Monthly Archives: November 2009

Making Soap

First you start by measuring the lye. To make soap, you’ll need a digital scale. This one probably isn’t the best. It’s very hard to read the display when we put the big pot on it. Just thought I’d share that with you, in case any of you are looking for a good digital scale.
Put a lid on the lye and set it to the side. Lye is dangerous stuff. Respect the lye.

Next you measure out all of the oils. This recipe called for shea butter, olive oil, and lard.
See how my pot almost covers the scale? That’s what made things hard. The nice thing was the little zero button that allows you to measure one ingredient, zero the scale, and then continue measuring and adding other ingredients all in that one pot.

My friend suggested that we add the solids before the liquids. It’s important to measure the ingredients exactly. Soapmaking is a very delicate chemical process.

Put these oils on the stove at a low heat to melt. Stir as needed. Keep an eye on the temperature once it’s all melted.

Now it’s time for the excitement. Make sure that you’re wearing your safety goggles & gloves and have some ventilation where you’re working.
Gently pour the lye into your pitcher of water. It heats up to 200* immediately and stinks. Stay clear of the fumes. Stirring heats the water and you will need to get the temperature down per your recipe so avoid stirring.

You really need to have two thermometers. One for the lye mixture and another for the oils. You can perhaps wipe them clean as you go back and forth, but it’s a lot to keep an eye on.  You’re trying to get both mixtures at the same temperature: cooling the lye mixture and heating up the oils. Tricky stuff.

But oh, sweet mercy, when the temperatures are in sync, you get to pour the lye mixture into the oils and that’s when the magic starts to happen. Your heart will race and you’ll find yourself thinking, "I’m doing it. I’m really making soap!"

I was so excited, I couldn’t even take a good picture.
Now you get to add the yummy fragrance oils. Mix gently and carefully with the stick blender paying close attention to the consistency. You’re waiting for it to get to the elusive "trace" that soapers talk about. Trace is when it’s kind of like pudding and when you dribble the soap across the pot, it leaves a faint line.

If you close one eye and squint your eyes, you might be able to see what I’m talking about in this pic. Don’t hold your breath though.
I was thinking about making soap, not taking pictures.
Once it’s at that perfect consistency, you can pour it into the molds. You can just use regular boxes lined with wax paper or store-bought molds.

See how ours isn’t perfectly smooth? That’s how you can tell it is homemade. Ha ha!
Maybe we let it get too thick.
Can any of you soapers let me know?

This recipe has to cure for 3 weeks. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
It smells sooooo good.

Thankful, thankful, thankful

Wow, it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away! I’ve been trying to count my blessings each day, but I thought I’d share a few with you all today.

1. God’s unconditional love
2. New mercies every day
3. A loving husband who teaches me about dedication and service every day
4. Three boys who make me laugh, care about others, and love me even when I’m not much fun.
5. Our dogs – They make the world a better place.
6. The horse and sheep and how they remind me of the blessings of friendship and sticking together.
7. The guineas and their noises which have become a great comfort. (I really miss our chickens.)
8. The blessing of being able to enjoy living in the country.
9. Deer meat in the freezer.
10. My electric mattress pad, O24, good books, and ibuprofen!

What are you all especially thankful for this week?


Sometimes I struggle with feeling weak. Physically I just can’t do all that I want or sometimes even need to do. When people look at me, they can’t see anything wrong. To them, I “look” healthy, but there can be quite a war going on within my body and mind even as I smile.
There are times when I’ve been in so much pain, that I’ve really thought about using one of the motorized carts at a store. But I haven’t been able to do it. Deep down the idea of needing help just to get around is still too much for me. As silly as it may sound, the thought of going to the grocery store or a field trip with my kids can have me clinging to Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I have to remind myself that even though I may not be physically strong, I can still be mentally tough. I can be strong in the Lord, even when my body fails me.
Being strong is a choice, not a condition. God tells us to be strong in the Lord, not by our own power. Our strength comes from our union with Him, from his all-mighty power. Zechariah 4:6 says “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
Being strong means remembering to walk by faith and not by sight, releasing the fears, and clinging to Truth. It means putting on the armor of God each and every day.
And that much I CAN do.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6: 14 – 17

Being Content

I have been thinking a lot about contentment lately. I have some friends who are going through some extremely hard times. They are people that I love and admire. And honestly, sometimes I thought they were “more blessed” than me. (Do you ever think that?)

On the outside, they seemed to “have it all”, great careers making good money, nice homes and cars, loving families, lots of friends, health, etc…

But now, they are going through some things that put all of that in perspective and  made me realize I need to rethink some things.

I realize that many times I’ve looked at God blessing me by what He gives me. Now I know that often He is also blessing me with what He doesn’t give me – the things He has protected me from.

Does that make any sense?

It’s not that the money or success that they’ve experienced are solely to blame for what they’re going through. That’s actually far from it. But those good things are what I could see and admire. I didn’t see all of the things that they were privately battling (or would someday be battling).

Shame on me for thinking that somehow God loved them more because He was blessing them with certain things. Sure we struggle, but my family is extremely blessed. We love each other like crazy, we’ve got a comfy home with plenty of land to enjoy, and we get to spend lots and lots of time together. I have GOT to quit taking that for granted.

All families have their struggles. Some will struggle with finances. Some struggle with family tensions. Some struggle with marital issues. Others struggle with health or loss. Those things just come from living in this sinful fallen world where accidents, confusion, selfishness, envy, and disease run rampant.

We can’t control all of the things that come into our lives, but those things don’t have to consume us. We must walk by faith and not by sight, all the while trusting in God and knowing that He has our best interests at heart. We have to quit looking at others and wondering why things seem so hard for us, but so easy for them. Our lives were not created for our comfort. God chooses whether we need the sweet or the bitter. We were created to glorify Him and He gets to decide how – whether it is through success or trials, health or illness, joy or sorrow. Sometimes being content means letting go of our plans and desires.

We need to quit keeping score. Being content is a choice. One day I met a woman who was going through a horrible time, the worst time of her life. Yet she really didn’t have any sympathy for others. She was certain that everyone else had things so much better than she did. She didn’t know that many of our friends were facing extremely trying times themselves. Because even as those women were struggling, they were trying to be content, to count their blessings, and to look at how they could bless others.

It doesn’t take a perfect life to glorify God, He uses struggling imperfect people every day.

And even IN our struggles, God is there, which is truly the greatest blessing! Remember the story in Matthew 14: 22-33 about the disciples being out in the boat on stormy waters? Even when Peter began to sink because he was scared by the storm, Jesus reached out to grab him and saved them all. We have to remember that He will reach out and grab us when we are scared and sinking too.

That’s where my hope is. That’s what keeps me content.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.”

Lamentations 3: 21-25