Saturday, December 21, 2013

Newest Shea Butter Soap -- Pineapple

It's quite the story how a new soap is born.  In this case it started 15 years ago with me learning to make soap, but, I won't bore you with the details of that.  Over the years I ask customers to tell me if I don't have a soap they want.  It may be a scent they just love.  It might be one they sniffed at a bath and body shop.  It may be a candle they have that they want to use the same scent in the bathroom.  For whatever reason, a have had many request over the last couple of years for Pineapple. 
Now, I just can't make every scent that someone wants.  I already have over 50 soap scents, and many more bottles of essential oils and fragrance oils that I use to make up those scents.  So, when I decided to change up the scents in my Fruity and Fresh category, the Pineapple was the first that came to mind.  First, it was different than anything I had already.  And, it wasn't a Citrus scent--I was overloaded with those.  So, Pineapple it was. 
But, you don't just go to your suppliers and order the first Pineapple fragrance you find.  You order from several suppliers.  You order several different pineapple from those suppliers.  You collect them all in one place and start making test batches.  If you get lucky, it works the first time.  Let's just say, that never happens!  In this case, I had three samples I decided to mix and the result was very good.  So good I sold the first batch and with a very minor tweak, I will be using this blend in the future. 
So then you have to name your new creation.  How did that name come about?   As I was thinking about this soap, I was drawn a couple ways as I brainstormed.  First, of course, came the thought of a pineapple upside down cake!  You know me, all about FOOD.  Then I got to thinking about how a pineapple is a sign of welcome and hospitality--which led to thinking about Lynn.  Well, many of you know my good friend, Lynn Upson the SpiceLady, is a yoga instructor in her other life. And then, came the thought of that whole body yoga pose, the downward dog…and how the benefit of this one pose can strengthen and rejuvenate your whole body.  That is what I think this scent in my wonderful shea butter soap will do for your skin—your biggest organ!  So, now you have spent a couple minutes in my chaotic brain.  Phew, glad to get that one named!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Doctor Suess Christmas Tree 2013

We like the unusual around this house and my favorite seasonal purchase from a craft show was this tree...which in it's undecorated state was made by my crafter friends, Jim and Lori Riles.  I was at the Micanopy Craft Fair in October and I saw a number of these walking by...the color of the bulb hanging off the top was different and they had a smaller version, but, I knew I wanted to track them down.  Imagine my surprise when I walked over to talk with Lori and saw these in her tent!!!

Traveling and doing these art and craft shows has made a chore into decorating for the Christmas season.  Some years I just don't put up anything.  This year Rod mentioned putting up the outdoor lights right after Thanksgiving, so, I got into the mood.  To a small degree anyway. 

Last year we decorated our IKEA rattan cat tree with wonderful Hallmark ornaments from Aunt Ellen and Uncle Larry.  That was VERY avant garde!  This year we just removed the things from the top of the thread case and the key rack hanging on the wall and our Christmas Tree had a place to shine.  Even Rod liked it...but I did go get the string of garland and the lights to embellish it a bit more.  Here's the tree at night!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Washington Oaks Garden State Park -- Holiday in the Park

Here are a few pictures from my wanderings at Washington Oaks Garden State Park in Palm Coast, Florida during their Holiday in the Garden Event.  The park is lovely without any decorations, but, it was magical with the Christmas touch. 

Somewhere in this area they held a "Tea with Mrs. Claus" on Saturday where the kids could do craft ornament projects, have hot chocolate and cookies and get a picture with Santa Claus.

The new stage was a project of the "Friends of Washington Oaks" group that volunteers at the park.  The long row of tents is where the citrus, plant and bake sale are held.  They also did a ginger bread house contest.  


As I was walking the park, the benches below were the first decorations I saw.  I just loved the simplicity.  They have several of these benches--maybe six or so lining this area looking over the river.  

Just a few snaps of the flowers around the rose garden.  They have the garden enclosed within a fence so the deer don't eat them. 


So, the last show of the year is done.  Now I get to be busy packing and shipping last minute soap gifts.  It has been a busy year and I am so grateful for my customers and of course being able to get out around the state and experience events like Holiday in the Garden.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

White vs Red Small Kitchen--Late November 2013

 My sister Jodie in the kitchen that needs upgrading.  You can't see the wall to the left, but, they will be a space about 3 feet long that will get the color treatment. The wall behind her will stay white as is the door and new window treatment.
  Me in the kitchen on soap cooking day.  The wall that you really can't see to the right is the wall that needs the color.  It will cover around the window and the two backsplash areas beneath the cabinets on both sides of the window. 

We are probably going to be listing our house sometime in the coming years, so, I am naturally thinking about upgrades.  We live a simple life one without a lot of money for extravagant upgrades.  We have a small, older home without any of the bells and whistles that all those house hunters are typically looking for nowadays--the stainless, the granate, the open floor plan.  But, what we do have is a really well made house with a pool and a fireplace--the two things that we wanted when we were looking for a home. 

So, my tiny little was white when we moved in and it is still white.  We repaint it every 8 years or so.  But I just can't picture any other color on the cabinets since it is a little space.  We just took down the curtains and put up faux wood blinds...and that opened it up a bit.  But now that the color is gone from the room, I need to add more.

So, eventually I would like to trick out my backsplash--when or if I ever get a new countertop--but until then I want to repaint the backsplash.  Right now it has the same contact paper--YES, I SAID CONTACT PAPER!!!--that was on it when we moved in.  Can you believe it?  Well, in fairness to me, I liked the colors in it so I never changed it.  Plus the thought of peeling that stuff off was pretty daunting.  (Until I had to do it in the bathroom where the previous owner had wallpapered in contact paper too!  We discovered the reason why after pulling it all off--they must have had a lot of pets or never cleaned as the walls were covered with layers of paint with LOTS of hair painted in.  Yuck!  That took several days of sanding to correct.) 

So, I am getting closer to doing the work of getting rid of it and now I just need to decide what color to paint it when the contact paper comes down--red or white.  My husband is red color blind, so, I will have to check with him before I pick the red option.  I spent a couple hours looking through small kitchen images to try to imagine which would look best in our kitchen.  Here are the pictures which are closest to how it would look in our space.  What do you think?

And maybe I won't have to choose one color after all.  Here's an option with both colors.  Leave a comment with your favorite look!  Or who knows, suggest a totally different plan!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 Black Friday Sneak Peak!!

Here are the upcoming specials for the big shopping weekend.  I will be having these specials from Thursday November 28, 2013 until Monday December 2, 2013.  You can get ALL THREE SPECIALS by ordering at least $50.00 on any of these days plus you will get the $5.00 shipping, too!

I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving full of great food, dear friends and your closest family members.  Give everyone a hug and then tell them what you are grateful for this year.  That is what I will be doing. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Part 2: Is it Really Heathcare if it Makes you Stressed?

This will not be a rant on Obama-Care, I promise.
Many of you know my husband, Rod, had a heart attack in July.  He was up in Illinois visiting me while I did my summer swing of art and craft shows in the Midwest.  He flew into the Milwaukee airport on the Fourth of July in the evening...which was kind of fun being able to see all the various firework displays along Lake Michigan.   On Monday morning, July 8th, he was sitting down to breakfast and he gave me a funny look.  I thought he was mad about the dog bed at the foot of the table that he had to step over.  But, that didn't turn out to be the case.

Once he was sitting, he said something about not feeling good.  He decided to get up and go lay down on the couch.  My Mom, who is a retired RN, turned and looked at him and asked how he was.  She almost immediately picked up the phone and started dialing 9-1-1 with me protesting the whole time.  I could take him to the ER if he didn't feel well.  Then I got up from the table and went to look at him. 

He was white as a sheet.  And, Rod living in Florida and working outside is usually nice and tan.  He had beads of sweat on his face.  And as I scanned his body, he had sweat ALL OVER!  He said he felt indigestion and with a bit of nausea.  Rod asked for an aspirin and I tried to find some in a house full of ibruprofen.  About this time, we heard sirens and somebody was walking up the front sidewalk to the door.  I thought he was maybe the Fire Chief...turns out he was a Sheriff.  A few seconds later, three ambulances were out at the curb!

So, the first crew in started working on him, getting him to sit up.  They needed a towel to dry him off to put the electrodes on him.  They announced after a minute he was "having a heart attack" which I didn't think was the best thing.  Rod, age 59, was so shocked I think it gave him another heart attack!!  About that time the other crews had calls to go to and the room cleared out.  They had him on a gurney and Rod was on the way to the hospital where my Mom had done her nurses training.

So, I grabbed my purse, laptop, our phones and Rod's Kindle.  Mom drove with me to the hospital which was good as she could tell me why the ambulance was just sitting outside and not moving.  I thought that something had gone wrong, she explained they were stabilizing him, putting in IV's and administering medications.  Somehow, even though we left first, they were already there and on the way to the Catherization Lab when we got there.  All this within an hour of our call to 9-1-1!!!

By 10:15 we were notified they had put in a stent to correct a 100% blockage of his left circumflex artery. 
By 10:30 we were sitting with the Cardiologist viewing the procedure on a computer monitor.  By noon we were in a room in the Cardiac ICU.  Whew.  Think zero to 60 in three seconds!  Rod went from having taking a baby aspirin and some vitamins to taking a full strength aspirin, a blood thinner, a beta blocker, an ACE inhibitor and a statin for cholestrol all within a couple hour period. 

The next four days were a blur of dealing with doctors, employers, insurance companies, nurses, physical therapist and luckily a few family members and friends' smiling faces.  The education started right away with nurses lecturing us on medications, diet and exercise.  The physical therapist got us booked for a cardiac rehabilitation program.  Rod's bosses at Disney were there to help with whatever we needed...mainly arranging for Rod to be with us in Illinois--not home alone in Orlando--while he recovered.  Luckily the room was comfy as it had plenty of room for me to stretch out and outlets for the computer.

And then there was the insurance company who worked quickly to get him "guested" on the hospital's medical system so we wouldn't have to pay for out-of-network charges for everything.  But, then they said he would have to find a primary care physician to "refer him to a cardiologist"??!  Well, why?  He was already being treated for a heart attack!    

After Rod was released, he came back to my parent's house where he started his recovery.  After a couple weeks he started a walking program and he started the monitored workouts at the rehab center three times a week.  We met with stress management counselors, dieticians, and pharmacists all to get a handle on what was going on.  But surprisingly, no one could believe Rod went from having normal cholestrol and blood pressure numbers to a heart attack.  We certainly couldn't believe it!

In September we returned to Orlando after my shows were all done.  We met with our new Florida Cardiologist a few days later.  I like him then, Rod didn't.  When the doc asked about alcohol usage, we said he was drinking two beers a day--the top limit that all the medical professionals in Rockford advised.  The new doctor, said alcohol was toxic to the heart and that he would give him three weeks to stop drinking completely.  Rod of course went home and stopped drinking that day!  But this new doctor was also concerned that Rod was still having symptoms. 

So, another catherization was scheduled a couple days later.  The procedure was done by one of the new doc's colleagues.  It went well--no new blockages needed stenting.  BUT, all of the blockages had worsened from 20-30% blocked to 40-50% blocked and there was a new 70% blockage of the distal artery.  WHAT?!!?  How is that possible? 

So, we spent the next week trying to get answers out of the new doctor.  He believed the situation was non-emergent.  WE WANTED ANSWERS!  So we asked him or his colleague to look at both procedures and ascertain if the blockages were indeed worse.  Guess what, they wouldn't until an appointment 30 days later.  Needless to say, those guys are no longer our doctors!

Our new and hopefully last Cardiologist is a young, good looking doctor at the other big practice in town.  He is great.  He answers questions thoughtfully.  When we asked about taking supplements and additional vitamins, he said if Rod was eating a good diet, they weren't necessary.  But then he thought a second and added that if it were him and he had Rod's family history, he would probably be taking everything that might possibly help!

So our big concern was the worsening blockages.  And yes, they were worse.  But how that happened when Rod has been very compliant with his medication, his diet and his exercise we don't know.   We also don't know why he is still having minor symptoms.  But we do know we have a doctor who is on top of things.  He has an echocardiogram scheduled for this month.  He changed up his medications and put him on something for his stomach in case the indigestion feeling was from a non-heart related problem.  He told us that the normal cholestrol recommendations are not appropriate for someone like him--his Dad had a quadruple bypass at age 62.  (But he lived a very strict lifestyle after that and just passed away at age 94)

But, is the bigger question how he had the heart attack in the first place?  His blood pressure never reached the 120/80 level...Rod's was always more in the 100/65 range.  His cholestrol has never been high with all components in the normal or better ranges.  His heart rate is about 60-65 normally.  So, the doctor said he wants Rod's bad cholestrol or LDL level at 70 or below.  If we had been shooting for this level instead of the normal range, could we have avoided the heart attack altogether?  Or does worrying about any of this matter?  Are we creating more stress on top of things??  And really shouldn't I be the one really worrying about my numbers anyway since I am at the top of the normal range.  Good Lord, why can't I stick to a diet?     

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Green Smoothies for Breakfast!

OK, don't laugh at the green smoothie in the beer glass!  It's a miracle, but, I am feeling like getting back to this blog.  I have lots to talk about...but not enough time to put my thoughts into a somewhat coherant form.  So, what brings me back today? 

I am feeling great.  I got all my soap orders packed up and shipped.  I got a couple applications in the mail for the Winter and Spring art and craft shows.  (What's up with the constant price increase, Deerfield Beach???)  And I have my Green Monster Smoothie in hand!  What could be better?

So, what is the Green Monster?  It is my answer to getting more vegetables in my diet early in the day!  Here's the recipe if you want to try. 

Jackie's Green Monster Smoothie
3 cups loose chopped kale
1 c green tea brewed and cooled
1 portion protein (powder, egg, black beans...your choice)
2T apple cider vinegar with mother
1T ground flax seed
1 apple cored
3 large mint leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 shakes cinnamon powder
4 shakes cayenne powder
Ice Cubes--3-5 depending on size
Sweeten if needed--this varies.  I use it some days, some days not. Use sugar, agave, sweetner as per your choice.

Put all contents in blender container.  Pulse to chop up big bits.  Then liquify adding more green tea as needed.  Drink up!  It makes alot, but, drink it all.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Tribute to an Original Recycler

This was side #1 of Big Rod's Garage.  In a day and a half we pulled out 3,800 pounds of scrap metal and about 7 cans of garbage.  Some of the garbage I did the first half day while I was alone--and I learned over the next day and a half working with my friend Eve that much of it wasn't garbage at all but things that Rod had saved to make or repair something.  Big Rod was definitely a child of the Depression--he saved EVERYTHING.

So, what is left is what the American Picker's guys would call Rusty Gold!  Here is a smattering of what has someone!