Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goal Setting

Today, appropriate to New Year's Eve day, I have been thinking about goal setting.

My first thoughts were jumbled. What is goal setting? What is important when setting goals?

One of the most important aspects of goal setting is to make sure you set any goal at an obtainable level. You know what hurdles you can jump, you know what you can achieve, and you know your own personal wants and needs. Your goals are just that, yours!

When setting goals, start with the largest of thoughts. Where do you want to be in life a year from now? Then begin breaking the big picture down into small pieces. The small pieces are what drives your daily life, what is important to you (family, friends, business, health). Prioritize the smaller pieces, and base your goals on what importance each places in your life, and what you can actually obtain. Be realistic.

When goal setting, it is best to use pen and paper. This allows you to see your progress throughout the year, and helps to keep yourself focused. One of the biggest obstacles in reaching goals is looking backwards. It is not a bad thing to have wisdom, to learn from mistakes, but never look back and allow the past to control your future. Set your eyes on the goal, and move towards it. Friends and family, with the greatest of loving intentions, can stray you from your goal setting path. Your determination will mean that you stay sure-footed, knowing what is good for you, and ensuring the end results that you are seeking are going to be met.

Again, make your goals something that you know you can obtain. Do not set goals that are not within your own grasp, meaning, if you know that there are outside influences (financial, physical, locality), reasons that make your goal impossible, then do not put yourself at risk of feeling failure. Start with goals that you know you can achieve, those that help you to move forward towards the "big" goals that you can eventually reach.

Have fun with your life, make sure you use your abilities. You are in charge of you! If something truly interests you, or if you have a talent, a niche, a creativity, reach for it! The more you allow your mind to open, the more open it becomes, and then you can begin to see end results that you, yourself, are truly happy with.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blogs and New Year's Thoughts

I truly appreciate my fellow blogger friends.

We are living in a time filled with opportunity. Through something as simple as a blog, for example, we can connect so easily with like-minded business people, friends, and people with interests similar to our own. We can visit a work place, a home, or an office where we normally would not be able to venture, and it is a grand learning experience!

This means we can live lives that are full to the brim with fresh ideas, challenges, humor, and we can put on listening ears and be here to help others in even the smallest of ways!

I appreciate your comments. I do not know how many people read this blog from day to day, but I can tell you that I feel compelled to write, and I love it!

There are so many things that I want to do in life. At 50 years old I seem to be embracing so much more than what I did a few years back. With the new year fast approaching, I realize that putting some direction in my life is a good thing as well. The direction goes beyond losing the pounds in the middle, or straightening the pantry shelves, it means that I need to look at what truly matters in my life (thank you Anne-Marie for helping me to remember this), and to stay focused and grow with what really matters.

I also think this is a perfect time for many of us to move ahead with business plans. I am not looking at the economy to slow me down. Yes, I am cutting way back and struggling like many others, but what seems like a slump will eventually works its way back up, and we will be the first ones on the track going back up!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Save Face Monday

Wow...such a blessing of a day in Ohio today. The sun is shining. I hear the neighbor powering up the chain saw, apparently cutting fallen branches, clearing. Tells me that I need to do a somewhat similar job later, burn a bit of a pile. That is, if the wind dies down some. Again, reminds me of April, not December. I love it!

Today was aptly named "Save Face Monday" because I worked on a small batch of face cream in the shop this afternoon. I am hoping the formula thickens up in the next 72 hours. It looks and smells great, but it is a bit more soupy than I would have liked. Soupy isn't the right word for it either. Hmmm...let's go for very lightly whipped, not heavy. I was looking for something more in-between. For a face cream, I do not like much scent, but I am extremely happy with the outcome of this one. The lotions are now where I want them to be, light for body and hands, but not so light that it runs off of the palm of the hand when when a dollup is held sideways. Onto the creams... .

I am having writer's problems today. Lost for words!

Went to the grocery this morning. I was thinking about a blip that another friendly blogger shared regarding saving money, making ends stretch, especially during this economy. I began using coupons again, the first time in 7 years. And before I head to the store now, I plan, and part of that includes checking the recipe books for fairly simple meals that can stretch over several days. It feels good to be out of the restaurants as often as we were, and it also feels better when buttoning up the jeans! My husband is a very picky eater. There isn't much more to be said about that. :) With the sense of humor in mind, I announced to him, "You will no longer know what you are going to eat for dinner, until it is being prepared." He replied, "Just make sure I have peanut butter and jelly on hand." Oh boy...rotten (but I like him)!

Off to prepare to feed the goats for now. Perhaps my writing brain will open up later this evening.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Weekend Tractor Project

In May, 2008, a new lady entered our lives. She became the star of attention every Sunday afternoon, from noon until feeding time. Her name is Allie.

Allie isn't like the rest of us ladies in the 50-year old range. She is a bright orange tractor, made in 1955, by Allis-Chalmers, a model "CA."

For those of you that might have eyes glazing over right now, I would think that I would be doing the same. I got bit by the farm bug as a young child, but never was able to pursue my dreams until 8 years ago. Now, if it involves animals, tractors, farms, you name it, I learn, and absorb, like a never-ending sponge that will always be absorbant for more. Would I have ever thought I would be wet sanding a hood (still missing from the tractor), or helping to drain and pour in new oil, or sitting on the tractor seat (my favorite spot) to help test the brakes? No! But I am loving it! I want to see the guys get this one put back together, and I want to see another project started!

My husband (Bob), Mr. B, as they call him at our friend Bob's house (the man in the suspenders), have had the time of their lives cleaning, painting, rebuilding, and making Allie run like a dream. The worst day, and I even was able to repeat that back today (unbelievable), was the Sunday they worked on the hydraulic control. Frustration ran wild that afternoon!

One of the best parts of this project has been the "giggles and yucks," as we call them, with our friends. I'll never forget the day the guys carefully drove the tractor down to the car wash. Somehow they came back with only 1/2 of the tractor washed. We are still laughing over that one! They washed the back end, but didn't touch the front. Scratch your head on that one!

I have been told that I will sit in one of these seats in a parade at the fair some day. I am not sure about that...but I like sitting up there! Have is short!

Sunday Morning

This seems like an April morning, unlike a late December morning. We had a cold front push through a few hours ago. The wind is still whoosing like mad, but I love to hear it! The house is still very warm. I do not think I have heard the furnace run since yesterday morning. I threw the windows open around 9:00 last night. An hour or so later we lost power. Glad to see everything back on track this morning.

When the power went off I could hear our ducks having a good old time down on our pond. I think it was party central out there last night! The crazy quackers! :)

Our weekend patterns are pretty much set in cement. We spend most Saturday evenings with friends at our house, playing silly card games, giggling at each other, and at funny stories. We spend many of our Sunday afternoons with another couple, working on the antique tractor (pics later today) and shooting the breeze. I guess when you get older you do these fuddie duddy sorts of things! Have a great Sunday! :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Goats and Their Warm Day Antics

Being that we are in the middle of winter, I have caught myself flipping through my sunny weather pics of kids quite a bit recently. This one was taken in September. The doeling on the spool, a snubian, seems to have almost doubled in size. She caught my eye a few days ago, made me wonder who she was for a moment! I love the growth of a kid from a saanan dam and a nubian sire. The spotted doe to the right, Aleecia is also growing out to be a nice sized nubian doe, and one that is vocal to boot. :)

Goat Milk Lotion

Today is a foggy, drizzly day on the farm. The goats do not like this type of weather either. But, the reminder is, there is a season for everything. I love the fog, but the drizzle and mud I can live without. What a beautiful Christmas day we had yesterday, and there are more of those to come. :)

I spent a few hours in the shop earlier this afternoon. The outcome should make a number of people happy (including myself) with fresh goat milk lotions. The "When will you have it?" question has been asked a few times, and I now have responded. Keep your suggestions flowing, because I want to hear!

I catch myself reading the ingredient labels on everything now. I used to buy a beauty product, such as face cream, because I liked what was written about it on the package, or because I was familiar with the brand name, but now I read the ingredients and find myself grimacing at what we might be absorbing into our bodies. I can see myself never buying many of the mass-made department store body care products again. There are certain ingredients that must be included, such as a preservative, or many of us would become sick, but my goal is to make the best products for the skin with the least amount of additives as possible.

I am heading out now to the shop to put the caps on the bottles. And then I will head to the barn to feed the girls. They do not look too happy out there today! Once they start pulling and chomping on the fresh hay, they will be happy campers again. Quite the characters they are!

Ingredient Article #3 - Distilled Water

I am thoroughly enjoying the research of the basic ingredients used in soap, lotion, and bath product formulas. We tend to get comfortable with purchasing these ingredients, and quickly forget why they are so important.

A basic ingredient in many formulas is distilled water. There are definite reasons for using distilled water (not tap, drinking, or purified water).

Distilled water is bottled water. It is obtained from boiling water and condensing the steam. The condensation is collected in a sterilized reservoir, bottle or container.

The condensation that is collected results in water that contains no chemicals, toxins, bacteria or waste. The water also contains no particles. This means that distilled water will not contaminate the sterile product that we are working to achieve, nor will it leave any residues (such as lime or hard water deposits) in our product. Treated drinking water will leave behind these types of deposits.

Since the beginning of time, distilled water has been an essential part of life. In nature, the sun heats and evaporates water, leaving impurities behind. The condensation returns to Earth in the form of precipitation, either rain or snow.

A few extra tidbits regarding distilled is said that Julius Ceaser distilled water to keep his troups well hydrated. Surprisingly, it is still common in many locations for sea water to be distilled to produce clean, safe, drinking water. Interesting!

The next article will cover a base oil commonly used in soap and skin care products, coconut oil.

A Beautiful Morning

Good Morning!

Today is my "big boys" turn on the blog. Spike is a gentle lug! At 80-100 lbs, his looks meet up to his name, but he leans towards liking to be smooshy. The girls rule the roost in their boxer queendom around here.

It feels good to wake up to a new day. Today I am going to "detox," not literally...but there is going to be a lot of water guzzled, less caffeine, and the plans are for NO junk food.

I posted an ingredient article this morning. The topic is distilled water. I started it a day ago, just did not publish at that point. Surprisingly, it got placed in the spot where I started it, not where I wanted it to be published today. Going to head now to move it around...hoping for it to not be buried!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What Is It About A Goat?

I never grow tired of this scene. Right now, today I look out the office window and see a similar view (as the one from this summer photo). My girls are gathered around, soaking in some December sun. Some are chewing their cud, some just curled up for a nap, some are playfully butting heads. Most are motionless, obviously very relaxed. And I consider them beautiful.

What is it about a goat? Why do I feel compelled to allow the warm goat kisses on my nose each day? Why do I stand still hoping for the daily nibble on my nose, or the sniffing of my neck? Why do their friendly, inquisitive eyes draw me in?

We raise boer and dairy goats. Amongst the dairy, the nubians outrank by numbers. This admission can cause silent, and not so silent wars amongst "goat people," but I'll openly admit that my favorites are the nubian does, especially the nubian doelings.

I bottle raise every dairy kid born on our farm. My original dreams were to open a commercial dairy operation. I have not given up on that thought, however, for now, the Ohio red tape is daunting, and I am satisfied with using fresh milk in my soap, lotion, and cheese. I then have just enough milk for the dairy kids and the few boer kids that happen along and need human intervention. With all of this being said, dairy kids tend to adopt the human parent, the one that provides the feedings, especially the nubian kids. They can be quite noisey, with some of their "Mawwww" bellows, but I certainly do not mind. They are a special animal. Loyal as in pets (trailing behind like a loving dog), yet graceful and beautiful as in a deer, and silly as in no other species!

Am I in love? Yes! Am I blessed? Yes! Even in these challenging times, I find ways to make sure the goats stay. I try to take each one and hold them to a purpose. They have a job to do, each and every one of them, and for me the job extends out to a daily dose of caring for the animals that I love.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone!

In my estimation, we do not know the true day that Jesus was born. But the marking of the calendar with the celebration of His birth is beautiful to my heart. Traditions carried forward for thousands of years with the deepest of meanings, remind us all of the glorious birth.

May peace be with you. God bless!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Contest Winner

The winner for this week's Wash Your Monday Blues Away contest is Fondaleette D., from Michigan! Within moments of the contest start time yesterday morning, Fondaleette found the GC initials inbedded on the My Herd photo album page on the Annie's Goat Hill website. She whipped that email right out to me! :) Fondaleette chose a bar of baby powder scented goat milk soap. Fondaleette is a great friend, one I have known for several years. She is a busy grandmother, mother, and is a sister to Amy, the winner from last week's contest. She also tries to send a lot of her Michigan snow down to Ohio, despite me asking her not to! Congratulations, Fondaleette!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ingredient Article #2 - Olive Oil

Olive oil is a popular ingredient in soap and body care products.

For thousands of years, olives have been squeezed or pressed to obtain the oil. This is a photo of a Greek olive press. Many people across the world (especially in European and Mediterranean countries) are still obtaining their olive oil using this laborious method.

It is said that the Egyptians knew the moisturizing benefits of olive oil. They generously applied the oil to their skins, then scraped the oil off, which removed the dirt and left the skin softened.

It is estimated that olive oil was first used in soap around the year 1567. Today we continue to make castile soap, with olive oil being the base oil in the recipe. Castile soap is mild, moisturizing, long lasting, with a creamy low-bubble lather.

There are several types of olive oil. The main types are:

  • Virgin - the oil is derived using physical methods (olives are crushed or squeezed)

  • Refined - the oil is derived using physical methods, but is treated to reduce strong tastes and acids

  • Pomace - the oil is extracted from crushed olives (the pomace) using chemical solvents, then it is refined to make it edible (generally used in commercial kitchens)

Olive oil has many external and internal beneficial properties. Olive oil is an antioxidant, is very cleansing internally to the body. Olive oil can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels, especially when olive oil replaces unhealthy fats in the diet. Olive oil is very well known for skin moisturizing, especially adding benefits to mature skin. Olive oil is not known to clog the skin pores.

In soap, olive oil is used as a base oil (alone) or with other base oils to help harden the finished product, and to provide extra moisturizing properties to the soap. In lotion and cream products, olive oil leads to a thicker, richer base, and is very beneficial for dry skin.

Wash Your Monday Blues Away Contest 12/22

The Wash Your Monday Blues Away contest continues (start time in 5 minutes)! The original rules apply. I am having fun with this, and I cannot wait to see who wins a bar of soap this week!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Buy A Goat, Save A Village

I have been catching bits and pieces of these types of programs via the internet and written articles. This morning on a national news program they discussed helping other countries through purchasing items that seem rather unusual to most of us, but these items expand in their usefullness. One such item is a goat.

I am not going to directly quote any particular program, nor am I going to endorse a program, I have nothing to back me up. But I can tell you what I have picked up on in my readings.

Some of the charities will accept your donation for the purpose of providing a family with a goat. The program teaches the family, and especially the goat care giver (normally the mother of the family), how to care for a goat.

The dairy goat is milked, providing milk for the family, and excess milk generally is sold by the family, which is extra income. I drink goat milk myself. I stand behind the great wealth of its health benefits!

Goats are proliferous breeders, so one healthy goat can lead to 3 or 4, and more in a couple of years span, which also helps the families income. Buying that first goat is what they need help with, and the education of how to care for the goat.

In my own opinion, this is a wonderful way to help others, with a twist to it!

To keep myself out of hot water, the photo belongs to one particular charity, .

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Today I am writing this in very good spirits.

Just who is Annie?

It is not me. Annie is a boer goat.

Annie was our first bottle kid. She was given to us by a very good friend, who was already inundated with a house full of bottle kids.

It was a cold, damp, miserable morning and both of my friends needed to get to work. I received the phone call for help. Please come rescue this orphan, raise her on your farm. The question was worded, "Can you come and help? Helen (a school teacher) needs to go to work!"

Was I ever nervous! We brought her home with the bottle of frozen colostrum (I still have the tiny bottle). We made sure she was dry and comfortable, then we left to buy some kid supplies (nipples and milk replacer). We arrived back home to what we thought was a dead kid. Annie slowly opened her eyes, apparently from a good rest. We jumped for joy. Silly people, we were!

As Annie grew up, she loved to sit in my lap and chew her cud. She weighs in now at 150-170 pounds, too large to sit in my lap. And now she even has an attitude. But she is still our first bottle baby, and she will always be special. Special enough to be the farm mascot.

I didn't note in yesterday's blog, I will do an ingredient article weekly (at the minimum), hoping to write them more often!

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ingredient Article #1 - Lye

Today I am going to begin a series of articles that will explain common ingredients that are used in the making of soap, skin and bath products.

Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)

Lye (NaOH, sodium hydroxide) is a white caustic soda easily dissolved in water and other liquids.

The lye that is purchased commercially today is derived from running an electrical current through salt water.

Lye is commonly used in various methods of soap making. It is also used in the manufacturing of pulp and paper, detergents, textiles, vegetable oil refining, and water treatments.

Lye is classed as being in the upper limit of the PH scale, and is highly dangerous once it is added to a liquid. Lye and water, for example, produces heat, and can burn skin and eyes, therefore, precautionary measures (such as goggles and gloves) are absolutely necessary when working with the product. Lye can also react to a small amount of moisture, such as humidity in the air. The product must always be kept in an airtight container. If spilled, it must immediately be disposed of properly.

Soap has been around for thousands of years, but for the sake of writing space, we are going to go back to the colonial and pioneer eras to look into the history of how soap was made. Soap was available in general stores in the 1850's, but many women made soap at home during that era. It was not uncommon for a group of women to gather together to make soap in very large batches a couple of times a year.

My first question was, how did the families make their own lye? People heated their homes and cooked using fire. The hardwood ash remaining from those fires was the base ingredient in lye. The ash was placed in a box or kettle, sometimes called a "leacher" box, set up just for lye making purposes. Water was then added to the ash. Slowly, sometimes for an entire day, the water leached through the ash. The final product was lye (the leached water) which was collected for soap making.

In the early logs in history, it is told that fat from meat processing was rendered, cleaned and filtered, and added to the lye, which began the saponification process (the process of fats turning to soap). As the mixture thickened it was poured into large crates. Days later the soap was cut into bars. The bars were left to cure, become mild, and harden, which took approximately a month to complete.

We are much more precise in our soap making processes today. Many of us use vegetable oils in our soap recipes. Many of us test our soaps, so we know that our end product (soap that has cured for 6 weeks) is very mild, with a low pH value. Our basic process lye+fat has not changed in a considerable way, but the result is a much cleaner, uniform, and skin loving product.

Posting Problems

The past few days I have experienced line spacing problems after my posts publish. The blog posts do not look the same as I write them. So far I have found no solutions. But I am working on the problem, and if any of my friends know an easy fix (I am not html literate), I can use your input!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waddle Waddle, But Oh So Good

We picked up a load of hay tonight. As we backed our truck into the open barn door we could see the youngest Mennonite son, with his shiny blonde hair, and huge grin, eagerly waiting for us to step out. He handed my husband this gorgeous plate of Christmas cookies.

This is the real thing, Christmas. The unexpected giving, and the warm feelings that go along with it.

On a funny note, after 3 cookies a piece, my husband and I rewrapped the plate. Oink, oink!!

I'll share the cookie types with you. So far, there were Ritz crackers with peanut butter in the middle, chocolate covered. Spritz cookies with pecans and raspberry middles. And last, but not least, nothing like a wonderful buckeye (peanut butter ball covered in chocolate).

Merry Christmas!

Not Just The Large Cities-Job Losses

With talks of the auto makers in trouble, the decrease in fuel consumption (despite the lower prices at the pump), and layoffs amongst many city, county and school employees (including universities), I wanted to give an outline of how our local (and rural area) will be suffering from job losses.

We are going to lose 9,800 jobs in a 5 county area (a mainly rural area). Approximately 2,600 of those jobs are people that live in my county. This major job loss stems from DHL pulling their business, taking it elsewhere, back to Germany. The ABX employees that work at the airstrip, ensuring DHL gets their daily shipments in and out, will lose their employment. A percentage already have.

The commercial air strip is 25 minutes away from our farm. Many of our neighbors, friends and famly are employed at ABX/DHL. Some of the employees are farmers, most cannot afford the current diesel fuel prices, and some that cannot either afford or obtain health care without the 2nd job (1st job farming). If they cannot afford diesel, and if they cannot afford health care, I can see hay, feed, and (human) food prices on the increase. I can see many more foreclosures on farms and properties.

Last year ABX employees started posting red signs in their yards, similar to real estate sale signs, to indicate that they were employed at ABX. For a while, and still to this day on some occasions, it brings the goose bumps up to see how many people are going to be affected by these jobs losses. Within one mile of home, I can count at least 7 households that will be affected.

We have already seen businesses close, with more to follow. We have been told by our local real estate experts that our property values are to decrease, and the economic experts are saying the values will stay in a slump for at least the next 2 decades. The example given, to put this in perspective, a property valued at 195,000 a few years ago, will be valued at 145,000 within the next year. Because of the economy, we have been told property taxes will be increasing this coming year as well. More taxes, less property values.

Some of my friends are farmers at night, school teachers during the day. They are concerned about the children attending their schools. A nearby school is expecting to see 40% of the children's parents unemployed once DHL completely pulls out.

The pull out is expected to be nearly complete by 1/31/09. We hear news daily of the next round of job losses. As in today's newspaper article:

In my estimation, there is nothing we can do to stop DHL. United States government officials have tried, politicians have tried, people have tried to stop the deal. The deal is happening.

My husband has been unemployed for 6 months. Yesterday's paper had no job listings in it, the big 0! And I keep thinking about these 9,800 people. Who is going to employ them? Is there going to be a people bail out (like a big bank or car manufacturer might receive)? Help is needed.

I cannot change the economy. I cannot change any of the after affects. The only thing I can do is hang tight, prepare to be a good community member. Keep my boots on, and hold on to them snugly. It could be a slippery ride. They say what goes down has to come back up. That is what I am focused on, the ride back up.

I am a optimist. This article is not meant to be negative, it is just factual. I wish we all had an answer!

Until the prayers are answered, keep your faith!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back To Soaping

It was a dark, gray, cold day in Southwest Ohio. But I got to do my most favorite thing, under the flourescent lights, and that means the sun shined for me! :)

Today was also the day to reorganize the shop. I like to recycle materials, especially shipping materials. But do we really need that many packing peanuts? And boy, are they ever fun to bag or box up. I accomplished what I set out to do though. Bag after bag, box after box!

There is something to say for soap crafting, in my book. Being creative, relaxing, and doing what feels good. Knowing that I can share these good things, the end product, with people that I care about.

It is always a good feeling to see soap in the molds!

And as I went to turn off the lights, I stopped and looked at the bulletin board behind my desk. The board is filled with cards, post cards, and other soap and goat related items from well-wishers, family and friends. Thank you! And, God Bless!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Contest Winner

Before I run down to the barn to feed the critters, I wanted to post this week's Wash Your Monday Blues away winner!

Amy found the inbedded GC (Goat Chat) link on the Annie's Goat Hill FAQ's page.

Her choice was a bar of honey oatmeal goat milk soap!

I have had the honor of knowing Amy through Goat Chat this past year. Amy resides in Michigan. She is a wonderful lady, with a sense of humor that I so much appreciate! I love a good laugh, and she certainly can provide it. Amy has had to deal with a lot of health issues in her life. I wish she didn't have to battle the things that she does, but I can say without a blink of an eye, she inspires me, with a reminder that strength within ourselves is key! Thank you, Amy! Keep that faith! And you certainly were fast in finding that link!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Busyness Of Monday

Today has been one of those days. You know the type. You make a small list early in the morning, or the day before, and then before you know it the list grows longer. At 12:53 this afternoon I looked at the clock and announced that my list was complete for the morning. And I also noted that I was then tired!

Today is the last day that UPS, FedEx, or USPS (the postal service) is guaranteeing parcel delivery by 12/25/08. Part of my errands today was a stop at the post office, and by the way, there was a winner to the Wash Your Monday Blues Away contest, and her bar of soap is in the mail!

It looks like a bunch of us in the United States are going to see freezing temperatures, and snow or ice. by the end of the day today. 'Tis the season. Be safe!

The kid in the photo was born on our farm last February. He made a trip into the office, requested by Valerie herself. She called the kid our "love child," and she, herself. fell in love with him. What you cannot see is the diaper he wore to prevent accidents. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wash Your Monday Blues Away Contest

For those of you that do not know, I live a busy life. I run a soap and bath product business, handle a goat herd, and I am a moderator on a goat forum. I am also very much a home-based person, and I much appreciate my husband and life on the farm.

The goat forum that I help moderate is called Goat Chat. I am proud to provide a link to the forum. And I want to announce a contest that will be running at that site for at least 6 weeks.

Please do not look for any formal legalities with this contest. The gift is one of my bars of soap. You do not have to be a Goat Chat member to win, but I would appreciate it if you would visit the site.

Goat Chat:

About the contest:

Wash Away Your Monday blues contest!!

This contest ought to be a fun one…and there is a real prize involved!

To win the contest all you need to do is go to my website and find the initials GC (underlined). Once you find the initials you must go to the Contact Us page on my website and send an email to Annie’s Goat Hill.

The first person that I receive an email from that identifies the correct page that contains the initials GC will receive a bar of soap, compliments of Annie’s Goat Hill.

Your email must include the name of the page where you found the initials GC, your full name, and your mailing address. In that initial email you must also tell me what type of soap you are requesting.

Within 3 days of receipt of your email your bar of soap will be sent to you via mail (USPS).

I do not have many rules for this contest, but here are those few:
-The contest will run beginning at 8:00 AM (Eastern time) each Monday. Closing time for each contest will be 12:00 AM (Eastern time) each Tuesday.
-Winners will be announced via GC and my blog each Tuesday morning (or afternoon) depending upon my schedule, preferably by 1:00 PM Tuesday.
-No repeat winners within the same calendar month.
-I will be the judge of the email received times/dates.. Annie’s Goat Hill will not provide proof of the emails received. You have to trust me on this one (and you can)!
-You must allow me to give at least your first name, general location, and a very small tidbit about you on both GC and my blog when I announce the winner each week.
-The email that you send must come directly from my website.
-The soap will be mailed to you, no UPS shipments.
-Shipment will be made to the continental US or Canada. If you wish shipment to be made to other locations, you will be required to pay for the shipping.
-I will edit rules if extreme circumstances arise (none expected).
-The most important rule is have fun!!

A note from myself…you might be wondering why am I doing this? Many of you have expressed that you would like to try my soaps. This is your opportunity! I care about everyone, I am proud of GC, and I am proud of what I do (my products). No catches involved, none! And it is time for a good contest on GC and otherwise!

So, start picking our your scent/type of soap…and be ready to find GC (which, by the way, will also be linked to Goat Chat).

Sunday...The Day Of Rest

I truly appreciate Sundays, the day we are told to rest. The day we start the week with. The day we renew, prepare our minds and body for the work week ahead.
Many of us set this day aside for family, friends, quiet time, worship, reflection, and even meditation.
I was startled awake this morning by something beautiful, much like the image above. The sunrise was so bright it seemed like something huge was burning. It was. The clouds striped across the horizon and the sunshine was streaming through. Glorius.
Yesterday's post was meant to be something very positive. Life has a lot to offer. Despite our worries, we should never stop looking, onwards and upwards, for the brightness in the days ahead. Nor should we stop finding the brightness in this very moment.
God Bless.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Back To Basics

I paid the bill for the newspaper yesterday. I debated on canceling the subscription, thinking that the newspaper could be read online for free. But there is something about taking the 5 minutes that it takes to sift through the printed copy each day (except Sunday, and now Monday) to find a tidbit that catches our eye. Today I found just that tidbit.
It has been reported that there are approximately 9 million less travelers on our roads than there were about a year ago when the gas prices began to rise. Even with the dropping of gas prices, the amount of drivers declined this October.
Speculation is that the overall economy might be affecting people, leading them to choose to not spend the money on gas despite the lower cost. I agree with this idea to a point, however, I also feel optimistic that people have learned to stay home.
My take is, when a person learns to relax, they become aware of an entire different world. Learning to relax means less going out to eat, less trips to the store, keeping the car in the parking spot at home, and it also means spending more time with family and friends.
I hope and pray that my theory is correct. I, myself, am glad that I have slowed down on my spending habits. I group many chores into one. I now conciously group my needs and chores so that the trip to town is worth it's time and expense. When I am out, I look right back towards coming back home.
I have never been a huge shopper, but I did occsionally enjoy a planned day of shopping (department store, book store, craft mall, hair dresser, and then finally the grocery store on the way home), but something has now changed. So much of what I see appears to be junk, junk that I do not need to spend my hard earned money on. And, based on what my friends are saying, they are seeing many items as junk too. Why didn't we see this before we felt the financial crunch? I really do not have an answer for it, but I can say now, the eyes have opened.
I went to the big W.M. today, my most unfavorite place to shop. My trip was made to purchase my husband's prescriptions, and one or two needed items. What did I see in the center aisle of that wonderous store? A gift set for a female. The price was good, $5.00. What did the set contain? In the little colorful plastic gift bag was lotion, body wash, a bar of soap, a bath fizzie, and a bath scrub. I make soap and bath products. One bar of my soap is sold for nearly as much as that entire gift set. But what was really in that set? It surely was not very natural. It could not have been of any quality, based on the fact that it could be sold (retail) for $5.00! Scary, isn't it? I would rather save my $5.00 . And I hope others hold their chin up and save their $5.00 as well.
Better times are ahead.
And if you are feeling the warmth of back to basics...kudos for you! I pray that you are. We will all get through this. I will not give up the things that I love. I will not release my hopes and dreams. I will not spend $5.00 on something that isn't good for me, or you, or for our economy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Soap Pot in the Shop

Back in the soap making saddle today. It has been a busy week with many other chores.

The camera went along with me today. This photo makes me smile. The soap shop, a warm place to tuck myself away and create the things that I truly enjoy.

Thank you to my supportive husband, friends, and family, who understand my crazy drive to do what I do! And to my husband (again) for making sure I have the place to do what I do!

Today was the day for batches of lavender and honeysuckle. I try to stay as natural as possible, but despite it being a fragrance oil, the honeysuckle is definitely a mind soother.

Lotion and soaps almost ready for a new shop placement in January. Not quite packaged yet. Some are heading to gift baskets.

Filling the curing racks and storage boxes yet again!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ahhh...Summer Thoughts

Getting ready to put the computer to sleep for a few hours...but began thinking, nothing like thoughts of summer. I could use a shot of 80 degree weather could the "girls on the hill."

Busy At The Helm

Today has been another desk type of day. The sort of day that charges the brain into a lot of action.

I have also been busy reading the commentaries and updates regarding the FDA Globilization Act 2008 (see the link below and other links via the Blog Roll). It seems the small soap and cosmetic business owners are "safe" from the wrath of expensive governmental changes for a while.

We only want to retain our place in America, knowing that we can freely grow our small businesses. Many of us cannot start big, we start small. And when we are small, we cannot afford the big fees that could be required if changes are implemented that could cost us, minimally, $2,000.00 just to register our businesses.

If you have the desire to see these types of small businesses succeed, please visit one of the sites, and put your signature on a petition. Better yet, write a letter to help the cause.

Thank you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

FDA Globilization Act

For those of us that are following the activities surrounding the proposed FDA Globilization Act 2008, Debby May, of Wholesale Supplies Plus, has provided us with a piece of good news today.

The link to the post on her blog is:

Thank you, Debbie!

Bursting At The Seams

Yesterday ended up being a day to organize. I worked on my desk, and from the looks of things, it is obvious that I still need to sit in the office a bit longer. Filing and paperwork has a way of growing way out of hand. A prior career in accounting, one that later turned to the management of student loans, pretty much makes me shun any sort of deskwork now. Blah! :) But with all good things, there are necessary evils that we must stay on top of. Blah again! :)

Later in the day I moved on to the soap shop. It was a day to organize that area as well (boxes, soaps, bookwork, shipping materials, oils). Ready for the next project! That's the ticket!

Now for the title of today's blog, Bursting At The Seams. One of the last things I did yesterday was walk around the boer lot. The best time to check on the girls is while they are eating. They are focused on the almighty feed and hardly notice that you are looking at their udders and checking their spines for loosening of ligaments. Nobody seems to be nearing iminent labor, but what I saw made me exclaim out loud, "Oh my word!" Those girls are huge...bursting at the seams! I said to someone yesterday, "I think they have been sneaking into the candy dish when I haven't been looking."

I have been laughing for days at a few scenes from a movie that we watched. The movie is an older one, one that I never cared for before...A Shot In The Dark (the Pink Panther). There is a scene where a bent pool stick is handed to Inspector Clouseau. I have no idea why, but I lost it when I saw that pool stick. I kept thinking that he could not possibly use that thing. My husband was on the phone, and I had a feeling I was going to roll if Clouseau did use the bent pool stick. So, I inched my way out of my seat to get as far away from the phone conversation as I could. I didn't get very far when the bent pool stick was used. Hilarious! I couldn't breathe. And I still cannot. Ha ha ha. It doesn't take much...and I truly believe laughter really is "good medicine."

I read a wonderful piece in the paper the other day. It was geared towards keeping our eyes set on our goals, and towards staying positive. The example given, for those of us that garden, is based on the making of furrows in our gardens. We want our furrows to be deep, and we want them to be straight. Picture the end of that row or furrow being your goal. Where do you want to be in life? What is (or are) your goals? As you start your row, make sure it is deep (well into the ground, a place where seeds will sprout strong roots), and make sure it is straight. To keep your row straight, do not look to the left, nor to the right, and never look back. If you keep your eyes set on your goal, the end of your row, you will surely make a straight path that will end right where you want it to, and it will result in a deeply planted garden that will flourish. A good reminder to all of us. Do not dwell on the evil, the ugly, the problems of the current economy, anything that distracts you from good. Keep your eyes set on your goals, and certainly do not let loose of the focus of where you are going! You will get there and you will like the garden that you have sown!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quiet Monday

Today lent itself to quiet thinking. We all need that from time to time.

The shop work was spent boxing up orders and preparing samples and business cards. Lavender was the choice of the day. Not very surprising at that.

The sage and citrus soaps on the curing rack appear to be retaining a soft cream color with sage swirls. Pictures will be on call soon.

No signs of babies in the barn, tomorrow is the official start of baby watch in the boer lot. I do not expect much activity for a few weeks. It was too hot for comfort when the buck was sent in with the girls last summer.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fizzie Fizzler

This matches what I am seeing on the ground outside today, did someone bring some in? Wait, no, it sure smells like lavender to me. It cannot be snow!

It is a very good thing that I have a good sense of humor. Yes, I can laugh out loud at myself!

Because I dabble in goat milk cheese, and canning, I remembered having citric acid on hand, and just enough baking soda, and fragrance (and lavender sounded so good), I decided to go on a new adventure. Yep...seems I had everything on hand to make bath fizzies, all but one tiny (but obviously very important ingredient), witch hazel. But was it so important? We were going to find out.

I measured the dry ingredients, stirred and stirred until the lumps went away, added the fragrance, and went for the scrunch up test. Just barely making a formation. Hmmm...the need for witch hazel arose.

No witch hazel...but I do have (shhhhh) water. Water!!!!

Now, for those of us that have a brain that is in gear today, what does a bath fizzie do when it goes kerplunk in the bath water. fizzes!!!!

Hence...the nice, aromatic, concoction of fizzed remnants that I just had to share.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lotion Day

Today was the day to bottle up lotion. My favorite for the day was the peppermint! Lately I am back in the swing with lavender as well. Sometimes we learn to appreciate certain essential oils all over again. Perhaps the old nose shifts gears from time to time. :)

20 days until Christmas...and as one of wonderful goat friends said yesterday, "Mary, it seems like we have had a long winter already." Neither of us have starting kidding yet, and both of us just know it will happen as soon as the first snow storm arrives. Life on the farm, gotta' love it.

I cleaned my walk in closet out last week. Literally rid the closet of a ton of clothing, except for the older sweatshirts. In anticipation of the colder days ahead, I am going to try to cut sleeves off of the sweatshirts for the newborn kids that need an extra coat. This adventure ought to be pic worthy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday's Musings

I had a good giggle a few moments ago. Annie, a very spoiled boer goat, is standing about 15 feet away from my office window. The big girl is standing like a statue, as if in a trance. Every once in a while her mouth goes into action, chewing her cud. I had a vision of a goat in a commercial, talking to me about goat milk products. Something could be wrong with that picture. :)

On to business, today's soaps are a batch of honeysuckle and sage and citrus. Both made for a nice clean smelling experience. The scents made me remember summer, even though we are going into the dark days of winter. I would hop right back into 80 degrees, in a heartbeat. It is a good feeling when a certain aroma can bring forward good feelings, and change our moods. Very therapeutic!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


My chosen path in life is to be a farmer. Along with raising livestock comes mud. We go from drought, to fall rains, to frozen ground, and with the thawing during the mild December days comes the MUD. I refuse to wear the rubber boots that I wore throughout last season. I nearly ruined the arches of my feet. Ouch.

On to a much cleaner topic...soap!

Per one special person's request, I incorporated pink grapefruit and tangerine into a batch of soap today. It looks more like swirled vanilla ice cream and orange sherbert. :) The rose colored batch is a Sweet Pea type.

It felt good to work in the soap room today. Even on days when I do not feel compelled to make soap, once I am out there, with the door closed behind me, I realize how blessed I am to be doing what I love to do...and the peace surrounds me from there.

First Blog

I am entering into a new step in life...blogging.

Here I can carry on about my soaping, other bath product ventures, the goats, the farm, winter projects, and perhaps even the winter doldrums. We won't go there much, as I like to label myself as an optimist.

50 years old...and this is all new to me.

Here goes...and away she goes....:)