God Bless Our Troops

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We love what we do!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

It's been a long, long time since I have updated and I figured I should probably post something. Life has been busy with 7 grandkids in the mile and one just an hour away. I sort of retired from my job as co-director of music at the church so I am now solely the weekend organist. I haven't noticed an abundance of free time yet. In April I purchased a sit-down quilting machine. I figured since my last little charge would be starting school in the fall, I would go back to quilting.
There is a bit of a learning curve, but I found a facebook group that has been a font of knowledge.  One of the ladies makes tutorials to teach us.  This was my "homework" on one of the weeks.

 No sooner did I set up the machine when Sam and Kelli stooped in to tell us they were expecting twins. Kyle Lenard and Jace Joseph - identical twins - joined the family on July 3. Their big sisters are totally thrilled.


Of course they needed John Deere quilts since their daddy is a farmer.  I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the quilts before I let them leave the house.  But here are the boys at one month on their quilts.  

I have recently spent more time making rugs since I have finally perfected my pattern.

and pillows . . .

Then I thought I would make a photo pillow.   I am not a super great photographer, but every now and then I snap a really good picture.  This was take the day after Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.  Claire, Maddie, and Meghan had spent the night.  At that time we had some young Amish men building a lean-to on our barn.  Harold called out that the buggy was coming up the road.  The girls ran to the couch to look out the window and I got this shot just as the buggy was coming up our driveway.  I couldn't have gotten a better picture if I had posed this.  By the way, the buggy had no shield and it was below zero that day.

Holy Week

Holy Week

Dear God,
I want to offer you this day,
but this day isn't good enough.
I didn't get the laundry done
            and I burned the toast this morning,
So I'll wait and offer you another day.
        And God said, “I'll be here.”

Dear God,
I want to offer you this day,
but this day isn't good enough.
I didn't get the baking done
and I yelled at the kids.
So I'll wait and offer you another day.
        And God said, “I'll be here.”

Dear God,
I want to offer you this day,
but this day isn't good enough.
I broke a confidence
and betrayed a friend
So I'll wait and offer you another day.
        And God said, “I'll be here.”

Dear God,
I want to offer you this day,
but this day isn't good enough.
A friend asked me to be there
but I had other things to do.
So I'll wait and offer you another day.
        And God said, “I'll be here.”

Dear God,
I want to offer you this day,
but this day isn't good enough.
Someone did me a favor
     and I never said “Thank you.”
So I'll wait and offer you another day.
     And God said, “I'll be here.”

Dear God,
I want to offer you this day,
but this day isn't good enough.
I've lost sight of you
     and I don't feel like talking just.
So I'll wait and offer you another day.
        And God said, “I'll be here.”

Dear God,
It isn't perfect
     but neither am I
So I'll give you this day
     with its smudges and streaks,
     and its bruises and bumps,
     its jelly covered doorknobs,
     and its dented fenders
     and unpaid bills,
    because it's all I have to offer.
And God said, “It's all I ever wanted.”

(We need to remember that God's love doesn't come with conditions.
     He already has perfection . . .

          what He wants is us.)

From The Tarantella Dancers  copyright 2000

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Claire stayed here yesterday because she wasn't feeling well.  By late morning she was feeling well enough to work on the Spare Bedroom Quilt.  We finished 3 blocks!!

Untrimmed block

Trimmed Block
Then she was ready for a break so I worked on Garrett's quilt for a bit.  Garrett is the last of the grandkids to get a quilt.  Life was quite busy there for a while.  Garrett loves balls of all kinds, so this fabric has soccer balls on it. His latest fascination is with Jake the Pirate.  He likes to sneer and say "Arhggg"

Garrett's Quilt
Today I got quite a bit accomplished.  Harold roasted a huge chicken on Sunday and I had do something with the meat that was left from eating on Sunday.  I bagged up 2 packages with 4 cups each of cut chicken.  With the remaining chicken I made chicken pot pie.  It was a double recipe and made 2 pans full - enough Harold and Meghan for lunch and enough left over for Sam and Kelli's family, Melisa and Justin's family, and Nina
and Jamie's family.  

While the Chicken Pot Pie was baking, Meghan and I decided to make another block for the Spare Bedroom Quilt.  I have a mid arm quilting machine on layaway at the local sewing center.  The Spare Bedroom Quilt will be the first bed quilt I will attempt on it.  I have to finish farm taxes (my self imposed requirement) in order to bring it home. 

I made a batch of soap tonight - Berry Pickin'.  It's one of my favorites for Spring or Summer. The scent is black raspberry vanilla and it is Mmmmm   Mmmmm.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today Meghan, who is four, and I are working on paper piecing a quilt for the guest room.  This is where the grandkids always stay when they "visit the night." I have a lot of scraps and the girls want to learn to quilt.  Paper piecing is an excellent tool for teaching little ones to make quarter inch seams. The first thing I teach little ones is a healthy respect for the machine.  If you ask them they will tell you that you never put your fingers near the needle - ever.

Please pardon the poor video quality.  I was guiding fabric with one hand and video taping with the other

The pieced block looks kind of wonky 
when it comes off the machine.

We trimmed it up and it looks much better.
After we make 99 of these blocks,
 they will be sashed
and made into a quilt for the guest room.

Another batch of soap has finished curing so I will be packaging that today.  I am in a time crunch to get soap made and cured for our spring craft shows.  Today I am working on the Country Apple soap.  
We also list on Etsy so it has to be wrapped and ready today. 

Nicola and I are pretty well on target for getting things ready for stocking sales.  The orders start coming in fairly regularly from August until we have to pull our listings.  We have been pulling them in mid-October because we want everything to be shipped out by November 30.   Even though we warn people to order early, it's just hard to get in the Christmas spirit in April.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Today the weather was in the high 70s.  I wonder, will we  have Spring or just catapult straight into summer.  The school year is winding down for the kids.  

I'm still working on the soap for the Girls on the Run soap bags.  I have about 150 to make yet, and most of them still need to be bagged.  After that the labels have to be attached.  I guess I know what I will be doing this weekend.  Maybe I can corral the kids to help as my mother's day gift.  

I finished another rug the other day.  This one looks like sand and water so I have nicknamed it Sand 'n Surf.  

I have been sneaking in some quilting time.  I ordered a foot and feeddog cover so I can do some free motion quilting.  But now the machine is jamming.  I'll take it in tomorrow.  It needs a cleaning anyway.  I was in the Singer store last week and they had a free motion long arm machine with a compact table.  $5000.  A lot of money, but about half of what the programmable machines go for.  I have to improve my piecing skills quite a bit to even dream about a machine like that.  In the mean time, I will do my quilt as you go squares that I am making for a quilt for my son-in-law. 

 I have a quilt that I'm hand quilting for my oldest daughter, but I can't find my hoop top!  grrrrr.  I have 2 grandkids that still do not have quilts.  So many addictions - so little time.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy May Day everyone! As I write this, it is 42 degrees outside. Gotta love Michigan. I have been super busy the last few months. Since I am a church musician when I'm not making soap, candles, rugs, stockings, fudge, or lamps, April was especially busy. Easter, you know, the busiest time in the church. Add to that additional grandkid time and something had to give - blogging. We had the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival last weekend and our little Claire competed in the Princess pageant. Here she is hamming it up on the parade float with one of her friends. She's the one on the left.

So now it's time to gear up for making soap for the Girls on the Run race bags. So far I have 87 soaps done out of the 650 that I need to do. Also, I did 4 batches of Apple Jack and Peel soap for a barn wedding. This is the third request I have had to make soap for weddings. Must be a new trend.

I've also started making tin can lamps. I absolutely love them!! These are timer lamps. Some are electric and some are battery. They glow for 8 hours and then automatically turn themselves off for 16 hours. Then they turn back on.

In February I had surgery on my hand for carpal tunnel. That slowed me down for a couple of weeks, but I am back to making rugs

This summer I plan to get back to quilting. I have missed that so much. The problem is, there are too many things I love to do and not enough time to them.

Making Honey Blossom Soap

Wow! It's been quite a few months since we have updated. Life tends to happen, doesn't it? Here is a new look to an old favorite!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's been a while so I thought I'd better update.  October 15 is my annual traditional "start thinking about Christmas" day.  (December 15th is my annual  "wish I'd started October 15th day")

Anyway, things have been hopping here at the Sugar Bush.  The grandkids keep us all busy.  The guys have started the fall harvest, and we are two shows into our fall craft show schedule.  We continue to be blessed by wonderful support from our customers.

The stocking orders are starting to pour in and it's a challenge to keep on top of them.  (A good challenge, to be sure.)

This year we have been experimenting with different fudge flavors - Kit Kat Crunch, Peppermint Patty, Snicker! Snicker!.  (Shown is the Snicker! Snicker!)

 I have yet to make the pink peppermint yet, but speaking of peppermint, I made a batch of peppermint soap last night.  I am chomping at the bit to cut and see the pretty swirls inside.  But when I went to put it on the cutter, it felt soft so I will wait.  I did unmold the overpour, though.

Madison has started pre-school so Meghan is now becoming my Sugar Bush helper.  She is unpackaging all of the bulbs for my lamps.  I ordered her Sugar Bush tee shirt.  She is very excited.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

First of all - Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers, father figures, Godfathers, etc out there.  I hope your day is wonderful!

After last week's batch of Lavender and Lemongrass, I was itching to do a re-make on a lot of our soaps. (Maybe itching isn't the best word to use).  I actually made 4 batches of soap last week.  I normally make soap on Mondays, but because warm humid weather is approaching, and because we do not have central air, I decided to make soap while the sun didn't shine - so to speak.

 I noticed that I was almost out of Lemongrass - so I made a batch of that:

Then I discovered I was almost out of Country Roads  - so I made a batch of that.  
Actually, I made a batch of this a couple of weeks ago and the colors bled and morphed.  Good soap, but not terribly pretty.  I was thrilled with the way this batch turned out.

My Lavender stock was dangerously low (it's always dangerously low) - so I made a batch of that.  
I was so excited by how this turned out that I had to try an idea I've had in mind for a while.

So - I made one more batch.  I'm calling this one Americana.  It  got a lot of attention on our Facebook page.  Now I have a ton of ideas swirling in my head for some special edition Christmas soaps.

I have also been experimenting with different flavors of fudge.  We have added Snicker! Snicker! to our line.    Made with peanuts and caramel bits, that one disappeared pretty quickly.  

Click to see full size image

Next was a fudge inspired by Heath Bars.  This one has almonds and toffee bits.  We had a contest on our Facebook page and the winning name was Almond Toffee Delight. 

Click to see full size image

 I want to do a pink peppermint fudge for Fall and Christmas which will have some of those soft peppermints ground up in it. Then there will be a Peppermint Patty fudge which will have Junior Mints in it.  Now I am getting bombarded with other ideas from several people.  I have this summer to finalize all of this and then in September we start getting orders for Christmas Stockings. (Which we have been working on since January)  

October starts our Fall craft shows and we have added two more to the four we usually do.  And to add to the fun, we are having a change in leadership at our parish (where I work when I'm not playing with grandkids or making soap, fudge, candles, and rugs.).  Not only will we have a new priest, but for the first time in my time at the church, we will have a man as our business manager.  Lots of changes ahead.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Out of yesterday's chore list, I managed to do everything except package soap.  I finished a rug I have been working on.  I love the colors in this one.

Today's chore list included: Cutting up and processing sheets. Harold and I went to a graduation party on Saturday and stopped at a couple of garage sales on the way down. I found lots of sheets. Anna also found me some on Sunday. I washed them all yesterday. I like to get them ready for cutting before I store them.  I love the colors in the stack on the left so I am keeping those together for a pink and turquoise rug.

Evening update:
Oh, my aching back.  It has been a looooooong day.
I managed to get everything done that was on my chore list.
I made a batch of Lavender today.  For once I will wait to cut it because I won't be home tomorrow.  I'm excited to see how this one will turn out.  I did the bottom layer in pale lavender with purple jojoba beads sprinkled in.  The top layer is white with lavender and purple swirls.

I packaged up and weighed the rest of the Hunter's Green scent masking soap.

Photo: Hunter's Green Scent Masking soap, cured and ready to go!

I also packaged the Lavender and Old Lace.  I did a little more straightening in the dungeon.

I am finishing the last of the 10 stockings that I need to take down to Nina's tomorrow.  When that is done, it's PJ time in the big chair with my library book.

Monday, June 10, 2013 - Cutting Lemongrass Soap

Ugh, my big chore for the day is to get soap oils measured. It's my very least favorite part of soapmaking. I have somewhat streamlined the process, so it isn't as bad as it used to be. The part that makes it so tiresome is actually only measuring the hard oils. I hate having my hands all greasy, but at least with the coconut oil, soybean oil, and palm oil, I can scoop it out and be done with it. But cocoa butter - oh, that evil cocoa butter. In order to keep prices down, I order it in a 50 pound chunk. It requires a hammer and a butter knife to chip off the chunks. And my lovely scale always decides to shut off before it is all measured. Today I hammered the butter knife down so far into the chunk that I couldn't get it out again. Sooooo, I have one batch of oils measured. I will pour these into four smaller buckets and each of those is enough for one batch of soap. I think I will do several of these today and then I won't have to bother with it for a month or so.

The girls were here this morning so I finished my Lemongrass video from yesterday.  They like to watch me cut soap and they absolutely LOVE to sniff it.

Friday, June 7, 2013 - Lavender and Lemongrass soap.

It seems to be either feast or famine with my blog posts.  I actually like to blog, but there are so many things I like to do and so little time.  Yesterday I tried something different for one of my old soap recipes.  I love to blend fragrances and during the summer, Lavender and Lemongrass are my absolute favorite blends.  In the past, this soap has had a rather lackluster appearance.  Lemongrass fragrance oil results in a kind of dull translucent soap.  I decided to add Titanium Dioxide to the main batch before separating into colors.  I love how this turned out!  I did a video of this batch.  I have a new camera and while the video is much better, it takes hours to upload.

I also finished a praire rug today.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ah, more rain.  Not what I was hoping for.  Working in the damp basement is doing nothing for this cough.  Maddie and Meghan came over this morning and the plan was for them to help me package the little heart soaps I made yesterday.  Well, that didn't work out because the soap was to soft to work with.  They were disappointed, but we can wait until next week to do them.  They just have to be made in time to cure, but they can be packaged when I get to it.

After the girls went home, I made a batch of candles, several batches of tarts, and several batches room sprays.  I have one more batch of fudge to make, but I needed more of one of the ingredients.

Tonight I played for a class of kids who are preparing for First Communion and Confirmation.  Immediately after that I went to do a class with the RCIA.  I miss teaching, but there is only so much time in a day.

I planned to stop at Walmart to get a few things, but it was rainy, windy, and cold so I just made a quick stop at Family Fare to get a loaf of bread and some potatoes.

Doesn't sound like I did much today, but I never stopped moving. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Let's see - what did I do today?
Started off the day with Madison, Meghan, and Garrett.  Never a dull moment with those three around.
First off, the girls turned on the CD player which is, and has been, their custom.  Garrett, who is Claire's little brother, has heard this song before.  So he did his little dance.

Despite the fact that Garrett is a little tornado boy, I did manage to get a batch of chocolate peanut butter fudge made.  I had some help with the testing.  Notice Maddie's ponytail.  That is her 80's look inspired by the Princess Pageant.

Thankfully, Harold made a roast the other day, so I didn't have to worry about lunch.  After the monkeys went hope, I made a batch of Maple Cream Fudge, a batch of Hazelnut Coffee candles, a batch of Country Orange Spice grubby tarts, and 120 more soap hearts for the Girls on the Run race bags.  I have one more batch of those and they will be finished - and none too soon because they have just enough time to cure before the event which will be in Shepherd this year - woohooo!!  Tomorrow Madison will help me package them and put on the labels.