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Based on  your emails and comments, we know what you, our loyal readers want to see: more of the plants. We’ll get to those in a minute.

But first, here are a few shots of how we celebrated Easter this year. As Anna wrote earlier, my sister, Annie, who lives just down the road in Boston came over and we had a feast. Anna’s creations from her new Wyoming cookbook proved ready to go into the permanent rotation. Here we are posing for obligatory pre-meal photos before digging in:

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After brunch, Annie opened her Easter basket. Gordon was especially interested in its contents:

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What can we say, he knows what the good stuff smells like:

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Apparently, begging is exhausting. It always amazes us where and how Gordon can fall asleep:

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It was a lovely holiday and a great opportunity to think about our families and friends and reflect upon the magnificence of winter turning into spring.

Speaking of spring, ok, it’s time for some plant seedling updates. I’m happy to report that we have removed the greenhouse lids on two of the flats because the seedlings have outgrown their roofs. Here’s the latest:

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They are all mostly in the 3-5″ tall range. The green beans are especially happy, already sprouting little leaves!

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My favorite upstarts have been the sunflowers. They sprouted up a few days ago, with the seed coats a clear giveaway for what was coming up out of the ground:

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We’ll probably have to start transplanting the squash, beans, and cucumbers soon. We’ll put some more pictures up when we do. Send along your own if you are taking the plunge into container gardening. It’s easy and incredibly satisfying.

Until next time, Happy Holidays and happy spring!

Hello All,

Wishing everyone this morning a Happy Easter, and hoping spring comes soon with new life and fresh moments of happiness and hope and love for the coming months.

Today I feel mixed feelings of happiness and sadness–happy because it -IS- almost feeling like spring, and we have new sprouts popping up that will bring good produce to us this summer; happy for the buds on the trees and the flowers popping up all around; excited for the coming of summer and all the warm days will bring.  But sad because I’m missing my family today… I know it’s hard for us to be away from our families on holidays, but for some reason Easter gets me every year.  And picturing my mum and dad at home dying eggs by themselves just breaks my heart.  So to all of our families far and wide:

WE LOVE YOU!  We miss you!

We will be having a nice Easter brunch soon and be celebrating the newness of the Spring with Annie–we’ve cooked up some yummy treats for her–Sunrise Enchiladas and Blue Ribbon Cinnamon Rolls, from a special Wyoming Cookbook given to me by my mother.  I’ll put photos up soon.  We’ll also be trying to plant some of our sprouts that have grown WAY outside of their little peat packs (roots everywhere! It’s incredible!) in hopes that they’ll be able to grow much bigger and faster outside…

Enjoy the day!  It’s a day of new life!

So, ok.  We don’t actually make the soap.  We buy the soap from another soap maker (because we don’t really live in a good place where soap making with the lye and all the chemicals would be easy and safe to clean up, and I’m not really sure our renter’s insurance covers soap-making-mess-ups).  But we do mix scents and melt the base and add in the best of the earth’s essential oils, plant extracts, herbs, and dried flowers and create beautiful, yummy-smelling soaps.

Here’s what we did today… it’s a long affair of melting, mixing, pouring, and waiting, so we only started out with one batch.  We’ll do more as the week goes on.  Today we did a rosemary mint batch, and the house is smelling awesome.

First, we put together all of our tools:

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From left to right: goat’s milk, glycerine, and shea butter soap bases, various molds, soap cutter, herbs, and essential oils and plant extracts.

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Then we cut the soap base and melt it down to a liquid.  We use the microwave, because it’s faster and we’re impatient.  But you can also use a double boiler on your stove or a commercial melter.  The liquid soap is very hot when it first comes out, but cools quickly so we move fast to add the scents.  Here I’m adding a concoction of peppermint oil and rosemary oleoresin extract (it’s green and sticky and smells like rosemary… duh!).

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Then we stir stir stir and pour really carefully into molds.  These ones will be bars, but we made a few rounds too.  We also ordered a brand-new awesome loaf mold that hasn’t come in yet, but will be really fun to use–you pour the whole lot into it and let it set 24 hours, then cut it up into slices like a loaf of bread.  That’s new for us this year, and I’m very excited to try it out.

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The color on the screen is kind of a weird yellow, but the true hue of these soaps is a beautiful earthy green.  At this point the soap is already starting to set up, and can get a little globby, so we had to re-heat to keep it from getting funky.

Then we stamped them with LPE…I made the stamp out of resin block, and it broke down from all of the stamping and heavy pressing 😦 so I’m going to have to find an alternative method of pressing L.P.E. into the soap face (suggestions greatly appreciated!!).

Anyhoo, here’s the finished product!

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Again, the color is a weird yellow here, but in REAL LIFE, they’re a lovely shade of pale earthy green… I hope the color doesn’t turn people off, but oh well.  THEY SMELL FABULOUS, and they’re really creamy and lather up nicely.  Hopefully I’ll be able to do another style tomorrow…

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Soap making will commense today!  We’ll be testing out some scents and mixes, and begin listing items on our Etsy Shop as well.

Be sure to stop back tonight and tomorrow for photos and more on creating our soaps and info on the best scents of this year’s batch.

YAY!

We took the handmade pledge!  Which means we’ll be making every effort possible this holiday season to buy or handmake all of our gifts.  It’s easier than it looks with sites like Etsy.com where you can really find ANYTHING under the sun that’s handmade, vintage, or crafty (like soaps from Le Petit Éléphant).  From jewelry to child toys, clothing, art, and bath & beauty, there’s really no reason for you to have to go to the mall and deal with the craziness and commercialism of the holidays.  The season is about being thankful and thoughtful and telling those you love you LOVE them.  And this season, I’m THANKFUL that I’ll never be setting foot in a mall again.  Unless my mom drags me in with her, in which case I’ll go, begrudgingly, with my hands stuffed in my pockets and a frown on my face.

Anyhow–check out Etsy and see all that’s there, including…

Ta DA!

Le Petit Éléphant!!

We’ll be posting items for sale soon, so keep checking back often.  Or just shoot me an email and I’ll take special orders.  Here’s what we’re offering this year (or what we plan to offer–once we get to making the soaps we sometimes get creative and come out with some fun scents and flavors we didn’t expect):

SOAPS (3-4 oz. bars, stamped with L.P.E. and wrapped in velum, $3 each or 4 for $10, your choice of bars, as available):

Goat’s Milk Base

  • Honey Chamomile
  • Rosemary Mint
  • Lavender Vanilla
  • Gardenia
  • Lemongrass Verbena

Shea Butter Base

  • Honey Chamomile
  • Lavender Vanilla
  • Gardenia
  • Coconut

Clear Glycerine Base

  • Rosemary Mint
  • Lavender
  • Honey Chamomile
  • Lemongrass Verbena

I’ll also be putting up holiday cards, calling cards, and stationery, all hand drawn or printed with one-of-a kind designs.  These can also be made to order with your specifications.  Just let me know!

We may also do printed shopping bags, but we’ll see how the soap-making goes and how much time we have.

So check us out!  We look forward to creating something special for you! And sorry for all of the shameless plugs for our store, Le Petit Éléphant on Etsy.  It really is a fantastic space for artists and crafters to sell and share their ideas and wares.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Happy Giving!

Thanks to all who submitted names to our Petit Éléphant naming contest.  We’ve decided on a name (finally!) and are quite pleased to introduce you all to Marcel Z. Éléphant.  Marcel will hang out atop all of our blog posts to keep you company while reading.  His form will also be pressed into all of our soaps, and adorn all of our packaging.

What a cute little elephant he is…

The reader who won is called “Katie!”.  Funnily enough, we first thought it was our Williams-townie friend Katie Kamieniecki who had thought up the name.  We were so very excited and fully prepared to crown her winner and send her the prize.  But alas, Katie K. came forward as not reader Katie!, and we were left in bewilderment–how many readers called Katie are there?  We’ve now come to find that it was Katie Lepi who suggested Marcel, and so she is the one true winner of the contest.  Congratulations to Katie! Lepi! who will will receive a Le Petit Éléphant gift bag full of soaps and other treasures, which we’ll send to her once we commence our soap-making, sometime in late November.

Soaps!  Bags!  Candy!  Stationery!

Tell your friends.  We’re taking orders now for delivery for the holidays.

Anna, with her endless creativity and digital design skills, has come up with a new logo for LPE:

What a cute little one! It is different than our previous logo (which was inspired by a stamp we found a few years back in Northampton) in a few important ways:

1) He has no tusks

2) His trunk turns upward (a sign of good luck!)

3) He is “rounder”

You will notice that this little elephant has already been inserted into our blog banner. BUT… s/he does not yet have a name. Loyal readers, this is where we need your help. Any suggestions???  A prize of Free Soap (when soap-making time comes around… usually before the holidays) will go to the winner.

This is our first joint blog post. It’s Summer in Belmont, and as you can see, the tomatoes are growing!

We decided this would be a fun project to share our writing, art, and fun times. And plenty of pictures of Gordon.

As many of you know, Le Petit Éléphant is the name of our soap and candy “company” that comes alive for the holidays. Anna says “it’s not really a company… yet.” But someday, perhaps. You can follow its development here, I guess. And since we do make soaps, and people do seem to use them, maybe we should start taking orders for Christmas 2008. Send us an email with your orders. They come with a cool logo stamped on them.

We just returned from a week in San Diego. Here’s a top-5 list of things we saw/did:

5) Anna’s first trip to In N Out: We got our fries well-done and bought t-shirts

4) Fireworks over San Diego Bay on the Fourth: Big and loud.

3) Baseball at PETCO Park: Added another stadium to our list… Padres not good.

2) Sailing the Western Starr: Sailed out of the Coronado Yacht Club, nobly escaped three near-disasters.

1) Met the Pugs: Aunt Susan has three, and they all shed a lot. Does Mark still think he wants one?

It was a great trip, more to come soon. And we just re-potted some things in the pot garden, we need to get some pictures online!

Mark & Anna

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