I love stats

I do.  I really do.  I love stat counters, finding out where my visitors are coming from, what they're looking at, how they're looking at it, how they found me, etc.  elodieunderglass on Tumblr had a great post about "silent visitors" on her blog, and I used to be like that with my stats, even way back when in the dawn of my internet usage, having statcounters on my aaaaaancient Geocities fanfic site.  I love knowing what's getting traffic, where the traffic is coming from, everything.

That's kind of why I love that Etsy has built-in stats management.  It makes sense; if you're running a shop, you need to know what products are getting attention, what products aren't getting attention, where your attention is coming from, and where it isn't coming from, so you know how to adjust your marketing strategies and product offerings.

When copperbadge featured my shop and GoFundMe campagain on his Radio Free Monday in early February, I saw an immediate spike of shop visitors.  I went from zero orders in January to 17 orders in February, and now back down to 7 orders this month.  I still get an occasional site visit from his blog, and I did get a repeat order from someone who purchased because of Radio Free Monday.

When I post a listing on Twitter, I get a little spike in views.  When I post a listing on Facebook, I get "likes" and shares from my friends, but no visits to the shop.  When I post a listing on Tumblr, I get a couple of reblogs and likes, and an occasional secondary shop view.

I also love checking the map.  For a while, I was getting at least one visit daily from France.  Was that just one person, someone who checked the shop every day to see if there was something worth justifying the international shipping?  In the last 7 days, I've had visits from Malaysia, Russia, Iceland, and the U.K.  My first order ever was from Norway (and she even reordered later!).  I've had an order from Australia, and recently one from Malaysia.

I just love seeing the search terms that bring people to my shop.  Things like "lily of the valley soap," "cherry lip balm," and "sailor zeo" are expected.  Two people found my shop by searching "shiver."  One of my soap scents is "Shiver My Timbers," a bergamot, bay rum, lime, vanilla, mahogany and amber blend.  "LOTRO" and "second breakfast" are in the search terms because I made lip balms and a soap for Matt's LOTRO kin.

I just find all this fascinating.

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Sometimes I think I have way too much internal snark to effectively promote my shop.  For instance, I’m currently trying to raise interest in the jellybean lip balms.  I have them advertised as “seasonal limited editions.”  “Only 10 sets available!” I keep advertising.

I’m so tempted to add on, “If you’re all trying to be polite and make sure everyone else who wants one gets one, stop!  Be selfish! Buy now!”

At least the two people who were excited for them bought theirs the day they went live (Jessica actually bought the Spice ones while I was working on the Fruit listing!).  Because seriously, if even they hadn't bought them, I'd be a lot more upset than I am.

(Plus I decided to keep a set of each for myself, because I didn't make overs of all the flavors, and I really liked that black licorice flavor)


Jamberry nails

Hey look, a post not about soap or lip balm or Etsy!

I’m hosting a Jamberry party on Facebook.  Jamberry nail shields (wraps) are heat-and-pressure sealed vinyl wraps that last up to 2 weeks on fingers and up to 4 weeks on toes.  They’re pretty easy to apply (for this manicure, the wraps took 5 minutes and the polish took 2 hours), there’s no drying time, and unlike polish, there’s no risk of over-painting (like on my fingers here).  Plus, Jamberry wraps are always Buy 3 Get 1 Free.  If you want to join in my Facebook party, and I don’t have you friended on Facebook, let me know. I can add people to the party group by email address, I think.

Want to request a sample? Want to place an order?


Jellybean Lip Balms

Last month, I started musing about "seasonal offerings" for my store.  It's sometimes tricky to think of seasonally themed items, because a) I live in Arizona; it's already in the low 90's here, and b) I don't celebrate holidays, so I tend to forget when they are.  But this time, I actually thought, "Oh, hey, Easter's coming up soon...what about a set of mini lip balms in jellybean flavors?  Both spice jellybean and fruit jellybean?"  It took a little time to get all the flavings and tubes, but Monday, I set about to make 10 sets of fruit jellybean lip balms and 10 sets of spice jellybean lip balms.

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This is the cutter I've been waiting for.  It's pretty awesome; it actually lines up perfectly with the soap loaves, so I cut the entire loaf into 13 bars in one cut.  I use the two end pieces (which are wavy and not nice and flat) as samples to include with orders.

These are the bars I cut today.  Front: Wild Strawberry.  Rows, left to right: Brown Sugar & Spice, Spicy Lime, Sandalwood, Coconut, Vanilla, Intense Almond, Bergamot Chamomile.

Tomorrow I need to work on labels and photography, and get them listed for sale.

Because I'm bored...


Coffee soap, in the mold.  I was pretty proud of this soap; it was made with double-brewed coffee instead of water, with coffee grounds mixed in the soap batter, and whole coffee beans embedded on the top.  It had almost no scent, though, when it finished, which is kind of okay.  The beans on top made it tricky to cut; after a few misfires trying to cut from the top (the blade would catch a bean and push it all the way through the soap, leaving a gouge through the bar), I ended up flipping the loaf over and cutting from the bottom.  I still had a lot of beans fall off as I cut and after, leading to several packages probably sounding like maracas when they arrived at their destination.  :-D

Coffee soap is said to be good for removing garlic and onion odors from hands.  I actually haven't tried that, and the entire batch sold within a week (I think, it sure seemed fast).  I need to make more; it's on the list for when I get more mango butter.

Math is my enemy

Seriously, for as much as I don't like math, I always seem to choose math-heavy hobbies.

I had enough mango butter for yesterday's two batches of soap (Intense Almond and Bergamot Chamomile), but now I have crumbs, which is derailing my "make lots and lots of soap OMG RIGHT NOW!!!!" desire.  So I had to sit down and do math and figure out just how many soap batches I get from each pail of oil, in the amounts I usually order.

  • Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, 10 lbs: 10 batches

  • Palm Kernel Oil, 5 lbs: 12.5 batches

  • Coconut Oil, 5 lbs: 12.5 batches

  • Mango Butter, 1 lb: 10 batches

  • Shea Butter...is non-relevant right now, because I got a deal on a 5 lb pail a while back, and that gives me like 50 batches.

In the past rounds of ordering, I've gotten 20 pounds of soy oil (with a pound set aside for lip balms), to make 19 batches of soap.  But I didn't do the math on the other oils, so I've run out of palm kernel oil and had to emergency order, but only ordered the 5 lb amount, when I still had 15 batches of soap to do.  I ordered coconut oil and mango butter earlier, but that was before my shop totally sold out and I wasn't planning on making this much at once, so I've run out of mango butter and am running low on coconut oil.

I did the math today on what I need to finish out the 19 soaps and still have leftovers, as well as get more lip balm supplies (mainly tubes, some flavors).  It came close to $200 before shipping and tax were figured.  I have $100 coming from my mom, and I have about $40 in my Paypal, so I may need to adjust quantities to get what I need at a price I can afford.

I live!!!!

Wow, haven't posted here in over 2 years.  I just...haven't felt the need.  I kind of wandered over to Tumblr and just fell in.

So, a quick update: lost my job in July.  Haven't found a new one yet, but I have an Etsy shop, Zeo's Soaps and Sundries, where I sell handmade soaps, lip balms, bath salts, and soon, cuticle oil.  I'm also running a GoFundMe campaign, trying to get a little extra money to help bridge the gap on weeks where sales are slow.
This has been dubbed "Soaphenge."  All of those soaps have since sold.

This week is full of soapmaking.  I have 13 more 2-pound batches I want to make, and I keep running out of ingredients.  Today, I ran out of lye, which is somewhat essential to making soap.  I have enough mango butter for one more, maybe two more batches.  I have some money coming in, so I'll be able to restock those ingredients, but dang, it's a fine balancing act I'm walking.  Once I get those soaps made and listed, I can breathe a little.

So, that's what I've been up to of late.  Anyone miss me?

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I was 12 or 13 when I bought my first pack of diet pills.

Let me repeat.  I was 12 or 13 when I bought my first pack of diet pills.  I was in junior high.  I’d been hit with so much advertising telling me “thin is in” and it’s wrong to be hungry that I took money I’d saved, either allowance or paper route money, went to the nearby store, and bought a pack of AcuTrim Late Day.  “I snack after 3 p.m.,” the lady in the commercial said.  So did I; that was when I got home from school, and there were still three hours until dinner, so I snacked.  But the commercial said it was wrong, so I set out to get the pill the commercial said would help.

I was terrified.  I thought for sure the cashier would look at me, see my age, and refuse to sell me the pills.  I thought she would call a manager, that the manager would chastise me, take the pills away, threaten to call my parents.  Nothing like that happened; I was sold the pills without incident.

I was afraid the pills would be huge.  I had trouble swallowing pills then, often gagging and throwing up when I had to take the giant antibiotics for my frequent sinus infections and bouts of bronchitis.  They weren’t; they were about the size of a four-hour Sudafed.

I hid the pills in the front pocket of my purse.  I don’t think I told anyone about them.  I don’t remember telling anyone about them.  I took them on the sly, when no one was around.  I didn’t finish that first pack, though.  I went to take them one day, and the foil card was missing.  It wasn’t in my purse anymore.  I started to panic; someone must have found them.  I was sure my mother had taken them, that I was going to be in trouble, that a lecture was coming, that I would be grounded for months and months. 

Nothing happened.  I still don’t know whether it was actually my mother that took them.  If it was my mother that took them, I don’t know why she was going through my purse.  Neither parent ever said anything to me about the pills.  No one came to me and said, “You’re too young to take these,” or “You don’t need these,” or anything else like that.  The pills just disappeared, and that was supposedly that.

I told you I was 12 or 13 when I bought my first pack of diet pills.

I didn’t tell you I wore a size small shirt and size 7 jeans when I bought my first pack of diet pills.

I didn’t tell you that going by pediatric growth charts, my doctor described me as “lean and mean” when I bought my first pack of diet pills.

No one told me I didn’t need those pills.


Lightbulb Moments

I was grumping to myself this morning about my recent inability to stick to the calorie budget.  This week, I've been ravenous by dinnertime, and even snacking at work.  I did some research, as it's period week, as to whether or not that affects metabolism.

Turns out, it does.  A few days before and during menstruation, a woman's metabolism ramps up anywhere from 5% to 20%.  That would explain this week.

Then I looked at my logs.  This is my eighth week logging my food.  The first four weeks, I had no problem staying under budget, ending the week 500 to 700 calories under the weekly limit.  Then, week five, I was 1454 over budget.  Week six, 1203.  Week seven, 1811.  So far this week, I'm 1279 over. 

It's not just the incremental decrease in the calorie limit from losing weight.  It's not just a rebellious attitude.  I figured out what else happened four weeks ago.  I went back on birth control pills.

It's entirely possible that the pills are affecting my appetite and metabolism.  Many women report weight gain after starting bcps.  It takes about three months for this particular pill to "settle in" when it comes to side effects, so for the next two months, I'm going to keep logging my food and trying to weigh weekly, but not be particularly over-worried if I can't keep to the budget without hunger pains, or if I gain a pound or more back.  This actually, timing wise, works out somewhat well.  I should be past the adjustment period starting in January.  January's always a good time to get back on track.