Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Flower Soaps

Spring Flower Soaps for sale!!

My girls have made several batches of Spring flower soaps
with different scents and a set of hearts, too.

With a little help from me, they chose the colors, mixed them, added in the essential oils for scents, then I poured into silicone molds. After they cooled, the girls popped them out.


We made quite a bit of soaps and there are too many for us to use so we are offering them up for sale to you!

They make cheery additions to your sink and smell wonderful on your hands after washing. They also make lovely little gifts and I have given these as party favors, too. There's a bonus here-- your kids might find washing their hands more fun with Flower soaps!

You have a choice of whatever colors you want and they are being sold as sets of 3, additional soaps at extra cost.

Made of moisturizing, clear glycerin; tinted with food-safe, made for soap, coloring; then scented with natural essential oils.

The scents are:

Pink Hearts- cinnamon

Yellow Flowers- Pearberry

Dark Purple Flowers- Lavender

Blue Flowers- Fresh Rain

Orange Flowers- Citrus


Now the business part:

Set of 3 soaps are $7 per set

each additional soap is $1.50 extra

Shipping will be exact to your address, which means you'll need to send me your address so I can figure the shipping costs then add that to your total.

Once I have the total, I can send you a Paypal invoice. After I receive payment, your Spring Flower soaps will be sent the very next day.

Leave a comment on this post with your email address and I will contact you shortly.

I have a limited number of soaps, but I am willing to make more if there are plenty of orders.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring Preview

SPRING is in the air around here! The temperature outside is in the 50s and I can see little buds forming on the trees and bright green shoots coming up from the ground! The kids played outside this morning, the windows are open and my girls have been working on something special for Spring! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tell Me The Truth, Doc, Am I Gonna Die?

I make a lot of our foods from scratch-- partly to save money and partly because it tastes better. We have long since stopped buying meal "kits" like those so-called quickie side dishes or frozen heat-and-eat meals. There are a few exceptions, like fish sticks or just-got-home-don't-feel-like-cooking-let's-throw-a-pizza-in-the-oven.

That said, we had my Mom, Aunt and Uncle here last week. We had some paperwork to go over for the insurance people related to my Mom's house fire, and they stayed for dinner and an extra day. My Aunt brought a store-bought frozen lasagna for us to eat for dinner, so all I had to do was add a salad and rolls. It tasted alright-- doesn't compare to home made lasagna. The next day, since they stayed an extra day and I didn't plan on feeding 3 extra adults, I ran to the store and picked up hotdogs, buns, and chips for lunch. I bought a brand I don't usually buy (it was on sale) but I had it before (at least 10 years ago) and it's a good brand of hot dogs.

I'm paying the price. I believe I have food poisoning. Started out with severe stomach pains on Saturday morning and I was not hungry for anything. I declared it to be movie day and the girls and I watched a lot of movies while I huddled under a blanket in between my runs to the bathroom. Hmmm, "runs" might have been a bad choice. A few days later, I am still not 100 percent, but not as bad as I felt on Saturday.

Without health insurance, I cannot make an appointment to get a check-up and a diagnosis for what is causing my stomach pains. Everyone else seems to be fine and we all ate the same thing, although Hubby says the hot dogs gave him some severe gas. I have to rely on past experience with past illnesses and compare symptoms with those listed in our medical books and on the internet.

I'm slightly hypochrondiac, which means if I don't keep it in check, I can take a little stomachache and make it out to be a tumor growing and envision my belly stretching beyond normal limits and doctors operating and then removing a cancerous, hairy, 40-pound cyst from my body. I imagine a little blurb in the tummy to be something more than gas and think it must be my appendix getting ready to burst! It doesn't help that when I described my symptoms to my husband, that he started to imagine the worse, too, and later on, comes to me with tears in his eyes and tells me not to leave him!

When I think back to when the pain started and my reactions-- stomachache, runs, nausea-- it boils down to what I ate that I don't normally eat: the lasagna, the hotdogs, the chips. If, by the end of the week, I still don't feel better, after trying some natural remedies to help soothe the stomachaches, I may make a trip to the doctor's office. If anything, it will ease my hypochrondial mind and keep me from planning my funeral. In the meantime, I'll try and not be a monster to the rest of the family and drink lots of water and ginger ale.

Speaking of monsters.. I finished this little guy for my handmade toy swap and sent it off to my swap partner last week. He was fun to make and I definetly see more monsters in my future. He was my 7th monster and they get better and better each time.

Now, excuse me while I go and snuggle under the blanket in front of the TV.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Getting There...

**THANK YOU** for all the great tips and ideas you have given us about training Maisie! It really helped us to read about your own dog-training stories and knowing that training a dog doesn't take overnight and I admit, I was feeling a bit like a failure thinking we have had her nearly 3 months now and she still isn't potty trained yet.


Maisie's indoor accidents are becoming less frequent and I am pleased to say that I only cleaned up 2 accidents yesterday! We try to keep a little area for her to do her business in when we go outside and it works-- as soon as I lead her in that spot, she promptly pees.
We are also keeping her on a long leash when we take her outside now. We had an incident when she knew we would chase her off when she found some cat poop, so she ran off towards the front yard. As I chased her, she ran into the road and I feared for her, praying that no car would come flying down the road and hit her. She looked anxious and tucked her tail under and ran back to the yard when a SUV slowly drove by and I swear the driver of the car gave me a dirty look. I managed to grab Maisie and told her that was the end of her "leash-free" days.
The leash also keeps her away from the areas where the cats poop and we hope to nip that yucky habit in the bud. She already learned not to snack from the litter box in the house so it's just a matter of helping her learn not to snack on poop outside.

photo taken by Oldest
Here's Maisie all wrapped up. She is a real sweetheart and the girls love her. Though we have our rough moments, I am glad we got her. Just have to remember that not only do we have to train her, we have to train ourselves to adjust to her needs, too. Again, thanks for all the advice, I couldn't have asked for better help and I am so glad that I have you all as friends! :o)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I now understand why 637 people told me, "Glad it's you and not me" when I said we got a puppy and need to potty train her. Had I known it was going to be this hard to housebreak a puppy, I seriously would have thought twice about getting a dog.

I have asked long-time dog owners and the vet; searched the internet for advice and tips; looked up dog books for information and we are -this- close to throwing in the towel.

We take Maisie outside and use the same word every time we take her out. We give her positive praise when she pees or poops outside. We have her outside for 15 to 20 minutes, freezing our tushies off, only to have her take a dump on the floor not 5 minutes after we come back in the house.

She has an irritating habit of searching for cat poop in the yard and eating it. Talk about butt breath!

She has definitely calmed down and is not so crazy-goofy anymore, but she still has her moments when the kids decide to run around the house and she joins in on the chase. We've had to remind the girls again and again that dogs chase and they catch what they chase which results in bites. Poor Middle has been the recipient of several bites and that alone makes me want to say good-bye to dog ownership. Her arms look terrible with all kinds of scratches and teeth marks and I pray they don't leave scars. Let me add that Middle has finally learned to stop flailing her arms while she runs and has not had any recent bites from Maisie.

I have days when I ask my husband to remind me again why we wanted a dog. Oh, right, to alert me when something or someone is around or to bark when phone rings or someone is at the door. Is that all?

Then the husband hears on the radio that lots of people are giving up their pets because of the economy and they can't afford the costs of pet ownership and that makes me feel bad, to contribute to the problem if we get rid of the dog. And what would that teach our kids, to get rid of something instead of trying to work things out?

So please, tell me, is there a foolproof way to potty train a dog? Like fast? And how do we get her to stop eating cat poop? Our outdoor cats are polite, they do their business in the woods, not in the yard where we play, so we've been keeping her on a leash now when we take her outside, but we really want her off the leash when we are at home.

I'd appreciate any advice or tried-and-true tips you can offer us. Thanks!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Is there anything more freeing
than a baby holding his own bottle?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chocolate-covered Heaven

Before I met my husband, I didn't really care for chocolate. I mean, if someone offered me a choice between a chocolate chip cookie or an oatmeal cookie, I would take the oatmeal. Every time. Choose between jelly beans or a chocolate bar? Jelly beans all the way. I was more of a fruit candy kind of girl-- gummies, jelly beans, butterscotch hard candies, hot tamales... you get the idea. Chocolate? Eh, take it or leave it. If I had to have chocolate, it had to be milk chocolate. Dark chocolate was just nasty, ugh! With the exception of chocolate covered cherries. I love anything with cherries, and those chocolate covered cherries don't last long around here!
My husband, on the other hand, L O V E S all things chocolate. He will eat nearly a whole bag of kisses in one sitting, or if he couldn't find any chocolate, he'll raid the pantry for chocolate chips-- the poor man's chocolate! Somehow, over the years, watching my husband enjoy eating his chocolate treats, licking his fingers and smacking his lips, I've become a chocolate lover. When I was pregnant with baby #4, my food craving was chocolate. I tell you, I never ate so much chocolate! That dark chocolate stuff? Growing on me!
I was disappointed when Brach's stopped making chocolate covered cherries and the stuff out there now doesn't compare-- the cherries are withered and tough. I always get a box for Christmas and the one I got this past season, I only ate a few before I gave the rest to my husband and the kids. So imagine my delight when I saw a recipe in the latest Taste of Home magazine (Feb/March issue 2009) for chocolate covered cherries (wonderful candies two ways)! I just had to try it.
I tweaked the recipe a little, because as always, I use what I have on hand and I don't like/buy some of the ingredients called for. They are fabulous! A little time-consuming to roll each cherry inside of the creme filling, and then individually dipping each in the chocolate (I used real melted chocolate instead of candy coating), but the result? Oh so worth it! They are the best I've tasted in a long time and the kids had fun rolling the cherries (of course I enlisted their help! It was like playdoh!).
Middle licking the spatula. Mmmmm!

What cherry? I didn't eat any chocolate covered cherry!

Yummy yummy yummy!

The candy was gone lightning quick after this photo was taken!

After we rolled all the cherries inside of the creme, I still had some creme left over. In the magazine, it listed 2 ways to make candies with the creme and the other way was to make cookies and creme bonbons. As I said, I don't like/buy some of the ingredients listed for that, so I improvised and added cream cheese and cocoa to the leftover creme then scooped out little balls with a small ice cream scoop, froze them, then dipped in chocolate and chilled until hard. I made my own version of chocolate truffles! So good!

I know this recipe will go into my little recipe book and will be made at least once a year. I am already adding this to the list of home made goodies for Christmas 2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Nearly a month ago, my Mom's home caught on fire. She had 2 cats; one was caught by animal control and returned to us; the other, Sunshine, disappeared. We all assumed she ran off, either from fear of the fire, or fear of all the happenings and goings-on of firemen and rescue workers tramping in and out of the house. We have been to the house multiple times since the fire happened, but never saw the cat again.

This past Monday evening, we got a call from the people that are packing up my Mom's things and they "found a black and grey cat in one of the bedrooms and to come and get it". What?! No way! You mean to tell me that Sunshine has been in the home all this time-- no food, no water?!




I got in the car and drove the 2 hours to my Mom's home, and since it was after 9 pm, I knocked on the neighbor's door to see if they would keep an eye on me while I was there-- the neighborhood isn't what it used to be, and for safety's sake, being in a dark house, I wanted to let them know I was there. The neighbor came in with me and we searched for the cat.

We found her. I can't believe we found her. She was huddled in among the empty shelves in the living room and looked so frightened. I called for her and picked her up-- nothing but skin and bones. She was so light-- skinny from not eating or drinking for more than 25 days. I'm sure she scrounged around, eating stray bits of cat food she found here and there, and drinking water from the toilets or puddles from when they put the fire out. It barely sustained her, who knows what would have happened if they didn't find her when they did.
I didn't tell my Mom until we had her at home, and then I sent an email telling her we had her cat. Her response made me cry. She was so relieved to have her safe, always wondering what had happened to her and where could she be and that she finally cried over everything: the fire, the loss of her things, the cat. I told her that she would see the cat when she came over on Thursday to stay with us a couple of days.
It was a happy reunion for Mom and Sunshine. She hasn't gained the weight back yet, still too soon after we brought her home, but she is safe now, and has access to plenty of food and water.
Mom is doing much better, she knows there is a large loss of her things, but now that her cats are accounted for, she seems better to deal with thing as they come. Now it's a waiting game: waiting for the people to finish cleaning/fix her home and then waiting for it to sell so she can retire and move in with us. It's a bump in the road, this fire. A big bump, but one that we will cross and we can continue on our way.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Treasure Hunt

We made yet another trip to my Mom's ruined home yesterday. The insurance people are packing everything up and putting it in storage so the builders can come in and fix stuff. We were trying to bring stuff here before they packed it all up, but apparently, the packers work weekends. When we went in on Friday, the basement and top floors were untouched. Going in yesterday (Sunday), we were floored to see everything in boxes.

I must say, my Mom is a pack rat, so very little gets thrown away and there is stuff in there that I haven't seen in over 20 years, because it either never got unpacked, or it got buried under other stuff. So when I say we were shocked to see everything packed, I knew they must have had a large crew working to pack everything since they did it all in one day. I was disappointed that I wasn't able to take more stuff home, because they had all the boxes numbered and we were afraid to take any and get someone in trouble for missing boxes. I was all set to get this and that but we were too late. We did manage to grab some of the "loose" stuff, like the lawn chairs (from over 30 years ago and still in pristine shape!), my Mom's baby rocker and some other stuff.

To look at the bright side of the fire, we are finding things that my Mom thought was lost-- her jewelry box, which we thought was thrown out at my Aunt's house, was in her own home all along! It's like a treasure hunt of sorts and now that I cannot bring any more stuff here, I'll continue to go through what we have here and get everything cleaned and put away.

This lovely washstand was my Grandmother's. My Mom remembers seeing her scrape all the old paint off it and then repainting it this pale yellow color. It's one of the few pieces of furniture that my Mom has from her Mom.

My Mom's lovely black jewelry box. I haven't seen this in over 25 years and I remember going through it as a kid. I'm looking forward to sitting down with my Mom and having her tell me where she got some of the items inside.

We found a chalkboard! I don't know where she got it, but if it's alright with her, I want to use it with my kids when we do home school lessons.

My sister made this in 1977 when she was 7. It's painted on the reverse side of the glass, then framed. The wooden frame was burned and charred, but the glass and the painting seem to be ok (see up in the right top corner where it's a little charred), it got wet and the backing is wrinkled now, but a little ironing should do the trick. I'll look for a replacement frame and we can hang this up in the apartment. I think I'll get my kids to make one like this, too.

Hey! Toilet paper! That's treasure, too, isn't it? Most important paper in the house! :0)

Friday, February 6, 2009

What Goes Around...

I'm a big believer in what goes around, comes around. Or in other words, karma.

Like, treat people nicely and they'll treat you nicely.

Or, be a jerk and people will be jerky towards you.

Anyway, when I was driving the 2 hours it takes to get to my mom's place, my mind wandered and then put together the perfect example of karma for me. It really made me think and has made me that much more of a believer in treating people how you would want to be treated.

When I was a kid, 13 or so, my sister and I were riding in the car while my mom was driving. There was a car ahead of us with it's trunk door open, a big empty box in the back of it, the flaps flapping in the wind. We were behind this car for quite a while and I was getting irritated with the flapping flaps. I must have been in an irritable mood because I can't, for the life of me, figure out why it would have bothered me so. I clearly remember signing to my sister that I was getting sick of the flapping flaps. But I digress. After a bit, my mom moved into the next lane and we were even with the car and it's flapping box. I waved at the lady driving it and when I got her attention, I pointed at her trunk and told her that her box fell out. She looked all panicked, then quickly turned off into a parking lot. I ducked, giggling and my sister and I laughed about it, never once feeling bad for fooling the lady and wasting her time.

Fast forward some years, and I am married. My husband and I have just bought our first house together and we are in the process of moving from our apartment to the new house. It's approximately an hours drive and we are using both his truck and my jeep to move our things, trip by trip, saving money by not renting a truck or hiring movers. On one of our trips, I have a lovely maple dining table strapped to the roof of my jeep. The legs were unscrewed and safely tucked inside the jeep, filled with boxes and other bits and the table is roped and bungee corded down on top. It belonged to his parents and they gave it to us along with matching chairs.

As we are driving towards our new home, my husband ahead of me and I'm following him, I look in my rear view window and see something flying in the air behind me, the car behind me swerving wildly, barely missing the object as it crashes on the road. I realize, in horror, it's the table! I slam on the brakes and quickly pull to the shoulder, setting the hazard lights and putting the jeep in park. I get out and run to where the table is. Thank goodness traffic was light, people were either at work or at home and the flying table didn't hit anyone. I picked up the table and shoved it inside the jeep, wishing I had put it inside in the first place, seeing as how it fit with no problem.

The lovely maple table now had an ugly crack right in the middle of it. I felt so ashamed to have broken my husband's childhood table-- the same one he grew up eating on and doing homework on! My husband wasn't mad, he is great like that, he doesn't get mad over material things, like the time I accidentally got bleach all over his favorite dark blue shirt, but that's another story. Anyway, we put the table in the basement and there it sat for the next 5 or 6 years. We finally sold it and the chairs in a yard sale to a couple that repaired furniture.

Do you see the karma at work here? I tricked someone into thinking that their box fell out of their car, and in return, something of mine really did fall out (fly out!) of my car. It might have taken over 10 years to come around, but it did and it happened 10 times worse. Isn't that a saying, too? Whatever happens comes back tenfold? Or something like that.

Moral of the story? Be nice. Don't fool people like that. It'll come back and bite you in the butt. Hard.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Return to Normalcy, Kind Of

I am feeling much better now, compared to my last pissy post. Last Sunday, I went to my Mom's ruined home by myself and dug through the debris and piles of still-good stuff. The insurance people are doing their job, which is to pack up and clear out the remaining items, clean them and then after the reconstruction is done, they will return the cleaned items to the home. I went back to gather some things to bring here, because as I said before, my Mom does not want to return there, and will sell the house as soon as it is fixed up. When the home sells, she will retire and come to live with us.

I am not kidding when I say I have 25 big, black garbage bags full of burned and wet items to sort through, sitting outside in our driveway. When the firemen came to put out the fire, they threw everything outside of the home, that included everything from dishes, clothing, furniture and lots of my Mom's personal papers with her private information-- banking account numbers, social security, everything! The reconstruction crew shoveled everything into the garbage bags and left it outside. I felt panicky having it all out there, so easy for someone to walk by, take a look inside a bag and pluck out an envelope or piece of paper with Mom's info on it. We were lucky enough to have a friend with a flat-bed trailer who was willing to load up all the bags on it and drive it 2 hours away to our home. Both Mom and I feel better knowing they are here, even though the insurance people haven't seen it and can't claim it for reimbursements.

Anyway, now that my Mom has returned to work, it is up to me to sort through the bags and I try to do at least 2 a day. A good half of it is ruined but there are salvageable things, clothing that can be washed, hard goods like pyrex bowls and silverware are fine, if they weren't broken when they were thrown outside and then shoveled into the bags. Most of the paper goods though, are not save-able-- I throw books away, they are too thick and wet to burn in the fire pit, but anything with a name or personal info on it gets burned. Clothing that got burned get the buttons snipped off and I saved a few shirts for crafting projects; some only had a sleeve burned but the rest of it was fine, so the material can be recycled into something else.

I am trying to balance our home life while sorting through burned items and helping my Mom out. My husband has been so great with handling all the phone calls to various people and for that, I am grateful I married a hearing man. Relay services for the Deaf are great, but it's much easier to do person-to-person calls instead of third-party calls.

In an attempt to return to normal, I made cookies with the girls yesterday and they were so good, I had to share the recipe.

The minute I opened the oven door to see if the cookies were done, I could tell they were going to be good just by looking at them! They had that crinkly look to them and boy oh boy, I couldn't wait to eat one.

I modified the recipe to suit what I had on hand and the girls are constantly asking for another cookie. Even the Husband is raving about these cookies and telling me if I ever had a bake shop (which we dream about sometimes), I ought to include these cookies. It made just about 4 dozen cookies and between the 5 of us, the last cookie got eaten a little while ago. If you make these, I suggest you make a double batch.

2/3 c shortening

1 1/2 c packed brown sugar

1 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/3 c powdered cocoa (such as Hershey's cocoa)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 c bittersweet chocolate chips (I used a bar and chopped it)

2 c heath toffee bits

Heat oven to 375*

Beat shortening, brown sugar, water and vanilla in large bowl on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.

Beat in flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee bits. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on wire racks.

These cookies are truly delicious-- moist and crunchy at the same time. Let me know if you try these.