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So, I had a pumpkin theme going for September. It was a good theme. It was an appropriate theme for this time of year. However, with the last Friday in September, my theme is ruined. Not only is my theme ruined, but so is my garbage disposal. Sigh. On Monday, I made a new recipe, pumpkin soup. I like soup; I like pumpkin and thought I would like pumpkin soup. I'm sure you can see where this is going. I worked for over an hour making pumpkin soup. It was a rather intense recipe that required a lot of equipment, like a food processor, an immersion blender, the oven, and the stovetop. I roasted garlic, I sauteed vegetables, I ground nutmeg...yes, I did that. While I was making this soup, I thought it would be something that would make Martha proud; it was that labor-intensive. Sigh.

Prior to making pumpkin soup, I had spent the weekend locking horns with my child over almost everything. While making said soup, I "lost my ever-loving mind" with said child. When I get to the point where I lose my ever-loving mind, everyone in our home walks on eggshells. The Bibbed Wonder dares not crack a joke at my expense. My child either avoids eye contact with me, or she becomes the ultimate suck-up. She was avoiding eye contact. I was fuming while running the food processor. I knocked about the immersion blender like it had argued about skirt length. This soup absorbed all of my anger, and the final product tasted like rage.

I unceremoniously slammed the bowls onto the table, and no one said a word. I tossed crackers into a bowl and slammed them onto the table. The Bibbed Wonder briefly made eye contact with me and was rewarded with a snarl and "What? Do you have something to say?" He dropped his eyes and said, "Nope." I took my first bite of soup and then a second. I looked at The Bean and The Bibbed Wonder and said, "Is this any good?" Eric didn't make eye contact and vigorously shook his head in agreement. The Bean looked like someone had placed a booger in her bowl, but at this point, I didn't much care for her opinion. I took another bite and said, "I don't think this is very good. I can't taste anything. Be honest with me." They both kept their eyes down and mumbled, "It's fine." Finally, I laid my spoon down and said, "Dammit, you two, be honest. I'm going to use this in the blog." The Bibbed Wonder looked afraid and said, "Don't put this in the blog." Sigh.

I gathered the soup bowls, took the big pot, and poured the entire contents down the garbage disposal. Instead of soup, we ate peanut butter sandwiches. I was doing the dishes the next day, and the sink began backing up. I ran the garbage disposal, and things improved for a bit until they did not. There was a lot of rumbling and growling coming from the garbage disposal. Water began spewing from the garbage disposal under the sink. Water poured out onto the floor. Water sprayed like a geyser from both drains on each side of the sink. I panicked and ran to the soup studio, yelling the whole way, "Er, Er, Er, Er!" When I finally got to the studio, I cried, "Help, help, help, help! Flood in the kitchen, Flood in the kitchen!" My little bib overall-wearing buddy went running to the house. He stopped just inside the door and cursed. There was water everywhere. It was under the island, between the islands, and under the fridge. Water had successfully spanned the entirety of our kitchen.

I stood frozen, and Er said, "Get some towels!" Every towel we owned was used to mop up the yucky, stinky mess. My competent husband got everything tightened and working correctly. We got the mess cleaned up. When it was all over, The Bibbed Wonder looked at me, smirked, and said, "Maybe putting an entire pot of pumpkin soup down the garbage disposal was not such a good thing?" Oy! It's a good thing the man has such a good sense of humor. The garbage disposal is still backing up just a bit. Rather than spraying a geyser, it is more like an angry fountain. I am going to the hardware store to get drain cleaner and try to clear the drain, which is where Eric believes the problem lies. We may have to have a plumber come in to deal with the garbage disposal. Truth be told, I think the garbage disposal is a bad idea and would not mind in the least if it were removed.

Sadly, there is no pumpkin recipe to share today. However, we made a delicious and easy pizza from ingredients gathered at The Ligonier Country Market. We took Foccia bread from Star Crossed Naturals, peppers from The People's Farm, spaghetti sauce from Yarnick's Farm, mushrooms from Sundreams Farm, and pizza cheese from Pleasant Lane Farm and baked it for twenty minutes at 350 degrees. It was simple, delicious, locally sourced, and very fresh. If you have the opportunity to attend the market, I highly recommend all these lovely local farms for this delightfully easy recipe. Enjoy!

On this beautiful last Friday of September, stay safe, be smart, don't put an entire pot of gross pumpkin soup down the garbage disposal, marry a capable man with a sense of humor who will not tire of your nonsense and shenanigans, and keep washing your hands.

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The perfectly lovely homecoming dress

I will detract from my usual topics of soap, goats, festivals, animals, and recipes and reflect on motherhood. With the fall season comes football games, and with football games come homecoming dances. The Bean is now a ninth grader...gasp, sob, ugly, snotty, snort. This is her first year with a title, Freshman. It's also the first year that her grades count toward her future. We are now at the midway point of the first nine weeks, and I must say, there has been minimal focus on actual school work. Don't get me wrong, my child is meticulous about her grades...mostly. In most classes, she is carrying a 100% or more. She must get this trait from her dad because when I was in school, I was always way more worried about the weekend than what was happening at school. Anyhow, there has been a lot of focus on the upcoming homecoming dance. Sigh...

First, let me say that being a mom to a teenage girl is not for the weak. If you are already of weak mind, body, or spirit, these little harpies will break you down and eat you alive feet first so you can feel every tooth, bite, and tear of flesh. Teenage girls are scary. My bean, my darling girl, the queen of my heart, can create an element of fear so strong my belly turns cold, and my blood curdles. She's a delightful kid 90% of the time, but holy, hold on to your shorts when it goes dark. There has been a lot of darkness surrounding this homecoming dance thing.

I remember the days when The Bean was my mini-me. We liked the same things; we laughed at the same jokes; we shared the same ideals. Not anymore. Nope. There are days I think The Bean disagrees with me simply because she can. Dress shopping nearly did me in. Did you know that now girls buy multiple dresses, so they have a "backup dress?" Yes, as ridiculous as it sounds, they do. Some girls even buy three dresses, so they have a choice. I am the worst mom in the world because I did not jump on this train to Crazy Town and Ridiculousville. When I asked why one needs a "backup dress," I was told that if one of the dresses doesn't fit or the mood changes, or even better, perhaps one's friends don't like the dress, there needs to be a "backup dress." I am all about having options; I really am. However, I believe in my outdated, old-fashioned, Victorian-era mind that one chooses their options when...wait for go shopping. Seriously, my WTF lines are so damn deep at this point they are like craters. There isn't a facial filler out there that can repair the damage inflicted from surviving the teen years with one's daughter. I will forever have a furrow between my eyebrows that screams, I earned my WTF lines in 2023 when my daughter was 14!

Not only am I unpopular because of my archaic belief that one finds "a" dress, note the singular dress, when shopping, but I also have very ancient beliefs that a fourteen-year-old girl should not A) look like a stripper in training B) have the majority of the skin on their body covered C) a dress should cover one's private areas when one is seated and D) not cost more than my wedding gown. Egads! I am unreasonable! No offense to professional dancers intended, but I don't want my little bean looking like she is ready to take her turn on the stripper pole. I also don't want her back bared for the world to see, her front, or her nether regions. Let's be honest; nobody wants to sit in a chair that somebody's vag has been resting upon...thank you, my sweet and funny friend Christina for this point. I also don't believe that a dress for a three-hour dance should cost more than the dress I wore when I entered the institution, albeit a psych ward, of wedded bliss. Although it has been pointed out to me that "waaaaaay back then, everything was cheap, and the cost of living has increased by like a million times...duh!" Insert an eye roll here.

Oh, and don't get me started about the ridiculousness of a "hoco-posal!" Whatever happened to a fourteen-year-old asking another fourteen-year-old if they wanted to go to a dance through a friend? If one is a very confident fourteen-year-old, one asks said prospective date to go to the dance face-to-face. Now, there has to be a huge display made of asking someone to go to a dance. Often, there are posters, crowds, flowers, and candles. What happens when these kids grow up and get engaged? No grand declarations of love will be available because they have all been used for hoco and prom. I was engaged five times, and not one of the guys I dated took the time to plan an outlandish proposal. Most just dropped to one knee and asked my dad for permission. A) Apparently, I only dated lazy, unimaginative men. B) By the time Eric asked my dad for permission, he was like, eye-roll, here we go again..." Sure, why not? Hopefully, this one works out, so she's not my problem anymore." This "hoco-posal thing" just baffles me.

With only two more weeks to go until the big homecoming dance, we have come to a truce about the dress. It is a perfectly lovely dress that covers all necessary body parts. It is a dress befitting a classy and confident fourteen-year-old girl, and it was reasonably priced. I was thrilled when the dress arrived. I couldn't wait to see The Bean's face when she saw it for the first time. I was disappointed with her reaction. Rather than see the dress for the beautiful, sparkly, light blue creation it is, she nitpicked it apart. I was ready to smack the insolent look off her lovely little face. I refrained from said acts of violence and went to my soap studio to lament to The Bibbed Wonder. It's a good thing we don't get frustrated over the same things. He talked me down, and I braced myself for the barrage of teenage angst that was to come.

Fortunately, one Janet P. Walker, Teenage Girl Expert, is on standby to fix everything wrong with the dress my daughter picked out herself. I don't know what I would do if it weren't for the village of strong, intelligent, capable, and patient women who see me through the land mines of teen angst. To date, The Bean declares the sleeves must be removed from the dress because it looks "Too 1980s Prom-ish." It needs to be taken in because God forbid she should have any breathing room. The back of the dress has to be altered because she can feel it rub against her legs when she walks... versus, what, her ass hanging out? And it needs to be shortened; ah, guess what? Not a centimeter of material will be removed from said dress length. I am much more masterful at pissing contests than my fourteen-year-old opponent. Bring it, Bean!

If I survive the first homecoming, and at this point, it's a really big if, I have three more to look forward to. It's going to be a long road. I am stubborn and "bull-headed," sadly, I think my child may be more stubborn and bull-headed than I am. I thought I had met my match when I met The Bibbed Wonder; however, I believe my bean will put us both to shame. I am indeed holding onto my shorts with both hands and white knuckles.

On this gorgeous fall day, stay safe, be smart, don't allow your children to turn into teenagers, it just might kill you, and keep washing your hands.

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As a small business owner and self-taught soap artisan, I strive to maintain integrity and achieve excellence in what we do. My goals are pretty simple: treat my animals with love, provide the best care possible for them, and give them the best life possible. I think we check this box daily. As for the actual business, I strive to, first and foremost, provide excellent products that are made with care and pure ingredients, and we keep it as simple as possible. There is no need to muck things up with a bunch of ingredients one cannot pronounce or understand at a glance. I see no reason to "cheap out" and buy substandard ingredients. Secondly, my soap family is at the heart of what we do. The Bibbed Wonder and I will take great strides to provide the best customer service, support, and care to the people who make our dream a reality. We can also check off this box on our list of accomplishments. However, sometimes, one needs validation from outside sources to know one is on the right path.

A few weeks ago, I received this much-needed validation. Several of our soap family members have found us by a referral from their dermatologist, Lindsay Smail. I have always wanted to meet Lindsay, and a few weeks ago, at Ligonier Country Market, I had the opportunity. This lovely woman and her husband were chatting and sniffing the different scents at our booth. I said good morning to them, and we chit-chatted a bit. She then introduced herself as Lindsay Smail, a physician's assistant with Forefront Dermatology. Lindsay told me that although her job is to prescribe steroids and prescription-strength medications, she always recommends our products to her customers who are looking for a more natural approach to their skin issues. Lindsay then went on to thank me for making high-quality products that are beneficial to many. She also encouraged me to keep doing what I am doing and keep up the excellent work.

Although I receive wonderful messages from our soap family members professing their appreciation for our products and the benefits they experience from using them, this genuinely makes my day, my week, hell, and sometimes my year. Having a board-certified skincare professional who believes in my products and my company and recommends our products to their patients means the world to me. Lindsay and her husband purchased several soaps and appeared genuinely happy with their choices. I know one is not supposed to need outside validation for self-affirmation, but this boost from a skincare professional was precisely what I needed to hear. It makes me feel as though I am indeed doing something right. Not to get too self-important, but it shows that even a blind squirrel gets the nut sometimes. I feel like I am mostly running around feral, smacking into trees and falling off high branches. My eyesight definitely went downhill after turning forty...insert a wink.

Ironically, a few weeks prior to meeting her, I made an appointment for my bean with Lindsay. My little buddy is suffering the less-than-desirable side effects of growing up in the form of stubborn acne. Although The Bean has free access to all our skincare products and uses them faithfully, sometimes even the best natural products won't do the job. However, I am confident Lindsay will help her strike the right balance with the necessary medication and natural products. It's good to have knowledgeable professionals in your corner and have choices for natural products.

On this lovely fall day, stay safe, be smart, appreciate when you do something right, and be grateful to those who offer you needed validation; it's okay to receive that validation, and of course, keep washing your hands. Covid has reared its ugly head once again, so wash those hands.

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