Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019
God Bless Our Troops

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.
We love what we do!

Monday, July 6, 2020

The heat wave continues. This is my least favorite time of the year weather - wise.  

We celebrated the Twins' birthday yesterday. 
It's Monday so it is soapmaking day.  Today I am going to make Lavender and Lemongrass - my very favorite.

Friday, July 3, 2020

It has been such a long time since I've written in here.  The world has been dropped completely on its head.  We are in the fifth month of craziness due to a pandemic.  One day everything was normal and the next, we were on lockdown.  The kids did not finish out their school year.  The Maple Syrup Festival was cancelled along with the shutting down of businesses. Now racism is the topic and people are infiltrating peaceful protests and rioting and looting.  It is a very scary time and I don't believe most of what I am hearing on the news.

Claire and I began making masks in April.  We donated about 2000 and sold another 200 for the cost of materials.  We are making a quilt from the scraps.

We are starting to get orders for Christmas Stockings.  I got way behind again this year and I am frantically trying to get caught up.  It keeps my mind off the craziness in the world.   

For the very first time I am going to participate in a mystery quilt along.  It is for a Winter Quilt called Snowflake Jelly Roll

The twins turned 5 today.  It's hard to believe how fast the years have gone.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I got a late start on soap making this week.  My usual Monday night routine was disrupted by my birthday.  I never got around to it last night either.  So, today I made another one for the guys - Cabin in the Woods.   I love this scent. When I was a kid, the high point of every summer was our annual trip over the Mackinac Bridge to the upper peninsula of Michigan.  We always stayed in a cabin in the woods.  As a city kid, I fell in love with the woodsy smells combined with the fragrant pine of the cabin.  Goat milk soap made with this scent never fails to take me back to those carefree days.  Cabin in the Woods is an outdoorsy blend of cinnamon, bayberry, hints of cranberry and orange.  Both men and women love this scent.   This is how it looked just after I cut it.  I haven't made it in a while, but I suspect the color will change a bit when it is cured - March 14. 

Yesterday I wrapped the Apple Jack 'n Peel soap that I made a month ago.  It will head for the shop next week.  This is my absolute favorite scent for autumn, but I have a lot of customers that love it year round.

It's been a busy week.   We are getting ready for the Maple Syrup Festival, but next week Kelli and I are doing a show at the Masonic Home.  It's been a long time since we've done a show in a new venue.  It's exciting and a little daunting all at the same time.   

I worked on some mixes this week.  I may have mentioned that I am changing up the packaging a bit.  On Saturday Claire and I did pancake mix.  When our kids were young, I found a recipe in an old magazine for these pancakes.  Every Sunday after Mass we would come home and have a big pancake breakfast.  Somehow our neighbor on the next farm over always knew when the pancake griddle was on because he always joined us. He has been gone for many years, but every time I make pancakes, I think of Bernard.

These pancakes are the size of a dinner plate.  Now that we have grandkids, most of whom live nearby, this is their favorite breakfast when they spend the night.

We also packaged up the bean soup, and the Chai Tea mix.  The corn bread is running low so that is next on the list.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - Making Cold Process Soap

What is Cold Process soap?  It is soap that is made without any additional heat.  Our soap is made with room temperature oils and lye solution.  I used to make our soap with a heat process in the early days.  This meant that the soap mold was put in the oven at 170 degrees overnight.  The theory was that this eliminated the need for curing.  I found myself curing it anyway so I switched to Cold Process.  Now that we don't oven process I have gone to silicone molds which makes for easier and faster cutting and more accuracy in the size of the bars.

Before we begin, it is very important to clear the work area of all twins and other random people.  Focus is important when making soap.  I usually do it after 9 pm when I know I won't be distracted by cuteness. 

It's time to make soap!  The very first thing we do is collect all ingredients and utensils.  Gloves and goggles are a must since we use lye to make our soap.  Lye is a very caustic substance and must be treated with care to avoid injury.  

The next step is to blend the oils.  A stick blender is ideal for this purpose, but make sure you don't use that blender for anything else. 
 Each month I mix up a batch of oils and divide it into 4 buckets.  The batch is formulated with a soap calculator to make sure the the proper amount of lye is added to the mixture.  Too much lye and the soap will be very drying.  Too little lye and the soap will be too soft.  The mixing of lye with oils results in saponification - the making of soap.  The soap calculator also figures the percentages of the oils used in our recipe.  Each oil contributes a different benefit to the soap.  (I will cover this in a future blog post.)

Next we add the lye solution.  Lye must be mixed with a liquid, usually water.  We mix our lye with goat milk because goat milk is very good for the skin.  

Next we add the fragrance oil.  The proper amount of fragrance to add is figured into our soap calculation.  Some fragrance oils cause the soap batter to set up quickly so it is very important to know how the fragrance oil will affect the soap making process.  Floral scents tend to set up very quickly so that must be taken into account.

We pour our soap batter into silicone loaf molds.  We have tried many types of molds over the years including wooden molds, but silicone is by far the easiest to use when it is time to unmold the soap.  Our batch fills two soap molds with some overpour.  We pour the extra batter into smaller decorative molds which we use in our gift baskets.  ( I often keep a bar of the overpour for us - shhhh)

I love to make soap with colored swirls in it.  A wooden skewer works great for swirling the soap batter.

All soap utensils must be dedicated for soap making only.  Afterwards, they must be carefully cleaned - and you should still have your gloves on.  Raw soap batter is not good for the skin.  I do a quick clean-up and then leave everything in soapy water until morning. 

 I take the tray of soap molds downstairs to the refrigerator.  I put my soap in the fridge to keep it from gelling.  Gelling is when the batter overheats and sometimes it can leave dark patches in the finished soap.  This doesn't hurt the soap, but I don't like the way it looks. Putting the soap in the refrigerator will usually keep gelling at bay.  Occasionally the soap will gel anyway, but - oh well, that's life. 

In the morning I go down and unmold the soap.  I then put the soap loaf on a soap cutter.  The soap cutter has wires that slice the soap into fairly even bars.  Our soaps are a minimum of 4 oz each.  

 The soap tray with the cut soap is then taken to a curing rack where it cures for at least four weeks.  This allows the bar to harden and to become gentle on the skin.

 After the soap has cured for at least 4 weeks it is wrapped in a breathable paper and labeled for sale.  It is weighed to make sure it is at least 4 ounces.  If it is underweight it is put aside for gifts or donation baskets.

I hope you enjoyed my little tutorial.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Well, I never got my therapeutic quilting in yesterday, but I did get 9 stockings made and 3 batches of fudge.  

Some things have been selling out at the shop so I need to get new ones made and re-stocked.

So many addictions, so little time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

And just like that, we are into October!  Actually, we are almost into November.
Today I am home sick.  Well, actually, I work from home so I am here, but I canceled an appointment that I had this morning.  I was recently diagnosed with RA and today I am feeling every bit of it.  Thankfully, work takes my mind off  pain and, thankfully, I have plenty of work to do.  

We are smack dab in the middle of stocking season and right on the brink of craft show season - plus there are promotions at the brick and mortar up town. 

Today I am concentrating on getting fudge ready for our first show of the season on Saturday.  And I also plan to make a huge dent in the pile of stocking orders that is accumulating in my sewing room.  I am beating a path back and forth between the sewing room and the kitchen.  If I achieve my goals today, I plan to reward myself with some therapeutic machine quilting.

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Last Thursday I took Madison out for her birthday splurge.  It's a new tradition I am starting with the grandkids.  We give them money.  They give 10% to God, save at least 10%, and then I take them shopping with the rest.  We went to Maddie's Two favorite stores - Claire's (where I forgot to take a picture) and 5 Below.  At Claire's she bought some earrings, and she bought a friendship necklace for she and her best friend.  

At 5 Below she found some lab putty, a lanyard with her name on it, and a handsanitizer and magnet with an emoji that is apparently all the rage.  Silly me, I thought it was chocolate ice cream.

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After shopping we went to lunch.  She chose Pixie.  I haven't been there in years.  We sat in the Elvis booth.  Maddie said he creeped her out.  

Usually, when I take the grandkids out for lunch, they have to have milk as their drink, but on birthday splurge day anything goes (almost anything).  She had a blue slushie with her cheeseburger and fries.  

 We ended the day with a visit to the antique store in Shepherd where my friend Shelley works.  Maddie loved walking around and looking at all of the "old stuff."  She was particularly fascinated with the typewriters.

It was a fun day and we both had a good time.

On Thursday night we had torrential rains.  Ove 30 roads in Isabella county had to be closed due to washouts.  Unlike the flood of 1986, our area was spared the worst damage.  We have water in the basement, but we usually do with a heavy rain.  I couldn't believe the pictures I was seeing on Facebook.  

Today was the Henry Moeggenborg 39th annual reunion.  Thank goodness we had a covered pavillion because, of course, it rained.  Then it got very chilly.  Summer was nice for the 2 days it lasted.  

After the reunion we went down to Nina's so Harold could fix the switch on her water pump.

When we got home I finished making some candles that I had started after church.  I am changing up labels again.  I seem to do that a lot. 

It was a long day.  Tomorrow Claire and Garret are coming down and we are going to work on the garage.  The annual     Pizza Party/Fish Fry bash is fast approaching.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I took Meghan and Madison to the shop with me yesterday.  I decided I needed to put them to work so they labeled some bags for me.   

While I was there I got two Etsy orders.  I was out of the Old Red Barn candle so I made a batch.  I love making the grungy candles and most of them have a story behind them.  This is a picture of our barn as it began to burn.  Twenty minutes later it was gone.

Oh my aching back. Spent most of the day in the dungeon trying to get it into some kind of shape. 

I have learned to make a list of things to accomplish because if I look at the whole picture, I get overwhelmed.  First I finished getting all of the fragrance oils organized. That is kind of a big deal because it's too easy not to put them back and then they pile up on the table. I end up ordering oil I don't need because I can't find the bottle (until the order arrives).

Next I started finding a place for things.  That is also key.  When everything has a place, I am much more efficient.  I sorted jar candle lids, candle odds and ends, tart odds and ends.  The average person wouldn't see a difference, but I know I have made progress.

I also needed to do inventory for the shop up town.  I made 2 batches of lavender room spray and collected things I was running short of.  I work there tomorrow.

I packaged up the Apple Jack soap that finished curing last week.  I have started wrapping the soap in tissue paper rather than cello bags.  That serves 2 purposes.  It allows the soap to breathe and it allows the customer to smell it.  Samples are one less thing I have to deal with at craft shows and at the shop.

There is always some overpour with each batch.  I love the goat soap mold.  I do bag these because of their irregular shape.

I got all of my paper work and bill paying finished before heading down to the dungeon.  I still have laundry to fold, Christmas stockings to make, orders to process for shippng, and a bit of quilting to do as my reward..

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Busy day today!  I made two batches of foaming hand soap. We were just about out of both at the store.

Claire and Garrett helped me bake some cookies, but the oven thermostat is wacky and 2 of the batches overbaked.

Made 2 batches of wax melts
I have also been working on a series of Made in Michigan candles.  Hmmmmm, all three involve chocolate.  I am sensing a theme here.
Today's batch was Detroit and the Sanders Ice Cream Shoppe.
Monday was Mackinac Island and Traverse City

I still have 5 stockings to make and 1 stocking for an order.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Time has sure gotten away from me - as it always does.  To say I've been busy doesn't even come close.  Since I last wrote, our oldest daughter got married, moved to Midland, acquired two children, changed jobs, sold her house etc.  I know, that is her change, but somehow when life speeds up for our kids, it speeds up for us.  In my case, Kelli and I have now taken over Anna's duties.  Thankfully, the grandgirls are now getting old enough to help.  My biggest challenge through all of this has been learning to get organized.  I am not a naturally organized person, but I do love organization.  

Between the shop up town, the online shop, and craft shows, I am pretty much always making something.  Lately I have been stocking all of our 1/2 pint jar candles.  I finished all 48 scents on Monday.  Now I have to tackle the wax melts.  I also need to get our foaming handsoaps stocked.  I am embarrassed to say that I still have winter hand soaps in the store. 

Soooooo, on the goal docket today are 3 scents of foaming handsoaps and I am going to try and get 4 sets of wax melts done.  We shall see. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's been a very busy few weeks.  Having a small shop uptown is creating a bit of a learning curve in regard to keeping on top of inventory.  Kelli and Claire have been my helpers lately.  We have been transitioning into Fall.  When there is a physical store to consider, the changing seasons become much more important.  Besides mixes, I have been working on Fall lighting.