Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Of Classes and Cows

I had a wonderful time teaching my soap making class last Saturday!  Although it poured rain, and we had to find a "work around" for mixing the lye water since we normally do that outside, it was all sunshine inside.   We had a surprise waiting for one of my students.  A sweet wife surprised her husband for his birthday and part of that surprise was attending my class.  I baked a Lemonade Cake and hid it. Then during "snack time" we brought it out, candle and all, and all of us sang Happy Birthday.  Fun!

We made a new soap that I am debuting next month.  It is called "Christmas Morning" and smells just like a Christmas Tree.  Josiah came up with the name and I just love it.  My curing rack is opposite my desk and when I am working I can smell this wonderful scent!  Makes me want to sing Silver Bells!  Look for it towards the end of October!

I have been requested to give more advance notice of my next classes so...here you go!  My next Basic Herbal Medicine class will be on October 17th and my next Soapmaking Made Simple will be on October 24th.  Drop me an email if you want to sign up and I'll give you all the information.

On to cows....

About a month ago, I was in town at a friend's home and received a call asking me where the "little black calf" in our field came from? Little black calf?  It was out in a large field with our other cows. When we got home and checked things out, we found out that an Angus cow...named Agnes....that belongs to these people had given birth!  We had been pasturing this cow for them for some time to help relieve their feed situation.  We had all been hoping that our Angus bull had bred her.  She had a beautiful baby girl!  They came by a few days later to take Mama and baby home.

We have been keeping a close eye on our two milk cows in hopes that they will be having babies soon. We are hoping for one girl and one boy.  Then we will have lots of fresh milk for butter, cheese and drinking!

We have been milking another Jersey named Suzie.  She has been on loan to us for over a year.  A very dear family in Virginia loaned her to us so that we would have milk since Nora was down to just 2 quarts a day. Now this family is very sensitive and actually made it sound like we would be doing them a favor if they could "leave her with us" for a time.

Suzie gives wonderful milk, lots of cream, will take any baby you put with her...an almost perfect cow. I say almost because she hates to have her udder touched and she kicks.  So, the boys have to tie her foot back during milking.  It's workable and we're very thankful to have been allowed to drink her wonderful milk for over a year now.

We had a scare with Suzie last week.  They boys came running in and told me that Suzie was down and couldn't get up.  Chills went down my spine!  I went running to the barn and watched her try to stand, stagger and fall.  It was so bad that I was afraid that she'd break a leg or maybe her neck! I called the vet who came immediately - it only took about 30 min. for him to make it to the farm.  Wouldn't you know that THE INSTANT his truck pulled into the barn yard, Suzie stood up and acted completely normal.

So, now I'm trying to explain to Nick that I didn't panic and that she really was "staggery".  He took her temp...only 2 degrees off.  He gave her a calcium i.v. drip "just in case".  Then we walked the field together looking for Dallas grass which can give animals the "drunk staggers".  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

He checked her over, said she was in good shape and about 8 years old.  Told me to keep a close eye on her and if she acted normal the next day, not to worry about it. We had put her on new pasture that day and he thought perhaps she over indulged which might have knocked her minerals out of whack. None of this comforted me too much since she is a borrowed cow and I certainly didn't want to call and tell D.J. that his cow had died.

What I learned a few days later is that sometimes....just sometimes, kids can be smarter than vets....I"ll tell you all about it next post.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What a weed!

Jewelweed is one of my favorite plants weeds.  Most people hate it but I think that is only because they have no idea how valuable it is!  What a blessing our Father gave us when He created Jewelweed.  Jeremy and I harvested Jewelweed this week. We filled a huge black trash bag, brought it home and put it on the kitchen table.


I chopped quite a bit of it up and made 1.5 gallons of tincture to treat poison ivy.  If you even think you've touched poison ivy (or oak or sumac) just wash it off with Jewelweed!  If you don't realize it and break out - use Jewelweed to get over it in a matter of days instead of weeks.  I use this a lot in my own family but I end up giving many jars away.

Elijah is my little poison ivy magnet.  He gets poison ivy every time I turn around - even in the winter time!  I guess that is because he is such a nature loving kid.  And, well, nature includes poison ivy tucked in and around our farm!

I love the flowers on Jewelweed - they are so beautiful and delicate.  When you make your tincture, be sure to include plenty of flowers.

Jewelweed bloom

I am also drying much of this harvest so that I can use it in my Jewelweed Soap and my Jewelweed Salve....both of which help Elijah get over his poison ivy very quickly. Once I get it good and dry, I store it in air tight containers until I need it.

I think I am going to need to harvest more just for drying.  It is one of the most popular soaps and salves that I sell locally.  Many of the farm stores have a VERY small tiny minute white bar of soap called "Poison Ivy Soap" at their cash registers.  This bar of soap is probably about 1 or 2 ounces and they are selling it for $9.00!!!  NINE DOLLARS people!  Are they crazy?  Does anyone really buy it? It says it contains Jewelweed but I am not sure how they do that and keep it pure white.

My soap is a lovely pale green because it is made with plenty of plant material!  I'll be putting it back up on my website soon.  I sold out this spring when the poison ivy began to emerge.  And since Jewelweed isn't ready until summer, there wasn't much I could do about that.  Once it is done curing, I'll put it back up - along with my salve.  It was a good lesson to me to keep more of a stock of dried Jewelweed so that I can continue to make both....even during the.....ahem......."busy" season next spring.


For more pictures and instructions on how to make your own tincture...use the search engine here on my blog. Just type in Jewelweed to learn more!  And be sure to thank our Father for His wisdom in creating this incredible plant and for blessing us with something that can lessen our suffering with poison ivy. I believe poison ivy came about because of the fall....but in His immeasurable mercy He gifted us a cure!  And if you think about it, He created it before poison ivy was a problem!  What a loving Father we serve!


Monday, September 21, 2009

One More Time!

Ever wish for the chance to do something again - and make a change?  Well, I did recently!  I wrote about a sweet family that swept in from California, stole our hearts and slipped away.  They probably weren't out of our driveway when I realized I hadn't taken any pictures.  You can read about them here.

A few days later I got a phone call....they were headed home and wanted to know if they could stop back by on their way for a short visit and pictures! Boy was I excited...the boys too!  They came...and we took pictures, rode the horse, ate some birthday cake and had a nice long chat.  Jim even took the time to advise Jeremy on some building repair....how kind!

Dear ones!

What a dear family! I think my boys are working hard to convince them to move here....I think they have ulterior motives.  My boys have ALWAYS wanted a little sister and this young lady has really impressed them.  She is very feminine, she's modest, rides like she is part of the horse,  carries a knife and is a great shot with a bow and arrow...I think they have adopted her but are keeping it a secret from me.  They don't have too....I'd be thrilled! In fact, I think we need to adopt them all!

Then there is the sweet young man!  He and Elijah are quite a pair.  I think we could turn them loose in the morning and they would be content to explore the entire 45 acres...we probably wouldn't see them till supper time.  Elijah pictures them just over the creek where the boys could run back and forth to play.

We are praying that our Father gives them divine direction and helps them find the place that He wants to plant them....and we are hoping and praying that it is very close by!

What fun we had!

We miss you guys!  Ya'll come back....soon!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Wow! What you DON'T see on the news!

From World Net Daily....I hope Congress took notice!  Estimated 2.3 million people!

Taxpayer march could be biggest rally ever in capital!

Fed Up!Exercising their rights!

Citizens carried hand-made signs that read:

  • 2010: Vote all incumbents out!

  • Our Constitution has termites!

  • We are under attack by our own government

  • Stop the march of socialism

  • You can put lipstick on communism, but it's still communism

  • My family, my doctor

  • Obamacare makes me sick

  • Go green: Recycle Congress

  • I'm not your ATM

  • We had a dream. We got a nightmare

  • Is this Russia?

  • You Lie!


History was made this day. People are beginning to realize how much our government has encroached on our freedoms. They are wanting to protect what they have left and regain what they have lost. Let's keep it up till election time!  TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE...AND SENATE!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Taste of Heaven

I love the way our Father works!  I was out late Wednesday night.  When I got home, one of my children handed me a phone message and told me I had to call this person...."something was up". He had overheard a comment in the background, "No let's surprise her." He didn't know if it was good or bad but his curiosity was getting the better of him.

I had a name...Rebecca...and a number.  When I looked up the area code I found out they were in California so I wasn't worried about the time.  I returned the call.

Well, it turned out to be a very sweet customer who had some time ago sent me a very special gift. You can read about that gift here. This stinker sweet lady was calling about placing an order for salve.  Okaayyy...then she let me have it......she wanted to pick it up IN PERSON!

We set a time for the next evening.  We've been so busy that it was amazing how the Father worked everything out: the evening was free, we had just cleaned the house (you ladies understand the importance of that detail!) and all of my children would be home that night!  I had an afternoon appointment but the boys took care of things around the house and when I left town and headed home they put the water on to boil.  I got home, threw together some pans of lasagna and put the bread to rise.  The boys set the table and I was peeking out the window every time I heard a car...or thought I did :)

When they pulled up, I couldn't hug her neck fast enough...I felt like family had come home! This sweet family had wanted to take us all to dinner but I am so thankful I had prepared a meal....the fellowship and sharing couldn't have been as deep in a public setting!

While we chatted, Jeremy put a salad together and Josiah took care of kitchen and table details. Elijah took their children to see the new kittens, meet the animals and tour the farm.  He was in his element!

It was so much fun to see this family interact and hear about their lives.  Their love for each other shines through.  It was easy to see the love and respect shared by this husband and wife and it was good for my boys to see this. Their children were models of well trained children who love our Lord.  Polite, kind, thoughtful....and full of joy and fun.  Obviously, God is the center of their home!

As the evening went on, we discovered how many things we have in common....thoughts, beliefs, convictions, joys and sorrows.  Tears slipped from eyes now and again, laughter rang through out our home....and it hit me.....I am so blessed to have these new friends as family!  These precious people are family...we share the same Father....I can look forward to eternity with them....oh what joy we will share then!

However, we're very selfish and don't want to wait and tried very hard to convince them to purchase a few acres of our farm and plant themselves here :)  I think Elijah is praying extra hard for that to happen!  I'll be sure to let you know if it does!

The hours flew by...and yet I think we could have all talked all night...and I know the children could have continued their play as well.  I fervently hope and pray that they end up in our area and very close by!  I told Rebecca that I would be praying very selfishly that they settle in our area of Tennessee. They are just starting down the path we started down 10 years ago and we would love to walk along side and share what we have learned, help them avoid the mistakes that we made and encourage them when they think they "can't". (Yes you can Rebecca!!)

I think my Father gives me these little "tastes of heaven" to encourage me.  Small slices of time when fellowship is sublime and we can share our love of our Father with each other, encourage each other, laugh and love together.

We are grateful to Him for these times.  I'm thankful she made the call (she felt like she was imposing...silly girl!), I'm thankful that our Father knew of this before we did and had already orchestrated the busy schedules of both families so that it was easy to say yes, and so very thankful that I was able to meet this sister in Christ and her lovely family.

Our hearts and lives have been touched and we are so blessed!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Classes, gardens, friends...busy, busy!

Just a short post today.  I'm busy getting ready for a class tomorrow! I'll be teaching my course on Basic Medicinal Herbs tomorrow afternoon and have much to do to get ready!  I love teaching and especially so when it is something I am passionate about. It's a small class and those tend to be a lot of fun so I am really looking forward to that afternoon.

The garden is winding down.  I, personally, am praying for an early killing frost.  I am ready to part company with my canner for another year.  I am still canning peppers, and tomatoes.  Josiah's second planting of beans is producing so I have been asked to can some Dilly Beans.  His second planting of squash and zucchini is producing also - more to shred and freeze, dehydrate and eat fresh.  We all  love squash!  I imagine I will be canning into October....and I am thankful for every jar.

We'll be growing some herbs, lettuces, spinach and mache through the winter...at least for as long as we can.  We eat a lot of salads around our house.

I had a wonderful surprise last night.  I got to spend the evening with some special friends - can't wait to tell ya'll about it.  It was so wonderful that I feel like I am still bubbling over with joy today...next post, I promise!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Soapmaking Made Simple!

Finally!  My  soap making book, "Soapmaking Made Simple!" is up on my site and available to ya'll!  I think getting it up on the site was more difficult than writing the book!  What I thought would take a day ended up taking a week.  Storms, internet outages, and last night...just as I finished it all....my server went offline for 6 hours for upgrades!

However, it is finally working and I am very excited!  You can find my book, Soapmaking Made Simple! on my website.

I am including the description of my course below:

This course will teach you how to make soap in your own kitchen! Included are the basics of soap making with easy step-by-step instructions that walk you through the simple art of  making your own batch of soap! I also show you what equipment you’ll need and probably already have!

I teach you about SAP values and why they are important, what lye discounts are and why you need to understand them and what “percentages” mean.  This combined knowledge not only helps you understand the soap making process but it gives you the skills to evaluate any recipe you find online or in a book so that you can determine if you would like to use it....no need to waste all those ingredients to discover you don’t like that particular recipe. Even more important, it gives you the skills to create your own unique recipes!

After I cover the basics, we delve into the fun! I teach you what superfatting is and how to do it so that you can create that luxurious soap you’ve been dreaming about!  You will learn how to color your soap naturally, how to use essential oils and how to create your own blends of essential oils easily and test them inexpensively! I also guide you through the properties and “notes” of essential oils.

You will learn about absolute oils, butters and clays and why and how to use them. I’ll teach you about soap molds and help you find them...in your own home!  There are over a dozen “tried and true” recipes for soap including many basic recipes along with recipes for Castile, a shaving soap, a milk soap, and more!

I have included both a “tips” section and a “troubleshooting” section to help you salvage any “mistakes” that might happen, I have shared my list for recommended reading and online sites that teach about soap making so you can continue your adventures.  I give you my list of resources for purchasing ingredients and even recommend software for soap makers!

I’ve done all the “wrong” things according to other soap makers! I have shared my secrets, shared many short cuts, given you great recipes, shared my list of resources, essentially shared it all!

Of course, this book comes with 30 days of mentoring by email!  Send me as many questions as you want, as often as you like and I will walk with you as you begin your adventure with making soap.

Download your book and let me help you begin your journey in soap making with confidence!

And the best part? This course is only $20.0!!. The book is over 60 pages long and is filled with the knowledge that I have gained during my nine years of soap making!

I'm looking forward to mentoring each one of you as you acquire the passion for making soap:)


PS!  This weekend I will be adding Josiah's soap mold on my site.  All of the money from the sale of the molds goes to Josiah.  Just another of his many businesses :)  All the recipes in my book have been calculated to his mold...although I teach you how to use any mold :)  However, if you are looking for a hand crafted, solid wood, reasonably-priced loaf mold....check back in a few days!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Soapmaking Class

I had so much fun last Saturday!  I have been teaching this soap making class for our local college on a much smaller scale.  This was the first time that I tried teaching a class where we made TWO batches of soap.  We were busy!  I was able to do this because......I FINISHED MY SOAPMAKING BOOK!!!

My book is a condensed version of what I've learned over 9 years of soap making. It covers a wide range of topics, basic step-by-step instructions, has over a dozen tried and true recipes, troubleshooting tips and a great list of resources!  I'll write more in depth about it in a day or so when I put it up for sale!!!

!My finished book!

I tried to teach as much of what I have learned as possible for this class.  I heard someone mention "information overload"!  I also want my students to touch and feel and learn about base oils, fine oils, essential oils, butters, clays, coloring and more.  I want them confident so that they could will go home and make soap (hear that ladies?!).  I've done all the "wrong" things according to other soap makers!  I've *gasp* shared my secrets, shared many short cuts, given you great recipes, shared my list of resources, essentially shared it all!

Let me share the day with you....I had  a lovely group of ladies - they came from all over.....one sweet lady even came from West Virginia!

Neat group of ladies!

My goal for each class is to make two batches of soap.  The first one a very simple batch and the second one incorporating, coloring, fine oils, superfatting, and perhaps special layering techniques...each class will be a little different depending on what soaps we make that day.

We got to touch and experience different oils and how they felt on our skin.

Fine oil sampling!

We did the same with butters...

Trying different butters!

And clays...

Sampling clays!

We learned that lye isn't so scary....that seems to be the biggest hurdle in soap making!  People are afraid of lye and have heard all sorts of untruths.  You have to be careful with lye but it isn't the end of the world if you get it on your skin...it will NOT eat down to your bones or even really burn. Vinegar is a quick fix.  I think it helped when I touched the beads of lye, explained what I felt and showed the proper steps to get it off of my skin.  As long as you wear proper protection and are careful, you will be fine!

I taught how to experiment with blending essential oils inexpensively and each table got to create their own special blend! I placed many essential oils on the tables so that there would be many choices. Trying to decide what oils to use was a lot of fun.

Picking oils!

Learning the tips for experimenting with blending will save lots of money for each of these future soap makers!

Creating blends!

We mixed spices to color one of our batches of soap.

Mixing spices for color!

It is necessary to get the soap mold ready BEFORE you begin to put your lye water and oils together.  The ladies did a terrific job each time!

Lining the mold!

Of course, after we spent time learning about all of the "fun stuff", we actually made soap....TWICE!  Here we are blending the lye water and the oils.

Putting it all together

And now we begin to mix...we are working to achieve "trace".

Working for trace!

And my friend Faith (who took all of these wonderful pictures!) got a fabulous picture of trace.

Reaching trace!

See how the drips from the blender sit on top of the mixture in the pot?

Time to get it in the mold, smooth the top and start on the next batch!

Smoothing soap!

Josiah had time last week to create these molds and have them available at the class!

Josiah's Soap Molds!

Josiah did  a great  job on these loaf molds.  He is such an entrepreneur....always coming  up with little businesses...he is now working on a cutter to match these molds!

These molds will hold a batch of soap that will equal about 10 bars depending on how you cut them.  I am recalculating all of the recipes in my book to fit this mold - although I still tell you how to make your batch fit any mold you'd like....and how to change molds anytime you like and still use the same recipe!

I made soap the day before the class so that I could show them how to trim the soap in the mold...and cut the soap.

Trimming in the mold! Cutting soap!

While I was cleaning up the mess from the first batch, the ladies got to take a break, snack on some herbed cheese and crackers, chips with fresh salsa from the garden and of course...chocolate!  Then we got busy and did our next batch. I cut both batches of soap the next day and they turned out beautifully! These ladies did a great job!

Of course, even though we are working hard and learning a lot...we are still having a lot of fun!

Having fun!

I can't wait to see what soaps these ladies create!  I hope they will all keep in touch and send me a picture of their first batch.

I'll be teaching this class again on September 26th....hope ya'll can join me here on the farm!  If you are interested, drop me a line or give me a call....we'll have a lot of fun!


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