Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Operation Use-Less-Paper: The first 3 steps...

I've become hyper-aware lately of how much paper is still being wasted in our household.  Some of it isn't our fault.  I'm usually appalled at the amount of extra paper that comes to us in the mail.  Like sheets of printed invoices for online orders.  This is the reason why, when I send you an order from House 54, I don't include the printed receipt with it.  I figure you got it in email form already anyway, and there's no sense in wasting the paper just to be redundant.  But as far as what I have control over, here's what I decided to make some tweaks to...
1.  My calendar.  This is a biggie, folks.  I'm seriously attached to this thing.  I get the kind that's in book form and lasts like 2 years worth of monthly calendars.  A LOT of info goes into that thing over a 2-year period.  I can have it open on my counter and see the whole month worth of stuff, or close it up and take it with me.  BUT, I can do the same thing with my iPhone.  And use zero paper in the process.  So when it's life is up by the end of June (it's one of the ones that goes based on the school year), it won't be replaced.  *This is me making quite a pitiful sad face, but understanding that it's worth it for the greater good.

2.  My kid's artwork.  The Kid likes to sit down at the kitchen table and crank out pages worth of drawings.  It helps him focus some of his wild energy into something quiet and creative.  That's pretty much a win-win in our house, except for the amount of paper he can blow through in an hour.  So I've started making him draw more than one thing on each page, and then turn it over and do the same thing on the other side.  This is why crayons rock.  They don't stain my table, and they don't bleed through the paper so that the other side is rendered useless.
3.  In-store receipts.  These are pretty small, and, for the most part are not our biggest offender.  BUT they're a huge offender for another reason.  Did you know that register receipt paper contains a huge amount of BPA?  It's what gives it that smooth, glossy feel.  YUCK, right?!  So unless I'm making a purchase for a home improvement (which I need the receipt for documentation to claim on my taxes if/when we sell our house), or something for my business (also for tax/accounting purposes), then I refuse the receipt at the register.  I tend to be pretty picky about what I open my wallet for and don't buy things that I'm not madly in love with, and I hardly ever buy clothing without trying it on first.  So the likelihood of me needing to return something is pretty low.  But if I do, I'll take my chances that I'll be offered store credit for my item without a receipt, or I'll just go on my merry way being happier that I'm stuck with an unwanted item, than with fingers covered in BPA.  Hopefully enough folks will catch on, and with enough refusals of receipts, companies will either change the paper they're printed on, or better yet, offer people an electronic option instead.

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Simplifying: Taking stock of the STUFF in your life...

There's been a lot of chit-chat in my house recently about finding our dream piece of property and building a new house.  Giant garden, small house.  Simple...  But all this talk has me thinking a lot about our stuff.  Building a new home sounds exciting, moving everything into it does not.  So when I went down into the basement this morning to do a load of laundry, for the first time in a long time I just stopped and looked around.  We have a boatload of STUFF.    

Just to clear something up, I'm not viewed as a great collector of stuff.  My mother is forever accusing me of not being sentimental enough, because I get rid of things that should mean something to me.  I'm famous for taking carloads of my belongings to Goodwill and never having a twinge of regret.  But somehow it still accumulates.  And this morning it gave me a good reality check about excess.  Excess crayons, chairs, rolls of wrapping paper, food storage containers, sets of sheets, kid's toys, boxes of fabric scraps waiting to be made into a quilt that will probably never come to be...

This gives me a whole new perspective on shopping.  If I think it would be more trouble than it's worth to pack it up and move it to a new house, then I probably don't need to be bringing it home in the first place.  So, this weekend, I'm taking this gift of clearer, unbiased vision, and taking stock of my stuff.  If I wouldn't be sorry to leave it behind, or if it's been in the same box, untouched since we moved here 5 years ago, than it's going in a pile.  That pile of stuff will be sold off and/or given away.  Then if we stay in this house forever, it'll be a cleaner one to live in, and if we move, we'll have less stuff to deal with.  Win-win, if you ask me.  Clutter be gone!

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, May 24, 2013

A Good Day To Be A Duck...

Here in Vermont it's what they call a "good day to be a duck."  A few weeks ago we were all asking for rain.  Apparently enough of Mama Nature's children all asked a wicked lot for the same thing, because she pulled one of those "FINE!  Here's some rain!  Now Quit your whining!" things.  I'm sorry Mom!  I get your point.  You can turn it off now.  However, there was a tiny blessing along with this curse.  Hubby and I just learned that our basement stays dry enough that when I move HOUSE 54's shop back home, that it can move into our basement.  This means not having to build a workshop outside on our property.  Yay for all that excavation work we had done around our foundation a few Summers ago!  I'm pretty ridiculously excited about only having to buy a new stainless steel work table (which I was going to buy for the new workshop anyway), instead of spending thousands of dollars building a whole new structure on our property.  Yippee!!!

And, AND!  It'll also help keep our yard clear and pretty, in the off chance that we want to put our house on the market, should we find an awesome piece of rolling farmland to buy in the near future...

Something like this?

Vermont Farm by Paul Wyman

A girl can dream, right?

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Natural pain relief...

I'm a tad addicted to learning about new ingredients, and the concoctions I can create with them.  But I'm a one-woman show here at House 54.  So not everything that I make can go into production for the company.  Some of it is just made in tiny one-jar batches, to satisfy my curiosity, and give me and my family a new jar of goo to play with.

One of those recent curiosities is Arnica.  It's a plant in the sunflower family, and has been used for centuries for pain relief.  Supposedly, it can relieve pain from sprains, bruises, and muscle soreness.  I was admittedly skeptical of the claims, but intrigued enough to want to try it out.  So I've had some Arnica-infused oil for a while now that I've been tinkering with.  Up until recently though, my batches of All-better-balm, or whatever you want to call it, were coming out pretty lack luster.  

Apparently yesterday's muscle pain was the motivation I needed to make the ultimate concoction though.  Between being dragged around my lawn like a rag-doll while my dogs chased my neighbor's cat, and an unreasonably strenuous workout, I had pretty perfectly sore muscles to use as test subjects.  So I finished my batch, and hesitantly slapped a bit of the new goo on my bod.  This is always the part where I'm hopeful, but wince a bit, because I'm not quite sure if whatever new ingredient I just tried out will be the one thing that finally burns my skin off.  As an added, super fun bonus, the cream I made turned out a really magically weird color, sort of like if you mixed an avocado with traffic-control-vest yellow.   So it added a whole other element of terror to the trial.  Well, let me just tell you, HOLY-WICKED-AWESOME-INSTANT-RELIEF-OF-THROBBING-MUSCLE-PAIN, Batman!!!

So I really have no idea if this is something that the general public would be interested in having.  I may just have a few jars of florescent yellow goo in my medicine chest at home.  But this stuff is so amazingly awesome that it may need to go into production.  Your thoughts???

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Baby lotion labels now feature artwork by local artist, Jamie Perron...

I'm so freaking excited about this!  I have absolutely no idea why I didn't think of this sooner, but I'm glad I finally did, and I couldn't be more happy with the way it turned out.  My dear friend, Jamie Perron, is a phenomenal artist.  She has supported me and my business (and every single other major life-changing decision I've ever made) since the very beginning, and I hope that this new change helps to support her talent as well.  So I decide to do a redesign of the Baby Lotion labels to feature some of her artwork.

I hope you're as pleased as I am with the way it turned out.  If you have a little bundle of dry-skinned joy, or know someone who's expecting such a delivery soon, you can pick up some of this lotion in my Etsy shop.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


My Mom...
This is one of my favorite photos I've ever seen of my mom.  Seems silly, because you can't see her face.  But if you could, she'd be making some goofy I'm-never-going-to-think-I-look-good-in-this-photo expression.  So since she probably had no clue that this photo was even being taken, she didn't have a chance to freak out about it, and all you can see is the fact that she's stunning.  I mean, seriously, those legs!  This photo was, of course, taken a long time ago.  Long enough ago that she's since gotten rid of that dress, much to my dismay.  But this photo shows my mom as the incredibly beautiful, confident, wicked cool chick that she still is.

Wicked cool, is actually a gross understatement.  Pretty much every person in our county that knows how to save someone's life was taught how to by my mom.  She has a dog the size of a small horse.  She has a Harley.  She's the biggest supporter of everything I've ever done (possibly to a fault...there are a few phases I went through in life that would have probably been good to have a little less support with.  No more perms for either of us.  EVER).  And she's hands-down the best Nana in the world (even though she taught my kid the F-word.  She says she didn't, but she has a potty mouth that will rival any sailor).

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Having a "weird" business concept, and being OK with that...

Still of the movie Field of Dreams on IMDB.

When I was at Yoga the other night, my indescribably amazing instructor and I were chatting before class about our businesses.  We each have a concept that's not way-out wacky, but is unique to what else is being offered in our respective markets.  She runs a yoga studio.  Lots of people do that.  But what makes hers incredible is that it's up in the woods, with a breathtaking view of the Green Mountains.  Birds were chirping outside, and the breeze was flowing across us during Monday night's Shavasana.  I left there feeling energized and relaxed all at the same time.  It's the best of Vermont, and the best of Yoga all combined in one magical place.  She has a fantastic concept for her business, and for her practice.  So we were discussing how to get more people on board with our concepts.  I think the answer in the end was that neither of us had any idea, but that we knew we had to stick with our visions and trust in their awesomeness.  You know, like Field Of Dreams style?  "If you build it, he will come."

Sometimes I have to catch myself when I feel like I'm not fitting in with the mainstream line of products.  Sometimes I feel self-conscious for my products when they're turned down by a wholesale account, or not scooped up by a customer in my shop.  They're different, and sometimes it's rough to be the weird kid.  I have to stop and remind myself that that was the point.  They're different on purpose.  I'm not making cake-batter-scented lotions on purpose.  I'm packaging my products differently on purpose.  I'm making my own unique formulas on purpose.

So I'm channeling my inner Kevin Costner.  He didn't give a crap when people thought he was nuts for building a baseball field where his corn crop should be.  He kept right on playing baseball with ghost players that no one else could see.  I probably won't go quite as far as he did and kidnap James Earl Jones, but he went right ahead and did that too, because he believed in his cause.  And in the end he was right.  When people started being able to see what he could see, they were stupefied that they hadn't believed sooner.  They came in droves to see what he had created.  Sorry for the spoiler of the end of the movie, but seriously, it was made in 1989.  If you hadn't seen it by now, I probably didn't rock your world too much.

PS:  is Kevin Costner not just the most dreamy thing EVER?!

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, May 8, 2013


House 54 is offering a give-away on InkSpot Workshop's blog.  It's a complete skincare set, perfect for a Mother's day pampering (especially for yourself)!  So go check it out and enter to win it!  Also check out the awesome give-away being offered by Lulu's Garden of Maine.
Image from InkSpot Workshop.

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nick Miller, my hero...

This is incredibly juvenile of me, but this needs to be shared.  Not because I don't think you've seen it already, but because you probably (like me) wanted to see it again.  At the detriment of every guy I've ever dated, I have watched a LOT of romantic comedies.  I know what a good sweep-the-girl-off-her-feet, take-her-breath-away, while-still-keeping-your-PG-rating kiss looks like.  And I (along with most of the rest of the civilized world) had been waiting for this moment on New Girl since the show started.  Job well done Nick Miller!  You and Jess now rank top-2 of my favorite movie/tv smooches of all time.  Since I'm a die-hard Friends fan, I can't possibly bring myself to bump a Ross-and-Rachel moment down a notch.  Seriously though, there's no denying that this is a damn fine smooch...

Just for comparison's sake though, here's Ross and Rachel's first...

So there's your mushy-gushy stuff for the day.  Now go forth and channel your inner Nick Miller, and smooch someone like you mean business.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, May 3, 2013

Island Life...

All this sunshine-y weather lately has me slathering on the Island Life lotion, to pretend I'm somewhere like this...

Thanks for stopping by,

Babies are not good gardeners (yet)...

Contrary to popular belief, babies are not very good garden helpers.  They pretty much just try to eat leaves and wear their Dad's hat, and they're not tall enough or strong enough to push the wheelbarrow or hold the shovel.  But since they're insanely cute, their poor work ethic is given a pass, and they're allowed on the job site anyway.    

Have a great Green-Up weekend!

Thanks for stopping by,