Make It Easy

As a mother of five, a small business owner, from-scratch cooker, beekeeper, gardener, blogger, and volunteer, I have been asked how on earth I manage to regularly attend to all of my responsibilities without going mad.  Though I don’t do things as well as some might imagine (weeds are prolific, bedrooms are messy more often than not, and sometimes dinner is drive-thru), I do have some tricks that make doing the better thing a bit easier, which, I think, is all we can truly hope for.

What makes it easy for me to:

Recycle, Reduce, Refuse, and Reuse

In my kitchen there is the trash can, plus two bins labeled paper/cardboard and plastic/metal/glass.  Outside the kitchen door, for obvious reasons, is a reused five gallon bucket with a lid for compostable food scraps which get worked into our compost heap when full.  It is so easy to sort my recycling when everything is set up to make that effortless and convenient (and oddly satisfying).    After learning more about plastic pollution, I’ve tried very hard to get every bit of recyclable plastic into the bin (think the plastic spout on a juice carton, kids cups from restaurants, empty play-doh containers).  On top of that I remove the plastic windows from pasta boxes, envelopes, and the like so that the cardboard and paper can be recycled.  Once a year or so I gather up unsolicited mailings and call the companies to be removed from their lists, cutting down on waste and clutter.  When we go out to eat I bring along my beloved tiffin to take home leftovers in, avoiding the styrofoam and plastic bags.  I keep a metal spoon in my purse to stand in for plastic ones. I have an extensive cloth bag collection for shopping (even homemade produce bags!), and keep some stashed in my purse at all times for unexpected stops at stores.  None of this takes much effort.  If it’s easy to do the right thing, we are much more likely to do it!

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Keeping worn-out jeans and other usable scraps around saves me from craft store over-spending (it’s a thing) and puts the material to good use once again.  My jean potholders have held up extremely well and I never burn my fingers with them!_MG_5079

My gardening and canning probably reduce our waste the most.  Jars and rings are used over and over again, with only the dome top needing to be recycled.  This avoids countless cans and gas to drive to the store.Photo on 9-2-14 at 1.44 PM

Though we are still working on a viable solution for shampoo, conditioner, and dish soap, our body and hand soap needs are all met quite economically and naturally through my soap making.img_0670

The wondrous tiffin with three compartments.  Waitresses ooh and aah over it!  I think they may be tired of all the styrofoam waste too.  Plus it’s quite cute.

Keep the house mostly clean and the gardens mostly under control.

I am not afraid of assigning work to my children that they are capable of doing.  Every day all I have to say is “floors, guys” and the one son starts picking up all the trash cans, toys, shoes, chairs, etc, and puts them up and away.  Another older child begins to vacuum, followed by another who mops, followed by the younger son who puts all the up things down again.  I was brought up with an understanding that clean floors=clean house, so having this regular cleaning routine has helped me so much to feel sane in a three bedroom household of seven.  The children help with pulling weeds, cleaning the bathrooms, mowing the lawn, harvesting produce, and cook their own breakfasts and pack their own lunches.  The elder two also do their own laundry.  They benefit as well from knowing how to do their jobs well, and that they are contributing  to our family’s wellbeing.

-Make work easier by having quality tools for each task.

I am a fan of properly-working, quality tools.  Whether it’s a hand-forged garden trowel which will last decades or a heavy-duty copper saute pan that will enable me simmer sauces to perfection, I heartily endorse buying the best one can afford to make work more pleasant with less wastage from cheap, easily-broken tools.  Fortunately many of these things are quite easy to pick up secondhand, which goes nicely with the first item in my list, of reusing.  I recently picked up two Le Creuset kitchenware items at a local thrift store, as well as Cutco knives, and other culinary gems.

A greenhouse to start my seeds in, soap molds I don’t need to line with wax paper, a bee suit that protects me so well that I am not tense when doing hive inspections or swarm-collecting; these things all enable me to do my tasks in a simpler, easier way.

In my kitchen, where most of my work is done, there is every conceivable quality tool (note, I didn’t say “gadget”; I’ve found that many “time savers” just lead to cabinet clutter and little use) one could hope for:  four dutch ovens, copper pans, a chinois, a pasta maker, cast iron pans in many sizes, a grain mill, two tortilla presses, a hardworking mixer and blender, an electric pressure cooker, a pastry board, nice knives, a juicer and a steam juicer, a 16 qt stock pot, vintage mixing bowls, and, well, I use them all.  They are satisfying to work with and help produce excellent meals.  And much of it came from thrift stores or credit card reward points (like my new $200 All-Clad stock pot!).

-Host birthday parties without expense, waste, nor loss of sanity.

This is so easy to get right.  First, one must drop preconceived ideas about what a good party should include, such as:  inviting everyone in their class, providing treat bags, going somewhere ultra entertaining, like to a laser tag place, and lots of disposable crap (except balloons, for the love, keep the balloons!).

We have a standing rule for our five:  they can invite two-three friends and go on a special outing (bowling, mini golf, ice skating) or invite a whole passel of them to our home or on a hike.  This has worked marvelously for us, especially when we keep them outside by going down to our favorite stream, jumping on the trampoline, or making gigantic bubbles with a homemade bubble wand and solution.  I do not organize their time, but let them play freely, sometimes inviting them to make homemade slime or help cut up veggies for the meal.  We cook supper over the campfire (which they get to help build, sorry helicopter moms).  They go home dirty and giddy, without a bag of plastic junk.  I use enamel plates, real silverware, and canning jars to serve the food, because it just isn’t hard to, and there’s so much less waste!  And, no, I don’t even own a dishwasher!  We make the cake, churn the ice cream, and munch on simple homemade appetizers or a big pot of chili.  It’s easy.

Keep the laundry and mending under control.

When they hit eleven years of age I give them lessons on sorting, washing, drying, and folding clothing and then wash my hands of their stinky socks and muddy jeans.  For the younger kids their clothing goes straight into the laundry room where all their clothing lives.  They change and from there it all goes straight into the washer, dryer (or out on the line if the weather is nice), and then right back into cubbies my husband built in the laundry room out of scrap wood from a job site.  This makes it SO EASY to keep on top of things.  Also helpful for a mom of active kids is to have my sewing machine always out, threaded, and ready to do repairs.  I can’t emphasize enough how much more I attend to the mending simply because it is convenient to take a few minutes at the machine, rather than have a pile of ripped clothing that provokes guilt and wistful thoughts of “someday I’ll get to that, hopefully before they grow out of them”.  Also, after reading about the KonMari method of storing clothing, I implemented it and taught it to my children, and what a difference it makes in reducing clothing chaos in the drawers!

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Ready to serve.12513860_10154191364768352_459053708843952877_o

Organized drawers stay organized with vertical folding.IMG_0415

The clothing cubbies made from lumber scraps.  Baskets hold socks and one pair of shoes.

Spend little and experience much.

Each year we invest in a family membership to an interesting place.  We’ve done the North Museum (twice), Longwood Gardens, the Baltimore Aquarium (twice), and this year our local gym.  We get to really experience the joy of each place, and it’s wonderful to say “yes” to doing something fun without worrying about the cost.

We also regularly pick up library passes to local attractions for free such as to Landis Valley Museum, the Hans Herr House, the National Toy Train Museum, James Buchanan’s Wheatland home, and the Science Factory.  And every year we go to Hershey Park (a huge theme park loaded with top notch rides) for free by attending a Hershey Bear’s hockey game in the winter that includes free park passes as a gift.  Beyond these destinations we make regular use of local rails-to-trails, parks, free museums and zoos, and beaches.

To grow in knowledge.

Anyone with a library nearby has no excuse for not investing in their education.  I’ve often said that education is already free, but degrees cost money.  I in no way denigrate higher education, but encourage folks to continue their learning throughout their lives.  It is easy, because it requires no expense, can be worked into your day as time allows, and makes no demands on you.  I am currently learning Norwegian with my daughter for free online on duolingo.com.  I read news for free online from some of the best journals.  I can access tutorials on nearly anything via YouTube.  I am constantly reviewing works I’ve read to refresh myself on what I’ve learned, be it herbal medicine, beekeeping, gardening, food preservation, byzantine history, theology, or quilt making.  Those works I keep coming back to can often be sourced online used for cheap, so I can keep returning to them and highlight them to my heart’s content.

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This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the ideas here have made life a lot more manageable and rich for me and my family.

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For the Mall Averse; Alternative Christmas Shopping Ideas

It isn’t just the crowds and the fluorescent lighting and the endless racks and piles of goods.  It’s the loudness of breathless materialism writ in bits:  Buy One Get One 40% off!  Stocking Stuffers!  Buy More, Save More!  Gifts Worth Giving!

Everywhere you look the signs scream, plead, and croon about how parting with your cash for this or that will MAKE your Christmas, just absolutely.  The stores are practically doing you a favor!  Huzzah!  Jump on the buying train with your shiny shopping bags bumping heavily in your hands; let’s ride to Christmas-topia!

Let me just let that train go past.  Okay.  I am not anti-presents; I love them, giving and receiving.  But, folks, the way we consume our planet’s resources is out of control.  I’m not saying there isn’t a time to buy something new; underwear for instance is usually wise to purchase new (although just today I bought 10 pairs of boxers for my sons at the thrift store as they were quite immaculate).  But to believe without qualification that the only decent thing to gift is a new product says a lot about our susceptibility to the Christmas-topia train’s siren call.  A price tag does not a good present make.  Given that, there are some good ways to buy new things; things that will last, things that support our local economy!  Okay, looking both ways before crossing the tracks, here’s my ideas for great, responsible, wonderful gift-giving this year!

  • Thrift and consignment shops!  It is amazing to me what you can find for very affordable prices in these places, including sports equipment, lovely shoes and clothes, antiques, home decor, and on and on.  Buy a whole outfit for each kid or assemble baskets along a theme; a real toolbox filled with tools, fishing gear, knitting supplies, mud pie making kit with pie tins and kitchen tools (alternately a play-doh tool set with rolling pin, cookie cutters, you get the idea), old time lady gift (antique purse with vintage hankies, a brooch, gloves, hat pin), a bundle of good records or books tied with a piece of jute, baby doll bundle (doll plus preemie outfits and accessories), or any antique items like vintage pyrex mixing bowls stuffed with homemade cookies!
  • Make it!  Give homemade candies, breads, cookies, knitted or crocheted goods, candles, soaps, lip balms in repurposed tins, herb vinegars, dried apples, homemade jerky, canned goods, dried herbs in decorative bottles, hot chocolate mixes, etc.  Pinterest is your friend here.  Look around your home, in your pantry, in your sewing materials.  Irreparable jeans make AWESOME pot holders that will hold up for years.  If you have woodworking tools, cutting boards, pastry boards, pizza peels, and cheese boards are all possibilities.
  • If you buy new, buy useful!  Don’t buy the play tool set; buy age-appropriate real tools for your kids and let them practice on a piece of scrap wood or stump.  Don’t buy a “play tent”, buy a real one.  Kids find the real stuff super fascinating; it doesn’t need to have a Disney character on it to make it “fun”.  Give the kid with a love of cooking real kitchen ware that is of good quality; that will last them a lifetime, along with cookbooks that they can understand (and coupons for cooking lessons, one-on-one with you!)
  • Buy from local artists, spas, and artisans!  Investing your dollars in your local economy is a boon to your neighbors, and it keeps small businesses in business.
  • Antique Shops!  Not only are you reusing rather than consuming, but your gifts will be unique and clearly time-tested to last.  Ideas:  vintage postcards that you slip into an antique frame, a bundle of old children’s books, pitcher and cup sets, anything Pyrex, old linens, lovely candle holders with a bundle of your own homemade tapers, cast iron pans, copper pans, whimsical salt and pepper shakers, etc.
  • Give experiences!  Museum, aquarium, and gym memberships are great ways to bless a whole family for a year!  Tickets to concerts, plays, operas, spa treatments, sporting events are also well received.  Homemade coupons for “Dinner for Two” dates, “Mommy and Me” outings, etc.

Beyond these ideas, make a habit of “preventative shopping”.  I learned this idea from the blog Miser Mom.  The concept is to go garage sale and thrift store shopping throughout the year, picking up items that will be useful later (shoes and clothes in the next size up for your kids) and gifts for others.  I have put this into practice and am no longer assaulted by the crisis of snow boot and pants and whatnot shortages quite as often.  I also have a “gift box” of sorts of lovely items of good quality for birthdays and holidays.  Spend a wee bit now to avoid spending a whole lot later.  It works.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to add to it in the comments section.  Happy gifting!

Homemade Yogurt, Dependably Good, Lower Environmental Impact, and Incredibly Frugal

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On average a gallon of organic whole milk costs six dollars.  One plain cup of unflavored yogurt costs around one dollar.  This is all you need to make yogurt.  For seven dollars you can easily make a gallon of organic, rich, pure yogurt; that works out to about $1.75 per quart.  I have access to a local farmer’s milk, which I get directly into my own glass gallon jugs, which makes it even cheaper!  For starter yogurt I love to buy Fiddle Creek Dairy yogurt which comes in glass jars.  They treat their Jersey cows right; they are 100% grass-fed and, I know from visiting their verdant farm, are very happy and loved.

Being such an economical source of protein and calcium, I use it for breakfast, for smoothies, in sauces, in place of sour cream, and served plain alongside spicy curries.  It is easy to make, even without special equipment.

In yogurt-making, there is one thing to be finicky about:  cleanliness.  Thoroughly wash, in hot soapy water, everything that you will use; pot, spoon, ladle, jars, etc.  Some recipes call for sterilizing everything with boiling water, but I’ve never found that necessary as long as everything has just been washed well.

What you don’t have to be finicky about:  measuring.  I pour whatever amount of milk I have into a pot, and for the starter yogurt I scoop out about a cup’s worth, no matter the quantity of milk.

So, without further ado….

  1.  Heat whole milk over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 degrees.  Remove from heat and let it cool to 115 (you can ice bath it if you want to hurry up the cooling).
  2. Dump in your starter yogurt.  Do not whisk it, do not harass it at all!  You want to keep the integrity to the yogurt.  (This was the best advice I’ve received in all my years of making yogurt; it truly makes a difference in the final texture).  If you are going to be pouring the yogurt into several containers, just make sure each one gets some of the yogurt blob.
  3. Pour into large glass jar(s).  Situate them, without lids, in a cooler or bucket of hot water, making sure it comes up as far on the jars as it can without floating them.  Cover with heavy towels or blankets and let them incubate for at least six hours, even overnight is fine as long as the heat is maintained.
  4. Refrigerate and enjoy!!!

Some folks use their homemade yogurt as their starter for the next batch, but I don’t.  I find more success with starting with a fresh culture, and I love the quality of Fiddle Creek Dairy’s yogurt.  Their glass jars are also handy around the house or are readily recyclable!

So there you have it…less packaging waste, saved money, and a tasty, easy, healthy food!

 

And From the Kitchen…

Oh, how I love a plate of good food.  The catch is that, the better you become at cooking, the less fun going out to eat at most places is.  I thought of this as I proceeded to “fix” the bland guacamole at one restaurant, even going so far as to ask the waiter for some fresh lemon wedges.  A bit of salt, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce later, there was a decent guacamole before me, but still not so near as good as homemade.  Not.  Near.

Make some:

Mash avocados.  Douse with fresh lemon juice (don’t even think of the plastic lemon full of bitter juice, just don’t), maybe one lemon for every three avocados.  Mince white onion, mix a spoonful of sugar into it and squeeze the mass with your hands (extracts the excess sulfur).  Pour hot water over the onions and let it sit for a bit.  Rinse thoroughly with cold water, pat dry, and add to the bowl (this is a latin american trick I learned living in Chile and it really lets the onions showcase their taste without overwhelming other flavors).  Mince 1 jalapeño and 1 tomato for every avocado used and add those too.  Mince cilantro, at least a 1/4 c. per avocado and add that.  Mix all that deliciousness together.  Now the salt…don’t skimp on the salt, you want to bring those flavors out into full bloom.  Test with a tortilla chip, to take it’s own salty quotient into the equation.  Taste, eyes rolling back and an involuntary groan of pleasure escaping.

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Now going to authentic ethnic restaurants is rarely disappointing and most usually my reactions to what is set before me are downright comical.  I simply cannot stop sighing and exclaiming and groaning with delight.  I am Bob from “What About Bob?”.  I can’t help it.  When a tikka masala is creamy and spicy and exquisitely complex, when the jasmine rice is al dente and fragrant, when the naan is hot from the oven, and when the cucumber sauce on the gyro dribbles it’s dilly goodness down my throat, I am undone.  Can’t.  Contain.  The.  Joy.

But I am no thorough food snob.  McDonald’s french fries, when they’re piping hot and salty, are heavenly.  And there is something about spicy nacho Doritos inserted inside a turkey sandwich on a hot summer’s day that is just rockin’.  Don’t get me started the simple pleasure of Dr. Pepper in a glass with ice alongside pizza.  Or Butterfingers.  Mercy.

And now I give you my favorite salad, which is painless to make and is made nearly daily in our home to add zing to the meal:

Cut up some lettuce and/or spinach, cabbage, avocados, tomatoes, shredded carrots, julienned celery, whatever you have on hand, and throw it all in a bowl.  Chop up some green onions or garlic chives and add to the bowl.  Mince some parsley or cilantro or both and sprinkle that in.  Juice a lemon into a separate bowl and stir an equal quantity of a mild oil to the juice (safflower, sunflower, or light olive work great).  Stir about a 1/4 tsp salt in and get it emulsified with a mini whisk or fork.  Pour over the salad.  Test for saltiness; add more if the flavors aren’t zinging, or more lemon.  This zingy salad pairs so well with creamy, heavy, or cheesy dishes, awakening your palate every few bites with it’s zest and freshness.  My children fight over the seconds.  This pleases me much.  I’m so addicted to these flavors that I will order salads at restaurants with a side of lemon wedges so that I can make this (more or less) with the oil and salt at the table.

The downside to all this culinary happiness and productivity is that my children cannot be tempted by the offer of Hey kids, how about cereal for dinner? or Why don’t we just have some ice cream instead of making a big meal?  No, they will give me a withering look and ask plainly for real food.  So here’s the desperate quick fixes for those tired evenings when the palate is still annoyingly expectant:

Parmesan Pleasure-  Boil pasta just to al dente; nothing worse than a floppy noodle mushing about in your mouth (shudder).  Top with grated fresh parmesan, chopped tomatoes, salt, and a splash of greek dressing.  Comfort food for sure.

Pizza-tilla-  Spread pizza sauce on tortillas or english muffin halves, or crackers, top with cheese and whatever toppings you have on hand.  Bake until crispy and bubbly.  A bit of minced onion, diced ham, and pineapple on top amps the flavor Caribbean-style.

Tabla Supper-  Cut up leftover meats, chicken, cheese, sausages, and serve alongside chopped chunks of cheese, pickles, and crackers.  Mix honey and mustard together, get out some horseradish and honey and jams and lay out everything on a big wooden board and taste the night away.

Burrito Rapido-  Mix a can of refried beans together with a can of chopped chilies and get it heating in a skillet.  Stir in shredded cheddar and some canned salsa.  Slap that savory filling into tortillas and serve with sour cream galore and more salsa.  Yum.

And so, here’s a glimpse from my kitchen, from my life as a groaning gourmand.  May your day be tasty.

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Honey Haul 2014

Well.  My goodness.  Fifty-six pounds of honey.

IMG_2566The mega extractor that we borrowed which spins nine frames at a time.  We also got to borrow a hot uncapping knife (cuts the wax off of the comb, exposing the honey), an uncapping tank (where all that waxy goodness is drained of honey), and a comb scratcher (used to scratch open comb that the knife doesn’t hit).  Fun!IMG_2567 Ten of the twenty-five frames we extracted.IMG_2575Tired, sweaty pregnant me with a lovely capped frame of honey. IMG_2581Cappings removed, ready to be extracted. IMG_2577IMG_2578IMG_2579 And this is why we have kids.  😉 IMG_2585 Bottling time!  Look at that lake of honey! IMG_2588IMG_2591IMG_2592 After the uncapping tank honey was added in, the total was 56 pounds of honey, and I think around 2 pounds of beeswax that, yes you guessed it, will go into my soap :).

As my husband and I stared at all those filled jars, I said the obvious, “The Lord has been very merciful to us.”

The Strangest Mercy

I was glad for the bagginess of my bee suit.  Not only that it gives a buffer zone between my tender skin and the stabbing dagger-like stingers of thousands of honeybees, but because at six months pregnant, I still fit into it.  Now, I may look like an astronaut trying to shoplift a basketball, but I’m relatively safe and comfortable.

I waited until Henrik ceased his happy pre-nap shenanigans (i.e. throwing his blankets out of his pack and play, belly-flopping delightedly, and grinning at me over the top of the sides in a most awake-and-knows-it way).  When he finally succumbed to the nap, I prayed in a whisper that God would protect me as I went to rob tens of thousands of honeybees of their hard-earned honey (not all of it, mind you, just their spare pantry).

I got my smoker going strong on the most tailor-made-honey-collecting day ever (mild temperatures, little wind, and undiluted sunshine).  I don’t normally even inspect my hives without another adult at home, because I’d like to have some back-up if I get stung and have a reaction, but a string of cloudy days and conflicting schedules and a limited time frame in which to borrow an extractor meant that on this one sunny day, I was going in Lone Ranger.

I did Les Abeilles hive first (which is French for “the bees”), which is my older colony and quite a robust one.  This hive alone swarmed twice last May, forming two new colonies of sizable populations, while still leaving behind a great multitude.  I’d be harvesting twenty frames of honey off of them. It’s an intimidating thing to approach the home of thousands of stinging insects.  Worse yet to attempt to plunder their reserves.  I steeled myself for the worst, though I’ve yet to be stung in my two years as a beekeeper, I could just imagine that today would be my initiation rite into true beekeeping.  “Stung forty times, huh?  Well, you’re a true beekeeper now”, I imagined some seasoned beekeeper saying, while slapping me on the back.

I puffed the smoke into their front door and breathed the pent-up nerves out.  Let’s do this. I worked my way through, frame by frame, puffing with smoke (which tells the bees, ‘Hey, there’s a forest fire going on, you should probably chow down on honey because your home is going to be burnt up.’ or ‘Was that an alarm pheromone I just smelled?  No….I just smell smoke….I’m so happy now.  Nom nom nom.’).

I took each frame and gave a few swift shakes over top the hive, harmlessly dislodging the bulk of the feasting bees right back into their home.  Some get understandably irritated.  Wouldn’t you be?  There you are at the fridge, grazing on some cheese and reaching for the milk when all of a sudden someone picks up your kitchen and shakes you out the door.  And if you don’t fall out of the doorway, well then you are swept out with a giant broom. I hustled the bee-less heavy frame of honey to my wagon awaiting downhill, where I put it into a box and swiftly covered it with a sheet so the bees didn’t try to claim it again.  Repeat twenty times while sweating profusely from every pore on your body and keeping your smoker going, and hoping against hope that they don’t smell through the smoke haze the scented alarm that the guard bees are emitting, and you too could harvest honey!

Amazingly, no stings.  Not even more than a handful of fly-bys (when the guard bees attempt to kamikaze my veil in indignation).  I put the hive back together and said, “Thank you, ladies!” and carefully navigated the heavy wagon back down to the house.  I then repeated this with The Bee-Bee Boomers (my first swarm catch colony), and they too amicably allowed me to plunder their pantry.

There are twenty-seven frames of honey on my back porch under sheets awaiting extraction tomorrow.  And no painful stings on my body.  And the baby is still napping.  Mercy.

And that’s what it is.

It’s not because I’m some wonderfully intuitive bee-whisperer.  It’s not because of me.  It’s one of God’s strange mercies for me, for this day and the other days past of hive inspections and honey harvests.  It implies nothing about tomorrow, or the next day, the next harvest.  No promises for a sting-free future.  But a mercy for today. I’ll take it.  I’ll give thanks and thanks again. For every strange mercy, giving thanks.

Free Fats Are My Love Language

On the dining room table, on the top of a bookshelf, on my desk, and in a corner of the living room.  The soaps, dutifully curing, are taking over my home, surface by surface!  Last night we made a 100% lard soap, lightly scented with peppermint essential oil.  We jokingly call it the “Winter Minter”, and it’s such a corny, ridiculous name that it just might stick.  It looked like heavy cream going into the mold and my soaping partner and I sighed delightedly.

Today my husband is picking up two pig’s worth of lard from a friend who heard we’re making soap and offered her bounty to us.  Another friend offered us suet from his butcher shop to render tallow.  People giving us free fat is like winning the lottery!!  I’m so grateful!

Tomorrow we harvest our honey with my husband’s cousin and his wife.  It’ll be quite gratifying to see that sweet liquid gold come pouring out of the extractor.  So, basically, I’m all about sugar and fat while still being regarded widely as something of a health nut.  Smile.

On the reading front I’m working my way through “A Short History of Byzantium” by John Julius Norwich and “Common Ground:  An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian” by Jordan Bajis.  What a blessing to have such depths of information at our very fingertips.  And they go so well with mustard pretzels.  I digress.

Morning light is pouring across the goat milk tea tree soaps, pouring in and saying that it’s probably time to get out of my pajamas and out of my reverie.  Time to head out in search of olive oil for an upcoming chamomile baby soap for my dear wee ones.  Time to wash the diapers and pull some meat out of the freezer, and in general, make this home hum with life-giving activity.  But I’ll let that creeping sunshine have a few more minutes of my sleepy-eyed wonder.