Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yummy Bakeover

Recently I began subscribing to MaryJane's Farm magazine. It's a really wonderful combination of information and values about eating organic, seasonal foods, old fashioned thrift, respect for the environment, feminism and glam. Mary Jane Butters, who runs her own farm and is now a publishing phenomenon, has branded herself as a Farm Girl type of Martha Stewart. She sells everything she writes about, from her organic Budget Mix (an organic, healthier alternative to Bisquick) to the cutest damn travel trailer I've ever seen (for about $15,000).

Today I decided to try to make one of her much-touted Bakeovers. The video shows how it's done, but it's very simple and I have to say it -- Delicious! I used potatoes, onions, garlic, tiny cubes of ham and Gruyere cheese, topped with the whole wheat budget mix crust. Take a peek at the leftovers!

I'm envisioning all kinds of possibilities now that I've done it. My family totally loved it! It gratified those few small molecules of Farm Girl I've got drifting around inside me somewhere.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Back in Stock

Back in stock, two of my beautiful, fragrant and lusciously lathering handmade soaps, Dragon's Blood and Celtic Moonspice.

I spent some time yesterday figuring out Google Base. I had already signed up for Google Analytics, but found out yesterday I'd used a manual upload system which I promptly forgot about and so nothing had been added to my account for almost a year. Sigh. Now I have Google Base set to update daily using my shop's RSS shop feed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lotus Flower

Today is the first day in weeks that I haven't had to run around and be somewhere at a certain time. On top of that, it's been raining hard. We really need the rain so it's wonderful. And it's the perfect day for napping, which I've been doing with a vengeance.

The big beautiful lotus flower bud finally started opening in our backyard lily pond. It's the most delicate, fluffy flower, pink and white and yellow. It's taken a beating with the rain, so it's a little droopy, but I took a picture of it for you.

I made the most delicious dinner last night, Pasta with Asiago Cheese and Spinach. I'm a big fan of Giada on Food Network. This might be her best recipe yet. My family literally devoured it. It even tempted Lowell, who has lost a lot of weight from being unable to eat, into have two small helpings. If you're a pasta fan, you'll love it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Printer, Yay!

I got Geoffrey through his new student orientation at FGCU on Monday and Tuesday, walking miles (it seemed) in the broiling sun with a heat index of 104 degrees. In between walking from information sessions, I drove home to check on Lowell and make sure he was OK. He seems to be recovering well and the worst thing he's experiencing is, believe it or not, back spasms. His massage therapist made a house call (thank heavens) and between that and muscle relaxers and tylenol, he's perking up a little.

Just before Lowell's operation I started researching printers. I was so tempted by Laser printers, but they are just so expensive. I finally found a bunch of reviews of the Canon Pixma 620 that says it's even better than the newer Pixmas, which came out a few months ago so it would be worth looking for this particular model. The reviews by consumers and CDNet, Amazon.com etc. are almost all glowing with regard to miserly ink use and great quality prints that are almost laser quality.

Yesterday I the old HP printer died and I found a Pixma 620 on sale for 50% off at Staples. They are clearing out stuff for the newer models. So I got this thing and it's like night and day, the difference in print quality. Such smooth transitions within colors, and no banding on photo prints. Plus it's one of those all-in-ones, it scans and copies too. I don't need the fax function since I already have a fax machine. Perfect!

What's cool is that this printer has the kind of ink where you only have to replace the colors you use up. It has the cyan, magenta and yellow inks, plus two blacks, one for text printing and one for graphic printing. The reviews said you can get over 2,000 pages before you have to replace the colors! I was having to buy new HP tri-color cartridges several times a month and even at Sam's, it was very expensive.

So I'm such a happy camper! This is a wireless printer too, so once I gird my loins to try setting up the wireless feature, everyone in the house can use it to print. Right now the kids have to put things on a key chain drive from their laptops then move over to my computer to print. Now they can just print directly from their own printers, and you can print directly from a memory card too.

Really, it's ridiculous how happy I am about this new printer. It doesn't take much to put a little joy in my life!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sea Glass Soap

New in my Etsy shop this morning, Sea Glass Handmade Soap! This soap has such a beautiful fragrance but it's hard to describe -- like that fresh, clean ozone smell of the shore, combined with seaside flowers and woods and a slight tangy citrus. It's been one of my favorites for years. I've added here it to my Sea Sprite Soaps shop today too. When it was time to take a photo of this, I was so glad I still had the sea glass we picked up on the shore in Maine on vacation a few years ago!

We'll be gearing up to make the trek to Fort Myers soon to visit Lowell in the hospital. It's about a 35-40 minute drive, depending on traffic. He's already calling at 7:30 this morning, grumpy, bored and lonely. I gotta get these lazy kids up and moving so we can drive up there and see my boy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Sigh of Relief

My DH had his surgery yesterday. Today the path results came in, looks like they got it all and there was nothing showing up in the lymph nodes they took out nearby, suggesting that the cancer hadn't spread. Within two hours of the surgery's completion, he was in a room and talking to us. It is such a relief to see him alert and responsive. This morning they had him up and walking around. It seems like a miracle, one I'm profoundly grateful for.

On Monday and Tuesday, Geoff and I have to attend his new student orientation at FGCU. I'm not sure when Lowell comes home from the hospital, but I may have to do some fancy footwork to attend orientation, get him home and take care of him while still attending to orientation. I think they might send him home Monday, but it might be a few days longer. He is very excited tonight about the possibility of having some toast tomorrow morning!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tangerine Lavender at Clearance Price

Today I marked down my Tangerine Lavender Handmade Soap to $3.00 per bar. I'm clearing stuff out to make room for new soaps. And new in my shop today is Sanibel Sunset handmade soap.

My Lemon Verbena soap made it into this Summer Days Treasury!

I'm feeling the urge to crochet something today. I don't know what. Maybe some cute, colorful little soap savers or a wash cloth for a freebie with larger orders.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pink Treasury

My Wild Honeysuckle soap was featured in this beautiful Pink Treasury today!

My DH cooked tonight and it was sooo good -- Barbecued chicken marinated in Mojo Criollo, sweet fresh corn, baked beans and salad. Good, hearty basic food. Not only that, he cleaned up the kitchen afterward when it was really my turn. I'm a lucky girl. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sweetest, Tiniest Little Sample Tubes

I was in a co-op to get a bunch of these adorable little lip balm tubes for samples and freebies to send out with orders. These are only about 1.5 inches tall and pretty fiddly to label. But they are just so damn cute!

Not much is happening around here right now. We are trying to rest and eat well and get my DH ready for his surgery next week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Insulting Spam Convos

You've probably received one of these if you've been on Etsy for very long. A new person with no feedback, Profile, shop, etc. wrote me a big long convo to "educate" me about something I already know about. The person assumed (always a big mistake) that I don't know very much about the ingredients I use and that they were scoring moral victory points for pointing out how wrong I am about my product tags. I had a long, erudite, empirically-based response planned but went for a pithy, profane and much more satisfying response instead. Haven't heard a word back since.

Still, it made me wonder about the kind of person that contacts a total stranger with an assumption that they know more than everyone else about a particular issue. The kind of busybody who likes to annoy other people in the guise of "educating" them. That approach does not fare well with me.

Here's another example -- I was on Etsy for less than a month when I received a nasty, venom-dripping convo from someone on a street team I'd just joined. She demanded I remove my lavender sachets from my shop because she owned the "copyright" on lavender sachets. You can imagine the hilarity this provoked around my home, where we actually have written and published books, regularly create copyrighted 3D products, etc. Phhhhft.

My DH is going to have surgery for colon cancer next Wednesday. We were hoping it could be done laparascopically, but no dice. We are glad we got the second opinion though, and the surgery will be done by a colo-rectal surgeon rather than a general surgeon. Good vibes, positive thoughts and healing energy are all appreciated.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh What a Perfect Day...

I'm glad I spent it with my family (apologies to Lou Reed). That's what yesterday was. I got started early enough to buy a big pork shoulder roast, marinate it, then cook it for 4 hours to make real pulled pork barbecue sandwiches for dinner (Paula Deen recipe). I did the whole 9 yards, homemade coleslaw, baked beans, Cracker Barrel style green beans and peach cobbler for dessert. I think I blew out my culinary lobe on all that.

Vicky got home from her trip to Tampa just in time for dinner, and Geoff stayed in last night. We all watched "Dirty Dancing" together on TV (still love that movie), then most of "Titanic." Now, we have both of those movies on DVD, but somehow we didn't mind watching them with commercials on network TV. There's hardly anything better than nesting with your nearly grown children. It's so rare that we are all four home for dinner at the same time, and the cell phone isn't ringing to call one of the kids (or both) off somewhere.

Gawd, I hadn't watched "Titanic" in forever. I forgot how how much I enjoyed it. Even though I know how it ends, I still always kind of hope that Leo won't die and he and Rose will go off to California together in the end.

I need to make a couple of kinds of soap, but I feel unable to do anything energetic right now. Until we get my DH to the doctor for a second opinion tomorrow, I don't feel able to do anything that requires a high level of concentration.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cinnamon Vanilla Super Bubbly Soap

This super bubbly formula was so popular in Vanilla de Madagascar, I decided to try it with a new one -- Cinnamon Vanilla! It smells so spicy, sweet and delicious, it's hard not to take a bite. As always, it's in my Etsy shop too.

My DH and I sat down to enjoy a movie last night. We rented "The Wrestler." I've been a big Mickey Rourke fan since "Angel Heart." That was some movie! I don't know what I expected, but this wasn't it. After all the hype about his great performance in this movie, we were singularly unimpressed. It was more like a documentary and I can't get past how stiff and unnatural his face looks after all that plastic surgery. We gave up after 45 minutes and went to bed to read.

Vicky is in Tampa this weekend. She went to see The Wailers perform in St. Pete, and spending the night with her roommate-to-be at USF. I swear we hear more from her when she's away, via cell phone, than we do when she's home!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Graduation Photo

Here's our Geoffrey receiving his high school diploma. Yay Geoff!

My husband may need to have surgery next week for an intestinal polyp. Please keep him in your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Soap in Shop

Get Lei'd, a pretty pink and white swirled soap that smells fabulous, is finally in my shop. Oh how I wish we could have scratch 'n sniff online, you'd love it.

Last night my son and I watched Will Ferrell with Bear Grylls on Men vs. Wild. OMG it was so funny. You'd have to be a Will Ferrell fan to appreciate it, though. We laughed ourselves silly.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Natural" and Allergies

This is an interesting article stating that even natural perfumes can cause allergies. I don't know how many times I've heard about Princess and the Pea people who cannot tolerate anything that isn't "natural." On the other hand, I know a lot people have trouble with essential oils and other raw plant materials, to the point of becoming nauseated from the merest whiff of lavender or ylang ylang. It's something I've always known on an informal level, so it's interesting to see that confirmed.

I just made a giant batch of my Vanilla de Madagascar Super Bubbly soap. It's what I call my "break the rules" soap because it consists solely of coconut oil (75%) and cocoa butter (25%). Normally a high percentage of coconut in soap can be drying, but when it's combined with a lavish amount of cocoa butter and superfatted 20%, you get a divinely decadent, non-drying soap that lathers like a mofo. I'm amazed at how popular this one has been, even though it's dark brown and ugly as homemade sin. But it's pure indulgence and the fragrance is TDF.