Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DIY Lavender Water: Make your own

Make your own lavender water recipe and instructions
{Make your own Lavender Water © ShannonSorensen} 
If you've never made one thing I've taught you, you need to make this. It will change your life! And I'm not just being overly dramatic.

Going to the lavender farm on San Juan Island was a life-long dream of mine. And boy, oh boy was it worth the wait.

The gentle scent of lavender is one of the most soothing smells there is. It's like a summery breeze that sweeps over you as it lifts and carries your worries away. (Sigh)

Making your own Lavender Water is incredibly easy, and only takes a few ingredients. It not only smells dreamy, it has health benefits as well (see below). And as I always say, if it's simple enough for me to make, you can certainly do it!

How to Make Lavender Water 

easy to make lavender water tutorial
{Easy Lavender Water Tutorial  © ShannonSorensen}

  • Pour 2 cups distilled water through funnel, into a jar or directly into your spray bottle.
  • Drop 16 drops of lavender essential oil into the distilled water (1 oz. oil to 1 oz. water)
  • Add 2 Tbsp Witch Hazel (or other emulsifier listed above)
  • Shake before each use
Your lavender water is ready to use!

Benefits / Uses of Lavender Water

  • Induces relaxation and helps ease anxiety
  • Spritz your sheets at night to sleep better! Lavender lowers heart rate & blood pressure, promoting relaxation
  • Freshen the house, linens, closets, hampers, and more
  • Spray on beds, sheets and pillow cases to keep dust mites away
  • Use when ironing fabrics for that extra fresh scent
  • Spritz baby's crib before nap time
  • Use it as an air freshener near a baby's hamper
  • As a natural anti-inflammatory, spritz your skin, pillow cases and linens to help reduce itching, swelling or red skin (do a spot test to make sure you skin's not too sensitive)
  • Calms nerves, lowers stress and anxiey
  • Can ease breathing with colds and stuffed sinuses (*try steam treatment with lavender water)
  • Soothes sunburns, scrapes and bug bites with a few spritzes
  • Heat lavender water for a soothing foot soak
  • Keep in the fridge and spritz on a hot day to refresh and cool yourself down
  • Dip a soft washcloth in lavender water & use as a cool or warm compress to relieve headaches
  • Spritz yourself before going outdoors to repell insects!
  • Can increase the effectiveness of other relaxants for insomnia, anxiety and depressants (see doctor)
  • Spray household surfaces as a disinfectant
  • Add lavender oil directly to bathwater to improve mood and promote circulation
  • Add lavender oil to laundry rinse water to freshen clothes

It's safe to say I have sprayed just about everything that is spray-able in our house with lavender water! It smells so fresh and clean, and really is calming. I spritz our bed every night and I swear I've been sleeping better. It just makes you feel so much more calm and peaceful.

In a burst of enthusiasm, I asked my husband if it would be okay to spray our "under-clothes" with lavender but he wasn't so keen riding from his office to the car in a shuttle full of men, while smelling like lavender. I don't blame him. ha!
Uses and benefits of lavender water
{Lavender Farm San Juan Island © ShannonSorensen}
*affiliate links have been included for your convenience. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

San Juan Getaway: Day 3: Haunted Mausoleum + more

We woke up on our last full day with a long list of things to do. Our legs were tired and ached from the previous day's hiking, but we ventured on!

First on the list-

McMillin Family Mausoleum: Roche Harbor

I told you I was afraid to go to the mausoleum in the pitch black, and with good reason my friends...

You walk up through an aging graveyard with crumbling, overgrown plots caged by white picket fences, down a rocky path to the grand mausoleum entrance.

Things to do San Juan Islands trip to Roche Harbor Mausoleum
{Photo: McMillin Family Mausoleum: Roche Harbor © ShannonSorensen}

The musty smell of the dim forest and the quiet solitude among the trees, gives you the feeling you are on "hallowed ground". All six family members' ashes are buried in the stone seats that encircle the table.

visit mcmillin haunted mausoleum on roche harbor
{photo: McMillin Mausoleum: Roche Harbor, San Juan Island © ShannonSorensen}
Roche Harbor is on the list of haunted places, and this mausoleum has its share of ghostly tales:
As the sun goes down on summer evenings, and the lights shine through the trees on the tomb, some believe somehow the shadows change, and the McMillin family meets again to have a ghostly dinner together in the afterglow.
Late at night on a full moon, as you walk to the mausoleum through the winding graveyard path, be prepared to see the 6 people buried under the seats around the table, sitting together, laughing and talking. 
It has also been told that if you sit at the large stone table when it's raining, not a drop will come down through the roof's open center.
Gives me chills!

After our ghostly adventure, we walked through the bottom floor of the historic Hotel de Haro and gardens and kissed Roche Harbor goodbye as we headed out.

After a quick stop at English Camp for a little history, we headed to:

Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm

These alpaca's were a lackadaisical bunch. They mostly kept their heads down and ate grass, and peeked up every once in a while.
things to do on San Juan Island, visit alpaca farm
{Photo: Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, San Juan Island © ShannonSorensen}

At this point we came back to town to get something to eat and went to nearby Jackson Beach for a little respite.

After reviewing this photo, I was convinced I had either captured a shark or whale (see the "fin"?). Rod's convinced it's just something floating in the water due to the shape and because it has seaweed on it. I'm sticking with my theory.

shark, whale siting, san juan island
{photo: view from Jackson Beach, San Juan Island © ShannonSorensen}

We had tallied up a lot of hiking miles on this trip so far + we were always heading here and there, and I wanted to remember to take some time just to sit and take it all in, without thoughts of what we were going to do next. I always seem to forget to do that.

And although our legs were tired and we were feeling our limits, we had one more place to check off our list, before we could take some time to just sit.

Jackal's Lagoon

Why does lagoon sound so much more inviting than lake? Is it from watching Peter Pan too many times? For whatever reason, I had to see what these 3 lagoons were all about.

The first lagoon was pretty much a dried up salt bed (bottom left image in collage) but it looked cool from above. We decided we might as well hike down to see it close up. Not such a good idea. After whacking through tall weeds and bushes & scratching our legs up, we got about half way down the hill. I voted that it wasn't worth the torture of going down, knowing our tired legs would have to come back up. So I took a picture of our half way point and we trudged back up the hillside.

We dusted ourselves off and headed down the trail to Lagoon #2 (below)

places to hike san juan island jackal's lagoon
{photo: Jackal's Lagoon - 1st lagoon: bottom left; 2nd lagoon - remaining photos © ShannonSorensen}

The hike was harder than our tired legs were ready for, and when we finally reached the bottom, it was like a lake filled with moss and pools of stagnant water. Not that it wasn't still pretty, I'll just put it this way: it wasn't the lagoon of my dreams. Thoughts of hiking another 2 miles uphill to the 3rd lagoon quickly disappeared.

Rod did find me a good vampire stake (ha!) so I had to snap a picture of it.

We rested for a bit at the water's edge, but knew we had the inevitable hike back up those steep hills to get to our car. How much for a helicopter ride? haha no really.

Our final destination for the evening was the place we would stay for hours. A place we would sit and soak in the beautiful scenery until the sun went down...

South Beach

One of my favorite parts about South Beach was our friend the fox. He trotted out of the brush, onto the paved road down to the beach. I was obsessed with getting pictures of him so we pulled over and I grabbed my beefy camera and zoom lens.

Rod got out of the car and tried to get an even closer picture. That made me really nervous. I was afraid he'd get more than he bargained for. Looks like someone's hungry.
wildlife sightings, fox, south beach on san juan island
{South Beach Fox © ShannonSorensen}

wild fox photos on san juan island, washington
{South Beach Fox © ShannonSorensen}

The beach was beautiful and peaceful. You don't even want to know how many pictures I took of the crests and the crashes and the rolls...in search of the perfect wave photo.

relax at south beach on san juan island
{South Beach, San Juan Island © ShannonSorensen}

There was a lovely view of Cattle Point Lighthouse. I wondered if the crabby artist was still there finishing her painting?

view of cattle point lighthouse from south beach, san juan island
{View of Cattle Point Lighthouse from South Beach © ShannonSorensen}

And we sat, and sat, and sat, (well, Rod threw rocks and sticks in the water) but I sat, soaking up all there was to see, smell and hear of this wondrous place...until the last rays of the sun peeked over the horizon.

beach sunset from south beach, san juan island
{Sunset at South Beach, San Juan Island © ShannonSorensen}

The perfect ending to a wonderfully full day.

*Stay tuned for my final post: a closer look at Friday Harbor before we ship off.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Fairface Washcloths: Get into Walmart contest

Vote for Fairface Washcloths, the softest washcloths for sensitive skin
{Fairface Washcloths: Get on Walmart's Shelves}
Do any of you watch Shark Tank (or Dragons Den - Canadian version of Shark Tank)? I love both shows.

It's a chance for entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to "the sharks", a group of wealthy business people who can opt to invest in small businesses to help them thrive.

I secretly want to be on that show, but don't have nearly the guts it would take to face them. They are called sharks for a reason, you know.

So on to plan B. A less intrusive route to share a great product I've developed, with a large corporation, in hopes of finding it on their shelves.

Walmart's Get on the Shelf Contest
~A chance for small business owners to pitch our products to Walmart~
  • Your vote, for Fairface Washcloths through facebook will help give me a chance to get my product in front of Walmart's executives.
  • You can vote once a day, every day through September 2nd.
  • Click the "VOTE FOR US" button below, and it will take you directly to the voting page.

Thank you so much for your votes!! 
I can't do it without you!

{Fairface Washcloths} are my labor of love to all who suffer from sensitive skin. To learn more about Fairface Washcloths, the softest washcloths for Rosacea and overall sensitive skin, visit Fairface Washcloths.

Fairface Washcloths
exclusively from Shannon Sorensen Designs
Rosacea Washcloths the softest washcloths for sensitive skin - help get on Walmart's shelf

Or click here to be directed to the Fairface Washcloths product page for Walmart's contest.


*Available exlusively from Shannon Sorensen Designs

Friday, August 16, 2013

Trip to the San Juans: Day 2 Part 2: Roche Harbor

Welcome to Roche Harbor  

When I was a kid, our family took boat trips during the summer and this was one of our very favorite places to stay. This flourishing little port is filled with so many memories. It was amazing to go back and relive it all.

Trips to the company store and ice cream cones on the wharf...(although this time we enjoyed a cup of hot clam chowder. Mmmm, mmmm, good.)

What to see at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island
{image: Roche Harbor Wharf  © ShannonSews}

Walks through the hotel gardens and brick lined paths...
favorite places to travel in washington state
{image: Hotel de Haro: Roche Harbor © ShannonSews}

Meandering along the docks, admiring all the boats. I have always loved reading each boat's name, wondering the meaning behind it, and seeing where they're from and how far they've traveled.
boating in roche harbor
{image: Roche Harbor Docks © ShannonSews}

Views of the harbor and elegant dining at the seaside restaurant
what to see roche harbor view and restaurant
{image: Roche Harbor marina view and dining © ShannonSews}

Always a favorite to walk up to the the little white church on the hill
favorite things to see in roche harbor
{image: little white church Roche Harbor © ShannonSews}

And the reason we came that night, to enjoy the color guard lowering of the flags. The flag lowering is timed according to when the sun sets, and on this particular night it was around 8:23pm. It was something we always looked forward to as a kid, since it is only something they do during the summer.

The color guard marches out and lowers each flag, as they play the national anthems for Britain, Canada and the U.S, and at the end of the ceremony all the boats blow their horns with pride. It was such a great experience to be able to relive this.

This time, after all the flags were folded and put away and the ceremony was complete, they surprised us by jumping off the deck, one-by-one into the icy ocean waters below. Brrr! What an exit!

favorite things about Roche Harbor Flag Ceremony
{image: Flag lowering ceremony Roche Harbor© ShannonSews}

As the night sky filled with oranges and rosey pinks, we walked through town, making our way out to the McMillin family Mausoleum (a must see if you visit). By the time we figured out how far away it was from the docks, though, it was getting a little on the dark side, and quite frankly, I opted not to get creeped out by walking through a cemetery at night. I remember getting spooked as a kid going out there after dark, so we decided to wait til day light. J

Stay tuned for our visit to the Mausoleum, and another fun-filled Day 3!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Etsy International Shipping 101: Tutorial

how to ship etsy international without fear
{image: Fairface Washcloths now shipping worldwide!}
For the first couple years running my etsy shop, I have shipped U.S. only. I know how to put my product in a package, label it and bring it to the post office. Done. No worries (for the most part).

In the back of my mind, however, I've thought about all the people around the world I was missing. I've had several potential customers outside the U.S., but I turned them down because international shipping sounded too daunting and unpredictable.

So many what-ifs...and I can be a worrier. What if my package gets lost? How will I ever find it again? What if my package gets stolen? What if someone tries to scam me? What if I fill out the customs form wrong?  What if, what if, what if.

As I've tried to push myself out of my comfort zone this year and grow my shop and products, I've decided to take things to the next level & ship internationally. I'm not going to let the "what if's" ruin my what can be.

And look at these stats from Fed Ex:

International Shipping for small businesses, according to FedEx:

"If you’re only selling in the U.S., you’re only reaching a small share of your potential customers.  According to the U.S. Commercial Service, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S."
If I hadn't seen a reason to ship globally before, this is certainly convincing!

Etsy International Shipping: made easy

*Are you an etsy shop owner and see potential in shipping worldwide? Make sure to check out the etsy forums where tons of etsy shop owners, like yourself, are helping to take the mystery out of what international shipping is all about.

Ship Etsy International and use an electronic scale for accurate weights
{image: supplies for International Shipping: electronic scale}
Step 1: Buy a digital scale. I found one at Harbor Freight on sale + a 20% off coupon + a free tape measure with purchase. Score!

Step 2: Weigh your products with all packaging and paperwork. Your weight needs to be accurate (not like your drivers license. ha!). Round up to the nearest ounce (i.e. item 3.2 oz, pay for 4 oz).

Step 3: Check the ship-to country's import laws. Make sure the country you're shipping to accepts your products. Some countries have strict import laws. See: Shipping Policies by Country: USPS

Step 4: Create Shipping Policies. Be sure to state in your shop's shipping policies, that you are not responsible for import taxes, customs fees, etc. that may be required upon package arrival, for international customers. I've heard shipping through FedEx or UPS results in high charges on the customer end once the package is received, but USPS does not.

Step 5Calculate shipping. The general consensus seems to be, if your item is under 4 pounds, First Class International gives you the best rates. Once you have weighed your shipment, check the International Price Calculator from USPS to see what the cost will be.

Step 6: Add shipping locations to your product's page. Some shops start by shipping to a few countries instead of opting for "Everywhere Else". Price shipping based on the item's weight with all packaging, + handling fees, and insurance (if you choose - see step 8). Some etsy sellers price shipping costs high enough to ensure coverage for the most expensive country, but offer their customers refunds for overages.

Step 7: Shipping labels & Customs Forms. Using Etsy shipping labels is not only convenient, it's *cheaper* so you can pass your savings on to your customers! Yay! PLUS, Etsy international shipping includes customs forms so it takes the guess work out of what you need to fill out! *Some countries require a 2nd customs form on the outside of the package also. Be sure to check that country's policies. I've heard you can use PayPal labels too - not sure if they offer insurance or customs forms, but check them out if you'd like.

Step 8: 3rd party insurance. Purchasing insurance for your shipment is to your benefit in case the package gets lost or stolen and you have to re-send or refund the customer. It is our obligation as sellers to make sure our customer gets what they paid for. 3rd party insurance (through Etsy's U-Pick or places like Insurepost.com or ShipSurance.com: covers item & shipping) costs under $2 for $100. On the flip side, the customer can submit their own claim to their credit card or paypal, but it makes sense to offer that service & take care of the customer. *Insurance is available to most countries when purchasing Etsy shipping labels, so it's very convenient to purchase (*Also see: Etsy seller protection for a list of countries covered by direct check-out purchases). Many sellers say, "If my 3rd party insurer will cover it, I will ship there." Which seems to be a safe route. You decide.

Step 9: Drop off your package at the post office (or arrange to have it picked up). Some 3rd party insurance companies require you to have a receipt from the post office, showing you dropped it off, so check with your insurer. For most domestic shipments, I simply do all the postage at home and drop the package in the post office mail bin. No lines!

And that's all folks!

Is International Shipping still intimidating? Maybe a little, but it certainly isn't as ominous as it once was. It's not as easy as slapping on a label, but it may just be the best decision you ever made. I'll let you know what I think in a few months. ha!

*If you're experienced with shipping internationally and have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment to benefit us all!

Look out world! Shannon Sorensen Designs + Fairface Washcloths just went global! 

how to ship internationally with etsy
{image: SSorensenDesigns.etsy.com now ships worldwide!}

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Monday, August 12, 2013

San Juan Islands Trip: Day 2: Part 1

We woke up the morning of day 2 after a somewhat restful sleep (does anyone really sleep well when they travel anyway??) and had a full list of things to go see. (*to see day 1)

It was difficult to keep my eyes on the road with sweeping views of the ocean and islands that seriously made me want to stop and take pictures every 5 minutes. I tried to control myself.

First stop:

Lime Kiln Point State Park

Whale watchers far and wide gather at this point, as it is one of the best places in the world to view Orcas. Sadly, the whales hadn't been sighted for several days and still hadn't returned by the time we left.

It was quite foggy that morning and you couldn't even see to the other side of the water (which is Canada by the way).
trip to lime kiln state park where many come to whale watch
{image: Lime Kiln State Park © ShannonSews}

lime kiln lighthouse washington state, san juan island
{image: Lime Kiln Lighthouse Lookout © ShannonSews}

Can you see the ghost ship back there creeping in the fog? (below - at the edge of the branch on left)
san juans whale watching site
{image: Whale Watching: Lime Kiln Lighthouse: © ShannonSews}

Lime Kiln State Park is really named after a lime kiln. The area adjacent to the park was quarried for limestone back in 1860 and kilns were built to fire the limestone to produce lime.

After walking over the jagged rocks below the lighthouse, we hiked up to the lime kiln that's remains are still standing. I stepped my way down a hefty flight of stairs to get there, and yes, my thighs were on fire by the time I got back up!

Lime Kiln historical site san juan island
{Lime Kiln: San Juan Island - © ShannonSews}

Next stop:

Dead Man's Bay

I won't disturb you with the story behind Dead Man's Bay because it really is quite sad. If you're into disturbing, sad stories, you can google it.

This was a really pretty area. On one side sat a rocky beach scattered with driftwood; on the other side the ocean crashed up against tide-pool filled black jagged rocks.

dead man's bay san juan islands
{image: Dead Man's Bay: San Juan Island © ShannonSews}

We stayed a while. In case you can't tell.
Rod found himself a very comfortable driftwood bed. I swear he would have tied it to the top of the car to take home if we could have lifted it even 1 inch off the ground.

Next Stop:

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Visiting a lavender farm, I have to say, was on my life's to-do list. I've wanted to walk through fields of lavender since as long as I can remember. And yes, it's as amazing as I thought it would be.

The fields are full of rich purple blossoms, bees are hovering and buzzing along each fragrant flower and every time the wind blows, the scent of sweet lavender flutters around you...and you never want to leave. Sigh.

visit Pelindaba Lavender Farm Washington State
{image: Pelindaba Lavender Farm © ShannonSews}

I kind of wish we had tasted the lavender ice cream, but since we had literally just eaten philly cheese sandwiches and a butterscotch milkshake at Vic's, more ice cream would have pushed me over the edge.

The one thing I did take away from this visit, is to make my own lavender scented water to spray over my sheets. I can't get enough of it!!

Next Stop:

Cattle Point Lighthouse

This lighthouse is down on the southern tip of San Juan Island. It's a pretty short hike over the hillside. We ran across an artist painting the Cattle Point lighthouse, but she wasn't very friendly when we told her we liked her painting. Maybe we threw off her mojo.  

Places to visit San Juan Island lighthouse
{image: Cattle Point Lighthouse © ShannonSews}

Our final stop before the real finale of the evening:

4th of July Beach

Special to my husband because he was born on the 4th of July.

places to visit san juan island
{image: 4th of July Beach © ShannonSews}

We dipped our toes in the icy water and sat for a while. It was a nice, quiet place to relax for a minute. We'd had a very long day of hiking and exploring, and it wasn't over yet.

Stay tuned for Day 2 part 2: Roche Harbor
[*Previous post: Day 1 Adventures]

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

San Juan Islands: a little piece of heaven: Day 1

We just returned from our one big summer adventure, a trip to the San Juan Islands. Rod had never been there before, and I used to travel there by boat with my family as a kid, and have wanted to go back many times. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world.

trip to the san juan islands, where they are located
{image: San Juan Islands Map}
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago (chain of islands) in the northwest corner of the US, across from Canada. The major islands include Orcas, Shaw, Lopez and San Juan, although there many smaller islands scattered about.

Our plan was to hop on the ferry from Anacortes, WA and take the 1 hour ride to Friday Harbor. Unfortunately, holiday ferry traffic kicked us in the pants and left us waiting 3 hours to catch the next ferry. We were stuck in the s l o w e s t  line and in the end, it appeared we missed it by 2 cars...oh no you didn't. Oh yes we did.

At least we had a pretty beach right next to the ferry terminal, so we took a bunch of pictures and basked in the sun while we waited.

visit san juan islands quick trip from seattle
{image: San Juan Islands ©ShannonSews}
The ferry ride through the San Juans was absolutely beautiful. I was glad we had lots of time to enjoy the magnificent surroundings... miles of ocean, numerous islands, flying seagulls, tug boats, clouds, mountains, sailboats, crossing ferries...seriously beautiful.

We arrived at Friday Harbor around 6pm, and although most of the day was already spent, we walked down by the docks, up through town, and enjoyed some tasty pulled pork at the BBQ Shack for dinner.

Trip to Friday Harbor located on san juan island
{image: Friday Harbor © ShannonSews}
We ended up staying at the Orca Inn, the most affordable hotel on the island. Every other place available was astronomically expensive. We almost had to camp. (Yikes!) Crisis averted.

With day 1 down, we headed in for the night and began to map out the next day's adventures.
*More to come on day 2!

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