Little Batch

Handcrafted soap, lip balm, candles, body scrubs… mad science.


This is what my house looked like this past Saturday. Great ambiance for the weekend before Halloween, eh?

It’s difficult to crunch around in the fallen leaves when a blizzard has left ten inches of snow on the ground.

Oh, I was so annoyed.


Queen Annes Lace Embroidered Textile Ring by Waterrose on Etsy

Lately I’ve found myself browsing this shop quite often because the heirloom-quality embroidered items created by shopkeeper Rose are, quite simply, delightful. Wouldn’t this ring be great for holiday celebrations?

A walk in the woods

My favorite spot on the Bernadette Morales Nature Preserve: the summit at the back of the preserve, on the Meditation Trail as it transitions to the Eagle Trail, and where it meets the trailhead into the Uplands Reserve. This area is full of oak trees, and the ground is littered with acorns this time of year. I enjoy sitting on this bench to watch the wildlife, breathe the clean air, and just BE.

I’ve been a hiker pretty much my whole life. My dad, a weekend woodsman of sorts, began taking me into the NJ wilds when I was a wee one. I remember learning what rabbit poo looks like, the purpose of a deer scrape, and how to cross a creek somewhat successfully. Eventually I got to hike parts of the Appalachian Trail, hike  to the highest part of New Jersey, begin a hike in 50 degree weather and end up on a snowy mountaintop, hike through farmed fields, hike through seemingly untouched land, and hike marked trails. After buying a house a few years ago,however, the responsibilities of home ownership took up my weekends and the hikes ceased.

Until last week.

I’d driven past it countless times. The sign reads, “Bernadette Morales Nature Preserve.” Last weekend Joe and I stopped by and were pleasantly surprised to find a heavily wooded area, with a map at the trailhead and blazed trails. I returned the next day and spent four hours there, exploring all of the trails, testing my creek-crossing skills, collecting osage oranges, talking to squirrels, spooking deer (inadvertently), and enjoying the unrivaled beauty of the perfect fall hike. At the upper reaches of the preserve is a second trailhead leading into the Uplands Reserve. This section is open to hunters, and being that it’s the middle of deer season, I decided to forego my exploration of this area until I can get kitted out in head to toe blaze orange clothing… I really do not want to be mistaken for a deer and end up shot in the tail.

I returned to the preserve in the early morning hours each day last week, and briskly hiked for at least 45 minutes each time. Am considering this to be part of my regimen to lose the 30 pounds I put on during treatment (thanks, steroids), and a way for me to spend part of every day drinking in the restorative power of nature.

In remembrance

Today is Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), traditionally the Mexican holiday that is about families gathering together to honor those who have passed. I think it’s a beautiful tradition. Marigolds are the flowers of offering on the Day of the Dead. I grew many of these plants in my garden this year, and plan to place them throughout the house today as I remember those close to me whom have passed on… my grandparents, Nonni, Uncle Kenny, my godfather, Anna, Great Grandma, Aunt Nancy…

I will think of them always.

Marigold felt pin by Dahlies, an elegant Day of the Dead embellishment.

Remember the double tap

It’s Halloween out there. I’d like to refer you to the Zombie Rules, just in case you find yourself in the middle of a zombie infestation.

Zombie Rules typography poster by Matt Peppler. I really need to get this for Joe... he loves the Zombieland movie, and Matt's artwork is pretty darn awesome.

What happens in Niagara stays in Niagara

A couple of weeks ago, to celebrate this joyful news, Joe and I took a mini-trip to Niagara Falls and the Erie Canal.

Any Office fans out there? OK, remember the hotel where Jim & Pam had their pre-wedding dinner and where their guests stayed? We got a room there!

The name was changed for the show, and the interior shots were done on a sound stage, but it was cool to stay there anyway. Imagined Kevin Malone putting his feet in the ice machine! We had a view of the rapids from our 3rd floor room, and could hear the water. It was pretty awesome.

As soon as we got there, we went to the falls, rode the Maid if the Mist, and got soaked. It was very surreal, and the power of the falls is palpable in the air all around it. When we were closest to the falls, in the middle if all that mist, and all we could hear was all that water, I had my moment. I thanked god, buddha, the dalai lama, gaia – all the big players – for saving my life. It was very moving, and big sap that I am now, cried like a baby. I’m not going to put up a picture from the boat, I’m going to keep that for myself. But, this is me looking pretty happy on the observation deck afterwards… I became quite adept at taking pictures of myself on this vacation!

It's good to be here.

Up there on the deck, I got a great shot of everything… the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls in the background. The stairs at the bottom of the pic are part of the Maid of the Mist tour; after you’re already soaked from the boat ride, you climb all those stairs and get pelted with even more water. At the very top you’re standing right next to the American Falls. I highly recommend doing this should you ever visit.

The falls

The next day we hiked all around the American side of Niagara, which is all National / State Park System, so it’s preserved and open to the public.

You can get right next to the water! That's Canada in the background. The Canadian side is much more developed... it's full of casinos and hotels.

There are trails all through the park system. I got in my first hike of the year, yippee!

Enjoying fall in Niagara.

The other leg of the trip was all about the Erie Canal. Before exploring the canal, we ate breakfast at one of the best diners ever: Tom’s Diner in Lockport. We sat at a counter at the very back and were pleasantly surprised with an awesome view of the canal locks.

View from the best seats in the house at Tom's Diner.

In Lockport, we braved the rain and enjoyed a two-hour ride atop a tour boat. Joe and I were the only ones to stay up there in the cold and rain for the whole two hours!

One of my favorite pictures... Joe as we go under one of the canal bridges.

During the boat tour, we got to go through two of the canal locks. It was really cool to see the locks fill up and empty out to allow for the changes in elevation on the canal.

Closed lock on the Erie Canal.

On the last day of vacation, we drove north to Olcott, which is right on the edge of Lake Ontario. I couldn’t get that close to a Great Lake without seeing it! We found a fishing pier that the locals use, and walked all the way out. It was very windy, and walking out to the end of the pier was a little scary. But it was very, very awesome nonetheless.

Lake Ontario! Canada is behind me somewhere...

The trip was well-needed. We returned home refreshed, relaxed, and feeling like we had an adventure. The next trip: hoping to go cross-country in the spring!

Zombie Love

Alert: as if I didn’t collect enough (Pyrex, Maganalite, WagnerWare, FiestaWare…), add another new obsession to the list.

I’ve been falling in love with Beat Up Creations‘ upcycled vintage plates. I’ve got the zombie wedding portrait one seen above, a wee orange cat wearing a vest, and of course, my hero: Pee Wee Herman. On my wish list: Mr. T and Chunk. Of course.

40 years deserve some DIY

In my last post I’d hinted about a surprise I was working on. It worked! I successfully planned a surprise 40th wedding anniversary for my parents.

DIY D’oh! moment: Ever the baker, I made a devils food cake with cream cheese icing and raspberry cream filling… and forgot to pack it in the Jeep before leaving for the party. Joe and my brother Frankie saved the day when they picked up a replacement on the quick at La Bonbonniere Bake Shop. We’ve gotten cakes, italian butter cookies, and rye bread there since I was a wee one, and it’s still the best!

Party poms from Melody Wei

DIY Success: For party favors, I made pumpkin cheesecake lip balms with custom printed labels. These were packed in kraft pillow boxes with Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins… perfect for autumn!

DIY Find: OK, I assembled these, so it’s partially DIY… I got some gorgeous party poms in autumn colors from Melody Wei to hang and use as centerpieces. Some of these made it back home with me, and the smuggled poms are perfect autumn decorations.

My parents!

the rundown

My poor little blog. How I’ve neglected you. Oh, don’t give me that look.

Here’s some of what’s gone on since I checked in last:

  • attended a family wedding… my first time dressing up in almost a year, so that was pretty big!
  • beat down a hurricane (I got you, Irene)
  • landed a wholesale account at a cute local soap shop
  • planned a vacation (deets will come in a later post)
  • had my 1st successful craft show of 2011
  • got a business checking account (feeling official)
  • made a bunch of new stuff, including holiday soaps and soy wax tarts
  • planned something major, but it’s a surprise, will let you in on it in a couple of weeks
  • got a CT scan, which shows no sign of the Hodge (YES!!!!)
  • the trademark made it through the USPTO publication period with no objections, so will be issued the trademark certificate in a couple of months (feeling even more official)
  • … and a bunch of stuff I can’t remember because my brain still isn’t functioning properly. See why here.
What’s coming up:
  • surgery Monday (removing the VAD port… whoopee!)
  • scads of craft shows
  • vacation (Niagara Falls October 14-17)
  • the secret something I’ve been planning (no, I still can’t tell you!)
  • H A L L O W E E N
  • haunted hayride & carnival
  • … and a bunch of stuff I can’t remember because my brain still isn’t functioning properly. See why here. Oh wait, I already used that one? So what. It’s still a valid excuse, haha!

Picture of the Week

Joe and the cat are spending entirely too much time together.