The Business of Business

I’m launching a new business venture in about a week, selling jewelry and car diffusers that complement my essential oil business.  After the initial vendor fair launch, I’ll be expanding onto Etsy and including some other art pieces I’ve created. You would think it’s all the same concept, so no big deal, but frankly, I’m a nervous wreck about it.

With my oil business, I see verifiable positive results, in myself and others, and so there’s no question as to whether or not it’s a meaningful, purposeful venture.  Oooooohhh, the second guessing that comes with selling things that you’ve created yourself, though.

I’m generally a pretty confident person, especially at work.  I do what I know needs to be done, I’m comfortable setting the course for other people to get their jobs done, and I don’t {generally} worry that what I’m doing isn’t enough {let’s be honest, there’s a long week here and there that’ll make a gal wonder}.  I’ve been thinking about why, then, this new piece of my puzzle is freaking me out so much?  And I think it comes down to the function arts and crafts have played in my life so far.

When I was graduating high school, I decided to be a music education major.  I looooooved music.  So I spent the first two years of college trying to parlay that passion into a career.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that spending hours a day analyzing every little thing about music would suck the joy right out of it for me.  Not that music theory doesn’t interest me…it does…it’s like math for music, and I find the juxtaposition curious.  BUT…I find it interesting in the abstract, as a concept to be aware of…not as a constant filter for every sound I hear.

I burned out.  Bad.  Between that and the rapidly disintegrating music programs in high schools across the country, I decided to switch my major to business marketing.  (P.S. It would’ve been super helpful if my adviser at NIU had told me that a business marketing degree doesn’t qualify you for a single, solitary, thing, unless you ALSO get a communications degree…but alas…a story for another day).  So with the focus on business, I could enjoy my artistic/creative time again…although, music never has been quite the same since then.

Crafting and art and jewelry and music have been my escape route ever since.  When I’m having a bad day, I pull my cloak of crafty time firmly around me the second I get home from work and forget about everything else for a few hours until I’m feeling like myself again.  The prospect of letting people into that space…especially in a way that elicits judgement…makes me nervous.  What if everyone hates what I make?  What if I hate what I make and other people love it?  What if making it for other people sucks the joy out of it?  What if, what if, what if?

I ventured down this path once before, a few years ago, with an interest in selling jewelry.  I wasn’t in a headspace for it at the time…my life was in a bit of disarray and I couldn’t commit to the added stress (and paperwork…let’s be honest…there’s an inordinate amount of paperwork required to run a business…even a little bitty one).  My life is still in a bit of disarray now…a different bit, but still…I feel like I’m ready now.

So here we go…kickoff is a week from today.  I’m crossing my fingers that this will complement my interests and passions this time, instead of eroding them.  I think it will.  I just need to get over myself and leap!  🙂

Cookies and Brownies and Lemonade, Oh My!

So I’ve got my first ever vendor fair coming up in a few weeks for my oils and jewelry, and I’m trying to get everything organized for a successful event.  I’ve had a lot of time to prepare, and the amount of prep work and planning I’ve done probably seems excessive to people who don’t have the same {moderate} control issues that I have.  But, the way I figure it, if you get everything organized the first time around, then it’s SUPER easy to replicate that for future events.

So the biggest “to do” on my list this week was testing some recipes for food samples made with essential oils.  I’ve been Pinterest-ing like a mad woman for recipes for weeks now, and I finally picked a few that I thought looked like winners.  I had intended to narrow it down to two desserts and a beverage, but they all turned out so well, that I think I’m just going to do all of them 🙂

One of the coolest parts of using essential oils in cooking (for me anyway) is the reduced waste.  When I buy packs of fresh herbs, I wind up throwing half of them away, because I just don’t have a use for that much.  It’s important to note that not all types oils are safe for consumption, nor are all brands of essential oils.  Some oils, just by the nature of the plant they are extracted from, are not safe for consumption.  And many oil brands on the market use synthetics and fillers, made for use only in perfumes, bath products, etc. and could cause harm if ingested.  Please always do your research to determine what’s best for you and your family.  Personally, I use Young Living products, because I’m very confident in the quality of their products due to their Seed to Seal Guarantee.  Young Living actually has a whole line of Vitality Oils that are specifically intended for consumption as supplements, etc.  Also, if you’re swapping herbs, etc. for oils, remember that essential oils are HIGHLY concentrated and a little goes a LONG way.  Start with the smallest amount, and work up from there, tasting as you go.  You can always add another drop, but you can’t take one out!  If you have any questions about oils, please feel free to check out my Essential Oils page or drop me a line on my Contact page.

Now, without further ado…the recipes 🙂

Dark Chocolate Orange Brownies


Okay, these can’t get much easier.  Buy a box of Dark Chocolate Brownie mix (yep, you heard me…ready-to-go, boxed mix…I used Duncan Hines).  Follow the mixing instructions on the box…it’ll depend on which brand you choose, but will probably include some variation of eggs, oil, and water.  Add 4-6 drops of Orange essential oil (to taste) and mix well.  Bake according to package directions.  I followed the directions for the mini muffins, since I’m doing them as samples, but you can do a whole tray instead.

Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownies


I bet you can sense a pattern here, right?  Same deal as the Orange Brownies.  Get yourself a box of milk chocolate brownie mix (I used Pillsbury), mix it up with eggs, oil, and water per package directions.  Add 2-3 drops of Peppermint essential oil (to taste) and mix well.  Bake according to package directions.  Easy peasy, right?  🙂

Lemon Shortbread Cookies


Mix together 3 1/2 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 3/4 lb. butter.  I cut it together with a pastry blender/cutter before busting out the electric mixer.  It will seem like it could never possibly come together.  Just keep cutting…it will eventually.  When it’s finally all starting to get to the point where it might hold together, go ahead and add 4-6 drops of Lemon essential oil (to taste) and then hit it with the electric mixer.  After that, it should be to the point where you can smush it together into dough balls.  Now, you have some options…if you’d like to roll it out and use a cookie cutter, you can.  If you’d like to roll it into a log, refrigerate it, and then slice off rounds, that works too (if you do that, make sure they get back to room temperature prior to baking).  Personally, I used a melon baller to scoop out evenly sized balls, placed them on a cookie sheet, and smashed them down to about 1/4″ thickness.  This yields about 50 cookies.  Then bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.  Optional: Put 1-2 drops of Lemon essential oil in 1/4 c. sugar and roll dough balls in the sugar prior to the smashing/baking portion of the show!  The most irritating part of shortbread cookies is that it’s obnoxious to tell when they’re done, since they don’t brown (well…I imagine they would at some point, but you definitely wouldn’t want to eat them at that point).  I did a few batches, from 10 minutes all the way up to 15, and 11 was definitely the sweet spot in the electric oven I was using.  If you’re worried about it, do a small batch first, let it cool, and decide if you like the consistency.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies


These are almost exactly the same as the Lemon Shortbread Cookies.  Just swap the Lemon essential oil for:  3-5 drops of Lavender essential oil in the cookie batter (to taste), and 1 drop in the optional sugar topping.

Lavender Lemonade


Ohmigosh…I’m obsessed with this lemonade.  I have trouble with lemonade…usually it’s way too sweet, or waaaaaay too tart…I can’t ever seem to find a happy medium.  This one is perfect.  Mix one cup of water and one cup of sugar in a medium saucepan, bringing to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat and add 1-2 drops of Lavender essential oil, mix, and let sit at least 2 minutes (or up to a couple of hours, if you’re not ready to finish mixing yet!).  Pour mixture into a pitcher, add 1 cup lemon juice and 4 cups water.  Mix well and serve over ice.  The lavender is subtle, but just enough…and it probably wouldn’t hurt to mix it with vodka, if you were of legal age and feeling so inclined, but since I’m looking at this for a public event, I decided I’d leave that experiment for another day 🙂

In any event, I’m super happy with the turnout of my baking session, and continue to be impressed with the versatility of my fab little oils.  If you try anything, let me know how you like it!  🙂

One of those weeks…

It’s funny how life has a way of slowing you down when you won’t slow down for yourself, isn’t it?

It was a rough [last] weekend and a frustrating first half of the week.  Then, I had my days off overscheduled to try and catch up with the stuff I’ve been missing out on at home lately.  It was too much, and I knew it, but I neeeeeeeded to get this stuff done!

Nope.  Second trip down my stairs after I got home from work Tuesday night, and I was out of commission.  My left foot had been bothering me some since Friday, but that last step finished me off.  I limped my way back upstairs and cancelled all my plans and scheduled a doctor’s appointment.

The doctor said most likely a bone bruise…to take it easy and no ladder climbing for a while, or I could “snap the end of the fifth metatarsal right off.”. What the what?!?!!  Snap it OFF?!?!!!  I was feeling pretty good about my little bone bruise and getting back to business till she threw that out there.  I don’t want anything snapping OFF for Pete’s sake!

So I gathered up some stuff I could do while sitting, and figured I’d just get a different bunch of stuff done during those two days.  It didn’t have to be a loss…I could still be productive.

Nope.  My lil’ Daisy May got herself into something or another that didn’t agree with her.  That little monkey is a pitiful sight when she’s not feeling well.  We actually almost ended up at the emergency vet Wednesday night.  Thank goodness she’s feeling better now, but she was wiped out for a couple of days.  She just wanted to be on a lap.  And who am I to say no to that sad, little face?  Plus, it seemed like the universe was telling me to just STOP for a minute, and I’m not one to argue on that front.

Anyway, I have good intentions of not overdoing it in the next few weeks.  I don’t need my body rebelling any further than it already has.

There was a line in Eat.Pray.Love. about Americans only valuing productivity, and not rest/self-care (phrased in a much more artistic way, of course, but you get my drift).  I wouldn’t say I don’t value that time.  When I have time to do nothing, I do NOTHING, and I adore every minute of it.  But, it just seems so impossible to carve out that time most of the time.

Conscious effort.  Argh.  Easier said than done.  Well, here’s to the next few weeks of attempting to take it easy!