Rainbow Soap

Two weeks ago I changed the name on my Sleepless Nights facebook page. Today I requested it be merged into my Veronica Foale Essentials page.

It was time. I knew it was time and yet, I’m still a little sad about it.

As business decisions go, it’s a smart move. Merge my social media profiles, streamline any time spent updating pages, consolidate my fan base.

As someone who has spent nearly eight years writing here, it was a big move. It’s sad to make the change from Sleepless Nights branding to Veronica Foale Essential branding. It’s a new chapter, sure, but a new chapter means the old one finishes.

Which leaves this space.

Honestly, I’m not ready to give it up. Not yet, I don’t think.

Sure, it’s going to be all soap from now until forever (probably) but there you go. It is what it is. My children are growing up – even if one of them is curled up in bed next to me right now after a Nap Of Doom, stroking my arm and demanding I make her milk “hotter, I needa it HOTTER!”

Life moves on, we grow up, grow older, change. Things change.

It’s not a bad thing.

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Sales, business, and writing.

by Veronica on March 8, 2015

in Soapmaking

We didn’t have a market this weekend, and my long suffering joints breathed a sigh of relief. I took less painkillers and I let the exhaustion creep in, just a little bit. We’ve been working hard, all of us, and it was time for a break. The nature of my particular disability means I can only push it so far before it begins to push back, and while I am more determined than smart sometimes, taking this weekend off was the smart thing to do.

I celebrated of course by making lots of soap, catching up on the work I’d been otherwise unable to do, due to markets, travelling, family time constraints. All of these things, and a few others.

My hands rebelled by cramping abominably as I tried to glop a perilously close to seizing soap into moulds on Friday night, and I was forced to switch to my left hand while my right hand contorted itself into some kind of claw outside of my control, while I swore and smoothed and tried to stop everything going to hell in a hand basket. The soap survived, but I walked away with a new appreciation for what my right hand can actually do in a pinch, and intricate layered soap with lots of parts needing stirring, scooping and smoothing may be getting beyond me.

Raspberry Layer Soap

But I don’t stop trying of course, chasing that holy grail with lots of colours and intricate swirls, even when I am left nursing my hand into submission with hot water and heat packs, painkillers and warmth in equal measure.

I try to tell myself it’s pain with a purpose, that lots of people suffer for their art, but I’m left unsure whether it’s worth it.

Blue Horizon Soap

Modified Tiger Stripe

In an attempt to celebrate a long weekend, I threw a sale over on the online shop, but I suspect everyone is feeling just as poor as we are, with the back to school levies following so closely on top of everything else. Still, we try, because we have no markets and an influx of bills has sent me scurrying to my calculator to set ourselves a Very Strict Budget.

One of my children asks me if we are rich now, because we have a business, and I laugh and laugh and laugh. If people knew the truth of it; how much time and money a fledgling business takes, they would never ever ask for anything. But there you go. And yet I still cannot stop myself lusting over new colours, or a bottle of essential oil, because Business Expenses are Important.

In any case, there’s a rather big sale happening, so if you wanted some soap for $5, and some even cheaper, you should go look, right after you finish here. I’ve promised on our Facebook page to throw in samples for everyone (the sample cupboard is looking a little bloated right now, please help me thin it down), so it’s a good way to get free random soap.

Whisky Soap fresh poured

We went out to Belgrove Distillery the other day, in a quest to find some very good whisky, to put into soap. Everyone remains a little baffled by my insistence on soaping with the Very Good Whisky, but if I wouldn’t drink the cheap stuff, why would I want to wash with it? So we bought some Very Good Whisky (see above, re: business expenses) and I boiled it down and added it to soap.

I can’t begin to describe how lush the lather is on the soap bits I tested, but it’s going to be gorgeous. Set to be sold at the Mud and Ink exhibition closing (whisky themed for World Whisky Appreciation Day, of course) by Jon Kudelka and Kim Foale, it should be a bit of fun.

Carnation Layers

I’ve been invited, and was delighted to accept a proposal by Kenna at Modern Soapmaking to be their newest contributor. Kenna is set to take her family across the USA in an old converted bus and couldn’t dedicate the time to Modern Soapmaking she would normally, so I’m filling the gap and smashing together two passions of mine all at once. Writing AND soap making? What could be better? I’m not really sure. Maybe free chocolate AND writing about soapmaking, but that’s another story.

You can read my first article here, but not before you go and buy soap here, okay? I need to pay my power bill, and the postage costs for the month, and somehow, the German Shepherd pup (very cute, very naughty, very intelligent) eats more than my three children put together. Puppies should come with warnings: WILL GROW TO EAT EVERYTHING.

Eh. I knew what I was in for.

Cranberry Pomegranate soap

Cranberry Pomegranate Cut

In summary, life is good, if busy and somewhat painful. I’m learning to manage the things I want to do against the things I am physically capable of – a balancing act every day.

Soap making remains an absolutely delightful way to spend my time – I mean, come on, have you seen my soaps? Have you smelled them? (You should, they’re great)

IMG_5895

Business is good, if suffering slightly from the same ennui we’re all stricken with at this time of year. Growth is happening, and everything is a lot of fun.

How are you, Internet? Good I hope?

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I was in the kitchen when I heard Nathan shouting at the puppy.

“Come back here, drop it! Shit.”

The door flew open and Heidi skittered in on the lino, followed closely by Nathan, swearing. Heidi dropped something and darted back outside, Nathan hot on her tail, kicking whatever it was she dropped outside on his way.

It was about here that I realised things were going to be terrible.

“What is it?” I shouted after them, heading to the bathroom window – which incidentally is not frosted glass, which is why I have to check for stray farm workers before I strip naked and shower – to see what was up.

From there I could see Heidi licking the inside of an old, very very old, duck egg shell.

“She’s found a rotten egg, fucking hell.”

That’s when the smell hit me. As I started to retch, Nathan grabbed the hose, which I suppose we should be grateful was switched on at the time, and headed towards the egg shell. Heidi spotted the hose and tried to run inside.

“No you don’t!”

I got to the door faster than she did, attempting to slam it shut before she could bring her rotten egg covered face and paws back inside. It didn’t latch – an extension cord was running from the bathroom power point, out through the kitchen door, stopping me closing it properly.

Still retching, I held the door shut with my body as Heidi scrabbled against it.

Evelyn stood in front of me, seemingly unconcerned about the fog of stench surrounding us both as I retched into the rubbish bin. I held the door shut with one hand against Heidi’s increasingly frantic efforts to evade Nathan who wanted to hose her feet.

“Mummy, you ‘kay? You ‘kay Mummy?” Evelyn clasped her hands and looked worried about the noises coming out of my face. She patted me gently. “Dere dere. You be ‘kay now Mummy.”

This was when the smell hit Evelyn, who has a weak stomach and retches easily.

“NO! Don’t you vomit! Go into the lounge room. Go away from the smell.”

Retch. “Smells bad, Mummy. Smells AWFUL.” Retch. Retch.

I pushed her away, still holding the door shut.

Amy wandered in.

“Ugh, god. What’s that smell? Did Heidi vomit in the bathroom?”

I retched some more. The smell was getting worse. “No, she…” retch “… go and get me the eucalyptus spray, Amy. Right now.”

Amy shook her head. “I’m not going into the bathroom if Heidi vomited in there. Ugh, it smells rotten.”

Heidi stopped throwing herself at the door, deciding that running to try and lick the last remnants of egg out of the concrete was a good idea.

“Amy, DON’T let the dog in.” I left Amy to hold the door shut, heading for the bathroom and the safety of the eucalyptus room spray. Five seconds later, we could breathe again as I sprayed the kitchen with deodoriser.

“What was that?” Isaac asked, looking worried. “It smelled so bad Mummy.”

“Heidi broke a rotten egg, and ate it.”

“YUCK.”

Yuck indeed.

Gingerly I opened the door and a wave of stench rolled back in. I’d been busy all day and I was too exhausted to even contemplate bathing the dog – not after the last time I bathed a dog (Maisy) who had rolled in rotten egg and left me retching as the dog shampoo mixed with the smell of rotten egg marinating in warm water.

Heidi was sitting in the doorway, watching Nathan hose off the concrete, tongue lolling out, looking increasingly pleased with herself.

The situation was dire. Everytime she breathed the smell got worse, and from what I could see, her water bowl was empty. Making her drink water to wash away all the egg was a good idea, right?

The problem with making her drink water was that I needed to actually move into the smell funk to grab her bowl. So I did what all parents have done when faced with a rotten smell: I tried to make a child do it for me.

Nope. No luck. Evelyn had stopped retching and was watching me warily from the edge of the living room. Amy and Isaac would need more money than I was worth to do it. I was on my own.

A quick dart and I had her food and water bowl in hand, and thankfully, once I put down water she dipped her entire face in it, because Heidi is an idiot who likes to paddle in her water, unless it’s a bath and then why do we hate her so much, don’t we know water is evil?

I fed her to clean her mouth out even more, and then I locked her outside, because seriously, who finds a rotten egg and then tries to bring it inside to share. A loyal German Shepherd, that’s who.

Thank god for Nilodor, as I ran around dripping it everywhere, including on the middle of Heidi’s forehead, because seriously, why not.

The good news is, Nathan cleaned up the rest of the egg. The bad news is: the duck has an entire nest of rotten eggs somewhere and I don’t know where it is.

Heidi does though.

German Shepherd Pup, Four Months Old

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On the pains of making food for children

by Veronica on February 3, 2015

in Headfuck

One of the hardest things about being a mother, I think, is feeding children. Other mothers may disagree with me – but clearly you’re the lucky ones. Your children eat everything you put in front of them, or you love preparing fifteen different meals a day. Either way, take your smug away from me you lucky bastard.

I hate feeding my children because they always want exactly what I’m having. Only, not exactly what I’m having. They’d like ham instead of chicken, and cheese instead of mustard and tomato instead of lettuce and hey, maybe they’d like it in a bowl, not in a sandwich, and could I possibly cook some pasta to go with it?

Right up until there are so many tweaks to what I’m having that I end up making three different meals using all the plates and utensils available.

And I’m happy to tweak things, up to a point. But when it gets ridiculous (oh, you’re making a tuna salad in a bowl? Can I have that, but only ham, and no lettuce, and the other cheese, no not that one, the other one, and can you grate me a carrot as well and do we have any tomatoes or cucumber and why can’t I have …)

No.

NO.

No you may not. I can make a large version of this thing I am eating, or you can all make your own and god help you, please put everything away when you’re done.

It’s killing me, to the point that yesterday, I realised at 3pm I hadn’t actually eaten anything because I was avoiding having to play the substitutions game with the children.

Sure, they’d all fed themselves (and I fed Evelyn, god, I’m not neglectful), but they’d had things like weetbix and cheese slices and apples and carrots and some more cereal and a sweet biscuit and another piece of fruit.

But I hadn’t eaten anything because preparing food for myself just seems to invite a nightmare.

I find myself dreading mealtimes, dreading cooking, dreading the inevitable cries of “we’re hungry, what can we eat?” because I just don’t enjoy feeding anyone anymore. Everyone has an opinion they’re more than happy to shout at me.

Maybe, it would all be easier if I was a bit less busy, and a bit less tired, but seriously. The fussiness is killing me.

And no, I don’t want your solutions. I don’t need to know how to hide vegies in muffins or spaghetti sauce, because no one is eating muffins with things in it, or spaghetti sauce anyway. And no, I don’t want to hear about your miracle child who eats everything you set in front of them and maybe if I’d never even allowed sweets in the house we wouldn’t have this problem anyway.

Go bother someone else.

But if your kids are like mine, speak up? I’d just like to know I’m not alone.

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2015, the year of CHICKENS. (Also, whoops)

by Veronica on January 1, 2015

in Animals

“NO MORE CHICKENS” was the catch cry of 2014. Early on, Nathan put his foot down and demanded I disallow any chicken reproduction. I did what all responsible chicken owners do at that point and I culled my roosters.

Only there were a few six week old chickens who weren’t really showing their sex definably yet, so they stayed, and three of them turned into roosters.

“I must catch those roosters.” I thought over and over again, as spring came and the chickens clucked about the paddock, frantically trying to avoid the ever-growing horniness of their rooster overlords. “I really must…”

Nah. It’ll be fine.

Carefully I checked for new nests every few days. There’s only so many places to lay and quietly I followed the chickens around, rooting out their nests, stealing their eggs, limiting their chances at spawning.

Then came the end of school year chaos, and exhaustion, and Christmas, and oh wow, Internet, did you know 21 days can really fly?

I was laying in bed today with a grumpy sick toddler when Nathan stormed into the bedroom. Pointing at me, he glared. “This is your fault!”

I sat up. “What is?”

“TINY FLUFFY BALLS OF USELESSNESS!”

I wasn’t with the program. Chickens had not been at the forefront of my mind for um, about a month now. Whoops.

“CHICKENS! BABY ONES!” He wasn’t doing a very good job of glaring anymore.

The older children skipped in behind him, gleeful.

“MUMMY! We’ve got baby chickens and they are SO CUTE.”

And so we did. A nest I hadn’t known about until a few days ago, all the while thinking “I must take her eggs” has magically, through the power of incubation, spawned three tiny fluffy balls of uselessness.

They’re adorable.

But we didn’t want any more chickens, and three days ago I found two broody hens sharing a nest in the blackberries.

Today, knowing we’d already had one set of oh fuck babies, I steeled myself to the task. I found a bucket and headed off to the blackberries to steal eggs from two angry broody chickens.

I knelt down, carefully pulling one hen off the nest, when the other hen flew at my face.

SQUAWK FLAP BLATHER FLAP SCREECH, I fended her off with my hand, pushing her down and coming away with peck marks all over.

I sat back, thinking, before deftly putting the bucket over the top of the angry hens, trapping them underneath. Perfect. Now I could slide my hand under both chickens and nick their eggs.

Only ….

peep

peeeeep

peeep

The second egg I pulled out had a chicken partially hatched and looking at me.

I put the eggs back, apologised to the chickens and walked back to my husband, egg collecting bucket empty.

I stopped next to him as he looked at me.

“So, hey. Maybe we can do no baby chicks from now onwards?”

I guess we’re beginning the year with another rooster cull.

(Not the current chicks. I haven’t photographed them yet.)

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