Promise

I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.

Anna

Thursday, October 24, 2019

My Lazy Thyroid

Last winter, as it happens, we had the necessary paperwork so we decided to see if we qualified for VA benefits. As it happens, since both of us had served in the Army, both of us qualified, and since my summer job wage isn't all that impressive, and since my husband is unemployed, we qualify for 100% coverage, to include transportation to and from appointments. (We'll be testing that this winter)

Anyway, as part of our initiation, I got a blood test, and, other than being otherwise healthy, my thyroid was a mite lazy. I think they started me out on the lightest prescription, and after another blood test, they were happy with my numbers - woohoo. Now I get to take a pill for the rest of my days. That's okay - it's just a little thing, but I have to take it first thing in the morning, and then not eat or drink anything except water for half an hour - so much for my cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

However, I may have discovered my magic pill, just as I wanted. I had hopes that it would indeed be magic, that all my extra weight would melt away and I would get down to an ideal weight. Ah, but it didn't work that way. Hopes not withstanding, I knew it was doing something because I stopped gaining weight. I was 217 pounds when I weighed in for my physical, and that's where I stayed, not counting a slight monthly fluctuation. Even though I'd stopped bleeding every month long ago, my body still did it's water retention, making me tired once a month, and then I would get rid of it a few days later. I gained almost five pounds during that time, but then I was back down to 217 pounds. Well then, that was an improvement at least. Putting on a pound a week (or so) all winter long, and then being unable to get rid of all of it during the summer was getting very old. My new hope was that I might lose my summer's weight and not gain it back during the winter.

Update:

As of the third week of October - almost two months into my winter's non-working schedule, I have yet to gain a single pound - I'm thrilled. I started my summer at 217 pounds, give or take one or two pounds, and I ended the summer at 196 pounds. I need to get down to 190 before I stop snoring, but this is a good start. I'm thrilled. Best of all, I can eat again - within reason. I still eat not so much potatoes, but I can enjoy homemade bread and homemade cinnamon rolls now. I keep my indulgences to a minimum, but it's still kinda nice. Oh, and corn. I like corn, but since my husband can't eat the vegetable, I don't order it. I did, however, order some popcorn. I really like popcorn. I have missed popcorn.

Can I do the same next year? I certainly hope so. I do intend to try. It will be so nice not to start my summer feeling like a whale. Being out of shape is bad enough.

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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Homemade Soap #3

It's still a learning curve, but I'm getting better. Two pounds of grated soap + one cup of water is still an awesome mix, and it makes a nice sized bar.

Last year I ended up with two short batches of shavings and bars of Dove that I was reluctant to mix together. I probably could have, but my bucket was already full. At work, it turns out that we go through 36 bars of soap (give or take one or two bars) during the course of the summer months. most of them are used, but a small handful are taken. Coincidentally, the little baskets I store the soap in holds 36 bars of soap. Now, remember, my first batch of soaps I had trouble with the wrapping molding or soaking up the moisture and becoming unsightly. This year, I was still replacing some of those wrappings, so I decided that I wouldn't wrap the soaps I made last year. Those soaps sat in my bucket all last winter (I think I rearranged them a couple different times just to let them breathe); they also stayed in my bucket all summer long. Near the end of this summer, I now had two of those baskets empty.

As I was thinking about moving them, I decided I wouldn't wrap them even after them sitting out for a year. I figured I could wrap them as I put them in the cabin. Using the wax paper I'd bought to keep them from sticking to each other, I packed them into their little baskets. It turns out that even though I packed them laying down, at six per layer, with a little space between each bar, those baskets still held 36 bars. The bars in my bucket (I'd never counted them) filled those two empty baskets plus a little in the next basket. Next summer, I'll be using up the last of my already wrapped soaps and getting into some of those unwrapped soaps. That problem solved.

Back to the results of this year's recycling of soaps.

The first thing I did was weigh my two partial bags and fill them up to two pounds. That left me with enough to make a third batch, and a fourth batch that was like 1.5 pounds. I added the trimmings from the first batch to that fourth batch. The bars I got from that first batch were the perfect size; they actually looked like small bars of soap, being rectangular in shape. I really liked that. Since I wasn't packing the bars into my bucket again (not nearly enough to bother with a container so large), I was packing them back into the OxiClean box I'd brought them home in.

My second batch - well - I should have kept the trimmings for next year, but I decided I'd just add them to the third batch. That was a mistake, but only when it came to the size of the bars. I had to add another half cup of water to the shavings to make them more manageable; the extra volume of soap made the mass something like bread dough. When I got it into my mold, there was more than it could hold - not a lot more, but more. I was really tempted to trim the resulting bars down to the nice size my other two batches turned out to be, but really - chalk it up to a learning experience. I did not trim those bars - they are square, but they are nice and they will do. Next year I won't weigh my batches until I'm ready to cook them up. That way my two pounds will be assured, and I'd only have one bag of leftovers.

My fourth batch did the same thing my third batch did. Too much for my mold, but it is what it is. Next year, I anticipate it working out perfectly. Well - one can hope.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

My Long Day

Thursday, May 30, was a VERY long day for me. Our flight was booked for 1:00 departure - we were going home. I was ready, but at the same time, not. Going meant no more grandbaby, it also meant going back to work, pretty much all at once. Very little adjustment time after traveling.

This wasn't at all like last year where a chopper left us right here in the yard. Not like last year at all.

We went to town this year to help my son so he could start some schooling - that fell through, but we were there. I took the opportunity to order a copy of my military DD 214, separation papers, and by coincidence, I had my husband's there too. On a whim, we decided to apply for VA coverage. Up until now, we had no medical coverage. I won't go into the nightmares Obamacare gave me. Come to find out, we were fully covered, to include transportation to and from our home here in the middle of nowhere, and that includes helicopter cost too. You wanna talk about what kind of load that took off our shoulders - HUGE.

Now that we were involved with VA, we both had our rounds past a Dr. Mine had to do with my thyroid, which they found to be a little underactive - now I have a pill to take every morning. My husband has had a lump on his scalp roughly the size of a small grape, and during his examination, they found two more that just small ones that had yet to bubble up. The two were removed during another visit right there in the office, but the Dr. wasn't comfortable doing the same with the big one - it might be something different. So he scheduled him for a CT scan and a follow-up appointment to go over the finding - surgery for it's removal would be later.

Now, understand, time for us to get home before breakup, before it was no longer safe to travel on our river home, was running out, so I called transportation and asked after them helping us with that chopper flight since they hadn't brought us in. We either needed to cancel all those appointments and go, or if they could help us, we'd stay. They assured us we were covered, so we stayed. Sadly, I didn't write down the name of the guy I talked to. Six weeks later, long after things were all going to hell (as far as the river was concerned), I called again to take them up on their offer of help with that flight. We even canceled the surgery, to plan it for next winter, because it was getting so close to breakup. We really wanted to be here to be able to take care of our boats if needed - sometimes the water comes up violently during breakup.

SO, I called VA transportation and asked to book our flight, only to be told that, since they didn't bring us in, they could't justify taking us out. Now this logic escapes me, but they have their rules. I've been dropped off by my son, confident we'd be able to get transportation back to his place, and they would have, if we'd made the appointment to do so 48 hours ahead of time, but they wouldn't do the same with a flight, Course, I didn't think of that detail then either. I'm just not very good at this. Anyway, I was assured that I would be fully covered from now on, and we will have more appointments next winter, so we'll see how it all works out.

SOOO, since the chopper was out, we were stranded until several items fell into place
#1 we had a driver to take us to the airport
#2 we had money for the flight - we did
#3 we had transportation from where the plane landed home.
The first one came about fairly easy. Once we booked the flight, either my son or his wife could take us there. The last part wasn't so easy. Our first effort to arrange our ride home failed as my neighbors were both in town. A week later, several options for transportation came together.
#1 My boss would be arriving out there the same day
#2 One of my neighbors had just returned home
#3 The lodge owner where our big boat was stored had just come out a couple days earlier. 
The third option was by far the best for us.

Thus begins my VERY long day.

My morning alarm goes off a 6 AM, and I usually turn it off and get up maybe a couple hours later. This time, I woke up at around 5, and couldn't stop tossing and turning. I gave up at 5:30. All our stuff was already packed, so I went out into the living room and found my kindle, but I couldn't concentrate on that either. My computer was all packed up too, so I couldn't do anything much on line either. I ended up reading assorted articles on my phone, using up about a third of my battery - so much for coming out with a charged phone.

We didn't go anywhere until around 9. The plan was to hit Fred Meyers and then Costco on the way to the airport, there were some groceries I wanted to bring out. In the end, I decided the trip to Costco was irrelevant - I only wanted the powdered milk they have there. We didn't want to get a lot of things, not knowing what we'd find when we got here. Our worries about whether a bear had broken into the place or torn up the freezer were uppermost. Our worries about whether our house had withstood the earthquake had been alleviated a couple weeks ago when another neighbor sent me an email after flying over - our house was still standing - what kind of chaos awaited us inside was still to be discovered.

Since it was only a little after 10, and since it was a while before we had to get to the airport, we went back to the apartment for a cup of coffee. I was specifically avoiding coffee because it tends to go right through me.

We left for the airport at around 11 - we were all starting to doze off. So my husband and I wandered around the airport until near 1 I think - I was no longer watching the clock. We landed out here and we got our big boat in the water with happily very little trouble. We loaded up and we were on our way.

Thus ends the easy part.

We parked and unloaded our stuff into another boat still on land - it was starting to try to rain so we covered it. We had to walk the quarter mile or so home with what we could carry and get either the 4-wheeler going to come back with the cart. My husband carried his backpack - it was heavy - I carried the gallon of water we'd bought. Ack - I was SO not ready for that hike. I was already tired. We had a cup of coffee and a sit down.

As it turns out, though the 4-wheeler started easily, the mud on our trail caused us to opt not to use it, however there were some things that simply had to come home without much more delay.

I took the cart down and brought back the food and our computers, as well as the tool bag so we could get it ready to use the next day. It was a fairly heavy load, and I was already tired. Needless to say, I stopped many times to rest. When my husband saw me, he came to help push. It was a big help. I'm sure I would have rested at least two more times before actually reaching the house - and that was within less than 100 yards.

I don't know what time it was when we finally settled down for the night, but on my last legs, I fixed supper and sat down to get my computer logged into our satellite system (my phone too), and to eat my supper. Come 8 PM, I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I went to bed, half expecting to wake up at some point during the middle of the night - I didn't.

We got up at 8 this morning. My body so very sore. It would seem that I managed to lose nearly 10 pounds yesterday. Woohoo. Most of that was constipation and water weight likely brought on by stress. I don't stress much - I'm not a worrier, but I'm no spring chicken either, and for the first time all winter, my feet were swelling, which added to my pain in doing all that walking yesterday. I've gone potty like four times since hitting dirt here - my, how exercise will get the plumbing moving.

So now, my little boat is in the water, though we have yet to start it - we couldn't find the key. Anyway, we got brave enough and took the 4-wheeler down, since the cart did so well. We should have brought the cart anyway - it would have allowed for fewer trips up that hill carrying things. Ugh, but at least it was only up that hill and not all the way to the house and back, at least two trips that way. Three trips for me - the last one for my plants - and two trips for my husband - he struggles with that hill too - and we were all the way home.

My body is still sore, but I'm a lot less tired today, then again, I did get a 3-hour nap today too.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Homemade Soap Second Edition

I learned a few things last year. I solidified my recipe into something that has worked well so far. All my Dove-only bars failed miserably even though they passed the first two rounds of inspections. By the time I had brought them to work, they had continued to shrink and develop cracks as they dried, so they went directly back into my bucket to be redone this fall.

Since there was roughly ten pounds (I was just guessing by volume. I didn't weigh any of it) of Dove soap already waiting for recycling, I decided to buy some soap to be used to that end. There was no way I would acquire enough soaps through the summer to add to them. At first, I thought my recipe called for three pounds of soap, and that I would be having two pounds of Dove to one pound of whatever else. Turns out my memory wasn't so accurate. It would have to be half and half. I found Ivory soap on Amazon - pretty much the cheapest on the market, I think. Anyway, I ordered twelve bars of Ivory with aloe - sounded good to me anyway. Aloe is good for your skin and the bars were white. Turns out twelve bars wasn't enough, so I have three pounds of Dove soap that gets to wait until next year. That's okay. That still leaves me with ten batches to do this year.

So what am I doing different this year? Last year, I wrapped my bars after a couple days of drying - one day as the block straight from my mold and another day after they've been sliced into bars. That third morning, I'd groom the bars to make them pretty and presentable, and then I'd wrap them in typing paper - it's what I had and it looked nice - then I packed them into my bucket. It seemed that I wrapped them way too soon. Later (I forget how long), I decided to check my soaps and discovered that they were still damp and the paper had soaked it up, and in some cases they had molded. No damage to the soap, but the paper certainly wasn't presentable any more. I didn't learn my lesson. I rewrapped those soaps and repacked them into my bucket. When I got them to work, I needed to move those soaps to the shelf where they would be available for use in the cabins. Lo and behold, still some of those soaps wrappings had molded again. After rewrapping again, after all summer, it would seem they were finally dry enough.

This year, I'm not wrapping them at all this winter. I got some wax paper and I'm layering the bars between the the paper with spaces between them. I hope it works - it should - I have my fingers crossed. Maybe early next spring I'll wrap them. As they are packed now, taking the bucket to work would damage them unless I'm really really lucky. Maybe if it was only a car ride to work, but there's a trip with a four-wheeler and then a trip in my boat.

So far I have three batches of nice white bars and one with a blue cast to it. The rest will be shades of light brown - lighter than last year.

Last year, after going through everything I'd brought and discarding the warped, cracked, and broken ones, I had three baskets of like thirty-six bars each. I used one basket. When all is said and done, it looks like I'll have several years worth of soap to use, and in the future, there won't be more than three or four batches to do each year. Maybe not even that much. That's not counting the three left over batches I won't be able to do this year. So, I anticipate having to do half as much next year as I did this year.

There she blows. I'll be sure to keep you informed of future developments. Stay tuned.

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Friday, March 2, 2018

The Weight Loss Battle

Ever since coming to town, I have been searching for the magic formula to help me lose weight. It has to be something simple, because I'm doing all the right things that should result in at the very least no weight gain (well maybe with the exception of hours of aerobics). I shouldn't weight 215 pounds, having put on nearly 20 pounds since the end of my work season. 

The first thing we tried is breaking out the juicer and him teaching me how to juice. It's something I can't do at home, but it was worth a try to help me lose weight - nada. Next my son bought a NeutraBullet blender - he'd been wanting one since his old one broke. Still nada on the weight loss, but they both contributed to my decrease in desire for good old fashioned red meat. 

Most recently I've been battling heartburn - something I battle most every winter when I get over 200 pounds. It seems like everything I eat gives me heartburn, like I just ate a bowl of oats, and I think I might be ramping up to some heartburn - sucks. I'm drinking water in the hopes of heading it off. Over the last week or so, I've discovered that yogurt and bacon (baked on a rack) doesn't give me heartburn. I need to go get some more bacon. Too bad I can't get yogurt at home, except during the summer. It just doesn't keep very long.

Now that I'm in town, my son and I have been doing some experimenting and some research. We've discovered that niacin helps to clean plaque out of blood vessels, which in itself improves circulation. This might address my swollen feet when I get too heavy. That has not been a miracle cure, but the issue has improved. I'm also taking horse chestnut pills to help with my swollen feet - mind you, they don't hurt, they just look like balloons. Niacin also helps with depression (something I have no trouble with, but I have friends who do so I'm sharing). According to the YouTube thing we watched, these guys (doctors) have been successfully treating cancer and the really bad depression with mega doses of vitamin C and Niacin respectively. Both you cannot overdose on. One of their stories about niacin was this severely depressed woman who had a family with children. She took tons of medicine to address her depression, and the best she could manage was to come out of her room to sit in the corner of the living room, facing the corner. She started taking some niacin as prescribed by her doctor, but it wasn't having much of an affect. She went off the deep end and tried to take her life by overdosing on the niacin. Lo and Behold, the depression just vanished. NO OTHER ADVERSE AFFECTS WHAT SO EVER. She joined her family at the dinner table and everything. Of course she needed high doses of niacin to continue that level of interaction, but I think she went off all her other medication. I'd have to watch the show again to be sure. Look up Food Matters on YouTube and search for Drs. Abram Hoffer, Andrew W. Saul, and Harold D. Foster.

Another thing we discovered is iodine. Iodine is in salt, you say, but we learned that THAT iodine is among the poorest kind. Iodine targets the thyroid which, as we all know, does whatever it does to regulate our weight among other things. I am pretty sure my problem may well be genetic, but that doesn't mean I can't fight it. I ordered Survival Shield iodine from Amazon yesterday and will start taking it next week when it gets here, so wish me luck there. HOWEVER, in doing some of my homework, I discovered that it can also address depression. According to everything I looked up, Iodine deficiency is the fastest growing epidemic in the country, and maybe the world, because of the growing popularity of sea salt and such.

My getting iodine from my salt certainly has not helped me. I have, all my life, been a salt-aholic, frequently licking salt from the palm of my hand as well as dousing everything I eat. I love the taste of salt. Not long ago I heard about the high mineral content of Himalayan salt, so I went to the store and bought a grinder. Suddenly, I find myself actually needing to remember to salt my foods. The craving is just gone. That iodine I mentioned above comes from the same source and is the cleanest in the world. Iodine is found in kelp, but thanks to Fukushima the ocean is becoming increasingly radioactive, not to mention the rate of pollution. Iodine also comes in the form of a tincture, but what they mix it with to make it a tincture is one of the things that inhibit it's affects. I'll have to watch the YouTube things again, but I think I heard there that the fluoride and the chlorine added to our drinking water for very good reasons also messes up our thyroid. 


I came across this website - EWG's Tap Water Database - that shined a rather freaky light on what actually is in our water. Just enter your zip code or scroll down and click on your state. You'll get a list of cities where water is provided from, just click on the one closest to you. Of course, this site is there to sell you water filters, but since they suggest all brands, I don't think they're too biased, especially since they refer you to Amazon for the most part. I'm happy to say our water seems to be pretty clear. There's a little runoff affect, and in my opinion, too much chlorine, because I can smell it, but some of the other things I saw were truly shudder-worthy.

That is the sum of my experimenting and research to date. Wish me luck in finding my magic pill, or drop, or whatever. I SO want to permanently get rid of all this extra weight.


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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

And Baby Makes Three

I came to town last November so we could be there to help out when the new baby came, and to be a little moral support for the new mom and dad. When labor started, I was there for them, and I must say my daughter-in-law was a real trooper about the pains. She just kinda stiffened up and went all quiet for a bit, and then it passed. Boy, I could tell she was just all-around uncomfortable.

Some hours later, the doctor was starting to get concerned; there just wasn't much progress and momma was getting very tired. They gave her something like an epidural to numb all the pains and let her sleep for about an hour. When that didn't help much, they called in another doctor who had small hands, thinking the baby was facing the wrong direction now, but that didn't help. Their next and last choice was to try pulling. That sounds terrible, and I was really getting worried. The things I'd heard about pulling were just plain scary. The modern version was this small suction cup they stick to the head; it allows them a small amount of control from the outside. Still no luck.

I became truly frightened when they said C-section. This was way out of my experience. I've never known anyone who had one. I so wanted to watch over my girl, but I wasn't allowed. Only daddy could go with her. In one way, I was glad something could happen now, and that experienced doctors could handle the situation. I wasn't really afraid for her safety, but this is surgery, and God forbid, things could still go wrong, but after 12 hours of hard labor, it was good to have an end in sight.

Waiting in the room really sucks. I wished I could watch, even through the window in a door or something, just to keep an eye out, you know, but I had to wait, and I had to wait without really knowing how long I would have to wait. Yeah, they told me about it would be less than a half an hour, but I couldn't see it. So like twenty minutes later, my son comes for me and we go meet his brand new son.

The surgery went well, Baby was really stuck due to all the work they tried to get him born natural, but they got him unstuck and out safely. Momma was still getting all put back together, but she was doing just fine.

In the nursery, Baby got weighed and measured and tagged and labeled, and then, because he was pretty gooey, he got his first bath too. Then he was put in his first diaper and wrapped up like a baby burrito and handed over to Daddy. Then it was back to the room for us to wait for Momma.

He was such a bright baby, looking around at all the brightness and colors. And then he sneezed and scared himself. He might have had a bit of a headache too, but he just looked so surprised at his little explosion, and then he started to cry.

Momma told me once she was hoping for blue eyes and blond hair like Daddy, but we both told her there was like 0% chance of that. So, he is the first dark haired, dark eyed baby in my family. I have a brother with dark hair and eyes, and I have a sister with not so dark hair and eyes, but  their dark is an Irish dark. Momma is from the Philippines, so it's a different kind of dark. Most of my family is average for the Midwest - some shade of light colored hair and light eyes.

Since then, I have been totally enjoying watching him learn. He just turned a month old and already Momma and Daddy are totally wrapped around his finger. Momma does all the good things like nice warm titty and nice soft pillow and warm. Daddy gets the other end and deals out a cold wet wipe and a dry diaper, but he's got a nice warm chest to sleep on once in a while. I think Baby likes to listen to their hearts.

Already, I can tell he's getting stronger as he kicks and wiggles and squirms. He's also starting to do more than just holler for food and then sleep. He's starting to look around and play a little. Today, while laying on the floor (something I suggested), he almost rolled up onto his side. Couldn't quite stick it though.

I've proven useful a time or two with a willing lap and a rocking chair. Baby eats like he's got a hollow leg, so he gets a bottle or two of formula every day too, and sometimes I get the pleasure. Unless I'm actually babysitting, I'll let Daddy do the diapers though, Mmuahaha. I am having such a great time.

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Soap

For forever, I've wanted to learn how to make my own soap. I mean, it goes along with the whole 'off the grid' thing. Ever since working at the lodges (I think) I found it nearly impossible to throw away those uses bars of soap. The lodge buys brand new soaps and I put them in the cabins. The guests might take like one shower before they go home, and there's that used bar of soap. I certainly can't leave it there for the next guy to use, so I would take them home. Over the years I managed to accumulate a lot of soap of all kinds.

Here recently, like the last four years, the owners of the lodges have bought Dove soaps, the full sized bars. Sigh, yeah, I brought them home. Throwing them away is such a waste of good soap.

This summer, I decided to buy a soap mold. Not one of your little pretty one, just something functional. I wasn't interested in anything fancy. I just wanted to consolidate all those bars of soap I'd accumulated, not that I knew what I'd do with them when I was done, but still...

I was looking at the stack of soaps I'd accumulated at the lodge one day, and I decided I'd ask and see if I could do the same for them. My boss's wife was thrilled with the idea, so I took a bunch of those soaps home. There's still more there on the shelf, but there was only so much room in the box I was using.

I used all the odd soaps I'd accumulated as my learning curve, and worked my way through six different batches as I experimented with how much water to add to how much soap, and then what size bars to cut. It was an interesting experiment.

My recipe for this was: 2lb grated soap to 1C water

I decided to wrap them in typing paper sliced in half - It's what I have here. Since I made no effort to match up colors, my end product ended up shaded from a pale green to a pale beige, and since the soap never totally dissolves, there are flecks of actual color in there. I'm certain, over time, as I continue to recycle them, the flecks will fade. Keep that last statement in mind as you read on.

So, now that I think I know what I'm doing, I move on to the box of Dove soap. Now these I wanted to look nice, and by coincidence, the mold kit I'd ordered came with a straight edged cutter and a waffle edged cutter. I figured I would use the waffle edged cutter for the lodge soap. Just a little fancier than your plane block of soap, you know.

My very first batch of Dove soap, and I knew everything was different. Then I remembered that Dove soap was different; it contained lotion, so I was forced to start my experimenting all over again. Two pounds of soap and one cup of water produced something like whipped cream only thicker. Everything before had been much thinner and I could pour it. This would never pour. Cautiously I added more water, but nothing much changed. Finally, at two cups of water, I didn't dare go any farther. I scooped it out and pressed it into my mold, hoping to get it into all corners. Hoping it would work.

It did, I thought. My mold looks like a five pound block of cheese, though maybe a little thinner. So once that set up, I started cutting. My idea of using the waffle edged cutter meant that I generated quite a bit of scrap, and yeah, I couldn't throw that away either.

I didn't have any trouble with the original soaps, and I didn't count how many batches I did, but eventually I came around to using the scrap pieces. Now here I ran into more and more trouble. The soap refused to hold together. It crumbled and cracked easily, and many times it would come apart as it was drying. This concerned me, so I went back to those first soaps, and discovered several of them (probably my first batch with too much water) had shrunk, warped and cracked. They were no longer pretty.

The first thing I tried to do to solve my problem was to go back to the straight edged cutter, but I got no better results. Out of every mold, I was doing good to get one or two usable bars of soap. The rest broke and crumbled as they were being cut. I even stopped adding water since I thought that might be the issue, but I got no better results.

Finally I decided to get back with my boss's wife and ask her if she minded my mixing some of those very first soaps in, explaining that the color would no longer be white. She wasn't the slightest bit concerned about color. This thrilled me. That meant that I could use all that soap I'd made at first. All I had to do was go through them and make them pretty enough to use at the lodge.

I used up all the Dove soap, mixing two pounds of Dove with one pound of other stuff. I increased the amount of soap, reasoning that they weren't as dry as originals - it seemed to work well that way. Ever since I switched back from the waffle edged cutter, I decided I'd bevel the edges of the bars in an effort to make them look more finished - prettier, so as soon as all the Dove was used up, I decided I'd re-recycle the rest of them, so they'd be uniform. Yeah, I'm weird like that. Almost immediately, I changed that. There wasn't anything wrong with them; they just needed to be prettied up.

Some of those original soaps, I knew I'd have to redo. One batch was cut all wrong and another was too soft. Unfortunately, since I'd marked my batches with a marker, the ink had bled through onto the soap. I couldn't have that, so I sorted them out for recycle.  I ended up with two full batches of those. The rest just needed to be cleaned up and beveled - there was probably about two full batches of those. My last batch was all the trimmings and shavings I'd accumulated. When all was said and done - the project for this season finished - I had an entire square bucket full of neatly wrapped soaps. Now I need to find something better to wrap them in as well as a suitable label.

It was a very interesting project, and I'm pleased with the results.

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