Thursday, May 29, 2014

Oh hey there!

Is anyone still reading this? Ha. Well if you are still there I'm here to direct you to my new blog.

This is the blog I will being using with my soon-to-be Etsy shop Bobbin and Company. It's definitely not perfect yet, but rather than wait until everything is perfect I figure I'll get things up a running. I've also got a Twitter and Instagram account for the shop @bobbinandco. Or find me on Pinterest A Facebook page is in the works, but nothing much going on there now.

Again nothing huge going on yet, but I figure I want to be comfortable with the new blog and social media stuff before I really start promoting when the shop opens.

I can't wait to show you some pictures of the finished products!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Visions of Etsy Danced in Her Head

About two weeks ago I got the idea to start seriously looking into opening an Etsy shop. This idea has been lurking in the back of my mind for quite a while now, but I have never been able to focus on what I would actually want to sell or taken time to get a solid action plan off the ground.  

Over the last year I have seen friends open Etsy shops and heard examples of people crafting all year and just selling at Christmas, for instance. Some of these stories have convinced me that Etsy is something I can do, and not some far out, unattainable goal.

With the Etsy selling model I can spend a relatively small amount of money creating a few items to have on hand, and if they sell, great, I'll continue making. If items don't sell, I will have nice gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I can't go wrong. 

Before you start raising eyebrows, the point of my starting an Etsy shop is not to get out of the traditional workforce, but to have fun and see what comes of it. 

I will be putting a lot of groundwork into this, and I'm almost looking at it like applying to a job you know you won't get. That sounds a little pessimistic, but hear me out. When you apply for a job that is a far reach, you still have to put time and effort into updating your resume, asking for references, and writing the perfect cover letter to highlight skills and qualities the employer is looking for. All that work takes time, and though you will probably not get the job, you do all you can to shrink the margin as much as possible. 

In the last few years the Etsy marketplace has grown enormously, making for stiff competition. Going into this, I am not looking to make a full time income, but I do want to be able to sell something. In order to sell I have to take the shop seriously. I will write a business plan, spend time marketing the shop via social media, follow pricing equations, and create items that I will be proud to sell. I plan to treat the shop like a part time job, and dedicate a no excuses number of hours each week to it's upkeep and maintenance. 

Be on the looking for a new blog and updates about these ideas in my head. This blog might be sparse until then, as I'll be focusing a lot of my time figuring out the world of Etsy. My current goal is to give myself about two months of prep time and then "open shop". 

Perhaps you are wondering exactly what I will be making? I'll give more details later as I finalize what I want to make, but the primary craft will be sewing. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Soft Pretzel Heaven

Let me tell you, these soft pretzels are life changing.

I ate two in a row and had to force myself to stop before I accidentally polished all of them off.

Rumor has it, that somewhere on a road in Pennsylvania there is a woman who sells the world's best soft pretzels. She sells them out of the trunk of her car. My mom and aunt would always rave about these pretzels and would grab a couple every time they went to visit my grandmother. They knew the habit of this woman and could predict with shocking accuracy  if she would be selling pretzels that day based on how cloudy it was.

Since I was off getting a college education during most of what we'll call the Pretzel Phase I never actually saw this woman, thus keeping her in the category of myth and legend for the rest of my life. I think maybe one time I got to try a pretzel. Mom and Aunt Judy would sometimes bring extra pretzels home to freeze. That's how good they were. And I think it was one of these thawed pretzels that I got to sample.

Now I do not remember the exact taste of these legendary soft pretzels, but I would be so bold as to say that these pretzels rival those of pretzel lady. Only Mom and Aunt Judy can be the real judges of that.

The dough is easy to work with (not super sticky) and the taste is a little sweeter than the average soft pretzel. All good things in my book!

Ingredients: Water, active dry yeast, white sugar, flour, vegetable oil, baking soda, salt, and butter.

1. Start off by pouring 1 1/4 cups warm water over 1 tsp of white sugar and 4 tsp of active dry yeast. Just let this sit and get foamy while you mix the dry ingredients.

Side note: When I'm working with yeast I usually test the water for a good temperature by turning on the tap until the water is hot but not scalding. This is not the most scientific method, but it works for me. Water that is too hot kills the yeast, too cool and you'll be waiting forever for dough to rise.

2. Next, throw together 5 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 tsp of salt.

3. Make a hole in the center of your flour mixture and add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and that yeast water mixture from the beginning. Mix components together and add another tablespoon of water or so if the mixture seems too dry. Knead the dough for a couple minutes until it has a smooth, even consistency.

4. Roll the dough into a ball and toss it in an oiled bowl. Roll the ball around once so it is covered in oil. I usually just spray a bowl with Pam. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let it hang out and rise for about an hour. An oven or microwave turned off is a good place. Read a book, watch an episode of your favorite show, or make a quilt in the mean time.

6. Come back to your dough and get really excited when you find it has actually risen.

7. Pre-heat your oven to 450, and dissolve 1/2 cup of baking soda into 4 cups of warm water.

8 Divide your dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a rope. Then twist it into a pretzel shape. Or your initial.

9. One at a time using your hands dip the pretzels into the baking soda/water mixture and put them on a baking sheet. The baking soda mixture gives pretzel that rich brown color. Don't skip this step.

10. Sprinkle some kosher salt on the pretzels and bake them for 8 minutes.

11. Melt about 1/2 stick of butter and using a pastry brush, cover the fronts and backs of the pretzels in a little butter.

I've halved this recipe successfully to make 6 pretzels. But why stop there, invite some friends over and enjoy 12 pretzels together.

Here is the link to the original recipe.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Aaaaaand we're back!

Hey there blog-land.

I apologize for the extended absence. I'm still here!

What has been going on with me lately? 
  •  I've read some new books
  •  For a while there work was on a weird schedule. Some evening tasks, some travel. I thrive on routine and find it difficult to do normal things if I don't get home at the same time every day. 
  •  I turned a quarter century old
  •  Weekends have been fun filled with lots of adventuring and time with new friends

Lately, I have been getting into the groove and have really been enjoying Florida life. Not that I was miserable before or anything, but in my last few moves I have found that it takes about a year for me to feel comfortable and at home in a new place. 

Who knows the exact formula for how this works, I think it has something to do with becoming comfortable with new traffic patterns, not needing a GPS to get around, finding and becoming part of a new church, and having a group of friends locally. 

This whole process could probably happen faster were I a bit more proactive. I could have jumped in with both feet, joined groups immediately, and invited people over for dinner or movie nights much sooner. For me, these steps are not always easy. I like to say that I enjoy having new friends, but I do not always enjoy making new friends. I wish I could get past that awkward stage of not knowing someone else's sense of humor and views, or wondering if they will understand your sarcasm, or even wondering if there is anything you have in common. 

Whenever and wherever we move next I think I will push myself to find community more quickly. Though I have to say, it is a relief to know that we are parked in the same place for several years. I love being able to put down some roots. And to be honest, I think it would be sad to leave a place that I wouldn't miss. 

Here's to contentment with life!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Life is sweet. And so is sugar.

Hi there folks! I'm back. Back in the world of sugar. This is day 6.

Photo from

What I learned is still pretty similar to what I wrote in my mid-month reflection.

The biggest take-home for me was the aspect of sugar in breakfast foods. I do not want to be starting the day off with added sugar in my foods. No, I'm not going to be militant about this, but as a regular thing I will start paying more attention to sugars in yogurts, cereals, and other items.  A rare doughnut or pastry are okay for special breakfasts, but I'm not looking for something so sweet in the routine rotation.

Another change is that I'm still having tea without any sweetener. I've grown to like it this way, so why add anything else? .

This sugar month has brought home the importance of allowing myself to indulge. The main time that I missed sugar was on the weekend. During week days the lack of sugar was hardly noticeable. I know that recommendations often say you should not use food as a reward for eating well. And this makes sense, but when I eat copious amounts of fruits and vegetables throughout the week and watch portion sizes, I can enjoy a dessert because I ate well throughout the week. If I completely cut myself off from the more "fun" foods, I think I would go crazy and eat everything I missed a few months down the road.

Not having sugar was a bit of a saving grace. I had an excuse to say, "No" to candies and treats that came my way. Candy bowls at a conference I recently attended and leftover desserts that are routinely left out in the office were off limits. That saved me from food I did not need to be eating.

Now that I've gotten to try a few sweet things, what is my reaction?

I had a fun sized Snickers bar that was way too sweet.

Special K cereal, okay, but felt like I was eating dessert for breakfast.

David and I had a bit of a vacation day and shared a slice of key lime pie on a day trip. This was good.

I could have done without a girl scout cookie, it wasn't all that I hoped it would be.

And life changing news, I have never liked dark chocolate but I tried a little Dove square the other day and it was wonderful.

My experiment changed the way I taste sweetness and that is what I was hoping for. I no longer need quite as much sugar to satisfy a sweet craving and I am more aware of the sugar that is in some unexpected places. This was a great challenge for me and I look forward to trying other monthly challenges throughout the year.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


On the Art of Simple blog the question was posed: What are you doing to live life slower and with more intention?

This is a link-up to The Art of Simple that coincides with the release of the blog's founder Tsh Oxenreider's new book Notes From a Blue Bike. Can't wait to get my hands on this one!

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

In response to Tsh's question here is something I'm working on:

Re-making the morning.

This idea is not new or creative, but actually following through with this is new to me. Having a job that requires me to be in the office by 8 is ideal. I find it hard to get out of bed if I do not have a place to go. Most of my undergrad years of college I was the type to wake up 15 minutes before I had to leave, throw on jeans and a hoodie, brush teeth, and grab a granola bar right before I ran out the door. Somewhere in my senior year I realized that I felt so much more alert and awake for the day if I had an hour or more to wake up before heading out into the world. This was spurred on by the fact that I had to read about a million books for an online class I was taking at the time and if I didn't push through those books in the morning, they would not get read.

As many have discovered, and I am trying to live out, a morning is the ideal slice of day to carve out some extra time. For the last week or so I have been waking up an extra 30 minutes early. The motivation for this came from a 6 week devotional David and I are doing as part of the membership class for our church. I really enjoy the devotions (5 days/week) but I was finding that I would do day 1 in a timely manner for the week, and then do days 2-5 about 30 minutes before we had to leave for the class. That is not exactly the way to get the most out of a study. Especially a reflective one.

Enter: Mornings.

With the help of a sample life coaching session from Candice (very soon she'll be a certified life coach running her own business!), I decided to challenge myself to wake up at 6am for 2.5 (but I'm thinking I'll actually do 3) weeks. Monday morning marked the start of week 2 and I am LOVING it. A slow morning with a little reading and prayer and a warm cup of tea is a beautiful way to start the day. With the extra 30 minutes I have time to not rush through the study, and I'm not staring at the clock the way I would if I did it the last 30 minutes before leaving. I even have time to sneak in a few quick chores (like emptying the dishwasher) so the apartment is that much more welcoming when I come home.

An ideal morning for me would consist of exercise, a short study, time to get ready without rushing, and since this is the dreaming stage, time carved out for blogging.

Tomorrow morning I will not be waking up at 4am to accomplish a half day's worth of tasks before starting with my job. Not realistic. But if I work towards it, maybe after the 3 week trial of 6am, I can try 3 weeks or waking up at 5:45 and throw in a few minutes of easy exercises. (And as a disclaimer, my goal will never be to wake up at 4am.)

Not changing the world over here, but it's the small mundane tasks that make up a life. As I work to make posititive changes (however big or small) in my life, I hope to be more helpful and uplifting to the people I interact with throughout the day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January Beach Day

Florida living sure has it's perks. December-March around here are perfect. For the most part we had a lazy MLK weekend, though on Monday we made time to visit a local state park.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park was a nice combo of beach and woods. Here are a few snapshots from my phone:

The water was so blue that day, and very cold. We noticed that over half the cars in the parking lot were from Quebec, so I'm sure they thought it was plenty warm.

This tree is magical. It's called a banyan tree. The large branches put down these root/vine things (sorry for my lacking botanical knowledge) which eventually hold up the rest of the tree. This thing is mind blowing. 

David had to climb :)

Walking around and exploring this tree made me feel like I should be inside some sort of fantasy novel. I think everyone needs to see a banyan tree at some point.