Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We've Got Snow...

We had an official Blizzard the other day.  The first one to hit us in a decade.  It was a big deal around here.  You may have heard of it on the news?   The Blizzard of 2010 that paralyzed the East Coast the day after Christmas.  Oh we get plenty of "regular" snow, a Nor'easter or two each year.  And it is expected, I mean, this is Maine.  But an official Blizzard is always exciting. 

Captain and I had time to batten down the hatches, as it took a while for the well documented news worthy storm to make it's way up the East Coast to Maine.  I took down the outdoor Christmas decorations.  I felt kind-of sad and all business like taking down the garland, lights and wreath only 1 day after the holiday, but it was the best thing to do.  If the garland and lights got all covered with snow and ice and buried under 7' of snow, I may not take them down until Spring.  And the 3' diameter wreath hung on the front of the house, up very high.  I had visions of it swinging in the gusts of wind and eventually flinging off the house, Frisbee style into the nearby cemetery.    Captain got the plow Jeep running and pumped up the tires real good.  He made sure our generator was running well and we had plenty of gas on hand to run it.  The flashlights were out and we had provisions to last us for a couple of day.  We were prepared.

Thanks to Face Book, my RI, CT and MA friends kept me posted as to snow fall amounts, flickering lights, and wind gusts.  We were ready.  The storm finally dropped it's first flakes last Sunday afternoon and the wind didn't stop howling until late Tuesday.  We had 2 nights of dangerous winds with gusts over 40 MPH.  The house was making alot of racket every time a gust blew through.  Our snowfall amounts here on the Coast of Maine reached only about 12" or so.  It was hard to measure, as we had soo much wind and the blowing snow is over 2' deep in some parts but only a mere 1"  in others (I can see some grass).  Here are a few pictures that I took late in the day on Monday.  You can see the flakes in front of the camera, it was coming down fast and furious, the wind was whipping and I was only out for a few minutes as it was a bitterly cold. 

Looking out the back door....

Looking out over to the neighbors (they have a beautiful horse farm). 

So, we've got snow.  The temperatures aren't going to let up much, I mean we are in the 30's.  No melting, I think it will be around for a while.  Hot cocoa days and soap making.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moving Towards 2011

I have been counting and organizing, making charts and graphs, calculating and typing, numbers have been crunched to review 2010 as a whole.  My soap business has grown and I am happy to move forward into 2011 with even more ideas and energy.

So, not only do I need to replenish my soap supply after all the craft fairs, farmers markets and end of the year surge in wholesale orders, but I have lots of other "business" type things to do.

I am working on new soap fragrances, products and packaging for 2011.  New types of soap, some special request and your ideas.   A dream list of wholesale accounts to capture.  Researching how to create bar code stickers.  And a new work space.  My hubby has been hanging lights in the basements in anticipating of me moving my operations down there.  The month of January will be dedicated to building my new soap studio!  I currently work out of my kitchen, a small hall closet and the spare bedroom on the second floor.  Several of my summer farmers market items live in the garage too.  This new space will allow me to contain my soap business all in one space.  Not only giving me my house back, but also creating a more efficient work space.  The up and down the stairs for supplies on the second floor, over to the hall closet for ingredients, back to the computer and printer for labels and everything spread out on the kitchen table works fine for a small business, but I need to streamline as my business has grown. 

I also am in the process of creating my goals for 2011, a vision board (which keeps me inspired throughout the year) and revising my business plan.  I try to run my business very efficiently and as organized as possible.  And I recognize that I am a creative type and sometimes I don't like or just don't get how to do some parts of the business.  I am lucky enough to have my husband to bounce ideas off of and see my ideas from a business point of view.  Does it make sense?  Is it efficient?  How long does it take to make this or that?  He asks all these type of questions to keep me from losing money.  My point here is to take the help when you can, and there is nothing wrong in asking for help.  Just remember to step back and not take it personally when someone tries to tell you that your super awesome idea just isn't working.  It doesn't always mean no, or to abandon the idea, just maybe you need to approach it differently.

I will keep you up to date with new soaps and products as they come along.  Back to the computer for me today.  Onward to 2011 ! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Special Yule Market In Brunswick 12/23

We are having a special market TODAY in Brunswick at Ft. Andross from 10:00-7:00.  Here is the announcement: 

Special YULE MARKET from 10:00-7:00, Brunswick Winter Market at Ft. Andross. Come for last minute shopping & enjoy live music & connect with our wonderful community! Pies, cookies, breads, cheese, meats, fish, veggies, soaps, yarns, hand knit & sewn items, jewelry, candles, wood bowls & rolling pins, olive oils, real Maine grown mushrooms & much more.

There will not be a market on Saturday the 25th, Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Special Yule Market in Freeport, L.L.Bean

We had an outdoor Farmers Market (we called it the Yule Market) on Sunday here in Maine.   The generous folks at L.L.Bean put up a large tent to keep us out of the very chilly wind.  All the vendors were bundled up good, wearing layers of long johns and multiple pairs of socks, scarves and mittens, down jackets and ear muffs.  We had 25 or so vendors, many of these vendors are part of our summer market and were happy to be back.   You could find gingerbread houses and cookies, cupcakes and breads, chestnuts and maple syrup, wood bowls and Alpaca yarns, soap and candles, spices and herbs, fresh eggs and cider, lobsters and soo much more!  Here are a few pictures from the event.

The giant tree in Discovery Park, right next to our tent.  There were also ice sculptures carved by local artist, but I didn't have time to take pictures before it got dark (I was very busy selling soap)!  I snapped this photo just as dark was closing in.

Our giant tent.  Complete with sides (to keep out the wind) and lights inside!  L.L.Bean even provided us with tables, chairs and even tablecloths.  They were very generous to us.  Blocking off a whole parking lot for the tent and vendor parking the Sunday before Christmas (wow!) they did  alot of advertising for us too.

Very, very busy inside the tent.  Look at all the L.L.Bean brown bags! 

And music filled the air!  Wonderful, upbeat, old fashion Christmas music just made the event perfect. 

What fun!  We all hope to continue next year and create a new December tradition. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

My Nana used to make these delicious cookies each Christmas season.  Wonderfully soft and chewy in the center and very chocolaty.  The powered sugar on the outside is sweet and a pretty contrast on the dark chocolate.  I am working on a batch today to share with my friends.  Do you have any holiday traditions or a favorite recipe that you will be making for the Holiday?

Chocolate Crinkles

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners powdered sugar

In large bowl, mix oil, chocolate, granulated sugar and vanilla.

Stir in eggs, one at a time.

Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.

Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray.

With a spoon, scoop out about a tablespoon of dough.  Roll around in your hands to shape into balls. Drop dough balls into powdered sugar.  Roll around to coat with the confectioners sugar.  Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Soap Swap

I participated in a fun soap swap this Holiday season.  The idea is that I send in 12 of my soaps, and in return I will received back 12 different soaps from different soap makers.  (I pay for the shipping to and from the organizer).  I received my much anticipated soap swap box on Monday and ripped it open to see what I would find inside.  Merry Christmas to me!  Look what a great group of soaps I received!

What fun to see and small all these different soaps!  I have some great ideas already tumbling around in my head for new soaps for 2011.  The soap swap was a great way to smell some new fragrances, check out some creative packaging, and enjoy beautiful artisan soaps.   I will definitely be involved with another soap swap.  What fun!

Gingerbread House, Or....

Well, I do live in the Coast...and a plain 'ole Gingerbread house just wouldn't do!  I have yet to make this, but a girl can dream.  Maybe I will, or maybe I will next year.  I may not have time, but I love this idea.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Soap Slices

I had tons of soap ends, I mean tons.  Each time I make a batch of soap, I cut off the ends of the log of soap.  The ends are sometimes skinny, sometime fat, sometimes irregular in shape or short etc.  I considered selling the ends back when I was participating in The Yarmouth Clam Festival but was so busy, I just didn't get around to it.  So, what was I going to do with all these ends (or potential money) that were just hanging around taking up space.   I also had some clear Chinese food style take out containers....hmmmm, lets put them together and see what we get.  I took about 6 containers full of ends to the Brunswick Winter Market and they all sold in like 23 minutes.  Also, folks that saw them were clamoring for more.  I had one customer place an order for 4 containers and we met in the Shaw's Supermarket parking lot for a delivery of goods in between market dates.    Then Lisa Marie's Made In Maine called to place an order for soaps, soap samplers, and more and she often asks me "anything new"?  So, I said, "sure, I have these soap ends packaged real cool in a clear takeout container".  She bought 2 dozen.  Meanwhile, I continued to sell them at a brisk pace at the markets and had to start announcing I had a "limited supply and come and get 'em quick" of soap ends.  I delivered to Lisa Marie and 5 days later she called for more!  Now, it is 10 days before Christmas and people are shopping like mad, but I really think that folks like these things!  More packing is on the way and I feel so thrifty and Yankee-like, not wasting a bit of soap!

What do you think?  Cute?  Each package contains from 6-10 slices of soap.  All different types of soap packaged up in a clear takeout style container.  Customer can see the soap ends, the variety of colors and textures.  Sometimes there are big slices of soap in there, almost a 1/2 - 3/4 size bar of soap.  I try to include a variety, no duplicate soap slices in each package.  It is kind-of Pot Luck style, you just don't know what you will get, but it will be fun and yummy to try something new.  I will also list these on my website under the Limited Editions section.    You can follow me on FaceBook here:  Casco Bay Soap Co. on FaceBook  to get my up-to-date information on whether or not I will have soap ends at the market. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mini Soap Gift Basket

(Not the worlds best photo, but you get the idea).

My dad wanted to give a little holiday gift to the great nurses and medical workers that have been so very nice to him and helped him through quite a bit these last 2 years.  His idea was to create a gift basket full of my mini soaps.  I make these mini, or guest size soaps, for a B&B here in Freeport (The James Place Inn B&B) , Towne Condominiums (also in Freeport) and as part of my Soap Samplers.  Dad thought that since there were many people in the office, he wanted them all to get a little soap of their own.  This little basket is full of 2 dozen guest size soaps in all sorts of fragrances.  I think it came out super cute!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Do you like Fruitcake?  I honestly have never had one.  They have such a bad reputation.  But I know that I like Irish Soda Bread, and that has fruit in it, and I do like to bake....could I find and bake a fruitcake recipe that was good?  I had it in my mind that I would indeed make a fruitcake this year.  But no candied citron peel and strange green cherries.  I wanted real fruit.  I searched high and low, scouring my cookbooks collection, pouring over Internet recipes that promised to be "the best".  I hadn't found the recipe yet, but finally found it on Wednesday night. (while watching a fabulous show....) That was it, I was making a fruitcake. 

(The Beekman 1802 Generous Fruitcake)

Plan ahead, because you need to first find and purchase all this great fruit, and then soak it overnight in Rum.  Then the next day you will make the cake and bake it.  Also, the baking time is a bit long, but it's totally worth it.  Again, plan ahead.   I held up our Saturday-Is-Homemade-Pizza night with an occupied oven, but Captain was okay with that (he's okay with most everything I do, I'm a lucky girl).

It came out so very good.  Delicious.  I ate it warm from the oven, and then toasted the next morning.  Yummy plump and moist fruit fill this bread (or cake) and the nuts add a nice toasty crunch.  You must try this fruitcake. 

Here is the recipe, courtesy of my new favorite show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys on Planet Green.

(Should I name drop...??....I don't know....okay, I will.  I went to school with Josh, costar of the show!  He and I were in Concert Choir together and all the Christmas Plays and Spring Musicals.  He is a super great guy and just as funny in person as on the show.  I have great memories of him from back in the day).

And here is the recipe typed out on my blog for you to easily reference:

* I didn't have/use all the dried fruits that they did.  I used currants, golden raisins, dark raisins, craisins, canned pineapple ~ not candied, All which equalled the 4 1/2 cups of dried fruits.  I made 3 loaves with this recipe.

Beekman 1802 Generous Fruit Cake

1 ¼ cups chopped dried Calimyrna figs (about 6 oz)

4 ½ cups chopped dried fruits, best quality, organic / local wherever possible. Here’s what we like:

½ cup dates
1 cup candied pineapple
1 cup dried apricots
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup dark raisins
1 cup golden raisins
½ cup light rum
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature (3 sticks)
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
8 large eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups pecans, toasted


The day before

Chop the dried fruits in good-sized pieces.

Combine dried figs, mixed fruits, golden raisins, and rum in large bowl.

Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight, stirring occasionally.

Make the cake

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Butter baking pans or forms.

Beat 1 1/2 cups butter, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl until light.

Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla, baking soda and salt.

Stir in flour in 4 additions.

Stir in pecans, dried fruit mixture and any soaking liquid from bowl.

Bake the cake

Divide batter among prepared pans. Place pans on baking sheet and place on center rack of oven.

Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes.


Cool cakes completely in pans on racks.

Wrap in plastic or aluminum foil.

Let stand at least 1 day and up to 3 days at room temperature.

Wrap in cheesecloth, and if you wish, baste with liqueur of your choice.

Storage & Serving

Store several weeks at room temperature or months in a refrigerator

Serve at room temperature

If the cake becomes dry, use a pastry brush to brush the outside of the cake with brandy


I left a comment on the Beekman 1802 recipe that I had made the fruitcake and posted it here on my blog (I didn't leave a link because I didn't want to seem "spammy")  And Dr. Brent (the other 1/2 of the Fabulous Beekman Boys) left this message!

Dr. Brent

Thanks for making us a part of your holidays, Shannon

Monday, December 13, 2010

Still Lots Of Opportunities To Purchase Soap...

12 days 'till Christmas but still 5 opportunities to shop for Casco bay Soap at Farmers Markets and special events.

Wednesday the 15th
Falmouth Winter Farmers Market ~ Cumberland Farmers Market Association
Allen, Sterling & Lothrop

Saturdays the 18th
Brunswick Winter Market
Ft. Andross, Maine St.  Brunswick

Sunday the 19th
Yuletide Market ~ Cumberland Farmers Market Association
L.L.Bean Discovery Park

Wednesday the 22nd
Falmouth Winter Farmers Market ~ Cumberland Farmers Market Association
Allen, Sterling & Lothrop
Rt. 1 Falmouth

Thursday the 23rd
Yule Market ~ Brunswick Winter Market
Ft. Andross, Maine St. Brusnwick

PLUS, don't forget all the retail locations listed on the right hand side of the blog where you can purchase my soaps, laundry detergent, dryers sachets and  soap samplers.

AND, as always, I am happy to met you for a special delivery.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tir na nOg Farm

A couple of weeks ago after our Wednesday farmers market I visited my friend Holly's farm just the next town over. 

She has soo many different things going on!  Chickens and eggs, bees and honey, pigs and cattle, vegetables and fruit! And she has soo much knowledge!  I was there for about 2 hours while she showed me all around and told me so many neat fact about plants and their origins, their properties, info. about the bees, what parts are what on a pig and more and more and more!   She has a beautiful farm and I have some pictures to share with you.

It had just rained, hard, for about 5 hours straight.  We got like 2" of rain an hour.  When the sun finally came out these pigs were, well, happy to play around in this mud.

And playing around with a pumpkin is always fun!

She has 2 gorgeous Highland Cattle!  Isn't the farm pretty with the rolling hills?

Hi there beautiful!

And here is Holly brushing one of her beauties.

And this a Top Bar Bee Hive.  Not the traditional stack style Bee Hive.  No heavy lifting here.  Simply take off the top and you have immediate access to the honey comb. 

And look!  A little window on the side so you can look in and see how the bees are doing!

The bees were very busy on this day which was unusually mild for November. 

And of course, you can not have a farm without a beautiful Rooster who enjoys loudly expressing himself.

I left Tir na nOg farm with a pound of bacon and dozen eggs and the happy knowledge that all these animals are so well cared for and live such happy lives.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

They Draw And Cook

I have this super cool site bookmarked on the side of my blog (right down there on the right, under "Stay Inspired! Creative Blogs") and just had to feature it up here in a post.

Have you seen They Draw And Cook?  It is very cool.  Various cooks from all around the world submit recipes that are creatively illustrated.  So beautiful!  And a new recipe and art everyday.  You must go and look for yourself :

But here are a few to tempt you...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And The Fire Is So Delightful...

Often, labeling bars of soap can take hours.  I make sure that I make myself comfy in front of the wood stove and enjoy a toasty wood fire.    Maybe a cup of Chai Tea too.

See that grey blur on top of the stove?  We have a heat powered "eco" fan to help distribute and circulate warm air through out the house.  It is not plugged in, and uses no electricity at all.  It simply generates power off the heat of the wood stove to uniformly circulate air.  It's super quiet and automatically adjusts its speed to the stove's temperature. Super fast when it's really hot (like you see above) or really slow when it's cooling down.  And it gradually shuts down as stove burns down.

This isn't the exact model that we bought, but very similar:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Maine Maritime Museum

I had a very exciting wholesale order placed the other day...Maine Maritime Museum!  Located in Bath, this is such a beautiful museum and they have a gorgeous gift shop full of wonderful things.  I was pleased to deliver soap and find that I was the first soap for sale in their shop.

Here are some pictures I thought that I would share with you from when i dropped off the soap.

It was a very foggy day the day I delivered soaps. I couldn't see the water.   They museum is located right on the banks of the Kennebec River in charming Bath, The City of Ships.   Maine Maritime Museum's 20-acre campus provides activities and attractions.

When you enter the main building, there is a grand hallway with all sorts of great Maritime items. 

Inside the main entrance and to the right, is the gift shop.

I hope that you have a chance to visit, if you are in the area.  And be sure to look for my soaps!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Giveaway !

Head over to my friend Teresa's blog, Money Saving Maine-iac, for lots of savings and a Casco Bay Soap Co. giveaway!   A 4 pack of our best selling seasonal soaps all wrapped up and ready for gift giving. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Farmer Markets In The News

The Portland Press Herald put out a great article in today's food section of the paper exclaiming Winter Farmer markets as Hot Hot Hot!

And they are!  I am part of the winter market movement, selling my soap at 2 markets per week.  Market members from the spring, summer and fall moved indoors for the colder winter months to continue to offer fresh eggs, local meats, seasonal produce, baked goods, seafood, crafts and much more to customers year 'round.   Of my 2 markets, one is inside a greenhouse.  We are out of the wind, rain and snow, but we do not have any heat.  This market is held during peak sunshine warming time, 10:00-1:00 and can get nice and toasty when the sun is shining.  The other market I sell with is in an old mill.  This mill is bustling with lots of local businesses, an antique shop, a few restaurants and even a flea market.  The space was available and so, we rented it!

Find the link to the article here: 

And here are a few pictures of the Brunswick Winter Market from the article.  I am one of the vendors at the Brunswick Market and boy, it is a great one! I also sell at the Cumberland Farmers Market Association market located in Falmouth on Wednesdays. Stop by if you can. 

Bruwnisck Winter Market
Saturday 9:00-12:30
Main St., Ft. Andross, Brunswick

Cumberland Farmers Market Association
Wednesdays 10:00-1:00
Rt. 1 , Allen, Sterling & Lothrop, Falmouth