June 30, 2011

It's a Most Excellent Day!

Squeeeeee! Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps is featured on Modish- one of my all time favorite blogs! Thank you so much-it really is an honor!

June 29, 2011

Solid Shampoo-The Saga Continues

As many of you know, I have been using solid shampoo since April. Though it took me a bit to find the right combination of oils and super fat I have to say that my hair has finally settled in nicely to the very latest formula. My hair is very thick and tends to be very heavy-I have to say that with the new regimen my hair seems to have much more volume, and just seems clean and happy in general. Yay!

I would also like to add that my 19 year old son recently acquired one of my shampoo rounds to try and his hair has never looked better - a noticeable difference. He was over the other day and I could instantly see that it was far less oily and in fact shiny. He told me he was rather impressed, and was totally sold on solid shampoo. So there you have it.

June 25, 2011

A Virtual Fieldtrip to Wildseed Farms-Fredericksburg, Texas

Yellow Cosmos

Indigenous Prickly Pear-a huge and beautiful mass

Prickly pear lend themselves nicely to a piece of prickly pear sculpture

 A peck of peppers - aren't they pretty?

 More peppers-in vibrant red

Water lily at the water feature section of Wildseed Farms

 A  rock planter filled with a complementary chartreuse planting.

 Spectacularly colorful field of Zinnias

 Dark Pink Cosmos

To compliment my love of soap I have an interest in plants(mostly herbs) as well. So, when we decided to take a quickie trip to Fredericksburg, Texas I had to fit in a visit to Wildseed Farms. Wildseed Farms is the largest working wildseed farm in the U.S. The farm has over 200 acres of cultivated acreage at it's Hill Country Headquarters. Along with breathtaking fields of wild flowers Wild Seed Farms boasts several other attractions that make it a great place to spend an afternoon. The Market Center houses all kinds of gifts and edible goodies and it's a beautiful building featuring construction of limestone and Eastern cedar. The meadows are fields of wildflowers perfect for photo ops(so don't forget your camera)and the butterfly garden is a habitat that attracts,protects and nourishes butterflies throughout their growth cycle.The pottery and plant nursery boasts a variety of whimsical pottery, sculptures, wind chimes and all things that add color and interest to your garden-and finally when you've seen it all(and you're hot a sticky.) Don't forget to take a load off at the "Brewbonnet Biergarten" where you can find a bite to eat and a cold beer. Sounds like a great afternoon huh?

June 24, 2011

Beautiful Thing Friday

 Prickly Pear Sculpture-Wildseed Farms

If you are like me and plants cow in fear(due to my less than "green thumb")-this is the plant for you. They also had a gorgeous barrel cactus sculpture-be prepared to spend a few 100 dollars though!

June 22, 2011

Tweaking and a Reminder

Lavender Shaving Round - 3.75 oz

I decided to tweak my round packaging just a bit. I really love the pleating and texture more in the front, so the back is now the front-love it!

Lavender Rustica 4.5 oz
Romantically rustic; encrusted with lavender buds (with a few sprinkled throughout) this soap is for the person who is romantic at heart. Immerse yourself in the calming, soothing warmth of lavender and vanilla while restoring soulful balance to the end of a long day.

Limited edition - Lavender Rustica is listed over at the Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps website  and will be ready to go tomorrow June 24. It has darkened a bit (as of course a soap with vanilla does) and it smells just beautiful.

June 21, 2011

Business Tip Tuesday -Seven Tips to Make Your Customers Love You

These days when every customer counts, what are some steps you can take to keep your customers in your corner ? Over the next 7 weeks I will post 7 ways to make your customers love you. Tip # 4 Stay In Touch/Relationship Building

Stay In Touch/Relationship Building While the frequency may vary, every customer should receive an “off line” touch at least once per quarter. Stay in touch with e-mails and newsletters even more often. Over time, as you relate to your customers you will develop a relationship, especially if your “touches” are informational or educational and are designed to reach out to them in a more personal way. You might share a recipe, or information on an upcoming local event – something that will be of interest to your customer that is not a product pushing correspondence. Relationship building is not always about selling your product, but is about relating to the customer in a more personable way.

June 19, 2011

A Very Kind Review over at Jenora Soaps

Back in May, my soaping buddy Jen of the ever hopping Jenora Soaps blog and creator of Naturalmente Meditterraneo soaps purchased some Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps to give them a try. I am happy to report that they were well received - whew! You can read her kind and gracious review here. Thank you so much Jen, and I am so glad to know you were happy with them. xoxo Michele

Here are the soaps she tried out>>>

 Orange Honey Drizzle with Oats

Creamy Coconut with Lime and Clove

Warm Cedar Shave Round

June 18, 2011

A Trip Down Under

In simple layman's terms, the Natural Bridge Cavern was created by an underground river moving slowly throughout the cracks and pores eroding away the limestone. Rainwater seeping through the limestone dissolved the limestone over time creating passages and rooms.

The Discovery Tour that we took takes you 18 stories down inside the earth where the temperature is a constant 70 degrees with humidity of 99%.Ugh! Believe me when I tell you-it is not the 18 stories down into the caverns that is the problem ,but the 18 stories back up and out. Whew! This ol' gal is out of shape.

Natural Bridge Caverns is an awe inspiring natural geological formation and something I will always remember.

Natural Bridge - the span was left suspended when a sink hole collapsed below it.

Entrance to Natural Bridge Caverns

Broomstick stalagmites are tall and spindly

Beautiful stalagmites

A large column;columns are formed when a stalactite and a stalagmite meet.

The Living Fern- the only living plant in the cave. The spores were believed to have been brought in on an explorers clothing where they were deposited then germinated next to a light.

Do you see the old man?

My daughter thought this formation looked like a brain.

King's Throne

Look carefully and you can see a fried egg in the formations in this room.

June 17, 2011

Beautiful Thing Friday

Zinnias at Wildseed Farms

Flitting amongst these Zinnias were the biggest bumble bees I have every seen. Boy! They had a lot of work to do - bussssy, bussssy little bees. :))

June 16, 2011

A Sneak Peek

Details coming soon...
How many of you Texans out there recognize this "Natural Bridge?"

June 15, 2011

Going Out On a Limb-A Tale of Getting Ready for Market

Today, I am so happy to give you a very special guest post from my friend Tara of On a Branch. Tara sells hand knitted items from her Etsy shop On a Branch and recently made the bold decision to work her first craft fair/markets where she sells her handmade soap. A few months back, I read a post on her blog about gathering the courage to work her first craft show/market and I have been following along ever since. In today's post she shares with us one of the first steps she took in getting her product ready for market. I think you will find her writing style like sitting down to a cup of coffee with your bff.

When Michele asked me to write a guest post for her blog from the viewpoint of a newbie to the craft show/fair circuit, I was delighted and more than a little surprised.  And when I say newbie, trust me.  I am a newbie.  My first craft show was in April.  I have done two since then and I am gearing up for my fourth show on June 18th.  I feel a little more comfortable, a little more confident with each show I do.  Although I do have to admit to having some severe nerves about my upcoming show.  Oh well, this too will pass.  I guess.  I hope.
It has taken me awhile to write this post because there is just so much I could write.  So many steps and obstacles.  So many decisions.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the first step of this whole new journey in selling my handmade soaps, aside from the actual soapmaking, was deciding how I was going to present my soap to potential customers.   I admired other soapmakers' packaging but I didn't want to do what someone had already done.  I had definite criteria that the packaging had to meet.  First and foremost was that the package had to represent me and who I am.  Secondly, it had to be simple yet attractive.  And finally, it had to be inexpensive and something I could do myself.  You see, I am frugal.  Okay, I admit it.  I am cheap.  So taking all those things into consideration, it took me at least a month to decide upon how I would package my soaps.
And here it is.

I am a book lover and have been since I was a little girl.  I have surrounded myself with books and am currently passing that love on to my sons.  It seemed almost natural to incorporate books into my packaging somehow.  I found this old book around that I was not going to read but I loved the look of the old pages -- thick, yellowed with age and soft.  A band of paper wrapped around the soap met all the criteria.  It most definitely was me.  It was simple but pleasing to the eye.  It was inexpensive, actually free this time but I will be able to find other old books for very little money at used bookstores in the future.  I cut out the tags by hand with the name of the soap on the facing side and a list of ingredients printed on the back side.  I am also a knitter so the yarn was something I always have on hand too.  The only real expense of my packaging is the stamp I use.  I have an artist friend who makes hand carved stamps and I asked her if she could make a stamp for me.  She did and I love it.  The bird provides that little splash of colour .     

With packaging that I felt truly represented me, I was ready to set up shop, so to speak.  And the journey begins.

June 14, 2011

Phew! Labels Are Finally Done

 Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps - Hand Balm

It was a bit of an ordeal (one set of labels we ordered were lost by Fed Ex),but labels are finally done for new hand balms. So, now the plan is to get  them listed this evening. Hand Balms are made with fabulously moisturizing and nutritive ingredients to take care of hands in urgent need of moisture and repair. These balms are also great for your lips, elbows, feet and cuticles. Hand Balms will come in four great scents; Honey, Lemon Honey, Lavender Honey and Orange Honey.

Business Tip Tuesday - Seven Tips to Make Your Customers Love You

These days when every customer counts, what are some steps you can take to keep your customers in your corner ? Over the next 7 weeks I will post 7 ways to make your customers love you. Tip No. 3

Repeat business or behavior can be bribed. Loyalty has to be earned.
Janet Robinson

You don't earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day- by-day. 
Jeffrey Gitomer

Don’t forget the loyal customers.

While new customers are critical to the growth of a business, you must not forget about the importance of keeping long standing customers. Nothing is worse than for the loyal customer to see products or services they bought at full price discounted to entice new customers. This can be turned around by offering exclusive loyalty programs or specials geared specifically to your best loyal customers. While statistics show loyal customers only make up 20% of a typical customer base their purchases make up 50% of sales. So in terms of growing a business, you can see how important it is to treat your loyal customers like royalty.

June 13, 2011

June 14th Gets You 14% Off

Tomorrow, June 14 is Flag Day-so to celebrate Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps is having a 14% off on the 14th sale. Be sure to stop by our online store to pick up some goodies!

June 12, 2011

A Stroll Down Main Street

Automated horse-Yeehaw!

Ironwork and vines

Brightly colored bottle trees

Candylicious- fun bench outside the "Lonestar Candy Bar"

Beautiful doors

The old hospital is now open for wine tasting

A  happy pink mail box outside the "Garden of Beaden" bead store

Vintage bicycle

Wind chimes

A kitchy dancing duo of garlic and hot sauce makes me smile! :)) 
(the garlic was a little photo shy :D)

 Pink flamingo

Downtown Fredericksburg, Texas - charming,historical,beautiful and kitchy all rolled into one fun touristy experience. I have to say that I have a delightful fascination with kitchy touristy stuff. I mean who doesn't love to walk down the street and spy through the store window dancing garlic and hot sauce? Or an automated horse ride that takes you back in time, to being 6 years old outside of the Piggly Wiggly? I love that the assault of color and the complete unexpected randomness of what awaits you at the next quaint little shop.

June 10, 2011

Another Tasty Morsel From Our Trip

Pink Water Lily at Wildseed Farms

I just couldn't resist!

The Adventures of The Great Shampoo Bar Experiment Take 2

This is my hair after over a month using a shampoo bar -
but prior to using the latest shampoo bar without palm. 
(I am not very photogenic, so I try to avoid any situations where photographs might be involved-thus the hair only shot.)

This is just a little bar end I took on our trip to wash my hair with
Check out the prolific lather with the use of soft water

During our whirlwind trip to the hill country, we were excited to note that the water was soft(as opposed to the hard mineral laden water we have at home.) The funny thing was that even though the water was soft-the daily shower was like being sandblasted. (Yes, there is such a thing as too much water pressure.)Yikes! Anyway, despite having to strategically direct the forceful water where it would make the least discomfort-it was interesting to note how the soap reacted to the difference in water. Not only were the bubbles quite a bit more prolific than at home, the sf was also more pronounced-leaving our skin nice and conditioned for the day.

Beautiful Thing Friday

Monarch butterfly on Hollyhock

The second in the butterfly release series.

June 9, 2011

It Was A Long Drive Home

After our mad dash to the hill country(and back) and the multitudes of prickly pear we saw- I think maybe it's beautiful blossoms should be our state flower...

We took a mad dash trip to the hill country, and it was a looong drive home. Thought I would leave you with something pretty - until tomorrow.

June 6, 2011

Business Tip Tuesday-Seven Tips to Make Your Customers Love You

These days when every customer counts, what are some steps you can take to keep your customers in your corner ? Week Two-Dependability

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
William James

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.
Og Mandino 

No.2-Be Dependable

To keep customers happy you need to deliver time after time. If a problem arises notify your customer as soon as possible. Explain how you are going to rectify the situation and then follow through to ensure positive results. This also includes being timely with invoices and correspondence. You might consider creating a system to ensure that each task is performed in a correct manner consistently.

Earthly Delight Monday-Featuring Ingredients That Make Handmade Soap Special-Patchouli

Patchouli – (Pogostemon cablin) a bushy herb in the mint family. Patchouli grows well in warm tropical climates and originates from the tropical regions of Asia.

The heavy, earthy scent of Patchouli has been used in perfumes for centuries and it is now commonly used in incense, insect repellent and alternative medicine.

Patchouli is an excellent base note and fixative (a fixative slows the evaporation of other more volatile oils.) It is interesting to note that Patchouli improves with age, and that the aged product is what is preferred over freshly harvested. A little patchouli can be used to give other oils a mysterious earthy note. Patchouli blends well with almost any essential oil making it a must have for the blending of interesting fragrant essential oil blends.

  • Patchouli is considered an important oil for bringing about the balance of relaxation and stimulation.

  • Patchouli is said to bring the three forces of the body creativity, heart center and intellect into sync.

  • It is also said that patchouli may bring about prosperity and abundance. Hmmm- really?

June 4, 2011

A Little Linky Love=A Yummy Recipe

I would just like to say that I highly recommend these Mini Ginger Chicken Meatball Subs with Masala Sauce they are delicious and perfect with your beer of choice. Just Sayin! The best part is the chicken meatballs are baked so they are easy to make - this can all be thrown together very quickly on a Friday night or whatever. It's all good stuff too, I guess the bread is the most sinister contribution to the whole meal - I can live with that!

June 3, 2011

Beautiful Thing Friday

Monarch Butterfly just after release - "Free to Be"

Last year, just about this time;my family and I attended a butterfly release. Hundreds of butterflies were released into the local municipal gardens. This is a photo that my then 10 year old daughter took. Notice how you can almost see the little scales on the butterfly's wings. So cool! I have a small series of photos from that day so over the next few weeks I will be sharing a few.

June 1, 2011

The Great Shampoo Bar Experiment -Take 2

A  tower of shampoo bar just out of the mold - 
those are my finger prints on the very cold tower o' soap
the surface is actually very pristine and beautiful... Woot!

So, my first try at shampoo bars about a month back was a complete bust. I used a microbrew craft beer and for some reason it resulted in a phunky lye heavyish outcome. I have used this particular beer in regular soap many times without incident, so I am not really sure what happened, but it was just wrong(believe me when I tell you this..)I finally decided to give the ol shampoo bar another try and this time-the results seem to be spot on.(oh! btw no beer in this one.)To be continued....