Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I asked the real estate broker who I used to buy my condo in 2007 to stop by and go over the prospects of selling. I'll cut to the chase; she said not to even try to sell it now.

She had done all the research and brought over many printouts showing what has sold recently. The prices were disturbing. She also highlighted current ones where their listings had expired and were then re listed at MUCH lower asking prices. From all the data, it looks like I would lose approximately $25,000 - 30,000. I had expected a small loss, but that would be unreasonable.

She was pleased with the way the place looks, clean, neat, etc. She gave me a good contact to replace the air conditioner condenser. (I don't use the a/c, but it has to work to be able to sell.) And we're going to keep in touch. Once the market starts to show signs of life, I'll list it with her. Other brokers would have been glad to write up a listing for me, at a price that would never work, and let me be bothered by realtors bringing by clients. But this woman is truly professional. She knows that when the time is right we'll be able to list it with good results instead of dangling it out there now when the market is bad.

I know that waiting is the right thing to do but sometimes it's just discouraging. I had hoped to be preparing for my next adventure but it looks like this one isn't completed yet. I'll be spending some time this weekend trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do next.

I would have posted this in the morning but I don't want anyone thinking that it's an April Fool's joke. Sadly, it's true.

Monday, March 29, 2010

One Small Change - March recap and looking forward

The intentions for my March change in HipMountainMama's One Small Change Challenge was simply to switch to a safer deodorant. I've been very happy with the mixture that Wendy and Maria suggested. At some future point in time I may try some others out of curiosity, but for now I'll stay with this.

Partway into the month I also decided to "unplug" and not only cancelled my cable service as of March 16th, but gave my television to Goodwill. I haven't really missed it, and the living room looks better without that ugly box that used to sit in the corner. While this type of change isn't for everyone, I've found that there is much less "noise" in my day. I keep up with news on the radio or online, so I'm not missing anything important.

I decided that my April (final) change for this challenge will be to bike to work, weather permitting. We're still in a rainy holding pattern here in the northeast, so a rowboat would be a better choice right now! But I'm looking forward to the gas-free commute for the spring and summer.

Overall, I've stuck with my changes and think they've become part of my way of life. I'll let you all know on Earth Day, when the challenge officially closes.

A treasure in my email today....

I received an email today with several photos from the Great Depression and wanted to share them, in case you have not seen them***. They are exactly as I imagined scenes from The Worst Hard Time; nothing but dirt and sand as far as you can see, cardboard tacked on shacks to keep out the sand, farmers trying to give every possible drop of water to their crops. The faces in the photos speak for themselves.

*** I do not know the origin of these pictures and do not claim any rights on them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What became of them....

Those cuts of fabric became 1600 little squares

sewn together into 100 of these



The only thing left is to snip all those little threads (and run the carpet sweeper over the rug again).

There are a fair amount of *mistakes*, which you can't see from where you are sitting ;) Overall, I'm happy with the results. I'll be putting away my sewing machine and packing these two tops away until next winter, when I can sit on the couch and do the hand quilting, maybe by solar- or candle- light.

Remember these?


It's been a quiet week here in Lake Wo the city. Bills have been paid, pantries re-stocked, laundry folded and put away. This week there were no lunchtime walks for spreading flower seeds due to rain and cold weather. Instead, I took my television and a small table to the Goodwill.

The cable has been disconnected for just over a week, and I find the condo more calm and peaceful. It had been my habit to turn on the news upon arriving home from work, to let it serve as background noise while I changed and prepared dinner. I really wasn't paying attention to it, so it was just noise. I keep up with news and even watched live coverage of the healthcare vote online, so I don't believe I'll miss that bulky box that sat in my living room.

Spring training games have been on the radio now, so once again I can listen to John and Susan.* Or I can tune in to some good music stations on the internet while I do other things.

My only reading this week was virtual. I caught up on my favorite blogs and found some new ones. From book reviews on other blogs, I've made a list of books that I'd like my local library to get on inter-library loan. I'll be stopping there this weekend with my requests.

We're back at the time of year where I can wake to the birds in the cedars out back calling their friends down the street. It's a sweet and pleasant sound. It takes me back to my early days. Those wonderful days when this part of New England was less developed, and birds would sing to you every morning. Were there more birds back then, or have they just relocated to where worms are more plentiful?

I'll be taking my lunchtime walks again next week, with a pocket full of seed packets :)

*Yes, I've been a NYYankee fan for.ever.!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Last weekend

This past weekend I enjoyed a ride on the bikepath before my appointment with those tax preparer people.

They had some news for me, good or bad, depending on how you look at it. I file Single, just claiming myself, so the government taxes me at a high rate. I’m getting a tax refund this year, that’s good. But that also means I don’t make enough to pay the taxes that I’m required to pay, which is bad. Either way, I’ll be using the money to pay off the appliances I just bought to make this condo saleable, which is good.

I also experimented with a small batch of homemade granola. I love granola but don't buy it because of the added sweeteners. The recipe I came across (I haven't a clue where it was from - I had printed it quite a while back) uses a banana and dates as the sweetness factor. I've been taking it for snacks at work, yummy.

I also made a fennel salad from this book

Surprisingly, the fennel flavor was muted. It is mixed with beets, olive oil, gorgonzola, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I didn't take a picture of the finished product because, well, the beets turn everything pink. But I love the salad and will definitely make it again.

There are several recipes in Vegetable Heaven that I will try over the next few weeks. My routine has been getting a little stale, lately, so it's time to try some new things :)

P.S. I got some good leads on bikepaths from friends at work, woo hoo!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010


On Saturday I tried to make a quick stop at the Goodwill, but was there for much longer than planned. This particular store is one of their outlets, where they sell everything by the pound. The goods are on wheeled tables which are switched out several times during the day, so there is a constant supply of “new” items. I bought a spring blouse, two books, some odd pieces of crocheted lace, and this dirty old doll….

Usually, I skip over dolls completely, but she caught my eye and I recognized her immediately. This is a Thumbellina. I received a larger one for Christmas when I was barely 7 years old. By winding the knob on her back, her head will move just enough to appear to be a real baby. This little one was dirty, two of her fingertips have been broken off, and she smells from almost 50 years of improper storage. She’s definitely not appealing, with messy hair and missing her baby outfit. Even so, I put her in my cart and paid for her at the register.

Sunday morning I decided to make this little one more presentable, so that I could bring her to my children and grandchildren. I wanted to show them what my dolls were like. I washed her vinyl parts and shampooed her matted artificial hair. That’s when it all went wrong. She slipped from my hand and landed directly on her back, breaking the knob into small, sharp pieces. The piece that remains still turns, but I wouldn’t let a child play with it now.

I’m not upset about it, other than calling myself clumsy for the following half hour. My original Thumbellina and other dolls were accidentally discarded during my sister’s move (they had been stored in her attic), so I guess this just wasn’t meant to be.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ThE wInNeR iS......

MyStory of History!

How neat that I picked your name from the slips of paper in my mason jar this morning! For everyone's reference: I met MyStory through a post about another man's book :) (hand-written in 1943!)

Please email an address to greenvtr [at] yahoo [dot] com so I can ship the No Impact Man book out asap!

Thank you to everyone who comments on my posts. This world needs a little more communication, don't you think? :)

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today is the day!

Yes, the day we've been waiting for -

Happy Spring!

I hope your weather invites you to play outside today.

I will be on the bikepath this weekend, in case anyone is looking for me ;)

Gentle reminder: I will be sending out the No Impact Man book on Monday morning to one friend picked from the Comment section of this post. There is time to add your name today, if you have not already done so. :)


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another one down

I have been very bothered by this article since reading it yesterday. (Warning; it is fairly long.) As a long-time prior resident of Vermont, I know that there is a great deal of pride surrounding anything related to winter sports in that state. Vermont skiers and snowboarders have reached international attention in competitions. A source of pride is the Burton snowboard company, a small Vermont start-up approximately 30 years ago and still working closely with top performers in the sport.

I knew young folks who worked there, were paid very well, and loved the company. But over the years many have been let go for business (economical) reasons. Now the remaining crew in their basic manufacturing facility in VT will be laid off when the plant closes its doors, moving all manufacturing to Austria and China. (They already have plants in operation in those countries.) All due to the cost of doing business in the US.

No, it won’t have the same effect as if GM shut down, putting thousands out of work. But it’s the same, isn’t it? There is a base pay that the American worker must earn in order to afford to live. Add to that the employer’s costs of property and business taxes, materials, transportation, and then the dreaded “H” word (healthcare). It just makes more sense for the company to relocate overseas.

Burton was born in Vermont. I guess that’s why so many folks are upset at seeing their “baby” leave the state. And Vermont is not “business”-friendly. It’s hard for new companies to come in, given restrictions and regulations, maybe rightfully so.

Their R & D operations will still stay but the production line, where a good worker could apply for a job, is going. It is hard enough to find a job. If you don’t have technical skills, it is harder when manufacturing jobs leave.

Why do I go on about a company who I neither purchase from nor work for? Probably because it is just another notch closer to economic hardship for us all, happening many times over every day. We’ve sent all our potential employment overseas, giving our economic safety net to someone else.

Throughout my life, I’ve worked in many manufacturing facilities in one way or another. There was security in those jobs. Decent pay for hard work. I felt good at the end of the work week. I wish my grandchildren could have that satisfaction.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

91 years ago today

I stopped at Crumbs Cupcakes, a new-ish bakery in Westport. I had noticed this shop sitting across from the library parking lot, but never fit it into my schedule. Well, today was the PERFECT reason to peruse their selections, since it happens to be not only St Patrick’s Day, but it is also my mother’s 91st birthday! I routed my drive so that I could bring her something different today. And these were definitely different. There were all sorts of varieties that I just can’t remember, but these were (clockwise from top: Grasshopper, Tiramisu, Red Velvet).

I didn’t want to bring just one, because she should have something leftover for tomorrow. So I picked out two, but maybe she wouldn’t be thrilled with my choices. I added a third, completely different.

We each had a cup of tea and cut portions of the grasshopper and the tiramisu, which were both good. We didn’t make it to the red velvet, but it was tempting….. She’ll have plenty leftover to choose from tomorrow, and the day after that! They’re quite a bit larger than the ones that come from my muffin pan!

I owe a lot to her. She’s always been self-sacrificing for her children. Typical of her mothering skills was the time when I was in early grade school, woke up for school and remembered that I was supposed to bring in soil for a planting project that day. While I dressed and had breakfast, she took a trowel outside and dug up enough FROZEN dirt and thawed it in a warm oven for me.

I had the soil for class. She had a few more grey hairs. Thanks again, Mom!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

One Small Change - mid March update

I've kept up with my reduced beef intake since joining Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change Challenge in January, enjoying about one beef meal each month, and continued making cold-brewed coffee to cut unneccessary electrical usage (February goal). It's so easy, it's almost mindless. The extra benefits are that it's less acidic and less bitter than perked coffee can be. (However I won't give away my vintage coffeemakers - stovetop or electric. It's that vintage thing, y'know.)

For March I decided to try making natural deodorant, which has worked out well. We'll see how this holds up when I'm active in warmer weather.

An additional change of cutting the cord on my cable provider was added for March 15th, today. I don't watch very many tv shows so this looks to be easy enough. With spring and summer around the corner, I will be outside and less likely to sit on the couch.

My thoughts for April are to bike to work whenever the weather permits. I've got my pretty wicker bike basket on the handlebars and a folding metal basket on the rear to carry my lunch and a change of clothes. It's a five mile commute through side roads by bike, so a ten mile excersize program sounds pretty good.

Each small change has been easy enough to accomplish that they'll stay with me. In retrospect, they've all been surprising healthy in one way or another. I haven't decided whether to continue making additional changes after the challenge is done, but I'm happy with these.

By the way, there's a great post on O.S.Change from Chrissy that may be inspiring to many.

And please remember to add your name to the comment section of my earlier post for my giveaway of the No Impact Man book by Colin Beavan, in celebration of my one year blogging anniversary. A name will be drawn at random after midnight on March 21st and the book will be mailed on March 22nd. I've really enjoyed this time with everyone and appreciate all your kind comments!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nor'easter, they say....

Rain, wind, power outages, trees down - that's CT this weekend. The only thing to do was sit inside, listen to the rain, and watch the blowing trees. One section of the Merritt Parkway was closed due to a tree that fell across the road. Coincidentally, said tree caused my nephew from New Hampshire and his wife and daughter to sit in the stopped traffic. They were driving down to visit my mother this weekend. When they arrived, we chatted away and enjoyed a satisfying dinner. As we were clearing off the table the electricity went out but thanks to a small rechargeable lamp designed to turn on when the power goes out, we kept on as if nothing had happened, sitting in a semi-dark apartment. My two year old niece (grandniece?) enjoyed exploring the effects of a small flashlight. And we all enjoyed watching her fascination with this new experience. (Small children are good for the heart!)
Well, my mother's senior citizens apartment may not be set up for a major power problem or the end of our cushy lifestyle and dependency on oil, but the five of us did very nicely for a few hours with nothing but each others company. We needed nothing else.

Here's hoping you are content this weekend, no matter what the weather!

Friday, March 12, 2010

How does your garden grow? (part one)

I don't actually have a "garden" per se, but I love to garden (verb). This year I'm taking it to the streets thanks to the inspiration of a like-minded fellow on the other side of the internet who sees the potential for color and life in everyday surroundings.

The weather here was warmer than usual lately. (Isn't is always warmer, colder, wetter, dryer, or snowy-er than usual? What is usual?) So I took a few lunchtime walks to scout the area. On the second walk, in my pocket were two packets of Batchelor Button seeds from last year. The packet claims that they can be planted in early spring so I found some areas on the edge of overgrowth; not too shady, not too sunny, and sprinkled some seeds in about four different spots where the ground is wonderfully rich and loose from years of decaying leaves. I tamped them in with my shoe. And - bonus - we are expecting scattered rain for the next few days. I'll be checking up on them with water if need be.

There is an old tree stump almost directly across from the driveway at work. Inspired by (read: copying???) Rob's idea, I'm thinking about planting some flowers in it. I'll have to time this right. A few hundred yards away is the town parks and rec department. I don't know if they'll appreciate my invading their turf. Further down is the P.A.L. facility so there is the occasional police presence. There is also a security detail making the rounds through the parking lots of the offices on this street. Scattering seeds is easy. Carrying potted flowers and a baggie of planting medium is a whole 'nother story. (gets that heart pumping!)

I have quite a few more seed packets of various sorts to sprinkle over the next week or two. So many seeds, so few pockets.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Review - The Good Good Pig

Timing is everything, isn't it? Just as I was finishing The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery several bloggers were posting about the pigs they are raising (for good eatin'). I haven't had bacon in many months, y'all have fresh pork on the hoof in your barnyard, and this book has ALMOST sworn me off ham! It just isn't fair, I tell ya.....

My mother told me about The Good Good Pig, even though she has not read it yet. (We pass book alerts to each other.) It was recommended to her by my dear sister-in-law, who has been blessed for many years with a job I envy - working around books and people. Needing a "lighter" book to fill a gap (since I always try to have a book available for laundry night, rainy lunch hours, and some evenings) I stopped at a nearby library to borrow said volume.

This true story about the full and successful life of a litter runt, who was blessed with being nurtured by a generous couple, was a good choice. The account of his actions weaves a tale of a pig that touched many lives. It may seem a bit syrupy or “Charlotte’s Web” at times, showing how people reacted to him and what they learned from him. Christopher’s actions, escapades, grunts, likes, and dislikes are so detailed that I feel as if I had known him. The descriptions are clear enough for me to visualize the hens trying to get his food scraps, a large pig running through the pasture, or the author rushing off after being called that he had been digging up a neighbors yard.

The ending did surprise me. The revelations, or realizations, of the effect that this pig had on folks who met him were interesting. It is a book about the value of relationships, and I’m glad to have come across it.

Now, perhaps I had better fix a bacon and egg sandwich this weekend….

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hello, Spring!

Signs that Spring is almost here:

Geese flying north again - yes!

Robins - yes, I've been seeing lots of them now

The bright tinge of color on the willow trees - yes (if you live in the north, you'll know that orange-y color that shines in the sun)

Flowers forcing their way through the hard soil -

Or, this......

St Joseph's Day pastries, YUM!

Each ethnicity has traditions which include food. My father's side of the family came from Italy, where most everything revolves around food. :) Here in the northeast, near NYC, was a large concentration of immigrants from Italy. You can still find Italian pastry shops in several of the towns near me. Small places with wonderful treats, and holiday specialties. You'll know the best shops in the area by the line of customers. At Easter they are so busy that it is common for them to hire someone to give out numbers as you walk in the door.

St Joseph's Day, March 19th, is marked by the baking of Sfingi and Zeppole. They usually start making them at the beginning of March and are finished by the end of the month. If you forget to stop by, you'll have to wait until next year!

The Sfingi is a cream puff style pastry with cannoli filling, candied citron, and teeny chocolate bits, topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. The Zeppoli is crunchy, sometimes known as a lobster tail. I wouldn't even try to make these at home. There's something so special about going to the shop to buy these. It's a memory and routine from my past. And judging by the people lined up in the store, it's a routine from the past of most folks around here :)

* * * * * *

Don't forget to add a comment to my earlier post, to be included in the drawing for The No Impact Man book, in thanks for all of you who have given your time and kind words to me. I really do appreciate all the folks I've come to know as friends. I enjoy stopping by your blogs to read your posts and love to have you stop by here and comment.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nature is forever hopeful

I enjoyed a long, brisk walk at lunch today. The snow has mostly melted and very little has awoken from winter hibernation around here. Except for the acorns, which have already split their shells and started sending out roots. Mother Nature plans on being around for a while yet. She has faith in us.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Out of season

....and then there are times when I spend money on things that I really don't need.....

Yes, that's green grass sprouting in the back yard. But I bought this sled at the Goodwill. You never know WHAT you'll find!

To celebrate the first beautiful Sunday of the year, kites were in the air! (Maybe I should have found a kite store.)

It is finally looking like Spring is on it's way. Enjoy!

And please don't forget to add a comment to my previous post if you'd like to be in my 1st year celebration giveaway!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Paying it forward!

I feel so lucky, or blessed, or both! Yesterday I received an email saying that I was one of the winners for Hip Mountain Mama’s One Small Change for March! My prize is beautiful handmade earrings and inspirational cards from Garden Mama! She has some lovely things in her shop, and I am enjoying her blog. It’s a warm, happy place with beautiful photography. Thank you again, Garden Mama and Hip Mountain Mama!


My book review – No Impact Man

Okay, I liked this book. Even though Colin Beavan tosses out statistics here and there, it’s not a dry read. It’s an honest, how-do-I-do-this-without-causing-too-much-pain-for-those-around-me, explanation of the year he took on the challenge of living in NYC while making as little impact on the environment as possible.

He had already become an authority on environmental living when I started reading his blog. After reading this book, I understand why. During his No Impact year he tackled problems of transportation, take out food, and disposable diapers, among others – while remaining human. I especially liked his thoughts on how the bombardment of advertising affects our general unhappiness, making us believe we need more and better and newer. What makes this interesting is that he has a family, so there were other people for him to consider when making lifestyle decisions.

There is a wealth of information, links, and resources in the appendix. I've added to my "must read" list. :)

So, to pass along all the good karma I’ve been receiving AND to mark my first year anniversary of posting on the ’net, I will pass this book on to someone who would like an enjoyable read into the history of the No Impact Man. Please put a comment on this post by midnight on March 21st. A winner will be drawn and the book will be in the mail on the 22nd!

Quick notes

This was one of those work weeks where I drag myself home after work, exhausted. This was month-end closing, which is getting more complicated as business grows (yes, grows!). There's been extra work for everyone. So I didn't post much this week. My online time was limited to reading everyone's blogs.

With the soon-to-be-Spring-and-good-weather on the way, I made a call to my cable company and requested a disconnect as of the end of this billing period, which is March 15th. At that time I will no longer have a television signal, and I plan on spending more time outdoors. Hooray! I haven't been watching much on the tube, and decided to officially unplug. I get my news via radio stations and online so I shouldn't be missing anything important.

In a spurt of energy that sprung from who-knows-where, I painted the bathroom a few nights ago. I'm finished! Every room looks so clean and cheery now. I can officially put my painting supplies in the basement. New appliances are on their way, and then I have to arrange to replace the air conditioning unit, at which point this condo will be ready for sale. Please keep your fingers crossed that the economy and housing market starts improving this spring!

Now it's time to start thinking about printing out my tax documents. I suppose I shouldn't put it off much longer.....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Location, location, location

These are some sites I've been scouting for Rob's Gorilla Gardener Challenge. They were dull weedy spots. They are now pockets of potential prettiness.

Here is the current view at this offset intersection. I'm imagining nasturtiums draping from the mossy pockets on this rock facing, their orange and red flowers brightening the grey background. (If I owned this property, I'd love to dress it up with beaucoup colorful flowers. But it's not, and I can't haul that much water on my bike.)

The second option is a dreary, overgrown intersection right near work. I think that these commuters would enjoy some pretty flowers here! I could take a Johnny Appleseed walk on my lunch hour, and drop some seeds near the signs in the distance of this photo. If I plant the seeds right before we get some rain, they could be off to a good start. I can bike to work with water bottles to supplement the rain. I've bought a few packets of sunflower and cosmos seeds. Either one does well with natural average rainfall, in case I can't carry enough water on a regular basis. And they both reseed, so they may come back next year!

I have one other site in mind, but I'll keep that one quiet...for now...

We're still below temperature to plant outdoors (30-ish at night, 40-ish today), but that just allows more time for planning.

Are you tempted? Have you been considering spreading the floral cheer? Wouldn't it be nice to plant some flowers in an unexpected spot, where others can enjoy them? Maybe add some brightness to a dull commute? One pack of seeds doesn't cost very much, but can contribute to so much good will. Take a quick hop over to Rob's World and sign up. It's not a competition, just a nice way to make the neighborhood a little brighter.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Series books from the 70's

One of the neat things that were part of the 70's were the books that came out as a series, so you could build the collection over time. They were like a monthly book club. Of course, it was a marketing scheme, but we loved the idea.

You could buy a cookbook binder at the grocery store and then each week (or when posted), buy the next section, eventually filling it. Or you could subscribe to Golden Hands, received by mail. It was a great series on all needlework forms.

One of my favorites was The Family Creative Workshop. Occasionally, I find a copy in a thrift shop and enjoy thumbing through it. Sometimes I'll buy it, read it at home, and re-donate it. The series was written by folks who specialized in each subject, either men with long-hair, mustaches, and mutton-chops, or women with long, straight hair. The crafts were all survival skill varieties which seemed so "hippie-ish" back then, but are the things we all seem to want to know today. They wrote about everything from making a hammock to metalworking.

The copy I bought this past weekend is book #3 - Boxes to Card Tricks, and I might just keep this one. It has a detailed section on Brewing with Roots and Herbs, and a wonderful write-up on Sourdough Bread and starter.

Have you seen these? Or do you remember them? :)

In the kitchen lab

How strange that I did not care for science in high school, neither biology nor chemistry, yet I am fascinated by all things scientific when I study at my leisure. Especially the chemistry part. I mix washing soda and borax for cleaning laundry, use salt and lemon juice to clean rust, and baking soda with vinegar to clean all sorts of things. Yesterday I conducted another kitchen laboratory experiment, using a recipe recommended by Wendy and Maria.

Of course there was that trepidation, "do I bring the coconut oil to a liquid state or try using it as a solid?", and "did I put in too much?" As a solid, it looked like I goofed. So I set the bowl in a pan of hot water to soften, which it did quickly. Then everything looked too "liquid". But I let it set. Which is hard for an impatient person like me to do :) I found an almost empty container in my travel bag, I cleaned it out and refilled it with the mixture when it started to solidify.

Today is the test. I've showered and applied my homemade deodorant mixture. It will be very hectic at work this week, and may provide for some very long days.

But the best part of all this; I was able to explore a little more in my kitchen "lab".

Have a great day, and keep on learning!

On a side note to Wendy and Maria, or anyone who uses this recipe (baking soda, cornstarch, coconut oil, tea tree oil, and lavendar oil), does it get messy or leave a residue on your clothing in the summer? Do you let the coconut oil turn to liquid before mixing? How thick should the consistency be when mixing?