Sunday, December 27, 2009

Random Musings

Sitting here waiting for wax to melt. Yep, my candle making moratorium is over. I had a good little break, what with the snow canceling our last holiday market and my manic candle making efforts at the beginning of the month. But people came by the house and bought several, and I've got to restock Woolworth tomorrow, so I'm back at the grindstone. And really, what a fun grindstone it is. I'm also working on a new hurricane lamp idea, so I'll report back once that one's complete.

Seems like there's been all sorts of stuff going on around here. I'm gearing up for the 2010 planting season, and also for more wedding and special event flowers that we're going to be doing next year. Fun. I know it probably seems early to be thinking about spring flowers, but in reality I've got to get my seed order in soon, and then I'll be starting seedlings before too long. And speaking of seedlings, I was really glad we're still using our ghetto greenhouse instead of a real one - a whole lot of farmers had them collapse during the snowstorm last week, which would be just awful.

In sports-ish type news, we've done our last market until mid-April, which means that now I can join the Masters group on Saturday mornings too - three swims a week! Real ones. Before I was doing Masters twice a week, and swimming once on my own, but on my own I tend to just do drills and float around, so adding an extra real swim ought to help. But of course I've been playing too much on the dip machine at the Y and my shoulder was a little sore yesterday, so I didn't do the timed 1650 everyone else was doing. Dammit. Ok, that's kind of a joke - I wasn't all that broken up to miss a timed 1650, but in reality I do want to do it - but I've got until February before the times are turned in, so I'm sure I'll find a time in the semi-near future.

Biking has kind of been on a back burner lately - I usually don't pay much attention to bad weather, so I figured I'd just pile on layers and keep riding through the winter. But now I'm wondering if we're going to have a bad snow winter - and I'm not ok with riding a bike on icy slush with cars on icy slush right beside me. So... (and this is a sign that I might be a terrible daughter) - but my mom bought me a bunch of beautiful clothes for Christmas, and I'm taking them back to pay for the bike trainer I found on sale. Yep, bad daughter. But better cyclist. Surely mom will understand, right???

Hope everyone's having a happy holiday and looking forward to the New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all! It's been Christmas central here - and a whole lot of fun. Wishing everyone the best of holidays, and a Happy New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let It Snow

Like the rest of the East Coast, we were buried in snow this weekend. I think it was 10" in my front yard - pretty unheard of around here. And the only reason I'm not boring you with the obligatory "Look at my child in the snow! And my cat in the snow! And my self in the snow!" pictures, is because I can't find the damn camera. That's right, biggest snow of the decade, and we have not one single picture to document it. I guess that's what memories are for.

We did have a pretty great weekend - our power went off on Friday, but our friend Leslie (who is basically the fourth member of our nuclear family - we've been friends since our first day of college, so 19 years later we're pretty well stuck together) - she only lives one block away, and her power was on! Hallelujah! So we descended on her, and I took over her recliner, laptop and remote control, and fun was had by all. Even by her, despite the three of us taking over her house - because as she has pointed out, it's kind of boring to be snowed in by yourself.

And on Saturday our power came back on - so the slumber party was over before it got old - and we had our Christmas party that night as scheduled. Except it turned into a walking party - if you can walk here, come to our party - and we ended up with 19 people here. Totally fun, had the best time, and had a bunch of people that we know but didn't know all that well - and it was great. Totally had a blast.

We managed to get out yesterday, and I promptly headed to the new CityMac store. I've had this big plan that I was going to upgrade the version of iLife I run on my iMac, and then update my website so it has a shopping cart [if you combine the new iLife with the paypal shopping cart function this is supposed to be fairly easily accomplished - as you'll see I can't vouch for that]. Actual ecommerce. Imagine that. Except when I started fooling it with it last week, I realized I can't upgrade iLife, because my sweet, sweet iMac that has served me so loyally is in fact not ready for the new iLife. And won't ever be. Bummer. So that got me started fantasizing about a new iMac.

Now there's really no way to justify buying a new computer to put a shopping cart on my site. Well, I suppose if you compared it to the cost of hiring a web developer/graphic designer to do it then there would be, but really I'd just cobble something together with one of the free shopping cart hosting sites. But once the seed was sowed. . . it kind of germinated. Because my iMac is a bit cranky about running video, and frankly getting a bit slow about lots of other things. And we went to CityMac, and the news ones are amaaaaaaazing. Like I've been driving a Honda and I got to test drive a Ferrari. So... I think we may take the plunge. I know, it's crazy. But also beauuuutiful. :)

The last thing of note - the snow day canceled out our last Holiday Market on Saturday, so I decided to move the market to our home studio. Here's the whole newsletter I sent out yesterday with the details, but basically just give me a call if you want to stop by and pick up a candle for your last minute gifts. We have a big selection of the beeswax botanicals in stock, as well as rolled beeswax tapers and holiday candles, and it's all 10% off this week.

Stay warm and have fun - I told Sam he better build a snowman, because he could be his 20s before we have this much snow again. He looked a little crestfallen. And I felt like the grinch - sometimes the truth doesn't set you free.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And I Am Telling You. . .

So this is what was going through my mind all through swim practice this morning - for reasons unknown to me. And I love Glee (LOVE GLEE!), but this wasn't exactly the Chariots of Fire theme song. A little odd for the athletic motivation.

Friday, December 4, 2009

World Domination

Where have I been, you ask? Making candles like a madwoman. My plan for world domination of the locally produced botanical beeswax candle market continues to play out. (I find world domination so much easier to accomplish if one draws the parameters of said domination very narrowly.)

So - you can now find our candles at B.B. Barns, the Asheville Art Museum Gift Shop, Woolworth Walk, the Asheville Shop at the Asheville Visitors Center, Shoji Spa, and Sanctuary of Stuff. I think I've about filled out everywhere we want to sell in Asheville - unless one of you owns a spa on the south side of town and wants to give me a call.

And for the last few weeks of the year you can also find us at City Market at Pack Square on Saturdays 10-2, the WCCJ Holiday Market at Grove Arcade today (10-8) and tomorrow (10-6), and also Shop West Asheville on Haywood Road next Saturday. Yikes - no wonder I feel like all I've been doing the last few weeks is making candles. That would be pretty much accurate. [Quick aside - I just checked the weather report for tomorrow - and I'm thinking City Market is out for tomorrow - high of 37 with snow and rain. Yikes.]

In non-candle news - I've also started lifting weights at the Y. Well, lifting might be a bit of an overstatement given my actual activity there. It's both demoralizing and kind of hopeful - because I figure if I'm this weak to start with, surely that means there's lots of upside to be gained. But right now I'm lifting just about the least amount of anyone wandering around those machines. This includes lots of women in their 60s who look like they're barely breaking a sweat. And frankly, at first I just stood there thinking WTF?? What has happened to me? And then I realized that lifting weights like a maniac in 1990 doesn't exactly mean you're going to be any stronger than average in 2009. In fact, based on actual results, it may mean you totally suck in 2009. And also that when you first start, even at totally reasonable (and tiny) weights, it may also mean you suck at swimming for that week because you're already tired when you start, and also possibly biking as well. Yep, that sums up this weeks athletic endeavors pretty well.

Except - in the gruesome and macabre category - guess what I saw while out biking last Sunday? This was before I went to the Y on Monday and Wednesday, and thus I still had enough oomph to get to Marshall via Alexander. So I've just crossed into Madison County, and I'm at an intersection taking a quick look at my route sheet to make sure I'm not spacing out and inadvertently riding off to Hot Springs or somewhere, and I glance down into the creek beside me and guess what I see - a cow's head. Just the head. I did a triple take. Talk about WTF. But it really was - a cow's head, with no evidence of the rest of it. I'm guessing someone had done some home butchering somewhere upstream and not been all that careful about where they put the leftovers. But it was sufficiently creepy that I jumped on my bike and took off to Marshall with a little more energy than I had before. Yikes.

So with that lovely story to end on - I'm off to make more candles! Shocker. And also maybe to squeeze in a quick bike ride before tomorrow's freeze descends upon us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WCCJ Holiday Market - Shopping for a Really Good Cause

Look at this BEAUTIFUL graphic I just got for the WCCJ Holiday market! From the looks of this poster they're going to have some beautiful work. And I'm going to be part of it - botanical beeswax candles, anyone? Very excited on this end.

Best of all, a portion of the proceeds go to support Western Carolinians for Criminal Justice (WCCJ), a cause I strongly believe in. A semi-little-known fact is that I actually possess a law degree myself, and in fact practiced law for several years before we moved back to Asheville, so this is a cause I can fully get behind. It's true that in 1997 when I graduated from UNC with a JD I never thought I'd be supporting criminal justice by selling candles - probably actual use of the law degree would have seemed a safer bet. I love that - you just never quite know where you're going to end up. Keeps some excitement in the whole process.

So - the sale is December 4-5 at the Grove Arcade, lots of great artists and artisans will be represented, and I'll have a lot more information as the time gets closer. I was going to wait until I had a little more detail before I mentioned it - but the graphic just showed up in my inbox, and was so pretty I couldn't wait.

Wait, there's more! Yet another copy of this graphic! Why? Because blogger decreed it should be so. I don't know its reason, but blogger was very insistent, so here's another, somewhat smaller, copy for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reality Sets In

Aha, the reality of having a successful empire has set in. It's 8:12 pm and I'm melting wax to pour some pillars. And anyone who knows me is saying "holy smokes, you're still awake??" Because I'm the person who tells everyone not to call me after 8 or risk hearing really foul language. Because in the morning I'm getting up at 5 to go swim, and I'm a person who really likes my sleep. As in, *really* likes my sleep. And gets a lot of it. So why am I waiting for wax to melt so I can pour candles? Because I'm a dumbass.

Yep, I said it. It's all my fault. SOS called yesterday and asked if I could make some plain pillars for a customer. NO problem, I say. I'm pouring candles tomorrow, I'll have them there on Thursday.

And sure enough, late this afternoon I really am making candles. And it's time to pour, and I think "wouldn't some square pillars look great? I'll make a bunch of those." And right after the wax has set, it hits me. Round, not square! I'm supposed to be making *round* candles tonight.

It's just that I'm not used to anyone actually requesting anything. They usually just buy (or not) whatever I've made. If this is what an empire is like, I've got to get with the program.

So while I know it's really not all that late, and in fact my friend Stephanie has probably not even awakened yet to begin her workday, I still can't believe I'm waiting for wax to melt. In short, building an empire and being a space cadet are a sticky combination.

In Which My Empire Expands

My candles are soon to be found in - drumroll please. . . B.B. Barnes! Very excited about this, since it seems to be the perfect fit for botanical beeswax candles. (Don't you like that phrase?? "botanical beeswax candles" - it finally came to me after months of saying "I make beeswax candles that have pressed flowers in them". I mean, both get the message across, but the former is a bit more elegant than the latter. Elegant is not exactly my long suit, but still, a girl's gotta try.)

So I went in to B.B. Barnes today with the candles, and even though I'm veeeeeery late for stores to bringing in merchandise for the holidays, the very nice people there gave me a great reception, and next week I'm delivering candles. yay!

Also, I stopped by Woolworth Walk to check things out, and met a very nice couple from Gainesville who were wandering about Asheville on vacation, and seemed to have an interest in botanical beeswax candles (there it is again.) I love getting to explain the whole process to people - that's sort of half the fun, which I miss when I'm selling through a store. But sometimes when I'm selling at market it's pouring down rain and 40 degrees and no one in their right mind would show up to buy anything. That's the part of market that I don't miss at all when I'm selling through a store.

So it's been a good day for the candle empire. That's what I'm going to start calling it from now on.

Before my empire building started this morning, I headed over to the Y to meet with one of the trainers to set me up on the weight machines. I figured I might as well get that figured for the winter, and preferably pre-new year, so I don't have to fight my way through all of the New-Years-Resolutioners for an appointment. And he was great and I have a basic routine, but of course what I *really* want is a customized free weight routine and a bunch of cool core exercises using the stability ball, all of which require a personal training session. In other words, where I shell out money. But still, I'm thinking it's probably worth the money for some dedicated advice on that subject. Now the candle empire just needs to take off to pay for my necessary expenses. Like personalized core routines. I know, don't say it. I'm a strange bird.

Today's been a good one - and only getting better since I'm off to pick up Sam D at school. Love that kid - they don't get much sweeter, cuter or funnier than him.

Last month - first swim meet - excitement tinged with terror.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where Aren't We Going to Be?

It's candlepalooza around here. I'm getting ready to take some candles over to the Asheville Art Museum for their Holiday Market (which should be really cool - they bring in a lot of art & craft for the week - I'm looking forward to doing some shopping there.) And tomorrow I'm taking candles over to the Asheville Shop at the Chamber of Commerce - lots of local work in there. And a week from today we're going to the Vance Elementary Holiday Craft Explosion from 12-5. So lots of candle making going on around here.

Also going on around here - lots of bike riding, lots of swimming, tiny little dribble of running. Today Robin and I are heading out on the road bikes - because it's warrrrrm. The mountain bikes are more fun in the cold - really it can't get too cold to ride a mountain bike around here - but the road bike can be slightly miserable when it's really cold. Speaking of mountain bikes Robin introduced me to a new Bent Creek trail on Friday. Lower Sidehill - although if that's the lower version of that trail I'd certainly hate to see the upper one. Somehow I just get in a rut of doing the same thing every time we go, so it's fun to be with someone who knows the trails so well.

More later - gotta go label candles and find my short sleeved bike jersey.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Failure to Launch

Yesterday was one of those days that never *quite* gets off the ground. Well, except for swim practice - that definitely got off the ground. I've gotten to the point where I just do what Andrew says without a lot of thought (because honestly, thinking about it doesn't make it any easier.) And then at the end of practice he says that was 3800 yards.

Me swimming 3800 yards is the equivalent of Michael Phelps swimming 3 times around the earth. Inconceivable. But still it totally rocked - and today my lats are sore, which I think is a good thing for swimming. And also, I had a total 1990 flashback.

In 1990 I was running hurdles on my high school track team, and I loved it. I was the kid that made it a point of pride to never, ever complain. If the coach told me to run 400s until I fell over, then that was exactly what I did. I subsequently lost my blind faith in coaches, but that's sort of another story. In 1990 I was still all about doing whatever I was supposed to do, and wasn't satisfied unless I felt like I had done it pretty much as well as I could.

So towards the end of swim practice yesterday we were swimming 100s with fins, and I had been swimming in the 1:05-1:06 range (which for me is jet propelled), and Andrew tells me to try to swim the last one under 1:05. And I suppose I didn't exactly kill myself, and also I was dying from the previous 11 100s we had just done, but when I came in at 1:08 I wasn't all that happy. So I kind of stewed over it while I listened to our cool down, and then I pulled my fins back on and said I'm going to do another 100 or that's going to bug me all day. My lane mate clearly thought I was insane and deserted the field. Andrew seemed kind of cracked up. But off I went, and did a 1:03, and it was the highlight of my day. It was like an old friend came back from 20 years ago. Ok yes, she's kind of a head case, but really, we don't hold that against people.

Why was that the highlight of my day? Because everything else pretty much went like that last slow 100. Kind of ok but not quite. I've had this master plan to approach a few stores about wholesaling candles, but yesterday I realized I've got to take a good hard look at how many pressed flowers I've got to get me through the winter. Not sure it's enough. It's possible I could supplement with purchased pressed flowers - but I've got to think on that one. And I meant to do yoga and never quite got it done. And Sam's swim practice that's supposed to be 45 minutes long ended up being an hour and half, making it a late night home for him, not to mention I thought the poor kid was going to drown during the doggy-paddle relay. (Although the swim coach gets major points for even conceiving a doggy-paddle relay - how fun is that - but unfortunately Sam started swimming in a swim class, and never learned to do the doggy paddle. Which was very apparent during the relay.)

So it certainly wasn't a terrible day - just one of those where everything is slightly off-kilter. And let's face it, I didn't sleep all that well the night before and then was up at 5:00 and swam my ass off for an hour and half to start the day. Which probably didn't leave me in the perkiest frame of mind anyway. Today, on the other hand is already starting out better - a short run in the rain is just enough to wake me up, not enough to leave me pooped. And I just downloaded another yoga class from yogadownloads and am off to the mat. Party on, Wednesday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A little ER early in the morning

My phone woke me up at 6 this morning, with my mom saying she was at the hospital with my dad. I was so sleepy this didn't even seem alarming. Turns out it really wasn't alarming - well not much anyway. He'd had a nosebleed all night (ugh), and so they finally took off for the hospital. I'll spare you the gory details, but finally he was ready to go home, which was my job because my mom was substitute teaching today. So I got him home and then we immediately headed right back up there. As it turns out, the problem wasn't with the thingy that's supposed to stop nosebleeds, the problem was more with how much the doctor had explained about how the thingy works. In other words, it looked gross, but was supposed to look gross, so we turned around and headed back home. sigh. So I delivered him back to his house, shouted hello to the goats, checked the horses' feet (no farrier needed for a few more weeks), petted the dog, and hit the road.

First stop - YMCA. I'm trying to get a third swim in every week. It's not much of a swim, mainly drills for a half hour or so. I'm the crazy person at the Y using a wooden kitchen spoon during catch-up drill to try to break my crossover habit. And it's kind of working, so I'll stick with being the crazy spoon person. I also did my 10 minute treadmill run (woohoo!), and the feet are feeling quite happy with their no support, no cushion shoes. Go figure. I'm taking the chinese water torture approach to building up my run - little bits dribbled on at regular intervals. Seems to be working.

Next stop - Woolworth Walk. The candles are selling. Yay! Also of note on this trip, the wacky bike lockers scattered around downtown. The have no signage, so they look like space pods. In fact, a friend of Clark's who works downtown said they've had people asking if they're housing for the homeless. Seriously?!? It's true that it's not very obvious what those things are, but I'm a little worried about anyone who thinks they look like a viable housing option.

So after lunch I was doing the debate of be responsible and work on wholesale docs for the candles vs. go for an hour recovery ride on my bike. I looked at the weather forecast - pouring rain for the next few days - and decided it would be responsible to get a bike ride in. Hmmm. Had fun spinning through Montford and the River - but still no wholesale docs.

Then I picked Sam up (which involved some excitement - a building at Hillcrest exploded and burned down this afternoon, and it's right across from his school. They were all atwitter.) After talking in great depth about what would cause a building to explode (Sam's going with foul play, I said maybe a gas leak) we checked in with Sanctuary of Stuff. No candles selling. Boo. Although if Woolworth keeps going like gangbusters it would suit me to have one place to keep stocked - and Woolworth's a lot closer. But if you want some cool gifts (including but not limited to botanical beeswax candles), head down to Sanctuary of Stuff.

Finally after all of this I am now making candles. Not exactly the hyper efficient day I was looking for, but what are you going to do? Still got a bunch of stuff done - and so far my dad's in pretty good shape, so I'll call that a success.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Food = Good

I just had a biking epiphany. I went for my Sunday morning ride, and went up Town Mountain and then on up Elk Mountain from the Parkway, and then wound through Woodfin a little to the river and home. It's not all that long - about 26 miles - and I definitely didn't go particularly fast, but there is a fair bit of climbing. (ok, that's an understatement - unless one trains on Mt. Ventoux, I think one would find this route is capable of kicking one's ass without the exercise of a little discretion. And I speak from experience, because coming up Elk Mountain from the other direction this summer I started out a little too optimistically and found myself cracked within sight of the crest, while registering a heart rate over 190. Not good times, my friends, not good times.) Anway, I digress (as usual).

So today I decided I was going to take a more regimented approach to getting some nutrition in on the bike, because on a couple of longer rides lately I've found myself feeling veeeery flat until I'd suck down a gu, and then I'd miraculously revive until 45 minutes later when I've be feeling veeery flat. . . you get the idea. And while having no energy sucks, the more alarming part is that when I start losing energy I also get pretty spacey. As in, "oh is that a giant pothole in the road that I'm riding right towards? I dunno, maybe I should consider taking evasive action. Or not...." And that is really not a good frame of mind while on a bike.

So today I sucked down a gu, or ate some gu chomps, every half hour. This maybe was overkill, but I bounced in the door from my ride feeling great, slurped down some chocolate milk (recovery drink of champions), started up some wax for my next round of candles, ran up to the shower, wrote this entry - all a far cry from a couple of Sundays ago when I rode to Marshall and back on two gu's and got home barely able to curl up in a fetal position on the couch. So my conclusion - maybe there is something to this food thing. Food = good.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Exciting News - Woolworth Walk!

I actually have two pieces of exciting retail news, but I'm going to take them one at a time. The second part comes tomorrow.

But for the first part - I now have a space at Woolworth Walk selling my botanical beeswax candles! Funny aside about Woolworth Walk - it's in the building that housed the Woolworth department store many, many moons ago. And lo those many moons ago, when I was a little girl, I can remember my mom taking me shopping in there. My main memory is that the toy department was downstairs - and now so are my candles. Something about that appeals to me.

Here are a few examples of said candles:

Violas - more of these coming soon, now that it's gotten cold enough to grow them again.

Maple leaves.

Ferns and larkspur. Probably one of our most popular combinations.

I got the big idea of trying to get in to Woolworth Walk because my friend Jennifer (Kung Fu Clay - super cool, slightly twisted stuff) got a space there and I went to check it out. So I was walking around and it hit me that not everything there is totally fine art, there's a fair bit of artful craft as well. So I inquired with the (very nice) management, and they gave me a list of what I needed in order to submit my work.

The most interesting requirement was an artist bio. WTF?? How am I going to come up with that? I definitely don't consider myself an artist - an artisan perhaps, but definitely not an artist. And I don't exactly have the "I got my BFA in 20xx, and am represented in the following galleries." My bio's a little more like "here are all of my degrees that in no way pertain to this endeavor," and my one overriding attribute is probably curiosity - I like to know how to do things, or make things. Which means I can pretty competently
ride a horse, run hurdles, ride a mountain bike, make pizza dough from scratch, cut a little boy's hair, knit a coat or grow flowers. All of which entertain me, but none of which imply I belong in an art gallery.

So after thinking about it for a few minutes, I took the bull by the horns and decided there was no point in trying to fake it. Here's the first paragraph of the bio:
Sumner Smith is the owner and operator of Spotted Dog Farm, and these botanical beeswax candles are the answer to one question: What happens when a corporate lawyer returns to her family farm, starts growing organic flowers, and then wonders how to preserve their beauty once the growing season is over?
Not the usual artist's bio, for sure, but apparently it worked - because I was expecting to be on the waiting list at Woolworth for approximately ever, but it turns out there aren't that many people making botanical beeswax candles, so they got me in within the week. (yowzers! wasn't expecting to be moving in quite so quickly) And so far it's fabulous.

Stop by and check it out if you're walking around downtown - and if you're hungry I'll also highly recommend the soda fountain. Good veggie burgers, and Sam (the family carnivore) was highly impressed with the hotdogs.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Picture Day

This post was going to be entitled "The Year in Pictures (Or, My Mom Finally Downloads her Camera)." But then I was over at Leslie's perusing her pictures and added a few more. So now it's "The Year in Pictures, Plus a Few Older Ones that Entertain Me." Here goes, in no particular order except that which blogger establishes in its very arbitrary way.

This picture is from a couple of years ago, and is noteworthy not only for the fact that I hiked a skirt up over my chest and called it a dress, but also because pictures of me in this skirt/dress can now be found popping up in weird places in architectural renderings. Seriously. A friend of ours owns a company that produces architectural renderings, and he needed pictures of random people to drop into them and hired Leslie to take these random pictures. And I've seen a few samples that feature me in this dress. Weird, eh?

A few years ago Leslie and I helped a friend who was taking photographs for an art exhibit/fashion show (seriously). This endeavor culminated with me submerged in Beaver Lake wearing a lycra dress and a series of braids on my head that made me look like a teletubby. Not kidding. (Also note, the ranger at Beaver Lake was Not Amused.) To thank everyone who helped with the show, the women in charge had a cocktail party at their house - Leslie and I attended, and were apparently Very Amused by something going on at said party. This picture actually showed up in one of the Citizen Time galleries. It's one of my favorite pictures of Leslie.

One of my favorite knitting creations ever. Our friends, who are huge Johnny Cash fans, had a baby. Leslie really wanted to give them something unique and Cash-like, so I took the album cover from one of Johnny Cash's Greatest Hits albums and turned it into this sweater. Cool, no?

How Sam and his first cousins spent their summer at Camp Nana. They're having a whale of a good time, but I must confess that water doesn't look like much compared to all of the crystal clear pictures on the hawaii blogs I've been reading. Still, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Proof that Sam is probably the most spoiled boy in Asheville. For his birthday his grandmother got him a. . . real knight's helmet. He LOVES it. It weighs about 10 pounds and is big enough for an offensive linemen to fit over his head. It sits in a place of honor beside his bed, but so far hasn't been pressed into actual duty.

How first graders at Isaac Dickson celebrate the last day of school. I can tell you we never got to go to Lake Powhatan and run around like maniacs when i was in elementary school.

The only picture I have from my first triathlon. Seriously. It was just me and Mum (Clark was running market that day), and the battery on her camera died right after taking this picture. Apparently I was just staring at my transition area hoping it would all suddenly make sense.

One of my favorite family portraits. This was right after the Asheville Tri in July.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pool Day and A Zillion Things to Do

Just finished Masters - and I think I set a new record today - 3300 yards. I know for a real swimmer that is nothing, but for a quasi-, pseudo - swimmer like myself, that's a long way. So I'm kind of happy about that. And it felt pretty good - the inclusion of more tri people at Masters has been a godsend. It's kind of demoralizing to always be the slowest person in the pool - and with the real swimmers that's what I am. But add a few more tri swimmers and things even out. So let's hear it for all of us slow tri swimmers. :)

Now that the swim is behind me I've got a whirlwind of stuff to get done - and among it, I'm headed over to Haw Creek Honey to pick up some beeswax. So Happy to find a really local beeswax supplier. Hopefully this is the start to a long and happy relationship!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lazy Sunday

So Art in the Park was yesterday - and the weather gods were not so kind to us as they were they first time. It was cold. In fact, if you won't be offended, I'll confess that it was fu@k!ng freezing. We got there at 8:15 to set up, and left at 4:00, and in between was kind of a lot of time to stand around in the howling 40 degree wind. But we alternated taking fun field trips - down to City Market to visit our peeps, and otherwise around downtown, and so the time passed pretty quickly. And here's the shocking part of the whole thing - people still come to these things, even when rain looks imminent and the wind is howling and it's 40 degrees. Me? I'd be curled up at home (or maybe running, but you're moving and get warm), I probably wouldn't be out perusing art booths. But there are people in this world that actually do, and to them I say. . . THANK YOU! Because we actually had a pretty good day, and I find that miraculous. At one point I was actually half way hoping a customer wouldn't buy something, because I was too cold to take off my gloves and operate the credit card machine. But then sense reasserted itself.

To reward myself for my long day in the cold, I got up this morning and was in the Warren Wilson pool at 8am for a swim clinic. To each her own I suppose. It was actually fun - because I can tell that all of my attempts at learning to swim are paying off. (I mean learning to *really* swim - because I could always doggie paddle, but that was about it.) And to reward myself for being in the pool at 8 I slept away the afternoon. Ah, bliss. Ok, I did go run after I woke up, but only for 10 minutes because I'm on this super-slow return to running plan. And it does feel kind of silly to drag on all of my cold weather running gear for 10 minutes, but it's kind of fun too. Like a joke that only I'm in on. I guess you take what you get when it comes to entertaining yourself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Week in Pictures

Here are a few random pics from the last week or so:

Art in the Park - weather was GREAT, booth location was GREAT, other vendors were GREAT, customers were GREAT - and we're getting ready to do it all over again this Saturday. Weather forecast currently not so fortuitous.

Sam's fall baseball picture - see, I told you Little League is the cutest sport ever. And you haven't even seen the 5 year olds who are really too young to play but their dad insists anyway. (I'm not being sexist - it's always the dads. Trust me.)

My hair if I blow it dry. Very Diana Ross, no? It's a look I generally avoid, but the other day I left swim practice and needed to go work outside and it was cold so. . . Diana Ross. I picked Sam up at school and he took one look and said "Mom you need a haircut. You're hair's all fuzzy, and kind of sticking straight out on the sides." Perceptive fellow.

New maple leaf candles. I think the red's a pretty good contrast with the beeswax, and even Clark (v.p. of marketing and CEO of the disdainful sniff) thought they came out pretty well. I'm not being overly harsh on Clark here - an artisan crafter pretty much needs a person who makes no bones about what deserves a disdainful sniff. Otherwise you can find yourself going crazy and gluing rick-rack to god only knows what, and pretty soon you're a Cracker Barrel crafter. Seriously, it could happen.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The List

So I figured out today that there's kind of a lot of stuff I'm trying to get done. In no particular order:

1. Make booties
2. Make candles
3. Make wreaths
4. Do yoga
5. Get in an extra swim
6. Run a mile and see if foot still hurts
7. Update Etsy shop
8. Parent my child.
9. Attend parent/teacher conference. (Did this one - turns out he's smart, polite, and helpful. I'll buy that my genes might have helped some with the first, but the second two attributes would indicate he's not my child at all. Add this to the fact that likes, and is actually good at, baseball, and that the thing he's least accomplished at is running, and the chances are increasing that there was a switched at birth episode at the hospital. )
10. Stare at my tri book and my (largely blank) training plan, and hope inspiration hits.
11. Pick up Veg-N-Out for the week. Yes it's vegan. Yes it tastes about like you'd expect vegan takeout meals to taste. We've been eating it for months now. Do I Look Like I Have Time To Cook????
12. Walk the dog. He's driving me crazy.
13. Figure out enough photoshop to make a banner for my etsy shop.
14. Order seed for the fall plantings. Yes, this is a month (or two) late, but in my experience mother nature's kind of forgiving about that kind of thing.
15. Get the tractor guy to come disc up the row for the larkspur and bachelor buttons. After I fill the row completely full of horse manure. In my spare time.

There are probably a few more things to go on that list, but I think that's enough. So instead of doing any of them, I'm. . . listening to Pandora. Ok, and also making a plan for the week that'll try to incorporate all of this. I love a plan. Gives me a false sense of control that's very empowering.

As to the actual list - let's see, I've done numbers 2, 4, 6, 8 (although my mom picked him up at 11:00, so only half marks for that one), 9, and 11. For today I'm giving up on 3, 5, 13, 14 and 15. The rest of them stand a fighting chance.

And, before I forget, Art in the Park was great. The weather was perfect and we met a ton of great people. A good percentage of them just wanted to know how to get to Barleys or Tupelo Honey or the Chili Cookoff at McCormick Field, but a healthy percentage also bought something, so that's a good day all around.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Return of the Crafters

This week we're taking a departure from our regularly scheduled program. We usually (as in every Saturday for months and months on end) are vendors at City Market. And I love City Market - it's big and fun and interesting, with a ton of cool vendors. But for the next few weeks we're trying something new - Art & Craft Shows. It's what you might call an experiment, and one we're really excited about. So, here's where we'll be for the next little while:

October 3 (tomorrow!) & October 17: Art in the Park. Asheville's first Art in the Park, to be held at Pack Square from 10-5. Couldn't be a better location in Asheville, and we couldn't have a better location at the show - come find us in the red tent right in front of the Art Museum. The list of vendors looks amaaaaazing. Beautiful stuff. (check out the website if you don't believe me.)

October 10 - Church Street Art & Craft Show in downtown Waynesville from 10-5. We haven't been to this one before, but it purports to have a bazillion visitors and be way fun. They even have two stages for bands, and downtown Waynesville is like something off of a post card, so come join us for the fun. Again, look for the. . . red tent. Are you sensing a theme here?

And in the midst of all this roaming about, if you 'd like something we make but don't want to roam about yourself, I've finally managed to get the etsy site up and operational. It isn't fully stocked yet, but I'm making some progress.

So how does one prepare for all of this
art & craftiness?? By making wreaths, as evidenced here (also this serves as photographic proof that I should really listen to my mother and consider wearing makeup on a more regular basis.) In addition to my lack of makeup, please note the treehouse-like setting of my flower building. Love it.

And preparation has also included making candles like a maniac. Our sideboard is barely visible under all of the beeswax.

And lastly, prep has included a fair bit of Little League baseball, which is still hands down the cutest sport on the planet. Sam had some good plays last night, but my favorite part of the game was his teammate skipping back to the dugout after being tagged out at first. Skipping. Priceless.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Burning Down the House

I'm in a major candle making fizz this morning. So maybe not burning down the house, but definitely heating it up. Which is a nice change, since it's cool this morning and feels great. In the middle of the summer I feel like a witch standing over her cauldrons, one step up from the pit of hell. So maybe candle production will increase as the weather cools down.

Also good news on the etsy front - I've got most (some) of my items up on the site, and I've actually had a sale this week. A real live, not anyone I know, totally random stranger bought something sale. So here's to you bbjerring! Makes it seem like not such a fool's errand when I'm taking pictures of random stuff in my homemade lightbox and posting on the site. Which otherwise brings up a bit of "why am I doing this again??"

And speaking of things I need to be doing - this afternoon is devoted to making wreaths. The reality of my situation is setting in - the situation being that I need a bunch of wreaths for Art in the Park this weekend, and I don't have them! So it's off to the flower building I go. But only after I ride my bike. Because I'm big on balance. (or I'm just big on playing, one or the other.) So if I'm feeling responsible I'll ride my regular one hour loop up Sunset and back on the River - otherwise I'm heading up Town Mountain to the Parkway and playing for a while. Either way, fun will be had, then wreaths will be made.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm About Watered Out

I'm about done with the rainy exercise. Usually it doesn't bother me - my mantra is "we're waterproof", and off I go. But now I'm beginning to doubt that. Because yesterday as Robin and I were riding down South Ridge at Bent Creek, and it's raining and I don't really have enough clothes on and I'm feeling hot and cold at the same time - I wasn't feeling very waterproof. I thought I might melt at any time. Or burst into flame. Basically I felt like crap. So I'm about done with this crazy water. In self-defense I decided I wasn't going to do anything today. At least nothing strenuous. Which stinks because I missed Masters, but I think this was one of those "discretion is the better part of valor" moments.

I am going to do some actual work things today, though. Among them is tackling the etsy conundrum again. I've dabbled with having an etsy shop before, but basically all I've accomplished is discovering that you have to be committed if you want etsy to work. Committed to getting good photos, committed to staying on top of your shop and relisting. So I had let it go by the wayside, until I was reinspired last night at a seminar at HandMade In America. HandMade does a lot of cool stuff for crafters, and lately that has included a series of marketing seminars. This one was put on by Elijah and Kimberly of Leaflet PR and Figs & Ginger. It was a good "tips & tricks" of selling on etsy, and I definitely gleaned some information to jump start me back into the world of etsy.

But to be honest it was also kind of crazy because I would swear about 60% of the participants had never had any actual experience with etsy, paypal, blogs, websites, shopping carts or anything else that was fairly much integral to the subject at hand. And all I could think, every time they asked a question trying to divine the essence of paypal, was that they were in for a rocky ride. It would be about like me trying to build a space shuttle based on a one hour seminar. Totally lost. So more power to all of us potential etsy crafters out there, but if nothing else at least the seminar left me feeling grateful that I had actually been to the etsy site before. You've got to start somewhere.

So today is devoted to exploring etsy, researching how to take decent pictures at home (argh!!!), making wreaths, attending Sam's swim practice, and not one iota of exercising in the rain. Woohoo!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Water Sports

I hate to be so obvious and comment on the weather, but I just can't seem to help it. It's been raining for the better part of 5 days now. I woke up at 3am and heard it pouring down and thought, well, it usually doesn't pour down for several hours in a row, so maybe Robin and I can get our bike ride in in the morning. Proving yet again that you should never pay attention to me for weather predictions. It's now almost noon and it hasn't stopped raining at all. Not a teeny bit. So rather than riding to Marshall I'm instead getting all of the paperwork-type stuff done that tends to go by the wayside when it's good weather to ride a bike. Or run. Or do anything else. That pesky stuff that reminds me I'm actually running a business here. A small one, yes, but a business nonetheless.

The rain hasn't actually slowed me down too much so far this week. I got my bike commute in on Wednesday (although the ride home it was pouring down and Biltmore was very crowded, and even with the reflective vest and flashing lights I was feeling not so smart), and then I ran Thurs., and on Friday Robin and I met at Bent Creek and ran and rode the fire roads for a couple of hours since she (being smarter) doesn't love to ride on the roads in the rain. And since I'm now allegedly a full-fledged adult and am too responsible to ride the trails when it's been raining, the fire roads were about the only option left. We had a great ride, and got filthy like little kids. I had to spray my face off with the water bottle when we got back to remove enough of the grit to drive home. Sure sign of a fun time.

Maybe this weather is a sign that I should be swimming more anyway?? I've actually been consistently making it to Masters two mornings a week for the last month or so, and picking up a third swim on my own, and I can totally tell. Last Thursday morning I was actually (for me) pretty fast - and I felt just like Ebby Calvin Nuke Laloosh (think "Bull Durham"), when he finally throws a good pitch and says "What happened?? How'd I do that??" I still have not much of an idea of what I've done differently when I'm swimming well. Which is really kind of funny. I feel just like little kids learning to ride a horse - when they finally put it all together and jump a good course, but you can tell they have no idea what just happened. Clearly I'm doing something right, but I don't have enough body awareness in swimming yet to really figure out what it is. So I'll just keep showing up at Masters and listening to Andrew and figuring that somehow it's grooving itself into my muscle memory. One hopes.

In the meantime, more paperwork, a quick wet run, an attempt to finish my prototype sock animal (more on that later) and then a swim. And the boys have gone off to retrieve a futon from the flower building so that Sam can complete his man-cave. Should be interesting.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rain = Candle Making

I'm getting ready to leave the house to go meet the farrier at the barn. Which I enjoy, because the farrier is also a friend, and it's fun to catch up with him. And also because Finn Duncan, young Thoroughbred, appears to be growing up somewhat (finally!), and so trimming his feet is not nearly as exciting as it once was. I hate to say it, but I think his current pasture mate Taylor Smith, old Thoroughbred, is doing a better job of training Finn to act like an adult than I ever have. But the results are good, so I'll take it. Of course now that I've said that Finn will probably spend all morning standing on his hind legs while I hang off the end of the lead rope. That's a horse for you - doesn't do much good to try to predict them.

But first I've got to get to the barn, and I need to get an easy bike ride in today, so I figured I'd be hyper-efficient and combine the two. As I stare out the window at the rain, though, my plan is getting more complicated. Now it involves reflective wind vests, and flashing lights, and finding a change of clothes when I get to the farm. Which means I should probably stop typing and start finding that stuff.

However, the rain also means that I've got a full afternoon of candle making ahead, which I'm looking forward to. Not that I can't make candles on a sunny day, but on a rainy one I don't have to wonder much about what to do. Hard to cut flowers for drying when they're wet. Well, I guess I could, but it seems a little counter-productive. Although wreath production is now in full swing, and soooo fun. I'm set up on the porch of the flower building, looking out over the pasture, and it's the prettiest office imaginable. Until December when it's 35 degrees and howling wind - which means I need to be making a *lot* of wreaths now, so I'm not freezing my ass off in December.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Art in the Park!

So Pack Square Park is finally coming along downtown (finally!), and I sort of had been hoping City Market might move there. Alas, it seems that is not to be. But I was still hoping cool things would start happening in the park, preferably cool things I could be part of. And then, eureka! I heard about Asheville Art in the Park. It's a fine art & craft show taking place at Pack Square Park the first three weekends in October - and we're going to be part of it! I'm excited to be joining so many talented artists for this show - go to the website, they have a great video of lots of the artists (not us, because alas I have no professional pictures of my stuff. In fact, I'm slightly intimidated, though very flattered, to be included with this crowd.) So I'll keep you updated on progress, and meantime mark your calendars! It'll be a great way to kick off the park.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Finally, here's the post I started some time back - on August 25, to be exact. Because that was the first day of school, and here's a picture of what it looks like to head off to second grade:

I was a little concerned about the first day of school. Sam had the same teacher for kindergarten and first grade, and she was WONNNDERFUL, so I wasn't sure how the transition to a new teacher was going to go. But when he hopped off the bus he announced it was "the best first day of school ever!!!!" I love that kid and his enthusiasm. I'm looking to approach things that way myself. How was your swim today? "Best ever!!!!!"

Here's another thing that's been best ever lately. I've remembered that when I go to yoga, I'm bulletproof.

For the record, that is *Not* me doing downward facing dog. My version of that pose is way less long and lithe looking. I'm the person that the instructor watches for a little while and then says, you're a runner, right? Um, yes. Because I've done yoga off and on for years, and I kind of look like someone who has done some yoga - but then you see me actually doing it and the reality is that running and biking do not actually lead to the effortless flexibility exhibited by this woman. Fortunately I've never had a picture taken of me while doing yoga, and I was forced to resort to the internet for a stand-in. At any rate, even my tight, creaky bastardized version of yoga is enough to make everything stop hurting, and the plantar fasciitis is feeling better. Score!

I do have some actual farm/market related news, but that's going to have to wait until the next post. For some reason blogger was not my friend for a while, and then I got tired of fighting with it and pretended like it didn't exist. So now that we're back together it's going to take me a few posts to remember everything.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Waterfall

After market on Saturday we jumped in White Lightening and headed to Mt. Pisgah. The plan was to camp Saturday night, and then go to the waterfall on Sunday. Turns out a whole lot of other people had the same plan - at least the first part of it. Because when we got to the campground all of the tent spots (about 70 of them) were full. But then the ranger said we could camp in an rv spot if we didn't mind putting the tent on the pavement. Hmmmm. Seemed a little sketchy, but we didn't have too many other options, so we said ok. And here's where my request (demand?) that I be comfortable while camping really paid off - we had air mattresses, so the pavement wasn't too big of a deal. Without the air mattresses, I'm thinking pavement is a deal killer. But it turned out the rv side was gold! Because everyone over there is old and quiet, unlike the tent side, where everyone is either under 10 or drunk. So now I'm scheming on how we can keep going to the rv side. It was peaceful and lovely and I had a few great conversations with some 80 year old Floridians. There were lots of 80 year old Floridians.

Sam taking it all in - and reveling in his contraband root beer.

The boys kicked back at camp.

Family self portrait.

Sunday morning we woke up and stumbled over to the Pisgah Inn to get breakfast. That's one of our favorite parts of the Mt. Pisgah campground - walking across the street to a real breakfast. It may be occurring to you that we aren't much for roughing it - to which I reply, yep. But the view from the Pisgah Inn dining room is pretty amazing. And they aren't cooking their eggs over an open flame - which highly increases the chance of them being edible.

So after breakfast we set off for the waterfall - which used to be a bit of a secret, but given the number of people wobbling down to it in their kitten heels yesterday, I'm thinking the secret it out.

Most people go to jump off a big rock into the upper pool, but we're saving that until Sam's older. Like, a lot older. Instead we go hang out down below.

The lower pool, where lots of splashing takes place.

The boys contemplating whether they'll really get in.

The official photographer, knowing there's no way in hell she's getting in.
A quick word about the water. It's cold. As in COLD. It honest to god feels like an ice bath. You know, a post-workout, I can't believe I'm sitting in ice water, ice bath. And if it feels like that in August, I'm guessing there's no time when it's even vaguely comfortable. And since I've had enough ice baths, it's a rare day for me to jump into one for recreational purposes. Yesterday was not that day.

But Sam thought it might the day for him to actually submerge for the first time. Usually he does a lot of wading and hemming and hawing before deciding he'll wait until the next time to actually swim.

But - here's the proof. They actually submerged. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wreaths - Before and After

I'm supposed to be at the farm right now, cutting cockscomb and plumed celosia and hanging them to dry for wreaths. But it's raining - and when cutting flowers to dry it helps if when you start they actually are. . . dry. So no cutting this morning. Instead I'm procrastinating and reading blogs and playing on mapmyride and pretending like I'm about to make a pair of booties.

The type of booties I'm allegedly making this morning.
Except the ones I'm making are purple with lavender flowers.

If I *was* actually cutting flowers for wreaths, here's what I'd be looking at (because I love a good before and after):

The celosia in the field (with some cockscomb in the foreground). A lot of it was volunteer this year, so it's not exactly in neat rows - but there's a bunch of it.

The celosia after a few weeks of hanging to dry and some Martha Stewart action on my part. In fact, one of these wreaths is still hanging on my kitchen door from last year. Yes, that means I'm lazy about taking things down. But it also means they last a long time - bonus.

Cockscomb in the field. I love this stuff - it feels like velvet, and it pretty much looks exactly the same whether it's fresh or dried. People call it "brain flowers" because it really does kind of look like a brain. As far as I know.

And behold, after transmogrification into a wreath. You wouldn't believe how many people think I'm lying when I say this is really made of flowers. It does look (and feel) rather velvet-ish. I'm growing a lot more red cockscomb, so hopefully I'll actually have enough of these this year.

All this talk of wreaths probably makes it obvious that I'm about ready to transition from sweating my ass off in the field to a slightly more subdued season of making things. And along with that I've been looking into some good craft shows to add to our itinerary this fall - so if anyone has suggestions, by all means let me know.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Joining the Facebook

After much time on the interweb it seems like this Facebook thing is really here to stay. So I made a page for the farm, and if you wanted to find it and be a fan (really, is there anything less adult sounding than the FB "friend" and "fan" terminology?) I would welcome you with open arms. Or the farm would. Because according to FB we're totally separate. But come to think of it I'd welcome you with open arms too. You can find the farm if you search "Spotted Dog Farm - Asheville, NC". And once blogger starts being a little more cooperative (it's rather cranky today, eh?) I'm going to add a box on the side to find the FB page. Because I'm a social networking maniac.

And, to answer "why on earth would I join you on FB when I already read this blog?", it's because I actually post farm updates on FB - in a, shall we say, slightly more focused fashion than this blog, which seems to offer a lot of room for digression. So if you want to know what's going to be at market the next day, and whether the city has (once again) spontaneously decided we need to close early - FB is a good way to do it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Saturday at the City Market

I walked around at The Asheville City Market on Saturday taking pictures of vendors other than me (for once). Here it is, a sampling of all the other cool stuff out there at the market: