Soaprogress has been made . . .

Almond In Wonderland

Sorry. Once it was in my head, I couldn’t stop typing that headline. Anyway, I’ve added soap pages to my blog. I have to figure out the best way to set up buy buttons that give you choices. That’s not going to happen this weekend. However, now you all know what I have and what’s available. You can comment on the blog or on FB and let me know what you want or if you have questions. I will get back to you quickly. In the meantime, I hope you get a kick out of the pictures. I sure did.

Okay – let’s make this easier here are links to the soap pages:

General Information

Soap Descriptions


I’m a demographic!

brickWho knew? For years and years and years I have taken surveys from a local agency that handles focus groups doing research in Orlando. I think my first survey was about diapers. Interesting since I used cloth. Anyway, I rarely qualify – even less now that I have no little kids – but, it’s a fun way to pick up an extra $50-200 for a couple hours of time that involve unlimited Diet Coke and M&M’s. Usually once or twice a year.

The past couple of months have brought me multiple surveys re the current election. I never know which question trips me up but I always fail to qualify for the actual paid part. Until last Sunday. No clue why they picked me. Is it that I’m of a certain age? Or is it that I am registered as in Independent? Perhaps the fact that  I marked that I dislike both candidates?

A nice young man called me to confirm my information and ask a few more questions. He was particularly interested in what it was I did before I became a “homemaker.” Seriously? What was my job 25 years ago? Okay then. I stated I was available for three hours next Monday without giving it much thought.

The three hours? Yup. The debate. So, I’m going to get paid to watch something I’d watch anyway. I was telling my son, Ian, about this last night and he asked if they allowed cursing and shouting.  Ian has watched a few debates with me.  He suggested that I do like the one kid who plays Brick in that show “The Middle” does and whisper into my chest. I think it’s going to go well.

Seriously, though, I’m looking forward to it. I hope they have a group with mixed opinions. It would also be very cool if we got to use those controller things that allow you to push buttons expressing like or dislike in real time. No matter what I am pretty sure there will be M&Ms and that is a good thing.  8)


Not Giving Up

soap-bowlWhether you like it or not, I will get 30 posts (30 days hath September … okay,  30) in this month. I’m just behind a bit. I know I said I wouldn’t talk about it but I’ve been making soap. LOTS of soap. I’m so excited to unveil my soap pages for you guys. I just need to take some decent pictures and write some descriptions. Once you see them, you’ll be reminded of just how weird (and occasionally funny) soap can be.

Not too much else I want to get into right now but stay tuned. I have all kinds of things I want to talk about that will fascinate you – bread, boys, focus groups and pet rescues. For now, I’m just trying to clock in posts. Check. Now to bed.

Hope all is well in your worlds.

Odd Day

voteTrying to keep up with my September posts. I think I’ve fallen behind a few days – I hope none of you have suffered because of my lapse.

Today I attended an informational meeting on working at the polls this upcoming November. I’m  a nerd. I think it’s important for people to vote and I thought maybe this would be something I could do now that my kids are too old to drag along with the promise of an “I voted” sticker.

I was motivated mostly by curiosity and the idea of making a bit of money was kind of fun.  I left the meeting feeling sad and kind of discouraged. The woman presenting the information was great – poised, in control and kind of funny. The people attending this meeting were a HUGE mix.  However, as we went point-by-point through the stuff we had in hand outs on our seat, on a huge screen in front of us and being read and explained to us by the nice election lady … sigh.

The pay range is $275-170 for election day. They fail to mention that you have to attend the informational meeting and another training day that lasts from 3-6 hours.  Add in the fact that a presidential election involves a 6 am – 9 to 11 pm finish. That’s less that minimum wage. Again, I would actually volunteer to do this but they can’t take volunteers because too many groups are partisan.

Anyway, the day was discouraging because of the constant rude interruptions and comments from people attending the meeting. Seriously, the lack of general manners was astounding. Add to that the fact that most of the questions people were asking were answered in the flyer, on the big screen and by the nice lady in front of us.  My biggest fear is ending up stuck in some podunk polling place with the ugliest people in the meeting and not having any out for 12-15 hours.

I stuck it out and filled out the application and did the test. Who knows maybe the worst of our group won’t pass the test? Or they will. I’m not sure what I’ll do if they call me. I’m leaning to “No” which makes me kind of sad. But, the fact that our small group (maybe 100 people) ended the session so divided makes me a little scared to sign up to spend the day at any site the county chooses on election day. Also, there is a weird part of me that is happy to volunteer but, if you are going to pay me – pay me.

Have any of you been poll workers? I’d love to hear your experiences.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Hope all is well in your world.

With love from Croatia

croatian-meat-pieSaturday night we were invited to dinner at a friend’s house as a kind of last minute thing. I’ll never be the same. Our hostess’ mother was visiting from Germany. She’s originally from Croatia. This woman cooked a FEAST for ten of us. I’m really not a foodie kind of person. I eat because you need to eat but, I’m kind of indifferent to most meals. No longer. I am packing my bags and either going home with Croatian mom or moving to Croatia.

Now I need to know who has these recipes? The Croatian mom was so sweet but did not speak much English and was totally engrossed in her nearly 2-year-old granddaughter to be dictating recipes. We had some kind of soup with potatoes, pork and beef.  There was an appetizer made from thin flaky dough that I gathered when rolled out covered the sizable kitchen island. This was stuffed with spicy meat and/or potatoes – there were two kinds. My favorite thing was stuffed cabbage.

Yeah, I’ve had stuffed cabbage a million times – the Irish way. This is not Irish stuffed cabbage – though, it would be good with a Guiness. I have no idea what was in this broth/sauce. There was tomato but it was not remotely Italian. Seriously, people, I’m drooling as I type. Mike and I actually dueled with our spoons of the last bits of sauce – thank God we found the bread before blood was drawn and were able to get the very last bits of sauce sopped up. Every plate that went into the dishwasher that night was clean. I just can’t stop thinking about it.

If any of you know anything about Croatian food, clue me in. I’ve googled but nothing looks quite right. Croatian mom leaves in another week. After that, I’ll call and nag our hostess but, she doesn’t see her mom a lot and I don’t want to be a pest. I just want all the leftovers. NOW.

Fifteen 9/11’s

SEVENTH IN A SERIES OF ELEVEN– A person falls from the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001after terrorists crashed two hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and brought down the twin 110-story towers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Andy was not yet two when 9/11 happened. The older boys were SO little. I wonder sometimes if you can make comparisons between Pearl Harbor and 9/11. I don’t think you can because millions of people did not spend an entire day glued to their televisions watching Pearl Harbor.  With 9/11 the world watched the entire thing unfold.

I remember my mom calling to tell me to turn on my television.  We spent a long time talking about why a person would fly a plane into a building. Not once did terrorism come into our conversation. Shortly after I did that, I set up an elaborate scavenger hunt in the back yard for the boys so I could watch and they would not be watching. Not one of them remembers 9/11.

The picture I have up is one I’ll never forget. it was awful to watch buildings collapse and to worry about how many people might be inside. But, when they showed footage of a person choosing to jump to his death … All I could think was “I hope his family is not watching.”

We live in an awful, crazy world. And, while I’m always on alert, I’m also conscious of how nice people are in my own day to day life. It’s as if they go out of their way to be nice.  At the same time, I live in a city where a terrorist shot up a night club and killed 49 people. There is evil out there, I’ve no doubt. But, I will always believe that there is more good and that good will win.

Here’s to another anniversary and prayers for better times.

In my happy place . . .

20160910_010504It’s been so long since I made soap. I forgot how much I LOVE making soap. I’m only making unscented colored soap to use IN the upcoming soaps. And, I am happy, happy, happy.

I love to write. I love to paint. But there is something about making soap that instantly transcends everything. Of course the problem is, you can only make so much soap and then you have to sell it to support your “soap habit” and that is an entirely different animal. However, for tonight, I’m making 15 1-pound batches of unscented multi-colored soap (in layers) that will be incorporated over the holiday round of soap making.

Some people feel this way about bread making or grilling or gardening … that’s only because they haven’t made soap.😉

More bad photography from me but, I have to mention this is the first time I have made soap in this kitchen. WOW – counter space makes a huge difference. HUGE.

Okay, I’m done with soap on the blog. I promise to set up a soap page for those interested and to update the soap on my FB account. I just couldn’t NOT tell you all how fun it is to have my soap stuff out and in use again.

Soap Stories

soapstackguy1Anyone remember this? Such a long time ago! I started making soap in 2004. After a while, it was just too much and I stopped. Then I kind of started but, it was still too much. Too many teenagers, too many fires, too little me. I miss it. I kept making soap once a year for fun and for holiday gifts. I didn’t do anything last year. This year I’m going to offer some soaps for sale and make a lot more for gifts.  I’m excited because I have a chance to teach a few new people how to make soap this month before rowing completely takes over our lives again. I love teaching people to make soap.

Before I start ordering stuff and getting started, I thought I’d ask you all about your thoughts and preferences.  Please jump in on the comments or on FB.  Here are the things I’m curious about:

  • The recipe I’m planning to use will have lard in it. I like lard because it keeps costs down, it’s gentle for most skin types and it makes a nice, long-lasting soap. Would that be a deterrent? If I did a pure olive oil soap, would you want a scent or just plain?
  • Do you like the option of getting a discount for buying unwrapped, “nekkid” soaps that you can dress up yourself?
  • These are the scents I’m planning to use. Please leave a comment if you see something missing that you LOVE. I usually avoid most Christmas scents because if you give them as gifts people start  using them when they have a new year and new goals on their mind. By the time you give a Christmas scent, Christmas is over.
    • Oatmeal/Milk/Honey
    • Peppermint Stick
    • Pink Sugar
    • Frankincense
    • Rosemary Mint
    • Burberry for Men
    • Citron/Peppercorn/Fig
    • Almond Biscotti
    • Cuban Tobacco (terrible name, delicious smell)
    • Ginger/Lime
    • Lemongrass/Sage
    • Apple/Mango
  • How do you feel about shipping? Would you rather pay actual shipping or have shipping built into your price?
  • I’m thinking about doing one “flavor” of soap as a fundraiser for a dear friend in a spectacularly difficult situation. The soap would have fun, unique wrapping. Would a $.50 bump in price affect your decision to purchase?
  • Finally, how do you feel about pre-ordering (once I get my act together)? I’d offer a 10% discount for orders placed by 10/15/2016.

My plan is to reboot my soap page on Facebook and to add a separate soap page to this blog. That way, if you’re not interested in soap, you won’t have to hear about it. As always, I’d love for you to buy my soap. But, if you don’t, please visit your local farmers market or craft co-op and buy some local soap. You won’t regret it.

Opinions, please! Thanks.



How I spent my summer vacation …

Well not really my summer vacation (for that I went to the beach) but, I did get some really nice down time from rowing and all the rest of things. As I ease back into our school/life routine, though, I want to take a minute to share some of my bad pictures – I try but photography escapes me – of things I’ve been working on. No reason except I do like being able to come back to the blog just to check I’ve made progress every couple of years or so.


I.  Kitchen Table  When we moved in, I put our awesome garbage pick-Ethan Allen table in this space. It was a grekitchen-tableat table but it was simply TOO BIG. I found this table a couple of weeks ago at a thrift store. Perfect size. I painted it and distressed it because who are we kidding? Between me, Mike and the boys – any table we own is going to be distressed. I just decided to end the suspense and do it first off. (Can you see Dolores-the-Cow waving at you?)

II. Bread Box

When I first started blogging (10 years ago!!!!!) I found a bread box. It delighted me then. It delights me now. It’s a bread box. It needed an update after a decade of hard use.  I like it. I was even inspired enough to go find a new sandwich bread recipe. If you’re into making bread, I highly recommend it. I had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever this afternoon . . . from the bread in my bread box.  Guess how big it is?  (Sorry, I’m going to breathe into my paper bag for a bit before I write anymore.)

III. Suitcases

When Mike and I were young and beautiful and living in an awesome historic cottage when Danny was born (remember those times? – “It’s so cute, we don’t need closets or central a/c, look at the molding!)  we lived next to an old, old man who was funny and facing leaving his house to move to an assisted living facility. He was going to toss some old suitcases and I asked if I could take them. He thought I was a loon. These suitcases have served as storage/night stands/coffee tables and one was even a depository (would that be the antonym for suppository?) for cards at Danny’s wedding. But, they were old and sad when I brought them into this house. I painted them, added new linings and even practiced transferring (imperfectly) prints to surfaces.  They look just at home in the entrance way. All I need now is an umbrella stand and a coat rack (you know, the essentials for FL living).

IV.  Living Room/Office

This house has a “formal” living room space. We don’t really need that. What we need is a place for me to make my messes and not have to spend an hour every night putting everything away. So we’ve decided to make the formal living room my work space.  Andy can use the little office in the back for school. I moved the awesome Ethan Allen/garbage table into the living room. I can write, sew, paint, knit, whatever in here. If we’re expecting a crowd, it’s easy enough to clean up and have a decent sized dining room.  It’s a work in progress but, I’m so happy, I have craved this kind of freedom/space for years and years.

The chair? Awesome thrift store find! The fabric is so perfect. (In fact, my mom is working on a water color based on the chair – JUST FOR ME!) The table – big and perfect for all my mess. The reddish cabinet – I’m still working on that but it’s going to be my sewing station.  Now I just need to find me a dressmakers dummy.


I’ve been collecting frames from thrift stores for months – I try to get them at $.99 (preferably in the 1/2 off color of the week) and I  sand them down and spray paint them black. Amazing how a single color can unify a bunch of unrelated frames – at least well enough not to make my eye twitch. I have a ton of pictures that are perfect for the weird wall in our family room. I got started this weekend. Now I just need more frames.

You can kind of see where I did new pillows for the couch but they look awful because, gasp, Mike, Tim and Andy were actually using them! I’ll get a picture another day. They’re kind of fun – houndstooth, an old wool sweater, a great turquoise shower curtain and some remnants from Hobby Lobby. And a bit of burlap and ribbons.

Okay, not terribly exciting but I hope parts were interesting. So far, I’m on schedule for September. I think.

Tomorrow . . . let’s talk soap. Who wants soap. Who wants to learn to make soap?




b1302-oldfriendsI feel like I’m coming out of a fog. The past year has been so full of things that I never wanted to deal with or even think about. And, while I’m still reeling from things like my dad’s illness and death, moving from our beloved neighborhood and more – I’m starting to feel more like myself than I have in a long time.

I’m still sad. I have some days where I just want to crawl under the bed an hide. But, more and more I am starting to feel like me. School with Andy has been fun so far this year. I’m no longer wandering room to room wondering why I’m wandering room to room. I still wander but, usually, if I give myself a few minutes, I can figure out why I am there.

I’ve sort of got a handle on this house, this kitchen and what’s coming up for the next year. Of course, life will happen and change my plans but I’m ready to face life again. It’ll never be the same but, it will go on – and, if I have anything to do with it, it will go on in an orderly fashion. Or not. We’ll see.

I’m accepting the fact that three of my boys are grown. They still love and need me but not like they used to. I doubt they would admit to needing me – but they do. Right?  I miss them and marvel at their lives as young adults at the same time. No complaints, they keep in touch and share funny things, poignant things and just the plain ol’ stupid things. Can’t ask for more than that.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the sad, I’m overwhelmed by how incredibly fortunate and blessed we are as a family.  Part of me is still sad and I guess it will always be that way but, I am happy to be seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel.

(And, yes, it IS 4 am.  My wandering ways have improved but need even more improvement. I forgot I had started making bread several hours ago. I JUST pulled it out of the oven – it’s beautiful.  BUT … I think my next plan is going to be working on my wonky hours.