Today our spotlight shines upon the soap that started it all, Simply Goat's Milk. This pure, simple, unscented soap is the very first soap I made and remains a staple in our inventory. I recommend this soap to anyone with skin issues, sensitivity to ingredients, and sensitivity to scents. Simply Goat's Milk is a straightforward, simple bar. The ingredient list is short: goat's milk, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, saponified lard, and lye. Simply Goat's Milk has a wonderful lather, is cleansing, gentle, and nourishing. It's wonderful for those with dry skin or irritated skin. I use it when my eczema flairs, and I have my bean use it when her skin is dry and irritated.

Although it is not fancy, it is a pure, simple soap that is wonderful for cleansing and caring for one's skin. As always, the Tuesday Spotlight is 50% off on the website. If you have skin issues or simply want a beautiful bar that doesn't conflict with your perfume, this is a wonderful bar. Remember, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, keep it simple, and wash your hands.

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  • Tina

I'm excited to share with you that I will be in attendance at the in-person Handmade Arcade, held on August 7 at the Construction Junction in Wilkinsburg. At this point, I am fairly picky about the in-person events I attend for a number of reasons. However, I am excited about this event and looking forward to making new connections and friendships in the Pittsburgh area. This is new ground for me, and I feel a bit nervous as well as excited for the opportunity.

Several years ago, when I first began my journey into soap making and selling my products, I applied to dozens of events. I thought I could schedule myself for every weekend, travel all over a tri-state area, and have the time and energy to focus on my family, care for my goats, make amazing products, and still have a life. Enter reality. The reality is, it was an unrealistic fantasy. Being a somewhat creative person, I believe I often have grandiose ideas, and I don't always think things through from beginning to end. That is where my bibbed-wearing sidekick comes in and tempers my overflowing creative juices, aka, he stifles my creativity (insert wink).

I applied to the Handmade Arcade, one of the few juried events to which I applied. Being a newcomer to the whole vendor show circuit, I did not realize what juried meant or what a privilege it is to be accepted. Juried means your product, your display, and you are judged by a panel, and they decide if your product, your display, and you are a good fit for the event. Apparently, Handmade Arcade has a reputation for being discerning, and it isn't easy to be accepted on your first-time application. I knew nothing about any of this. I was accepted on my first try, but after a long, intense, and realistic discussion with The Bibbed Wonder declined my position and went along my merry way on my soap-making journey.

Fast forward two years ago. I talked with a vendor at Ligonier Country Market, and she suggested I apply to Handmade Arcade. She described the event as phenomenal, very well organized, wonderful attendance, and genuinely talented makers. I nonchalantly mentioned that I had been accepted a few years ago but decided not to attend. I thought this woman would have a heart attack when I told her I did not attend. She inquired as to why I made such a mistake. I was honest and told her I didn't think I was ready to handle a market of that magnitude at that time. She strongly encouraged me to apply again and, if accepted, attend this time.

I took her advice, filled out the application, attached the required number of photos, wrote my essay, and tentatively hit send. To my delight, several weeks later, I was informed I was accepted. I was thrilled, to say the least. I planned my display, assessed the amount of inventory I would need, and felt cautiously confident I was well prepared. Then Covid hit, and the world shut down. The Handmade Arcade was postponed twice and eventually canceled until further notice. I chose to forfeit my application fee and maintain my spot in the event in-person venues once again open with the promise of acceptance to the future event.

The future is finally here, and the event will be held in two weeks. I am beginning to feel anxious about my display, my product presentation, and my sales ability. I am also anxious about attending an event in an area that is unfamiliar to me. However, I keep telling myself it will be an adventure, nothing will be gained if I don't try, and if the panel thinks I am good enough, I should go with that and stop second-guessing myself. However, most of you know this is easier said than done. I am looking forward to my new adventure, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

If you are in the Pittsburg area on August 7th, I would love to see you. The Bibbed Wonder will be flying solo at the Ligonier Market that weekend. I have called dibs on my bean and our friend Jessica for Handmade Arcade. I am hoping I will win the title of the A-Team that day. If not, I will be subjected to songs inspired by the Cookie Monster whose lyrics have been changed to torment and insult me. You see, when we divide and conquer, The Bibbed Wonder calls himself the A-Team and says I am so far behind him, I don't even get to be the B-team. Nope, I am third string or the C-team. I wonder why I stay married to this man sometimes; I really do. Sigh.

As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, enjoy the adventures life presents, and keep washing your hands.

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  • Tina

Up until now, I believed I was rearing a competent, capable, self-sufficient young woman. Notice the use of past tense, believ-ed? Lately, The Bean has been incompetent, incapable, and dare I say it, a needy pain in the a$$. Recently, she has decided to pick and choose when she is and isn't capable. I am finding this to be completely unacceptable and somewhat annoying. My theory is that she is a mere six months away from being an official teenager, and I see glimmers of things to come. Sigh, if my theory is correct, I don't like what I see.

I have no tolerance for incompetence. I genuinely believe anyone is capable of doing anything if they have the desire and work hard. I believe I can solve ninety percent of my problems if I use common sense, diligence, and resources. I'm not talking about the mysteries of the universe or explaining dark matter, but I am talking about issues that arise in day-to-day life. I am an honored scholar of YouTube University. I can maintain a hot tub, unclog a dryer vent, balance a washing machine, and run various power tools when necessary. As The Bibbed Wonder always says, "God loves an independent woman, and so do I." There just isn't room in my world for adopted incompetence or wanton inability. The Bean has been trying this on for size and pressing boundaries. To date, it hasn't really worked out for her, and she hasn't gotten far.

I have always encouraged my daughter to think independently, be self-reliant, and be a problem solver. I have created space for her to be comfortable sharing her ideas, thoughts, and opinions. I have been patient, applauding, and assisting when necessary. She has had opportunities to do things her way and create her own systems. I thought I was doing a pretty good job at this mom thing. That is until now. Now, she decides when she will be capable and independent or completely helpless. Sigh. She has always been very bright, self-confident, and willing to do what needs to be done. She was successfully sorting laundry at the age of four. She was chopping vegetables with a real knife at the age of five. She can safely handle a firearm, shoot it, take it apart, clean it, and put it back together. She can operate a skid steer, drive a tractor, and mow the lawn. She can deliver baby pigs, castrate pigs and goats, and drain an abscess. She knows the process of butchering chickens safely, humanely, and sanitarily. She can follow a recipe and measure without assistance. She can research a topic of interest, decipher reliable sources, articulate a summary, and write a three-paragraph paper on said topic. I know she is mine, and I may be biased, but she is pretty impressive.

However, there have been incidents that make me wonder about the capabilities of my child. For example, she has decided she can no longer gather eggs or close the chickens in at night. She has decided she is afraid of the chickens and refuses to enter the chicken coop. Sigh... She can hustle a six hundred pound pig around a barn fearlessly, but suddenly a two-pound chicken is terrifying? There was also an incident regarding her packing her lunch for karate camp. I had an appointment, was running late, and I asked her to brush her teeth, comb her hair, and pack her lunch. She looked at me as though I had asked her to build me a rocket ship and fly me to the moon. She made a face, and not a nice one, I might add, rolled her eyes so hard I thought her head would swallow them, and retorted, "Uh, you ALWAYS pack my lunch!" Being the epitome of maturity, I responded by making a yuck face in return, rolling my eyes way harder than her, and said, "Duh, not today! Girl, I have had forty-eight years of giving attitude. Don't even!" All said with a head shake so strong it could have put Madea to shame. The Bean looked exasperated but successfully packed her lunch for the day. Sigh...

I know this is the natural order of things. I know that soon her friends will have more clout than I. I know soon she will find everything I say, do, and wear to be lame and annoying. It would not be natural for her to be forever my continuous center of love, hope, and sunshine. I wish with all my being we could go on as we are now, but this has to end so a new chapter can begin. Already I see signs of the dreaded teenage stereotypes. She is spending more time alone in her room, listening to music and doing make-up. I'm also sure she hides the notes I put in her lunch every day (when I pack it, insert hard eye roll) at the bottom of her lunch box so no one can see. I've noticed that when I drop her off at karate camp, she doesn't give me the usual big hug and kiss goodbye. Instead, I get a peck on the cheek and a "See you later, mom!" over her shoulder as she walks away. Sigh... Soon, she will be embarrassed by me and my mom-ness.

I don't care, I'm still cool, and I will continue to love her big even if her behavior is unbecoming. I will continue to write her notes telling her to have a great day, she's an awesome kid, and I am proud of her. I will continue to kiss her a million times a day, pull her in for random hugs, and make sure her hair is fixed, her clothes are ironed, and her shoes match her outfit. I will also continue to expect great things from her. She will not get a free pass not to gather eggs, sort laundry, feed the dogs, or help clean up. I will do all of these things because I love her bigger than big, even if her behavior is as unbecoming as a wet fart on a Sunday in church when one is wearing one's Sunday best. By the way, that is VERY unbecoming. Yes, that is where we are, making comparisons to wet farts.

I will continue not to tolerate attitude, and I will probably continue to channel my hibernating inner mean girl to put her in her place when necessary. I knew my propensity for head shaking, and my sharp tongue would come in handy some time. I would not have thought it would be to put my favorite girl in check. Sigh... Her amateur behavior and budding bad attitude make me giggle when I am alone. She has sooooooooo far to go before she can "out 'tude" me. I give her silent creds for trying, though. I am hoping this is just a quick phase, and we will get back to just being us: mother/daughter besties. Also, these are just singular incidents. It is not as though I am dealing with this on a daily basis...yet. I am hopeful that refocusing this behavior will ensure they remain incidents and not the new daily norm. However, I see the writing on the wall, and I have a pretty good idea of what is to come. I know that someday she will thank me for my high expectations and lack of tolerance for chosen incompetence. At least, she may silently recognize that I do what I do because I love her and recognize her potential. Although she may just roll her eyes so hard, they get stuck in her head, and then she will blame me for being so exasperating I ruined her vision. Either way, I believe she will be better than good. Much, much better.

As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, don't be afraid to channel your hibernating inner mean girl for the benefit of those you love, and of course, wash those hands.

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