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Silver Linings




This morning, I am going on a foraging mission to gather jewelweed for our poison ivy fighting soap. The plan is the big red B-dog, and I will go to a clearing in the woods where the creek enters the property and cut a basketful of jewelweed. I will then take it back to the studio, wash it, pat it dry, and infuse the olive oil and fresh milk. Infusing the oil will take several days. The milk will be put in a blender, and the jewelweed will be emulsified with the milk and then frozen. I have decided to infuse two bottles of oil and two portions of milk-one for immediate use and one for use next year. I hope to have our inventory restocked for this fall and have a batch ready to go for next spring.


It’s a good theory, but we face one challenge; we cannot find lye anywhere. We usually buy our lye from an Amish man in our local Amish community. However, he is unable to get lye from his supplier. All our “back-up” suppliers are out of stock as well. We are well stocked with all inventory and are not panicking, but it is an unsettling feeling. If you read the blog last week, I gave you some insight into my preparedness mindset. The thing about lye is, it has a somewhat short shelf life. I am unable to purchase lye and have it sit for three to six months. If it sits too long, it makes tiny orange dots in my soap. These orange dots are harmless but unsightly. I have scrapped whole batches of soap due to this issue. One cannot tell if this is an issue until a batch of soap is made. We have not encountered this issue from the lye we purchase from our Amish friend. However, ironically, we have experienced it twice from a “soap supply” source online. This is one more reason I prefer to shop local rather than from big business.


As I said, at this point, we are well stocked with all our staple inventory. Our finished rack is full, and our drying rack is full as well. I am still planning the holiday lineup, but we will have to begin making our holiday soaps in September. That is just around the corner, and we have no idea when lye will be available. This issue makes my prepared self twitch just a bit. As with all things in the past two years, we will hope for the best and roll with it. There isn’t much else one can do. We have experienced holes in the supply chain before, and I’m sure we will again.


We were graced with exceptional summer help that allowed us to be fully stocked for quite some time. That is a silver lining. I also have time to plan accordingly for the holidays. I should have time to order all unique ingredients without one bib overall wearing wonder buns rushing my creative process. That is a silver lining as well. My oils will have time to infuse properly, and that will make for a high-quality product. That, too, is a silver lining. There is much to prepare and considerable planning to do, so this little reprieve in creating is a blessing in disguise. Now, if we still can’t find lye in September, that, my dear reader, is when I will begin to panic in earnest. However, that is a rabbit hole I refuse to go down.


As always, stay safe, be smart, try to find the silver linings, and keep washing your hands.

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