Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Restarting the 'ol blog

It's time to restart the blog. The posts will usually be about great products I've found that have made life easier since having the twins. Also, some musing about having two babies, three dogs, one husband and a time consuming job.

I bet the posts will be short! Who has time for this?!?!  ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guardian angels

Yes, I'm superstitious. I can't help it. I knock on wood, pick up pennies, avoid sidewalk cracks, wince when a black cat crosses my path and I believe in the guardian angels that protect me.

I went to The University of the South, a small liberal arts university in Sewanee, TN.  It's a place steeped in tradition.  One of the traditions is to touch the ceiling in your car as you leave The Domain, "a place so beautiful angels dwell within its the gates". On doing so, your guardian angel leaps off the gates onto your car roof and protects you when you're outside of The Domain.

I was in Sewanee a few weeks ago. I know, as all Sewanee students do, that your angel rests when you're on campus and is on duty when you leave.  I was happy to return after 10 years so he/she could rest.  And, I wanted my husband who had never been there to pick one up, too.  He's not superstitious so I planned on how to get him to grab an angel without knowing.  :)  It worked! But, I digress.  As I dropped off and picked up my angel over the weekend, it got me thinking about the protection I was provided.  How would I know that this angel was doing it's job?  Then, we flew home and I kind of forgot about it.  I had new "Protected by a Sewanee Angel" stickers in hand, but didn't put them on the cars.

Yesterday, I was in a serious car accident.  Out of nowhere, the car started skidding out of control and spun around.  I was with a co-worker on the way to visit a customer.  We were 180 miles from home and 2 miles from their door.  We were on the Interstate crossing from Washington into Oregon.  It's a four-lane highway.  It's a bridge.  It's really high over the Columbia River.  It was rush hour.  We were in the fast lane, or the one next to it.  I don't recall.  But, as I said above, suddenly we were spinning.  For a split second we were looking at oncoming traffic.  We hit something (the center median), we spun.  Did it happen in that order?  I don't know. I didn't have any control and I noticed that the check engine light was on.  We eventually stopped moving.  I slammed the car in gear and moved into the nice, wide hazard lane.

By some miracle:
  • We didn't hit anyone else.
  • We are uninjured, save some aches and pains from being jostled and from hitting the median.
  • We didn't end up in the river.
The car looks totaled.  It's a small price to pay.

Even though I know I'm lucky and I can't stop thinking about how lucky and how great a job that angel did, I also can't stop thinking about the following:
  • What happened!?!?  Ice?  I don't think so.  It was raining.  Were we hit?  No idea.  Weird fluid on the road?  Whatever it was, I didn't see it and neither did my passenger.
  • Why did the car totally lose it?  Where was the ABS?
  • How could we be so lucky?
  • How many times did we spin around? 
  • Two windows broke and my laptop bag and purse flew out the side/back.  I found my purse and it's contents behind the car in the hazard lane.  Kudos to the HTC Trophy for surviving with only minor scratches.  The laptop bag was under the front driver's side bumper.  Really?  How did that happen?  And, how lucky that those things weren't in traffic.
  • What is up with safety glass?  I got a shard in my finger.  I thought it was shard-less? And, where is the glass from the windows?  It's gone, there's only a small amount is in the car.
  • How did the glasses I was wearing end up in the back seat?
  • How lucky were we that the airbags didn't go off (painful, smelly)?  Conversely, why didn't they go off?  Surely we were going fast enough (15 mph) when we hit the wall.  And, the side of the car is smashed.  Side airbags?
I'm not a journal-writer and you can see that I haven't blogged in a year and a half, but I had to write about this.  I am thankful to the safety engineers at VW, my passenger Mario, the various emergency people, the two people driving by who stopped, our tow truck driver and my guardian angel.  I'm also thankful that I pay my insurance.

Buzz (as named by the previous owners), 1999-2011.

Despite the trauma and the drama, there were some funny moments. Like, when we smelled burning (smelled like matches), Mario says, "Let's get out."  We rush to open the doors, I get out and see the flares.  Heh.  And, sitting in the tow truck forever looking into the river talking about how there aren't sharks in the Mediterranean (overfishing, I just checked).  Also, wondering why it takes so long to attach a car to a tow truck?  Seriously took 20-30 min.  And, ambulances don't carry tweezers.  I don't know what's in the back of those things, but they seem large enough to have some tweezers.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Helping those in need - the final tally!

Thanks to everyone who has made a purchase from Pepo Park this year.  After the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild put out the call to help Clean the World after the earthquake in Haiti, I decided to donate a bar of soap for every $15 spent by you, my awesome customers.  If you made a qualifying purchase between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2010 either on my Web site, at a craft fair or directly through me, you had an impact!

The final total???  49 bars!
And, I decided to match that!  New total???  115 bars*!!

Thanks, everyone!  Keep your eyes on this blog, the Web site or Facebook page for future events, offers, etc.

*Sending bars & scraps. Total weight = 115 bars.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Help those in need to get soapy!

Friends and fans! Just one day left in our quest to get tons of soap to Clean the World. Last time I reported on the count, we were at 31 bars. Today, we're at 48!! So, get your order in. For every $15 you spend by midnight tomorrow PST, we'll send a bar to Clean the World! And, thanks to everyone who's placed orders so far this year. Click here to be taken to the Pepo Park store.

Ginger spice is on sale for $5!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Soaper gets sweet! Part 2...

Many years ago on a visit to Paris, I discovered the French macaron cookie made by the Laduree Patisserie in the Printemps department store. Love at first sight and love at first bite.  Every time I go to Paris, I stop in for more and I've always wanted to make them. 

On the road to making them, I met Erin Pikor. Once I found out that she makes macaron soap, I knew we'd be friends!  I have one of her lemon créme soaps.  I can't bring myself to use it.  It smells like a lovely lemon cake. It arrived wrapped in beautiful flocked paper.

Next, on the road to making them, Trader Joe's started importing frozen macarons from France.  So good, nice price, low effort!  I don't have a picture of those, we ate them all and I've had to ban myself from buying more.

Finally, on the road to macarons, I met Joyce. Joyce studied pastry at the Cordon Bleu.  Joyce said she'd teach me, and she did.  Joyce is awesome!

Sifted ingredients: 
Chocolate ganache: 
Mixing in egg whites for the chocolate hazelnut cookies: 
Piping out the almond cookies:
Purple egg whites: 
Passionfruit buttercream (I brought the canned passionfruit back from Australia): 
The cookies have a perfect foot:
We await our filling:
Pretty macarons:
Almond cookie with orange buttercream filling:
 Purple hazelnut cookie with ganache filling:

We made 3 kinds of cookies: Almond, chocolate hazelnut, hazelnut dyed purple.
We made 4 kinds of fillings: Chocolate ganache, passionfruit buttercream, orange buttercream, Nutella.

All of them were delicious and they didn't last long.  :)  I can't wait to make more!
Thanks for the fun time, Joyce! 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Soaper gets sweet! Part 1...

Soaping is a huge passion of mine because I love chemistry and I love essential oils.  I also love baking which is chemistry and flavors.  Other than the fact that soap isn't edible, the two hobbies are very similar because they involve precise measurements, patience, and they please your senses.

Last week, I was lucky enough to take a class in sugar artistry.  It's not quite like baking but it involves precision and patience.  Chef Chris Malham at Lake Washinton Technical College in Kirkland, WA was the teacher.  He has many years of pastry experience and learned sugar artistry from Ewald Notter, who is widely regarded as one of the best sugar artists in the world.

In class, we learned to color sugar and to create bubble sugar, sugar ribbons, pulled sugar, and how to blow sugar. It was both fun and frustrating.  Chris and my classmates were fun.  But, the sugar was frustrating - it's hot, it's temperamental and when cool, it's fragile.

On day one, we learned a few techniques and made a flower.  Mine is rose-like.  It's in a sugar cage.

On day 2 & 3, we made clowns.  Techniques used: Coloring sugar, making sugar ropes (the base is a coiled rope), blowing sugar, sugar ribbons and hiding errors with sugar.  Chris made the stand of straw sugar for the clown and the elf (and, other bits and pieces).
Note bubble sugar in the bottom right corner:

On the final day, we cast sugar and colored it with powders, then made blown sugar elf creatures.  They were inspired by Ewald Notter's snowman (see below).  The cast sugar is the base, with a straw sugar stand and then, Mr. Elf.
Sugar base and straw sugar:

The four day class was amazing.  It was topped off by a visit from the Ewald Notter.  He was at LWTC to teach a class and did a wonderful demo.

Blown sugar swan, ribbon, bubble sugar, pastillage and wonderful dessert by Andrew Logan:
Pulled sugar flower, ribbon and airbrushed pastillage base:
Snowman that inspired the blue elf:

If you have a chance to learn about making things from sugar, I recommend you take it.  It was fun and I learned skills I can use to impress you when you come over for dinner.  :) 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Clean the world!

As you know, there was a terrible earthquake in Haiti on January 12. People from all over the world have rallied to help the people of that nation.  A charity called Clean the World started taking donations specifically to be diverted to the people of Haiti.  Clean The World's mission is to recycle soap, shampoo, and lotion discarded by hotels and to distribute the recycled products worldwide to people who cannot afford these essential items. 

The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild has partnered with Clean The World (CTW) and so I decided to send donations to CTW and to help you do so, too.  For every $15 you spend (before shipping & taxes), I'll donate a bar of soap to CTW on your behalf.  Then, I'll match it.  So, for every $15 you spend, 2 bars will go to someone in need.

The first box is ready to go.  Thirteen pounds of soap!  Thanks, everyone who's purchased so far this year.  I plan on doing this through the end of March, 2010.  So, get some great Pepo Park products for you and help someone in need!