Living for the Pockets

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Well friends, it has been almost a month since my last post.  When going back to work full time, I had high hopes of still being able to post each day.  Now I’m thinking I may have been in the midst of a bit of a crazy streak to think that would be possible.  In fact, for a few weeks there I did feel like I was quite the loony lady, and sure I would never again be able to take part in those “homestead-ish” acts that had come to make up so much of my life since I left the workforce in 2009.  I felt like I couldn’t balance anything, and found it difficult to stay afloat.

But as always, my husband was there to tell me two things: 1.  You are crazy.  But not  headed down the path to Crazy Town like I thought.  He said I was crazy to think just because I had started back to work full time, that I would have to suddenly abandon who I was.  2.  Give it a few weeks, and you will soon be able to figure out where to fit in all you love to do: teach, raise our family and keep our suburban homestead afloat.

So I did as he directed.  I waited.  And low and behold (and as much as I hate to admit it), he was right.  I have found those little pockets of time here and there where I can still do those activities I love.  In fact, I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I went to download pictures this weekend and discovered that over the course of the past month I had been able to do quite a lot.

But these activities have taken on a different form.  Instead of dedicating several hours in the afternoon to crocheting, I sneak in a couple of rows while sitting at tumbling lessons.  Rather than having an entire fermenting-day, I whip up a quick batch of yogurt on Saturday mornings with extra milk that is about to expire, and throw together an attempt at water kefir on a Friday night after the girls are asleep.

And I think my favorite part of all has been the ability to interweave these homesteading activities into my classroom.  In the midst of a soil composition unit, we  started a worm compost bin, and a chemistry assessment turned into a soapmaking lab.  And I can’t forget the measurement conversion unit where we went outside to make ice cream in the snow.

The crazy part of this new life of mine has been how I now live for those pockets.  Those pockets of time when I can do and share those activities that make me who I am.

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I hope you all move into this week, able to find those pockets in which you can do all that you love.

The Real Deal

While at “the fair” last weekend, I was lucky enough to watch a hands-on soap making demonstration conducted by Mary Jane Toth, author of Goats Produce Too.  Ms. Toth was a wonder to watch, for she made soapmaking so approachable.  For the first time, I felt that I could make real soap, and venture beyond my melt-and-pour roots.  (Some of my favorite melt-and-pour soap recipes are: eczema-friendly soap, shave soap,  anti-bacterial soap, and lavender rosemary soap.)

So, late one evening last week, I poured myself a glass of red wine (one must always be prepared for this type of new adventure I dare say), set out my lard, coconut oil and lye, and started this new journey towards homemade soap.  This was the real deal, and once those lye crystals hit the water, there was no turning back.

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Now I’m just praying the soap saponifies properly and cures as it should.  The waiting process on this type of soap is much different than that of melt-and-pour, so we shall see.  Fingers crossed 🙂

Good Clean Fun

This week opened with warm weather, but a whole lot of rain.  In order to keep ourselves entertained during these deluge-filled days, my youngest and I decided it was time to restore our soap supply.  It was time for some good clean fun.  It was time for soap making.

In the past, I have relied upon soap recipes from books, but this time I ventured into unknown territory and made up a few concoctions of my own.  Now with that said, let me be clear in stating that I have not yet made the move to making my own soap base from lye.  I hope to one day get to that point, but for now I still use a wonderful goat’s-milk base from this soap-making supply company.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we have.  Enjoy!

Lavender Rosemary Soap

2 lbs 10 oz goat’s milk soap base

3/4 cup palm oil

1/4 cup beeswax pellets

Melt these ingredients down in a double boiler.  (I use an old glass bowl nested in a pan of hot water.)  Once the mixture is melted, remove from heat.  Add 3 eye droppers of vitamin E oil, 25 drops of rosemary essential oil, and 40 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix.  Continue to mix and allow the mixture to cool down slightly.  (I have found this helps to keep the palm oil from separating during the molding and cooling process.)  Then pour the mixture into soap molds and allow to cool.  Once cool, remove from molds (and cut if needed).  Let the soap cure on a drying rack for two weeks before use.

Orange Chai Spice Soap

2 lbs 10 oz goat’s milk soap base

3/4 cup palm oil

1/4 cup beeswax pellets

Melt these ingredients down in a double boiler.  (I use an old glass bowl nested in a pan of hot water.)  Once the mixture is melted, remove from heat.  Add 3 eye droppers of vitamin E oil, 40 drops of sweet orange essential oil, and the contents of 8 chai tea bags. Mix.  Continue to mix and allow the mixture to cool down slightly.  (I have found this helps to keep the palm oil from separating during the molding and cooling process.)  Then pour the mixture into soap molds and allow to cool.  Once cool, remove from molds (and cut if needed).  Let the soap cure on a drying rack for two weeks before use.

Reading and Soapmaking and Gardening, Oh My!

Last week my husband was in a very minor (thank goodness!) fender bender, so I had to bring the car in this week to get repaired.  This left the girls and I without a vehicle for two days and I must admit that it was a wonderful couple of days!

While sequestered we had the most marvelous of times!  We read a ton, made a few more kinds of soap, and worked a great deal in the garden.  It was wonderful to know how much fun we could have, without ever leaving the comfort of our little home.