Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blue Moon Cottage--More Pictures

A couple friends down south are wanting to see more pictures of the cottage, so, here are a couple snaps from this morning.  Everyone is wondering what it is like to live in a 530 square foot house, well, the easy answer is that it is just like living in a 1,200 s.f. house without as much cleaning!  The previous owners used every nook and cranny for storage, so, I haven't begun to fill up any cabinets or closets.  That won't happen until the Orlando house is sold and all our stuff moves up with us.  Then, it will be more of a challenge!!

I guess you could say this is the grounds maintenance complex!  The storage bins have edging, stakes and miscellaneous pots and such.

This is what I will be doing today--MOWING!  They previous owner said it takes 20 minutes to mow...I think it took me three times as long the first time!!

An area that they seeded before leaving...still needs some help, but, may need to work on that next year.  Not sure I have time to play "water fairy" this year!

This is the" Monument to Scotland"...fitting with my family history too!

A view of the backyard toward the house...with Bonnie Dog munching on a piece of mulch

Wow...that was a LOT of weeding to get back to bare ground back in the veggie garden.  I am hoping the weedblock will help keep the weeds at bay this year.  I figured out that even if you don't plant any veggies, you still have to weed--so next year I might as well put in veggies

This was the first project...a completed walkway to the back building
where the soap factory is located

I added a lot of pea gravel to the cobblestone walkway

More stones going in out front.  I need about six more bags to finish this area and along the driveway

Just so cute!!

So, this is the ugly screen house right outside the backdoor.  I hate it, but, it is very useful as a catch-all for everything.  It has all my project tools in it at the moment.  Oh, and the bikes!
I have not done much inside except for moving stuff in...but I will get some pictures of that next time!!  SO, out to mow I go...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blue Moon Cottage --My Projects

Before closing, when I was looking at Blue Moon Cottage trying to figure out if the TINY house would work for Rod and I, I never expected to want to change a thing.  The previous owner, Jan the Master Gardener said, "Gardens should not be static.  They need to change to reflect your interests.  Sometimes, you will want to simplify; sometimes you will want to expand and enlarge.  So don't be married to a certain way of doing things".  I think I said something like, "I LOVE it just the way it is".   That was until I tried to pull my hand cart through the gate, to the back office--what will become the Soap Factory.  First I encountered the very uneven cobble stones, then that wood "platform" in the picture above.  Then the too tiny gate and then seemingly an acre of mulch!  So, my first project at the cottage was born!
Actually I am lying.  My first project was accomplished with the help of my nephew Roger.  The weather was nice and cool and I was enjoying having the windows open.  But, the back door had a storm window on it--I could not find a screen anywhere...so it had to GO!  Menards had a sale on the kind that you pull down the screen and it comes down halfway--perfect with a small dog who would scratch out a screen if it went all the way down.  I had never put on a storm/screen door before and the salesman said sarcastically that their training video said it only takes FIVE minutes.  I laughed out loud at that...saying that in my case it would probably take five hours.  That was just about right--what with having no tools, incomplete directions and having to make three trips to my Dad's house to borrow the right tools.  My nephew suggested that a trip to Harbor Freight might be in order!

As you can see, I pulled up the wood platform, and then proceeded to find several hidden cobble stones to put in the dirt that was uncovered.  I lucked out and found several under the steps to the  Soap Shop.  It took several hours, but, I think I will be happier when I have to bring the cart through the gate the next time.  My Dad with the back problems will certainly like a little less "wobble in the cobbles"!!

The other project, the cart walkway, was started the day after Fourth of July.  I started getting 30 patio stones at a time.  Then added 20 bags of mulch.  Then the next day, I added another 40 stones, and some paver edging to keep the walkway from migrating to the low point in the mulch area.  Finally this morning I finished with another 16 blocks, 4 bags of mulch and the finished product is below! 

The next project will involve a scrub sponge and brush, a gallon of paint and a ladder to paint the back side of the house that is the main entryway.  Come on over and wear your painting clothes!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

JULY 2014 Soap News and Special

I am so sorry for the delay in this month's newsletter.  Life definitely refused to take a backseat.  Last month we were in the process of finding a great new house up in Illinois.  Rod was here and we were making an offer on the cottage.  I was starting to "nest"--thinking about the possibilities of being back close to my side of the family.  Then on June 17th, my Mother-in-Law, Cora Mack Dudley--Coty, to her friends--passed away.  Coty was going to be 94 in November.  Her hospital visits were starting to take a little more out of her each time she went in--but she always came out.  She was always happy to get back to her beach house for "just one more summer".  This time though, there would not be one more time. 

The funeral included her three kids and us spouses, a grand child and about three dozen of her church friends.  Everyone thought she would make it home again, so even though she was in her nineties, we all thought we would have more time to prepare for this.  But, despite the surprise of her not coming home once again, we mostly could remember the good times sitting on the sun porch visiting, going to the ice house to get watermelons, how just running to the grocery store with her could morph into a three hour long reunion with her buddies.

I was lucky to have Coty as a MIL.  She was kind, non-judgmental and  she raised a mighty nice young man who I was lucky to marry about 30 years ago.  Coty will be mourned.  She will be missed.  And I really wish she could have seen our cute new little cottage.  She would have wanted to try to stay up in the loft and she would have loved sitting in the gardens talking. 

Show Schedule
I am very sorry to have missed last weekend's show at University of Wisconsin--Parkside for the funeral.  I hope you will be able to visit me at one of the following shows:

19-20  Mt Horeb Wisconsin 39th Annual Art Festival

August 2014
9-10     Mendota IL Corn Festival        
16-17   Lake Geneva WI Venetian Art Festival        
30-31    Septemberfest Schaumburg IL


Industry News
I was reading a great article in the June 2014 HAPPI (Household and Personal Products Industry) trade publication.  It was titled, "From Farm to Face".  I thought that was a great way to describe the growing trend of homegrown/homemade products, a market that tallies about $30  BILLION globally!  Perhaps what really speaks to me though is the positive spin on the marketing--instead of focusing on the bad ingredients they focus on natural ingredients and benefits.  And who doesn't like the idea of things coming from the earth rather from a test tube in a lab! 

So, this little homemade soap market place is no longer a niche market.  It is part of a mega-trend driven by people who strive to live healthy, caring lives.  These consumers don't want invasive procedures in an office visit.  They want natural products to apply topically that are not synthetic and possibly harmful.  As a result, grocery stores and other retailers are making it easier to find quality skin and body care products at affordable prices.  That benefits us all.
Company News

The big news is that I am in the middle of setting up the semi-permanent soap shop and factory in the two outbuildings of the new cottage.  I moved everything over from my parents house this weekend--over the Fourth of July.  It will probably take a couple weeks to get it all up and running the way I envision, but, it has been a good distraction.  I will be back in Florida later this summer to get ready for the Fall and Winter shows down there.  The time frame for moving up to Illinois permanently is still when Rod retires at 62 in just over two years.  Here's what the exteriors of the soap shops look like so far:

This will be the soap factory for now...eventually this will be Rod's Man Cave!

This building is right at the end of the driveway and will be where the
wrapped soaps and my tent and craft show display will be housed.

Please add my new summer Illinois phone number to your address book:   (815) 708-7200 and you can still use the old email address (rjturbot@cfl.rr.com) as I am still checking that via webmail.  I still have the cell phone, but, I can only use it when I am away from the house as I have no bars at the house.  That coverage map LIES!  LOL  Also note that shipping is running about three (3) days from the time you place your order.  That is due to all the products still being at my parent's house.  After the show in Mt Horeb, WI, I will move the soap here to the cottage.  Please  with me until then!

Thanks to so many of you helping with such great product reviews for the website!  Remember, you get a free bar of soap for any well written, thoughtful comments you have for a particular soap.  It only takes a few sentences to pass my quality control process--so, send me one the next time you have a few minutes.  Here is a nice review of my hand-dipped incense so you can see what I am looking for:

Hey Jackie - just wanted to let you know that I received my incense and it is delicious.  Exactly as I remembered it from ages ago.  Everything that envelope came into contact with smells heavenly.  Your home must smell wonderful.  Mine used to but my dogs (puppies to
terminally ill) seemed to have taken care of that.  Donna P.


I took the easy way out and will continue the same special from June--buy six bars at regular price and get one free--a $5 value!   Shipping is only $5.05 for the seven bars anywhere in the USA.  There is a button to press on the secret page to make sure you get the freebie--get there by going to the bottom of any page at www.JackieSoap.com and clicking on the green leaf. 

OK, Soap Addicts, that is all for July.  Give your family members a hug or a squeeze, tell them you love them--life is short, so enjoy every minute of it.  If ya'll have any comments, suggestions, or just want to chat--leave a comment on the blog!
Jackie the SoapLady