Friday, October 12, 2012

A Day in the Life

If you are on Facebook, there's little doubt that you've seen the various interpretations of the meme that shows 6 different pictures with captions like:  what my friends think I do, what my customers think I do, what the neighbors think I do, etc., etc. and I know that I've mentioned how when we had our shop, we would hear so often, "I want to do this when I retire." 
Yesterday I kept my camera handy and took shots throughout the day (or my sister took them - depending on who had the least greasy hands at the time).  We have a lot of fun working together.  Our laughter very often makes people think we're just very lucky slackers who don't do much except put out a magazine (The Essential Herbal) and fabulous soap (Lancaster County Soapworks, Etc.) - both of which magically appear when we need them.  Most of the time we who work making products from natural ingredients - be they herbs, soap, bath and body products, whatever - post beautifully composed shots that make our lives look romantic and whimsical.  Sometimes lighting, costuming and props are involved.  But here it is - the reality, probably out of order ...
Before heading out, I photograph and post something on the business Facebook page to clarify an early post on the various things that we call amber.

Batches of soap we made the night before are unmolded and we set to work cutting them into bars.  Merlot is on the cutter here.

While Maryanne cuts, I stack the bars on shelves.  Those low shelves are tricky.  This is Lavender.

Completed orders are stacked on the shipping table to be packed.  A good eye will notice some cover artwork for the magazine in the background.
Orders being packed for shipping or delivery - depending on distance.

Box molds waiting to be cleaned from last night and refilled tonight.

Each bar of soap is trimmed to remove the sharp edges.

Lunch time - the mailbox at home holds a good bit of Essential Herbal mail to be handled.  I like to think I'm doing my part to keep the US Postal Service solvent.

Getting ready to melt fats for several runs (6 batches each) of soapmaking.  The 50 pound pails are tamed with a hand-truck and tools - like this pail opener.  Took us a couple of years of wrestling with these bad boys before we figured out how to work with them.  We were younger then.  Now we use the tools.


Maryanne setting up the oil melter and removing just the right amount of one of the oils to make the perfect blend.
Melted, blended oils rushing into one of the many single batch buckets we have lined up and ready to fill.
Wrapping, wrapping, wrapping. 
Mid-day and a rush order comes in.  We can squeeze it in.

Bottles lined up to be filled with "spritz" and lotions.

Hazelnut harvest break!  A little fresh air feels pretty good.


Filling the spritz bottles with base before adding the individual scents and affixing the spray tops.

Tub teas are blended and scooped into heat sealable teabags - then ironed, packed, and labeled.
There's more of course. We don't show the actual soapmaking, the dragging out of totes full of herbs to blend the tub teas, or the many other small tasks that make up many of our days. We have a beautiful life, let there be no doubt. Some days we even have bon-bons. This morning, we'll finish up the work that needs doing in the shop, and set out on deliveries - one of our favorite activities. Maybe I'll remember the camera.

7 comments:

Laura said...

This is AWESOME! I've been waiting for you to post "a day in the life" of your life, because there's SO much you do, and it's all very cool! :)

Anne-Marie said...

Loved seeing your process! It looks like this season is keeping you busy. :D

bentneedle said...

This is really cool! So interesting to see how you do things.

Tina Sams said...

Both businesses are keeping us hopping this autumn. We've never been so busy! Leads to some hilarious punchy behavior and finally letting some tasks be taken over by others who can do it faster, better, and sometimes less expensively in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Do you let anybody apprentice with you?

Tina Sams said...

We don't. We've given a lot of classes in the past, but just work so well in tandem that even our kids don't get into the act as much as they'd like.

Mare said...

Great blog. I'm off to check out your goodies.

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