goat baby

Hattie has never had one specific favorite thing. She had a blanket for a while, and has rotated some stuffed animals into the position of honor. And right now the favorite snuggly, bedtime thing is Goat Baby. She loves Goat Baby. She changes Goat Baby's diaper and gives her stroller rides. And she brings Goat Baby out with me in the morning to help me milk.

Hattie was my faithful, daily companion each morning as I milked Darcy until she startled Darcy by surprising us both and using the wash cloth to clean Darcy's utter right at the end of the milking session. Darcy was caught off guard and lifted her foot right into my milk pail (I had stopped using the hobbles). Which was such a bummer. The cats were fine with this upset as they got the milk, but all 2-year-olds were then asked to stay back at the house while Mama is milking.
And here's a farm baby if their ever was one. Crawling on his knees across the gravel road. He went back and forth three times. When he wasn't crossing the lane he was helping me plant flowers, putting wood chips in his mouth, splashing in the bucket of water and happily pulling up anything green. Even if it was a flower I just planted. People sometimes ask how we get it all done and I'd have to say it's because I've got lots of great helpers!
And here's my first round of Goat Milk Soap! Tada! Now it sits in the tray for 4-6 weeks before it is hard enough to use. 

goat milk soap

For weeks I have been checking out books from the library, watching youtube videos and gathering my supplies to turn my goat milk into goat soap. When I first set out I assumed making soap would be very simple. It couldn't actually be that complicated. But it is! Lye is dangerous to work with, proper temperatures need to be met, oils must be in perfect ratios and measured on a weigh scale, there needs to be good ventilation...just so many factors to consider! It actually reminded me a whole lot of a chemistry experiment. And Chemistry always overwhelmed me. `

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (Hattie just stopped by and was delighted to find "My H!")

But on Sunday night I tried my first batch. I was so nervous about it. I watched more youtube videos and realized I was flat out stalling. But it did feel really overwhelming. Just like chemistry. Finally I decided to just start and see what happened. And in the end, I made soap. There's a good lesson right there: just start. And then do it.

After pouring the "pudding" into the molds it has to be wrapped in towels and placed in a box for 24 hours to properly set up. There's all sorts of lingo I'm learning, but I'll just describe it how I understand it. And then last night I got to slice it into bars. It was so exciting! I kept yelling, "I made soap! I made soap!" And now it has to cure for 4-6 weeks before it can be used. I had no idea soap was such a procedure. But I am totally into this now. I may even make another batch this week. I really, really love the process. My first batch was lemon-cream. I may go for peppermint next. And then I can start adding things like color so I can make designs in the soap! And ground oatmeal for exfoliation, or flower petals!

I may end up liking chemistry after all of this...
And one final thought. Do you see that hand blender in the top picture? It was key to the success of this process. I've written about this before, but all throughout my childhood, my Grandma and Grandpa Bredberg gave all of the cousins $25 to spend before Christmas. We had to buy something, wrap it up in gift wrap and then at the family celebration, we would each have our turn to unwrap our own present and show Grandma and Grandpa what we picked out. I only remember two presents that I chose: a real stroller for my dolls that Ivar later used and my Braun Hand Blender. I think I was in 7th grade and of all things on planet earth, I wanted a hand blender. (I am beginning to realize that I have always been very practical.) So it was pretty awesome to STILL BE USING that great gift, twenty-five years later on something as fun and practical as Goat Milk Soap!

Also, look at those darling stained glass flowers my mom made for me! I love them. And don't look at my dirty window...

Monday Night Spaghetti

We are eating from a two week menu rotation and every Monday night is Spaghetti. My Mondays play out the same: I look at the menu on the fridge and think to myself, "Oh Awesome! Spaghetti! So Easy! Great." And then we sit down to eat this crowd favorite and as the meal unfolds I think, "Oh Right! Spaghetti! What a mess! Gross!"

But I just never seem to remember the mess before the meal.

eating from the garden

We planted our blueberry bushes four years ago. And the first two years you have to take all the flowers off of the bush so that the energy goes into the root system and making it healthy and strong. Last year was our first harvest, but we were at family Bible camp that week and missed our first harvest. We have weeded our bushes every year, mulched around them, and piled up pine needles to increase the acidity of the soil. So you can imagine the great joy we are feeling this year picking our blueberries! I have made blueberry jam and we are trying a batch of dehydrated blueberries at the moment. We have some in the freezer too. And most of them are in our bellies from fresh eating all day long. 

Does anyone have any favorite blueberry recipes to share with me? We would love to preserve as many as possible, but haven't done this before!

Also, last Sunday after church I made my first plate of Fried Green Tomatoes. And then I took my annual picture of my Fried Green Tomatoes. :) I treat this moment like a holiday. It brings me so much joy. Here's the recipe, if you're interested...

Celebrating Alden

We celebrated Alden on Friday night with cake, presents and a slip-n-slide. He did that whole fight-the-nap-when-mom-really-wants-me-to-nap-well thing that day. Such a phenomenon to me. He napped a total of an hour that morning, when usually he naps about 4 hours each day. So by 6pm, the birthday boy was starting to fall asleep. We quickly had to get the cake and presents so he would be awake for his own party! You can see his was a little zoned.
But it made for good snuggles all around! It was a super duper hot and muggy day. A heat advisory was even issued. So we spent half the party inside eating and then went outside for the cake and presents.
I love these two pics of Uncle Kyle and the girls finishing Alden's cake. Look at their faces...
My mom got him this soft tree stump full of woodland stuffed animals. The animals come out and you can put them back in the stump. Alden LOVES this thing and Ivar put it in his crib. So now every naptime and bedtime when I put Alden in his crib he sits up and gathers his stuffed friends telling everyone in a falsetto voice, "hiiiiii! hiiiiiii! hiiiiii!" I shut the door and he happily jib jabs with his friends until they all fall asleep.
And here you can see the very first picture of Ivar's new rabbit (bottom left). More on her later. But she is getting excellent care for Ivar. He is very diligent and is taking his rabbit responsibilities most seriously.
 I think my niece Sonna took this picture of Oma Zina, and I think it is so gorgeous of her! She and Lisa literally came from the airport, straight off a flight from Jersey right to the party. And she looks radiant.
 Mostly it was just good family time. I didn't have a theme. I didn't have a single decoration. We just ate and celebrated Alden. I made him a butter cake with cocoa-cream cheese frosting. It was delicious. And I made everyone else cream-cheese strawberry pie. That was important to me...that we have good desserts and that Alden have a little homemade cake.
We ended the night with a slip-n-slide and setting up the new pool Mimi and Papa got Alden. It was so steamy that night...perfect for getting out the garden hose.

So there you have it. Alden is One. What fun!