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Saving Money Making Gifts and Recycling Issue









Letter from the Editor

In preparing for the holiday season reader's may want to see one of my oldest, but most informative newsletters.  I wrote this last year and it discusses How to Recycle Old Christmas Decorations, what tree to pick, how to care for a real tree and so on.  My final newsletter for this year will most likely be a repeat of last years, but cleaned up with other new information.  Click here to see Christmas of 2002.  

On another note, many school teachers and other non-profit groups have been placing large orders at Mabel.  If we are aware of the customer status, and what is going on, we will make sure they get extra items to play with.  One example is a school in California placed an order for a ton of flavors.  After making sure they were legit--we were able to give them some great flavors as extra's that are fine, but no longer being sold by Mabel because maybe the name was too long to even make a label.  Like White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.  This lucky group got lots of that great flavor.  It was just long a name for a flavor to make a clear label, as one example.  So basically, if you are ordering for a large group, it is always best to talk with us first via e-mail.

Saving Serious Money on Bath Salts:  So many non-profit organizations are making bath salts to sell as holiday gifts that I get to hear the real scoop.  Many of us know that bath salts are one of the highest profit items to make for sale.  This is only second to the high mark up on perfume.  Leave it to the Girl Scouts, a local troop, to be more than clever!  Apparently a 50 pound bag of water softener salts can be purchased from Wal-Mart for under $5!  These kind of large salts are designed for water softener units.  This one troop decided salt is still salt, and they are correct.  I could not even believe this angle, so they gave me a 50 pound bag as a gift and I went nuts.  I used a whole pound in my bath to make sure it was skin safe and it was.  The only thing I did notice, was the salt crystals were so large, they do not all melt in one bath and this did cause a broken glass look when I was done with my bath.  I could see where people could cut themselves very easy.  So, it was clear if I use the cheapest salts on the planet, then I MUST find a way to smash the salt down into smaller pieces.  Visions of driving an SUV over the bag came to mind.  Whatever you do, you must break the large salt rocks down before scenting and selling.  Kids love to smash stuff, so hey, what a perfect project!  These clever little girls also came up with other great ideas that I will discuss in this newsletter later which is cakes baked in a mug.  See "Fizzy Bath Salts" to bring a new twist to this remarkable idea.  


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Water Based vs Oil Based Fragrance

This is Mabel's first real season dealing with a holiday and it has been a serious challenge.  I am also getting five more e-mails than normal per day asking all kinds of questions and I have not had serious time to give people a good answers to good questions.  I have mainly been busy in the shipping department, and experiencing great learning curves on what carrier to use and so on as the holiday approaches. We have also been getting tons of fake orders we never experience in slow times, including huge ones from Nigeria that I had to pull off the shipping line,  phone calls to a from competitor's warning each other on what people are putting in fake orders, and so many unexpected distractive issues that I could never even dream.  I noticed some of my competitors who I dearly love and have been around many more years than Mabel, have closed their sites at the last minute due to "end of year inventory."  That may be a good idea to spare a company a holiday mess, but I just do not see Mabel has to do that at this point.   One reason I started Mabel is because vendors were actually out of vanilla fragrance oil one year.  I was like, "How can anyone be out of the most popular fragrance oil there is?"  Next year we will be much better prepared and with any luck I will not have to roll up my sleeves and deal with just shipping.  I have noticed that my writing has also suffered and I have not written any newsletter in weeks.  This is what I am best at, so here it goes.  

Number one, salt is a natural preservative and you do not need to add any preservatives to salt.  This is a common question I have been getting.  Vitamin e oil is great, if you want to get fancy and add a few drops of that to your creation.  Number two, using petroleum jelly in your lip balm recipe is just flat out gross.  More so when people subconsciously eat their lip balm.  It is a short lasting moisturizer and I do not even want to think about that man made gunk being digested.  Better off to lick a oil well if you want to use Vaseline.  (Now I am sure what company would never hire me.)

The third major question is people who are trying to start their own kitchen table business and they are confused as to just how many types of fragrances they must have.  They see "water based" fragrances on some sites and "oil based" fragrances on many other sites.  Some sites offering both.  I understand fragrance is usually paramount to any craft making, including candles.  When I got started I did not have an unlimited budget to buy all the scents I like, (I still don't)  and then double that by having to have oil and water based.  Very few crafts call for water based fragrances, so lets start with that.  Bath salts, bath bombs, lotions and many other toiletries call for oil based fragrance.  Bath bombs for sure because any water based dye or fragrance is going to cause the product to fizz before it can even be shaped into a ball.  This can be essential oil (very pricey for candles) or any other fragrance based oil.  Some oils, such as Tangerine, offer a natural pale orange color, which may also solve the coloration issue.  For now we will discuss oil based fragrances.  

To add to the confusion, some sites are offering fragrance oils that are "Candle Only" or "Bath Only."  I think it is just another way to get a customer to feel they have to buy more.  Most sites sell fragrance safe enough for candle and bath.  I opt for a great fragrance oil that is as safe on skin as it is powerful on fragrance throw--if it were to be used in a candle.   It took me years to find a true quality manufacturer as many sites will claim to be a manufacturer that are not.  I found almost all sites cut their fragrance oils with DEP or other cheap agents that I consider to be flat out poison.  It is hard to tell at first, a fragrance oil may smell great upon first whiff.  But after it is put into an aroma warmer, only then can the truth be known. The more a fragrance oil is cut with cheap agents, the faster you get this totally stinky smell.  I have tested these more times than I care to count, and I feel after all these years we do carry the best un-cut fragrance oils available on the market.  We do not cut any fragrance oil, period.  Our fragrances are so strong many people e-mail me asking how to "tone it down" because they have small rooms and our fragrances do over power a small room.  I tell them to just add a few drops instead of the 1/2 ounce they are pouring into an aroma warmer, for example.  One site says to just add water and that will cause allot of popping and the dish to actually break.  I am not sure what Rocket Scientist is telling people to do that.     So that is the scoop on water based fragrance oils versus oil based.  If you plan to try to re-sell such products, the most popular fragrance oils are:  Vanilla, Lavender, Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Apple.  Natural coloration can be achieved with dill powder (green), nothing (vanilla), or cinnamon (off white) as just a few examples.

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Fizzy Bath Salts

This troop also used the bath salts to make gifts for the school gift exchange.  The one requirement the school made clear was that the gift must be homemade.  Their professional looking final product caused much a stir and they were accused of buying the bath salts from a store!  Bath salts are so great to soften hard water as well as skin.  These salts can be found even in the most remote towns for residents who really need water softener units and do not live in a major city where water is already treated.     

Now that you have your salt purchase down to just pennies, I would suggest enhancements such as making bath fizzy salts would go over like nothing else on the market.  I do not think you can typically get bath fizzy salts locally, so this makes the gift even more of a real treat.

To Make Bath Fizzy Salts

To make bath fizzy salts, you would use just 1/4 cup of citric acid along with 1/4 cup of baking soda (both make a fizz when they are mixed together an hit water) to 1 or 2 cups of salts, depending on how much fizz you want.  The important thing is that you use no water based oils or dyes.  If you do, this creation start will fizzing right away. I would place my salts in a zip lock bag, sprinkle a little oil based fragrance on them and shake the bag very well.  I would then add some citric and baking soda and shake again.  Color can be achieved by using any oil based color, preferably a natural color such as dried cinnamon.  Most oil based colors will stick to the person after a bath. 

Packaging Salts

I like the test tube things here, as they say everything is in the packaging, but people are also using plain brown lunch bags with a twist, Chinese take out containers which are very economical, and anything but a zip lock bag.  Our new Bathroom Chemist DVD will be out soon and shows exactly how to make lotions, bath bombs, bath salts and much more.  Out of ten topics that by far was the most fun to film and to watch.  

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New "How To" Make a Gift Basket DVD

As we finish up on our new DVD's we ran a poll to some 10,000 people on the subject of VHS vs. DVD an overwhelming response to DVD only.  It appears VHS only users were not more than 3% of the survey.  Many of our customers live in one red light towns and even they no longer use VHS or so it seems. As a result our first completed filming will be offered in DVD format only.  Price was also a heavily debated issue and many people made it clear that $19.95 would be much more realistic than the $39.95 we felt they were worth.  There is nothing else like our instructional tapes on the market and they do cost quite a bit to create when aiming for a great production as we sure have achieved.  So, as far as price, we agreed on $29.95 for existing reader's and a much higher price for non-Mabel reader's who are serious about getting into a certain craft business, spontaneous and only interested in one focus area.  Basically our DVDs will be offered in platforms such as Amazon at a much higher price.  Subscriber's to Mabel that pay via the old Pay Pal system will get these DVD's at no charge.  This would be any member prior to November 1, 2003.  

How to Make a Gift Basket DVD

Can now be purchased here for $29.95 and includes detailed instructions on how to make beautiful small as well as large gift baskets, how to make a small basket look full, anchoring items, building the creation upwards, removing prices with ease, how to make a bow, along with pricing your basket, as well as how to make and even save money in doing so.  The many concepts and ideas presented in the film are fun and many things you learn can be used in basic gift gifting and other areas of our your day to day life as well.  For our 55 Minute DVD and manual please order below. 

How to Make Gift Baskets 55 Minute Home Instructional DVD and Manual!  


Coming Soon!

The next DVD to be offered is The Bathroom Chemist:  How to make Balms, Lotions, Bath Bombs Bath Salts, and more. We expect that to be offered for sale in the next two weeks.  Future DVD's on the editing block include How to Make Heavily Scented Candles, Floral Design, Making Melt and Pour Soaps, How to Make Gel Candles, and How to Make Cold/Hot Process Old Fashioned Soap.  We expect all video's edited and available by the start of next season 2004, if not sooner.  We will be sure to announce them in this newsletter when they are completed.  

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Scents and Flavors of the Season

I couldn't help but notice what scents really worked well over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I actually picked fruits, such as Pear and McIntosh Apple, instead of the normal scents associated with fall/winter such as Apple Pie or Autumn Walk.  These clear and concise fruit aromas caused many compliments and interest.  I found it very refreshing and good to keep my head clear.

In our flavor department we just added Margarita, a refreshing lime taste, along with wintergreen, and lemon drops.  The aspiring lip balm chemist can consider making "double mint" which would be 1/2 peppermint oil to 1/2 wintergreen or spearmint oil.  Experimenting is lots of fun!

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The Dollar Stretcher

Recently I was picked up as a syndicated columnist for one of the largest, if not THE largest,  on line newsletters known as The Dollar Stretcher.  I submitted an article almost a year ago and forgot all about it.  After almost a year, I was picked up, article published and did not even know it until I saw my mail box.  That first article alone caused a few thousand e-mails a day to pour in to my mailbox for at least ten days. I never thought it would end.  I did call the Dollar Stretcher to thank them.  

Making lip balm, lotions and other things to save money and provide a family a higher quality product seems new to the Dollar crowd and has caused allot of reborn interest in homemade goods.  Mabel also likes the Dollar Stretcher for what they represent and its focus on how to save money in almost every area of our lives.  Mabel has a big following and would like to invite our readers to subscribe to this free and great on line newsletter full of ingenious ways to save money and other valuable information on how to make a penny go farther. Click here to see the first article I wrote in the Dollar Stretcher about making your own balm, and click here to look at the free Dollar Stretcher subscription program.  Any comments to Gary, the Editor, making it clear you are a Mabel fan would be greatly appreciated.  I know we can impress his paper as much as he has impressed our company and I hope to write for them for years to come.

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Cakes Baked in Mugs to Give as a Gift

As a child I just loved my Easy Bake Oven and tested it to its utmost limits.  This gift seems to have that appeal and the recipient gets to bake their own ready made treat, without using light bulbs for heat, but a microwave instead!  Submitted by a troop leader, here it goes!

Apparently this is an easy gift to make, the kids in the troop only needing a nice coffee mug and a basket.  The contents of the cake is just cake mix and pudding.  

To Make:

1 cake mix - any flavor     1 (4-serving size) instant pudding mix (not sugar-free), any flavor   1 coffee cup without metallic paint that holds at least 12 oz.  Good combos include lemon cake mix and pudding, yellow cake mix + chocolate pudding, confetti cake + vanilla, etc.   Glaze mix consists of 1/3 cup powdered sugar + 1  1/2 tsp dry flavoring such as powdered lemonade mix (not sugar free), or orange powdered breakfast drink, or cocoa powder, etc.   

1. Blend dry cake mix and dry pudding mix into a large bowl and blend well.  This will make 4 to 4 1/2 cups dry mix and will make 8 to 9 coffee cup cake mixes.  

2.Place 1/2 cup dry mix into a sandwich bag. Place mix into a corner of the bag and tie it with a twist tie. Continue making packets until all of the dry mix is used up.  

3.  Use glaze mix to make appropriate flavor glaze mix and place into a sandwich bag and tie into the corner of the bag.  Label this "glaze mix" and attach it to the other bag with a twist tie or ribbon.  

4. Place one mix into a coffee cup and wrap cup with cellophane and tie with a bow.  Place wrapped cup and several mixes of different flavors into a basket.   

Copy and attach the following recipe:  Bake a Cake in a Coffee Cup!  1. Generously spray inside of a coffee cup with cooking spray.  2. Empty contents of large packet into cup.  Add 1 egg white, 1 Tb. oil, and 1 Tb. water to dry mix.  Mix for 15 seconds, carefully mixing in all the dry mix.  3. Microwave on full power 2 minutes. ( a low wattage small microwave may give less than optimal results.) 4. While cake is cooking, place ingredients from glaze mix into a very small container and add 1 1/2 tsp. water. Mix well.  5. When cake is done, pour glaze over cake in cup.  Enjoy while warm.      Most of this is taken from a small booklet by Jackie Gannaway entitled "Gift Mixes". I don't see any copyrights. I got this book, as well as several others from Current ( available at www.CurrentCatalog.com  ). She also mentions that you can buy plain cups from places such as Wal-Mart or craft stores and decorate them with acrylic enamel paint.    Author Julie 

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Liquid Soaps Revisited

005.jpg (67089 bytes)I am going to be writing an article about how to make lotion in a blender as soon as I have time to make sure the theory works.  I have making lotion down pat now, I just have not thought about doing it in a blender until recently.  Until then, I am once again discussing the making of liquid soaps, perhaps one of the hardest of all toiletries to make because the base of liquid soap is not a simple ingredient that can be found around the home as with our other projects.   

As you can see in the photo on the right (click thumbnail to see a better photo) I simply took basic liquid soaps and added in my own fragrance oils or alcohol, for example, if I wanted to make an antibacterial soap for the kitchen dispenser.  For the antibacterial soap I just picked a bright pink soap base from Sam's Club or Cosco and added 1/2 alcohol to it along with a few drops of peppermint oil. That came out great.  Orange oil is in the smallest bottle and can actually be looked at as soap.  All soap and shampoos are made from oil.  I know that is hard to believe, but it is true.  "Murphy's Oil Soap" is one good example.  It is basically the lemon oil that does clean wood and keep it protected.  The real extracts are great and it is a shame that commercial carriers now put as little of the real thing as possible in their solutions.  Like "Powered with Orange Oil."  I would just forget all that and use real orange oil.   It is cheap enough to have the real thing than some high priced solution that contains just enough to aggravate you.  I have noticed even the cleaners that claim to have orange oil in them still do not clean up wax and gum as straight orange oil will.  

The green bottle is Fresh Cut Grass dish soap,  I simply added a few drops of fresh cut grass fragrance oil to a green soap base.  Purple is lavender I offer in the guest bathroom as hand soap, once again just adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the purple hand soap.  

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Gift's for Our Troops

Yes, I am staying out of politics altogether, but recently got a great letter from one of our readers.  She had found specific and approved web sites that really are focused on supporting families out there with loved ones overseas or just coming back.  We feel these sites are safe, but cannot guarantee we know them.  And this is what Mary Kathryn  wrote:

O.K. everybody, here are some places to go and purchase the BEST holiday present ever!!!! These websites are geared toward helping our troops and their families. My wish is to  eliminate the overwhelming amount of helplessness felt by myself, my family, and my friends!! Thanks for your time- I love you! MK
www.certifichecks.com  (groceries for troop families)
www.operationuplink.com (phone cards for troops)

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Did You Know?

The Way To Keep A Healthy Level Of Insanity

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and
     point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice.

3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they
    want fries with that.

4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it "Inbox"

5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 Weeks. Once everyone has
    gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to Espresso.

6. In the memo field of all your checks, write "For a Bribe to a Public Official"

7. Finish all your sentences with "In Accordance With The Prophecy."

8. Don't use any punctuation

9. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

10. Ask people what sex they are. Laugh hysterically after they answer.

11. Specify that your drive-through order is "To Go."

12. Sing along at the opera.

13. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme

14. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical
      sounds all day.

15. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their
      party because you're not in the mood.

16. Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name,  

17. When the money comes out the ATM, scream "I Won!, I Won!"

18. When leaving the Zoo, start running towards the parking lot,
       yelling "Run For Your Lives, They're Loose!!"

19. Tell your children over dinner. "Due to the economy, we are
       going to have to let one of you go."

And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity.......

20. Send this URL to someone or copy and paste into an e-mail to make them smile..
      Its called therapy...

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