Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Retirement...and Soaping!

Oops, something happened there and that post went too early~

Nah, not me retiring!  After 10 years of using the same mask to mix my lye and water, I think it is time to retire the one on the right.  Don't ya think???

And to those who wanted more Blueberry soap.  I am making a test batch of a new Blueberry today!  I am gonna color it a pretty blue--marbled as my usual style.   Everything else I am making is an existing fragrance or all natural soap.  So nothing too unusual going on in the soap pots today. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oviedo and Winter Garden, Novemberish, 2009

Oviedo's Great Day in the Country, Saturday November 14.

Winter Garden Art Festival, Saturday and Sunday November 21-22.

They sucked...both for the same reason.  They have new people trying to run a show and they think they can improve on the show by "recreating the wheel".  In the first case, they decided not to honor a ten year corner booth commitment where I did my part by paying for the spot one year in advance.  In the second case, they lied and told me I was the only soapmaker.  I discovered before the show I would be joined by a competitor.  This was bad for a small show, but, at least I had the chance to change shows.  I decided to honor my commitment even though they didn't honor their commitment.  I get to the show and find FOUR soapers there with one right beside me.  Can I just say the world this November seems to be full of idiots.  And that is not even beginning to count our politicians!  :)

Now, on to a brighter news. 

My Saturday at Winter Garden was not a total loss.  I met this great gal who runs the shop, Scrap Paper Scissors, at scrapbooking shop.  I fell in love with the 1,000 sf shop's layout and classroom.  How cool is this?  It gives me all kinds of ideas for when I finally get a shop of my own. 

And even brighter news...

My oven window is dirty.  Make that--my oven window WAS dirty.  I had a soap boilover a while back that somehow seeped inside the glass oven front.  I have puzzled over how to clean it.  I read the oven's manual--no help there.  I looked that door up one side and down the other to find some way to get to the muck on the window.  No GO. 

Finally, GOOGLE to the rescue.  I found a forum on Gardenweb.com that talked about ways to get in the door without voiding the warrantly.  The first attempt...to put a rod with a towel on the end up through the bottom access points didn't work.  I couldn't manuever the rod high enough to reach the dirt. 

Plan B was to remove the glass front only and it worked slick--the removing part anyway.  There are three small bolts on the bottom of the door holding it in. Remove those and the glass slipped right out.  As did two plastic side pieces that I didn't see come loose.  Getting it all back on with only two hands was a trick, but, I did it!!!  Clean oven door.  It makes me so happy.  You know what they say...


I am still waitlisted for St. Augustine, but, I am thinking positive and making a ton of soap for Tallahassee in two weekends.  Everybody, cross fingers for me and the show this weekend. 

For everybody, have a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  And, don't spend all your money at the Black Friday sales.  Leave some money for some nice SOAP.  LOL

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Making Soap, Monday, November 9, 2009

This week I have to make a LOT of soap to restock from a BIG show at Lake Eola.  I needed to make the new Pomegranate Mango (which has been very popular) but I was short a bit on the oil.  So, I made up one of my test fragrances--Lily of the Valley. 

Lily of the Valley was probably the most requested fragrance at the summer craft shows up North.  (A close second was Sage and Cedarwood)  My Grandma used to grow LOTV at her back door landing, so it is one close to my heart.  I have never tried one before now, because in soapmaking circles the fragrance oil is thought to be short lived.  That means that it doesn't "stick" or last long.  All of my fragrances last YEARS if they just sit in the wrapper, but, that may not be the case for the Lily.  I added some bentonite clay to help, but, we will see what happens!  No color added yet...let's see how we do with just fragrance first.  Oh, and it will probably be a goatmilk soap too!

This week one of Rod's college roommates had a heart attack, so we are driving over to Brooksville (almost due west on the coast) on Thursday to see how he is doing.  He is expected to be out of ICU by then, hopefully.

I have a one day show in Oviedo on Saturday--come see me at Great Day in the Country.  And my friend Kathleen's Mom is going to take a couple trays of soap to a small church craft show (I think to help her fill up her table!!) 

Oh, and more soapmaking coming on Wednesday!  Maybe something new...we will see...

EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, November 5, 2009

Rod and I took an afternoon and went out to the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT Center on Thursday.  We were thrilled that the weather was picture perfect...and kinda surprised the crowds were so heavy.  Make that HAPPILY surprised--this is the company paying us a paycheck every week after all!!! Either people were trying to get out to the festival before it ended on Sunday or they were all like us--taking advantage of the beautiful weather.

We started out at Guest Relations to buy a wrist gift card to make the food purchases easier once we got to World Showcase.  (Thanks for that idea, Lori!)  I put $50 on the card and we humped it to the back of the Park.  Once there our immediate concern was getting Rod a beer--I was trying to pacify him--because I know how much he LOVES coming out to the Park when he is off work!!! 

We got all the way around to Morroco before he found an acceptable brew--don't laugh--Bud Light!  LOL  I thought he would want to experiment with some of the more exotic offerings, but, not this time.  We then went on up to the American Pavillion where the Sam Adams tasting was being offered.   Rod waited in line, while I went to get us a goodie or two.  I found the Austria booth where Lori had recommended the Mushroom Soup.  It was delicious and we finished our little sample while we waited for the presentation and tasting to start.  It was a beer kind of night for me, so I got a big cup of Sam Adams Oktoberfest.

After finishing there, we were just in time for the Eat to the Beat concert series.  Billy Ocean was performing--and while the music brought back memories, we decided to keep walking.  We stopped for the Pizza with Italian Ham and watched the train set running next to the Germany Pavillion.  The pizza got two thumbs up.  Remember, these are just little tapa size portions that Rod and I split...we ate lots of different things but only a bite or two of each.

Then we stopped at South Africa for the Beef Tenderloin, then China for the Pot Stickers and Mexico for the quesadilla.  All were good, but, we felt the first two were really good.  The sweet potato concoction with the beef was yummy.  The sauce on the pot stickers...fantastic.  The  quesadilla was missing something.  (I guess it is just hard to beat the Ale House Blackened Chicken Quesadillas with Black Beans and Rice!!) 

Perhaps our favorite thing at the F&W Festival was Argentina's Beef Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce .  It was on a bed of mashed potatoes and it was delicious.  I want a full meal of that beef and those potatoes.  We finished up with an Arepa at Chili's booth.  Rod had never had one before...and this one was better than those I have had at craft shows. 


We didn't stay out at EPCOT very long after making it all the way around the World...so we missed the Fireworks and Laser show.  But we had a great time.  We stopped at McDonalds on the way home--to use our Monopoly free McFlurry gamepiece...and Rod got a burger, fries and a shake.  So our total for the afternoon/evening was about $53 spent at EPCOT and $5 at Mickey D's. 

This concludes Date Night, November, 2009!  :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork, November 9, 2009

A couple weeks ago I made a slow cooker Mexican dish that was yummy.  It got me to thinking it would be great to be able to cook Sweet and Sour the same way.  Then, VIOLA!  Our Publix Family Style magazine came out with a Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork recipe.  Actually they give you a stove top version too, but, I wanted to use the crock pot.   So, here it is:

Sweet and Sour Pork

1.5 pounds lean pork stew meat or pork shoulder
3 T all purpose flour (I use whole wheat)
1/2 t salt or to taste
1/4 t pepper or to taste
1 T Canola Oil (I didn't brown the meat, so I left this out)
1 Cup chopped onion (I use a generous teaspoon or so of dried)
5 medium Carrots cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1/4 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 T quick cooking tapioca (on the top shelf above the puddings!)
1 T. worcestershire sauce
2 pouches precooked rice, heated to directions (I used brown rice cooked fresh)

1.  Add flour, salt and pepper to ziploc bag.  Add pieces of pork and shake to coat.  Brown meat and onions in skillet with oil...or...just dump the contents of the ziploc bag into the heated slow cooker.  Add carrots.

2.  Mix tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, tapioca and worcestershire sauce.  Pour over pork mixture in slow cooker.

3.  Cover and cook on slow 7-9 hours.  Or on high heat 3.5 - 4.5 hours.  Serve over rice. 

The real test is at dinner time.  How would Rod like it and did it cook up easily???  Well, two thumbs up...I would just add some pineapple (and maybe cut back on the brown sugar a bit.  And some veggies...I always feel cheated when restaurants don't give you veggies in the sweet and sour.  As a time saver, I would probably add a bag of frozen stir fry veggies.  Enjoy everybody!!  Oh crap...I forgot to take a pretty picture when it was plated, so, you get the "Leftover" version that went into the frig.  LOL

Fiesta in the Park, Lake Eola, Orlando, FL, Nov. 7-8, 2009

This year's Dog (and Pig) Parade, oops, I mean craft show at Orlando's Lake Eola had excellent weather and soap buying crowds!  I was thrilled to see many of my "old" customers.  Some of you have been around since the first Fall I displayed at Lake Eola.  I am thrilled with my sales for the show, but, sorry I ran out of a couple of soaps that were really good sellers.  I will have them at next weekend's Great Day in the Country in Oviedo. 

The best moment of the day, was the group with the stroller full of chiquaquas and...a PIG!  LOL  Rocky the Pig was riding in style.  And he was so sweet.  He comes when his name is called and he had such pretty eyes.  All the dogs were jealous of him.  And pretty close behind that group was the group carrying a rabbit all dressed up.  Those downtown Orlando people......what characters!!!

A close second was the arrival of "Miss Fiesta in the Park 2009", aka Orlando Police Officer Amy Bretches, who is one of my favorite people to see at both the Spring and Fall Fiestas.  She is usually working, but, this year she was just one of the many customers out enjoying the festival.  It was fun seeing her in her tiara...and I hope she makes it back on the job soon.  I think our kids are safer with her around--she is in the School Resource Unit.  As are we all safer when she brightens up the park when she works the Fiesta.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival, October 31st and November 1, 2009

I can hardly believe I have never done the Micanopy Fall Festival!  About the time I heard it was a must-do show, I had my Fall calender pretty set.  It always conflicted with Orlando's Fiesta in the Park or some other show.  Not this year, thanks to an extra weekend in October.  :)

The paperwork said we could not set up until after 5 p.m. so I headed out about 4 p.m.--and after getting gas and change I was on the Turnpike about 4:20.  I made it to Micanopy around 6--thinking it would be packed.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find most people had already set up and moved their vehicles out.  Yippee!!

My spot was right across from the Herlong Mansion and  in the shade.  Excellent spot!  I stayed until almost 8 getting things settled, but, I was ready to leave once it got dark and the mosquitos came out.  I stayed up I-75 two exits in Gainesville at an Extended Stay place...which was nice for only $30 pretax!  Thank you, Priceline!

The show itself was packed full of people--I think there were almost more people than at Mount Dora at times.  And the crowd here does appreciate handmade things.  That is one of the reasons I enjoy coming up to the Gainesville area.  No haggling, no one says they can get it cheaper at Walmart and most people are just happy to be outside having fun. 

The good looking Rhodesian Ridgeback above took a nap in front of my booth at one point.  His name was Banyam and he was so cool.  Bonnie Dog would have LOVED him! 

My next couple of shows are in the Orlando area...so be looking out for me if you are in the area.  Oh, and I have sold all of the incense smoking bottles I bought.  I will be picking up more in the next week or so.  If you are intrigued, take a look on the incense page at the website!