Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here it is,Thanksgiving Day.This is the beginning of my favorite time of the year:the Holiday season. Of course, I can appreciate it more now,because I am not working retail when Christmas music starts and decorations get put up the day after Halloween. By the time the actual holiday rolled around,I had had enough of Christmas.

However, today is about giving thanks. I have become more mindful of of my blessings since Rick came home from Iraq. Having a loved one wounded and come close to losing their life on a couple of occasions tends to make one realize what is important in life and what is not.

The main thing I always give thanks for,not just today,but everyday,is that I have my husband here with me. There are days when I get really depressed about what has happened,but I also know it could've been much much worse. So I am thankful for my wonderful husband being able to continue to share the journey of our life together.
The second thing I am thankful for is our son, Zach. He really is a great boy,with a good heart.

I am also thankful for my family and friends. Each of them are a piece of my life's puzzle,and without them,that puzzle would not be complete.

Having a roof over our heads,food on our plates,and clothing on our backs is cause for thanks. There are so many people out there who have none of these things,and I keep them in my thoughts and prayers,especially this time of the year. We have a good friend who has had his house repossessed,and he was fortunate enough to find a house that he can rent to own,so now his family can go from one house to the next without problems. However, I can only imagine the stress of knowing you are going to no longer have a roof over your head,and trying to find shelter for your family by a deadline,especially this time of the year when it's getting cold outside.It is not something I want to experience.

We have had moments when we did not have alot and just buying a turkey would've been too expensive. We have been the recipients of food baskets in the past,and though it was a blow to the ego,our family was fed. So I am even more grateful this year that we have a wonderful dinner planned for today.One never realizes how important food is until you don't have a lot of it. We are very very blessed this year.

Zachary "took care" of our turkey, known as Thanksgiving. This has been a ritual for the last couple of years,and he really likes having the responsibility. We will be eating around 1:00-2:00 PM. My mom is coming over. We went to her house for a few years,but it seems silly for her to cook all that food. So about 4 years ago,she started coming to our house,and she loves not having to cook! My sister and brother in law go to upstate NY to his Mom's,so it's just us and Mom. It's like our little holiday,and I enjoy that. More blessings!!!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beyond LIttle House and Christmas Trees

I had meant to post the link to Beyond Little House,but I forgot to do so. I guess I was too involved in my train of thought.

This morning when I checked to see if I had any comments to my post,Sue from Living the Good Life ( a great blog) had requested the link to the site.

I don't know if you can "get there from here," but the address is:

Again,it is a great site,full of links to various articles,ranging from ones about the books,to Laura and Rose's relationship,Laura's political views,etc.I think any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan should check it out.The first day I found it ( after being a LIW fan on Facebook) I spent over 2 hours reading it! Only when my eyes got tired did I stop.( Damn these middle aged eyes!!!)

I am always inspired when I read anything about Laura,or if I watch some of the series,or the mini series that came out in 2005. I actually emailed Disney to see if they were going to make another series,this time more based on the books,but they responded they had no plans to do so :(

In fact,last year I decorated my tree with red and white plaid ribbons,lights,and very little else. It looked great.Very simple,not overdone.At first, I thought it might be too "cute",but I was happy to see that wasn't the case. Rick even liked the way it looked. I saw how "Ma" had decorated her house on the mini series with red and white plaid ribbons (which I think were actually fabric) and I loved the look. This year I bought more ribbons,and we will have white lights instead of colored this year.Of course, being on the prairie,trees were at a minimum,so in the books,the Christmas tree was always at church,and seeing it was a source of excitement.

It makes you realize it's the simple things that matter most.

My Dad was born in 1914. Sadly,he passed in 1990 due to complications with Alzheimer's. However,before he got sick he would tell me stories of him growing up,and one of my favorites was of the Christmas tree.

My Dad grew up in a good sized family,and there was not a lot of money. Each child would get one gift,but he said one of the best gifts was the Christmas tree. The tree would not be put up until Christmas Eve,after all the children had gone to bed. When they woke up,the tree would be up,all the candles on it would be lit,and that was part of their gift. My Dad never mentioned what gifts he received when he would tell this story.He never remembered what he got. It was all about the tree. The tree,the food,and how they would all go to his grandparents house,where there was a piano. They would all stand around it and sing Christmas songs.That is what he remembered.

To me that type of memory is the best Christmas gift of all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Simpler But Harder Time

My day generally begins when I get up at 5:45 AM. I get up,have a cup of coffee,make sure that Zach gets ready for school ( "Did you comb your hair? Did you brush your teeth?")and look over the morning paper. Granted,I only read what interests me,but I look it all over nonetheless.Once Zach is on the school bus and the animals get fed, I pop on the computer. I check and respond to emails,go on Facebook,and read my favorite blogs.If I am inspired,I post in my own blog. If our Scout troop website needs updating,I do it.

Then I actually start my day.That is usually around 9:00 AM.

9:00 AM? Hello? The day is already half over for most people!

I just got off one of my newly discovered favorite blogs,"Beyond Little House," and I find myself thinking of how lazy I would seem to the Ingalls family and those who lived in that time.

The day began at o-dark-thirty. Each morning,with no alarm clocks.The men and boys would take care of the animals while the women and girls started breakfast.Then,depending on the time of year,the men would be outside all day long,tending to the crops and assorted farm work. No tractors,no trucks. It was their hard work,sweat,determination,and horse and plow. The women would work all day long doing housework,cooking,sewing,making yarn,soap,and whatever else their families needed. There was no time for these families to sit for a couple of hours on the computer in the morning,or watch a TV show. Each moment of the day was precious. Each member had a vital part in the running of the home and the survival of the family.No wonder they went to bed when it got dark. They were exhausted!

Looking back,it does seem like a more simpler time. There were less distractions. No computers,TV,cell phones,I-Pods,or cars.People were not rushing here or there. The center of their lives was their family and home. Period.

However simpler it might have been,however,it was much more difficult. People worked most of the time,with the exception of Sunday.They did have some time for relaxation,but that was usually at the end of the day. For example, people would not usually stop plowing a field in the middle of the day to do something frivolous. That would set back the time frame for planting. The garden needed to get done,otherwise the family might have enough to eat for the year.Work came first and foremost.

Life was not easy,yet I suspect that they wouldn't have traded it for our lives now. I bet a couple of modern conveniences might be popular,but I can't see them deviating from their basic lifestyle. They would consider the materialism in our society a waste and unnecessary,which it is.

So... it's 9:00 and I am still in my Frosty the Snowman PJs,my toast eaten, my coffee getting cold,and I am somewhat ashamed.I need to get my butt in gear,shower,and get my crock pot beans going.Thank goodness it's not 1880,because I would be hours behind schedule.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Waxy Mess

Now that I finally have the wicks to do my candles, I decided to make some yesterday afternoon. I wanted to make some votives and a pillar.
I prepped my votive and pillar molds,making sure that I had candle sealer over the holes in the bottom of the molds.
I melted my wax,then added the Pumpkin Spice scent. I added quite a few drops-I like a nice,strong scent.Then I added the orange liquid coloring.When I poured my first votive,the color was more yellow than I wanted,so I added more coloring to the batch. This time the color was a darker orange,which I liked. Great!
I poured the wax into the pillar mold.
All of a sudden,wax started coming out of the bottom of the mold! It got all over my stove,so I grabbed a bowl and put the mold in it. In the process of doing that,wax got on my counter and my floor.
Then My Dear Friend Michelle called. She was down at our mutual friend Shelley's house,and they were making rolled candles for a project for Cub Scouts. Michelle had ordered me a square silicone pan for a soap mold,and she had it with her. Would it be OK for her to drop it off?
I looked around my house. I had wax puddles,remodeling tools on the table,tools on the floor,stuff everywhere,and a dirty floor to boot! (At least I had dusted and swept-drywall dust,no matter how much the hall was blocked off,was everywhere.) In other words,my house was a wreak. However, I said,"Sure,just don't mind my messy house."
I usually don't like to have people at the house unless it's neat and tidy. I am trying to get over that. People come to see us,not to critique my home. However, I knew Michelle would understand. Her and her hubby have done the interior work on their home,and she knows what that entails. Plus,my house is a HOME. It is not a museum. There are days when it's disgusting,and then there are days when you could eat off the floor.Yesterday was not a off-the-floor-eating day,however!
After Michelle left, I got all the wax back into the melting pot,remelted it,added extra mold sealer to the pillar mold,and tried again.
Same thing happened.
So I gathered up the wax and put it back in the melting pot again.It's ready to remelt when I need it. I am done with pillar molds. I will stick to mason jars. You put the wick in,fill them up,and it's a gift. My votives did come out great,though. Now I need to make my McIntosh Apple as well as Cinnamon candles.
I can't wait to try my new soap mold!!!Thanks, Michelle!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Confessions of A LIW Fan

I confess.
I am a big Laura Ingalls Wilder fan.
I did not know how many other adult fans she had until I started reading blogs about her. One in particular, Beyond Little House,is the best blog I have ever read about LIW. It is the combined efforts of several fans,some of who had their own blogs or websites. They decided to pool their resources and have one site that they all contribute to. It has great information,photos,and links.
Some people cock their heads and look at me funny when I say I love Laura Ingalls Wilder,and that I still read her books,even though I am about 5 days away from my 42nd birthday. "Aren't those for kids?"tends to be the the first question they ask. Well, yes,they are,and no,they aren't.
My first introduction to Laura came in the Fall of 1974 when I started first grade. The Little House on The Prairie movie came out. My family watched the movie,and I remember that I liked it.After that every Monday night at 8:00 PM we watched the series until it ended.I loved the show very much. I had a huge crush on Dean Butler,who played Almanzo. Michael Landon,though very handsome,was a bit old for my Grammar School-Junior High taste.
My first introduction to her books was in second grade. My teacher,Mrs Whittier,handed me a book one day that she thought I would enjoy. It was Little House in the Big Woods. I remember starting the book and not caring for it. Why,I don't remember. For whatever reason,it just did not strike a chord with me at that point. I gave her back the book and told her I didn't care for it. She was very surprised.
Then came Christmas in third grade. My oldest brother and his then wife sent me the complete collection of the Little House series. It was the yellow books,in the yellow box. I figured I would give them another try. I opened Little House in the Big Woods,started to read,and it happened.
I was hooked.
I could not read the books fast enough. At first,they seemed strange,because I had been watching the show,and the show and the books did not jive. It took me a while to figure out that TV shows often use dramatic license,and that the show was
based on the books,not following the books.Once I figured that out,I could enjoy both the books and the show separately. I cannot tell you how many times I read those books.By my twenties,this set had seen better days.I had pages falling out and spines torn. I refused to part with them. I taped and retaped pages.
A few years ago,my son Zach showed some interest in her books. I would let him read them,but the condition of the books left something to be desired. One book ( These Happy Golden Years,one of my favorites)was in three pieces. I bit the bullet,threw out my precious yellow set,and bought new copies. I also bought On The Way Home,and West From Home. I didn't like my new copies as much as my old ones. No illustrations by Garth Williams! How can you have books without his illustrations? As a child they helped me picture their daily lives. I felt bad for my son.
Today,I think I enjoy the books more than the series. Almanzo is a much more dashing figure,saving the town by getting the wheat out on the open prairie during blizzard season,which was very dangerous. His pursuit of Laura was quite respectful and gentle. He seemed very much a man's man.The show made him more a shy,somewhat immature character. There was nothing "macho" about him. I suppose this was because they felt that some older man coming in trying to court a young Melissa Gilbert would not sit well with viewers,so they made him as unthreatening as possible.Personally, I would've loved to have had him as he was in the books.
Someday, I would love to visit all the areas in which she lived. We are planning a cross country trek for next summer (fingers crossed),and we are going to visit historical sites. De Smet is on the agenda. those who ask,"Isn't that for kids?" I respond yes,it is. However, it's also a look into the history of America. It's a look into the pioneer drive that made this country what it is. It's a glimpse into the life of woman who went from travelling by covered wagon to travelleling by car and plane! How many changes this country went through in her lifetime is staggering.
She lived an amazing life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Big Frost

This morning when we went outside to walk with Zach to the bus stop,the world looked furry and white. We had our first big frost last night. Everything was glittering, ,and it reminded me even more that winter is not too far away. In fact, the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a snowstorm next week. I am hoping that is not the case. It's still a bit early for my taste for snow that stays. I don't mind when it spits snow ( does anybody else out there use that term?)but anything that remains on the ground is not welcome in my yard!
Things have been a bit busy. Sunday I woke up with a migraine that kept me in bed all day. Monday Rick had an appt with his PTSD social worker. Right now Rick is to keep track of what makes him angry,and the steps he took not let it get the better of him. Monday night was our Boy Scout meeting,and this week was also Troop Committee.Rick and I are both on the Committee ( I am Secretary and in charge of the troop website) so we had our meeting while the boys has theirs.Yesterday Rick had an appt with the rhuematologist. We now know that Rick does not have rheumatoid arthritis. That is a good thing. His take on Rick's knees was that the swelling and pain are stemming from the the dead bone areas in his knees. So he emailed Rick's orthopedist (the one who referred Rick to the surgeon in Boston) to see what he wants to do. The rheumatologist says that Rick's knees are not going to get better,and that they will get worse. That was not good news. He did tell us he would call and let us know what Rick's orthopedist says. The second appt was with VerJean,Rick's speecht therapist. The session went well,Rick answered the questions quickly this week.VerJean was happy with how it went. Rick is still dragging out some words when he speaks,though. We are keeping an eye on it to see if any other symptoms come up.
We just got back from having lunch with Zach at school. The school lets parents come in once a year and they have lunch in the cafeteria with their child. It's nice, except this year Zach was too busy chatting with his friend Dale to really talk with us. I suppose he can talk to us anytime! Rick is priming our hallway right now. All the drywall,door frames,mopboards,and flooring are done.
My thoughts are starting to focus on my Thanksgiving menu. Zach picks which one of our turkeys will grace our table,and he is in charge of doing the "deed".
I made some more Christmas Forest soap the other day,and was going to make candles. When I checked my stock I realized that I didn't have enough wicks! BUMMER. While we were out and about on Monday we bought more wicks and four more pounds of wax.The soaps and candles will be my Christmas presents,and I might throw in a mason jar of homemade laundry soap to boot.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Soap Mistakes

I have made a couple of mistakes while making lye/Crisco soap.

My first mistake was where I put the mold to set for a couple of days.Thinking I could get the soap to get to the stage where I could cut it faster, I placed my Pringles can mold in the stairwell up to the attic. I figured the cool air would help speed things along. Well, what I did not anticipate was that I would come down with a head cold and be down and out for a couple of days. So the soap,instead of setting for a day or two,set for four. The other thing I did not think of was how chilly the stairwell to the attic would get.
When I went to peel the Pringles can off the soap,the soap looked fine. It was nice and firm.It set great!
Then I started to cut it. I used the same knife I had used with my first batch of soap which worked fine. It had cut through nice and smooth.
That's not what happened this time.
The soap CRUMBLED as I cut it. I couldn't understand it. My first batch had no major problems. What was wrong? My measurements were the same. I cut another piece. Same thing. I wound up with a small pile of Fresh Snow crumbles.
Rick was sitting in the living room,so he heard me muttering to myself. He came over to investigate and came up with this: The soap was too cold to cut.
He was right! The soap was very very cold. My first batch had set out at room temperature,and the soap was still somewhat on the soft side when I cut it. That doesn't mean each piece was perfect,but they were at least round and not a crumbled mess! more letting the soap set in the stairwell.
The second mistake I made affected not only my second batch ( Fresh Snow) but my first batch ( Christmas Forest).
After I had cut my Christmas Forest batch, I put it on a wire rack to cure. Only I don't have a lot of room to leave it out,so I placed it on top of the fridge. After I placed what was left of my Fresh Snow batch in the microwave briefly to heat it up so it wouldn't crumble,I cut it and placed it on top of the fridge with the Christmas Forest soap.
A few days later, I looked on the top of the fridge.
Both sets of soap now had yellow discoloration streaks in them. My Christmas Forest I colored green,and Fallen Snow I left natural. Now they looked awful.
So....what happened?
My guess is the heat from the woodstove,and the warmth from the top of the fridge ruined the color of the soap.That is my only explaination. The Christmas Forest soap had been on top of the fridge for over a week and it was fine. Then we started using the woodstove. The Fallen Snow soap wasn't even up there a few days when the color went south.
I think that is what what went wrong. Does anybody have any other thoughts?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you,Veterans!

Today is Veterans Day,the day in which we take time to thank and remember all the sacrifices members of our military have made to keep us free.Whether they have served in combat or not,they are there to make sure our liberties remain in tact.
Some have made the ultimate sacrfice,some have physical permanent wounds,and some have mental pernmanent wounds we cannot see.
Yesterday at Zach's school,they held a Veteran's Assembly,hosted by the 6th grade. Veterans were invited to attend and be honored. Rick and I went,and he wore his uniform (he found one that fit). It was the first time in a long time that he wore one of this uniforms that he wore in Iraq,and he said it made him feel strange,but he wanted to wear it for Zach because he "wanted Zach to be proud" of him. Rick claimed he could still smell "the Iraq" smell in his uniform,though it has been four years and several washings later.
The ceremony was very nice. The Boy Scouts did the opening and closing ceremony ( Zach joined them,even though he is not in the local troop). There were readings of "In Flanders Field",an explanation of the Gettysburg Address ( which Zach took part in ),a joint recitation of the Gettysburg Address by the 6th grade,flag ettiqutette,and a speech by Major Shaw of the Marines (no relation). The most touching part was the recoginition of veterans. They called out the name of the conflict,then had the vets present who had served in that conflict stand up. They started with WWII,and one lone gentleman stood up. Everyone gave him a standing ovation and a long cheer. I got a bit choked up. We do not have many WWII vets left,so they are very precious.They are an amazing generation of Americans. My father also served in WWII,in New Guinea,so I grew up hearing some stories about the war.Sadly,he passed away in 1990.
Next was Korea,and this gentleman also recieved a standing ovation and some cheers. Korea seems to be the forgotton war,overshadowed by WWII and Vietnam. My uncle Bobby( my Dad's brother) served in Korea.
Next came Vietnam. A handful of gentleman stood up,and they recieved an ovation and some cheers as well.It made me think of how terrible it must of been for some of them to come home to hostility. They were not welcomed with open arms like their predessors,and the VA system at the time was really sad. They were tossed to the side and treated like second class citizens. It was pathetic. To me, if it wasn't for Vietnam vets,the VA would not have been improved they way it has been,nor would any benefits the vets are entitled be improved upon. It has been their ongoing fight for decent treatment of veterans that have made things much better for those who are are serving today. I have great respect for Vietnam vets.My brother in law served in Vietnam,and my oldest brother was stationed on the DMZ in Korea during Vietnam.
Then came Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield/Gulf War/Operation Iraqi Freedom. It seemed like every single head turned towards Rick. He stood up,and he too,recieved a standing ovation,which was fairly lengthy,and the kids started cheering and yelling LOUDLY. I stood next to him,clapping and cheering, with a big smile on my face,trying to blink back tears. It was an amazing feeling to have my husband being cheered and recognized in such a manner. This war is to these children what Vietnam was to my generation,though I was in second grade when the war ended in 1975. These kids are 4-6 graders,so they will remember it far better than I remember Vietnam.
My second brother served in Desert Storm.
There was retired Marine Major who spoke, He spoke briefly about his service,and how he went to Grenada,and if he haddn't been sent to Grenada,he would've been at the Embassy in Beriut where a suicide bomber killed 200 Marines.He asked for a brief moment of prayer for all veterans. Now, bear in mind that there were 4-6 grade children there. I expected some whispering or giggling,as kids tend to do. There was nothing but silence. You could've heard a pin drop. No feet shuffing,no coughing,nothing. Total silence. It was wonderful.
After his speech,I looked at the program and noticed that "Taps"was on it. Rick has a very difficult time hearing taps. If it's on TV, he will leave the room. I leaned over and told him that taps was on the program,to give him a heads up. He said he haddn't noticed. I asked him if him was going to be OK,and he said he was.He stood at attention during it,but later admitted that he almost broke down during it.
It was a lovely tribute.
Let us thank all veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice,not just today,but eveyday. Let us also have a special moment of silence for those in Fort Hood.
Thank you,veterans.We are forever indebed to you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nice Warm Days

Good morning!
The sun is shining yet again in NH. We have been having what I call a touch of Indian Summer.The temps yesterday were in the low 60's,and today in some spots it might hit the upper 60's. That is considered rather warm for mid November around here!
Poor Zach has come down with a cold. He spent Friday night at My Dear Friend Michelle's house,since he and her son,Ethan are great buds. I picked him up at her house Saturday morning so we could go do Scouting For Food. (If you are not familiar with what SFF is,Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts go out and place door hangers (up til this year is was a bag) on people's doors,then the following week they pick them up. People donated canned goods which go to local food banks.) On the way to our meeting spot,Zach informed me that he was coming down with a cold. He started coughing Fri night,and his nose was stuffy. I asked if he felt OK otherwise,and he said he was OK, he could still do SFF. The route took about 3 hours,with two other boys helping at one point,but for the most part we only had one other boy helping us. We placed slightly over 200 door hangers.
That afternoon,we had a birthday party to go to. Rick's nephew,Brody,turned 13. It was mostly adults,Zach and Brody were the only kids there,so there wasn't any running around or anything. I could tell that Zach was tired-he had circles under his eyes,which he always does when he is under the weather-and he was a bit quiet.We didn't stay long,maybe a couple of hours. When we got home, I took his temp,which was 99.5. Low grade fever. So I gave him a good dose of nightime cold medicine,some Gatorade,a box of Kleenex,and he was asleep by 8:30.
Yesterday I kept him in bed all day,and today,even though his fever had gone down,I kept him home from school. He coughed all night,so he didn't get the best rest,and he still doesn't look well. He is taking part in a flag ceremony tomorrow at school in a Salute to Veterans,so I want to make sure he doesn't miss that.
Rick has been working on our hallway/living room remodel. Hopefully my computer will be cooperative and download photos so I can show you the progress.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Brain Work

Yesterday we had two appointments at the VA-the first one was Speech Therapy,and the second was Neuro TBI.
There was not much to the Neuro TBI appt-it was really just a follow up. He did say that because Rick's Sleep Apnea is mild,there wasn't any need to give him an oxygen machine for when he sleeps. Rick pointed out that when he had the sleep apnea testing,he actually fell asleep in an upright position,and stayed that way the whole night. This made the Dr pause,because sleep apnea is at it's worst when one is laying on their back. So while Rick might stop breathing 9 times an hour sitting up,it could be much worse laying flat. He said he would have to talk to the sleep apnea people,and that Rick might have to redo the test.
We go to Speech Therapy every week. I call it Memory Therapy,because it's also designed to improve his memory. The speech therapist,VerJean,is very nice.Rick started with computer exercises to help with the speed his brain works. He also has done some written exercises-she will give him three directions,and he has to remember what they are. Sometimes he did great,sometimes he would forget one or do one incorrectly. The last couple of weeks,she has been having him respond verbally. For instance, she would read two words that sound the same,but are spelled differently and have different meanings ( for example,hole and whole).He would then have to tell her what each of them mean. He has also had to use specific words in sentences. It sounds easy,but for people with brain injuries,it can get tiring. After a while, he starts getting confused and he takes longer to figure things out.He especially gets tired when she asks him questions about his week. This week she inquired about what he has been doing,and he responded,"Remodeling the hallway and living room." So then she started asking questions: Did you get the materials? What kinds of materials did you get? How much crown molding did you need? How many doors are you working with? What color paint are you using? He did forget a few things,and it took him a while to answer a few of the questions,but with a bit of prompting,he did OK. Because his brain was working so hard and he had so much going on in it trying to remember,he was getting more confused and tired. However,the point is trying to get him to work his brain,access his memory,and be able to put into words what he is trying to say. He has had some issues lately with dragging out words. He will be explaining something,and then all of a sudden, he will linger on a part of a word,for example, he will say, "aaaaaaaapple." We brought this up to both VerJean and his Neuro TBI Dr. She noticed it during the session,and the Neuro TBI Dr thought it might be the medications that Rick is taking combined with lack of sleep. He wants us to keep an eye on it,though.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Homemade Lye Crisco Soap

Good morning, it is a beautiful sunny day. I am sitting here in my fleece Frosty the Snowman PJ's trying to fight off an oncoming head cold. It started last night when my sinuses started aching a bit. I couldn't get out of bed this AM to bring Zach to the bus,so I knew that something was brewing ( Rick brought him out,both of us do it every morning). My sinuses hurt when I touch my face and a have a sinus headache. My head also feels a bit "light" and I have a small fever. Once I do this post, I am going to chug some cold medicine and go lay down!
As I mentioned in my post on Saturday, I made some lye Crisco soap. This is my second batch of it. I had made some soap with My Dear Friend Michelle back in Sept ( see "Homemade Lye Soap" post)but I had seen this recipe on Little House in the Suburbs( and it seemed so quick and easy that I had to try it.
It worked so well and went so smoothly that I had to try it again. My first batch, I used "Christmas Forest"scent with green coloring,but I don't think I used enough scent. This time, I used "Fresh Snow"and I think I got it where I like it.The only thing I realized was that I didn't have any white coloring. When the lye and Crisco were combined,they created a rather medium pinkish color. I figured it would just have to work.However, when I checked it this morning,the soap is a nice white hue.
Here is the recipe. A Pringles can was used for the mold and this batch fills the can halfway,making about 6 bars.

Homemade Lye Crisco Soap
(with thanks to Little House in the Suburbs)

1 lb Crisco or lard
2 oz lye (I used lye flakes)
6 oz water

Melt the Crisco or lard in a saucepan over medium low heat. While this is melting,pour 6 oz of water into a bowl,then pour the lye slowly into the water. Gently stir to dissolve. Once the Crisco or lard is melted,remove it from the heat. Wait until you can touch the sides of both the saucepan and the bowl without burning yourself. Pour the lye water into the melted Crisco/lard. While an immersion blender is recommended, I do not own one,so I used a hand mixer with a whisk attachment. It took me about 15 minutes at low speed to bring the mixture to trace ( when drops stay visible on the surface of the mixture). At this point,add your scent and coloring. Pour into a pringles can ( I used a canner funnel),and tap the can a few times on the counter to let the soap settle. Let sit for a couple of days,cut,then let cure for at least a week or two.
A couple points: If you do use a hand blender,you need to be very careful.Make sure you have the attachment in the mixture BEFORE you turn it on,and that it's off before you take it out of them mixture. Lye is very caustic and will BURN you if it comes in contact with skin. I cannot vouch for using beaters,so I don't' know if that will splatter too much even on low speed. I can only vouch for a whisk attachment. I ran it on low speed and had no splattering.It worked great.
The other thing is once the lye activates with the water,it will smoke slightly from the heat it causes. The fumes will make you SICK if you inhale them enough so I opened some windows in the work area,put a handkerchief over my nose,and made sure I stayed a good distance from the fumes.
People say to use a digital scale to measure, but I used a regular old food scale we don't use for the lye. I use a regular measuring cup for the water. I use two wooden spoons, one for mixing the lye and water,and the other for scraping the soap mixture into the mold. I keep these with my soap supplies. Anything I use to make soap gets washed very very well right after I am done.