Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A Tour in the Kitchen of My Cabin

Many have been asking about what it looks like on the inside of our cabin. I had never thought about writing posts about this, but after thinking about this it seems like a very good idea.

Our cabin, both inside and outside is a mixture of old things given to us by our forefathers/grandparents and new things. All of these things are placed on all of the remodeling we have done/are doing. Even though I have never met most of the people we have inherited much of these items from, if it wasn't because of them, my husband and I would never be able to rebuild our cabin and provide something for our children to carry on in the future.

This cabinet we have hangin on our walls is actually a small part of a large cabinet system that my husband's grandmother had in her living room. It was so big it stretched across one entire wall and on some places reached from the ceiling down to the floor. This was the only piece of 'fine' furniture that she had, though by our standards today it is not fine at all. The wood is actually quite thin and we've had to support it on the bottom (an extra plank has been set on the bottom and it has been re-enforced on the inside). But when we extended our kitchen and had no furniture to actually place in our extended kitchen, this fit the bill.

Each of these glass doors can lock, but the keys were lost long before we inherited parts of it. You can see on the right hand side that we need to use small pieces of paper to keep the doors from swinging outward. :)

Above is our washing area. To connect to running water costs an awful lot of money, plus you have to pay the entire cost for someone else to build a sewage system of some type. This will not be happening in our lives. However, we can have the running water come up to our doorstep and simply go out and get it for almost free. So considering we'd rather build ourselves for our children, the choice was pretty easy.

But what I wanted to point out was the red coffee thermos that has been washed and is airing out. It is known as an 'elephant' coffee thermos, as this was the brand of coffee thermoses that was made in the 1950's and 60's. They stopped making them a long time ago and are no longer in existence. My entire Norwegian family say that these are the best coffee thermoses and that you cannot have better tasting coffee if you use anything else. (I for one don't drink Norwegian coffee, so I have no comment on this opinion).

This is the last elephant thermos that is in use in the entire family (and now I'm going out to my mother-in-law's extended family as well). While I can't say that this thermos has actually saved us money, it has certainly kept my husband very happy and cheerful during the 13 summers we have been married and have been working on remodeling our little piece of paradise. I take extra pains to carefully wash the glass on the inside of the thermos (which hold the coffee warm), and it will be a very sad day when this thermos makes it's way to thermos heaven.

Pretty much everything you see here has been reused or inherited from somewhere. The large wooden plank that makes do as our kitchen countertop is actually saved wood that was originally used to make doors before metal doors became more popular due to lasting effects and home saftey issues.

The baskets, knives, sives, bread box, green paper towel holder, crocheted hotmats and carved wooden egg holders (these last two are hanging in the corner against the wall by the fridge) were again inherited from my husbands grandmother who passed away a few years before I moved to Norway.

The coffee maker and toaster are actually ours from when we were first married.... but the toaster has actually been destroyed and thrown out in metal recycling - it stopped popping up toast and clearly became a fire hazzard. We certainly didn't want anyone else to start using it.

This is the last item in our kitchen that has saved us a lot of money.... the stove which again has come from my husbands grandmother. I do believe it's from the early 80's, which doesn't feel that old to me considering I grew up in the 80's and remember it as one of the best times of my life. But I have to admit that perhaps the 80's is not as recent as I remember it to be. :)

In any case, it was another thing that was given to us that we could use even though it wasn't the fastest or the shiniest and because we have done so we've had the oppurtunity to build on other aspects of our lives.

I will continue with more pictures of the things that have been given to us that either helps us or makes our little piece of paradise a bit more special.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

A Little Place on the Sea Shore

I love my little place by the sea. Here is where I collect my Norwegian Kelp for my Norwegian Kelp Soap.

Right at this spot is a great place to sit, in a crook between the rocks that jut up from the sea. In the water right in front of my feet here, the solid stone dives steeply almost 60 meters. There's great spots for fishing, both her and on the other side of the fjord.

Right in front of me the sea is rising and in just over an hour it will have risen enough to cover all the Norwegian Kelp. It will have washed away my gathering bucket and will be touching my toes.

But I'm in no rush.

I have good time.

'Eternity is in love with the productions of time,' said William Blake and it's here that I find that quote to be a truth that drives itself deep into me, though I cannot explain why that quote would mean so much here and now.

This is not a problem, because I am in no rush.

I have good time to ponder this, not paying attention to the water that creeps closer.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Gift Wrapping and International Sending

I have always been willing to gift wrap and send my soaps off to different addresses for my customers. I am asked about this from time to time, and while I do have a note about this here and there in various places in my store, this is not something I've actively promoted.

I for one know how difficult it is to send gifts to overseas friends and family. All of my family is in Canada, and the longer I live in Norway, the harder it is to show. The children grow fast and it's difficult to purchase clothings, and I certainly cannot purchase books in a foreign language. My other relatives are all getting older and often have everything they need already. And, with me in a full time job, two kids and a lifestyle that includes rebuilding a cabin and adding improvements to our existing house, my trips to Bergen are few and far between. I actually only travel into Bergen maybe 4 - 5 times a year now, which suits me just fine. But it also means that I miss out on finding a big selection of gift articles that I could purchase.

I've been buying more and more of my gifts on the internet and this is something that I have finally been getting good at.

And apparently I am not the only one as I am getting more and more customers who are asking me to do this for them.

Above is a parcel I packaged for a woman living in the USA, to be sent to her father living in the UK. When I sent her a link to the picture of it, she was clearly quite happy and appreciated the fact that she did not need to re-package the gift and pay for postage a second time to send it to her father herself.

But what was a stunning extra treat, is this great feedback she left for me:

Not only wonderful customer service - Nicole went above and beyond when she added a personel note and gift wrapped & sent to my father for Fathers Day for me. I live in the USA. She lives in Norway & my Father lives in England - so it saved me time and $$$ by her sending it direct to him. I will be buying from this seller again for sure. A Very Happy Customer here!

It seems to me that a lot more Etsy sellers could increase their business by offering this service. It takes very little time, and if the right materials are chosen (for example, I use brightly colored tissue paper instead of wrapping paper because it is less expensive and also weighs less - in addition I use lovely, recycled yarn/material as ribbon), it can be very inexpensive.

I personally do not charge any fee for wrapping my soaps. But even a small fee should not stop customers from taking advantage of this time saving offer.

Something to think about.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

My Creative Daughter

I don't usually talk about my kids on the internet as a conscious choice, but sometimes rules were made to be broken.

My 6 year old daughter is also very creative and loves trying out new skills. What I find very exciting about her is that she can have an idea and follow the creation of it through to the end, even if she finds out halfway through that her idea can't function as she originally thought. She will then adjust her creative process, sometimes asking for help, sometimes figuring it out on her own.

A while ago when I was busy with my soaps, she decided it was time to have a birthday party for her penguin. She made her penguin a birthday crown, an box to package the presents given to the penguin as well as two gifts.

This first picture is taken by me. The other three are taken by her.

The little speaking bubble says, 'I'm having a birthday'. That too was her idea - she had the bubble already cut out and told my husband what to write in it. (She starts school in August)

Here is her birthday box, complete with a bow drawn on the top. Also, an old vitamin box has been turned into a cake, with the label 'kake' so that there is no misunderdanding by us adults.

What did the lucky penguin get? S/he got a car that s/he can play with.

As well as a scarf to keep him/her warm during the cold days of spring. (And it snowed two days the first week of May.... so this could come in handy. Good thinking on her part).

Already she wants to be like me, and create something to sell on Etsy. Luckily I've been able to tell her she has to wait until she's 13 (a white lie? I'm not sure as I have not check it out), but that she can use this time to get really, really good.

She's satisfied with this for now.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A New Way of Doing Giveaways -

I've had good success with my give aways up to this point. Up to now, I've given away 2 free soaps for the person who purchases every 50th soap.

But some of my customers have told me that they've often stayed up late into the night, and then gotten up early because of the time difference in order to try to catch the 50th soap, and thus slipping the need to purchase 7 or 8 soaps at once.

Most adults as it is don't get enough sleep, what with long hours at work, taking care of the kids as well as lots of other commitments. I certainly appreciate my customers loyalty. The fact that they would stay up into all hours of the night for something that I make is something I find absolutely amazing.

But at the same time I certainly don't want to become a thorn in someone's side. That was certainly not my plan.

So for the next 100 sales, I'm going to change the rules for the soap give away. Everyone who purchases a soap within the 'last 50 soaps' will have a chance to be drawn to win two free bars of soap. As it stands right now, this would mean that everyone who has purchased a soap from soap #251 to #300 will have their name entered into a draw. I will draw a name and contact that person to let them know they have won.

While I myself am a really competitive person (I'm going to take up Karate after the summer and am so looking forward to the challange!), I do realize that my former contest will not appeal to all customers. And even though I am competitive, I am a true and ardent believer in fairness (for heaven sakes! I'm a Canadian living in Norway! A person cannot get more diplomatic with a belief in social equality than that!).

So we will try this contest for a couple of months and in the meantime I will be eager to hear the opinions of my customers.

In the meantime, keep an eye on my store - herbal soaps and seaweed soaps are almost ready to sell!