Friday, February 17, 2012

Woman's Best Friend

Over the past week our household has been turned upside down. Our Steed, Lexi, was diagnosed last Thursday with liver cancer. We spent last Friday afternoon/evening with an emergency surgeon in the far west end of Richmond. Dr. Jenny Lang, DVM, of the Veterinary Referral and Critical Care Clinic (VRCC) agreed to be our surgeon. After an emotional day last Friday, we decided that we would operate to remove the mass first thing on Monday morning. We went home with our fur-child and spent lots of time giving her the extra love she deserved.

We had a very emotional weekend last weekend with our best friend, and on Monday morning of this week she underwent serious surgery to remove a 2 pound tumor from her liver. I have never been so afraid in my life. There were lots of risks with performing a surgery of this nature, so we knew this was to be left in God's hands.

And...God is good!!!!! She came out of surgery and is doing very well. Here she was on Tuesday...

Lexi Surgery Feb 2012

She is hooked up to an IV drip that administers her pain meds and has a heart monitor on. She has a VERY large incision on her underside, which I of course will not show you.

She is having a little difficulty relaxing will all of this stuff on her, but she is such a good little trooper. Each day she is improving slowly. They did give her a blood transfusion and have recently placed her on blood pressure medicine, but she is on her way to recovery....much faster than us humans would.

The doctor has been wonderful. She is so passionate about her job and her "kids" as she calls the animals. Dr. Lang loves all of the kids and treats them as if they were her own. I even told her that I would let her operate on me. People doctors could stand to take note of the docs at VRCC and their bedside manner. They could definitely learn a few things about compassion, patience, and passion for your job.

So, on Monday I came home to find a single rose in a vase. I cried immediately when I saw it. My dad had left it for me. He said it was from Lexi. He said she told him to get it for me.

Valentine Rose

Dynamo and I love our girl so much. She brings us so much joy and love. We don't deserve a dog this wonderful. We hate to see her like this. But, we know that this surgery will help her live comfortably in her senior years. Dynamo had Lexi when we met, but then I came into the picture 2 years later and it's all history after that. She's my best friend. It's like she knows what I'm thinking and feeling. She is a real joy. I only wish I could be the person my dog thinks I am. Really...that's so true!! She loves unconditionally. Not just Dynamo and I, but also my Dad. She and her Grandpa have a very special bond. They visit with one another every day. I mean every day they take a walk, have snacks, sometimes take rides, etc. They are buddies.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers, love, and support. We all appreciate them. Please continue to pray for her recovery. Animals are special gifts from God. Treasure your pets. Treat them good. They deserve love and good homes. Their little lives are too short. Cherish the moments! And, be sure to thank God for your loved ones and all of the gifts.

Friday, February 10, 2012

plain jane soap

Plain Jane Soap

I always make some plain soap everytime I do a batch. I color it based on what the next scent will be since I use these bars for the curls and sticks in the soap.

Plain Jane Soap

I recently had a request for some "man soap." They didn't want it to smell at all. No girliness! So, I made him some Plain Jane, but in his case called them "Special Bill Soap."

Plain Jane Soap

I even made the wrapping man-ish. I have a couple of other bars for him too.

Plain Jane Soap

And...notice the "Plain James" instead of Plain Jane...

Plain Jane Soap

So, we aim to please here at this little soap shop. I thought he'd get a kick out of the labels. Even though they have no scent, they are still the same recipe.

Plain Jane Soap

Thursday, February 9, 2012

trust journal pages

Trust Journal Page (2)

Just wanted to share some of my recent journaling pages...

Trust Journal Page (5)

Trust Journal Page

Trust Journal Page (4)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

dinner with our pastor

Last Friday evening we had dinner with our former Pastor and her husband.

Dinner with Joy and Tom Feb 4, 2012 (5)

Pastor Joy and Tom invited us up to their house in Richmond, and then we went out to a fabulous dinner at a great place called Mediterraneo.

Dinner with Joy and Tom Feb 4, 2012 (2)

We hadn't seen our Pastor in about 2 years, so it was fantastic to get a chance to visit with them. We have a special connection with Pastor Joy. She was our Pastor when we first started dating. She married us. And, she performed a special funeral for our family. Needlesstosay, we really connected with her.

Dinner with Joy and Tom Feb 4, 2012

We have never had a "messenger" quite like Joy. Her passion for God is so evident in everything she does. She cares about the community, the poor, the sick, the elderly, and even us. Just take a look at her refrigerator...

Dinner with Joy and Tom Feb 4, 2012 (8)

I asked her if I could take a picture because it made me smile. I remembered the fridge in their parsonage. It was filled with pictures of church members just like her fridge is today. It makes me feel loved and protected because I know that someone cares about me and others just that much. I mean...there were a lot of pictures. We talked about the people in the pictures and the sayings.

And then, over the sink...

Dinner with Joy and Tom Feb 4, 2012 (6)

They were tiny pictures of places they visited on their honeymoon. She put them in the shape of a cross. She told us about the places and her eyes lit up so bright.

I must say that the love Tom and Joy have for one another is undeniable. They are soulmates and have been together for many years, just the two of them and Gracie...

Dinner with Joy and Tom Feb 4, 2012 (13)

I always say that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat animals, and let me tell you that this dog is pampered just as much as our Lexi is. Just like Lexi, Gracie is their baby. She's old too!

So, when Joy decided to leave our church a couple of years ago we were deeply saddened, but understood her position.

You see...Pastor Joy was diagnosed with Stage 4 blood cancer three years ago, and after a long hard battle, she is now in full remission. But, throughout the long fight, she started to look at things a little differently. In her eyes she sees how important life is and how short our time here is. She felt God calling her to do other things in her time left. Her goal is to make it until 2014, which will be her 5 year mark. At that point her chances of survival increase significantly. She doesn't know how much time she has left on this earth, but she is choosing to spend it doing everything she can to change lives.

She has started a non-profit, Just Compassion, and is looking to raise money for a mobile dental bus. She hopes to travel to rural parts of Virginia to provide dental care to those less fortunate. She is passionate about spreading God's love and helping others. We are excited about her new mission. We wish her the very best. She touched our lives and hearts so greatly, that I can only imagine how others will feel after experiencing Joy's love.

Dinner with Joy and Tom Feb 4, 2012 (12)

After our dinner and a fun game of pool, we headed home. We reflected a little on our evening. I have felt lost without her as our Pastor. Pastor Joy always told us to focus on the message, not the messenger. She is right. No matter who is in the pulpit, there is still a message in there. And, messengers are everywhere...not just in church on Sunday. God sends them to us. You might not recognize them because they might not look like what you'd expect, but if you keep your eyes and heart open, you won't miss them or the message they bring.

May God grant you joy and peace. May He open your eyes and heart so that you can find His message.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

a little apricot and freesia

Apricot Freesia Soap (13)

I think this soap turned out to be my best swirl ever! This was a team effort. I'm grateful that Dynamo was there to lend a hand since I had to pour 4 colors and only had 2 hands.

Apricot Freesia Soap (7)

It wasn't exactly what I planned originally, but it worked out really well.

Apricot Freesia Soap (10)

Of course every bar has a slightly different look, but they all turned out just lovely!

Apricot Freesia Soap (3)

Apricot Freesia Soap (8)

Oh, and the smell is wonderful! This was a trial. A new experiment with a new scent. I'm really pleased. It is lightly scented, not overpowering. A little apricot and a little freesia.

Apricot Freesia Soap (12)

I'm not a big fan of food smells in my soap, so I don't create soaps with those scents, but while in Florida we picked up a few bars from a local vendor at the market and brought them home to try. Well, I really liked the scent of the apricot and freesia bar I bought, so I decided to create my own combination.

Apricot Freesia Soap (3)

In a few weeks it will be ready for sale! I'm excited to get geared up for the spring/summer season at the Petersburg Farmers' Market. It will be here before we know it, so I have to be sure my soap has had plenty of time to cure!

Apricot Freesia Soap (1)

Monday, February 6, 2012

mountain bike monday - superbowl weekend ride

Biking Feb 4

We wanted to beat the rain on Saturday, so we headed out mid-morning to hit the Lakeview Trails at Poco.

Biking Feb 4

The forest is still really wintry looking even though it felt pretty good outside. I had to shed a layer a few miles in, so it warmed up pretty quickly.

Biking Feb 4

The streams are still so pretty no matter what time of year you're out in the park. If you just pay close enough attention you can hear the trickle of the water quickly heading towards the lake.

Biking Feb 4

There weren't many people on the lake Saturday, but there was a good crowd out on the trails. Sometimes it's nice to see other people, and sometimes it's nice to have the park all to yourself.

Biking Feb 4

MBM attempted this log pile. I haven't brought myself to attempt it in a while. I would like to spend a little time practicing one day. Practice does make perfect!

Biking Feb 4

On one section of Lakeview there's a tree slowly sagging lower and lower. See it in the background? Each time we try to go underneath it seems less and less likely that it will be possible to fit. In the pic above we stopped to assess the situation.

Biking Feb 4

As you can tell by the pic above, the creek crossing has gotten some use. It's a little muddy right now. It does still give me some trouble from time to time. I think I need to take a pic at a different angle to try to show you the slope. Maybe next time!

Biking Feb 4

My favorite scenes are the green mosses that grow at the base of the trees and on the rocks in the streams. It reminds me that even though it's winter, things still do thrive. It was a nice day in the park...our trio!

Biking Feb 4

Hope your weekend was lovely!

Friday, February 3, 2012

sweetgrass soap in glorious green

Sweetgrass Soap 2

Just close your eyes and pretend you can smell the light sweetgrass fragrance.

Sweetgrass Soap 1

Ok...I get a lot of questions about how I make my soap. I'll post detailed photos of the steps at another time, but here's a quick overview.

Well, before it looks all pretty like the photos above it is very much a liquid like this...

Sweetgrass Soap in mold

Getting the soap to come to trace is a little tricky at times. This means that the soap has to thicken enough to harden later while remaining thin enough to pour into the mold. Because the soap is a traditional lye and oil soap, it is very caustic. This means it can burn you. So, you have to be really careful not to get it on you or the counter! Yes, this does hurt. I keep apple cider vinegar handy (this is a neutralizer).

The pretty green decorations on the soap are called soap sticks...

Soap Sticks

...and soap curls...

Soap curls

To make these pretties, I cut up a plain bar of colored soap (previously made and slightly hard), into long rectangles. Then, I use a vegetable peeler to "peel" the soap and create the curls. It's actually kinda fun. I know it's not necessary to put all this extra decoration into the soap, but I like to make things pretty and colorful.

Sweetgrass Soap 4

If you place the curls and sticks into the liquid in the right places (ideally where your cut lines are for the bars), you get pretty color throughout the bar.

Sweetgrass Soap 5

All of this is simply trial and error. Practice does eventually make perfect.

Sweetgrass Soap 3

You have to work quickly with the liquid soap. Lots of things can affect how quickly the soap hardens on you. Oftentimes, Dynamo has to lend a hand. While he's pouring I'm mixing the next color or peeling curls!

In the end, if you're lucky, you get prettiness like this soap! And, even though it takes extra time to add the "pretties" to the soap, it's worth it. I think it makes the customer feel pretty when they have something beautiful, both in smell and looks. We all want to feel pretty. That's my make you feel pretty!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's February!!!

Well, it's February 1st! I can't believe how fast time flies. I guess that means we're having a lot of fun! And...we sure are! Sometimes I think it flies faster when you're keeping track of the days like I've committed to doing for 2012.

Early in January I posted about my commitment to the Art Calendar 366 Challenge. So, part of that commitment is to write down daily quick tidbits of what you want to remember. I really like this way of keeping track of our memories. It's quick and succinct! I do have an idea to compliment this that I plan to share in the coming days. Stay tuned.

So, for February here is my calendar page...

February 2012 Calendar Page

And...a couple of closeups...

February 2012 Calendar Page Closeup

February 2012 Calendar Page Closeup 2

Since I'm big on recycling, I used old manila file folders as the actual blocks for the days. Even the messy hearts are file folders cut up. I try not to waste anything!

February 2012 Calendar Page Closeup 3

I'm excited to see what the other participants have done for their pages. It's fun to learn other peoples' techniques and styles! case you might be interested, here are two pics from my completed January calendar...

January 2012 Completed Calendar Page

January 2012 Completed Calender Page Closeup