Full Circle, Summer Projets, Fall Trade Show

Fall temperatures, shorter days, great flora displays, messing with the clocks and the creek started flowing again, once again brings us full circle. We are getting ready to hunker down for the winter; piling in the wood, one last mow of the yard, putting the yard furniture away. V has been busy in the garden prepping the beds for winter planting. We found an old fiberglass green house back in May. V had it full of starts in the spring and now has different starts for the fall/winter. We have heat lamps for when it gets really cold, but I don’t know if they will be enough to ward off the super cold nights. We’ll see.

Greenhouse and garden.

Did a bit of landscaping this summer. I cleared some scrubby brush and was able to till and grade the area smooth. At least it’s mow-able now. For me, it’s better than trashy looking brush. I also took the tiller to our path system. I have measured a bunch of paths around the yard, but I haven’t done anything but till them. I need to get 6″ of sawdust, or bark chips on the paths to keep the weeds down. Also dressed up the driveway with some additional gravel. Sure looks nice with sharp edges and smooth, even surface. We’ll see how it looks after a couple of months of rain and driving.

New gravel on the driveway.

We have a 100’x150′ pasture area that we have never maintained, so the grass grows to darn near 8′ tall. I took a brush hog to it and made a maze system for M’s birthday party. It was great fun. The grass is tall enough so that the kids can’t see over it. They really enjoyed it.

Oh, and I suppose the highlight of the summer landscaping is the labyrinth.

Yard labyrinth.
Yard labyrinth.

There is only one entrance and one exit. The labyrinth is designed around 7 fruit trees. The paths are about mower width, the flower beds between the paths are about 18″ wide. We’ll plant mint, black-eyed Susans, rosemary and lavender. Should be neat next summer.

We returned from a trade show in Seattle on Sunday night. The show was good for us in that we get to talk with our sales reps and make sure they know how to sell our product line.

Later, Brad

Return to Herbs of Grace

The Big Trade Show, Grandparents, Bunk Beds

This afternoon, we got back from ExpoWest 2008, the largest natural products trade show in the world. We visited with a many of our current customers and a LOT of potential new customers. Traveling to Los Angeles is not high on my list of things to do, but once we had the booth set up and folks started to cruise by, everything seemed to be all right. We gave out all of our paper information, and all but 25 sample cards. We took 1500 cards with us. I don’t know how many people we talked with, but our contact list contains about 4 times more names than last year. I’ll be swamped for the next two months following up. Luckily it slowed down on Sunday, my voice was giving out at the end.

The kids stayed with V’s parents while we were at the show. They also spent time with aunts and got their portrait photographs taken, did lots of crafts, took walks with Grandpa, and watched TV, which they don’t get to do at home. They were in heaven. Grandpa even drove us to the airport at 5:30am and then picked us up this afternoon. What a guy! He said grandma wasn’t as frazzled this year as she was last year. Either she has loosened up, or the kids were easier on her. Maybe a little of both.

When we got home, the kids wanted to set up the bunk beds. We now have three twin beds, of which two bunk. So we spent the evening yanking the king bed out of their room, vacuuming, and setting up the bunks and the single twin. The kids are digging the new setup. V and I now have a bedroom to ourselves. We’ve had a twin bed snuggled up to our bed in our room for the past eight years. For the past year, the twin has been there mostly as a safety net. They all slept in the king, in their room, then M wanted to sleep in a twin in the play room, but now, they all want their own sleeping space. They are growing up so fast. Too fast.

Later, Brad.

Back to Herbs of Grace

Spring skiing, ExpoWest2007, New look for website

The kids and I went skiing today. I think it was the closest thing to a perfect ski day that we could have asked for. We had a great trip up and back. While we were there, ALL four of us rode the platter pull. It’s the next step up from the magic carpet in the lift system at White Pass. The older girls are all over it. There is a subtle challenge between them to see who can get to the bottom first. The youngest is a bit uncertain about the bigger hill. At three years old, she’s doing great so I don’t want to scare her off. But I have to tell you, I had a tear in my eye this afternoon. All of us were at the bottom of the lift, and one by one, they got on the lift, and off they went. I brought up the rear watching my three kids ahead of me, on the platter pull! It was super cool.

We got back from ExpoWest2007 Natural Products trade show in LA, on Monday afternoon. We had a great show. Met LOTS of retailers interested in mineral makeup. We came home to a bunch of back orders, which we have just now gotten on top of. Tomorrow we will start the follow-up on the leads from the show. Hopefully some of them will pan out so that we can get more retail stores carrying our line. Perhaps one of them will be near you.

We will be overhauling our website soon, hopefully by this weekend. Nothing drastic, but the homepage will have a new look and finding products will be a bit easier. We are still the same company, with the same great products, that you have come to know and we hope you like our new look.

Later, Brad

House Guests, Library, The Big Trade Show

Thank the High Spirits! We’re having house guests tomorrow and we had to clean the house. Seems like the only time the house gets cleaned is when someone outside the immediate family is visiting. We not only shoveled the piles but we hosed out the interior as well. Don’t know why we wait until the last minute, but it seems to be the thing to do. Even the kids pitched in to help. Sorry no pictures, wouldn’t have posted them if there were.

Story time at the Timberland Salkum Library tomorrow morning. We are big fans of the library on Tuesdays. The librarians are the greatest folks, and the kids especially love the librarian who reads to them. They read for 20-30 minutes, then do an activity for 15 minutes or so. After that it’s off to the stacks for some books. It’s a great time all around.

The BIG trade show, ExpoWest 2007 is coming up March 9-11 in Anaheim, CA. I think I’ve mentioned it before. This is a huge deal for us. There are over 3000 natural product vendors displaying goods, and ~50k people are expected to walk the floor. We are working on our display, getting samples put together, buying airline tickets, etc. I’m excited about it, but I also will be very happy when it is over. If you are going to the show, swing by booth #4704 and say “Hi”. Tell me you read the blog and I’ll give you a tube of Vegan Lip Balm of your choice.

Later, Brad

Back to Herbs of Grace

Trade Shows, Working Late, Surgery.

It’s 11:50PM. I’ve been cleaning up some mail and researching the Natural Products Association (formerly the NNFA). We have to be members of this association if we want to exhibit at their trade show next July in Las Vegas. Can you believe it, a conference in Las Vegas, IN JULY! Go figure. We’ll be at ExpoWest in Anaheim, CA, March 8-11, 2007, and are planning to exhibit at the NPA show in Vegas, July 20-22, 2007. Trade shows are a great way for us to get out there and meet our customers and show our product line. If any of you will be attending these shows, we would love to meet you, so swing by and say “hi”.

Anyway, I often work late because the kids and V are in bed. Since V works all day, this is my time to get a bit done. I suppose, between the two of us, we put in from 12-16 hours per day on the business. When one of us is in the office, the other is with the kids. The kids are tended to, but V and I rarely get one-to-one time. At times I don’t know if this is a receipe for success or disaster, for either the business or our relationship. Like so many parents and grandparents have said, “I wish I spent more time with my kids” or “I spent too much time at the office.” V and I can say we spend time with the kids, and at the office, we just don’t get time with each other. I suppose we’ll be saying “I wish I spent more time with my spouse.” Since we are both committed to the business and the kids, we are ok with our arrangement for now.

Daughter M has bounced back from surgery, last Wednesday. As a parent, it sure is uncomfortable to watch your child go through surgery. It was an out patient issue, so we were back home in one day, but even tho, M sure was feeling low for a couple of days. V and I found it discomforting to not be allowed into the recovery room, so that one of us could have been there when M awoke. M was very shaken up when she was being wheeled out of recovery. When she saw us, she busted into tears. It was sad. Short lived, thankfully, but sad none the less. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we all stay healthy, and in no need of surgery in the future.

Later, Brad

Northwest Natural Trade Show

We just wrapped up the NW Natural trade show at the Seattle Trade Center. It was our first trade show. We wrote four orders so you can now find our line of Natural Look Mineral Makeup at Okanogan Coop, in Okanogan WA, (our first WA customer), Thyme for Health in Monroe WA, Terra Organica in Bellingham WA, and Central Market in Poulsbo, WA. For more locations, see our locations page on our web site.

We were quite busy talking up our product line with retailers from all across WA, OR and MT. Everyone was so nice, and very interested in our product line. We have lots of follow up to do over the next couple of weeks.

The kids stayed with “Grammi and Grampi” during the day, while we were at the show. M tells me they got new shoes, visited friends and ate ice cream, but weren’t able to play at the park, due to heavy rain. Overall, everyone seemed in good spirits when we got back home.

We’ll be heading back to home tomorrow, (Monday) morning, with a couple of new customer stops to make on the way.

Later, Brad.