Sunday, December 30, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I've been selling fragrance and a few soapmaking supplies on the web for...oh, I don't know how many years now. I've been using the easy but limited Freemerchant/Safeshopper set up, but have been toying with the idea of making some changes. To my benefit, Freemerchant forced me to make some decisions, by discontinuing their little storefronts, so off I go, into the world of grown-up internet commerce.
In all my musings about what to do, what to do, I had finally decided that I was going to grow the storefront a bit, by adding more soap fragrances, a couple more luxury base oils, and feature more of my own soaps, including photos. I knew I'd get to it eventually, really.
Well, having always worked better under pressure, I am grateful to have been pushed in this direction. The problem is that between the full-time day job, and Oldtimer and my addiction to playing Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii, I haven't put much together, and those Freemerchant folks are shutting down in mid January. Lousy time to pull that, don't you think? I have shopping and shipping to do!
Enter the cavalry. I'm getting help, good help, from Jim Lillicotch. He saved our bacon a few times at my day job, too. He's helping me put together a fresh new page, a secure new shopping cart, and maybe...oh just maybe...some automated shipping cost calculations. I know I've been driving you folks crazy with making you wait for that total.
For now, just know that we're shooting for a look that's clean, modern, and uncluttered with just a hint of rustic (like my sign and labels).
So, all you folks who have been unnerved by the appendage of "safeshopper" on my domain name, will be able to rest easy when it becomes simply www.oldtimerlily.com; all you folks who want to see before you buy, will get photos of the actual soaps; and everything will still be nice and secure, shipped promptly and smell divine. Nirvana.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
We had a lovely day yesterday. We went to Little Italy to our favorite bakery for cookies and marzipan to send our children (who reside at the four points of the compass), had to make a quick trip elsewhere, then came back to Little Italy to get some pieces I'd seen in my favorite shop there - Xen Gifts. From there we went to an early dinner at one of the restaurants, and when we came out it was just getting dark, the snow began falling while we were inside, there were lights in the windows and music from some of the little shops. It was magical. Perfect ending to a satisfying day.
We ran out to Chipotle for dinner, even in the winter blast. On the way back we spotted a house with LOTS of lights on it. You don't see that often, here. It kinds of looks like the Walmart house, but it also makes me happy, childishly happy. Here are a few of the pics I took of the brightly lit house:
And here's our neighbors house, with his herd of lighted deer:
Once we got home, we finished our wrapping. Cosmo helped.
Friday, December 14, 2007
With our current room layout and all the plants we have downstairs, there's no real way to show you the tree as it appears to us, but at least I can give a bit of an idea. I wanted to show all of Phyllis' beautiful hand-painted ornaments, but only the red one was close enough to get the best photos. I tried reclining on the steps to get the full height of the tree, but that didn't work.
Cosmo approves. And so, without further ado...Phyllis' ornaments and the tall skinny tree! The red one below has our names, Gerry & Sue, on it. One of our friends got about a dozen one year, all custom painted, and we were the lucky recipients of one. This is before we even knew Phyllis - before she sold her art in our store, and helped with the CAP booth there, as well as with things in general around the store.
Here, I tried to stand back and get the full corner shot, but the chandelier obscures the top of the tree, and the plants in the foreground obscure the bottom.
This is from my attempt at lying on the stairs and shooting upwards. Well, it was worth a try.
Cosmo has his own ornament, painted by Phyllis, on the tree. I think in this photo, however, he's just waiting for Santa Cat.
See that light aqua ornament, to the lower right of the angel icicle? That's Cosmo's ornie. Phyllis painted him with his blue eye.
Here's the whole tree, but not the table it stands on. This was taken from the top of the steps, lookng down.
The chandeliers, by the way, one on each end of the room, are new to the room. When we bought this house, this area had a couple of mystery light switches. One day I looked at the high, sloped ceiling and told my Oldtimer I was certain there were metal plates in that plaster, centered in front of those tall windows, and that I was sure there were places for hanging lights. Sure enough, he uncovered the plates, and that's what one of the mystery switches was for. The other is for an outlet on the backside of the knee wall around the loft. We put a shelf under that, and it's now home to a piece of stained glass we can light with the flip of a switch. The stained glass, btw, is a beautiful green and white swirl, placed into a half-round, spoked old window frame. We had that done by one of the many artists we knew in Warrenton.
I just liked this shot of the red ornament and the fake poinsettia. Originally, this tree was done in all pink and sage green balls with the ribbon running through it. We've gradually added a few other things, but the basic theme remains.
Yes, another angle on the closest handpainted ornie.
Another angle on the tree, through the now-bare branches of the brugmansia. This poor plant bloomed up a storm when it first came in the house, and then dropped all its leaves. I think it's in shock. It's still alive, though, and just beginning to sprout a bunch of new leaves. Ah, here's one of Phyllis' kind of mauve-y toned ornaments. This one says Oldtimer & Lily and is from our first Christmas in the store.
That's it for now! I really should take pix of all the beautiful artwork we have around the house, just thanks to the Warrenton artists. We have several original paintings by Wanda Satterwhite, the fun and quirky clay art of the Smallwoods, fire bowls and other clay work by Copper Rain, beautiful watercolor landscapes by Billy Farmer, and of course the two custom pieces of otters, done by Barbara Parker. (I consider otters a "totem.")
It's so tall and skinny, the weight of just about ANYTHING causes the top to sway. That does not stop my Oldtimer, though. He climbed the ladder, put a rope around the chandelier to hold it out of the way, and then *lifted* the fully decorated tree onto the table. I've put an old lace tablecloth around the base as a tree skirt, and let some of the wonderful wood of the work table show.
This is the tree that gets the three hand-painted ornaments done by my friend Phyllis. I love those ornaments, though I know she grew weary of painting them. There's one there for Gerry & me, before Phyllis knew us, one she made for us as Oldtimer & Lily, and one she made for Cosmo. They are treasures.
We have another of these tall skinny trees. Perhaps next year we'll put both up, one in front of each set of windows - if I don't have so many plants to winter over.
Tonight I *might* just start the Christmas shopping. Yes, you heard me. All I have so far are a couple of things for Olivia, and some ideas. Pitiful. Of course, my son and daughter-in-law have only requested one thing - a year's supply of pepperoni bread! I figure we better get some shopping started - the weatherman keeps saying "The snow is coming! The snow is coming!" We'll see if he's right this time.
Monday, December 10, 2007
On Friday, my Oldtimer carried a five gallon bucket of cocoa butter down the basement stairs to my soaproom. On the way down the stairs, he bumped some of the cleaning supplies on the ledge, causing a full bottle of Future floor wax to take a tumble, breaking the lid, and spilling everywhere. I now have the shiniest basement steps of anyone I know.
Not to be outdone, I spent Saturday morning making soap, lotions, body butter AND testing four new fragrances for the soap fragrance line. I had poured all four testers, in the tube molds I use to differentiate the testers, and had turned my back to wash up my equipment. I heard a dreadful noise...and turned to see two full tubes of raw soap dumped out on the work counter and spread over the floor. Now that was a real "clean-up" job!
The rest of our time was spent decorating the house and getting into the holiday spirit. Frankly, since selling the store, we haven't had much holiday spirit, haven't felt like decorating a thing, and have been generally pretty bah-humbugish. It felt so good to get lights to drape on the pretty pine at the base of the back deck, and Oldtimer worked hard to get spotlights on the front of the house just so. I began some interior decorating and tablescaping, too - and we put up the tree in the living/dining room space.
We still have to decorate the tall skinny tree that goes in the downstairs family room, but the photos below show we've made some progress:
For the exterior, we have lights and an angel and peace "theme." Actually, I just wanted an opportunity to show off those wonderful willow angels. I used to use them in the store windows, too. For the interior, it's a bit of an elegant earth-tone feeling on the main level.
We went for a ride to check out other lights last night, cruising the street of newer large homes behind ours. We pulled into a cul-de-sac, and I thought I saw a very large dog jump off the front porch of one house, chasing two deer around the corner. Then I realized the "dog" flashed a white tail as it ran away. I knew the deer in our neighborhood were pretty nervy, but I had no idea they would come right up on the porch! We've been seeing them almost nightly in the yard across the street, and there's strong evidence they've been partying by our pond, but not up on our porch!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Luckily, Blogger makes it fairly easy to change colors in the templates, but I haven't the time this morning to juggle this back to what it was. It looks too dark to me today, but I don't remember what I had. I just know I had this template with some changes to the colors.
I really want a template that uses more of the page, and Blogger provides those, but they are all rather spare and stark looking. I feel as though I'm wasting that entire left side - I guess they want to leave room for advertising, should I choose to sign up for that. It seems strange to me that more people aren't creating nice new templates for Blogger users.
OK...off to push some paper.