Sunday, June 27, 2010

Other Successes

Like our party!

Every year, we have a Mardi Gras in June party.  Well, I say "every year," but this was the third one.  Thing is, they keep getting bigger, better, and more organized, so I know we'll keep doing them.  Plus, Cajun food is my favorite, and I've already mentioned how Eric and I love to cook & bake.  And Eric brews really good beer.

So... this year for the party, he took the freezer that he uses for his kegs, and made a wooden collar for it.  The fancy corners were done with the router I got him for Christmas.  That raised up the lid of the freezer and allowed him to run the tap lines.  The name he's chosen for his beer is Laughing Lemur, so he brewed an Extra Special Bitter and had Laughing Lemur beer to serve.  Plus, he got 1787 Abbey Single Ale from a new local microbrewery, the NJ Beer Company.  If you haven't tried their stuff, ask your local bar to get some; it's great!  The very nice guys there also gave us a tap handle to use.  We bought a chalkboard to do the "on tap" list, and I wrote it up and drew a lemur to go with it.

The theme of the party is Mardi Gras, so we went with green, gold, and purple for the tablecloths, plates, cups, and napkins.

He got to have fun boiling crawfish, which was absolutely fab!

And of course he had to make crawfish etouffee (my favorite food in the world) and cornbread!

Meanwhile, I was in charge of the pecan pies.  The one on the left was black bottom, with chocolate chunks.

Everyone had a great time!

The party sort of ran in shifts, from 3 p.m. until everyone left; the people with kiddos go there earliest, of course.  Our farthest visitor came from Massachusetts for the shindig.

This week... back to soap!

Artist Spotlight: Part Twenty-Five

This week's artist is Teri Baskett of S & T Creations.

S & T Creations is actually a partnership of two artists in Jeffersonville, IN, who've been friends for many years and making jewelry for over seven of those.  Though Teri & Saundra started off self-taught, they have since taken classes to learn various techniques and skills.  This, of course, has made their business grow, expanding into home shows, fairs, and special events.

They never make the same piece of jewelry twice, so if you purchase one, you'll never see anyone else wearing it!

Much like the fabled "shoemaker's children," though, Teri rarely designs pieces for herself.  She makes sure the majority are available for all of you.

For good measure, here are more necklaces I love.

S & T Creations also sells jewelry making supplies, though, like these.

To get to know them, be sure & check out the blog!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Note

We've got a new batch of our Oatmeal Honey soap on the rack, ready to go.  You'll notice, though, if you order it, that it doesn't look exactly like it does on the website (we'll be taking new photos).  That's because in the batch on the website, we used too much honey.  It didn't affect the soap's viability at all, didn't make it any less cleansing, didn't hurt anything.  But it made the soap a very dark brown and gave it a honey-colored lather that actually concerned some people.

This batch is done properly, which means it's a pale honey color with awesome tan specks in it.  Very, very pretty.  It smells amazing, and works great too.  In essence, except in the fact that it looks better, it's no different from the Reef Botanicals Oatmeal Honey soap you know and love.

And since I don't have any photos of the pretty soap yet, here are some more flowers, just to give you something else that's pretty to look at.  These are from around our neighborhood.

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Too Big for the USPS?

Is that possible?

It kind of is.  At least, it's possible to be too big for our little local branch of the U.S. Post Office.  We live in a small town.  The sort of town where, if you sneeze, you miss us while traveling in between Hasbrouck Heights and Carlstadt.  We ship our packages from our local branch of the post office; the service is good there, I love the employees, and it's right next to the 7-11, so I can get good coffee and an Entenmann's danish in the morning.

(Have you noticed how good 7-11 coffee is?!)

On the website, we offer $5 flat rate Priority Mail shipping, no matter the size of your order, to anywhere in the United States.  That's feasible because most orders fit into the small flat-rate shipping box.
The flat rate boxes?  Awesome invention, and kudos to the USPS for doing it.  But sometimes we have larger orders, like our gift baskets.

With all the cellophane done up pretty and the raffia tying it at the top, these fit perfectly into the medium flat rate boxes.
We don't charge any more for shipping those even though they're more expensive.  We figure if you're shelling out for enough Reef Botanicals products to warrant the use of that box, we'll eat the additional shipping fees.

Anyway, a good portion of your purchases are just a hair too big for the small flat rate box but don't rate the medium box.  They get the nearly-cubic Priority Mail box, which isn't flat rate, but a great size when a customer orders scrubs or just too many things for the small box.
So... every time I'm at the post office, I grab the few small flat rate boxes they've got out in the display and one or two medium boxes, just so I've got them around when you guys order something.  It's faster than having to run to the post office, get the boxes, run home, pack up the orders, and go back again to ship them.  I prefer to pack the boxes at home because we use the click'n'print feature which allows for free tracking on the package, so we can keep an eye on things in case anything goes awry and you don't get your delivery.  I also used to grab a few of those nearly-cubic boxes while I was there, but they stopped putting them out and you have to ask for them one at a time.

I had shipments to get out today, one in a small box, one in that nearly-cubic box.  I only had one small box left, and none of the cubes, so off to the post office I went.  I asked for 5 of the cubes so I don't have to go back again immediately, and my favorite chick there gave them to me... and then kind of admonished me.  They'd realized that every time I walked in, all of the small flat rate boxes & cubes were walking out.  Apparently, they simply don't have the capacity to handle your average walk-in flat rate Priority Mail customer and Reef Botanicals.  We're growing too fast and they can't accommodate!

Personally, we think that's pretty funny.  And pretty cool.

So thank you.  Thank you to our customers who made us too big for our post office and gave us a good laugh.

Don't worry.  I've ordered a slew of the Priority Mail boxes directly from the USPS website, as directed by the chick who admonished me.  You'll still get your stuff!

(Oh, and if you're Canadian?  You get flat-rate $5 shipping for regular mail, no matter the size of the order.  If you want international Priority Mail, contact us and we'll talk.)


When I was little, before I had more reasonable aspirations like "orthodontist" or "medical research scientist," I wanted to be a mad scientist when I grew up.  Yes, specifically a mad scientist.  I loved my microscope, but I wanted to create explosions.  I guess I figured I'd have to be mad to explode things.

Funny thing?  I ended up a lawyer... and then a face painter.  Yes, both at the same time.  And of course most recently, Eric and I have become soapers.  Yes, we run three full businesses.  In becoming a soaper, I've found that I went back to my roots... working out recipes with Eric, stirring the molten soap in the crock pots, trying to keep it from foaming all over the kitchen, ransacking cabinets to see what we can put into our latest recipe... we're mad scientists!

And you know what?  I was right when I was a kid.  It is fun!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Part Twenty-Three & Twenty-Four

I skipped last week's Artist Spotlight, so this week, I get to bring you two artists!  First, we have Robin Hartman, of Snips & Snails.

She's a mom to two toddlers and a wife, who in her abundant spare time ha ha uses her Masters in British Literature to teach college English.

Her specialty in the craft world is cross stitching and pattern design.

She dabbles in everything, though, including jewelry design,

bead work,


Crochet, polymer clay, card making, rubber stamping, and plastic shrink

And heck, she even combines her cross-stitch with her jewelry design!

To learn more about her and see more of her work, be sure to visit her blog, and to browse her items and make purchases, visit her Etsy shop.


Second, we've got Holly, of Tuscan Road Designs.  Not only is she fostering and rehabilitating owls, but she makes beautiful jewelry.

The jewels are one-of-a-kind and unusual, fitting for an artist who's always enjoyed being creative.

Holly's interest in jewelry began with a trip to Murano, Italy, where she became enamored with lampwork.  When she got home, she signed up for a class to learn to make her own beads, and eventually taught her teenage son to do it too.

With an asymmetrical style, and finding inspiration in nature, architecture, and Old World icons, she loves to work with color and texture, Swarovski crystal, and the natural beauty of semi-precious stones to create her collection of mod and vintage-style jewelry.

She also does special orders and group purchases for matching and coordinating pieces, perfect for weddings, mommy-and-me gifts, and other occasions.

Should you be inspired by her work and want to read more about her and the owls, you can read Holly's blog.  If you just want to browse her wares, they're in her Etsy shop.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Still looks like this.

Rather than focus on my annoyance at our web host and the lack of a Reef Botanicals website (please don't forget - for orders or questions, contact us at, I decided to take some shots of this rose on the bush at the side of our house.  There are more than one blooming, but I really liked the shots I was getting with this one.  So here they are...

And hey, if anyone wants any of these or my other flower photos, let me know either via email or in comments and I'll be happy to give you a link to my Shutterfly share site so you can purchase prints directly from Shutterfly.  No, that's not me selling my photos.  I won't see any money from it; it's just that I use and love Shutterfly, and I know they do great quality prints at reasonable prices, so why not give you access to the photos and let you do what you like with them via their site?

In case you're wondering, these were taken with a Fujifilm Finepix Z.  It's a point-n-shoot, and they weren't enhanced in any way.  I love that camera!
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