The simplest things…

I put a clean towel next to the sink this evening. You remember our house, don’t you? It’s the one that breathes during the winter. Everything in it is also crooked. The windows don’t quite fit, the plumbing works and does not leak, but it looks like it belongs in a Mouse Trap game. Even with all that is wrong with the house, I’m amazed what clean counters and a new dish towel does for it. Maybe I’ve had one too many cocktails, call me simple, whatever, clean counters and a new dish towel makes my day.

House from back yard.

The summer is cruising along. It’s been unseasonably cool and wet this summer. It rained so hard early this morning, I thought the house would be washed off the foundation. I don’t mind, tho. I’m not a hot weather person, unless I can be out in the boat or swimming all afternoon. The kids love the cooler weather. I’m amazed with how much more they play outside, when it’s cool and slightly overcast, then when it’s clear and 85 degrees. When it’s hot, they come in saying “it’s too hot” and plop down on the sofa to watch a video or continue some ongoing project. If I can get them going in the deep shade of our friendly maple tree along the edge of the ravine, they sometime will play when it’s hot, but not often.

Business has really picked up during June, July and this first part of August. V and I really need to watch supplies and materials so we don’t run out. We need to start ordering higher volumes of ingredients, displays, containers, etc, and then order when we are about half-way through them so we can build in some time for shipping and the occasional mis-shipped, or lost items. What would be a fiasco for a large company is usually solved with a quick phone call to a customers about a back ordered item. It’s still a hassle when we don’t have the items to ship. We keep learning, thankfully.

Later, Brad

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Snow?, Old Maple Tree, Follow up

Snow on April 2. It’s been so cold here the past few days, I’m ready to go back to full winter clothing. We had a nice stretch of weather over the past couple of weeks, spring definitely had sprung. We had begun to dress lighter, the girls are in spring dresses, I even wore shorts a week ago. And then this. Snow. 0 centigrade over night. Cold house in the morning. I’m ready for warmer weather.

I cut a big maple tree in the yard the other day. It had not fully leafed for the past two summers. 30% of the branches had leaves on it last summer. A friend dropped in the other day, looked at the maple and said, “it’s dead”. Lots of maples are dying in eastern Lewis county. No one knows why. Could be warming, could be pollution encroachment from the valley, could be anything. When I made the last cut and the tree hit the lawn, it shattered into thousands of pieces. Much of the wood was past dead, and had dried on the limb. The bark fell off main branches, the limbs shattered, there were all sorts of bugs in the canopy. I cut the tree about 15′ up in hopes of sprouting new shoots. My friend says it won’t sprout. We’ll see.

I did the last of the follow up from the trade show last night. A few days after the show I sent everyone a quick email “thank you” and yesterday, I sent a post card. I love visiting with customers to answer questions, send samples or brochures, zap email back and forth, etc. Don’t hesitate to write.

Later, Brad

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Winter Break, Frozen Pipe, Almost Lost Acquaintance, Refridgerators

Where have I been? I noticed that my last post was December 17. Life gets in the way sometimes. We took two trips for the business, had lots of friends and family over for the holidays, then it snowed and we’ve been in a freezing weather pattern for the past week so I’ve been busy keeping the house warm.

A pipe froze over night so we didn’t have any hot water for a few hours. Luckily, the pipe didn’t burst. I was able to thaw the pipe and then reinsulate so, hopefully, it won’t happen again. I got to looking around the pipe, it’s in the pantry, and noticed that daylight was coming though the corner of the room. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the the critters pulled all the insulation from a crack in the wall and a nice stream of cold air had been blasting the pipe all night. Turns out, the pantry has pulled away from the house so there is a seam that has opened in the siding about an inch wide. Got it reinsulated and sealed up from the outside. Now I have one more “to do” on the list for this summer. I should post the list sometime and get your input. This old house, I tell you….

Got a nice note from a friend whom we met in Japan. He and his wife and kids stayed the following school year (05-06) and then came back to the states this past June. His note was the perfect mid-winter lift. Not only was it a real correspondence, but it was from someone I thought I would probably never see again. One of those past acquaintences that are helpful, outgoing, and truly friendly. We were beginning to know this family, and our kids were similar ages, so our relationship could have blossomed into something more than casual. Then we came back to the states and this family, along with all of the folks we met in Japan, are suddenly part of our past. Well, Brian crossed that bridge and wrote a great note and let us know what they are up to and how they are settling into life back in the USA. It was really nice. Thanks, Brian.

A shelf in our refrigerator broke this evening, just at dinner time. *&^%! refer. It fits this old house too well. It seems to run ok, but the interior is shot. I’ll see what I can do about repairing the shelf tomorrow and let you know if I succeed.

As mentioned above, we’ve been traveling a bit for the business. We like to touch bases with the local stores that carry our products. We got as far north as Bellingham, WA, and we’ve been as far south as Portland, OR. We often will do a demo, or simply swing in to ask how things are going and if there is anything we can do for the retailer. If the retailer is far away, we find a makeup artist in the area and hire them to make an appearance and do a demo. If you are interested in doing this, please let us know. You might check the store locations link to see if we have a store in your area.



Careful What You Wish For.

OK. The COLD weather has arrived. As much as I’d like the ponds to freeze, I would prefer to be able to keep the house warm. The sub freezing weather makes if very difficult to keep our “breathing” house warm. The stove is cranking and we are wearing extra layers, indoors. It’s not as bad as I’m making it sound, but it’s different than our old house in Vancouver.

V did a demo at the Poulsbo Central Market on Saturday. We stayed with my folks Saturday night. Half the island was without power for over 48 hours. Yes, my folks were on the outage side. Dad kept the wood stove burning and also has a generator that helps keep the furnace and refridgerator running. Inconvenient, yes, but I think still better than trying to heat a drafty old house with only a wood stove. Actually, we have some in-wall heat units, but I hate running them. They are so inefficient and the give me the creeps regarding fire hazard. Although we did run them tonight, when we got home the interior temperature was 44F. =8^O

Picked up some ski gear from a college buddy of mine this afternoon. Now each of the girls have skis, and two of them have boots. We’re almost ready to hit the slopes. The girls really enjoyed skiing last year, and they have been talking about it this year. Hopefully, we’ll ski this week. One more pair of boots….

No matter how many times I do the math, it just seems like the business isn’t growing fast enough. Some of the vetern business owners, at the last trade show we attended, said that we need to be able to hang in there for about three years. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, and hustling alot. I used to be the wage earner and it’s definitely a different mind set for me, staying home with the kids and all. Maybe my mind set will change once I get the kids geared up for skiing and we start skiing once a week. If any of you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.



Kids, A House that Breathes, Snow.

I, our two year old, spent the day in her pajamas. V tried to get her dressed this morning, gave up, and turned it over to me. I got two of each item of clothes, so she could have her choice of what to wear, but as soon as I headed toward her, she went screaming in the opposite direction, yelling that she wanted to wear here pajamas today. I started the knock down drag out, and then caught myself and let her be. Her pajamas are the full body type, with footies. They are pile and have a high neck, so I realized that she was dressed warmly. I did manage to get a parka and boots on her. So off we went, to the coffee shop and grocery store, with I in her pajamas. Did I mention that she’s two? This all makes sense now, right?

The kids are getting excited for christmas. M, age 7, keeps asking “how many more days”. S, age 5, tells us what she wants from Santa, and I, wants a nutcracker.

It has snowed here over the past few days/nights and the kids are really enjoying it. We didn’t get much snow last year so this is extra “cool” this year. Bought the kids a sled and even though the snow is very sparse, they were out there on the hill pushing each other around.

Our 110 year old house is not what you would call, air tight. Living here reminds me of the year we spent in Japan. The Japanese build houses that “breathe”. They are cold in the winter and hot in the summer. During my bicycle commute in Japan, I watched the daily progress of a house being torn down. After the siding was removed, there was building paper, but there was no insulation, and only a thin wall covering on the inside. When I talk to folks about our old house, I tell them that it “breathes”. Anyway, I woke up this morning and the temperature outside was 26F and, remembering that the house breathed all night, was 46F inside. It took the old wood stove an hour to warm the house up to 54F and another hour to get to 60F. Needless to say, we wear sweaters all the time. V has a heater in the office which keeps it toasty all the time.

V is very busy with Herbs of Grace. We have demos to line up and present, product and samples to ship, marketing and sales firms to keep organized and motivated, product to manufacture and package, office supplies to order, displays to design and manufacture, press releases to write and publish, a website to maintain and a zillion other things to do. I’m sure it’s going to get busier and busier. I don’t know if V realized this when she signed on, but she’s hanging in there. She has always had her own business, but this is the first time that she has marketed to the mass market. It’s quite different than puttering along doing Saturday markets and an occasional gift show.

White Pass has a ton of snow, hope it stays cold this winter.

Later, Brad Klein

Herbs of Grace website