Catching Up

Hello and welcome!

Once again I’ve fallen behind in blogging. In this post I am sharing some of my activities from the week of November 1st – 7th. I plan to get another post, highlighting November 8th – 14th, up early next week. If all goes as planned I will be caught up. πŸ™‚

Monday Nov 1 – I rendered beef suet into tallow. Suet is raw hard fat found around the loins and kidneys of the cow. For the last few years we have been buying our beef from a local farmer. we purchase a quarter of a cow at a time. Once the cow goes to the butcher or processor I have to call them and give them instructions for cutting and wrapping the meat. At this time I ask to have the suet included in our order. Most people who buy their meat this way to not want the suet so I always have to ask.

Rendering is the process of cleaning the suet. To do this I cut the suet into small pieces. It’s easiest to cut when cold or partially frozen. I then put it in my crock pot on high until it is completely melted.

Tuesday, Nov 2 – The suet was still in the melting process Monday when I was ready to go to bed so I just unplugged the crock pot and would finish it on Tuesday. After reheating it I strained the hot fat through 2 or 3 layers of paper towel. When the hot fat (tallow) cools it solidifies and becomes white. (picture above)

Tallow can be used for cooking. (The original McDonald’s french fries were cooked in tallow), candle making and is commonly used for soap making. If you read the ingredients on your store bought bar of soap you won’t see tallow as an ingredient but it is there. It is listed as sodium tallowate which is the result of combining sodium hydroxide (lye) with tallow.

Any solid that are left after rendering the suet are called cracklings. While some people eat these I never have. I decided to feed them to the chickens but my husband said next time don’t bother. When I asked if the chickens did not like them he told me that the chickens would have loved them but instead they were forced to stand by, dining only on bread crusts, as Ranger gobbled up the cracklings.

weighing the tallow

Wednesday, Nov 3 – I made soap. I wanted to use some of the tallow that I just rendered. The recipe I made was an oil combination of 40% coconut oil, 40% tallow and 20% olive oil. This is the first time I used this particular combination so I’ll try to remember to report how it turns out. It will be about 6 weeks before it is ready. I also added aloe to this batch.

Thursday Nov 4 – I did my dad’s grocery shopping. He orders his groceries online then I picked them up from the store. I then went to the dollar store and picked up a few things that he prefers to get from there. I delivered the groceries to dad and helped him with a few chores.

Friday Nov 5 – I took the boys out for their morning walk at the farm.

It was a beautiful fall morning. When we went out, around 10:00 A.M., the sun had melted the heavy frost that had blanket the area in the early morning hours. Our feet/shoes got wet as we tromped though the grass.

The breeze, if any, was gentle.

I observed moments when a single, random, tree would suddenly drop a shower of leaves.

It was and interesting phenomenon as the trees seemed to be taking turns.

Many leaves were still holding on. Fall is not over yet. πŸ™‚

Saturday November 6 – My sister visited.

I still have one sister who lives near-by and we have been trying to block off some time, at least once a month, to spend together.

Last month when I visited her house I returned two bags of books that she had given me earlier this year. They had been passed onto her by our other sister and most she had not read yet. As I packed the books to return to her I stuck slips of paper into some, labeling them “must read” or “good read” so she will know where to start when she digs into this stack of books.

We also looked at different sewing patterns and she showed me some fabrics that she had purchased but wasn’t sure what she would make with them. “Take what you want” she said. There was one flowered print that caught my eye. We agreed that it was beautiful and needed to be made into something but neither of us could decide what. Even though I didn’t have a plan for it I decided to take that piece of fabric.

That fabric nagged at me for a couple of weeks. Because it was a large print I kept thinking that it needed to be turned into a large item of clothing. I searched for patterns for full length skirts and found a few simple ones but I don’t wear skirts very often and I don’t really know anyone who does.

Seemingly out of the blue I remembered the bathrobe pattern that I had. This fabric would make a lovely bathrobe. I bought a contrasting fabric for the trim and decided to make a bathrobe for my sister.

As I was making the robe I would try it on for size and in doing so discovered that as beautiful as this print is it looks horrible on me. Thankfully when my sister put it on it looked gorgeous – elegant, like I had imagined. ” I don’t know if I love it so much that I won’t want to wear it” she said, “or if I love it so much that I will wear it all the time”.

“Wear it all the time!” I told her. That would be the ultimate compliment.

In addition to giving her the robe, I showed her the projects I have planned to make as Christmas gifts. And we solved a few of the world’s problems over lunch. LOL!

Sunday Nov 7 – It was a perfect fall day for being outdoors and I started out by raking leaves.

The maple tree just off our deck had shed most of it’s leaves.

It took about an hour and eight trips with the wheelbarrow to remove the leaves from the front yard.

The maple that stands in front of our house was still holding many of her leaves.

As were many of the trees in the woods behind our home. The work is not finished yet.

After lunch I headed to the farm with my husband and the boys (dogs) to plant garlic. Normally we plant garlic around the middle of October. This year the ground has been too wet and muddy to plant, so we have been waiting for things to dry out a bit. We had decided earlier this year that growing garlic to sell is not in our future, so we were only going to grow enough for us and to be able to share some with family. We were able to get about 250 cloves planted, mulched and fenced (so the chickens couldn’t go digging them up). This is the smallest amount we have planted since we began growing garlic in 2013 and it was a breeze compared to years past. Now we can only pray that the weather stays warm enough for the garlic to get a start before the ground freezes. It will be spring before we know if this crop will survive.

When my husband told me that our son-in-law would be stopping by the farm to winterize his bee hive I decided to take along the gifts I made for Jackson and Addy. I had a hoped that the kids would be with him, but even if they weren’t he could take the gifts home for them – just in time for Addy’s (4th) birthday on Monday.

I hadn’t taken pictures of the super hero capes I made for the kids so my husband hung them from a plant hook and held them so I could get some photos.

Addy loves unicorns so one side of her cape was made from this unicorn fabric.

The capes are reversible so the other side of Addy’s was made with this brilliant yellow, orange and white tie-dye fabric.

I wasn’t sure what Jackson’s favorite thing is currently so I selected this superhero(ish) fabric for one side of his cape.

and this outer space type fabric for the other.

I wasn’t able to give the kids their gifts in person but I received a message from my son-in-law that the kids love the capes and that Addy was pretty insistent on wearing hers to bed. πŸ™‚

If I made you a super hero cape what would you want on it?

24 thoughts on “Catching Up

    1. I have done a cucumber and yogurt soap before. I mixed the pureed cucumber with yogurt then measured it and discounted the water an equal amount. I added the cucumber yogurt at trace and it worked out well. I hope yours turns out well.

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  1. My superhero cape would be a beautiful bathrobe with pink poppies on it. At least that is how I will feel when I wear it. Glad I visited when you had time to relax a few minutes. You have been a very busy girl.

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    1. I don’t use any fragrance in my soaps as I am allergic to a lot of artificial fragrances and essential oils are very expensive to use in soap making. It takes one ounce 29.57 ml) of essential oil per pound (473.17ml)of soap. The pound of soap makes about four bars. An inexpensive ounce of essential oil is at minimum $6 so it would be at least $1.50 just for the fragrance and then you wash it down the drain. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

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      1. Good to know. I’m very fussy re my scents as I don’t like the artificial stuff, but I am partial to lavender. There’s a company that makes soap here, and it’s right next door to an appliance centre and when you walk in to the shared entrance, the smells just about knock you over. They blend different scents together to make strange combinations, but I guess there must be a market somewhere for that, but not for me.

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  2. Wow, you’re so creative! That soap looks delicious (even though it’s soap) and if someone made me a bathrobe like that I’d be thrilled! As for my superhero cape, puppies please!

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  3. Well you sure packed alot into your week. I am so happy you got your garlic in the ground. Your new soap recipe sounds interesting. I will test it out for you once its done if you like. (wink, wink) Sister days are the best. I’m so happy you two are still setting time aside to do them, they are very precious . I love, love, love how your sewing projects are coming out. The time and care and love that you are putting into them is shining through your results. I can’t wait to see all the handmade Christmas gifts. Love from the mountains, miss you πŸŽ€

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    1. I’ll make sure you get to test the new soap – I know you like the aloe. Yesterday was a good day to be indoors so I put on my elf hat and got started on Christmas gifts. I think today will be the same. We’ll plan another sister day when you are here. I hope it will be in the near future. πŸ’–

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  4. I’d say I missed your posts Ruth, but I have gotten caught up on six days of Reader today, so I wasn’t aware you weren’t posting until I read this one. πŸ™‚ You are always the busy bee, but more so lately as reflected in today’s post. I like all your creations and how lucky for your sister that the robe ended up going to back to her and fit and looked so well. Hmm – for a cape, I guess I would have to say emblazoned with squirrels for my status as Peanut Lady? Poor chickens – Ranger beat them to the treats!

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    1. Thanks Linda! That’s the perfect cape for you. I bet the squirrels do think of you as their super hero. πŸ™‚
      Don’t feel too sorry for the chickens as they thinks it’s fine for them to butt in on Peanut’s (the cat) meal.

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      1. I just may be because Mother Nature and I have fattened them up so now they waddle around and are funny to see. Okay, I feel better knowing about the mischievous chickens after championing their cause for crocheted outfits to keep them warm and feeling sorry they lost their treat. πŸ™‚

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  5. What a heart-warming post! I thought of you recently when I was mincing garlic. I’m glad you aren’t growing garlic to sell. It was too much work.

    Getting together with your sister is marvelous. I thought it was so sweet that she offered you fabric she’d bought, and then you made that gorgeous robe for her. It’s also great that y’all share books.

    The capes are precious. I would want one with angels on one side and rich, dark green on the other. What would you choose for yourself?

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    1. Angels would be perfect for you! Lately we have been watching episodes of the series “Touched By An Angel” from the 1990’s. Are you familiar with it?
      A couple of t-shirt saying that I like are “Yes, I have super powers. I’m a Mom” and “You can’t scare me. I have daughters.” So I think My cape would Have “MOM” on the back and the reverse side would have “WOW” (mom turned upside down”.

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  6. Interesting and fun blog, Ruth! I have been interested in making my own soap. You make it sound so easy! Can you give me step-by-step instructions?

    So funny about your robe that looked better in your sister! πŸ˜‚ Wish my twinster lived closer to me. I am in Va, she in Co. πŸ™ I made capes for my boys when they were little. Last year I made pillow cases for my g’children if their favorite things. Was big hit!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia bluerockhorses.com

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    1. Thanks Mitzy. I am so thankful that I still have one sister who lives in the area. Our older sister and her husband moved to Tennessee in 2020 and our youngest sister lives about two hours away and does not drive so we don’t see her often. Somewhere in my drafts folder I have a started a how-to make soap post. I try to get it finished soon. It requires some caution by is not difficult.
      My two youngest daughters were still at home the year I made pillow cases for all 4 for Christmas. I gave them with new pillows inside. It’s fun picking out fabrics to suit each. πŸ™‚
      I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving too!

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