Little Batch

Handcrafted soap, lip balm, candles, body scrubs… mad science.

Grow, Grow, Little Garden

Squash, strawberry patch, mints (chocolate & peppermint), marigolds, lavender, dalmatian sage, cucumbers

You may remember my last post about the sad state of my neglected garden.

That jungle’s been conquered… the weeds were cleared away, new topsoil was added into the raised beds, the gifted plants were installed, and Joe mulched it all with stuff from our wood chipper pile. It looks so much better… now I just need everything to grow! Am really looking toward to having eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash, just a short walk from the kitchen.

Are you growing anything this summer?

 

Tomatoes, marigolds, sycamore seedling, liberty maple seedling, cilantro, parsley, silver sage, oregano.

Advertisements

The Land of The Lost

Gosh, I used to love that show.

Sid and Marty Krofft created a whole bunch of wacky, slightly psychedelic, fantastical, low-budget television shows for kids in the 1970s. Most of them included strange, slightly scary, large puppets. One show that did not have said puppets is The Land of The Lost, which instead incorporated equally low-budget special effects to tell the story of a family that finds itself smack dab in the middle of an alternate universe filled with dinosaurs, horrifying humanoid reptiles called sleestaks, and neanderthal-type people… one of whom is a youngster named Chaka. Chaka was awesome. He would go on adventures with the family and get into trouble right along with them. And I still have nightmares about those Sleestaks.

Why am I writing about Chaka and Sleestaks?

It’s simple… that’s what I think of whenever I cast my eyes on my frighteningly neglected garden, if I can even call it a garden anymore. I’ve been referring to it as The Land of the Lost.

I was still too sick to consider setting foot in it this past spring, and now of course it’s summer and too durn hot to want to dive in there. Besides, it’s beyond intimidating. The amount of weeding that needs to be done is almost as alarming as the height that some of said weeds have grown to, which it taller than my own comparatively diminutive five feet and four inches.

The herbs that came back after their winter hibernation have long since gone to seed. The chocolate mint is literally everywhere. The strawberry patch is no longer an organized chaos, but has transformed into a tangled mess, rife with dandelions. There’s moss, tree seedlings, and untold numbers of unnamed weeds.

I need to get in there and start addressing the problem, though, because a kind soul (a fellow vendor at the farmers market) gave me three flats of plants that she started from seed – plum tomatoes, some sort of squash, pickle cucumbers, and possibly some other things… a lot of the tags have been lost.

God help me if I come across any sleestaks in there.

Where's Chaka when I need him?

Trademark

"Specimen" I submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office

This post is for my fellow small business owners.

If you’re like me, you started very small. You made up a company name. You designed / fabricated / assembled something really cool. You sold some of your widgets.

Now you’re selling more, and watching your company grow. How do you protect your name?

Trademark it.

This past spring I came to the realization that, as my business grew, my need to protect my name and image increased. I’d built up enough of a following to have steady sales; if someone came along and hijacked my company name I’d be devastated. So, I decided to file for trademark.

I went through Legal Zoom. It was an easy application process; an online form or two is all it took, in addition to a “specimen” (product photo) depicting the trademark in use.

Now, I started out as Little Batch Botanicals. My registered business name is Little Batch Botanicals, LLC. However, the attorney assigned to me from Legal Zoom found a problem while searching the US trademark database… a company with a similar name.

Argh.

I was told that, chances were, the trademark would go through. However, the other company could challenge it.

Double argh.

So, after much consideration, I decided to go with Little Batch Apothecary as a brand name. Many people had told me my products and packaging have an apothecary-style look, and I liked the old-time feel bought about by the word “apothecary.” I thought it evoked an image of herbal remedies and old school laboratories, both being right up my alley.

Little Batch Botanicals, LLC will remain the company name, and the brand will be Little Batch Apothecary ™.

Legal Zoom deemed the mark good to go, and my application for trademark was submitted to the US trademark office on March 31st, 2011.

This afternoon I received an email from the Maryland trademark lawyer assigned to my application. After modifying the application to disclaim exclusive use of the word “apothecary,” she deemed the mark to be acceptable.

Woo-hoo!

The next step is to continue to monitor the progress of my application online via the US Patent and Trademark Office, and wait for the official registration to come through.

The process is not quite over, but I cleared a major hurdle today, so that feels really good. 🙂

What are you going to do next to take your business to the next level?

The Great Crate Race

The Great Crate Race (OK, this is a photo I took last year... didn't have my iPhone with me this time around)

This morning Joe and I celebrated the Fourth by attending The Great Crate Race, a boxcar derby, in the next town over.

After some ceremonious allegiance pledging and a trombone rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, a small parade showcased some really cool vintage cars and even cooler vintage farm tractors.

Then came the race! We sat on bleachers in someone’s front yard behind protective hay bales, and watched about 20 kids have the time of their lives, hurtling down a hilly road at about 30 miles per hour.

What did you do to celebrate our nation’s independence?

Anyone want tickets to a cat fight?

I went garage sale-ing this weekend to get some vintage Pyrex and maybe a cupboard for the kitchen, but I came home with this instead…

Squee!!!

At the last barn show Joe and I hit up, he was cuddled with his two siblings inside a playpen with a sign reading, “FREE KITTENS” tacked to it.

How could we not take him home?

Buddy (Joe picked the name) is settled in very nicely, eating like a wee pig, constantly wanting to snuggle my neck, like a cat scarf.

My other cat, Lily (or E, as we call her) hates his guuuuuuts.

He’s trying to nuzzle my large humanoid nose with his tiny pink kitten nose as I type this.

I heart him already.

Midsummer

On Midsummer Day, or Summer Solstice (also known as the first day of summer), the spiritual leaders of the ancient Celts – the Druids – honored the immense strength of the sun and the powerful natural forces that create life. The sun is at its apex today, the longest day of the year; the perfect time to celebrate life and growth, but also to acknowledge that the sun will now begin its downward turn toward winter and shorter days.

I came across a Wiccan blessing for summer and thought it’d be perfect to keep in mind today:

As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny

High Bridge Open Air Market

I set up at the High Bridge Open Air Market this morning… it was my first time selling anything in person since last year. It felt great to be out there! The display set-up is all new, and I limited the offerings to soy candles, lip balms, and soaps only. The customers were fantastic, and almost everyone that visited my tent purchased something, so it was a pretty good day.

My table at the open air market

My dad helped me set up this morning. Here he is yapping on the phone with my mom. I paid him in soap and banana bread for his time. 🙂

Riverside Wine and Liquors.. the market is located in the parking lot of this shop, which is in a converted 1920s art deco bank. The old teller counters were left in place and are used in the store, which is really cool. Notice the old burglar alarm on the side of the building!

Caved

I finally caved in, at the prompting of friends and customers, and created a Facebook page for Little Batch.

Honestly, am not interested in having a personal Facebook page… had one about a year ago but never really got the hang of it, and never found it useful. I’ll use the new page to keep my customers updated on Little Batch goings-on, and make general cool posts of LB awesomeness. 🙂 It won’t be just posts about products and LB; my intent is to keep it fun!

Here’s the page, if you’d like to take a peek:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Batch-Apothecary/218494371517853

1940s kitchen

Some inspiration…

set off by the dark & uneven tile flooring and countertop, rough pine ceiling, and boring cabinetry, my husband and I made the decision to do a mild renovation of our kitchen.

Personally, I’ve always been big on 1940s vintage items. It seems that everything made in that time was made to last, and so stylish as well. Naturally, when looking to improve upon the kitchen I looked to the 1940s.

The plan is to replace the flooring with awesome peel & stick black and white flooring (very old school), paint the cabinets butter yellow (with robins’ egg blue on the inside!), put in a carrara marble countertop, replace the dark country-ish tile backsplash with white subway tile, install beadboard below the chair rail, and whitewash the ceiling.  A sideboard and hutch donated by my mom will be painted white, and will hold my collections of Pyrex, jadeite, Johnson Brothers china stoneware, and Fiestaware. Am not holding my breath, since there are smaller projects to complete before jumping into this, but having a plan is definitely a start!

Where to shop to get some 40s flair for your own kitchen:

The Blissful Bungalow

retrogroovie

vintageatchirp

jennyandpearl

BingoBox

DailyMemorandum

elizabethwrenvintage

Survivor Cake and a slice of Spicy Lime

Yesterday I photographed my soapmaking process and posted them here. Last night after enjoying some Survivor Cake (more on that later), I ventured back into the lab to slice up the new soap into bars. Spicy Lime makes another appearance!

The lid is removed, and the soap smells soooooo goooood. Spicy Lime might be my new favorite.

The soap is removed from the mold.

I use a metal "soap jig" and a soap cutter to slice the soap log into bars that are one inch thick. Kind of looks like a guillotine, doesn't it?

This is what the bar looks like.

Repeat!

It's all done! They will be ready to sell in about a week.

Now, about that cake…

A great customer and friend of mine is an oncology nurse in Virginia. She told me that her hospital is having a party today in honor of National Cancer Survivor’s Day, and told me I should do something to celebrate, since I live too far away to attend the party. I’d never heard of it, so I looked into at and it turns out NCSD is “officially” the first Sunday in June, but is celebrated almost any time in June.

Yesterday I baked a Survivor Cake. It’s a box mix – Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Chocolate (oh yum), but I made the frosting from scratch. Here’s how I did it (completely made this up myself on the spot, but boy did it turn out yum):

Ingredients:

  • 1  8-oz package Neufchatel cheese (similar to cream cheese, but with less fat, and in my opinion, more tasty)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (a mixture of vanilla essence and vanilla beans – Nielsen Massey makes a great one with Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans)

Whip ingredients together, slap it onto cake after it’s cooled, and don’t forget to lick the spoon!

My Survivor Cake.