I caved today and bought Facebook ads for my business. It’s one of those things – you work so hard to grow organic reach and engagement, and then everything tanks and you’ve got not option but to pay for advertising. It is what it is however, and paying Facebook to actually show my page to people probably isn’t akin to dancing with the devil, no matter how it feels like it.

Online sales have been slow for the last month. I know you’re not meant to admit things like this as a business owner, but there is it. October was a slow sales month in terms of online business, although the in-person business was quite brisk – between the Pop Up Shop and various markets, we did okay. Obviously nothing is making a profit yet, but the business is growing quite steadily, wholesale orders are increasing, and the feedback I’m receiving in person has been amazing, and quite gratifying.

It’s hard to make a profit in soapmaking I suspect. So much of what creates good soap actually takes a lot of money. Between the top quality oils and butters, the hand cut packaging, the time and effort, our profit margins are slim. And as the quantity of soap we sell increases, so does the quantity we make, in order to keep up.

If you’d told me 12 months ago that I would regularly be buying 20 litres of oils at a time, and spending more money than I care to think about on top quality essential oils and things like cocoa and shea butter, I might have looked a little shocked. But there it is.

Of course I could make soap with cheaper oils, but it wouldn’t be as nice, so I don’t.

The other side of selling online is keeping up with things like SEO, and promotion – but not too much promotion. Twitter and Facebook are great, but there’s a fine line in people’s minds between you sharing your journey and things they love, and pushing yourself upon them. One gains engaged interested followers, and the other makes them dump you like hot coals.

So, facebook ads. Obviously the goal is for Facebook to show my page to more people, thus increasing views and engagement, and maybe contributing to sales.

In the meantime, we’ll keep trundling along. The feedback I’m getting from markets has been great. I have lots of return customers, lots of people popping by to let me know they bought soap last time and they’re loving it, lots of people telling me my soap is the first thing they’ve found which doesn’t make their skin feel itchy and tight.

It’s gratifying to know that in a small way, I am making a difference in people’s lives. That something I’ve created, pulled together from scratch, makes someone happy in a small way. That the smells I blend, that the balms I make, that they help people.

It’s really really nice.

Even if I do have to pay facebook to keep it happening.


Today’s soap: Orange Blossom and Calendula Soap, with shea butter and coconut milk.

Orange Blossom and Calendula

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This post is sponsored


At 8am when I woke up this morning, it was a balmy minus five degrees outside. And by balmy I mean not, and by minus five degrees, I mean I could probably get frostbite if I went outside right now.

And yet, until I got out of bed to run taps and put wood on fires, I was not cold.

This is a revelation, considering for as long as I can remember, I’ve spent most nights during winter cold in one way or another. No matter the blankets I piled atop myself, there would be some part of me which would not warm up without numerous hot water bottles and lots of shivering.

You see, Pooq dene Piumini Danesi, a luxury Italian bedding shop, sent me a Classic Duvet, which may possibly be the nicest thing I have ever ever slept under.


Not my bed, or my photo.

Tasmanian winters are cold, and I had resigned myself to just having to wait them out. Despite having the fire going non-stop and piling on all the blankets we owned, knowing it would be cold overnight was just a part of life.

I do feel a bit guilty – originally I had thought to give the duvet to Amy, who also gets cold overnight, but she spent a lot of time whining about how she likes HEAVY BLANKETS and it’s possible the quilt was immediately put onto my bed instead and I didn’t let her try it.

Made in Denmark and arriving with its own certification of authenticity, I almost felt like we should hold a welcoming party for this duvet.

The first night I slept under it, I felt like I ought to be cold. Light as air, it didn’t feel heavy enough. But oh, it was warm! SO WARM.

And I was not cold. Not even a little bit. Even when I had to get out of bed to change Evelyn’s wet bed, freezing in the midwinter night, I didn’t take an hour to defrost again.

I can honestly say, it has been the nicest two weeks of sleep testing ever.

Bonus points: I also got a handy new duvet cover to put on it. Pretty blue and silky soft, I have been watching Evelyn like a hawk, because she has a tendency to draw on everything and really, I’d like to avoid having to wash sharpie out of this.


I will also admit, I like the Danish connection. My grandmother’s family were from Denmark originally, arriving in Tasmania in the late 1800’s. So I’d like to say I feel a Danish connection. Plus, the Danish princess is a Tasmanian girl from Kingston, so surely that counts for something.

From the company:

Our patented products PIUMINI DANESI® pooq dene® have been produced  in the same factory at Lunderskov in Denmark for nearly 40 years.

The quality of our products steadily increased, year after year, due to the ever more demanding requirements from our high class Italian clients. Italy is well known as a famous textile country – world famous for its “Made in Italy” products. Our products have been developed and made in Denmark – but always for quality conscious Italian clients.

For instance, even today the Danes sleep with 2 single duvets on the matrimonial bed without worrying a lot about breathability and aesthetics – while the Italian customer wants an efficient product and an elegant appearance. An Italian couple want to cover their bed with a double duvet and would never dream of using 2 single duvets on their bed.

I have to admire the Danes – Nathan and I switched to sleeping under separate duvets a few years back, and it was probably the best thing I could have done for my marriage. We no longer fight over the blankets, he doesn’t kick all my covers off, and I don’t have to spend all night wrenching everything back off him.

Clearly the Danish people know what they’re doing when it comes to sleep.

My only regret here is that I don’t make enough money from the soap business to buy everyone in my house one of these duvets. I know Amy likes heavy blankets, but I think once she slept under one of these, she would change her mind. But I’m a terrible mother, because I’m not giving her mine. (I’m a much better mother when I don’t freeze all night)

You can check out all the duvets available for sale here at their website, or find them on Facebook here.

I know they’re expensive, but they’re an investment. The workmanship is so quality, short of being destroyed by scissors or fire, I can’t see the quilts needing replacing, ever.

None of the photos used were mine. I had plans to take lovely staged photos, until I remembered I live in the middle of a “renovators delight” and my bedroom walls need relining and painting, because there’s still texta on the walls from three years ago.

It’s very clear I am not a home living blogger, with all the fancy white walls and pretty bedrooms.

What I am however, is a very warm, very well rested soapmaker.


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I received this in the mail today, which is kind of cool, on the surface.

Jamie's Garden


It’s filled with notes, recipes and spots for stickers, perfect for a slightly older child, or a strong reader. I think Amy will like it, but struggle to read it at the moment.

It also came with a terracotta pot which Eve promptly smashed. Toddlers. Don’t trust them. Luckily Kim Foale Ceramics has made me some pots which hold up to toddlers and actual growing things much better than crappy terracotta.


The seeds it came with. Tomato. In May. For Tasmania. Even watercress, or mustard would have been a more sensible choice. Or spring onions. Or parsley. Anything you can grow inside on a window ledge really, which isn’t tomatoes. Especially Grosse Lisse Tomatoes, which hate Tasmania.

Even more downside-y – my kid is allergic to tomatoes. I’m not picking at the company, but yeah, I kind of am. No tomatoes for us. Poor choice.

Also had a stuffed toy and a toy spade, which Eve commandeered immediately.

It’s a promotion for Woolworths, obviously, and while I think I like it better than the animal cards, or whatever the last thing was, I find the notion of providing collectable things for children in order to get kids to bug parents about shopping at Woolies, slightly less than ethical.

It causes people to go insane, and we have enough one-upmanship happening with kids as it is, without adding collectable swappable things to the mix.

Am I convinced?

I don’t think so. I like the theme of healthy eating they’ve got happening, but the execution needs work, especially as Woolworths is more invested in selling junk at low prices than providing healthy affordable options.

Unless of course you want to eat rice and beans, which hey, we might all have to in this current climate.

Now if Woolworths had sent better seeds, or better pots, or actual suggestions on growing a garden, coupled with a promise to drop prices on the food I want to eat, I might be more sympathetic. As it is, it feels like a cheap ploy to pretend to be interested in healthy food while promoting coke, chips and junk as the affordable options.

This post is kind of sponsored. I got stuff, and even though I didn’t have to write about it, I had ALL THE FEELS, so I guess I’m still promoting their new campaign and giving it space, even though it didn’t win me over.

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FebFast_Ribbon_RGBThis article is sponsored, but I’m also going to talk about my health, quitting sugar (aka: losing my sanity) and why I agreed to do it and see how I feel.

I’d like if you kept reading, because I’m interested in your thoughts too.

I’d been thinking about quitting sugar for a while, in an abstract “maybe I’ll feel better” kind of way. My health is tenuous at best, and I wondered how my chocolate consumption was impacting on my general feeling of wellness.

Plus, I have rotten skin and I was interested to see if cutting out sugar would help. This tied in well with my “god I need to drink more water” epiphany in December, which saw me doubling my fluid intake and feeling much better for it.

Now, I haven’t been over the top about it all. I’m still eating fruit, and I’ve been adding honey to smoothies. When the sugar cravings got really bad I was also eating honey on bread, much to the passive aggressive disgust of one of my twitter followers. Apparently I can’t complain about quitting sugar because I’m DOIN IT WRONG or something.

Today is day ten of no processed sugar, and I honestly can’t tell you if I feel any better or not. I think I do. Maybe? Detoxing is such a slow process I’m not sure I’d notice the improvements.

I’ve definitely been making better choices with my food, making salads, or sandwiches, or cheese on crackers instead of reaching for another chocolate biscuit. If you tell me cheese isn’t healthy, I will cut you.

I’d like to say that quitting sugar has eased my Ehlers Danlos related nausea but I’m also weaning Evelyn, so I think my periods are returning, and someone pass me a goddamned bucket and a cold compress PLEASE.

It’s been an interesting experience so far. I’m not as ravenously hungry as I was on days one through five, and it’s interesting to me to notice how often I was snacking out of boredom, or oral fixation (who said my quirky kids fell far from the metaphorical quirky tree?), rather than pure hunger.

As for my skin, well it’s been kind of terrible actually. BUT, I noticed with my skin it gets really bad whenever I make a big dietary change, before improving again. Doubling my water intake made me breakout badly, before my skin improved to look clearer than it had in a long time (gestating girl babies messes with my skin horribly – I had lovely skin during my pregnancy with Isaac).

I was also hoping to lose weight quitting sugar, but I think ravenous hunger and ‘oh god I’ve got no energy why am I doing this’ lethargy have been working against me, and ten days is not enough time to lose weight anyway. So that’s still something that might happen.

All in all, I’m really glad I was sponsored to begin this kick. It definitely pushed me over the edge and made me commit, which I’m not sure I would have been able to do without the incentive. At least not without lots of angst and should I shouldn’t I oh help crap.

I’m going to keep it up, definitely for the entirety of January, and then I’ll be joining in properly with Febfast (my lovely sponsors) to stay off sugar for February, and then we’ll reassess and see how I feel. I started early, so that I could write about it for you.

Now for the sponsored part.

FebFast is the original charity movement which challenges Australians to take a 28 day break from alcohol and raise funds for youth addiction. New for 2014, FebFasters will have the choice to take a break from alcohol, sugar, caffeine or digital overload.

For six years, FebFast has been just the tonic to kick-start a healthier year, raising $5.5 million and inspiring nearly 1,000,000 drink-free days in the process. Resisting your cravings is also a tiny insight into the challenges young people face with serious addiction issues each day. It’s time you joined the ultimate pause for the better.

ANYTHING that raises money to help with youth addiction is something I am willing to get behind.

If you’re interested, check out their About page.


Currently I’m all lonely in my quitting sugar team, and I’d love if you joined the Sleepless Nights AHOY team. You can also give up digital devices (SACRILEGE), alcohol, or caffeine.

Or you can support us by going here and donating. Your money is used to help young people suffering from addiction.

My advice

My advice if you’re quitting sugar is to start cutting down now. I spent December cutting out sugar in my tea – going down 1/2 teaspoon at a time, and avoiding chocolate biscuits. Of course, then Christmas came and I ate WAY too much pavlova, effectively setting myself back the entire month, but you know. BABY STEPS.

I assume it’s the same for anything you’re quitting. Cutting down to begin with is easier than going cold turkey.

I’m interested to see if I’ve lost weight by the end of February, how I’m feeling, and whether I’ll immediately fall back into my old habits.

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This morning Hobart Mums’ Network asked what we resolved to do this year. I thought about it briefly, and flippantly replied:

Write more, daydream more, take notes for everything, smile lots, laugh, embrace irreverence, be silly often, tell stories every day, love well, live well.

As flippant as I felt, looking back on my comment this is exactly what I plan to do this year.

Christmas Night, when everyone had gone home, Evelyn was asleep, and the light was disappearing from the horizon, Nathan lit the bonfire. We sat there, watching the paper and wood burn, and my brother and I began telling stories.

Amy and Isaac curled up on the grass next to us, blankets around their shoulders, while Nathan listened. We sat there, and I recounted moments from my childhood for them. My brother added things I’d forgotten – although how I’d forgotten sliding down the dry grassy hill on a body board, I don’t know.

My children laughed, and snuggled, and begged for more.

There is power in telling stories to my children, especially stories from my childhood. Snippets they take into themselves, building connections between us as they imagine me as a child, hiding from my parents in an old cupboard, or sliding down a hill on my stomach.

This year, I resolve to tell more stories. Write more, and write often. To laugh. To embrace irreverance, and to not take myself seriously.

We can learn a lot from how our children approach life, and this year, I plan to emulate them.

Of course, bits of adulthood continue to sneak in around the edges, with a credit card disaster fresh in my memory, and a discovery that no matter how stable it feels like we are, it only takes a minor disaster to set off my financial disaster alarm bells.

But it’s all okay. It’s a New Year, all fresh and shiny, with the bubble wrap still caught around the edges.

I plan to take advantage of every second.

Of course, I’m also quitting sugar for January as part of a sponsored campaign that I’ll talk about in detail a little later in the month, so “taking advantage” may also equal “curling up in a ball with tea and a book”. Clearly I am insane as the house is still full of chocolates from Xmas. Twitch. Twitch.

You can read about my credit card disaster on Money Circle. It wasn’t the highlight of my Christmas period, that’s for sure.

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