Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Have I Been Up To?



Well let me just say, I've been a very busy bee.
The last few months I've been ramping up soap production
in anticipation of our fall shows. That done, next on the list
was all the of the other products.
I've finished the bath oils, lip balms and bath teas
now all I need are the body butters.
The jars came in yesterday so I'll be tackling those on Saturday.
I try to time everything out so that when I go to the shows
everything is as fresh as possible.
 Our first show is October 8th which is just around the corner!

We've been doing a bit of canning too.
Darn dial up, kicked me off, where was I?
Oh yeah, canning.
Sunday we pressure canned about 8 -1/2 pints of cooked beef
and at least that much or more of corn.
When the sweet potatoes go on sale at thanksgiving
I plan on making sweet potato butter.
Beverly, at Beverly's back porch posted a recipe
that really sounds yummy!
Here's her link.

Time to make more business cards and all the other paperwork
that goes with doing shows.
Till next time,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I killed The Mailbox

Yesterday my local market was advertising
chicken thighs and legs for .69 a pound and pork roast for $1.68 a pound,
both great prices so I was all over it.
Steve and I headed into town to take advantage.
We made it to the store, loaded up on the deals and
proceded to the checkout.

No checkbook, no ATM card, no cash.

I explain the circumstances to the clerk and ask,
 "can you wheel our cart into the cooler till we get back"?
"No problem she says".

We get back home and hubby says
"just pull in the drive and I'll walk to the house so we don't have to open the gate".

10 minutes later...
Checkbook in hand, he hops back into the truck and I back out.

Let me just say,
I've never backed out of the driveway before.
Seems there's a mailbox right behind the driveway!
I know it only brings bills but let's have a little respect!

So what we ended up with was,
what should have been a 24 mile drive turned into
a 48 mile drive and one dead mailbox!
I guess we paid a little more for the "deals" than we expected.

Till next time, be kind to your mailbox,

Pattypan Squash Bread

Things have cooled off a bit here, and last night we finally got some rain.
Everything still looks fried but one can hope!
I've been wanting to bake,
cookies, bread, enchiladas, whatever!

Squash bread and jalapeno cornbread
Brendie over at Bregle Estate has been tempting me
with her baked Maori bread,
which sounds super yummy, and I'm dying to give it a try.
I've only turned my oven on once or twice since about June,
and I'm thinking, it's about time.
I can't do the Maori bread just yet (needs to ferment) but I can do a some quick breads.
I made a squash bread for our breakfast's during the week and
a jalapeno cornbread to go with our ham and beans.
So here goes.
Squash Bread

2 cups flour/divided use
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon.
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger or ground cloves

1 cup canned pumpkin*
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup chopped walnuts*
1/2 cup raisins*

 Preheat oven to 350° In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and spices.

Add pumpkin, milk, eggs and shortening.
Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till blended, then on high speed for 2 minutes.
Add remaining 1 cup flour and beat well.
Stir in nuts and raisins with a spatula.

Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
(Only grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides,
lets the bread rise straight up, not out and over the edges, trust me).
Bake @ 350°  for about 1 hour.
Cool (in loaf pan) on wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool thoroughly.
Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

*I didn't have canned pumpkin, but I did have cooked, frozen patty pan squash that I thawed, drained, then pureed in the food processor. You can use any cooked squash or sweet potato.
*You can use any chopped nuts.
*I used 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup currants.
I have also done this recipe with dried, chopped apricots.

Squash bread
While I was in the freezer I spotted mixed, cooked greens.
I'm thinking,
pureed greens to replace the squash
dried rosemary, thyme, lemon balm or basil to replace the spices
diced, drained, canned pineapple or dried, diced apricots to replace the fruit
and diced ham or chicken to replace the nuts.
What do you think, Yucky or yummy?

Till next time, eat your veggies,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Can Texas Be Saved From Stupid People?


There’s a little town named Reagor Springs,
that I pass through everyday on my way to and from work .
It has a couple of beer stores and that’s about it.
This was the go to place back in the day if you wanted beer.
 Just a little town situated between two bigger, dry towns.
The bigger towns are wet now, so Reagor doesn’t have much going on anymore.

But, if you look at it from another perspective, it really has quite a bit going on.

In the early spring this town is a beehive of activity.
 Farmers are in the fields, riding in giant, cab enclosed tractors.
They’re tilling under the winter’s green cover
in preparation for the summer’s cash crops, corn, maize and cotton.

Round about late July, early August, they started harvesting
the corn and maize. Even with the drought, I still saw
18 wheelers in the fields loading up for the trip to the gain mill.

Cotton field, May I think.
Now it’s cotton harvest time.
Cotton strippers are in the fields along with huge rectangle shaped boxes.
The boxes are like trash compactors.
The cotton strippers feed the cotton into the box and the box squishes it.
Pretty cool!

So now the fields are filled with these huge bales of cotton.
Future blue jeans and t shirts I suspect!


Yesterday, 250 acres of these fields were caught up in a wild fire.
Nothing you could see from the highway, it was back in, on the FM road.
My oldest grandson’s dad, uncles and papa farm some of these fields.
I don’t know if it was their’s or not, or even if there were crops on the land.

Today I was driving to work looking at all those bales, and thinking.
I hope they get them out soon, before anything else happens!
The farmers are depending on the money these bales are going to bring in.

What the hell...

“Did you see that“, I asked my husband?
Before he could answer I said,
“I don’t believe it, whoever is driving that car just threw out a lit cigarette”!


I’m thinking, are you stupid? Don’t you know there was a fire here yesterday?
I sped up enough to get a plate number, and then passed to see who was driving.

Just some random lady, 40ish, no one I know.
But then again, she could live in my area.
She might even be driving down my road on a daily basis.
Her lit cigarette butts flying out her car window toward my house!

Steve and I both have a bug-out-bag in the cab of the truck,
clothes, toiletries, passports, etc.
I pack the laptop in the briefcase and take it with me to work everyday.
We’ve even packed a medium size cooler
with about 2 weeks worth of non-perishable food,
that’s locked and chained in the pickup bed.

You never know!!!

Till next time,

Just heard thunder, went outside to see,
 there's a big black cloud over the house and I felt raindrops!
Could it really be?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Excellent Adventure...Part 1

Lovey Puppy and Friends were getting 
bored with going to Grandma's house.
Bored with making soap, bored with cooking, bored with sewing. 

They had more fun when Grandma played....
They loved to watch The Little Boy and Grandma shoot the bow and arrows,
sword fight with their sticks and skip rocks at the creek.
Grandma wasn't very good at any of these things...
But there was one thing she was good at.
Story telling.

Magic wands, far away places, evil kings, flying dragons, enchanted forests...
Grandma knew about these things!

Lovey Puppy and Friends would listen when Grandma read to the Little Boy.
They imagined themselves riding the dragons,
 fighting the evil kings and camping in the enchanted forests.
They wanted an adventure like the ones Grandma told about in the stories!

But how to make it happen?
The Little Boy did have a magic wand.....

And a flying dragon!!!

Lovey Puppy and friends started making plans!

Till next time,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lovey Puppy...

There once was a little boy who couldn’t hear very well.
Since the little boy couldn’t hear very well,
that meant he couldn’t speak very well either.
His mother could understand him but not anyone else.
This made the little boy very frustrated and angry.

Puzzled, the mother took the little boy to the doctor.

Oh my, said the doctor….

The little boy had to go to the hospital several times.
Hospitals can be very scary, especially to a little boy.

The little boy’s grandma Jackie brought him a little stuffed puppy.
She told him, this is a Lovey Puppy, whenever you’re scared,
just hug her and she’ll make you feel better.

Through the years, the little boy has taken his lovey Puppy everywhere.
Movies, both grandma’s house's, dads…
Where ever the little boy is, Lovey Puppy is.

Lovey Puppy likes video games, movies, cooking, sword fighting,
whatever the little boy likes, Lovey Puppy Likes.

Along the way Lovey Puppy has made several friends,
Felix The Cat, Mr. Peanut, Casper The Friendly Ghost,
Mr. Pony, Robo Man, Purr Other Puppy and several Knights.

Lovey Puppy can be mischievous though….

Imagine the little boy’s surprise when he got to grandma’s house
and Lovey Puppy and friends weren’t in the suitcase!

 They were on an adventure, an Excellent Adventure!
 Till next time,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


My landscape

The dogs were acting crazy yesterday,
there was no bad weather, just wind.
I went out with them several times to "check on things"
but didn't see anything, Lady just kept pacing.
I just figured the tropical storms were blowing in rain.
So I went about my day, making soap, blogging ETC. 

When Steve got home from work he asked me,
"have you been outside"?
"Well, yes I said, sort of, why"?
I followed him out back.
Oh crap!
Fire towards Ennis, about five miles away,
fire towards Alma same distance away.
I had been going out the front door.
The wind was blowing the smoke and smell away from our house.
I never even heard sirens!
Sunday there were wild fires in Corsicana, about twenty miles south of us.

Our area is all open land, no farming going on up here,
lots of cattle, some mesquite and cedar trees and brush, lots of brush!
Pretty dry up here.

This is how dry we are!

I went outside this morning. (I'm On a vacation day).
Hazy, smoky smelling. I don't hear any sirens.....YET!
Steve just called from work,
said they got an automated call from the Sheriff's office stating,
 all of Ellis Co. is smoky, hazy, don't call unless you see flames!
Wildfires are everywhere, Fort Worth, Austin, Oklahoma!

On my drive to and from work, (Ennis to Waxahachie to Red Oak)
I see patch after patch of burnt grass on the side of the highway.
Are people throwing lit cigarettes out their car windows?
There was a roadside fire on Thursday, 
about a quarter mile from where Steve works. (Waxahachie)
The nursery is surrounded by about a five acre mini forest, so you
can imagine how ugly that could have been!
The fire department put it out before it hit the trees.

Lady's not acting crazy so I guess we're ok?
But, I do have a bug-out-bag sitting by the front door!

Till next time, stay safe,

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Lion , The Witch and The Wardrobe

So I lied, there is no Lion or Witch, just "The Wardrobe"!
*** :) ***

I found this lovely piece in an antique store about five years ago.
We had "house guests" at the time and needed more closet space.
It still has the original hanging rod, 
with weird hook things that slide across the rod,
 kind of like bathroom robe hooks.
(wasn't sure how to use those) 
We just slid them to the side and used wire hangers.
There wasn't enough clearance between the rod
and upper shelf for plastic hangers.


"House guests" are gone, so now it's a pantry.
I didn't want to alter the piece so we just put a shelving unit inside.
When things are on sale at the market I buy extra and store in  "The Wardrobe".
Those cans of tomatoes, tuna, and such were really a good price!

I've had these forever, cheap, Wally World bookshelves.
There's one on either side of the kitchen island.
I don't know if you can see but,
 I had to put a piece of wood between each shelf for support.
Still room for a few more jars!
(Ignore the 5 gal. buckets in the background, that's just my soap oils).

This is the only closet in the house, although it is pretty big.
No, we don't have that much coffee,
I save coffee cans for food storage silly:)
More on sale food items in here also.
Bulk purchases are divided up into smaller containers.
Beans, rice, sugar, flour.....
I scored a large, laundry basket full of jars, canisters
and popcorn tins for $5.00 at the thrift store a few months back.
Plastic shoe boxes also come in handy.

Something I have noticed at the market as of late.
Staple food items?
Not really being put on sale.
 It's mostly, what I like to call, "the garbage food".
Pre-seasoned, pre-cooked fast food, just heat and eat.
Then there's the plastic packages of meat swimming in marinades,
and the plastic tubs of pre-sliced veggies and fruits.

I don't know, I guess if you work, have three kids with after school activities,
get home late, ETC, ETC, ETC,
maybe this is your only option besides Mickey Dees?
Seems to me, for the price of the fast food stuff,
you could probably hire a sweet, grandma type, retired person
to come over and cook wholesome food for your family.
I'm just saying....

Please, don't tell "The People Eater" or "The Food Police"
about my food stash!!

Oh yeah, weird again,
have the check- out clerks at your market been
commenting/asking about your bulk purchases?
They have at mine!

Need to go make soap, shows start in October.

Till next time, happy hoarding,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Attack Of The Vacuum Cleaner

Lady, being mad at me. Red, after the alien abduction, they made her eyes aqua!
 Let me just start this with,
yes, I did get around to vacuuming the rugs and floor.
That said, next would be.
The only reason to have dogs in the house is,
you live in a Igloo and it's a three dog night!


I had to empty the canister three times,
 I said three times.
So much dog hair, under the beds, on the sofas,
every nook and cranny, crammed with dog hair.
No wonder I have allergies.

I'm vacuuming, shooting the evil eye at the dogs,
the minute Steve opened the door to go outside they were gone.
They understood the look!

I'm thinking to myself, just wait until you come back in,
I have a surprise for the two of you.
Evil laugh here.

I finished vacuuming the house and then,
 ever so sweetly, called the dogs to come back in.
Evil laugh again.

First I caught Lady,
(those collars are good for more than a few things). 
I proceeded to vacuum her.
I'm using the hose attachment with the bristle thingy,
 not actually running the vacuum over her,

Please, give me some credit!
Only thing was, her hair kept clogging the bristles.
I'd have to stop and clean it out, at which point she would run and hide.
After about three or four times of cleaning, catching, I was done with her.

During all this, Red was investigating  the goings on.
I'm thinking, you just wait, you're next!

 Red, look at yourself,

Love those aqua eyes Red!
 have you been rolling in that dead grass?
Caught Red too.

Oh wait,
that makes four times emptying the canister.

Really Lady? Get over it!
Let's just say,
there was a reason Mom never let dogs come into the house!

 And please don't call PETA on me.

Till next time, happy vacuuming!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

More Canning? More Cooking? Why Yes, I Beleive So!

skins be gone - pizza, pasta, stew starter - turkey roaster waiting station

Remember those tomatoes from last week?
The ones I had to put in the freezer?
The ones from the farmers market? ($7.00 for about 20 lbs).
 Well yesterday we had  time.
 Let's get them canned up, I said!

We left them whole, more or less, and used the pressure canner.
I was running short on jars so we used a combo of quarts and pints.
Would have preferred to use all wide mouth, but....

We used the hot pack method,
keeping them between warm and hot in the turkey roaster.
Everything went well and we ended up with,
3 quarts, 8 pints and 3 juice.
The juice was the left over liquid in the roaster.

I'd say, we have quite enough tomatoes now!
(Remember, I canned some in January)...
 Anyone needing some of the "said tomatoes"
is welcome to come over and help themselves!

Let me back up!
Before we started on the tomatoes, I put a brisket in the electric roaster,
(about 10 1/2  lbs. for $1.49 a lb.)
and some dry (soaked overnight),  beans in the slow cooker.

OK, moving on....

Brisket waiting to be trimmed - all packaged up - meal size
 The Brisket
Typically, we don't do meat as a main course,
 use it for soups, stews, casseroles, tacos ETC.
I guess I get that trait from my mom, she was
trying to feed 9 people on a limited budget!
She did some wonderful recipes with very little to work with.
(Wish I would have told her, I love you, more often).

So, we packaged the brisket into meal size portions and popped them into the freezer.
(When I say meal size, I mean, big meal, several servings).
I would have rather canned it but I was low on jars, and by this time it was 5pm.

The Beans
My grand-daughter Lauren was over last weekend and
she was watching Nate and I make the crispy breakfast tacos.
(Not that Nathan was really helping, more like,
in and out of the kitchen while playing video games and watching a movie.
I guess he gets his multi tasking from me).

We were tossing around ideas for different fillings and she suggested
using re-fried beans as the binder, chorizo as the meat, and adding scrambled eggs.
Sounded good, might be ugly though, I'm not sure how the eggs will look.

And, as soon as I get my butt away from this laptop,
I'm going to smash some beans and give her idea a try.
I'll let you know how they turn out!

OH, and Sue,
I did at least manage to get the laundry done.
I might even get the dog hair swept up!!!

Yes, my grass is indeed that brown!
What are you guys going to do with your long weekend?

Till next time,

Friday, September 2, 2011

New Apron For The Soap Class!


Of course I needed a new bib apron for the soap class!
Couldn't be seen in the old one.
It's 2 years old at least!
Way too many times wiping/drying my hands on it.
(yes, I did wash it occasionally)

This should do nicely!!

Anyway... On to the class!

The first time, I let a lady come and watch me,
gave a little advice, and that was that.

My daughters about had a cow!!!

they said,
"you've done all the research, spent the time testing,
worked through all the bugs,
why are you giving your knowledge away for free"?

And you know what?
They were right!
So now I charge.

I talked to a mother and daughter at my last show who were interested
in learning and willing to pay,
I always knew, eventually, someone would come along. 
So I was ready with  my price and what they would receive.
hands on class
3- different soap recipes
1- 10 bar soap mold
10 bars of soap, any scent
essential oil info
oil, sap value chart
carrier oil info
and info on how to develop their own recipes
you bring, 1 towel and an apron

I developed and tested, 3 recipes/formulas using everyday market ingredients.
(Not everyone wants to go online and purchase specialty ingredients).

Next up was to compile a notebook with all the necessary info.
I bought really cute binders, made a table of contents, dividers
and filled it with info.
A soapers manual so to speak!

Cute notebook

BTW, I made the dividers and table
myself, using postcard stock and
DIY tabs.

I made 3 notebooks, 1 for each of us.
My hubby, Steve, made the molds.

I wish I could say everything went according to plan,
but alas, it didn't!
I forgot to print their recipes,
I had mine in my notebook,
but their recipe section had nothing.

The recipes were on the downed computer,
I have my copies, the other desktop has a scanner,
I know how to use it,
 sort of.
(This is turning out to be the Keystone Cops)!!!
I was so proud of myself, I figured it out!

They choose a recipe.
Now we're on to the actual weighing of ingredients,
choosing essential oils etc.
So far so good.
Lye is mixed, oils are being heated.

Now let me remind you,
 I'm working with 2 ladies, 2 measuring cups of  lye and 2 pots of oil!
Thermometers are thurming,
oils are heating, and they are asking!
They're suppose to be watching their thermometers!

My husband warned me,
one of the burners seems to be hotter than the others.
He just didn't say which.

Mom is watching hers,
just doesn't mention that the oil is registering
over 200 degrees, I just happened to look!
Oh crap, again!!
Daughters' is doing OK.

We had discussed this scenario, I was ready for it,
just didn't want it to happen on my watch.
I pulled the blue ice out from the freezer and set the pot on it.
Checked the lye temp.
Oh man, the lye is cooling way down but the oil isn't.
What to do, what to do?
I grabbed another soap pot from the rack,
cold pot has got to be better than a hot pot, right?
We're good.

Now to combine the oil and lye.
We did good here, only they were a little hesitent to really stir it up.
We were using a stick blender and a rubber spatula.
Circle 8's I was saying.
Hum, let me show you.
 We did manage.
We passed trace a bit for traveling purposes and everything turned out OK

All in all, they were great students and
forgave me my OOPSIES.

 It was fortunate that we did have a few problems.
I've been making soap for quite awhile now but it seems, 
everything has a learning curve,
and I don't know it all.
Go figure!
 Till next time, happy soaping.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Soap, Lots Of Soap!

When I'm out doing my soap shows,
I always get a few people asking about soap classes.
Sure I say, I teach,
then I give them the rundown.
For this price you will receive, this, this, that, that, etc.
Plan on spending this amount of time.

Most people think they want to learn, but generally they really don't.
It takes time and effort, it can be messy and costly.
It takes forethought, organization and research.
Lots and lots of research!

For me at least.
I did a lot of research,
downloading info on carrier oil properties,
learning about essential oils, botanical additions etc.

And the formula testing,
right amount of lather, long lasting, hard bar, moisturizing, gentleness....

I have a 3" notebook, full of info,
all neatly arranged in alphabetized categories, separated by labeled, index dividers.

My soap recipe/formula book is divided into sections also,
fruits, floral, spices and each section is also alphabetized.
Each scent has it's own recipe page and I keep detailed notes
every time I make a batch.

Super soap trolly
What can I say?
I'm extreme.
My daughters call it O.C.D.
I say, it's not a dis-order, it's order!!!
Should be called OCO instead.

I make about 24 different soaps and they need a place to cure.
I tried a shelving unit and that was ok but I knew I needed something more. Like this!!
I found this bread rack at Canton First Monday Trade Days
For $35.00. I had researched these online, cheapest was about
I knew I wanted one, just didn't want to spend so much.
$35.00, I was willing to do!
Makes a handy, dandy soap drying rack don't you think? I can wheel it where ever I need it to be, there's plenty of shelves, and it can hold about 28, 20 bar batches of soap. Super!

                        The reason I'm telling you all of this is because,
I actually did get to teach a class.
But, it's late, so that story will have to wait.

Till next time,