Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Me in February

I almost didn't post my monthly self-portrait.  I kind of wasn't in the mood.  I thought:  "No one is going to remember your little monthly self-portrait pledge."  That didn't seem to matter.  I remember early January and really wanting to take monthly self-portraits.  So, thanks to an extra day this month, I present "Me in February."

Perhaps it should also be entitled "Me at 41" since I celebrated my birthday earlier this month.  At 41, this is the longest my hair has been since I was 4 years old.  Part of me thinks, "At 41, aren't I suppose to be going with a more mature, less bohemian hair style?"  The other part of me can't stop playing with my hair.  I love my long hair and have become very attached to it.  With regards to hair, my mantra used to be, "It's only hair. It will always grow back."  Not so much anymore.

No scarf this time.  I was tempted to run inside and wrap a scarf around my neck.  Not so you would think me oh-so-chic.  More as I hiding spot.

Any-hoo, hopefully the March self-portrait will have a little more green in the background.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When Life Hands You Mushy Oatmeal . . .

make oatmeal muffins.

Last night, I decided to make oatmeal in the slow cooker.  Well, I did, as plan, wake up to a big pot of steaming oatmeal but it wan't quite what I had expected.  Maybe I should say it was what I expected, it was not what I had hoped.  I like my oatmeal to have a certain amount of texture.  The oatmeal that I woke up to this morning was very soft, mushy, even a little slimy.  Not at all appetizing.  I was now left with a big pot of gloppy oatmeal and an aversion to throwing out said oatmeal.

After a quick internet search and a little tweaking of ingredients, we were making muffins.

Leftover Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
*4 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 cup leftover cooked oatmeal
1 teaspoon vanilla
a handful of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tin.

Combine ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons water and set aside.

In a large bow, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder.   In another bowl, mix together the coconut oil, flax seed mixture, oatmeal and vanilla.  Add oatmeal mixture to flour mixture and combine just until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes until top is set and toothpick comes out clean.

*The use of coconut oil and flax seed oil makes these muffins vegan (if you do not add the chocolate chips).  You can un-veganize the muffins by using 2 eggs, lightly beaten, in place of the flax seed and 1/2 cup butter, melted, in place of the coconut oil.

These are moist muffins.  The first time I made them I feared they were not baked completely.  Let them rest for an extra few minutes before tasting and trust the muffins.  The first time Mike saw the muffins, he had a doubtful look on his face because the muffins are kind of flat.  "Is it okay to eat them?"  Yep.  They are odd yet delicious.  Ignore that resounding endorsement.  They really are good.

So you knew what to do when life handed you lemons.  Now you know what to do with that leftover mass of oatmeal.  Enjoy.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Home Again

We have returned from a family vacation.  We visited my parents who decided to join the ranks of the "snow birds" and spend the winter in Florida.  I had heard tell of such snowbirding activity but didn't really understand it.  Well, after spending two weeks in Florida in the middle of February, I get it.  Here are a few highlights.

It was good to see that the magic of "It's a Small World" and Peter Pan and friends was not lost on our Star Wars-loving boys.

New York City built from Lego Blocks

Cocoa Beach, Florida

While away, our crazy little guy celebrated his 6th birthday.

Before we left, I swore that we would return home dressed appropriately for the Canadian weather, not like those silly people you see  in the airport returning  from south dressed for the warm weather they just left behind.  Well, two weeks is a long time, certainly long enough to forget that it is still February in Canada.  While we were not dressed in flip flops and shorts and I was not sporting braids in my hair (feel free to kick me if you should ever see me emulating Bo Derek), we were not prepared for the welcome that February had planned for us.  We were the silly family running across the tarmac in short sleeves as the sleet coated our hair.  I have to admit the grey skies and sleet put us in a bit of a funk for awhile yesterday but today finds us settling in to our normal days once again.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Day of Rest

This will be short and sweet. Excuse the photo.

Yesterday we did Disney. It was everything I remember, made even more special by sharing it with the boys this time. Life hasn't become so complicated that they didn't enjoy the sweetness of "It's a Small World".

Today we recover.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bagging it with Style

Since I first began selling my handmade soap last spring, I have spent a lot of time thinking about packaging.  (Let's not even consider how much time I have spent actually packaging the soap itself.)  I had certain criteria in mind -- simple yet pretty, affordable, do-it-myself if possible and re-using/recycling when possible.  My soap packaging has gone through a few reincarnations but the shopping bags (brown lunch bags) I used at craft shows have remained the same.  Until now.  Recently I found a tutorial  online for making gift bags from newspaper.  Let me tell you, people, I am hooked.

This was the first bag I made using the dimensions exactly as given in the tutorial.

It was teeny, tiny and perfect for a small local delivery later the same day.  But it hasn't stopped with this bag.

Shortly after I made the first bag, Mike was cleaning out the car when he found some old car maps.  He was about to throw them into the recycling bin when I saw potential and quickly snagged them from his hands.

Then there was the paper that was wrapped around a pot of tulips.

For handles, i have been using twine, ribbons and bias tape -- whatever I happen to have on hand.  The bags are fun to make and easily customized to various sizes of paper.  I dare you to make only one.

I have big plans for these bags.  I hope to make one or two each day.  I would love to have these not only for local orders but also for customers at craft shows.  What do you think?  Can I make those many bags?  I guess I'll find out.  In the meantime, I am on the hunt for paper.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lip Blings

There are many things that make me happy about making and selling my soap.  One, I get to make  a lot of soap.  Two, I love how my hands smell after a soap making session.  Right now, they smell like a blend of palmarosa, ylang ylang and lemon essential oils and rose petals.  Three,  lately, I have been hearing myself say, "Thank you.  I do make good soap."  Too often, in the past, self-doubt has reared its ugly, smelly head.  And finally, selling my soap has opened the door to many new friendships.  Writing this blog initially opened the doors to a community I didn't realized existed.  Unfortunately, it wasn't necessarily local.  Once I began attending craft shows, I met others in my local community who share a passion for hand made goodness.

Some of these meetings resulted in contacts.  A few have resulted in friendships.  And a couple have developed into good friendships where we sit around a table drinking coffee, comfortably sharing ideas and parts of our lives.   And one has resulted in a collaboration.  Let me introduce you to Lip Blings.

Lip Blings were born from a mutual admiration.  Shawne Bennett is the talented maker behind Necks to Nature.  In her designs, she combines a whimsical nature with a little touch of vintage-y goodness.  I was an admirer before we had even met.  Recently, we realized how cute one of her blossom rings looked on one of my lip butters and Lip Blings were born.  Our Valentine Lip Bling is a Chocolate Lip Butter with a Cherry or Vanilla blossom ring.    

Who would have guessed that even lip butter likes pretty rings?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Getting from point A to Point B

Before I get started, let me just say that I am not a car person.  I attach no status to having a particular car.  For me, a car is simply a means of getting from point A to point B.  I have no talent for distinguishing different types of cars.  When looking for our car in a parking lot, if I have forgotten to take note of where I have parked, I look for the car based on colour and license plate number.  (This reminds me that my grandmother also had difficulty identifying cars.  On more than one occasion, when I was a child and my mother and I would return to the car, my grandmother wouldn't be in the car even though she had left a few minutes before us.  We would look around and find her sitting in another orange car on the other side of the parking lot.  She had simply jumped into the first orange car she saw.  Understand that it was Newfoundland in the 1970s and no one locked their doors.  Now that I think about it, the only thing that has stopped the same thing happening to me was a car door that wouldn't unlock with my key.  Only when I did not recognize the items in the car did I realize my mistake and walk away, giggling self-consciously.)  Okay, so what was I saying?  Oh yes.  Cars.  I am not a car person but I am sentimental.


Yesterday Mike picked up our new car which means that he drove our old car to the car lot and left it there.  The old car that caused us some amount of financial stress the past year or so.  The old car that caused us some emotional stress the past year or so when it threatened to just stop moving.  The old car that we have had since before the boys were born.  The old car within which  we brought both boys home from the hospital.  The same old car that has a dent right there from my driving into a garbage can as I went through a drive-through for a coffee as both boys napped in the back.  The same old car that has a circular scratch on one of the passenger doors from a four year old Keegan rubbing a rock against it just because.  The same old car with a broken tail light from backing into a tree on one of our family camping trips.  (That was me too.)  Yep, that car.  I didn't realize how attached I was to the car until the date and time of the switch was determined.

The new car is red and shiny and seems to have lots of fancy buttons.  Mike gave me a little tutorial last night on how to start the car without a key.  (Without a key?!  Just doesn't seem right to me.)  He was not impressed with my response to his directions of putting my foot on the brake and pressing this button:  "Which one is the brake?"  He even mumbled "Which one is the brake?" with a shake of his head as we were getting into bed last night.  It's just that I am not used to driving the new car.  Doesn't seem natural yet.  It will just take some time to put some nicks and dents on the new car.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.