Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fernandina Beach Trip, October 9-11, 2008

We did a quick trip up to Fernandina before my Fall shows get going. We were gonna miss seeing my sister-in-law Deb this trip as she was heading up to Washington to visit Rod's other sister Pam.

Bonnie Dog LOVES she can sit on her corner beach lot and "talk" to all the dogs going back and forth to the beach. She gets quite animated...and Rod and I always wish we had brought her doggie drugs to keep her calm.

Cody (my MIL) and I went shopping and out for lunch. I think she enjoys this as she gave up driving a couple years ago. But, I didn't get her to follow through on going for a pedicure. She changed her mind, so I went alone. It was not the place Deb had recommended...I wasn't sure of the name and I couldn't remember where it was exactly, so I went to the place near the movie theater.

It was fine--they even had a tiny little Chiquaqua as a mascot. They did a good job on the pedicure and an awesome job of waxing my chinny, chin, chin. I think that covers mulitiple chins, right?! LOL An interesting note--my pedicurist had TWO THUMBS. Now when have you ever seen that?

Rod grilled out for us on Friday night. Jan (my BIL) had stopped by in the morning, but, he had to work so he missed the burgers, hotdogs and chicken legs. Yummo as RR would say. We always seem to do the same sides too--beans from Sonny's and coleslaw from KFC. It's getting to be a tradition.

After dinner we walked it off with a trip around the "hole" (Cody's name for the subdivision behind their house). Bonnie loved it...and we even got to see some early Halloween decorations.

Soapmaking, Thursday, October 23, 2008

Well, I am taking a break from replacing electronics and actually trying to do some business today. I woke up way before the sun to try to get all my "stuff" done before pulling out the soap pots. First there was the email, then trying to pave way for the soap stuff (putting away some record albums, moving the old entertainment center out of the way, etc), walking the dog and finally jumping in the shower.

The soap pots were ready about 8am and I did some restocking in the morning of my Oatmeal Milk & Honey and Gardenia scents. Good smells!!

About noon I tried to pull my thoughts away from the bag of Oreos calling my name and I started batch #2. This time I did a big mold of Eucalyptus and small molds of both Only Oats and a new scent blend--Chocolate. The chocolate smells wafting around made me want those Oreos even more. I hope the scent holds true and that the people who have been asking for chocolate soap like it! Even Rod (who doesn't smell very well...that doesn't sound right...but he works with his nose doesn't work right) said the chocolate smelled GOOD!

While the second batch of soap was cooling, the cable guy came to change out the DVR for the HD version. NOW, I feel like I have a new TV. Outstanding picture and that big screen is very, very nice.

Tonight I also have to work to get caught up. I have two more trays of soap to wrap for Mt. Dora...and lots of things to print up for the show. Somehow I will be ready to sell some soap this weekend. My wonderful husband is going to go with me to help setup...which will be really nice since it's probably gonna be raining. I brided him with dinner out...and it worked!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Power Surge, Sunday October 19th

Hm, my birthday (#46) was rather interesting this year. My friend Patti and I were scheduled to go out to EPCOT's Food and Wine celebration and eat and drink our way around the World Showcase. Instead, about 11am, the house went CRAZY.

First the big TV popped and from where I was sitting at one of the computers, the screen went tiny. Then the computers went immediately to battery backup. Then the big TV started smoking and I thought was gonna catch on fire. So, I jumped up and started pulling the plugs on the TV wall and pulling the entertainment center out in case I had to carry that huge 25" tube TV outside.

Next I got the computers unplugged just in time to see Emily the Cat come running out of the back of the house. When I got back to the master bedroom, that ceiling fan was spinning so fast I thought it would come undone...and the light was so bright I didn't know a 60 watt bulb could get that bright. Then the little flat screen TV was smoking so I unplugged that wall of electronics.

I went from room to room unplugging everything and opening windows, finding in the kitchen that all the appliances were dead already. Great! So, this old house had finally come completely undone. I was sure that whatever the problem was, it was inside the house. All the circuit breakers were ok, and some things were still running like normal--or so I thought.

Once everything was unplugged and the immediate threat was subsided, I thought about what would have happened if I hadn't been home. Would the TVs have caught on fire? Would my animals have been killed or injured?? Not things I am happy contemplating, but, it sure could have been worse.

SO, the good news is that when the lineman from the power company showed up he immediately saw the neutral wire on the outside pole had become ungrounded. That was good news for us--it was there fault! But, according to the lineman, we would have to fight to get what was due.

What worries me is what damage was done to the appliances, the pool pump, that you can't see now, but, that will evidence itself in a shorted life? Already the outside refrigerator which seemed to be running, was not running at full power. Rod was the first to notice this on Tuesday when his beer wasn't as cold as usual. Today it is dead. And the water sprinkler "brain" in the same circuit is dead as well. So add those two things to the things dead when the power was stabilized:

2 computers
1 refrigerator
1 big TV (and we had to buy a new tv stand to go with a different tv)
1 19" Monitor
1 3 handset telephone/answerer
1 5" Television
2 alarm clocks
1 weather radio
1 network router
1 Cable company DVR
1 Cable company cable modem/digital phone modem
1 Computer battery backup with surge protection that all the computer stuff was attached to
2 compact flourescent bulbs
1 sprinkler system

So now we wait to get some kind of settlement from our claim. The representative said she would try to get some news this week, but, then next week she would be on vacation?!!! SO, we are at least 2 weeks from getting any money for all of our outlays to get back in business.

Luckily, only one of the computers was completely fried...the other only needed a new power source. The computer guru was able to save my business documents (labels and packaging stuff mainly) from the bad computer. We opted to buy a refurbished one from him, thinking we would use the difference to get a new TV. I am guessing we will need over $3000 for all this stuff...whether that is what we will get remains to be seen.

But, the house is basically good, the animals are healthy and I will have another birthday next year!! Dang!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Florida Keys, October 13-16, 2008

Marine Tally:

2 rays jumping out of the water

1 huge ray just under the surface

3 sharks cruising

2 turtles surfacing for air

Rod wanted me to take off a weekend in October so we could go somewhere and celebrate my birthday. We dropped off Bonnie at the kennel and headed south on the Turnpike. Our plan was to stop in Florida City and get a hotel room, but, that lasted only until we got down there. We didn't stop there...but kept on going to the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. We got some pictures of a very cloudy sunset, but, even with no pinks, oranges and purples, it was still neat.

We even stayed at our honeymoom hotel--actually our real honeymoon was at a Tampa Bay Bucs game in December of 1985, but, we did a ceremonial honeymoon in the Keys later the next year! The Key Largo Holiday Inn is pretty cool--it's the home of the original African Queen, don't ya know. They even have her docked at the marina and I think they still take her out every once in a while. Right now though, I would say the birds have the best "view" of her...they must have to spend a fortune scrubbing bird doo off her!

We headed out from Key Largo to Bahia Honda Key the next morning. The drive down the Keys is really spectacular...these pictures won't begin to do it justice, but, you will get the idea.

We wanted to spend plenty of time at the State Park, but, we could not officially check-in until 3 pm. We walked up to the old Flagler bridge lookout. While we were there a big ray of some kind made a couple jumps and then a bit later we saw two big black tip sharks. We NEVER see that kinda of marine life up there...but this time we were at the right place at the right time. Yippee. I only wish I could have gotten a picture of any of them!!!

Unfortunately it was a windy day, so the waves were really big for the Keys. Think Daytona Beach waves...and they stir up the water so you can't really snorkle. So, we sat on the beach and just enjoyed the sun.
Our campsite finally cleared out...actually we had to ask them to remove their screen room so we could set up ours. We told them to just leave the boat trailer as the site was so big, we would not need the room. We set up quick before the no-see-ums attacked and then just enjoyed the site and the view. When we got hungry, out came the camp pots and the "Camp Ground Slop" ingredients. It sounds awful, but, honestly it is so good especially after cooking it over an open fire. And NO I won't change the name to something gourmet sounding. Camp Gound Slop is a tradition and you don't mess with tradition.
We went to bed early and slept great except for the little dog barking and the racoons chattering and getting into things all night. I hoped they weren't getting into anything we left out...but come morning we find that they have tried to get to the garbage bag tied up in the rafters of the screen room....but they weren't quite successful.

The next morning we got up early and headed to the beach. It was still so windy and wavy we knew we weren't going to be able to snorkle. So, I just layed on the beach mat for a while until a big rain cloud moved in...and then we sat in the shelter for a while just enjoying the breeze. About 11am we decided to head back to the campground to hit the showers before heading into Key West.

Key West was pretty quiet, luckily. We made a couple of our usual stops (Southernmost Point, US 1 Mile Marker 0, etc.) before parking and heading down to Duval St. This time we stopped in a Sloppy Joes first to listen to Terry Cassidy play for a bit. We had an excellent waitress, Paula, who took very good care of us. She even suggest a good place to try the fish tacos...which we will have to do next time (Fogarty's). About the time Terry was finishing, we decided to do a little shopping--Rod went to the bookstore and I did Fast Buck Freddies. Rod came out with a couple books, but, I used unusual restraint by not spending any money at FBF's. Big surprise.

After a while we went back down to the west end of Duval stopping in Ricks Bar to get the best deal of the trip--2 big beers for only $3...for both. Yippee. Then we stopped back into Sloppy's for the part of the Pete and Wayne Show before heading down to Mallery Square for sunset. It was a clear sky, so sunset was not as spectacular as it has been in the past...but nice non the less.

We made it back to the campground safely with a full moon guiding the way. We were so happy to find they have changed out the old padlocks for a new push button system. Last time we were down here, we had to use flashlights, a magnifier and a young gal's eyes to be able to see the numbers to let ourselves in the campground at night.

We slept soundly and woke up early and started to pack up the campsite. It was a good trip...but now it was time to head back to Orlando to spring Bonnie Dog from puppy jail.

Soaping in September 2008

I had quite a bitting of catching up when it came to soapmaking after the trip. I had completely run out of a few scents and others I was dangerously low on. I spent about 6 days restocking--the house smelled great. It smelled so good my soap class students had trouble deciding on a scent one Saturday night.

I had been getting lots of requests for coconut scented soaps. I wasn't looking forward to trying one for a couple reasons. First, it's not my favorite scent...most coconuts give me a headache. Second, it's such a cliche in Florida--everyone thinks they want a Hawaiin Tropic scented soap. And finally, I was not so sure that a good sticking coconut even existed.
I solved the first problem by just opening up my soap room door. I had been making a tub truffle scented with coconut orange for years...and this one didn't give me a headache. The only problem, is that the coconut was a blend of several, I am not entirely sure I will be able to recreate the blend. So far, the soap is sticking great, so, I hope the last problem takes care of itself. And, the early response from shows has been great, so, I guess coconut scents in Florida works after all. Oh, that's the clipart of the new "Coco Loco" soap above.

Next on the test rack will be a chocolate everyone getting hungry now???

Vero Beach Autumn in the Park, October 4 & 5, 2008

This was the first show up for the Florida Fall season. I was looking forward to the show in Vero Beach--it's in a nice little park near the intercoastal waterway and they give you plenty of room for your booth. If the weather was cooler, I would be camping there, but, you can usually expect the weather to be near 90 degrees.

As last year's weather wasn't very good, I was hoping that we would see great crowds and good weather. Unfortunately neither one was going to happen. The weather was not stormy, but, just cloudy and uncertain enough that it may have kept some people away.

Lynn, the SpiceLady, and I were splitting a hotel room and we discovered a great little Sushi joint on the "Miracle Mile". It is so helpful to ask for the local's favorites! Lynn had some tofu dish...yeck! I had eel and tuna sushi with spring rolls...and they were great. Good prices and great food. And yea, you can say "yeck" to the sushi! :)

Next year, I hope to have the fully shaded space under the tree since those people left early--giving up Saturday late afternoon when the rain started.

I was happy to see the Jammin' Ammon couple there again...their Key West Lime Wasabi sauce is the best!

Happy and Home Again!

After all the projects we worked on in my parent's kitchen, I was itching to do some stuff around MY house! SO, the first day off Rod had, we finally put up the new door track on the old rusted metal shed. Earlier in the summer I had finished repainting it, so it looked really good--other than the doors .

And, when I went through Arrow Metal Products, I found that they guaranteed their sheds against rust for life, so, they sent me everything I needed without having to pay a cent. Yippee, now that's a great company!

In the end, it took a few hours for Rod and I to get the old bolts off and the new pieces in place, but, we did it!

The other thing I have been wanting to do was on the inside of the house. The old ledge between the living room and the dining room was the first thing to go. It took a little muscle to get those big nails out of the pantry sidewall and then even more muscle to get the fasteners out of the terrazzo floors. Unfortunately there was a little damage to the terrazzo, but, nothing I can't live with.

Of course, I had to miter cut some new baseboard trim to finish it off...which resulted in my injury. I hit the hammer to the very edge of my index finger...just enough to separate the quick from the nail and make it bleed...bad! Once I was bandaged up, I went back to work.

Once that big thing was out, I repainted the wall, polished up the floor--it was whiter underneath, but, not shiny. I decided to move the antique thread case to the spot in front of the newly painted wall, but, I had to find a small table to fit it on to get it up to a usable level. IKEA to the rescue! I found a perfectly sized table to work, although, I wish it had been something with shelves or drawers.

So I found a basket to fit under the table at World Market...and wouldn't you know it, a room screen/divider to hide my craft show tubs in the foyer (from the view you had of them in the living room)! SO, now I can safely say that part of the redecorating is over!

Now, the only one who is unhappy is Emily the Cat who lost her feeding station and her "Queen of the House" perch!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Trip HOME, September 8 &9, 2008

I picked Bonnie up at the kennel outside of Carbondale about 8am. She was rearing to go...but we had to take a nice long walk first so I was sure she had gone potty. We had gorgeous weather on the drive down to Nashville. The trip through the mountains was fun too...but it is hard to take pictures that do it justice through the front window. But I tried!

We made good time all the way to almost Atlanta, when it started raining. Didn't make much difference though as it was evening rush hour. The good news, is that I was going the right way this time. Going south is so much easier...especially when I was only going to just south of the Airport. Bonnie was up in my lap much of the drive...navigating!

We stopped not at the Drury Inn as usual this time. We tried the hotel behind it that was less than half the money, but, with no happy hour. And no gated area to walk Bonnie late at night, but, it was ok. No traffic that late at night to worry about. Got take-out Chinese...and pigged out before hitting the hay.

Tuesday morning we were up at the usual time with a nice long walk for Bonnie and a quick hotel breakfast for me--that wasn't nearly as nice as the Drury either! We were enveloped by fog as we merged onto the highway to head to Florida. It was smooth sailing though as I don't think we hit any rain until well into Florida. We called ahead to let Rod know we were within striking distance when we hit the toll plaza on the Turnpike. FINALLY!

It was nice arriving home and having my usual well trained help to unload the van. Rod was amused by the Cubs peanuts and happy that the van had carried us safely back and forth once again. I was just happy to have MY bed back and to be able to snuggle up to Rod and the two girlie-girls again.

Too bad Bonnie Dog would be in my face early the next morning to drag me out on our walk!

Cedarhurst Art Show, Mt Vernon IL, September 6 & 7, 2008

I left Rockford after Dad helped me empty out the warehouse and load the van. Bonnie Dog was ready for a ride...for about 15 minutes...then she took her napping position and was quiet until it was time to go potty. Mom had started flu clinics that morning, so, we said goodbye early.

The trip down to southern Illinois was uneventful other than the rain that followed us nearly down to Effingham. At one point coming around Bloomington, someone had lost part of their load which required a quick manuever to miss a 4x4x2 plastic coated "something" in the middle of the slow lane. Luckily every one was on their best the semi and I were able to move into the fast lane quick and the guy behind me choose to go off on the paved shoulder. Less then one half mile later another plastic coated something was in the middle of the fast lane. It took a bit more aggressive action on my part this time, but, I did it safely on the slick highway. The guy going pretty fast in the fast lane made it too...but he had to go on the grass in the median to miss it. How he did it, I don't know...but I bet he slowed down after that! LOL About five miles down the road we saw the culprit truck pulled over with the driver tightening and rearranging his load.

As I neared Marion I started paying attention to the changes in the area. They are still doing road work on the interchange there. It seems as if we are getting closer and closer to being solidly built up between Marion and Carbondale. Not necessarily a good thing...but not bad either. I peeled off Hwy. 13 and headed out to the kennel outside of town. Bonnie was thrilled to get to spend sometime with the dogs there. She seems to enjoy it and the owner tells me she is I don't worry about her.

My childhood friend Cindy has moved into a new apartment recently so I find her without too much trouble. She suggests the Greek place for dinner with her and her hubby Mark. It is good but they have changed how they do the fried mushrooms, so we are just a bit disappointed. Mark treats us to a chocolate cone at the DQ next door--YES! It's Thursday--CHOCOLATE DQ day! Mark's nephew is working tonight. Boy, it's nice having a friend with a Dairy Queen!

We stay up late chatting and checking out Cindy's dragonfly pictures--but not too late as we have to go to work tomorrow. That and Cindy has been staying up WAY late since she started her vacation already. We made hit the road to Mt. Vernon about noon, with the skies cloudy and threatening more rain. Cindy's two sons are on the Carbondale football team so she won't be able to work the "Preview Party" at the show Friday night. But, we plan on meeting up in the hotel room later. Set up goes smoothly with no rain...yea!

The preview party is a waste. I don't bother buying the electric hookup...or do I??? Later I find that I had paid in advance so I am bummed I lost that money. The show goes ok, but, I am not setting any records here where I have two great competitors. The family soap business, Poppy House soaps and Regal Frog Soaps, where my friend Trinda has the biggest share of the local business as she lives here in Mt. Vernon.

John Kearney, Chicago, IL, "Kimball" 1994, medium: Chrome car bumpers!

What I really like about the show though are two things. Being able to spend the weekend with Cindy getting caught up on what she is up to and the grounds of the Cedarhurst museum. I have posted a couple of my favorite sculptures throughout the blog...enjoy!

Aldon Addington, Carbondale, IL, "Northern Moon" 1991, medium: stainless steel

We end up with sunshine and average sales, but, happy! Back in Carbondale Cindy goes out for a meditation class and I hit the local pizza joint that has the mozeralla that slides down your throat like an alien! Mark comes over in time for us to finish off the pizza and I hit the hay early as I leave for HOME in the morning.

Pat McDonald, Oak Park, IL, "Dolmen" 2000, medium: cast concrete.