Sunday, December 23, 2007

More sudsy stuff...

Well, if you read about the soap sitch on the previous post, you'll be happy to know that all seems well with the remaining soap that I was able to salvage from that. It looks fine (see above, left) and hardened well. I'll just test it out tomorrow for good measure, but I have high hopes. I only got 12 bars out of it, but I learned a lot. I also found other sources for explanation of the h/p method and I think I have a better understanding now. So I'm actually pretty amped to give it another go!

I also tried out "melt & pour" tonight, using a clear glycerin soap base (see above, right). I made a lavender soap with whole lavender flowers in it, plus added lavender e/o and shea oil. It looks good for a first time effort! I'm anxious to try it out!

It's funny because when I first started soapmaking, I scoffed at the idea of 'melt & pour'...only the purist's method for me, thank you very much! Ha! But I actually really enjoyed it and I see where it would be fun to do sometimes. There is definitely a broader license for creativity with this method and it was incredibly easy.

To sum up, I would like to stick mainly with cold process soapmaking and try my hand again at hot process, but this 'melt & pour' method is going to be somewhere in the rotation, for sure.

Disastrous Soapmaking Experience!

I really had to make some soap today. I wanted to do a few little xmas gifts and we're getting down the wire with only 2 days left. But I had been procrastinating making the soap because it's so intimidating for me to attempt to make soap with both Lola & Elise in the house. Today I learned that I had good reason to be hesitant!!

I've only ever made soap by using the cold process method, but the drawback to that it that the soap takes at least 2 weeks to cure. I had heard about hot process, where the soap only needs 24 hours to cure so, being short on time, I went ahead and gave it a shot.
The big difference between the 2 methods is that with c/p, you mix the oils and lye after they have cooled to around 100 degrees. With the h/p, you mix the oils and lye while they are still very hot (150-200 degrees) and the saponification and boil-off of the lye take place at the same time. It's much faster, but I didn't realize how much more "hands on" it really is.

I got Elise down for a nap, then got started. Got the oils melted and the lye mixed. Then I put them together. I knew that the mixture needed to be stirred constantly, otherwise it would boil over. But what I didn't realize is the pot I was using wasn't tall enough for the size batch I was making. So even with all the stirring, the caustic mixture still boiled over! It was everywhere. I was so panicked I took the pot off the stove and placed in my sink. My bamboo cutting board was in the sink and it got the lye/oil mixture on it so I had to toss it. Despite the fact that I was covered head to toe, I still got a couple of minor lye burns. I've cleaned the mess up, but I still won't let the kids in the kitchen until I can go over it again.
But back to the soap. I lost about 1/2 my soap to the boil over, but I decided to stick with it and see if I could salvage the rest. I poured it out into a taller pot and put it back on the stove. Hopefully, it's OK. I won't know until tomorrow probably. If it hardens, then I know the saponification took place. I'll test the ph to make sure there's no more lye in it and, of course, test it out on myself first.

Oh yeah, I forgot this part. In the midst of all this mess, Elise woke up. I threw her in the Ergo because I was too scared that she'd get herself on the kitchen floor before I could clean it up. It was so stressful having her so close to this mess.

I think I'm going to play it safe and experiment with "melt & pour" method (take a very basic soap that's already made, melt it down and create a whole new soap by adding fun ingredients to it) for now until Elise is a bit older and I can get some guaranteed time in the kitchen alone.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spagetti Squash....

In one word...

I was incredibly skeptical because I'm a sucker for a bowl of pasta. I had heard all of the wonderful things about spagetti squash and thought, "yeah, yeah, yeah, clearly these people have NO idea how much I love pasta!". But we did it tonight and Dan and I both agreed we loved it, even MORE SO than pasta. HUH! Whodda thunk?

Big Apple, Here We Come!

Fantastic news! We just found out that we will be going to NYC very, very soon! It's only for a few days, but it's one of those places that's I've ALWAYS wanted to go to and have never had the opportunity. So here it is! Dan will have meetings in CT for one of the days, but that's totally ok. More great news, my dad and his GF will meet us there for a few days. My dad is awesome and so is his GF, Monique. They also love to babysit, which makes them even more awesome, but even if they didn't, they are totally sweet and fun to be around.
We ended up renting an apartment in Gramercy Park, near the Empire State building. That was actually waaaaay cheaper than trying to sleep 4 adults and 2 kids in either one or two hotel rooms. The apartment is quite grand too. It's low season, so we got it for 1/2 of what it would usually rent for!
Double bonus that our flights were comped by the airline. Dan was one of the very unlucky few that got totally stranded in NYC last year during the big snow storm. He was supposed to do a 24 hour trip and it ended up being 4 days....even after 4 days, we had to buy a whole new ticket with a completely different airline just to get him home. The original airline he was booked with couldn't fly him out for another couple more days!
Ordinarily, it might not have been a big deal, but Dan packed for only ONE day. 2 pair of underwear, 2 pair of socks, one suit, get my drift....he had NOTHING and only a jacket in the biggest snowstorm that I can remember.
After all was said and done though, the airline was super cool and reimbursed him the extra hotel expenses, as well as the new flight that he had to pay for. So it totally paid for the flights for this new trip! Awesome!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

kid stuff...

This is probably strange to post, but back in October, I sent in photos of both my girls to a modeling agency. Lola's photos were returned with a letter saying they were not looking for her "look" at the moment and to try again later. I felt totally dumb doing it in the first place after that. Like I need someone to say whether my girls are special or not (although I realize they were not judging her "special-ness"), it just kinda felt weird.
Anyway, they never sent Elise's photos back and I never heard back from them regarding her until today. I got an email that are interested in Elise's pictures and could I please send them more?
Hmmmm. Ok, I did respond and send them more photos....
My BFF modeled at a young age and feels like it was a totally positive experience, yet inwardly I struggle with this. I guess I didn't feel too strongly, otherwise, I probably wouldn't have submitted their photos in the first place. Anyway, this whole thing may be absolutely nothing so I'll try not to get my chonies in a bunch.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Forgot to Mention...

I'm running on about 4 hours sleep. Went to bed at 11:30 pm last night. Elise woke up at 2:30 am and would NOT go back to bed until sometime after 5:30 am. I got really tired of nursing her after a couple of hours so I ended up putting her in the Ergo and we went into the kitchen, where I got out the crockpot and put together a rice pudding. I thought it would be nice to have something warm and sweet to wake up to when I eventually got some sleep. I fell asleep around 6 am and woke up at 7:30 am. Argh! Don't know why that happened last night. She usually sleeps great....
Anyway, all this to say that I'll be posting my vegan rice pudding crockpot recipe soon, so stay tuned!


This morning, I went to the funeral of a dear friend of mine and former co-worker, Jack Finley. We worked together about 9 years ago, but remained in touch as do most of us that have worked at this company because it was very much like a little family. I have friends that I met there that I'm still very close to and see often.
There aren't many people who have met Jack and don't just love him. He exuded happiness and positive energy. He was such a friendly guy. Not the least bit shy, he would welcome new people with open arms into his life. He was a deeply spiritual man and his faith was very much reflected in the memorial. I thought the services were really nice and the people that planned it did a great job at encapsulating Jack and his energy. There was not a dry eye in sight.

For myself, I got a lot of inspiration from today (and Jack would have been proud!). I have been in a spiritual rut for a long time. It doesn't bother me much that I'm not a very religious person...I'm ok with not going to church on Sundays and I'm very ok with people that do. But I'm quite quite disturbed at how spiritually empty I've been growing. I can't go into very much more detail, but it turns out that on the way home today, I got pointed in a new direction and the source of this new direction was from somewhere I very least expected.
I would have never seen this coming. I hope it works out, but at the very least, I do feel inspired to embark on the journey.

Cheers to you, Jack! We love you!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Everyone has a job to do...

On the way home from playgroup today, Lola and I talked about how Daddy goes to work everyday. She said, "everyone has a job". This is true, I agreed. "Your job is to be a little girl and to have fun", I said. She agreed. She then tells me that my job is to wash dishes and clean!
"But", I point out to her, "I also teach you how to bake cookies!"
"Yes. And Daddy helps me make scrambled eggs!"

Later on this afternoon I was cooking dinner in the kitchen. She got up on a stool to watch. She then said that one day she would like to be a "good maker" like me!
Ha! How precious! She says the most endearing things sometimes. Totally makes me want to just hug her and hold onto that moment forever.

More babies!

We just found out that Dan's older brother, Tony, and his wife are pregnant!!!! WHOOOHOOO! It just occurred to me that maybe they wouldn't appreciate me blogging this to the whole world, but what can you do??? We've been waiting for this for a long time and we're so thrilled for them!!! yayyy!
So, now BOTH Dan's brothers are expecting babies! And this means the baby pressure that we've endured for the last 4 years is FINALLY off of us. Finally.

Cheers for procreation!


I've added a new page element to my blog called "SAVE THE TREES!".
Please scroll down and click on all the links to help stop unsolicited junk mail! Most of the services are free.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Last night was Dan's office holiday party. I changed outfits about 30 times and didn't even end up wearing this.
We combined our holiday party with the office of a friend of ours. We had lots of fun, but one too many glasses of wine! I'm totally dragging today!
Dan's mom babysat our girls plus our friend's boy. Brave, brave woman! We got home late, around 11 pm, and all the kids were up! Elise had been sleeping since before we even left, but woke up around 9:30 and wouldn't go back to sleep!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Poutine Mentioned in Food & Wine Magazine!

Wow I couldn't believe my eyes when I got my issue of Food and Wine magazine today. It's the January issue so they have an annual "100 Tastes to Try" and what is #39? Poutine!! If you don't know what poutine is, well, it sure doesn't look pretty, but it was our favorite junk food growing up. It's ridiculously unhealthy, but it tastes sooooo good. There's still something really nostalgic about it and I have some every time I go home. I have never actually seen the word "poutine" in print anywhere else but on menus in Montreal so you can understand my surprise (and little burst of hometown pride!).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Go Lisey!

Seriously, the cutest thing!!! I love it! Ok, I do feel bad for those of you who have been on the receiving end of both my mass email/photos sendout and my phone calls and now have to read about it on my blog too, but I just can't help it!
Look how proud of herself she is!
yup, her mama is beaming too!

Life, as I know it, officially changed last night!

Elise took her first steps! We were at a party and she was crawing around, getting into everything. Then she stood up...she stayed standing for a really long time! Dan was prompting her to come to him and, sure enough, she toddled about 4-5 steps towards him, then lunged forward!
I was sooooo excited!!! I started calling parents, friends, etc! Elise wanted to do nothing else but walk back and forth between me and Dan, so we did this for a long time before just leaving the party.
I know this means a new chapter in her life and I thought I would be a bit sad, but I'm not. I'm really happy for her and excited about her toddlerhood.

I am DEFINITELY getting a picture of this today!


Friday, December 7, 2007


We had such a nice day today...playgroup with our friends and then snuggling up in our comfy clothes and watching the Grinch. I looooove that movie! Dan came home from work early, which never happens and I got the Christmas cards I ordered in today too. Jackpot!

I posted the Carrot-Squash soup recipe this morning, by the by!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ornaments and other fun stuff...

This picture probably is the most representative of what's on the tree right now, although I hope to add a popcorn & cranberry garland there sometime in the near future...there are the pinecones that we collected from our midwife's house, the reindeer that we made from ribbon and popsicle sticks, the glittery balls that we made from crafty-type stuff and the little gingerbread guys that I made from leftover foam paper from Lola's first school project. These little stinking gingerbread men are really how this whole project was born in the first place. We had to make a project for Lola's class...we had to do this poster board thingy and show pictures of Lola's heritage for history week at her school. I bought foam paper in red, white and green so I could make flags for Canada and Mexico. I had so much paper left over and the colors seems appropriate enough...waste not, want not! Ha!!! 3 days later, I finally had all my little "projects" done because I went overboard yet again. Of course the ornaments will be saved for years to come, but still I don't relish taking on a task that size for a was more work than I anticipated! But fun, it really was. And watching Lola drink in the finished project was fun too!

Dan, on the other hand, was somewhat disapointed....For someone who grew up in a very conservative environment and Christmas was not celebrated in his household, he sure has taken it to a whole new level in ours!!!! Our front yard is seriously obnoxious!!!! But I know a lot of it is the fact that he is living out his childhood "christmas" through our girls, so I'm just letting him do his thing. Lola is at the age where she's appreciating it so I think that's why it's suddenly bursting out in him. I can't blame him at all.

But, with regards to the xmas tree, he was hoping to see huge blinking, multi-colored lights with neon and glitter everywhere. Kinda like our front yard. I hoped to appease him by tying bows to random empty branches, but I doubt that was really the "pizzaz" he was looking for.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

ok, the stew wasn't bad. It was actually pretty good! Course I made Dan taste first, just in case...Fresh beets are actually pretty tasty, I wasn't expecting that!

I Guess You Can't Hit a Homerun Every Time...

That's what Dan will say when he tastes this stew/soup thingy that I have simmering on the stove! This was made by a complete hodgepodge of everything I could find....usually, I try to "match" the ingredients that I think will complement each other, but this time it was just "whatever".

Let me say that we are not big beet fans in this house. And there were beets in my CSA box this week. I think my problem is that I'm very inexperienced with beets...I only know that I detested beets from a can when I was a kid and hadn't tried them since. So, anyway, I was getting a nice little base going....sliced carrots, mustard greens, cubed eggplant sauteing in some olive oil when I saw the beets. I don't want any veggies to go to waste so I sliced those puppies up too. After I finished cleaning PURPLE STAIN off everything within 5ft of where I was slicing, I saw my stew had turned bright purple too! Everything. The eggplant, chickpeas, everything. I like the color purple, I really do, but I have to say this soup does not look the least bit appealing.

I haven't even tasted it yet. It just doesn't look great. After last night's grand looks like today I tripped on my way to the plate and never made it to bat.


Spicy Carrot & Butternut Squash Soup!

Ok, not one to toot my own horn, but I made this soup last night with the fresh organic veggies I get from the CSA that I belong to and let me just say....YUUUUUUUMMMMY! It was so good! Everyone liked it, even both the girls!

Ok, enough horn-tooting....I'll be sure to post the recipe soon!

Off to finish my xmas ornament projects. I swear I'm almost finished and then I stop blogging about it. Promise. Well, except for one more just to post pictures of how it all came together....;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oooh, I just love me some prizes!

I entered a contest! All I need to do is direct you fine folks over to my friend's Etsy store here: and hopefully, I'll win a prize! yay for me!


You have probably figured out by now that I'm neither creative, nor crafty. So this silly little ornament is actually quite the accomplishment for me. I am quite proud of it!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Ongoing Xmas Tree Ornament Project

$100 spent at the craft store and a few days later we are well on our way to making our xmas tree ornaments. There are about 5 different kinds that we're making and we're about 1 or 2 steps into each of them. So my dining room table is completely covered in craftiness...It's awesome! Lola is obviously really getting a kick out of this. She told me she was so happy to be doing crafts with me...such little things we can do that mean so much to our kids....I really don't do that enough.

OH! And Elise is very, very close to taking her first steps! She now tries to go from one piece of furniture to another, or from me to Dan and takes a step or two on her own before just plunging forward. She is soooo proud of herself!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What Was I THINKING???

Be forewarned, this is going to be a bit gross....
A few days ago, Lola came up to me and, out of the clear blue sky, tells me that she didn't eat her mocos. Now, I know better so I'm suspecting she did actually do it. Then this little fib flies out of my mouth: "You know, Lola, if you eat mocos, a mocos tree will grow in your tummy". I don't know why I said this, except for the fact that when I was little, my mom had told me that an apple tree would grow in my tummy if I continued eating the seeds of my apples. But I know my daughter well enough to know that she is extremely literal and very sensitive. I was totally joking and for a few days she didn't really talk about it so I thought maybe she realized it was just a joke.
Then, today, we were driving back from getting fresh eggs from a friend's house and it's a pretty rural area. There's trees everywhere. Lola is talking non-stop in the back seat, like usual. I'm pretty good at listening to everything she says (as much as I would love to be able to tune her out sometimes!) because, like I said earlier, she's very literal and takes my responses very seriously so I have to make sure I respond accordingly...Anyway, the area we were driving in is unfamiliar to me so I'm trying real hard to concentrate on the road and I ended up effectively tuning her out, but I can hear that she's going on about a tree. I'm doing the "umm", "uh-huh" responses, but then she starts getting really upset and begins crying hysterically!
That snaps me back into reality and I'm trying to figure out what the hell she's so upset about. All I can hear is "tree" and nothing else makes sense! I'm looking frantically at all the trees around!
This is what I get for not listening...It turns out I had agreed that there was, indeed, a mocos tree in her belly and that it was so big, it would never be able to come out.
Sheesh!!!! I told her that mommy just made a bad joke...I managed to convince her, finally, that there was no tree in her tummy and all was well.

Last time I do THAT!