me out there who are somehow changed by your words. And on behalf of myself and all of them, THANK YOU!!! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with those of us who are not (as of yet) able to afford to subscribe to anything of yours besides the newsletter!
You are inspirational.....and have helped change my life in more ways than you know.
In Snowy Wisconsin
Regarding daily attitude in general, another reader wrote:
"it is better to light one candle than curse the darkness"