Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Battle of the Bulge (to be continued)

I just wanted to alert anyone who is following my weight loss goals that I am going to take the next two weeks off of focusing on that. I will hopefully maintain what I've lost through these weeks if not lose more, but I'm not going to worry about it and keep close track right now! With our move and me traveling to Phoenix to look for a new home, I wish to focus on those things at this point! I will be back with an all new weigh in on 4/14/09!! Keep your fingers crossed for no gains at that point :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Coming (really) Soon! Damask Rose

While I usually post about new creations within a week of creating them, this time my busy day job and procrastination got the best of me. I will actually be posting this bar for sale in my Etsy shop later this week but still wanted to share photos of the awesome new kid with you :)

I love floral scents but not the "grandma" floral that is overpowering and...just plain gross. This bar is scented with an essential oil blend but its primary note is that of rose essential oil. When I first thought to make a rose scented bar I was wary, but it smells absolutely wonderful!

This batch seized but luckily I am well aware that floral essential oils, especially rose, are known for this and was prepared - I added my rose hip powder (natural colorant) in prior to the essential oils for maximum chance of success. What is "seize" you ask? Well usually you pour soap into a mold at trace which is kind of runny pudding consistency (and if you dip a spoon in to the liquid and then drip the liquid over the surface it leaves a "trace" along the top) - you can push batches a little farther to do things like peaks to the tops. When soap seizes it goes from this runny pudding to a non-chunky oatmeal consistency in a matter of minutes. It gets hard quickly! That makes it difficult to get into a mold or do anything "fun" with it as you have to work extremely quickly!

I managed to get this bar in the mold, though, and all is well with the world :) I wanted to talk a bit about rose hip powder, one of my favorite natural colorants. The powder, itself, is a mustard yellow color. I was quite shocked the first time I saw it, actually, because I was planning to use it to color a soap pink! But with soaping colors can be deceiving!

After you pour cold process soap containing rose hip powder into a mold it looks white (see photo above). In a few hours it will go through a "gel phase". This is an exothermic (heat producing) chemical reaction that makes the soap look more like a gel (more translucent) and this reaction is required to make soap! When the soap hits gel phase, the rose hip powder turns this fun blue color (see photo below)!

When you remove the bar from the mold once it has cooled and hardened enough for cutting, it is a light peachish color (see photo below).

As the bar cures, it turns progressively more pink. It's the soap of many colors :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just Listed - Minty Fresh

You heard it here first, folks :) My Minty Fresh bar has just been listed for sale in my Etsy shop! Coll and I have been testing the bar for the past few days and its passed inspection with flying colors! This one even got a special, "Kell, I really LOVE this Minty Fresh bar!" comment from Collier. I knew he'd love it :)

An Ode to Phoenix

I managed to get my Etsy-loving self together enough this week to make one treasury. I called it an Ode to Phoenix as I felt the need to do something to celebrate my move on Etsy! Sunshine and warmth here we come!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm here!

I must apologize for the extremely scattered posts lately. But let me explain why I'm so busy and haven't been tending to my blog (or my shop) as I should!

Collier and I have both been incredibly busy since match day. Not only have I been working 10-12 hour days, but I've been trying to get everything in order for our move to Phoenix - at an extremely rapid pace! I am very pleased to announce that we obtained pre-approval for an FHA mortgage this week, and we also have a realtor who is busting her butt for us in Phoenix to find us a great place! I will be traveling down for 3 days in early April to check out the places we think are a possibility...so far we've got 10 homes on our short list, 4 of which we're really excited about!

Of course having a few things on ones plate is never enough, we're also planning for our short-term moves! I'm currently living amongst cardboard boxes...ugh.

I am amazed to notice how my lack of attention to my Etsy shop and all that goes with it have affected views to my shop and sales. It may just be a slow time but I really do think the time put into getting the word out there matters! I just haven't had time this week and things have slowed down quite a bit!

I was featured in one treasury on Etsy this week, a very delightful one I may add!

Clay Dirt by Ozetta

My 4 sampler size soap set was featured in this awesome treasury! I don't know if it was intentional but I chuckled for a second while I appreciated the irony of soap being in a treasury with "dirt" in the title! Everyone should check out Ozetta's Etsy shop, she's got some wonderfully posh scarves and cowls up for grabs!!

Speaking of scarves and cowls, it is currently snowing here. At the end of March. I give up, Arizona here we come!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Battle of the Bulge - week 7

Well, this is little delayed as I really did check in on Monday, but I thought my birthday post deserved a full day of glory at the top of the blog :)

My current weight: 170.4
My current BMI: 24.4 (normal!!!)
Pounds lost so far: 14.6
Days of Cardio this week: 3
Days of Yoga this week: 0
Days of Strength training this week: 2

So this week went well! I lost 3.6 lbs since last week, but like I said last week I think that weight was a bit elevated due to me eating too much at my niece's birthday pot-luck :) And for the first time in a few months (or several months?) my BMI is once again in the normal range!! Not only that but I feel more energetic, my clothes are fitting better and Collier commented this week that I am lookin good! I am not there yet, but I'm making good progress and I'm proud of that.

The thing I still need to work on is finding time to exercise. Now that the weather is nicer again we've been walking Kermit quite a bit. Of course living in Phoenix will help as the weather will be more temperate on average but we're going to have to figure out how to avoid the heat! In April one of my goals is to start to incorporate exercise back into my life more and more so it's more of a reflex than a chore.

Weight loss tip of the week:
Watch out for liquid calories!! So many processed beverages now are full of sugar, including those healthy flavored water beverages that are so popular right now. Full of sugar = full of calories! I had the great fortune to work with a wonderful bariatric surgeon during Medical School. Many of his tips have stuck with me the past two years. One of the things I will never forget is when he looked at me when I was telling him about a patient's diet and how I just didn't understand how she got so obese and he said dryly, "Did you ask her how much soda she drinks a day?" He said that he has patients who will drink multiple 2-liter bottles of soda a day. It doesn't feel the same as eating a giant piece of cheesecake but the effect is much the same. Moreover, processed sugars and caffeine really aren't great for your body!

If you crave flavored water why not buy a lemon and cucumber at the store and put a slice of each in your water. It's yummy, fresh, and calorie free! If you have to drink soda, drink diet. These little changes could have a huge impact on your weight loss!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!

I was born 27 years ago today - thanks, Mom! Collier surprised me today with Tassimo T-discs to make my morning mocha's - I was actually thinking of buying some more, just enough to get through the next week and a half before we move! But he beat me to the punch. He also brought home a piece of chocolate cake from the grocery store with candles to make my day a little special...well, technically it was the day before my day but he asked and I said it would be better this way as I've got a test on Wednesday I'll need to cram for tomorrow, and he's not coming home between work and class! I'm not excited about my birthday this year...I'm feeling a bit run-down and tired...and have mortgages and home-buying on the brain!

I thought I'd share this group of photos of me and Kermit...he's a total pushover. Mostly he just wanted to snag some cake!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just Listed - Neroli Lemon

Neroli Lemon is back on my Etsy page!! I actually sold 10 bars of this batch prior to listing, so get them while they last :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Destination: Phoenix, Arizona!!

I found out where I matched for residency today and it's Phoenix, Arizona! Coll and I were both so thrilled, I have hated winter for the past several years and won't be one snitch upset about trading this winter:

for this one:

Match Day
Let me explain quickly what Match Day is and how it all works. As a 4th year medical student, you decide what field you want to specialize in (Pediatrics, Medicine, Plastic Surgery, Anesthesiology, etc.) then apply for residency programs in those fields. You can apply to whichever programs you want and for most specialties there is one application through the NRMP that you can submit via internet to all the programs you are interested in. Once your application is complete, programs will begin to invite you and you set up interview dates. I had 9 strewn about the country and did a few in November, local ones in December, and the rest in January. Once you are done interviewing you have to rank the programs you would be willing to go to in order of preference. The programs also sit down and rank everyone who interviewed with them in order of preference. After the rank lists are due, a computer uses an algorithm to match all of the medical students with the programs.

On Monday of this week I found out that I matched somewhere. I didn't know where but it was one of the 8 programs I'd ranked. If you find out that you didn't match on Monday, you then have to "scramble" on Tuesday which means you re-apply to any programs that have an opening and try to make a match. Today we had our Match Day ceremony which is different at every school. How we do it here is everyone from our class and significant others/family gather in an auditorium and our names are read one by one in random order to get the envelope which contains the paper saying where we matched. It was a bit chaotic with 200 people in the class - they call them off continuously until everyone has one! It was fun, though, people cheering and clapping - we are almost done! There were a lot of happy tears and some sad, but all in all it was quite the experience.

Collier and I are so excited to move to Phoenix! We came home after the after-party and Coll immediately started looking at houses via the MLS listings. It looks like the real estate market in Phoenix may have tanked a bit more than other places which is terrible for the economy of the city...but good for us right now. We can't wait to own our own home with a fenced yard to let Kermit out instead of leash him to go to the bathroom! After seeing the above photo I also realized that a little sun might do me some good, too :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Panda, Panda, PANDA?! WHERE ARE YOU?!?

A new pet story for you. To start with, a little background. Panda is our 2.5 lb bunny (to learn more about him, including his rescue story go here). He is a "house bunny" which means that he is litter box trained and is free to roam (most of) the house when we are home. When we are gone we have a 4 foot by 4 foot dog exercise pen that we've converted into a cage for him. Some people will let rabbits run all the time, but I have found with the 3 I have had that they become quite destructive if given the entire house as their "cage" and that it is safer for them (bunnies have a propensity to chew on power cords and despite the fact that I have always done my best to bunny proof, you just never know!) to have a "room" of their own. My buns have always loved their cage - it really is like their bedroom. They will "bun about" the apartment for a few hours then return to the cage to flop out/ lay down for a while.

Usually when Panda is out he's either in the office laying under the cat tree or between the tires of our bikes - these are his "spots". He has, however, put himself into tighter spots as he can fit behind the stove, refrigerator, etc. with his slight size! We've bunny proofed all things unforeseen by this point so when he "disappeared" the other day you can imagine my worry!

It started off with a "Hmm, where's Panda?" walk through the apartment. Then it was a "Hmm, he's not in his normal spots." Walk back through. After 4 or so laps I became worried, after 6 or so I started shouting for him and was just about to overturn furniture when I saw a flash of black in the office:

Panda had jumped up in the cat tree and was laying on the sleeper! The little devil!

He was very proud of himself. It was really adorable and actually such a relief to find him that I couldn't be mad. He gave me that "What's all the yelling about, I've been right here the whole time?" look. I wasn't sure that he'd be able to safely get down (bunnies don't have depth perception) so helped him down to the floor where he belongs!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just Listed - Rosemary and Oatmeal

I just listed the Rosemary and Oatmeal bar discussed here on my Etsy page!

The Battle of the Bulge - week 6

My current weight: 174
My current BMI: 25 (overweight - but JUST BARELY!!)
Pounds lost so far: (11)
Days of Cardio this week: 3
Days of Yoga this week: 0
Days of Strength training this week: 2

I did ok this week :) I lost 3 lbs from last week's weight but I think they were both a bit artificially inflated! I was down to 172 or so mid-week, but the weekend tends to be the time when I allow myself to cheat a bit and it always seems to be the day before weigh in! :) Ahh, well, a loss is a loss! I'm still counting my time in the operating room as strength training - I think my biceps are actually getting bigger! With the sun still being out some days when I get home and the weather getting nicer (it was 70 today!), we have been out and about more with Kermit doing some great walks and hikes! I realized this week that the only time I can completely relax and shut down is when I'm in the forest - that's why camping is so rejuvenating for me. Collier and I are always amazed when we go camping how it seems like time slows and the weekend lasts FOREVER! There is really something to be said about not being so "connected" and leaving all the modern electronics at home! We need to schedule a few camping trips in this summer, or at least many many wonderful hikes!

Weight Loss Tip of the Week:
This week I've been thinking about convenience foods. I'm on a rotation where we start anywhere from 5:30-6:30 in the morning and usually finish anywhere from 5 and on in the evening. It doesn't leave much "me" time or home time, much less time to be concerned about what I'm eating! I have become a heavy user of frozen convenience meals - throwing them in my lunch bag prevents me from going down to the cafeteria and buying a pizza or a grilled cheese which would really ruin my healthy eating plan entirely! So, in that sense, they are wonderful!

There are a few things to watch out for in convenience foods, though - this includes non-frozen packaged dinner mix items - things you need to just add water/margarine to. The first major concern is that these meals tend to be quite high in sodium. This is fine for some people, but for someone with hypertension (high blood pressure) it could be deadly. These meals also tend to be more expensive than a meal you could make yourself - that is I exclusively reserve them for times when I actually NEED the convenience! If I have time to come home for lunch or I have the day off, I always make my food.

Overall, I do love convenience foods. I enjoy many of the Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones entrees. But always look at the labels and find out what you're really getting into!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just Listed - Naked (Unscented)

I just listed my Naked (Unscented) bar on Etsy! After shopping a fellow Etsy Green and Clean Guild Member's shop for lotions and creams and realizing that I really just wanted them unscented I thought hey, maybe there's something to this :) I like my soaps with personality, but I'm sure there are people out there who want the properties of handmade soap without the scent. So here it is! This bar will be $1 less than my other bars to account for the fact that I don't have to pay for essential/fragrance oils and botanicals! We've been using this bar for the past few days and are loving it :)

You can also see from this photo that I have (once again!) modified my photos a touch. I definitely liked my most recent photos more than my 2nd try and way more than my 1st, but there was still something about them that didn't look finished enough. I wanted something different. It hit me like a ton of bricks one day - one thing I love is wrapping each soap in its own unique color of handmade paper. So...why not use those papers as a backdrop? That way each listing has its own color identifier as well! I took photos of my 4 most recent batches this way last week (Naked is the first to be listed), and absolutely love it so far. I think I will stick with this method...but we shall see. I might just come up with something even better someday :)

Treasuries I created this week

My schedule has been keeping me from creating treasuries like mad as I want to, but I managed to get one in this week where the opening happened to coincide with me being home!

I'm being F O L L O W E D...(by a Moonshadow)

I am pretty proud of this one! Inspired by Cat Stevens' whimsical song (Moonshadow of course!), I created this to be black/white/grey with just a HINT of blue. I used a lot of EtsyVeg members' items in this one. I tried to give it just a little creepy edge to it as I knew prior to putting it on Etsy that I was going to name it I'm being followed...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

This Week's Etsy Features!

It has been a CRAZY busy weekend, we also didn't have internet all of Saturday, so I didn't get this out on Saturday...but let's just pretend I did. I post-dated it so in a few weeks we won't ever know, it can be our little secret, right?

Clean Colors of Spring by StephanieK

This awesome B&B treasury was created by fellow EGCG member, StephanieK, and featured my Strawberry Fields (Forever) bar! She creates amazing perfumes, room sprays, bath salts, lip balms, etc. Definitely check her shop out by clicking on her name above - it soothes me just "walking in".

Etsyveg Team by LuluBugJewelry

This bright and cheery treasury was created by new EtsyVeg team member, LuluBugJewelry, and featured my The Golden Afternoon bar - immediately next to a delicious cupcake I might add. I was a BIT jealous ;-) I checked out LuluBugJewelry's shop and blog after she joined and she instantly went into my hearts - I couldn't resist after seeing this on her blog. I don't know if I will want custom Panda jewelry in the future but if I do I know where I'm getting it!

Found browsing through Etsy's Categories by Etsy Admin

Etsy Admin chose me for two front page features this week, I am incredibly honored by this! The first is above, and features my 4 bar pack. The second featured my 7 bar pack but the screen shot hasn't been uploaded onto Flickr so that's as much as I know. A fellow EtsyVeg team member alerted me to the feature and a customer who purchased that item said she saw me there - so I know it's real (I even pinched myself, ha ha), I just don't have any pretty visual proof :)

Another fabulous week! My shop 27% off sale went really well, I was able to share my birthday and engagement excitement with several people!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Flowers may die...

I finally threw away the roses that Coll got me for Valentine's day. I couldn't help but snap this shot prior to tossing them, they were still rather pretty.

To me it symbolizes that while these little tokens of love or romance may die, real love endures. Alternatively it could be interpreted as, "Flowers die, but diamonds are forever." Ha ha.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sneak Peek - Minty Fresh!

I've got a brand new bar curing as we speak, I created this one this weekend (this was the batch that Coll picked for me to make the day we got engaged - I decided to delay it until Sunday night so that we could properly enjoy our engagement!). I also like to call it "Mean Green" as it is a gorgeous bright green! This bar is going to be part of my "All Natural" line of soaps, made with essential oils only. It's a combo of Spearmint and Eucalyptus essential oils, but the eucalyptus is rather indiscernable - it just smells like spearminty goodness! Coll adores this bar already, I love it too. It reminds me of my favorite gum. Just very fresh, clean, cheery. It gets it's awesome green color from natural parsley powder...no artificial stuff here :) I even added a bit of dried chamomile to add a touch of exfoliation.

This would have been a great bar to have available for St. Patty's day, ha ha. I always seem to be about a month behind with holidays. It's something I am working on and hope to have holiday appropriate soaps in the future. This bar is going to stay in my line, though...it's too good to give up!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Engagement/Birthday Sale - 27% off!!

I was planning on having a sale at my Etsy Shop for my birthday (which is March 24th in case anyone wants to send me any presents ;-)), but we are moving in early April so it didn't seem practical. With the new engagement I realized there is no time better than the present so am offering 27% off all items in my shop! The prices are already discounted...and honestly as low as I will be likely to go this year!

Why 27%? Well, I turn 27 this year! It just seemed logical :)

The sale will run until Sunday, 3/15/09!

The Battle of the Bulge - week 5

My current weight: 177
My current BMI: 25.4 (overweight)
Pounds lost so far: (9.6) - 1.6 lb gain this week
Days of Cardio this week: 1
Days of Yoga this week: 0
Days of Strength training this week: 2

Well, I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I gained weight this week! I was much less strict with myself this week, I am on a more time-consuming rotation and am finding it difficult to find time to make sure I am making healthy choices. It's no excuse, though! There are a few things I can point to as culprits for this week's weight gain. First of all, it is likely slightly artificially elevated as I spent the 2 days prior to my weigh in celebrating my engagement which included lots of yummy food. I ate whatever I wanted in larger quantities than I normally would because, really, it's a once in a lifetime thing! So, that didn't help and my weight may be a bit higher than it really is as all that food is still in my system :) Second of all, I haven't been drinking enough water lately - which has resulted in some slowing of my GI tract, if you know what I mean. I need to hydrate well so I can get that digested weight out of me! Third of all, the work I'm doing this month is more physically demanding (especially on my upper body!) and I have been gaining muscle day by day! Muscle is HEAVY!

Weight Loss Tip of the Week
I can't think of a better time to discuss this tip. If you are trying to lose weight and have a bad day or a bad week, forgive yourself and move on! So often people feel discouraged and just give up. "I can't do it!" is your worst enemy. If you lose 0.5 lbs when you wanted to lose 5 you may feel disappointed but you still LOST! It's a step in the right direction. If you maintain your weight instead of lose, congratulate yourself for not gaining! And if you gain, assess why that may have been (could it have been the engagement cupcake you had the night before weigh in? :)), and use that knowledge as you push forward to attain your goals. You may have to adjust your goals if you realize your progress is less than your initial ideal, but the ultimate goal is to lead a healthier lifestyle that you can maintain for your lifetime - and it takes time to figure out exactly what that is!

The second part to this tip is that you are ALLOWED to indulge once in a while! It is best to think of desserts as a once in a while treat rather than a course in the meal, yes, but if you feel like having that dessert or simply MUST have a cookie and nothing else will do and all you can think about is the cookie, then let yourself do it. When you indulge, try not to think, "Well, today is ruined!" as that will only lead to further bad choices in the day. You can compensate by exercising more that day or eating a bit less at dinner. Or you can just say ok, I indulged. Now I will eat healthier the rest of the day. What you don't want to end up doing is taking the attitude that the day is ruined because of the cookie, then eat french fries and two double whoppers for dinner.

In that vain, I am not going to beat myself up over my gain this week. I think I will need to adjust my goal of being down to 150 by graduation, however. I don't think that I can realistically (and healthily!) attain that goal in that amount of time. I think I will shoot for 155-160 as at one point I was under 160 but still fitting in that size 8 because I was all muscle :) That seems fair and reasonable! And now that it is still daylight when I get home from work I'd like to start walking/running with Kermit more after work. I hope I am done early enough to do so!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Product I LOVE #3 - Shenzi's Snuggle Bed

I bought Shenzi a new snuggle bed for Christmas this year. She had a ratty old one that Panda had chewed/peed on that I put next to the radiator at some point and she adopted it as a favorite place to lay. She NEVER laid in it before, but it's all about location, location, location for these things, I suppose! She's a warmth-seeker so having a bed right next to a radiator = prime real estate. The thought of my princess sleeping half the day in a ratty bed didn't sit well with me so as soon as I saw these awesome beds by CraftSmith I knew I had to have one. Unfortunately for me, the beds made it in a few features around the holiday season and sold the instant she listed one...I was lucky enough to see this bed which is the PERFECT color combo for our brown and red living room and wanted to snatch it up immediately!

I wanted it to be as comfy as possible so convoed prior to purchase and asked about the possibility of adding a pillow in the bottom. So Shenzi has a handmade bed with a wonderful pillow - brown fleece on one side and that fluffy white fleece on the other!

I will admit, it took her a little while to warm up to the new bed. It is a bit more stiff than her old one (but very flexible if she lays into the sides...she just needed to realize that!), and a slightly different shape. She didn't use it much at first but over the past 2 months has totally adopted the bed as her own and can be found there at least half of any given day.

The bed is incredibly well-crafted, the pillow is as well. The little hand-made catnip toy was in the parcel with the bed on arrival - CraftSmith's name and URL were sewn on to it - an ingenious idea as many of the business cards I received during the holiday season have found their way into the recycling but the cats still love their catnip square so it's staying!

All in all, this was a great purchase! Shenzi has a bed fit for the princess that she is, the transaction was seamless, shipping was fast (I got the bed before Christmas despite ordering outside the "safe" window AND having a pillow custom-made!), and I really enjoyed the whole thing. Now, does your kitty need a new bed?!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Engagement Celebration

We had a wonderful evening and morning celebrating our new engagement! We spent the hour or so after the proposal calling family. The comments were as expected - lots of congratulations and "Not like we didn't expect this...you guys are buying a house together in a few months." Oh, and few, "You aren't pregnant, are you?" comments :) The best was my nephew Brooks who said, "What's engaged?" My sister explained it to him and he said, "Aren't they already that?" "Almost-Uncle" Collier has been around for a long time, ha ha. Brooks understands what dating is and said that after you date someone for a while you kiss them and if you like how they kiss then you get engaged. Well, I guess I like how Collier kisses!

Our evening started out very normal. Screeched to a normal halt :) Kermit vomited in the dining room (he eats too quickly sometimes and promptly throws up, then returns to the bowl to fill his now-empty stomach, this happens a few times a week, ha ha!). So, Collier cleaned that up before we headed out to dinner.

Dinner at Roots

So, after cleaning up the puke, we headed to Roots, a locally owned restaurant in Milwaukee! They get their ingredients locally and their menu changes seasonally. They have a farm near Milwaukee where they sustainably grow their ingredients in the summer, they do their best in the Winter but I believe that some ingredients at that point are shipped in. It's an awesome gourmet restaurant and if you read my engagement story, it was where Coll had planned to propose. It was quite loud when we were there and busy so it was good that he did it how he did! We had a gorgeous table overlooking the Milwaukee skyline which was wonderful!

Coll had mentioned that it was a special night so they allowed us to bring a bottle of Lindemans' Framboise which is pretty much the only alcoholic beverage I enjoy! They do have it on the menu but only seasonally. Our meal was so wonderful! We started with a snack of popcorn dusted with a garlic/ranch type flavor, and a selection of vegetables that was marinated in some sort of acidic juice. We both had soup as an appetizer, mine was an absolutely amazing bean soup with avocado/pomegranate topping, Coll had a turkey tomato stew with coleslaw. They were way more complex than I am describing them :)

For his main course, Coll had amish chicken served on a bed of cornbread/pork belly stuffing with a side of brussels sprouts and topped with BBQ syrup. He said it was quite delicious!

I had Seitan "Meatballs"/spicy tomato stew served on a bed of basmati rice, topped with a carrot/date dressing. The dates were definitely my favorite, they were caramelized and so delicious!

Roots treated Coll and I to a free dessert to congratulate us and help us celebrate our special night which was so wonderful! We chose Creme Brulee as it's my favorite, but only from high-end restaurants where they make it right! It was creamy, delicious...and simply amazing.

A phenomenal evening. Sorry that the photos are so dark - there was a lot of "mood" lighting and I didn't want to use my flash :)

After Dinner

We headed home to watch "Step Brothers" for the 5th time in the last month, we are OBSESSED! Coll said he was pretty tired when we got home so went to lay on the love seat as he said he may fall asleep. I layed on the couch...where I woke up this morning! Coll had woken up in the middle of the night and transferred to the bed but didn't want to wake me. So, we spent our first night as an engaged couple not even sleeping in the same bed! Ha ha. I think that we each saw about 10 mins of the movie, too.

Morning at the Milwaukee Public Market

To further celebrate our engagement, we headed to the Milwaukee Public Market this morning. It's an indoor marketplace with locally owned business places. You can buy fresh fish, cheeses, wine, bread, as well as bakery items and lunch!

We started at the Alterra coffee stand and each got a caffeine fix :) We sampled some cheese curds at the cheese place and then needed to buy a bag of the ranch curds. They are yummy! We wandered a bit and stared at all the lovely items, then got lunch at the sandwich/salad/juice shop. It was so delish! We got the Kiss Me cookie featured at the top of this post as well as two Red Velvet Cupcakes to go. I'm not excited for my weigh-in tomorrow, ha ha. But you only get engaged once (well, hopefully!), so I splurged!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm engaged!

Collier asked me to marry him at approximately 1:55 pm today...and of course I said YES!

The Engagement Story

I should probably start out by saying that I kind of knew this was coming. We have been talking about being engaged for over a year now, but the limiting factor was Coll saving up for a ring. Neither of us wanted him to go into debt to pay for a ring, I also didn't want something super expensive or large, but I am allergic to nickel so we had to do platinum or palladium which greatly adds to the cost.

We went ring shopping together at the end of January so he could get an idea on what I like. I don't wear jewelry very frequently so while he wanted to pick something out for me the traditional way, I felt it was really important for he and I to both see what I like first because I just didn't even know myself! He went home the following weekend to get the ring made and picked it up last weekend.

I knew that he had the ring after last weekend. He tried to make up a story about needing to go home for a cook-out at his Mom's (it was about 20 degrees out!), he said I wasn't invited because there would be too much meat there and his Mom didn't want me to be uncomfortable. This is the Mom who ALWAYS makes sure there are multiple vegetarian options at every meal for me and frets over making sure I have enough to eat. Yeah, right!

I got a convo on Etsy earlier this week from someone who said they are in Milwaukee and wanted to buy 2 bars of soap, but was wondering if I would be willing to drop it off at 7 pm on Saturday at Roots (my favorite restaurant in Milwaukee) because they work there and are busy. I immediately knew what was going on. I thought all day about whether or not to tell Collier, and after consulting with my best friend decided that he wants to surprise me and wouldn't want me to see it coming so told him I knew what was going on! He was disappointed that his big surprise fell through. And, after talking with 3 men at work, apparently they agreed that I should have just acted surprised! Oops! But I also was not super keen on being asked in a public place as I think it would be a bit embarrassing to have that much attention on us.

So, Collier had to come up with another plan. He decided to take me somewhere outdoors and ask me today, but it's raining cats and dogs outside so that plan was foiled. What he ended up doing is putting the ring in its open box next to my soaps in the back bedroom. He was sitting down to watch a movie and I was going through my soap inventory and thought, "Hmm, I don't think I took those 4 bars of Spa Clean that I sold out of here." So, I went in the back room to count them. I turned around to walk out and he was in the doorway. I jumped and he laughed having had scared me.

He asked, "What are you doing back here?" I said, "Counting my soap." He didn't budge from the doorway and wouldn't let me through. I said, "Excuse me, I need to go to my computer." He said, "I think you need to count your soap again." At this point I knew something was up and I said, "No, there are 14 bars, I don't need to count it again." He kept trying to convince me and finally I backed up into the room and kept staring at him. He said again, "I think you NEED to count your soap!" So, I finally turned around to humor him and as I walked toward the soap I noticed the ring sitting there. I had TOTALLY missed it when I went to count the first time! So, I grabbed it and turned around with tears already filling my eyes. He came in the room smiling, then got down on one knee and grabbed my right hand, ha ha...I told him "WRONG HAND!" but the box was in my left :) Then he asked if I would marry him. I was crying and said, "Yeah" in a weak voice. Then he put the ring on my finger! It's perfectly sized 6.25, so is a bit tight on the knuckle so was a little challenging. But that baby won't fall off my finger!

The Ring

I ended up deciding on a really simple band with one diamond. Coll had a diamond that he wished to use from his Mom's ring from her marriage to his dad, his wonderful Mother offered that to us. She had melted it into a pendant so he had the stone removed and put into this ring. It was actually his Grandma's stone at one point, and possibly his great grandma's so it has been in his family for quite some time and is a really meaningful and wonderful heirloom!

The band is platinum so I won't break out into a rash! It really is perfect. It is something I will be able to wear with gloves (though not the super tight-fitting surgical gloves, unfortunately, so I may not be able to wear it to work this month for fear of losing it!), and I absolutely love it! Coll loved the place where he had it made - BR Diamond Suite in Madison, WI. He would like to go there to get our wedding bands made as well!

I am also proud to say that Coll saved up more than enough for the ring so was able to pay for it all up front - so wonderful!

The Wedding Date
We are a little TBA on the actual wedding date. I find out on 3/19/09 where we are going to be moving for my residency. It will depend a bit on where we end up. We may have a very small wedding with just immediate family and a few friends where we are living, then have a dinner/reception in Wisconsin that will be bigger and invite extended family and more friends to that. We will have to see! The one thing I know is I'd love to use as many vintage and handmade items as possible in the wedding, so I will have to start my shopping on Etsy! Yay!

This Week's Etsy Features!

Another great week around these parts! I was featured on Etsy a few times this week.

whisper into my eye by longwinterfarm

This lovely treasury took my breath away! It reminds me of a soft and beautiful wedding. Such a wonderful combination of items from a fellow cold-process soaper.

For the Love of...(friends and neighbours) by Aprilis

This lovely treasury is April's first! She is a friend on Twitter and we follow each other's blogs - we are both trying to lose weight currently and inspire each other! She made this treasury to feature items from some of her friends as well as local artists in Yorkshire.

Found using the search term "tea" by Etsy Admin
I got word from an Etsy Veg teammate that I made the front page this week, but the screen shot hasn't been uploaded to Flickr yet. So, sadly all you know is all I know at this point.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Soap Makeover - Neroli Lemon!

I made a new batch of Neroli Lemon last week - this bar is an old fave of mine, and a new fave of others! I wasn't sure if I was going to make it again in these next 10 new bars I'm coming out with but then I had an order which consisted of 4 of my current bars and 5 of Neroli Lemon "when I make them". Well...that answered that dilemma!


The best thing about this bar is that the scent sticks on your skin for 2-3 times longer than my normal soaps. Soap really is meant to clean and be washed away, the scent going with it. Most of my bars will scent the skin somewhat but only for a few hours. My sister said it best when she said that with the Neroli Lemon she showers before work, and when she changes when she gets home she can still smell the lemon on her skin! You can tell when we have it on our shower as I will obsessively smell my arm all day :)


Neroli Lemon is an essential oil/fragrance oil blend. Real Neroli essential oil is extremely expensive so the Neroli I use is blended with fragrance oils. The lemon is straight up lemon essential oil - fruity and citrusy without smelling like a bottle of Mr. Clean :)

For my new batch of Neroli Lemon I cut down a bit on the lemongrass and only put it in the green layer. With my sensitive skin some of the medium to high exfoliant level soaps that I make can be a bit too scratchy. Collier loves them with his rougher skin, but I have erred on the side of making my soaps smoother with a touch of exfoliant. This one should be a good mix. I decided to make layers with this bar instead of pressing lemongrass in the top - the green layer was colored with rosemary powder, the top was just left as is - the lemon essential oil gives it a bit of a yellowish tinge. I love the new look, and will forever love the scent. A friend on twitter said it sounds like sunshine in a bar and it really does :)

I will be posting this bar for sale in my Etsy Shop on or around 3/21/09 when fully cured!