I Should Know Better . . .

9265c-boredomIn my entire adult life, the minute I articulate the fact that I am bored my world changes. I did this (again!) and poof! life is busy in unanticipated ways. Last week we had the hurricane, soap lessons, a pizza party and then into school, practice and general life.

Mike and I have committed to the “food team” for rowing this year. Neither of us is good at sitting staring at a lake or river for 8+ hours waiting for the 2-3 minutes we get to see Andy flash by.  Friday, I went to the team leader’s house and peeled exactly 7,211 mandarin oranges, put 40 lbs of mozzarella into tiny cubes and diced pepperoni for hours. And, then we loaded the food trailer.  There is a lot that goes into feeding 200 kids for a day.

I came home and made bread and sausage balls. I’m an idiot, I put the sausage balls (all 150 of them) into a tupperware container that reeked of laundry detergent – I just didn’t smell it because of my allergies. Those were a toss. The bread was a hit, though. Andy’s boat placed 4th out of 21. The fall long distance races are weird. Even when you watch, you can’t tell who’s winning or not. Spring racing is much more fun to watch. Andy was happy so I’m happy.

Between rowing stuff, I’ve had a chance to spend time with my homeschool “homie” Jo who was visiting from Hawaii. Took Andy to our new, awesome dentist (we tried another local dentist – gah! DO NOT be afraid to get a second opinion. We did and we still saved $600.) Feeding people, soaping, visiting an awesome local farm for butter, marrow bones and some seriously delicious yogurt filled in the downtime.

This week is just as busy. I’ve spent Sunday, Monday and part of Tuesday sleeping and dealing with my stupid stomach. All is good now. Christi (the original girl-that-is-a-friend and daughter-in-law) turned 25 on Monday!!!!! How is that possible? Tomorrow, I get to see Kate! Andy is off to Valencia College to take tests to allow him to start classes in January. He’s so excited though, I might be more excited. I am ALL done with homeschooling all day everyday.

Thursday and Friday will be spent on revising writing assignments and making food for the rowing picnic on Saturday. I’m also excited because my sister is coming to town and it feels like forever since I’ve seen her.

Ugh … too much in one post. This is why I need to post everyday. I can break things into digestible bites. If you’ve read this far, thanks.  Now that I’m back up to speed I’ll send shorter, more entertaining updates.


I love when it all works out . . .

skull-of-matthewFor a hurricane weekend, we definitely ended up having WAY more fun than is probably appropriate.  And, I’m here to write about it.

Bing and Gigi (her Boston Terrier/Chihuahua new-to-her dog) came to sit out the storm. Gigi, a rescue dog who spent some time on the streets alone, is slowly coming around. She and Cally (our dog) may never be best friends but they at least learned to ignore each other pretty well. For the people in the house, there was cake, pie, chips, soda, wine and beer. Really, what else do you need?  While I had Bing trapped in the house, I made her make soap. We made some pretty ones!

The next morning, we learned the storm had pretty much skipped us. Mike was antsy because it was too windy to be out doing yard work and he’s not much for sitting around – especially with no Netflix or ESPN. So we opted for more cake, pie and snacks. When those ran out, Mike started cooking real food and Bing helped me with a fall wreath and some weird cobwebs I’ve been working on (pictures tomorrow). Andy set up my mom’s new phone (delivery just happened to work out pre-storm) and showed her all kinds of stuff the new phone can do. I dunno – it was just a really nice couple of days.

Saturday was beautiful and sunny and a little cooler (85-ish – nearly sweater weather). We were invited to a pizza challenge that evening. The hosts provided pizza dough and each couple had to bring their topping. I left Mike to think about that and went and got my hair cut and then stopped into Goodwill simply because I could. Andy had been using my car lately and on Saturday he was occupied AND had a ride home. (If anyone knows how to get the “boy smell” out of a car, please share. I love Andy.  I used to love my car.)

BAM!!!!! Walked into Goodwill and there were two giant boxes containing a  12′ Christmas tree.  It was like they were waiting for me. (The very first time I walked into this house I loved it because of the idea of having a GIANT tree in the entry. I soon found out how expensive those suckers are. But, I have never given up hope.) $40!!!!!!

28295But, and there’s always a but . . . I didn’t really think through how wide around a tree that tall is. Mike and Andy set it up for me this afternoon (because I was acting like a 3 year old and wouldn’t stop talking about it). Behold the Griswold family Christmas tree.  It will fit in the hall but some rearranging will have to be done to accommodate the tree and it’s … wait for it… 2500 lights (that all work)!!!!!!  Rest assured, you will be hearing more about this behemoth.  Isn’t it a scream!?!

And it doesn’t end! Pizza night was a hoot! It’s nice to find a group of people where things are easy – and funny. When you are all cooking together you learn an awful lot about people as well. There was no agreement on which pie won. I liked the one with peppers, onions, anchovies and really good mozzarella. (Don’t tell Mike – that wasn’t his. He did a muffalata (sp?) pizza – no thanks.)  Fun night. I always love seeing other people’s houses. The hosting couple is originally from Venezuela but have lived all over the world. They had so much beautiful art from everywhere – oil paintings from Venezuela, icons from Bulgaria, Disney stuff and so much more. I loved hearing the stories behind some of them and hope to hear more.

20161010_014706Today, more soap lessons for a friend. It was lesson #3 and we were ambitious. We’ll see how things come out of the mold tomorrow. I was confident we could do things quickly. My friend was less confident. I think she has a better understanding of how much talking goes on during and between soap batches. These are three we did. She went home with six more! Anyway, I’m so glad she showed up with frozen soup. We finished up the soap around 6:30. It was awesome to have soup, garlic bread and a salad to finish things off.  It’s killing me now to see these soaps. We’ll see in the morning.

Anyway … for a hurricane weekend it worked out pretty well. I needed some time like this – I’ve been gloomy lately for no particular reason just blah. It’s nice to reach the other side of the abyss.  😉




cropped-a3de5-typewriter-bmp.jpgOkay – this is my 18th post for September and the month will be over in 23 minutes. I don’t think I can hit 30 posts. In another world this would bother me a lot more than it does in this world. I really do like to accomplish what I say I’m going to do even if it means inconveniencing me and those around me. But, not quite as much as I used to like it. And, to think, I arrived at that conclusion without a single yoga class! 8)

Still, September ended up being a good month. Andy is off to a very solid start with school with little if any snark. Going back to making soap has been awesome. I even got a chance to teach a friend how to make soap over the weekend. I am so thrilled that she loved it almost as much as I do. We have plans to try a couple of projects together in the future. It’s not often you meet someone who has great enthusiasm for lye and things like super-fatting.

Bing, aka my mom, adopted a dog.  Gigi is a Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix who was found by a rescue group on the streets. She is ridiculously cute – a Boston Terrier with a nose and a tail – it’s funny stuff. She’s about seven years old.  Clearly someone took very good care of her as she can follow many commands and is a polite little thing. She did pick up some bad habits during her stint in the ‘hood but, I think with time and love she’ll get even better. Bing loves the company. For some reason, I really want to dress Gigi up. I am seriously THAT girl-deprived I guess.  You know the lady who made the calendar of her sleeping baby (who messes with a sleeping baby?) where she arranged the baby in scenes from books and familiar songs? Next time Bing leaves town and I get Gigi – I have BIG plans!

Tim and Ian are thoroughly immersed in all things school and work.  I see Tim about as much as I see Ian despite the fact that Tim lives here – I mean right here in the house – and Ian is living in Tallahassee.  I miss them both but am very proud of them. Dan and Christi are doing great in Ann Arbor. Christi will finish graduate school in December and is all-school-all-the-time right now. Dan is accepting the fact that he’s married to a musician and that television gets boring. He still enjoys his full-time job with an engineering firm but has resumed tutoring math and science as a way to fill the evenings when Christi has gigs and to pad their bank account.

Mike is still methodically working on his plan to get the yard back in shape. The parts he’s done already look amazing. There is still a lot to do. Every weekend he discovers a new statue or plant or mini-garden. It’s kind of crazy. Fun too. I think it’s more fun for me because I’m not out there in the 95-degree heat “discovering” stuff. Left to my own devices, I’d pave it all.

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


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.

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.



Super Saturday!

Oddly, after a huge  day at Universal, I ended up in bed and fast asleep incredibly early for me.  And, that translated to me being up early on Saturday.  I spent the morning puttering in the garden pulling weeds and revamping my plans.  I did a TON of laundry.  Mike got a call from his old manager at Chili”s asking if we wanted a giant mixer – she thought I could use it for soap.  Mike said yes.  I’m now the proud owner of a THIRTY QUART mixer.  The whisk beater is the size of a basketball.  My head is still twirling with possibilities!  Lynda is awesome for thinking of us before just consigning the mixer to the dump.  But, sheesh, it’s HUGE.  I’ll keep you posted.
While Mike was at Chili’s, they fixed him and Tim fajita’s-to-go.  Ummmm . . . except they sent home enough food for about 20 people.  We shared.  We had a brief meeting of the “driveway girls” while the kids played.  Scout always joins us (she’s a girl and all).  For the most part, Scout sticks by my side no matter what is going on.  The only exception would be a cat within a five-house square.  She’ll tear off (cone and all) after the cat  . . . she would be lost if she actually caught a cat, but she was back within about 2 minutes. 
:::sigh::: not fast enough.  Scout opted to tear through our mean neighbor’s yard.  I fully expected a visit from the police (I could see her blinds move as Scout escaped me in pursuit of the cat).  Heh.  No such luck.  Though I was sitting with four other people and a lot of kids running all over (my older kids were playing basketball out front, the middle aged kids were playing tag and the youngest were messing with sidewalk chalk), mean-neighbor stepped outside her front door and directed her venom at ME.  (Just to set the stage . . . she is a very attractive late-50ish woman with a clipped NE accent and a deep voice.) “AMYYYYYYY, Do you think you could keep your effing dog in your own effing yard?  AMYYYYYY?????  Really, just try it.  AMYYYYYY. ”  I waved, apologized and went back to my conversation, though I was totally shaking and scared.  What else does a person do? 
In thirteen years, I can count on my fingers the number of times Scout has traipsed/raced through a neighbor’s yard.  I always go check for damage and have been willing to offer to repair damage if there is any . . .  all I can remember is buying our “old” neighbors a new pair of flip flops when Scout was a puppy. 
Anyway, it was kind of an ugly end to an otherwise nice day.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Happy Birthday to Ian and Tim.  Today they’re 17.  Who knew those wee goofy little babies would end up being so handsome and smart and funny and awwww . . . talk amongst yourselves.  Like buttah they are.  (This was our Christmas letter picture – ignore scary Andy – Ian and Tim are on your right, Ian in back, Tim up front.)
I’ve been down since Christmas Day with a cold/cough thing that is maddeningly stupid.  Andy and Ian have it too, but they’re young and don’t seem quite as pathetic as I do lately.  I found some good cough medicine in my tool box/medicine box and I’m back up for New Year’s.  Just don’t ask me to drink or drive.
In honor of the New Year, I’ve started a Facebook “poll” of sorts.  For those of you not on Facebook, I don’t want you to miss out on the fun.  (For the record, we have invited this neighbor to every single holiday/party event for the past 10 years.) 
Happy New Year’s Eve everyone. In addition to wishing Ian and Tim a Happy 17th Birthday, I think it’s time to start my new annual crazy neighbor poll. We’re expecting between 20-40 people (kids and adults) tonight to celebrate the twins’ birthday and to ring in the new year. (more in comments) This is actually a “small” NYE party for us. Nonetheless, we KNOW our neighbor will be calling the police. We’re expecting people to start showing up around 7ish. Six soaps to the person who guesses closest to the minute when the first police cruiser pulls up to the house

I’ve debated about adding a paypal donation bar here (you know, for bail money) but I’m going with good will for now.  Wishing all of you a happy, healthy 2011!!!  

(If you’re looking to start the year with a clean slate, try amyjosoap!  Check the product page for buy 3 get 1 free!)

Slacker . . .

That’s me.  I’m a slacker.  It’s December – almost mid-December – and I’m not feeling all that Christmas-y.  It’s really hitting me that next year at this time, we’ll all be waiting for Dan to come home.  He won’t be here.  And, as much and often as he ticks me off, I’m going to miss him.  Andy is REALLY going to miss him.  

We decorated the tree.  I’m getting ready to redecorate it.  I love Mike and my sons, but they suck at tree decoration.  Yet, they all love the ornaments.  So we, every year, go through this goofy rite of them hanging the ornaments they love wherever on the tree and after they go to bed, I rearrange, add the garland and reset the lights.  (If you’re just catching on the the fact that I’m a control freak, please start at the oldest archived post and read on from there … it’s not a secret!)

I think I have most of the shopping done.  I think.  I’m disappointed but not really surprised at the lack of soap
sales.  Like just about everyone out there, I’d hoped for more sales, but I’m okay with the sales I do have (thank you!).  

How are your holiday plans working out?