Saturday, August 28, 2010

Walking the....Goat!

Faith on a Walk

My little girl is enjoying her quality time on the leash, though I suspect it's mainly because she gets to nibble on all of the best weeds when we're out. She particularly enjoys poison ivy. I believe that subject is explored in the book "Never Kiss Your Goat on the Lips", though I haven't actually read it.  It's on my list!

By the way: poison ivy apparently gives Faith a little...ummm...gas.  She's not in the least bit self conscious about it, either.  As we were passing the barn, where there were a few people standing around, chatting, she relieved herself...loudly.  I was hoping they didn't think it was me!  Silly goat.

She's very nervous around Alfie the pot-bellied pig, and Micah the German Shepherd, but otherwise does well.  The horses don't seem to bother her, and she actually enjoys greeting people!  And when I return her to the herd, she always seems so proud of herself.  She always looks up for praise (or treats!) before I unclip her collar.

My goal is to get her to ride in the truck...then to take her through a fast-food drive through.  I'll bet THAT would give her gas! I'd also love to take her to school.  We'll see!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Harvesting Weeds

We've all heard the saying about one man's trash being another's treasure.  Well, one woman's weeds are another's dinner in my neighborhood.

Five minutes of weeding my neighbor's yard yielded several meals worth of nutritious, fresh vegetables: beautiful dandelion greens and their roots, and several cups of yummy purslane. 

Dandelion Greens
Most of us are familiar with dandelions; many of us (myself NOT included) fight a seasonal battle with them in our lawns.  I suppose I'm one of the few people in Allentown who plants them in my garden; I had to persuade my kind neighbor NOT to mow them down on the small strip of grass between our two properties.  But here they are, in all their glory. 

Last spring I planted a variety named Clio,and allowed it to grow.  Clio's leaves are less jagged than the wild lion's teeth (dent de lion), but she's not nearly as plentiful, so I added my cultivated variety to the abundant offerings from my yard and my neighbor's flower beds.  Voila!  A stock-pot full of greens which I am parboiling for the freezer.  I love greens in the winter, and according to this website, dandelion greens make a wonderful saute.  Apparently the slightly bitter flavor that they sometimes have is lost in the boiling water.  Bonus!  *Update: I just tasted a boiled leaf or two...they're delicious, even plain!  My few minutes of picking yielded about 6 servings (3 meals for Peter and me).

Conveniently attached to those yummy leaves, you'll find a long taproot.  I like to use a long, thin shovel or a screwdriver to dig mine up, but I'm not too careful about getting the whole root, as I like dandelions in my lawn!  The best time to harvest the roots is supposedly early spring or just after the first frost, and preferably after a rain when the soil is soft. Those roots can be scrubbed, cut into small pieces, chopped in a food processor then slow-roasted in a warm oven for a tasty and healthy coffee-like drink.  Dandelion coffee (or tea) contains vitamins and minerals, and is tasty to boot!  Out of curiosity, I priced dandelion root at a local health food store, and was absolutely floored by the cost.  Dandelions are everywhere!  All you need to do is harvest them!

I also make a healthy dandelion tincture, which gives me loads of energy in the darker months, but that's a story for the winter.

Dandelion Roots Drying in the Oven
Last, but not least, I harvested a few cups of humble purslane.  I find purslane extraordinarily beautiful, like a miniature, shy jade plant.  You'll find it in the most unusual places; the last bunch I saw was in the parking lot of our local Home Depot!  I didn't harvest it there (I don't know if they use chemicals on their grounds), but I can tell you that the purslane was it was in the driveway next door. Apparently, purslane was a favorite food of both Henry David Thoreau and Gandhi; those are pretty good credentials, in my book. It can be eaten raw, pickled, sauteed; you treat it like most sweet greens, though the leaves are small and succulent.  Both links above provide several serving suggestions.

Purslane is Simple to Harvest.
So, in honor of my last night of summer vacation (school starts tomorrow for teachers in my district), I harvested some of nature's freely given gifts.  It's been a good season; now we'll all prepare for the coming of the darker, colder months, and the long haul to spring.  Hopefully, our freezers, root cellars and pantries will be full of the fruits of summer, and the winter will be a time to cultivate the hearts of our families and friends as we share our bounty.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

4 Simple Goals Update

Well, it's been a week since I set my 4 Simple Goals, so I decided to check in for an update.  Since I'll be returning to work in two days, I think I'll do my updates on the weekend from now on, as that's when I'll have the most time, but today is still mine, so here I am!

1. Create a pretty office/sitting room in the front sunroom (which is currently a junk room). Reward: decorating it after the junk is gone!

---Progress: I sorted and donated an entire truckload of junk from the front room,  though there is still a daunting amount of "stuff" to go through.  Everyone needs a hobby, right?  And I have until the end of December...

2. Spend some "me-time" in my classroom every afternoon (except Wednesdays; grad class), just getting my head back on straight. Reward: increased peace of mind.
Shiny and Clean.  That will CHANGE!

----Progress: I visited my classroom yesterday with my grandson, and it's beautifully clean and just waiting to be put back in order.  I'm looking forward to some time in there.  School begins for teachers on Thursday, so I'll be making my move then.  Just look at my desk!  It's piled high with art supplies!

3. Take Faith (my goat) on leash walks as often as possible after milking, and eventually get her used to the truck. Reward: an eventual road trip with her!

---No Progress: It has been raining every day I've been at the farm to milk, with the exception of the day I delivered our calf and was covered with amniotic fluid (yuck).  Poor Faith also had a run-in with a goaty someone in her herd, and that baaaaad goat pulled the metal tag from her ear, so she has a wound we're watching.  I'll be back over there tomorrow afternoon; maybe I'll get a chance to walk her then.

4. Thoroughly clean at least one space in the house weekly. Reward: redecorate the bathroom, as a Christmas present to myself (tiles, paint, curtains; the whole shebang).

----Progress: I made the bathroom shine!  Spotless, I tell you.  Also put away the mountain of stuff in my studio and set up a study area for my grad class. 

Soooo...this week, I'm 3 for 4.  Room for improvement, but not too shabby.  Yay goals!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Road Trip: Girls at Play

My good buddy Jill, who's been my friend since the 5th grade, treated me to a wonderful pre-birthday trip to Philadelphia yesterday.  She set it all up: a night at the Embassy Suites and a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see the Renoir exhibit.  Wow...I'm a lucky lady.

The Parkway; Don't ask me about William Penn...

We checked into the motel at about 11, and headed straight over to the museum for the show, which was predictably wonderful.  I was most impressed by Renoir's tenacity.  Despite crippling arthritis, he continued to paint until he died at the age of 78, in 1919.  An amazing feat; the final part of the exhibit was a film clip of Renoir painting at the very end of his life, with his brushes tied to his hands.

Having just had my hand operated on, I understand his pain on a visceral level.  The statement he made rings true; he said that the only time he could forget the pain was when he was painting, so he continued to paint.  He had to choose between walking and painting (he was riddled with arthritis, and both activities took all of his energy).  He chose to paint.  What a guy!

Jill's Favorite: Dancing Girl with Castanets

After a great lunch at the art museum, we returned to the motel to reorient ourselves.  We decided that we'd enjoy hearing some jazz that evening, so we made our reservations at Chris' (15th and Sansom), then took a little walk to Love Park.
Aptly named. Robert Indiana's Love Sculpture in Love Park. Jill wouldn't pose, so I photographed a random happy family.
We stopped at an Irish pub on the way back, where we struck up a conversation with a Canadian man named Michael, and a bartender named Michael.  I suspect there were other Michaels in the bar as well. 
Canadian Michael was in the process of buying dinner for a police officer that he had inadvertently made an offensive gesture at...purely by accident, mind you.  Good old Michael. We didn't stay there long, though the place was otherwise charming. Michael's brother was feeling the love...perhaps a little too much. 

Tir Na Nog Irish pub, complete with Irish bartenders and multiple Michaels.
 Happy hour at the Embassy Suites followed, where we were amused by the crowd.  People watching is such fun!  We eventually made out way to Chris' (by cab),and enjoyed more people watching, along with a sumptuous meal, more wine, and an exceptional band. 
Chris' Jazz Cafe; Jackie Ryan with the Larry McKenna Quartet
How can I sum up the trip?  It was wonderful to spend some time with my good, long time friend.  Her generosity was overwhelming, especially right now; Peter is without work, and waiting for his unemployment to kick in, and this is my last week of summer vacation before I return to teaching.  I've wanted to spend some time with her for years, and we finally had the opportunity. I can't begin to share the millions of laughs or stories we shared; the 42 years of history we share is such  fertile ground for us.  We know each other so well that many things are unspoken.  It was comfortable, this time we shared.  Neither of us has a sister, but I believe we provide that familial closeness for each other.  It's comforting. And it was a long way from the farm, for a welcome dose of culture.

Heaven. A good memory to close the summer.  Thank you, Jill.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Before the Breath

There is a moment...

right between; between...being unborn, and born.  I've experienced it often this year.

There's the reveal; she's ready, showing the signs, doing the little nesting dance, making a circles or meditating.  She hears something no one else can hear.

She begins to talk to her belly.  Little lowing sounds, unlike her normal voice.  Gentle.  Consistent.

She focuses harder, and may cry out.  Or may just put her head down and push.  This can go on for awhile...or not.  Soon, you'll see more water, and more tissue...and...

feet.  Followed by a nose.  If everything is right.  You pray for the nose. Sometimes you have to find it, turn it, set things straight.  Scary times.  You close your eyes, and visualize.  Sometimes you pray.  Sometimes you cry.  Sometimes you laugh. You work hard.

Then things can happen.  They happen fast, or slow, and can be wonderful, or terrible.  If they're normal, they're excruciatingly passionate.  There is a point at which you forget to worry about getting dirty, or putting your hands where they've never been, or doing what needs to be done.  You do it. You help, because it's right.  You put your back into it.  It's why you were there.  And there's a life coming...

So you sometimes pull, and you always get wet, and you wipe away mucous, and you hold that new life in your hands, and in that excruciating moment between being and not being, that moment when you're holding the most perfect, still and silent creature on the earth in your hands, on your lap, you're holding your breath too.  You've done everything you can. You know now's the time...and you swipe with your fingers, and touch your lips to the moist nose, and...blow. 

What was still and perfect, not quite alive, not a living soul, stirs.  An eye opens, a head turns, and you catch your breath too, and your life has changed.  There's another soul in the world, and your breath was the first it felt in its still-wet, brand new lungs.  You wipe it clean, rub it hard, check its sex, and hand it over to its mother to be licked...and loved...and taught to live in the world, taught to take nourishment, taught to be a goat, or a cow, or whatever it was meant to be.  You let go, step back. And it's beautiful. You quiver with the miracle still in your bones, in your tired arms, in your heart.

And for a day, or a night, or a week, you remember what you were witness to; what old voices whispered in your ears.  And the circle is complete until you begin to step away from it...until the next time.

When you'll be there again...and share the magic, the blessing of that moment...that longest second...before the first breath.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thank You, Alice.

Alice (front-right) and her Family, at Goschenhoppen
Suppose you did a small kindness 34 years ago, and forgot all about it?  And suppose that kindness meant so much to the person you helped that they never forgot it?  And suppose that the person you helped decided to do the same as often as was possible for her.

"Paying it forward" wasn't trendy in 1975, Alice, but that's what you did.  We were 18 years old, and had gone to high school together. You came to my door during one of the most desperate and frightening times in my life, carrying a bag of groceries.  I had been living on rice and tea.  Somehow, you knew.  You had given me a ride home from Kutztown University, that first semester away from home, before I had to drop out.  You came again, on your own...with a gift.

Thank you, Alice.  I finally did get back to college, and like you, I'm teaching art. I found happiness and stability in my life. I've been doing what I can to feed hungry people ever since; your kindness has multiplied through me, and I hope mine will do the same.  One kindness...34 years ago...has made a world of difference.

Thank you.

4 Simple Goals Challenge (from Elsie at A Beautiful Mess)

I'm very excited to participate in this awesome challenge created by Elsie over at A Beautiful Mess.  Here are her guidelines:

1. choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. choose things you may not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish.

2. do not choose result oriented goals, choose activity oriented goals. for example.... instead of "lose 10 pounds", choose something like "eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day". get what i'm saying? positive actions instead of just the end result!

3. choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! they can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.

4. choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! it can be a small or large reward.

5. blog your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year! i'll be doing this too! links back to this post are appreciated.

Sounds like fun, right?  So, here are my 4 simple goals:

Goal #1: Good-bye Chaos!
1. Create a pretty office/sitting room in the front sunroom (which is currently a junk room).  Reward: decorating it after the junk is gone!

2. Spend some "me-time" in my classroom every afternoon (except Wednesdays; grad class), just getting my head back on straight.  Reward: increased peace of mind.

3. Take Faith (my goat) on leash walks as often as possible after milking, and eventually get her used to the truck. Reward: an eventual road trip with her!

4. Thoroughly clean at least one space in the house weekly. Reward: redecorate the bathroom, as a Christmas present to myself (tiles, paint, curtains; the whole shebang).

I'll be blogging about my progress as I go.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Goschenhoppen Part 1: Women's Work

What have we traded for the long days of hard labor required for survival, just a century ago? I've been thinking about that lately; most of us don't spend entire days preparing a meal or putting up seasonal foods anymore.  Most of us don't spend our evening hours or our winter days stitching, sewing, and weaving. Most of us have more lofty things to do.  We have careers, we have places to go, we have movies to watch, social obligations, networking to do...

Alice (on the right), her sister and daughter; more about her (Alice) later.
We don't spend entire days weeks months lifetimes elbow to elbow with our daughters and sisters. We don't know each other as firmly and deeply as we once did. One might argue that the advances made in our industrialized world have freed us from domestic slavery.  One might argue that the drudgery of "womens' work" has been lifted from us, and we've been liberated of that burden. I understand those arguments, having lived a relatively independent and productive life.

That being said, I wonder what understandings were met over the open mouth of a steaming canner. I wonder how many soul-searching conversations occurred when the biscuits were being cut, how many family stories were passed to younger generations along with the apple peels, how many moments of compassion fed our hearts as we were making butter from fresh, raw milk. How much familial intimacy was put aside in favor of a quicker, "easier" life?

I don't know.  I've primarily spent my domestic times alone; those brief interludes accompanied by friends or lovers are the exception, and I've found them to be either heart-warming or annoying, depending upon the grace of the person sharing my space.  But what if it wasn't MY space?  If the kitchen (the heart of the home) was the place where the collective women of the family shared THEIR hearts and hopes, wouldn't it be a place of comfort, rather than drudgery?

Working with flax; that's a smile I see, and a younger woman learning from one with experience.
 How precious each item we created must have been; ours wasn't a throw-away culture when a week went into the creation of a shirt, or a month into a table.  That rough-hewn table was as precious as a Chippendale sideboard to the family that made it and used it daily.  Every bit of cloth was used and reused until it was all used up; every bit of cut wood became something useful: furniture, tools, fuel.  Recycling was the norm, rather than a choice to make.

Now, I understand that life was harder; we toiled under the sun, we died in childbirth, we suffered from medical conditions that are now curable.  Advances were made as our society freed us to do the intellectual work that was necessary to advance in the arts and sciences; but there's always a price to be paid, a trade-off. In my nostalgic moments, I still long for a simpler life; a life of connection and meaning. Of simple, honest hard work.

Every child is precious.
 What price, a large family?  In those days, the children were contributing members of the family as soon as they could walk.  They were taught the skills that held the family together: animal husbandry, food preparation, domestic arts, farming, building.  They were born into a tightly knit group that functioned (ideally) as a cohesive whole, each participating in the well-being of the other.  There were familial norms and expectations, and I'm sure there were times that were less than perfect, but everyone was a part of something (the family) that was vital and alive.  To leave a family must have been a very difficult thing, regardless of the circumstances, in those days. I consider my own flight from home at 18 years old, and what little difference it made in the daily function of my family; I'm sure it would have meant more if I had been milking the cow, canning, gardening and tending the chickens as part of my daily contribution. Perhaps, with all of those responsibilities, a young person might have more of a sense of belonging, more of a sense of "duty", and not desire so much to be "on their own". "On your own" would be difficult, if not impossible, without the technological advances we enjoy. 

Making pockets; ladies' garments didn't have pockets built in.  These were worn under the apron.
I long for a simpler life.  I'll admit it. I could happily live in more humble digs, and occupy my days with constant creation, whether that meant pickling or painting.  At this point in my life, I'm just about calm enough to enjoy the change of the seasons, and the warmth of a fire as much as I enjoyed a trip to New York or a Broadway show a decade ago. I'm sure my concept of earlier times is romantic; I'm sure there were desperate, difficult times.  But from where I sit, the smell of a cooking fire and a freshly baked pie would be wonderful.  The hours spent sewing a quilt, wonderful.  And the deep, healing sleep after a long day of honest work...wonderful.

Goschenhoppen brings me a taste of that, each year.  Goschenhoppen time-travel magic.  More tomorrow; a story of not-so-distant time travel, and a story of the ripples that one small kindness can create over time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Goschenhoppen 2010

We enjoyed a few hours at the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival today.  For a detailed explanation of the festival's origins and contents, go to this site. It's a yearly event that I thoroughly enjoy, and one that always brings me nostalgic moments; more on that later.

One of our good friends was having a very "punny" day (you know who you are, M.S.!).  The following captions are in his honor (there will be more serious writing tomorrow).  In the meantime, you can find last year's Goschenhoppen blog here.


All joking aside, this is a great event; historically inviting and educational, enticing and culturally rich.  If you're in the area next year, don't miss it!


I've decided to take my girl Faith on walks when I visit the farm.  Here she is, on her maiden voyage (she was very happy to nibble the tall grass in the previously unattainable fields).  She's such a personable goat; I think she'll be a wonderful visiting farm ambassador very soon!
Lilac Corners Have Faith
AKA Faith

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cow Pie

It Needs No Explanation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mincemeat and Philosophy

I'm back to my usual goat-milking, after three-plus weeks of recovery.  It's so nice to be with my girls again! And the kids have grown so!  Here's a shot of a few of them coming in from the field.
Cute Kids!
While I was away, I did a lot of canning...and dishes...and canning...and dishes.  Perfect PT for an ailing hand.  I'm almost 100% now, thanks to my lack of a dishwasher!  AND...I have a pantry full of summer goodness. 

Tomato Sauce...and A Great Book

Yesterday's addition was a batch of green-tomato mincemeat.  Now, I've always enjoyed mincemeat pie, but was a bit reticent to truly examine the ingredients.  I followed the recipe provided by the authors of "Putting Food By", which has become my constant kitchen companion these days, and I can tell you that the main ingredients in mincemeat (at least this recipe) are NOT minced meat.  Green tomatoes and apples.  That's right folks...mincemeat pie (green tomato mincemeat pie) contains primarily fruits and seasonings.  The recipe also calls for a cup of suet, but provides substitutions (butter!) for the vegetarians among us.  I went whole-hog (so to speak), and decided to include the suet.

Having read a few things about foods and nutrition lately, I was aware of how powerful fats are in our diets.  In previous cultures, fats were prized and coveted due to the energy they provided; unfortunately, we also know that they store all sorts of things; hormones, antibiotics, etc.  So, in order to include any sort of natural fat in my mincemeat, I needed to purchase it from a reputable source.

I found my good, clean suet at the Emmaus Farmers' Market. My meat vendor took my order for a pound of beef fat, and promised it for the following weekend.  When 10 AM on the following Sunday morning arrived, I was there waiting for him.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it turns out), he hadn't butchered during the week, but had brought me a pound of pork fat instead.  It was clean, white, pork suet, harvested from a happy, grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free pig. 

Clean Pork Suet

Regardless of our vegetarian or non-vegetarian status, and all of the personal philosophy involved, I do believe that above all, we need to respect and give thanks to the sources of our food.  Respecting the sources of our animal-based food includes treating the living animal with love and compassion.  Our foods carry the energy we need to survive, whether they're beefsteak tomatoes or  just plain beef steaks.  That energy is more than simple calories we use to fuel our engines.

Reading "Full Moon Feast" this summer has made me increasingly aware of the interconnectedness of our various energies in the cycles of life.  My decision to include a cup of suet in my mincemeat pie canning didn't come lightly; it came with much contemplation and out of respect to wholesome traditions of harvest and agrarian culture. 

It's delicious.  Perfectly seasoned, spicy and nicely textured.  I can't wait to make a pie to share with whoever is at my table.

I hope each of us can enjoy the fruits of our harvest, whatever we have planted or grown; that each of us gives back more to the earth than we have taken (a monumental task, if you consider the waste we each produce), and that we bless and give thanks for her gifts in ways that follow our own cultural and spiritual traditions.  Despite our desperate economic climate, we are living in an abundant world, and need to live mindfully. I'll think of that every time I open a can of food I have put aside for the winter, while I wait for those first tender shoots of spring. In the mean time, I'll keep canning...and giving thanks to the earth for her bounty.
Mincemeat Pie Filling

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Drying Corn...FOREVER

Years ago, when I lived on the farm (pre-marriage, pre-college, pre-mostly everything), we heated the place with a wood cook stove.  I enjoyed the whole process of splitting wood, tending the fire, smelling the smoke; the surface was continually hot in the winter, so a kettle could be boiling, or bread baking in no time.  It was comforting, in the winter. Economical, environmentally friendly, wholesome, and earthy.  Life was good in the winter in the mid-70's.

In the summer, not so much.

We lived (briefly) on an old dilapidated farm, complete with farm house, barn, goat shed and summer kitchen; that's where I first fell in love with Nubian goats, and where I delivered my first set of kids. The owner of the farm, Ferris Patt, had acres of sweet corn planted, and would occasionally set us loose to pick as much as we wanted.  That's when I learned to dry corn for the winter. The main tool we used was a corn (or bean) dryer, like the one shown below:

Corn or bean dryer: old-school

It is basically an aluminum box, which you fill with water.  The water is heated, and boils, but is contained by the box, with only a small amount of steam escaping from the fill-hole. The passive heat dries the corn gradually, creating a nice dry kernel which can be stored in jars and rehydrated when you need it; the flavor is sweet and intense, just when you want it...say, February.

We started with 5 dozen ears of local sweet corn.

Here's my set-up; an inverted soup bowl becomes the base, and it's held in a large salad bowl.

The kernels are liberated (aka cut) from the cob, and collected in the bowl.  Repeat 60 times. Or more, if you have more corn. The corn is then transferred to the hot drier, and turned every 30 minutes or so (more frequently as it gets dry.

My ingenious husband created this outdoor stove for me, using a cook-top and a propane tank.  A portable summer kitchen, Allentown style! We began the process after we returned home from milking (around 7 PM)...

I read my current book ("Full Moon Feast" by Jessica Prentice) by lamp-light, and turned corn until about midnight.  I had a hose handy to wet myself down occasionally as it was seasonably hot and humid last night, but finally gave up around midnight. We covered the slightly sticky, wonderfully sweet, half-dehydrated corn, and carried it indoors for the night. Imagine this: me, dripping wet, carrying the corn dryer (one handle of it) in one hand, and my wine and book in the other.  It's not a pretty picture.

This is a prettier picture:

We gave a farm tour this morning instead of finishing the corn.

The group of young adults enjoyed the various farm critters. Nice group!  They made me remember why I enjoy teaching.

School-to-Work Farm Tour

After the tour, we returned to our corn, and we're currently in the process of finishing the drying.  You might see some progress in the photo below.

Or you might not...
I'll update later...if it ever gets done!  Kathy kindly gave me the evening off milking the goats so I could finish. Thanks, Kathy!

The Final Product: 4PM

Mission accomplished!  Now on to round 2!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Play Date! Girls' Day In.

I enjoyed a rare "play date" today with my good friend Stephanie and our guest artist Wendy; rare because it included more than one friend; I'm a little misanthropic.  Play date because that's what we did. Here's a little secret: I've always been jealous of friends who had "girls' nights out", or "girls' vacations" (probably because I was never considered one of the "girls".  This is MY kind of girls' play. HA.

First, we played with oils and lye...

Then we played with heat and chemical reactions...

Then we poured it in molds...

And just like that, we had goat's milk soap!  Saponifyingly refreshing (sic).
But that's not all.

We ate, of course (it's tradition); one of the offerings was pork barbecue.  The sauce was a suggestion Stephanie made.  A week or two ago I kind-of burnt the applesauce I was making.  It was a victim of having a guest braider (Peter) helping me with my hair when I was still in a splint; I left the pot for a bit too long and was held captive by my hair.  I canned the sauce anyway, and confessed to Stephanie a week or so later (we're canning buddies).  Her brilliant suggestion?  Barbecue sauce. Genius.

It was awesome. Here's the recipe I used.  I tweaked it a little by adding a splash of vinegar; next time I'll also add some heat.
Note to friends: recycle your burnt applesauce into barbecue sauce.  It rocks.  Then can the barbecue sauce.  Follow a reputable guide for canning times.

And then we solved a jewelry problem (well, Wendy did):

Two gifted artists hard at play. 
A good time was had by all
(I know it's not a PC term, but it's part of my personal history. So there it is.)

*To see Wendy's most excellent mural work, click here.