Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We're getting there!

We went yesterday to fill out our new loan paperwork for the house, and it's a bit of paperwork, let me tell you. Because Dad and Dani helped us with the down payment, they now have to fill out a form and give a copy of *their* bank account and a host of other things. It's a frickin' mess. So that's a good time. We're still hoping for a closing date of the 15th, though, and the date is getting closer and closer. We are so eager to get into our new home, it's insane.

Work has been getting me down lately. I applied for a different position within the company and while others have been accepted into the varying positions, I still have not heard anything. It's frustrating to me because while I'm sure they are all worthy, I know for sure that my stats are better than a couple and the position is about $2 more an hour than I'm currently making. It's frustrating to work for a company that I feel doesn't really value me as an employee. It's frustrating that I used to have a job where I made $5 more an hour and had more responsibility. It's frustrating that the company keeps making all these changes but they don't communicate the changes well so our members are really confused and then have to attempt to explain to them the new rules, when we ourselves are not getting adequate training on the new policies. It's frustrating in general.

I've been looking around at other companies, but I'm unwilling to remove my nose stud, so that does limit where I can go. I could have applied for an asst manager position at a bank, and while my wrist tattoos would have been fine, the nose stud would not. WTF. Most people don't even notice I have it. But *I* know it's there. I only got it pierced again last November and it's finally gotten to the point where I can move it around without hurting. There is no way I will take it out.

It's frustrating to live in a conservative state where that kind of thing apparently matters. I mean, a tasteful piercing is not a detractor, nor does it mean I cannot do just as good a job, if not better, than somebody else. *sigh*

I've been in that restless state again, where I want things to be different, but I don't know what, nor do I know what I want to change. I mean, we're buying a house, which is a huge change, so maybe I should just try to wait until that's all over and done with, and we're all moved it.

Really though, I want a job I can do from home. I have a friend in Oregon who does freelance work from her house, and let me tell you, that sounds stellar. How awesome would it be to work your own hours, as long as you got the project done on time? We're hoping the Sympathetic Soap company of ours will take off in the next year or so. We really need to start doing the craft fairs and getting the word out. It'll be nice once we're in the house because then we can apply for the business license and I can start marketing like I want to.

Also, I've been eating like crap. It's like I've been compelled to just eat and eat, regardless of what it is or whether or not I'm full. And I'm all temperamental and I'm an emotional eater. I wouldn't say I've gained any weight from this latest go-round, but I probably will shortly if I can't get a handle on it.

It's kind of frightening, really. Too much change, and not enough change.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bump in the road

The house we really wanted to buy turns out that it's not eligible for either a conventional or FHA loan until 4/30, which just happens to be the last day one can sign a contract and be eligible for the $8k house credit. So, we will be signing a contract with the seller this Monday stating that they agree to sign an FHA contract on 4/30; if they fail to do so, they would owe us $8k (since we wouldn't be able to claim it if we had to start looking for other houses) and if we don't sign with them they get to keep the $1k we've already put down for the earnest money.

It worked out better than we thought it would, since we both really like the house and were totally bummed thinking we'd have to start looking all over again. At this point, we will extend the formal offer on 4/30 (and they will accept the terms since it's already been agreed to) and then we'll close on 5/15. It feels like it's such a long way away, but hopefully the time will fly by.

The house still needed some work done, in that almost none of the outlets worked, a downstairs bedroom light didn't work, and some windows need to be replaced. The seller knew about most of the stuff, but some things were brought to his attention by our inspection report we had done. He seems to be really motivated because he agreed to fix everything.

The shop is moving more slowly than I'd hoped it would, but all in all I'd say it's doing well. I have more marketing plans, but still need the business license to be completely on the up and up, and to feel secure in putting forth said plans. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oh the joys of buying a home

Jesse and I decided it was high time we bought a house, so we went house hunting again. On our second trip out with the realtor, he took us to a house that just been put on the market that day. We liked it well enough that we put an offer in that night, they sent a counter-offer back within hours, we verbally accepted it, then signed the counter-offer the next day.

We are VERY excited about this house. It's a split-level entry that has been repainted on the inside and new carpet and both bathrooms have been redone. The yards (both front and back) need quite a bit of work, and there is a railroad literally maybe a couple feet from our back fence. However, we've been told the train only comes through once a day at 2pm and it slows to a crawl, so we can handle that.

We've been planning out what we want to do with the yard and have decided that we want to dig a koi pond to the left, have a food garden to the right, and then a flower garden against the back fence. We've been watching a lot of YouTube videos about pond construction and we've been getting a lot of ideas about the shape and styles we like.

We have decided to sell our aquariums. Jesse is the one who maintains them, and with all the yard work needing to be done this spring and summer he just won't have the time for it (we also want to install a sprinkler system). So, if you know of anyone who wants to buy a 180-gallon system for about $2500, you let me know. Otherwise we're having people over on Wednesday to start piecing this stuff out and just selling it rock by rock, fish by fish, coral by coral.

As much as we like our fish, this isn't a terribly sad thing. We were going to have a fish room in one of the downstairs bedrooms, and now I get to have another spare room! Yay! We already have the rooms planned out, and the downstairs family room will be the entertainment area, with our computers and tv. We also need to buy a couch.

The upstairs family room will be just a chill-out area, where we'll have all our bookcases, chairs, musical instruments, and maybe a stereo. I have it all planned out in my head.

The inspecter went out yesterday to do his thing and found severel inches of standing water in the downstairs hallway, coming from the downstairs bathroom. Isn't that just lovely? So I guess the disaster cleanup crew was sent out immediately, and a plumber is supposed to come out, hopefully today sometime.

If it's just a little problem that is easily fixed (as it should be since the bathrooms have all-new plumbing) then we will still go through with the sale. However, if it's something big that's going to need a lot of effort, we may feel mort comfortable looking elsewhere. It all just depends on what the plumber says. Fingers crossed that it's nothing big.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sympathetic Soap is live!

Come help us celebrate our new business, Sympathetic Soap! We have a great Grand Opening sale on our CloveM soap, with more awesome products and sales to come!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nori chips!

I just tried making nori chips this afternoon, and they were delicious! Jesse would not try them, but they were seriously good. You can find the recipe here.

And I was reading on Gluten-Free Girl's blop today and she has done a kale chip recipe. Apparently her toddler love them, and they look darn tasty to me, so whenever I go to market next, I will look for some kale. You can find that recipe here.

Alas, the house I was so excited about already had a bajillion offers on it, so we did not go to see it. However, we decided to hire on one of Jesse's friend's dad to be our realtor, so I think we will be meeting up with him next week to go check out some homes. Some of them I'm kind of excited about, some of them just middle of the road. We decided to not look at short-sale homes for now, only when the other houses have been exhausted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oh. Holy. God.

For the past couple days, Jesse has been very verbal about us wanting to get a house, and I have been just as verbal in my stance that we should not break our lease, but start looking around May or so. He makes a good point that if we close prior to June 30th, we can still qualify for the $8k tax credit (which we could amend our taxes this year and get it returned instead of waiting until next February). Anyway, all that made a good point, but he was finding houses in the $140k range, and we just don't have the down payment for that.

This was where we were on that subject. Until today. Today he texts me the MLS number of a house out in Magna. MAGNA! That city WAY west of here. Is it even a city or is it still a township? So far west I've never actually been there. And then I start to read the details. 1800 sq ft, under $120k. Not bad; the basement has not been finished, but neither of us minds that sort of thing. It's a split entry, which we both like the look of. What's this? The kitchen has been refinished and it has new Pergo flooring? A new fridge and range? (The range is on the small side, as is the kitchen in general, but it's separated from the dining area by an L-shaped counter.) The counter where you can put some bar stool and have bar dining.

The living room has a fireplace and opens into the dining room. Right now there are double doors leading into the dining room...and they are square-glass-paned doors! Letting tons of light in! And I am a sucker for lots of light! It also gives it a country feel, which really goes with the wood finish.

It has a covered parking spot, and a shed. .15 acres...AND A HUGE COVERED PORCH. It was the porch that has sold me on this house, and we haven't even been out to see it. I have always wanted a house that has a wrap-around porch. This porch is not wrap around, but it is GIGANTIC! And COVERED! And there are fruit trees! And a huge, covered porch!

I sent an email out to the realtor this evening to see if we could view it tomorrow. It's a short sale, which I think is an oxymoron as they usually take longer than a standard sale. So who knows even if we did put an offer in how long the owner and then the bank would take to approve it. I like this house so much I'm even willing to forgo our usual starting price of 20% less, and maybe go with 10% off asking price...although I guess Jesse and I can talk about that tonight when he gets home.

Jesse had a bad cold a little less than a week ago, and I kind of wonder if I'm not coming down with something now. My throat was extremely dry and hurt this morning, and it still hurts now. I took today off work and earlier we went to Costco, and now I'm making more of my body butters for the store. I made a large Lemon batch earlier today and I should have used more lemon essential oil, but I think I might just market it as being our most mild butter in terms of scent and act like I did it on purpose. I'm in the middle of making Lavender now, and I think I'm going to do a Peppermint batch tonight as well. We'll have to see after that. Not sure if I'll want to switch to a different product line, or just go ahead and finish the scents off tonight and work on something else tomorrow.

We have been working on our paperwork for the business license, and should hear back tomorrow if we were successful in registering the business name (one of the steps toward the license). I heard back from the health department and it turns out they do not need to do an inspection, so that's cool. Now we just need the sheet back from out landlord regarding them giving us the go-ahead to run a business out of the apartment (which they have to get the form notarized) and then I think we'll be good to go to turn in all the paperwork all together. Or something. We're trying to make it so we can open the store in March sometime, but February is quickly passing us by and it feels like we aren't much closer.

We have about 6 batches of soap curing right now, and I think we may make another batch or two tomorrow, starting to double up on the scents we already have on the off chance they sell out quickly (fingers crossed). It's kind of scary starting to run a business as I have no idea what the clamor for the product will be. I've been selling some of the body butters to coworkers, and one of them said he wife loved it, LOVED IT! And it makes your nails shiny and healthy too! he said. I thought that was pretty funny.

I've been doing the low-carb thing pretty strictly since the beginning of January and while weight loss has been extremely slow, I feel so much better, as I always do. Anyway, since I still like things such as stroganoffs and spaghetti and whatnot, we've been using spaghetti squash in the place of rice or pasta. It has been great! We just cut them in half and then bake them until they are tender but not mushy, and then add them to whatever it is you need it for. Many spaghetti sauces have tons of sugar added, so we make our own. (What's this we stuff, *I* make everything! Just easier to say, I guess.) I take a can of diced tomatoes, some tomato paste and a little water to thin it out. Add italian seasoning and presto! Your own homemade sauce. Jesse took some leftovers to work the other day and a coworker said, "You always bring in the best-smelling food!" and Jesse told him that I make everything and the guy said, "If I ever find a girl and get married, I'm bringing her over to your house so your wife can teach her to cook!" I found that pretty flattering:)

We've been talking about hopes for our Sympathetic Soap company and where we'd like it to go in the future. Ideally we'd like it to get to the point where we can both do it for a full-time job. In the meantime, we'd like it to do well enough that whenever we have our first kid, we can count on it being like at least part-time income for me. We've had really great feedback on it so far. One of Jesse's coworkers mentioned he has a contact who does wholesale who may be interested in it, and someone people on my low-carb forum want to try some products.

And I have this idea to send a gift basket to this woman who writes a blog, Heather Armstrong. She has a huge following, not just in this state but many states. If she likes it and maybe says a little something about it, that would be awesome! And would really broaden our market. But how to phrase the card that goes along with it so she doesn't think I'm just wanting to use her for free press...that's the tricky part. Because I do really like her blog. I just also am wise to her audience reach. I'm also thinking of sending baskets to the local radio stations and if they like it, maybe they will mention it on air. So, I do have some marketing strategies lined up.

So, that's where we are right now. Beginnings of a cold, business start-up ponderings, house hopings and all.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Keep on keeping on

We continue to grow our Sympathetic Soap line. So far we have four body butters, several soap scents (and an unscented version), bath melts (also known as bath bonbons), massage bars, and lip balms. We are going to create sugar and salt body scrubs, fizzy bath salts, and more. Just waiting for the raw materials to arrive so we can start experimenting. And by we, I mean me. Jesse is more about the soap and while he is willing to critique my creations isn't much for creating on his own. But that's ok, I can "own" the body care line.

So far I've even made one sale! A coworker was looking for something to give his fiancée for Valentine's Day, so bought two of our butters, the Lemon Butter and the Peppermint Butter. I have a couple other scent samples here at work in case anyone wants to try them. I'm surprised because I thought most people would gravitate to either the Chocolate Cherry or the Chocolate Mint, but the majority seem to favor either the Lemon or the Peppermint. I'm also going to be creating a Lavender body butter as well.

I worked on the site last night and wrote the ad copy for the products we currently have. Now I'm just waiting for Jesse to take photos so I can upload them. We are using PayPal for our payment method because anyone can use their credit card on it and they do not have to have a PayPal account to do it. It seemed the best way to go, but I'll be keeping an eye on it to make sure another merchant service wouldn't be the way to go.

In the meantime, I'm constantly scouring the internet to see if there are more products that we can create to go with the body care line. The soaps are pretty much taken care of. For now we are just going with a really great base recipe and doing different scents. Maybe in the future we'll do more along the lines of adding other ingredients like flower petals or citrus zest or whatever, but for now it's just nourishing soap that smells great.

I'll keep you all posted when the site is actually up!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sympathetic Soap

We are creating our own soap and body care company! I'm am totally excited! And we have spent a lot of money, with no end in sight!

The past few months, Jesse and I have been creating all-natural, no-synthetic soaps. We feel that a more natural approach is the right way to go. Did you know that many soaps cannot legally be called soap? Many are really classified as detergents because of the chemical content.

Anyway, we enjoy our hobby so much, and others seem to really like our soaps as well, that we decided just to jump right in. We're calling it Sympathetic Soap, and then Sympathetic Body Care will be our body care line.

I thought it would be cute to have some fun shaped soap, so one of my batches I molded in cupcake holders. And they are adorable! The only thing is we are still playing around with some recipe formulas, and this one didn't allow for the soap to set properly. The muffin pan let out too much heat, so they are taking very long to cure. I think they will be a great moisturizing soap, though.

Last night we tried our hand at a honey-oatmeal mixture. I wasn't sure if we needed to add scent, so we added a bit of eucalyptus...but we totally didn't need to! Serious, our soap smells like honey graham crackers, it's crazy. The honey helps with moisturizing, and the oatmeal is used as an exfoliant. I am super excited to try this soap, but as it needs to cure for at least 4 weeks, I'll be waiting awhile.

In the meantime, we are gathering lots of materials in preparation for the other soaps and body care. We want to have a ton of product ready for when we open our business and webstites.

The websites right now just consist of the names and We still need to figure out where we will host them and what the sites should look like. I've already started writing copy for the products.

Go team Sympathetic Soap!

Soap Nuts!

Have you heard about these?! I totally want to try them!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More TKB Trading!

I received my other order from TKB Trading! I really wish I could get our camera to catch these colors as perfectly as I see them in person. In any event, here are the latest shades, complete with swatches (although not the two whites and the black).