November 23, 2015

Creating Memories

We instituted a weekly "family night" just over a year ago, and it's been a rousing success. The girls look forward to it each week, and not just because that's the night we have our weekly sweet treat. They're still at that age where they want to hang out with their parents. Even when we've been together all week, they still crave time and connection with Hubby and me, and they see more as more.

Family watching Lord of the Rings
From our Lord of the Rings Marathon Christmas 2013

I have a confession to make though. I've been getting lazy with planning our family nights. It's so easy to fall into a routine of popcorn and a movie. I only managed to participate in the first retro game night a time or two before the controller that worked with our Nintendo emulator got to where the rumble was a constant thing. That'd freeze my hands up inside five minutes, so we tried using our hand-me-down Wii, but then one of the controllers stopped working back in the summer. And our balance board died sometime last month, so video games are pretty much out. The girls have usually used up their focus for the day before Hubby gets home from work, so the board games and puzzles we have get frustrating for them late in the evening, relegating them to a weekend and holiday only thing. So, what's a mama to do?

November 3, 2015

What is Productivity?

With the job search going poorly, Hubby and I have made the decision to switch focus to growing the store. We lost a lot of momentum when I went to work on site full time in late 2013, and it is going to take a lot of work to get back to the point we were at then and keep growing. Experience and research has taught us what needs to be done, but knowing what to do and remembering to do it when you're years out of practice are two different things.

That's why I spent almost the entire morning yesterday planning. I found several conventions in the area we've never attended and reached out to them about obtaining a table or booth. I set up reminders about our scheduled and tentative shows, days I need to start making, release, and remove seasonal and holiday items, sales dates, writing and editing deadlines, and any other task I must remember to complete by specific days for the next eighteen months.

October 27, 2015

Blog Update: Contented Comfort Updates are Moving

For the past couple of years I've been updating my writing work and what is going on with my store here. This is changing. From now on, most if not all of my writing and store updates will be separated onto their own blogs again now that I have dedicated websites for them. This blog will revert to what it originally was, a place to write about being a work-at-home-mom without the nitty gritty details of the work I do.

If you're interested in either of those topics, please check out the other blogs, A. B. England's Blog and Contented Comfort Blog.

Also, as soon as I am able to track down the RSS feed of my writer's blog, I will be changing my Goodreads and Amazon Author's Page's feeds to match up with it instead of this one. If you didn't know, Mac OS makes it much more difficult to locate the RSS feeds of blogs than Windows. On the whole, I've been frustrated but okay with Hubby's insistence on swapping to Mac a couple of years back, but little things like this are irritating. Things which should be simple and easy are made difficult if you don't want to nickel and dime yourself to death.

August 19, 2015

Sharing is Caring

No, this isn't an article on teaching your children to share their toys, but it is about how sharing can and is a form of caring for one another. What I'm talking about here is work and responsibility sharing. Perhaps not the most fun form of sharing, at least at first, but it's one of the most important ones we as parents have to teach our children.

I've made no secret about the fact we expect our girls to help out around the house. They've been putting their toys away since they were two, and they've learned how to do a couple of new things each year. It's my job as their mother and Hubby's as their father to teach them how to take care of themselves spiritually, physically, financially, and domestically. If we didn't teach them how to cook and clean for themselves along with how to read, handle mathematics in all its applications, and think critically, we'd be failing them as parents. But that in and of itself isn't what I'm getting at.

It's something I've come to realize as my "bad" joints have started getting worse and even my "good" hip and knee have started giving me trouble. Sharing the work and responsibilities involved in tending hearth and home is a powerful way to show one another how much we love and trust them.

August 4, 2015

End of Season Garden Recap

I've been fairly quiet this summer, and there are a couple of reasons for that. They also played a role in how our garden went this year, so I'll just get into that story.

We made root salad with the few radishes we got out of the garden. Mmmm...
We had a couple of really good weeks with the garden. Then Hubby and I both became horribly ill right as our late spring took a surprisingly wet turn. We'd picked solid bottomed pots because North Alabama summers tend to be hot and dry, so imagine our chagrin when this year turned out to be one of the wettest in recent memory. By the time we'd recovered enough to do anything meaningful with the garden three weeks later, half the garden had drowned. Our stakes and cages refused to stay upright, and we ended up fighting black spot and blossom end rot as a result.

July 21, 2015

Event Recap: Con Kasterborous 2015

This year's Con Kasterborous was this past weekend, and it was bigger than ever this year!

My Con Kasterborous setup for 2015.
July in Alabama is always hot, and this weekend was no exception. How all the cosplayers managed it in so many layers when outside the cooler confines of the hotel, I have no idea, but let me tell you, they were there and just as magnificent as always. Sadly, I'm kind of a chicken when it comes to asking folks for photos, and my camera gave up the ghost after overheating sometime last spring. So the only photo I have is the kinda sad set up shot above, which is the best my phone camera can muster.

Opening ceremonies was as fun and entertaining as ever. The guests were great this year and all seemed kind and charming. Unfortunately, thanks to it still being the middle of summer semester for Chris' students and his taking over the school's website and social media maintenance for the upcoming year, he was busy with grading and communicating with parents most of the weekend. So as much as both of us would have liked to take turns attending what we heard were wonderful panels, we really only got to see and hear as much as went on in the dealer's room.

We did get the chance to catch up with friends we haven't gotten to see in a long while and meet a bunch of new folks. We got a kick out of seeing all the beautiful cosplays as well as seeing Dalek Braun and R2-D2 rolling around the lobby.

There were a couple of disappointed mentions of lotions missing from our table this year. We've discontinued those and the guest sets from our usual line up. Unfortunately, the smallest possible batch of lotion makes four bottles, and the majority of the time only one or two would sell within the ten months before they became too close to their expiration dates to sell. If someone wants to order a minimum of two or three bottles, I can make a custom order for them, but otherwise the lotions just seem wasteful.

Also, discontinuing the lotions and guest sets has allowed us to keep more fragrances this year than we would have been able otherwise. My inventory closet is just a teeny tiny linen closet, so space is at a premium. The trim down freed up an entire shelf for new fragrances, meaning only one old scent had to be discontinued this year and room is still left for seasonal items and next year's line.

There is one thing I love about the new Westin location. The tables are large and sturdy, and the tablecloths provided are amazing. They don't slide around on the tables, and they provide enough friction to keep stuff from wobbling. We missed being as near the action as we were last year, but the new dealer's room was large enough that they could scoot the tables farther away from the wall than we've ever been able to before. Between that and having a parred down selection, it was a lot easier to manage the busiest times because Chris and I could slide by one another without tripping over chairs and open the cash box without knocking a shelf over.

All in all, Con Kasterborous 2015 was yet another good year, and we're looking forward to going back June 25 and 26 next year.

July 15, 2015

Fragrance Introduction: Summer Reading

Today's fragrance is the last one for 2015, and it was inspired by the notion of reading on the beach during a summer vacation.

Summer Reading Goat Milk and Glycerin Soaps
The soaps are goat milk and glycerin, and you'll find some of the things you might see at the beach in the design: sea shells, tropical flowers, the sun, glistening sand, and clear blue sky. The fragrance is a fresh and welcoming blend of sea spray, coconut, old books, orange, hyacinth, heather, and leafy greens.

This is another design which may be subject to change. My insert molds turned out to be a good deal bigger than expected and curved, so bubbling was more of a problem than anticipated. It just plain didn't come out the way I'd envisioned, and you know me, I can't leave anything alone until I've gotten it down.

July 13, 2015

Fragrance Introduction: Magic Time

Here we have the last of the Doctor Who inspired fragrances for now. Magic Time was inspired by Peter Capaldi's current version of The Doctor.

Magic Time Goat Milk and Glycerin Soaps
The soaps are goat milk and glycerin patterned to resemble the 12th Doctor's outfit, which he refers to as "looking like a magician." The fragrance is a warm blend of marine, ozone, juniper, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, fresh cut grass, orange blossoms, citrus, French lavender, and musk.

July 10, 2015

Fragrance Introduction: "No More!"

Now we're on to the incarnation of The Doctor who refused the name. Inspired by John Hurt's "War Doctor," No More is a deep but still fresh blend of sea spray, cedar wood, sandalwood, leather, amber, cashmere musk, rose, tobacco blossom, caramel, mandarin, honey, grape, peach, and plum.

"No More!" Goat Milk and Glycerin Soaps
The soaps are made of goat milk and glycerin. The design is comprised of two marbled sections: black and gray to represent the worn leather jacket and burgundy and cream for the scarf he wears. These sections are separated by an abstract bandolier, a stark contrast that separates the War Doctor from his other twelve incarnations.

This separation is also marked by substituting sea spray for the marine and ozone that ties all the other Doctor fragrances together. It's similar, but also notedly different. And, of course, I had to include a heart note of rose considering Bad Wolf's role in his story.

July 8, 2015

Fragrance Introduction: The Clown

Today we're moving on to the last of the Classic Doctor Who inspired fragrances, The Clown, inspired by Patrick Troughton's turn as the second incarnation of The Doctor.

The Clown Goat Milk and Glycerin Soaps
The name comes from the first incarnation's comment toward the second in The Three Doctors. "So you're my replacements; a dandy and a clown?" The soaps are made up of both goat milk and glycerin soap in black and baby blue since Troughton was the first Doctor to make the transition to color. And as he was also the first incarnation to rock a bow tie, I had to carry over the motif amidst the swirls of black and blue.

The fragrance is a light and slightly fruity blend of marine, ozone, blueberry, Indonesian teakwood, falling leaves, citrus, patchouli, amber, bergamot, and white tea.