Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Soap Making

There are a million and one soap making tutorials and recipes out there. I didn't really count them, that's a guess. So, I don't feel I need to reinvent the wheel and give you another basic tutorial. Call me lazy if you must. But I do want to take the time to make this public service announcement.

Soap is made with LYE with out the lye there would be no soap. That's no lie.

That is all. You may go back to your regular schedule now. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Today I dusted off my bike and went for a one mile ride, twice. My nine year old daughter rode with me.

It had two flat tires and my rear brakes are busted. The tires seem to be holding air and I hope to ride again tomorrow.

I had a bulging disc in my back in October of 2012 that took nearly a year and a half to fully heal. Prior to that I was riding 15 miles a day. I've missed it.

What do you do to release stress or stay active?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's a boy, It's a girl?! Or is it?

Lilly (the goat) was the last to due to kid this year. We bred four for the first time. We've usually bred 1 or 2 goats each year. Every. Single. Kidding has been adventurous.


First Rachel kidded a week early with 2 doelings. First was an all white beauty we named Ivory, because her all brown "sister" was born dead. Died about 3 weeks before she was born, by the looks of her.

Look at that face?! What a goof! 
This is my wonderful Angel.

Then Angel had QUADS! Our first time having more than twins. The babies were born HUGE. Ranging from 8lbs to almost 13lbs! AT BIRTH with FOUR of them. My friend April had to come help assist in pulling three of the four. Two of the kids were breech. After the third one was born April tells me, "congrats you have triplets." Then Elaine (my daughter) says, "mom there is something else coming out." Tada, QUADS.

The quads in back and Ivory photo bombing in the front.

Then comes Anna's turn. Dear sweet Anna. She is actually the ornery goat here. Poor girl decided to be my very first middle of the night kidding. She started pushing around 1am, by 4am still no babies. So I "phone a friend", April of course. Thankfully she must like me, or maybe it's the goats... But either way she decided to come over and help. Finally around 7 or 8 am a Buck kid was out, but dead. he was just too big for her and when his shoulders got in the birth canal he suffocated. Being born literally killed him. He was alive up until that point. :(  Then his sister was born alive, but with a bent leg. Extra vitamins and she's just fine. Bent Leg is a tight tendon issue that is often caused by needing Vit. A.  Her name is Lucky.

Surprisingly, I don't have any pictures of Lucky.

Now for the last goat, Lilly. Lilly was due Sunday May 19th. When I did chores that night there was no signs of labor. I went happily to bed. Woke up and went out to do chores at 7:30 am and found she had uneventfully given birth to 2 kids! They were all cleaned up and mostly dry. AND up and walking.

I had somewhere to be somewhere by 9am. Having 2 new baby goats to bottle feed and 1 more goat to milk I was in a rush. 

As I was getting the newly born babies out of the big goat pen I checked their sex.

One male. One female. 

I called April right away to tell her the good news that we did not need her assistance and that my doe/buck kid ratio was 4 to 4. Or so I thought... I fed them at 1pm and called my friend Kathy and talked to her for about 10 minutes about how happy I was with the male goat. I've been thinking of adding a pure Saanen Buck to the heard, but would rather not pay the price, nor do we have room to keep a buck. They run $150 and on up. So, it wouldn't be a breed and eat purchase. I don't want to pay that much money for Sperm and meat, if you know what I mean. 
"The little boy is mostly white with a tinge of cream on his head," I tell her, "if only he had waddles like his sister then it would be thee perfect male goat. I won't be buying one this year, I can use him for breeding! God is soo good!" 

Then I fed them again at 5pm and checked under the males tail, HE was a GIRL! I had TWO does! I phoned April and told her I was wrong, I had 2 girls! .....  

Or did I? I

I took my friend Christina out to dinner with our husbands for her birthday as a surprise. It was our VERY first time that ALL four of us went out to dinner together in 4 or 5 years of friendship. We are talking BEST friends, friendship. She has a special needs child and we are her baby sitter you see. So the four of us going out was just not possible.  Well my son, Corey, is finally old enough and able to handle the babysitting for her boys. HOORAY... and it went super well, so we will be doing it again.

Anyway back the goats.

When I got home around 9pm I went out to do chores. Elaine and Corey went with me, so this time I have witnesses.

When talking to April again at 1pm she said, "well do the girls have testicles?" I laughed and said, "I thought one did, but apparently not. When I checked him again, he was a girl." 

Once called Lasagna, SHE is now named ROSE!

So, I thought I better check this again. As sometimes they do have testicles AND girl parts is what April told me.

Well the girl I thought was a boy was a full fledged girl, nothing funny happening. Then on a whim I decided I would check for testicles on her sister, you know the one with waddles? Oh how I love waddles. Well the waddled goat had testicles... A penis... and NO vagina!  A BUCK!!! A perfectly WHITE WADDLED BUCK!!!  God is soo good! I got all I wanted in a buck and didn't have to PAY for him!

First named Daffodil, when he "was" a girl for several hours. 
Look at him stretch out all proud of himself!
Now HE shall be called THORN!

Maybe next time I will pay a little more attention to the business end of the goat, even when in a rush.

What a fun story though.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Henderson Castle Review

Lets cut to the chase...

I will NOT be returning here, and all my friends have been told my story and said "THANK YOU for telling me, I will NOT be going there either." 

We stayed 3 nights for our 10th anniversary and bought the groupon deal spa package for 2 spa services. We choose 2 couples massages.

Night one and Two we stayed in Cottage suite B, it had cob webs behind the tv, dirty glasses, tacky magazines laying around, a bottle of sparkling mineral water that had a price tag on it for $6.95, The walks were not clear of snow and ice AND soap wrappers on the bathroom floor. That is just what I found in the first 5 minutes. Then I went to take a bath later that night and the faucet does not let water go into the tub, instead it just flows backwards onto the floor! OUT of the tub. I informed the front desk of the problem and watched them text the maintenance guy about it. Then I spoke with the maintenance guy the next day and he said, "Oh yeah, that's broke. We have so many new people here right now. They were supposed to tell you not to use it. It breaks a month after we fix it if someone bumps it, so we don't fix it anymore. All those fancy faucets are broken in the castle." WHAT?! MORE faucets are broken AND won't be fixed?! That is not acceptable!

Night three we stayed in the French room. The hot water leaked in the tub, not just dripped it flowed a pencil line thick of water. I told the owner and was told "yes we have a plumber coming tomorrow". I some how doubt that, since I was told the maintenance guy was the one that would deal with the plumbing issue in the Cottage. There was also a soap wrapper on the floor in this bathroom, too! There was also some kind of purple goo on the marble floor next to the bed. Probably a dried drip of juice or wine.

I not ONCE seen someone with a mop in the castle the whole 4 days we were there. Though the whole place is hard wood or hard type flooring. I walked up to my massage with no shoes on in my robe on Wednesday and my feet were FILTHY!

The roof top hot top was had large amounts of green algae in it! The snow had not been cleared to get to the hot tub. The sliding roof door also broke on our last night there.

Then (yes there is MORE) our massages were supposed to start at 2pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday it didn't start till 3pm, but we were warned that it would be starting later at 2:30pm, but then we had paperwork to fill out and one of the massage therapists was rather chatty and we didn't get started till after 3pm.

But the worst customer service that really did me in was Wednesday's massage was to be done by one of the therapist that was there on Tuesday plus a different one (couples massage, means 2 therapists). She says to us, "see you tomorrow at 2pm." Then she shows up at 3:10pm! She was my husbands therapist. Mine was there at 1:30pm prepping the room and waiting on her. At 2:20pm, after the staff telling us multiple times that our therapist would arrive "soon", I asked my therapist if he had to leave at a certain time. He replied that he needed to leave by 3:30pm at the latest. So, I told him to get started with me and then my husband could join us when his therapist finally arrived. SO, our $160 1 hour couples massage that day ended up being TEN minutes of overlapping time with 50 minutes of a private massage for each of us. I complained for FIFTEEN minutes at the front desk before someone finally offered me a full breakfast ($18 value) for us in return for a our troubles. When I didn't respond the owner offered it as "breakfast in bed" which meant they walked it up the stairs from the kitchen to our room... big fat deal after ALL the stuff I've been complaining about up to this point. I also had to pay 18% gratitude and 6% tax on our spa package. Which I new I had to pay and expected that. But I feel they should of given us our second massage for either half price or FREE and that would of covered those fees, cause the groupon was already paid for.

I went to Pizza Hut 2 weeks before this and THEY noticed they messed up our order, gave it to us for FREE, AND gave us, for FREE, a replacement pizza and bread sticks. Pizza Hut people! Not a "fancy" restaurant and Bed and Breakfast. That gives you fruit and cereal for breakfast and charges $20 a head for LUNCH.

OH and instead of investing money into building an office in one of the towers on the third floor, how about they fix the issues (leaky and broken things) and pay for more reliable staff that cleans better, keeps the walks clear, and shows up on time?! There was construction going on in one of the towers and we were told it was going to be an office. We didn't stay in the Italian room, but the shower is broken in there and we are told might never be fixed.

The service at Henderson Castle is Far below 1 star, but that is the lowest rating I could give it. The atmosphere and charm of being a castle is the only thing this place has going for it. I gave them ample opportunity to make things "right" and they sunk further and further away. Despite the bad service, broken things, and dirty atmosphere and mediocre breakfast.... we were able to enjoy each others company and do some shopping. Though we wanted to go to South Haven after one of our massages, but as they BOTH started late and ended too late to bother driving over there. The staff new this as well. Just shakin my head.

I really hope they get their act together, as the charm of the castle is indeed nice. It's what drew me to go there in the first place.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Stuck in Time

I see people my moms age and wonder what she would look like today. Twenty years have passed and she is still frozen in my mind as 38 years old.

Would her butt have continued to have a little extra padding that the little bean pole was JUST starting to get when she was 37 years old? I don't think so, she didn't like that we noticed and she began walking to get rid of it.

Would her hair be all gray? Maybe some.

Would she have chosen to color it? I don't think so, she was pretty low maintenance.

Would she have kept her hair long? I can't imagine it any other way.

Would she smile to know that my daughter likes to have her hair braided like Laura Ingalls? Just like I used to. I think so.

Would my heart skip a beat to watch her hug and love on my children? I hope so.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Many Hands OCC Soap Update

My last post I was feeling overwhelmed and I whined a lot.

God heard my heart and sent help in a BIG way!

We are still able to get beef fat from a local supermarket for FREE. And I have a volunteer, my good friend Kathy Boldt, to pick it up, sort and trim off meat bits. Then I pick it up from her to grind up with my sisters massive grinder. Then I drop the ground fat off to my "render ladies". My dear friends Joy Allen and Jill Bolhuis. I then pick up the rendered tallow ready to be turned into soap!

This allows me to focus my energy on making the soap and keeping up with normal life.

I also have volunteers lined up to package soap once it's fully cured/evaporated.

To date we have made 536 - 1 oz bars of soap for the project. The money is all in for making 3,000+ bars of soap with money to spare.

Then today God shocked me with TWO more donations of a sizable amount. $50 each. Now that our oil is free, larger molds and loaf cutter are being made and donated to me, discount on a bar cutter, and all the ways God has met needs.  I only need to buy lye and packaging meaning we are able to make the soap for around 2-3 cents a bar. So the extra $100  will make it possible to make around 9,000 bars total. TRIPLE my goal!

This is all dependent on the continuing steady supply of the FREE beef fat.

Keep your prayers coming. As long as there is money to buy lye and packaging, free beef fat and people to help render it into tallow... I will keep making soap for OCC.

God is so good!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rendering Tallow

I'm getting ready to make 3,000+ bars of soap for Operations Christmas Child.

As of today the current fundraising for the project is at just under half way. $274.

I was able to get a local supermarket to donate beef fat that I am rendering into tallow.

I've never rendered tallow till this week. This post will be documenting how I did it.

It started Wednesday night when my husband and I picked up this....

Then I chopped it up a crock pot full of it and 4 hours later I had this...  Which amounted to 3 1/2 lbs of tallow.

While that was cooking I sorted the rest so I could take it to my sisters to grind it up. As the above pot did not render out much tallow. So, I felt defeated. Till I cam home from my sisters with this.... 

Which one crock full rendered into this! It had 2/3 LESS waste. See how there is not massive amounts of cooked meat bits floating? That means MORE tallow than the first go round. (about 6lbs of tallow came out of this pot)

Now my kitchen looks like this...

While I'm sure some peoples kitchens look worse. I'm a little obsessed with having my counters cleared off. I have zero energy to go deal with this mess. Yet in an hour I need to go milk the goats so I NEED to deal with the mess. I have to have a clean spot on the counter to filter milk.

I still have 5 lbs of tallow in my fridge that is cooled, solid, and needs to be bagged up.

Then Sunday I will be picking up more beef fat.Which I do have some help lined up for, but don't want to take advantage of.  This is a 2 day project with the use of my sisters grinder, with out that it would of took me 3-4 days.

I keep telling myself that every week rendering tallow won't be this busy. They have a sale on beef at the supermarket this week.  Last week the sale was on Pork and they had NO beef fat for me.

So this is how you can pray for me.

Soap making I can handle, that mess stays in my basement. I can leave it and walk away with out causing myself added stress.

I got over 20 lbs of tallow from that box of beef. Which equals approximately 320 bars soap for OCC children. So, it is worth doing it. I just will not have time to do both soap making and tallow rendering. Anyone (or multiple people) want to take over the tallow rendering? Other wise I'll continue waiting on God to supply the funds to buy the tallow.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Soap For Operation Christmas Child

Have you seen what I've been dreaming of?

Soap, of course! But more than that, soap for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.

You can learn more about what I hope to accomplish and how YOU can help on the newest blog page titled OCC Fundraiser.  You can access that page by clicking on that link <<<. Or clicking on the tab at the top of this page that says "OCC Fundraiser".

Above all I could use your prayers. With out God in this it will never happen. I need to get the funds in a short period of time to accomplish big things. I anticipate being able to make 500 bars of soap a month. To make 3,000 bars that will take 6 months. I need the soap to be ready by the first week in November. If you do the math that means I need the money to buy the all the oils needed and have them shipped to me by the end of February so I can get started in March.  I will be buying the oils in bulk all at once, in order to make the most soap.

End of February?! What was *I* thinking?! I AM thinking that our God is big enough.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why I Allow My Children to be Slackers!

I'm not good at consistency. As my little buddy Johnathan would of said, "not at all".

I don't vacuum but maybe once a month. The floors get mopped maybe 3 times a year. I clean my bathroom clean when it's gross. I mean REALLY gross.

I don't cook dinner every night. That doesn't mean we get take out on the nights I don't cook, it means the people in this house have to fend for themselves. If they are lucky there is leftovers, bread, or hot dogs in the house on those days.

I get to deal with the consequences of said "laziness".

I don't vacuum, because my children do. But they don't do a great job of it. So, that means I don't have the cleanest of floors but maybe once a month when I decide to vacuum for them.

We "spot" mop most of the time, the floor gets visibly dirty in on the hard floors I hand a spray bottle and a rag to a shorter person (usually the 8 yo) and tell them to clean it. I can live with that.

The bathroom? Well, the kids clean that, too. They are still learning what MY definition of clean is, so it builds up yuck around the toilet on the floor, under the seat, and around the sink faucet... then I clean it WITH them when I can't stand it no more or if we are having company over.

The kids are also responsible for the dishes, most of the dog care, bird, chickens, folding laundry, and whatever else I tell them to do.

I get lazy sometimes. I have days I don't want to be a responsible adult and "keep up" with the housework that I am responsible for. So I don't. I pick my priorities and I leave the rest for another day. It will get done. Just like when my daughter or son hasn't done their dishes for 3 days straight and we have no cups.

We live with the consequences and we move on. They get done and it's usually STILL a fight, but they are learning WHY we do the dishes more than once every three days. It takes less time and is more sanitary to do them daily. But if I let them "fail" they see and live the consequences. Then maybe, just maybe, they will remember that when they have their own home and do the dishes everyday...until they have their own minions in the form my of grandchildren. Then I hope my children will in turn give their children the grace to be lazy sometimes.

And frankly I think my way is working just fine if the 12  year old is singing while he does his work.