Friday, December 19, 2014

Preparing for Yule . . .

We will be celebrating Yule here at the new house.  Our fire will be down by the river.  How lovely that will be!  Our city doesn't object to outdoor fires so long as they are recreational, so we will be providing sticks with marshmallows.  I'm sure the Sun God won't mind!  They will make a good appetizer, before we trudge back to the house for our potluck.  I'm making a ham from one of the Berkshire hogs I raised on the farm.  They are so huge that I never roasted one - too much just for me.  I will be happy to share with the group.  Looks like there will be about 15 or 20, plenty to take care of that ham.

My grandmother always made Lebkuchen for Christmas, and I have her recipe.  I can only imagine the expense involved, with all of the spices.  My mother's family was not rich, so I'm sure making the cookies for Yule put a crimp in the food budget, but they were a "must."   My mom taught me the finer points of making them.  

My daughter Valerie always said she didn't like them, but while she and I and my granddaughter Abby made cookies this week, Valerie and Abby were both dipping into the Lebkuchen.  Ah, yes, that German blood came to the fore!!
When I went out on the internet to look for pictures, I'm thinking that mine are as pretty as any out there! Here is a picture of my version.  My mom's were cut a bit different.  They were oblongs, not diamond shaped like mine are.  But we must all put our own twist on our holiday traditions, right?  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cleaning up - the hard part of making cookies

I made Lebkuchen tonight, a wonderful German cookie that my mom taught me to make.  I inherited her cookbooks, and the Lebkuchen recipe has her handwriting all over it.

The smell of these honey spice cakes is so lovely, and so evocative of Christmases past for me.  I follow a low carb diet, so I make these for family members, for the church raffle, and to sell at my booth at the market.  But the smell is carb-free, so I am enjoying them very much.

I allow myself one cookie on Christmas morning, dunked in coffee, of course.  There is no other way to eat Lebkuchen.  And they are best if they are allowed to age a couple of weeks.  They will be prime on December 25!

But alas, they are MESSY cookies to make, and now it is time to clean up the kitchen.

Sifter for powdered sugar glaze

Sink is full . . .

Ugh!  The dough is really sticky, so this will be fun to get clean.

Finished product

As soon as glaze is dry, the last cookies will go in the box.  Yum!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The soap room is done. Hurrah!

The soap room is FINALLY done.  The contractor promised the construction end of things would be done by August 1.  Then I could have moved things a bit at a time, bringing stuff from the farm each day I came in for market.  Good plan, bad execution.  He didn't even begin to execute the plan until I was moved in.  But it is all behind me now.

I am quitting for the day, just need to take a little time off, but tomorrow morning I can hit the ground running - everything in place, all labeled.  At the farm, things were strung out all over - in the barn, in the spare bedroom, in the furnace room, in the family room, and in what I called the soap room, but it was only a small portion of it.

So here it is.  I'm sure with use I am going to move things around, but for now, everything has been unpacked, and every drawer and door has been labeled so I don't lose track of things.  I am really looking forward to working in this area, and it will be nice to have the office right around the corner for making labels and placing orders.

There are still some big boxes of lotion jars, but I have enough moved to totes in the soap room so that getting to them is a twice a year exercise. The rest are hiding behind a screen.

Here are the pics.

Hutch from Salvation Army put to good use!

Need a little room for cleaning supplies, the rest are lotion containers.

Work area.  Raw material behind doors and under sink, plus some jars.

Finished soap, bulk ingredients, production records and more.

Old buffet top holds enough molds for a batch of soap.  :)

Bread rack works great for curing soap.  One batch just fits on one tray.

Big, BIG boxes from barn hiding behind the screen.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Heading for the last roundup - YEE HAW!!!

Lowe's loaded the wrong tool shed when Joe went to pick it up yesterday and we didn't discover it until we couldn't fit some shelving into it.  Talk about disappointment!  I was so looking forward to getting stuff out of the basement and garage so that I could get my walk-out basement organized - soap room and storage in one side, office and workout equipment on the other.  And when the dust settles, I should be able to park my car in the garage.  Wow, what a concept - a car in the garage!!

Lowe's did a great job at making things right - they brought out the correct (and bigger) shed, took down the wrong one and constructed the right one.  Joe and one of his crew came out this morning and moved things into the new shed - the shelving, plus a lot of big equipment that I rarely use but didn't want to get rid of.

Yup, I'm heading for the last roundup!  Market today, then a pedicure - a total indulgence for me.  Friday, I will be hard at it all day.  That soap room that was supposed to be done on August 1 will finally be ready for some serious manufacturing!

Here are a few of the "before" pics.  Friday night, I will have a new set showing the finished product.  :)

Yes, this was clear once, but . . .

No place to put the new totes for soap supplies

This is the worst of it!

Or maybe this is!!

Or this?

Just what everybody needs in a work room - power washer and compressor!

New shed

Look at all that room!

Garage has been filling back up!

What do I do with this?

I can see a little bare floor here.  :)

This is the pathway to my office.  Ugh!

The new shed is organized!  Now to fill those shelves.  Yup, heading for the last roundup!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I was so excited . . .

Today Joe Brammer, my contractor extraordinaire, was picking up my new storage shed from Lowe's.  I measured carefully, and it would fit neatly under my deck, just outside the walkout door from my basement.  And best of all, it would hold some shelving that is now in the garage and is preventing me from using the garage for my car. (I can get the car in the garage, but I can't open the car door once I am in there!)

Joe and his helper were going to put it together, put the shelving in, and then move the generator, the air compressor, the wheelbarrow and the power washer in there, giving me a whole lot more room in the garage and the soap room.

When they were done, Joe said, "That shelving won't fit.  Not even close!"

I said, "Impossible!  I measured it carefully."

He then told me the long side was 48", interior.  I said the interior is 6' x 4.33', long side should be 72".  He insisted it wasn't.  I dug out the specs, the guys came in the house and read them, then we wrote down the model number and took it outside to the box the panels came in.  Wrong shed.

To say I am disappointed is to say the least.  In addition, the guys had to wait 50 minutes at Lowe's to get loaded - something that should have taken 10 minutes.  And of course I paid two guys to work an hour each to level the site, put up the building and position it.

I called Lowe's.  They are saying they will make it right.  We will see.  Stay tuned.