The kind of days that I dream about are here. I love warm, dry days and cool to cold nights. August always seems to be that kind of month here, so it's a treat after all the nasty humidity we have coped with during July. The crickets are revving up their little songmakers and the grasshoppers are getting big.
Yesterday I started on and continued many projects. Got a batch of soap going, made some more dryer balls in readiness for a housewarming gift, finished spinning 4 oz of the Corriedale fiber that I want to ply with the silk/camel blend, and tried to knit a few rows on my High Plains Drifter shawl/scarf. So many things happening at once had me a little crazed about the soap as I kept coming back to check the temperatures of both the oil and the lye/milk. I thought I had the temps about the same as usual, maybe just a tad lower than I usually do, but it didn't reach the trace point as it usually does. And when I was pouring it into the molds it continued to be very liquid-y. I was beginning to think it was a giant fail! I refused to hover, however, and I didn't check it until I was on my way to bed.
This morning it looks as though the soap is as hard as it should be, so I am very relieved! And the morning is a spectacular one, as you can see by the goats who didn't want to get up when I went out to do chores.
They say it’s going to be a big one. I waited to go out and do chores this morning until I really couldn’t put it off anymore without making myself late for work, in the hopes of getting a call about whether or not there would be any school today. Waiting until 6 a.m. makes it ever so much easier to do chores in the semi-daylight, rather than the abject darkness, but I finally went out about 5:15 and as I stepped out the door it began flurrying. No big deal, as they were predicting only a little bit before evening, but apparently this bit of the storm was moving faster than they thought, and before I was through with chores I had the text message saying school was cancelled. I am glad we got to stay home as the snow has gotten deep pretty quickly, although it’s very dry and easily moved. I am really not looking forward to tonight, however, which is when hurricane force winds are predicted along the coast, bringing about 2′ of snow with it overnight. At least it’s a weekend and most folks won’t have to go anyplace, I hope. And so we wait.
Delicious to have a little “found” time on my hands, I began prepping for a batch of soap. Since I am drying off the does and not milking every day, the amount I got on Wednesday was perfect for this. Not enough to make a decent amount of cheese, but enough for two batches of soap. So I measured out the milk in the glass bowl that I use for the lye mixture, and then I made room for it in one of our huge chest freezers, and popped it in. Then I took a little nap, followed by a wonderful hour finishing off some of my “work” reading. What a chore! Not! Being a young adult librarian, most of the reading I do is young adult literature, which I thoroughly enjoy. Two of the kids at the middle school have been raving about a book by one of the most popular young adult authors, Dan Gutman, that is currently on this year’s Maine Student Book Award list (about 40 titles chosen as a challenge to kids to read from varying genres and from a highly recommended list). Gutman’s first book in the Genius Files series is a hoot (Mission Unstoppable). Lots of young adult humor, action-packed, totally plot driven (read here: not much character development) and is full of as much crazy, unnecessary trivia about the USA as anyone can ask for! Twins on a cross-country trip who are being tracked by an evil genius, their lives in danger at every turn, while visiting the largest ball of twine in Minnesota, the Pez museum, and more. Dan Gutman’s books are always kid-pleasers, but this one is a little different than his others. Kids at school are already asking for the sequels. It was definitely a fun read. Now on to some soap-making and perhaps some knitting!
We have been in real need of some serious rain for awhile, but I am sorry it had to take out the final day of the tour weekend. Not really take it out, but it was so drippy and full of mosquitoes up in the tent near the top of the driveway, that I moved everything back to the house and set it up in the living room late this morning. Much nicer in this kind of weather!
While everything was set up so nicely in the tent I forgot to photograph the setup, but the one table looked very similar to this one with the yarn, and then I had my roving and soaps displayed on another. I got quite a bit of spinning done on Friday, which was a quiet day for me, and then yesterday turned out to be quite busy, which was nice. Visiting with some old friends and meeting a number of new fiber enthusiasts was a pleasure. It began to really get quite humid by 5 PM, but mostly the day was pretty perfect.
Right now I am in the middle of a batch of soap, waiting for the lye/goat milk solution to cool down enough that I can combine it with the oils and get blending. I always underestimate the time it needs to get cool enough. Ah well. This too shall happen. Just 5 more degrees to go :*)
Well, I didn’t find it, John did. I can’t believe it! The mixing arm from the stick blender :*)
He was waiting for a call-back on parts for the John Deere tractor (I can’t even go there right now; things like this always happen when we don’t have much money!) and was getting cardboard and newspaper organized in the mudroom. The box the mixer came in wasn’t empty, et voila! I don’t know how the stem got into that and not into it’s nice little white case, but it did. Yay! Now I can forge ahead and make more lovely goat milk soap.
Yesterday was soap day. I have not made any in quite awhile and our friend Chris wanted to come by and help out. I keep about 10 half gallons of goat milk in the freezer for the winter and projects like this. I had intended to be making soap at least once a month during this time, but things conspired to keep that from happening.
Everything was laid out and ready to go. All the ingredients and implements. Chris came over and we got to work (although not before we had some coffee and some treats that Chris brought along with her!). While the lye/goat milk solution was cooling and the oils were warming, I got out the trusty stick blender in its white case. Hmm. Everything is in the box except the part we desperately need to blend the mix. John, Chris and I began to go through the cabinets and the drawers like crazy people! It was definitely not coming to light. In the dim recesses of my memory I can picture the stick part of the blender on the drain board and the rest of the unit in its box.
I can also recall thinking that this part of it needed to dry thoroughly before popping it into its case. Sigh. Another implement separated. I hate it when that happens :*(
Well, Chris and I talked about doing this by hand and agreed that maybe we would call our friend Pam and see if we could borrow her blender. So Pam came to our rescue and Chris drove over to get it. The lye solution was still not quite cool enough when Chris returned so we had some more coffee and then got to blending! I am always amazed at how magically the oils and the lye/milk mixture come together. We did have a little debate on whether or not we had reached “trace;” but in the end we decided to go for it. I usually add oatmeal to our soaps and this time was no different. I let Chris choose the essential oil, so we have a nice batch of Rosemary oatmeal goodness!
It is looking lovely in the wooden molds and I can hardly wait to cut it!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!