Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One year ago today...

...I went public with this blog. My very first post was as follows:

First Post

So, I have been keeping a private blog for my son for a little over a year now and finally decided to give a public one a go as well. Wish me luck!
I would like to iron out the design elements before really getting into this, so I will not be posting regularly for at least a week.
In the meantime, check out my run-of-the-mill profile and the items below.

Things to expect here in the future:
House stuff, food stuff, crafty project stuff, family stuff, maybe an occasional rant on an off day.
Stuff like that.
Same old...

My main goal with this little blog is to make some internet friends whose interests are similar to my own.

I'd say I've achieved my main goal! I have "met" some amazing people over this past year. Knowing all of you has helped me grow in so many ways and I will always be thankful for your friendship.

So, in no particular order, here is an especially HUGE thank you to the following people:

Tina, Sarah, Andrew, Heidi, Joanna, Trisha, Elizabeth, "Wep", Sherrie, Elizabeth aka "gracefruit", Ms. Tee, Stacey, Michelle, Meech!, and Natalie

I singled you out because you not only make my days brighter and inspire me, but we have probably corresponded here and there or swapped things or bought things or had some kind of contact in some way outside of me just reading your blogs. Sorry for all the sappy stuff, but I wanted all of you to know that I am thankful I know you!

And now, of course I will be doing a giveaway. I skipped Christmas, so I HAVE to do a blogaversary giveaway.

The prize is of the surprise variety, and some of the contents will depend upon who wins it, but it will definitely contain some soapy things and some sewn things, so leave a comment!

Money's a little tight, so let's keep this one within the US and Canada. Shipping is just AWFUL right now. :(

So that's it. Just leave a comment on this post by 11:59 PM EST Sunday January 4th 2009(!) and I will announce the winner on Monday!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stuff and more stuff.

First off, I hope the holidays treated everybody well. I learned an important lesson about selling things. I will be making Christmas items many, many months ahead of time in 2009.

Now here are captioned pictures:

Here were some of the soaps from that custom order, all wrapped up. The printer died when I was trying to print the labels, so I had to use my neighbor's printer instead. This is potentially a blessing because now we have ordered a compact, inexpensive laser printer! No more running colors for me! I pick it up tomorrow, so we'll see...

Yeah. I was making a baby blanket for Noah, but only had found two skeins of this yarn at Joann's. I thought, no problem! I'll get more when they restock. They didn't. I thought, no problem! I'll order online. They don't have any. So I turned it into a very short scarf. A matching hat is in the works, but I haven't made much progress on it.

These are funny. They are vintage mason jar lids. The copyright years on the boxes are 1986 and 1975, in the order of the photo. (Are they old enough to call "vintage"? Or are they just "old"?) Anyway, guess where I found them? If you guessed, at a grocery store, you're right! It's a pretty tiny store, and things don't move too fast. Um, obviously...

My paperwhites bloomed in time for Christmas, but REALLY popped the next day.

I finished this hat but it turned out to be way too small for Noah, so I am going to make a bigger one. This is what happens when people don't use patterns. And yes, that is a humongous cone of baker's twine wearing the hat.

The Christmas table. No sewing machine, fabric or soap molds, just pretty things. :)

And then when I totally lost my mind the other night, I decided to try knitting something very tiny. But I don't have any needles smaller than a nine, so I made some out of heavy duty toothpicks and started knitting with baker's twine. It is going to be a scarf for Buttons the Elf.

Pumpkin seed and avocado oils waiting to go into the soap I made last night. Look at that beautiful amber glow. ;)

TWO POUNDS OF BAKER'S TWINE!!! I am super excited. Sarah, you still looking for this? I ordered from this site and I could not be more pleased with the price and the amazingly fast shipping. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Cocoa butter and shea butter for last night's soap. I think raw ingredients such as these and the oils a few photos back are some of the most beautiful things to photograph. Not only are they visually interesting, they are on their way to creating a product that will nourish your body in some way. I think that's why I love taking pictures of vegetables and fruits so much, too.

And here is last night's batch, just after tracing. Look at that color!!! I am in love. It has beeswax, avocado oil, pumpkin seed oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, palm oil and coconut oil. After it cooked, I added a carrot and butternut squash and honey (almost) puree. I am going out to cut it as soon as this post is done, and I didn't get any pictures uploaded yet of the unmolded giant loaf, but perhaps tomorrow...

Final thing: Did you know that Tuesday is my ONE YEAR BLOGAVERSARY?! I can't believe it's only been a year. I still haven't decided what to do on here to celebrate, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wow! I am like not even here!

I have been a very busy Amber and I have not posted in a week again! Tsk, tsk, tsk. To make up for that, I am giving you a gazillion pictures with captions. Enjoy :)

My fake wreath with real snow on it.

This year's Christmas-y porch.

Snowy barberries!

My Dad ordered some goodie bags for some of his coworkers. They are stuffed with assorted soaps and hand balms. And stuffing. But the paper kind, not the inside a turkey kind...

Tuesday, I got to set up a table at a local company for an employee market. It was in a small lounge area outside the cafeteria (which served Seattle's Best coffee -- I had hazelnut. Yum.) There were two other vendors, one of whom is our CSA farmer and the other is a baker friend of hers. It was fun and I sold a few things, but overall none of us did very well. We did some swapping at the end of the day and I brought home some delicious baked goods and a pot of paperwhite bulbs, already sprouted and so cute! The pot was hand thrown by the farmer's husband and is GORGEOUS.

Anyway, here are some pictures of all the stuff we had laid out. Keep in mind there was very poor lighting and I had no flash. Just saying...

Paperwhites sprouting in a pot.

Some of my stuff.

One of Judy's wreaths. I really wish I would've bought this from her. I love "sugared" fruits and this wreath was beautiful.

Some of Matt's baked goods. We just finished a loaf of that walnut and red onion bread. The biscotti was gone by yesterday morning. Amazing.

More of my stuff. The clementines are real. I put them out to bribe people so they would take business cards. Three people willingly took cards. The people who purchased things got them stuffed into their bags. :)

More of Matt's incredible wares. I ate one of those sweet rolls while I enjoyed my coffee and he sent two of the bran muffins home with me.

In other news, I finally met up with Wep last Saturday! We went to the yarn store, as we had originally planned and I bought some yarn to make a sweater. I haven't started it yet, but here's the yarn:

Mmmm, so soft and fluffy. It is going to be an awesome sweater if I don't screw it up too badly...

Yeah, and I HAD to get this. I mean, look at it! How could I resist!!! I don't know what to do with it, I just wanted to own it.

Oh yeah, the coolest thing about the craft fair/employee market/thingy. I met two (two!) goat farmers! So now I have suppliers of fresh goat's milk for soap. How cool is that? AND one of them raises sheep as well, so I will have some local wool to play with perhaps?

Alright. That covers most of it. Have a great night!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Can't... Keep... Up...

Hi there! I thought I'd stop being a total train wreck long enough to stop by and slap up some pictures for everybody. Let's see if I can accomplish that without destroying anything...

*note* I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to link my blog to my Flickr account for the past twenty nine minutes. So, I'd say that was not in the category of accomplishing anything.

Here goes again:

*note* After five more minutes of finalizing everything, I then realize that I cannot do what I thought I could do with that feature and it is totally useless to me.

While I'm at it, here are some other things that are stupid, then pretty pictures. I bought a brand name front loading, high efficiency, energy star washing machine on Thursday at a major building supply store whose name I won't mention, but let's just say it starts with an "L" and ends with "owes". The fabulous machine had been marked down due to a repair and subsequent return and was actually a price I felt justified in spending on such a beauty. Surely it would pay for itself tenfold with its energy saving loveliness! Extremely long story short, it didn't work properly and I had the joy today of disconnecting it and reconnecting the old one. This includes moving them in and out of the basement yesterday and today. I have pulled every muscle in my body and I am not a happy camper.

Stupid item number two: I was SUPPOSED to be meeting Wep today at Yarn Calling, but I am too dysfunctional to get myself and the kids together and get out of the house at a reasonable hour.

Okay, picture time. Have you ever asked yourself what jobless people do in the middle of a recession? Why, everybody knows they go shopping! (Stupid item number three)

Bought this five gallon crock for next to nothing because it was a "second". There is nothing wrong with it though, so I win!

Butter Bell! Butter Bell! Soft, non-rancid butter is mine for the having!

Super heavy, oven safe, dishwasher safe (if I HAD a dishwasher), microwave safe, awesome, awesome, awesome mixing bowls.

A beautiful stoneware vessel. I am trying not to buy more useless things, but I deem a vase-like object to be of use to me.

Now hold onto your hats, because this is the exciting stuff:

Fiesta Ware bowls!!!

Fiesta Ware cups!!!

Fiesta Ware plates!!!

Yes, for the first time ever, I have picked out my own dishes and they are the dishes I have dreamed of my whole life. I got them (and all the other stuff above) at a factory discount pottery outlet in the Poconos. Amazing. As if eating weren't fun enough already...

Now, soap:

Rigged up a mold so I could have fun circle soap. Learned lesson about rigging things and bought proper pipe for next time.

"Gourmet" coffee soap!!!

First off: Heidi, I am sorry if this looks eerily similar to your Coffee Break soap. I guess I totally ripped you off because I love the way yours looks. Ah well, imitation is...

Anyway, the bottom is coffee scented with coffee grounds and caramel coloring. The top is scented with a tiny bit of gingermilk and has a sprinkle of cinnamon on top in addition to the cinnamon stick. This batch is actually one third of a custom Christmas order. Oh, and the whole batch was made with coffee instead of water. That's why the top has such a pretty color on its own. (That and a slight discoloration from the fragrance) Also - great story about how this batch almost failed. I made two batches last night, this one was the second one. I had premelted the oils for the coffee soap in the small crock pot while I finished up the first batch in the big crock. Once the first batch was in its mold and the crock was washed and dried, I started pouring the oils for the coffee batch into the large crock. Then I dropped the small crock on the table. And spilled oil everywhere. After I decided I wasn't going to sit on the floor and cry, I cleaned up the oil slick and measured the oils I had left. It turned out I was only four ounces short. Unfortunately I had used such an elaborate oil/butter blend I didn't know what exactly I was missing. I already had the coffee and lye solution prepared, so I added four ounces of olive oil out of the kitchen cabinet and crossed my fingers while I stirred. The ending was happy. It traced after about twenty minutes of intense whisking and turned out beautifully. The moral: Don't ever EVER pat yourself on the back for being on top of things and organized, or fate will come along and b**** slap you. Hard.

And finally, it has been a ridiculously long time since I posted pictures of my kiddos, no?

No matter what else is going on, or how many things I screw up, at least I can tell myself I made these guys pretty well. :)