Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Soap Life.

Work in progress.

Purple Quail Soap Company.  

So it's still a work in progress (and a big pain in the butt due to state mandates), but I'm on the road to launching my own soapmaking business!  It's something I've wanted to do for some time now - I bought the supplies for it while I was still living in Astoria, so probably since 2012?  Unfortunately I couldn't make real soap (read: lye and oils) for awhile because I had neither space nor time to handle the chemicals and cure the bars.  But now I have all of the above!!

Unfortunately, I have to go through all sorts of hoops and file a bunch of paperwork to start my own business - even if I'm just selling on Etsy/online in general.  Urgh!  Notarized documents, fees paid, taxes, diagrams of my home and the proposed spaces I'll be using....and that's just to declare myself a home business!  Ridiculous.  I understand it to a point, and there's no way of really being able to say to the government, "yeah, but it's just a small home business thing..." but REALLY - It's just a small home business thing.  Still, tons of stuff needs to be done, and hopefully it will all work out, though I'd be lying if I said it hasn't kept me up at night.  All I want to do is make some damned soap!!

On the other hand, I'm now awash in all sorts of soap inspiration (sorry Pinterest friends), and am dying to figure out my niche.  I'm leaning towards all natural, but am so SO tempted by the colorful, fun swirly side of things.  I probably won't use animal fats (lard/tallow), but I'm still on the fence about that, since it produces a great bar of soap (especially amazing for laundry), and it's something that would get thrown out anyway.  Seeing as I'm a meat eater, it seems silly to waste something so good.  I'd feel 100% content if I could get my animal fat from happy, local, grass-fed cows, but that's a bit tough to find here in Florida.  Probably won't go 100% vegan, as I don't want to exclude milk, honey, and other goodies from my stuff.

That said, I will most certainly be palm-free.  I had no idea this was an issue until I started researching soap recipes, and I've weighed the arguments and different approaches, and I don't feel it's worth it to use this particular oil (even if it is cheap and makes a good bar of soap).

In a nutshell:
-Probably animal fat-free (but not 100% vegan for all my soaps)
-Definitely palm-free

So as you an see, work in progress.  I haven't even figured out my packaging design yet!  I'm trying out lots of different looks, and really liked the stamped brown craft paper look (plus that fits with my 100% all-natural jive), but it's all fair game right now.

Here's some of my results (nothing that hasn't been on Facebook/Instagram, but just a way for me to compile my work so far):

Batch No. 3 - Sweet Mint Infusion
Batch No. 3 - Cut into bars
Batch No. 4 - Colored with paprika & turmeric infused oils
Batch No. 4 - Lined up for cure

Friday, April 18, 2014

Florida Times.

So Baz and I are settled in and sitting pretty (for the most part) here in Florida.  We've been here for about three weeks now, just trying to make our house a home, and boy is it tough.  We are not used to the space that a regular sized space affords, and the first week was exhausting walking back and forth across the apartment to do the things we needed to do.  You know, like normal people.

My llama painting gets to come out again!!

When we got here, for the first two weeks I was really lousy about my diet and started eating like garbage - Sweet Tomatoes and bread, all day erryday.  Result? My blood sugar skyrocketed after a four week decline (gradual as it was) - my average BG went from 250 in Brooklyn to 290-310 in Florida.  No good at all!  

For those of you who don't know, I was never really diagnosed (by two doctors!!), but I had a third doctor (my OBGYN, of all people) confirm that I have Type 2 Diabetes.  I went through a scary patch about 2 months ago where I went in for a routine physical/bloodwork, and my blood sugar came back at 629.  For reference, 80-100 is normal, anything higher than 140 is diabetes, so I was fucking sick.  I knew something was up - I was drinking ungodly amounts of water and peeing all the time, but was fine otherwise, so I didn't think anything of it.  I mean, I'm young, active, not incredibly huge (my BMI places me at "normal"), and don't have any medical issues, so how could it be diabetes??  But it was.

Thankfully, nothing major happened - I never had to go to the hospital or anything, but it was a really scary period of time, and I'm just glad I got help before something horrible happened.  I'm on an oral medication currently, with a self imposed strict-as-hell diet and not-strict-as-hell exercise regime.  That's what sucks about Florida - no opportunities to walk!  I'm so used to walking 1-3 miles a day, so not walking is upsetting to me.  Baz and I joined a gym to counteract that, so at least I can burn off energy that way.

So I mentioned earlier that my diet was shit when I got to Florida - I wasn't counting my calories, or really limiting my foods.  Kind of a disaster.  I gave myself those two weeks, then put my ass in gear and started tracking again.  After a week of tracking, I was still having high numbers and getting discouraged.  I looked at what I was eating, and everything seemed right - lean meats, fish, non-starchy vegetables, and whole grains.  Where to start??

After looking everything over, I made a super tough choice - I decided to cut out any and all wheat products from my diet.  All breads, cereals, snacks, etc.  I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack just thinking about it - I'm the queen of bread, I would eat bread for every damn meal if I could.  Meats? Nope, I'll snack out of the bread basket, thanks.  Bagels, cereals, toast, muffins, cookies, love em all to an insane degree.  I don't think I've ever met anyone who loves bread more than myself. True story.

But I did it.  By gum, I FUCKING DID IT.  Cut all the bread from the diet - the whole wheat breads, the super-high-fiber healthy cereals, the pastas, etc.  Did that on April 11, and since then (today is April 18), my blood sugar has stabilized incredibly, as well as stayed low.  Well, low for my standards anyhow.  For the last three days, my blood sugar has averaged around 210-220.  That sounds (and is) high, but for someone whose blood sugar would spike 150-200 points after a meal, that's a victory.  The funky thing is, I haven't cut out sugar completely - I'll have trail mix with chocolate and raisins in it, or an apple with peanut butter (omfg, amazing), and while my blood sugar does rise a little, it doesn't spike.  It makes me sad to realize wheat products are probably out of my life from now on, but if that's what it takes, that's how it has to be.  Meanwhile, I'm just happy that my blood sugar is now somewhat manageable and getting closer to normal.  I just had my lowest reading ever a few days ago - 124.  That's unheard of for me!  I keep getting more and more readings under the 200 mark, and it's wonderful.

Now to juggle this and a new house.  Fun.  At least I have a dining room table to eat my meals at now.  Haven't had one of those in years!

Oh heck yeah.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Moving is stressful.  I can't help but wonder if it's part of the reason my blood sugar is starting to creep up again.  I'm sure a big reason is that we're eating out a bit more (which equals more white carbs ugh), but the level of stress sitting on my shoulders sucks.

Sushi, WHY YOU SO BAD FOR ME???  Photo courtesy of Yelp.

I'm still waiting to see what I'm doing with the mattress in Harlem.  I feel like we're eventually going to give it away for free or leave it downstairs.  Such a waste.  Still need to reinstall the child gates and repaint spackled holes (easy peasy).

As for the basement - ugh.  Baz and I dragged my canvases and records on a hand cart over the bridge - good workout, but man that uphill half is a drag.  Really gets the muscles going.  I still have the electronics to deal with, what a pain in my ass.  There's an e-waste recycling facility in Gowanus, so we'll probably throw everything in a cab and drive it over there to donate it, probably Tuesday.  A iMac, keyboard, large boombox w/speakers, and a giant old-school monitor.

That should be fun.  Pretty sure that's the one thing I'm majorly stressed about.  After that, I won't have much to wrestle with - maybe a milkcrate full of books, but that doesn't require a cart and me sweating while hauling ass over the East River.

Tomorrow (Monday) we're going to do some returns on stuff we have, then go to the Museum of Natural History for one last jaunt.  Should be fun!

The dioramas - always my favorite. Courtesy of nyclovesnyc.blogspot.com

It's crazy to think that in a week, Baz and I will be in our own place.  Our very own place.  With only our stuff.  This has never happened before, and I am excited like woah.

Can't sleep tonight, so I've spent the night puttering around, cleaning up my parent's apartment (where we've been staying the past couple of weeks).  Unfortunately, it still kinda looks like a bomb hit it.  Ah well, all in due time.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lower Back Drama.

Today has been bizarre.  I've spent it in a haze of lower back pain, nausea, and sleeping.  Ate a meal with WAY too much fat last night (around 5pm), which didn't agree with me AT ALL.  Don't think it's food poisoning, per se, since Baz is fine for the most part, but I paid hell for it.  Let's just say I'll never be making low-carb meatballs again.  Ground beef, parmesan cheese, and egg is delicious but way to heavy!  I've been eating stuff like egg whites, turkey bacon, bran cereal, and tuna salad with avocado.  My body wasn't prepared for undrained and cheesy meatballs.  Never again.

As a result, all I've had to eat today has been a protein energy shake and a little container of applesauce.  How is this possible.  All I know is, I am full, and my BG is the lowest it's ever registered - 204.  Baz said, "Well, there's your answer! Just stop eating."  Of course, why didn't I think of that!  My blood sugar was 290 when I woke up, probably because I still had some of last night's dinner in my stomach, so it wasn't a true fasting BG.  But yeah, 204 - even though it's under impossible conditions, it's still pretty great that it even reached that.

I've spent the entire day with KILLER lower back pain, bloating, and general malaise.  Just want this to go away.  Slept a few hours here and there, and I'm still tired.  Ugh!  Lower back pain is terrible, it feels like the flu.  Plus, the movers are supposed to come tomorrow in the morning/afternoon to pick up our stuff (after a 2-day delay), so I'd better be in tip-top shape by then.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Gears Turn.

I've succeeded in convincing Baz to move to Detroit.  And all it took was the promise of massively industrial looking lofts to seal the deal.

Loft kitty not included.

Exposed brick? Check.
Visible ductwork? Check.
Open floor plans? Check.

Oh yeah.  He's hooked.

We started a Pinterest with different lofts that strike our fancy.  Take a peek - we're updating it daily and feverishly.

Detroit Loft City

Trying to figure out the logistics of it is tricky - our lease is up in only about 5 months, so we'd need to get rolling relatively quickly.  Start selling our (sparse) furniture, figure out moving trucks, getting a car, etc.  I don't really know how realistic it is to be able to do all of this, considering we need to at least, you know, VISIT Detroit at some point, sometime soon.  Ideally, we would visit once for a few days just to get a feel for the city, then visit a second time to actually meet with brokers and close on a place.  However, with the holidays coming up, travel would be expensive and mid-November until the beginning of January is nigh on impossible.

So, are we crazy?  Or simply in love?

Edit: Comprehensive link regarding Downtown/Midtown/Corktown stuffs

Friday, November 08, 2013

Ride the Wind, or How it makes me uneasy in my soul to think of moving from New York City to Detroit.

Baz and I have been contemplating different places to live, in both the long run and short run.  We're currently in Harlem, which has the benefits of cheap rent, but the downside of pretty much everything that comes with living in a shitty neighborhood.

When most people think of "The New Harlem", 125th St. and it's surrounding blocks come to mind.  Only recently have people begun venturing further north, barely touching 135th St. with a smattering of restaurants and shops haphazardly scattered about.  Baz and I live on 142nd St., a good 10 blocks north of the outermost resemblance of any so called "action", and we live on a corner surrounded by three housing projects.  Depressing as fuck all.  Still, it spurs us to dream big, and we make lists to get by.

Short term (renting): Get the hell out of our current neighborhood.  We've shortlisted the neighborhoods of Sunnyside (current top pick) and Astoria (my old neighborhood of 4 years), but will have to see what Baz's job situation is, since moving to Sunnyside sucks if you end up working in Jersey City.

Long term (buying):  Haha, who knows.  We change our minds on this weekly; first it was the Grand Concourse, then it was Fort Lee, then it was every fucking mountain town we happened to come across on a map.  We planted it in our head, for some weird reason, that we were going to move to Berlin, NH.  Came across it randomly on Trulia, liked the mountains around the town, saw that the house prices were nice, and set up shop in our heads and hearts towards moving there.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Then I did some research on the town.
Which used to be a factory town.
With paper mills that apparently make the town smell like flatulence, even though they were shuttered years ago.

And with that, we said farewell to Berlin, NH.

Adios.  Photo Courtesy of Flickr.

We let our minds roam.  Baz is hellbent on a "house in the mountains".  I am somewhat less bent, though certainly crooked, to be sure.  As long as I am in a non-Republican area where people don't settle disputes with hunting rifles, I will probably do okay for the most part.  He prefers to work freelance, and I would be working freelance as well, so we are not hindered by the need to be where the jobs are, thankfully.

About a week ago, I started looking at Detroit, Michigan.  I'm not sure what's made me barrel headfirst down a road to the midwest, but I watched a documentary last week on Netflix called Detropia, and now it's like a fucking siren song.  I can't put it into words.  There's something alluring and frightening and appealing about it, and it puts this hope into my head that I can't explain.  Nothing about it makes sense - it's dismal, run-down, bankrupt, cold, and violent.

All of the Above.  Photo Courtesy of Tumblr.

It's also the promise of the uncertain, of being able to take something and make it your own.  I mean REALLY make it your own - none of this "edgy Bushwick loft" bullshit that I'm sick of.  I love a raw looking apartment as much as the next hipster, but my asian genes make it impossible for me to pay premium prices for something that looks like someone walked out halfway through a gut renovation.  Why not put myself in a place where, you know, logic happens?

Various people are saying that Detroit is becoming a magnet for artists, with cheap housing and studio spaces and the promise of possibility.  Be anything you want to be.  I like that idea.  I don't feel that much in New York anymore.

Am I optimistic? Probably.  I'll bet I sound like a fucking tool.  But I'm okay with that.  Because that means I'm excited at the potential, and that's pretty damn special, to be excited about something, for the first time in a long time.

I'll probably be using this blog, for the time being, to post various links related to Detroit, it's art scene, the positives and drawbacks, the posts that make me dream and the posts that knock the wind out of my sails.  Huzzah!

Curbed: Detroit

Detroit's Artistic Opportunities

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Deserted Streets and Hippie Skirts

It's hard to believe I was in San Francisco a year ago, having an amazing time (even whilst battling strep) in a city on my own.  It's funny, when I ride the train and kill time by playing solitaire on my phone, I get these vivid flashbacks of San Francisco - I think it started because I used to play solitaire constantly during my morning commute to WC, mostly out of incredible anxiety about the job (I would go through 50+ games during my hour long commute each morning, nonstop back-to-back games), and this job, with it's stress, came right after I arrived back home from my trip.

The flashbacks that I have aren't the ones you think you'll have - the view of the foggy Golden Gate , strolling languidly through SF MOMA, riding the trolleys, etc.  In fact, there's only one moment I come back to (rarely) that was visually stunning, and that's the moment I crawled up to the side of Buena Vista Park with a bag of thai food and a spectacular view of downtown and proceeded to feast, and I only remember that because there were mosquitos everywhere and some guys dog tried to climb into my lap.

The mosquito-laden view

The random moments that pop into my head repeatedly are the ones that struck me and brought me back to earth, the ones that made me feel like a citizen, as if I were living everyday life and not on some weird implanted journey destined to dump me down and then suddenly scoop me back up again:

The morning I walked by a senior citizen center in NoPa that looked like a city hall, wrought iron gates to my right and trees casting a dappled exposure on the white sidewalk (this one hits me the most).

Walking down the sidewalk during an early morning chai run (I was determined to start every morning with chai from a different independent cafe, and succeeded admirably) and watching a bus pull up towards me on my right to let people board, looking up and seeing a man running at steep angle down the sidewalk towards the bus, yelling, "no no no no no!!", his tie flying back behind him, glasses askew, the sparse hair left on his head streaming behind him.  I think he caught the bus in the end.

Watching the parrots of Telegraph Hill call out to each other and swoop through the air in flocks, after leaving busy Lombard Street and the crowds of people taking their picture in it's foreground.

And this one, which happened a year ago tonight: Walking along Page Street on a quest for a burrito.  I had made up my mind to go to a place called The Little Chihuahua, which was a little bit of a hike from where I was on Haight Street.  I left my room, but once I walked outside I felt uneasy - San Francisco closes down after dark mostly, and that stretch of the Haight wasn't the best (think angry panhandling hippies of all ages).  Still I was hellbent on getting my goddamn burrito.  So after walking down a block or two and being incredibly uncomfortable, I took a leap of faith and made a left turn, deciding to walk along the street one block north instead.  The fact that continuing down Haight would have led me past Buena Vista Park, where I felt uneasy even during the daytime, was enough of a decider for me.

Page Street was like a different neighborhood - instead of older teenagers in army surplus gear with guitars and pitbulls hanging around and fighting in doorways, there was absolute silence.  The kind of silence that only comes from cool air, safety, and security.  I reveled in that coolness, the absolute blackness of the street, the elegant and pale victorians lined up in three point perspective along the block.  I walked all the way down to Divisadero, and got my goddamn burrito.  It was midweek, but the place was packed with groups, so I opted not to be the killjoy hogging a table and instead took it to go.  Only then did I realize my walk to the restaurant had been so nice because I'd been walking downhill.  Steeply.

I opted to take the bus to go back.  I waited a very, very long time for this bus (late night and buses in SF don't play well together).  The kicker was, it was really only two stops on the bus.  So I waited for an eternity to take a 8-10 minute ride.  Welcome to my world.  In the end, the burrito was pretty tasty, but probably would have been better had it been piping hot and in the company of attractive hipsters.

Anyhow, that's how I was spending my time exactly a year ago tonight - walking in solitary bliss along a sleepy San Francisco street, my hippie skirt swinging at my heels and my mind in the clouds.