Thursday, December 01, 2016

Visiting Alcatraz

A visit to San Fran really isn't complete without a tour of Alcatraz, so on a foggy Sunday morning, we got up early to catch the ferry over to the island. There is really only one ferrying company that takes visitors to-and-from the island, and reservations fill up fast, so we made sure to book our tickets weeks ahead of time.

By and far, Alcatraz Island looks A LOT smaller than it really is from a distance. Expect to spend 2-4 hours walking the highlights of the 22-acre island, wear comfortable shoes, and depending on the time of year, layers of clothing. We were very lucky during our stay in that the fog cleared up perfectly by late morning, making for a gorgeous day.

The perspective vistas of the island were amazing! We definitely got our exercise that day going up-and-down all the hills, stairs, and paths inside and out the prison. I didn't know that in the 1970's, Alcatraz was occupied by Native American Indians as an act of reclamation activism. They lived on the island for 19 months!



















Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Visiting San Francisco

The first part of our trip was in beautiful, gritty, and hip San Francisco. We stayed downtown in Union Square and even our hotel had an art exhibit in the lobby. We walked anywhere we couldn't get an Uber, and we were lucky to befriend an Uber driver who acted as our very own tour guide for most of 3 days.

We ate. Very. Well. Our favorite was a Burmese cult following named Burma Superstar. We ate there 2 times in 3 days and their Tea Leaf Salad will haunt me for the rest of my days. Ghiradelli was insane and was worth the milk farts even after eating 2 Lactaid tablets beforehand. Chinatown was amazing and we were able to sit in on a tea tasting at a tea house. And of course, there were 1,000 pics to be taken of the Golden Gate.

We got into town 2 days after the election and every single person we met wanted to strike up a conversation about what happened. At one point, our Uber was stuck in traffic due to a political protest in the street.

San Francisco, you are a young person's city and we loved you!















Monday, November 28, 2016

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Whew, that was nice!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past 2 weeks, but I spent 10 of those days on a 10-day vacation out to San Francisco and Napa Valley. It was an amazing, well-needed break for sure.


Hubby and I have been planning this trip since early spring, and it has been a couple of years since we took an honest-to-god-get-away-from-the-house vacation. We definitely needed it, especially since we left 2 days after the election and it was good to have something to take our minds off the mess that was left behind. 


We got back the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I decided to just go ahead and take Mon, Tues, and Wed off too, since I had Thanksgiving and the day after as paid holidays from my job. So, I’ve had over 2, blissful weeks away from everything to reboot!

The kittehs missed us immensely and Chaz didn’t leave my side for several days after we got home. Here he is glued to my lap…


I'll be posting some more pics with details soon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Standard Time Change

I don't even know why we still do the time change thing, it messes me up so much. The last couple of days, I've been going to bed at like 8 p.m. at night and waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. The cats don't like it either, as they are pawing at me for dinner at 4 p.m. and are howling by 5 or 6.

The only good thing about changing back to standard time is I start my day earlier and feel like I get more things done, but still.


Thursday, November 03, 2016

Bath Bomb Blues

"I like flat butts"....said no one EVER!

Bath Bomb Trial #1,249

Sigh...

So, I've been making a new batch of sample bombs every day. I've learned that floating bath bombs isn't necessarily a matter of ingredients, but technique. My first couple of batches were packed so tight, they sunk like cannonballs. I'v since learned to pack them lighter, but then this happens...

Hey, guess what?...Flat butt!


They hardened wonderfully in 24 hours and look great from the front...


And even better, THEY FLOATED AND FIZZED!


These were made with a "Milk and Honey Oatmeal" fragrance oil and almond oil, hence the little bit of dried oatmeal on the top, and they smelled WONDERFUL! 

I'm thinking I like and want a little bit of soft oil, like the almond oil I am using, without an emulsifier in my bath bombs for now, but the true test will be a whole-body experience. 

In the meantime, I might fiddle with my recipe and I've read that placing your bombs to dry on egg crate foam keeps them from getting flat butts. Some people even put a towel over a cupcake pan...

Hmmm...


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Making Bath Bombs and Bath Truffles - Trial #1

Not too long ago, my 16 year-old niece mentioned that she loved Lush bath bombs and bath products. So, I tracked down where the nearest store was up here and made a visit. I had never been, and I have to admit I was curious and impressed; their products smelled wonderful and their bath bombs were quite large. Their products were obviously popular, as the store was swarmed the whole time I was there. I also loved their massage bars, truffle bars, and bubble bars, so I bought a few for myself as well as some for my sister and niece.

The only thing I DIDN'T like was their prices....at $7 bucks a bomb, it adds up!

I remember seeing some Pins in how to make homemade bath bombs on Pinterest, so down the rabbit hole I went. After doing a TON of reading and research, I realized that bath bomb making includes everything I love about learning something new: it's science and includes problem-solving, it's creative, it's different, it's an unusual treat or luxury, and it's hard as hell to get right!

Challenge accepted!

Bombs #1

These are not my first bombs I tried making, but the first samples I made that worked well in a mold and hardened enough to go to trial. They look very pretty and were made with a "Lovespell" fragrance (kinda fruity/floral) and organic rose petals.

Pretty no?



Ready for action...


Nice fizzing, but the bath bomb sank and didn't float :-( .


Aaaaand it left a slight "oil slick" on the water surface from the essential oil I added...


Bath Truffle Bar #1 

This Orange Creamsicle Truffle Bar was the first thing I made and it turned out PERFECT. I got this recipe from the Soap Queen website and I adored the scent; it smelled SO YUMMY!

After some research, I knew this bar was going to sink as it is packed with skin-softening oils like shea oil and cocoa butter, but I was really concerned with the resulting "oil slick".

Ready for testing (you can still see a little oil residue in the water from the previous bomb trial)...



Great fizzing and color!


But yep, there's the "oil slick"...


Results and Thoughts:

Some of you might be thinking, "Well, that's not bad. I want those skin-softening oils in my bath." But the problem is, that oil will also cling to the side of your tub, making it SUPER slick, messy, and dangerous, not to mention these oil slicks will not necessarily moisturize your whole body...just the areas it manages to cling to when you are moving around or when you are getting out of the tub. 

Sooo, it's back to the drawing board. I know I need to try another batch of both with a new recipe that includes ingredients to help emulsify the oil  in the water. I'm working on that and I'm patiently waiting for Amazon to deliver those ingredients into my greedy little hands.

Actually, the bath bomb wasn't that bad, but I'm mostly curious as to why it didn't float. They are supposed to and I even added ingredients that are supposed to make it float....hmmm. One thought is that it is still curing and not completely dry in the center. I made it Saturday and tested it today (Tuesday), so this bomb is only a little over 48 hours old. I might save the other bomb and try again with it this weekend. 

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