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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Picnics and packing

We had a small version of a Memorial Day picnic at my Dad’s yesterday – just Karl and I, my dad, and my brother.  We feasted on delicious kielbasa, potato salad, and watermelon.  My dad even packed me up a little lunch to take to work today - complete with a mini Snickers bar for dessert!

While digging through some boxes to see if there’s anything worth bringing to Alaska, I found my awesome Crayola cups from my youth:

Just looking at these reminds me of summer days around the pool with my cousins, and fighting over who got which color (don’t mess with blue!)  Karl was less than impressed.  Just to spite him, I immediately washed one out and dumped my Gatorade in.  Then I proceeded to slurp through my straw, all the while telling him how awesome I am with my Crayola cup.  These are definitely coming with me!  

Seems like I keep finding more and more stuff to bring along, and we seem to have hit a standstill in getting rid of things.  The pile of boxes in the dining room looks impossibly large already, and there's still so much to go.  I worry that we won't be able to fit it all in the trailer, but we've only packed stuff that is really important...

I put in my resignation at Michaels over the weekend – my last day there will be June 25th.  I still haven’t submitted my notice to the county yet, although I know my last day will be July 5th.  Quitting my job just seems so final, so I think I need a bit more mental preparation for that one.  Work has been pretty awful lately though, so I don't think it's going to be long before that finality is just what I need to get through the next 5 weeks!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The 'M' word

I get a lot of flak on a daily basis for moving across the country with a guy I'm not married to.  You know, the usual people that are concerned about my well being: my family, my friends, my boss, my dentist...  For a long time, I had told Karl that a ring on my finger was the requirement to moving to Alaska.  Then I decided to throw that out the window for a couple of reasons:

1. It didn't look like marriage was on the table at any point in the future  (My paraphrasing of Karl's response to the question of marriage is "sometime in the future down the road maybe."  If that's not non-commital, I don't know what is..)
2. I've always made decisions in my life based on some master plan I've devised.  Make the right choices about everything.  Always be responsible.  Don't take risks.  And look where all of that planning and thoughtfulness has gotten me - my life is nowhere near what I thought it would be and I don't even have anything exciting to show for it.

So, I've decided to change things up.  Don't get me wrong, I would very much like to be married, but I'm trying to not stress myself out about something I don't really have any control over.  If it happens, it happens.  I'm more concerned about being with someone who supports my choices in life, no matter how bizarre they may be.

For someone that doesn't generally like change, I'm going all out.  And if it means making some choices that other people don't agree with, then so be it.  Really, what's the worst that can happen?  I move back to PA?  Oh my gosh, I will have had an amazing life experience - what a tragedy!  Best case scenario, I make some serious changes that make me happy.  Worst case, I go back to the way things were.  Doesn't sound too unreasonable to me.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Products!

I've made the decision to focus my soaping efforts strictly on bar soap, liquid soap, felted soaps, body butters, and lip balms.  These have become my best sellers, and are my favorite things to make.  So much of starting a business is trying out what things work and what things don't.  It's been such a lesson in patience and stress management to learn to brush off the things that aren't as successful as I had hoped.  Deciding to make only these items felt like such a relief - I am one step closer to being fully established, and I'll be able to have huge fragrance variety within those product lines!

So, in honor of my new focus, I've ordered a bunch of fun new stuff!

New lip balm flavors:
Chocolate Cream
Root Beer

I think I'm going to try combining root beer with vanilla and go for a Root Beer Float kinda feel.  Do I see a Cinnamint on the horizon?  Just like baking, minus the calories!

New soap fragrances:
Jasmine (just for you Charlene!)
Cherry Blossom
Hibiscus Passion (okay those two aren't new, but were huge sellers!  Expect more Cherry Blossom bar soap, and Hibiscus Passion in everything!)

Don't ask me about my logic in ordering all of this stuff when I'm desperately trying to pack things up!  My wonderful friend Linda will be handling the East Coast distribution of Sarah's Soak Shoppe and will need me to have things ready for her.  (Don't you just love how you can come up with a title and all of a sudden it sounds important?)  In any case, let me know what you think of those new lip balm flavors.  I'm pretty excited myself!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring Sale!

In honor of the arrival of spring (and the horrible rainy weather in Pittsburgh), I'm offering 20% off in my Etsy shoppe!  Enter coupon code SpringSale2011 anytime in May to get your discount!

I also felted 7 soaps tonight, so you can look forward to seeing a few more listed in the coming week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I was off work today (gotta love primary election day!), and was able to scratch a lot of things off of my to do list:

1. 100% of my craft supplies are sorted and organized in lovely boxes.

2. My car is inspected and safe to drive 4000 miles to Alaska.  I did tell the mechanic that I planned to call him personally if I broke down in Northwestern Canada.

3. The title of my car is transferred into my name (it was previously in mine and my dad's name).

4. I added my dad to my checking account.  I plan to keep my account down here open, as it will be a really easy way for my dad to get me money in an emergency.

5. I got my Canadian non-resident insurance card for my car.

and the biggest success of all...

6.  I am officially a licensed Master Social Worker in the State of Alaska!  Only took 3 months and $500!  Now on to finding a job...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nothing's ever easy...

I've been in a bit of a funk the last week because my oh so careful planning is now rather messed up.  As you know, we were planning to leave for Alaska on June 26th, with my last day of work being June 24th.  I had scheduled vacation time for the following week, because I am committed to my job through July 3rd.

Then I was told that you have to physically be in the office on your last day of work.

Well that wouldn't work - we'd be in Canada on July 1st!  That was pretty stressful, especially after remembering that Karl's dad was already coming in on June 25th.

Then I was told that I was incorrect in assuming that my last day would be Friday, July 1st, when my commitment ends Sunday the 3rd.  Nope - I have to work thru the holiday until July 5th!  That pushed our date back until July 6.  A full ten days later.

Karl hasn't been able to get ahold of his dad yet to break the news.  We will probably end up having to pay to change his plane ticket because it is doubtful he will want to hang out with us here for a week and a half, then drive 8 days to Alaska with us, then have us both living with him for the foreseeable future.

Oh yeah, the landlord better be okay with us not vacating the house by the end of June, too.  Sigh...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Final FINAL floor plan

Revision #927834 has finally been Dad-approved!  For your viewing pleasure:
I've kept the basic elements from the last plan, but the new arrangement has actually given me more usable space.  The 6" lost from an interior wall makes a huge difference when you are designing such a small space!  I've been able to add a small hall closet for coats and such, as well as a pantry closet next to the laundry area.  The addition of a pantry means I can get away with less cabinets (thus less $$$).  I decided to go with a rolling island behind the couch, which will have enough space to hold all of my pots and pans, and will give me an extra work space.  I also envision being able to roll it out of the way (like in front of the laundry) if I need a bit of extra floor space for entertaining or a big project.  See that room in the bottom right?  That's the guest room for everyone that comes to visit!

Now I'm sure some small changes are still possible, but I was really determined to finalize a floor plan so I can start working on electrical and plumbing plans.
The Complete Guide to Wiring

Karl and I just ordered this book after we perused it at Barnes & Noble.  Looked like a really good manual for someone that has no concept of what they're doing!  Lots of full color photos explaining exactly what to do.  I'm anxious for it to come in the mail so I can go over it with my dad, and maybe feel a bit more confident in doing this ourselves!  I'm hoping Karl will take the lead on most of the electrical stuff, as he's already knowledgeable about car wiring.  I, on the other hand, can barely hook up a TV anymore.  In my defense, I have never had to touch a single plug for anything in the 3.5 years Karl and I have lived together. 

Hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day - better remind Karl to call his mom tonight!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Check out my giveaway!

The wonderful Corrie, of In Metal Jewelry, is featuring a few of my products in a giveaway over on her blog.  Hop on over and check out and maybe you will win some super cool stuff!

While you're at it, check out her Etsy Shoppe, too.  She makes some pretty awesome stuff out of upcycled glass - I'm thinking I might harass her into making me a pretty suncatcher for a window in my cabin.  Start looking for pretty blues for me, Corrie!

Thank you so much Corrie, for such a wonderful feature and for doing all the hard work!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ooooo, pretty!

I cut my Hibiscus Passion bar soap, and it looks awesome!
You just never know what you're going to get when you make a swirled soap.  It is absolutely devastating to cut a log of soap and realize that the colored part is less like a swirl and more like a blob.  Totally worth it though when you get some really great details!  This fragrance also has a lot more depth than I realized initially - maybe a hint of cinnamon in with the floral?  It has also been quite a hit with the gentlemen folk, which really surprised me.
This is also the first bar soap to get the new labels - looking good!  Love Photoshop.  Give it a few weeks to cure, and 8 bars will be available for sale on Etsy!  The other half will be going to my good ol' dad.

I've also been going through all of my craft supplies so I can figure out what is coming with me and what needs to get used/sold/given away in the next two months.  If anyone has any empty jars and wants me to pour candles, bring 'em over!  I have about 20 pounds of wax and it is SO not going to Alaska.  I'm hoping to take almost everything, but I need to find a good way to get it organized so it is easy to locate while I'm living out of boxes, and easy to store once we're in our cabin.

I also learned that the board has approved my application for social work licensure in Alaska, pending ASWB ever sending proof of my exam date.  I paid them to transfer the score over a month ago, so hopefully they get on the ball pretty soon.  It would be nice to know that I have the option to apply for a professional job!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Well, I kind of made a rather large boo-boo.  I was planning on transferring to the Michaels in Wasilla when we moved, so I'd have some guaranteed income right off the bat.  Great idea, Sarah - too bad the Michaels you're thinking of is in ANCHORAGE.  That threw me for a major loop today.  I'm sure I'll be able to find something relatively easily, but I was so hopeful that something would be go smoothly!

In other news, I made a special batch of soap for my Dad tonight.  I had taken my entire collection of fragrances over to my Dad and let him pick which one he would like me to make.  He actually made my brother smell them all and narrow it down to a select few to choose from.  I figured they would pick the cotton fragrance, maybe baby powder, or perhaps peppermint.  Nope, they went for hibiscus passion.  Seriously, probably the strongest floral I have.  Go figure... I'll probably snag a few from his batch and put them up on Etsy for everyone else.  I've been doing some serious listing the last couple days and I've added probably 16 items.  I still have a bunch more to go before I'll have my entire line available for online purchase!

Monday, May 2, 2011

And the winner is...

The Mustang has officially made it to Anchorage.  Three weeks to get there, but it arrived safe and sound over the weekend.  If only there was some way to say that the two 4 foot key gouges down the sides weren't there when it left Pennsylvania...

His dad entered it in a classic car show when he picked it up in Anchorage, and Karl was the grand prize winner of a beer cozy for being the only 64 1/2 Mustang in the show.

Can't you just see the fame and fortune that awaits us in ALASKA?!?!

Craft Show Review

I've done two craft shows this month, and I haven't mentioned how either have turned out!  The first one, at the South Hills Country Club, was an epic failure.  It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day, so hardly anyone came to the show.  The people that did come were obviously there to window shop only.  At least I wasn't the only one that didn't make any money!  As it was, I barely made my table fee back for 5 hours worth of work...  Kind of the risk that you take going to a craft show, I suppose.

The second one was this past weekend.  Actually, as it was the Mt. Lebanon Earth Day Fair, it wasn't really a craft show.  MUCH more successful!  It was a lot of fun too - I got a free sample of a compostable garbage bag!  I will definitely have to pick some of these up when I re-establish my composting in Alaska. A stinky smelly compost bucket sucks.  Imagine grabbing the whole thing, bag and all, and tossing it in the pile!

I must say, I am absolutely shocked at my success in selling my wares over the last several months.  After hoping and wishing for such a long time that I would somehow be able to support myself through my own creativity, I decided to take the plunge.  My upfront costs weren't that outrageous, and I figured if it failed miserably I could at least say I tried.  Honestly, I think I expected that I would try it for awhile, nobody would buy anything, and I'd get it out of my system.  Instead, I'm becoming increasingly excited and confident that this could actually work!  Not that I'm exactly rolling in cash, but I'm getting closer to recovering every penny put in! Also, a wonderful friend of mine wants to act as a distributor for Sarah's Soak Shoppe in PA once I'm in Alaska - I'll be a coast to coast business!

I really encourage anyone that has dreams of doing something like this to just suck it up and try.  Especially if you can do it without breaking the bank up front.  You just might surprise yourself!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Final floor plan (maybe?)

This is the plan for my one floor, 768 square foot cabin.  My current cost estimates are around $30,000 to build and completely finish.  I hope to be able to stick to that budget by finding some things below the estimated cost to balance out the things that end up being over.  Things always end up being more expensive than you think, but I am still so excited!  

Quitting my job is the other huge reason that I am excited to move.  Sometimes it seems like each day at work drains the spirit out of my soul a little bit more.  Maybe I'm being idealistic in thinking that leaving my job will improve my life so much, but I guess I will just have to see.

Today is May 1st, so that means I'm leaving next month!
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