Fermenting Vegetables – Part 1

My Discovery

A couple years ago, on a quest to find local sources for raw milk (more on that later), the incredible world of lacto-fermentation was opened to me. I attended a conference geared for people interested in traditional eating for good health. I heard some new terms, like bone broth, ferments, and I kept hearing over and over again that good saturated fats (like butter from grass fed cows) are healthy. Say what???  Another phrase I learned at the conference was how these things can heal our guts. Heal our guts? I didn’t know that was possible. And a lot of us need some healing in that department. With the onslaught of food allergies, autoimmune disorders, IBS, to name only a few of the disorders that I believe start in our digestive systems, we could all use some help with working towards healing our ailing guts. Continue reading

Flexibility, Freedom, and Testing the Waters

MomYesterday was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 88. I wonder when I’ll stop doing that—calculating how old she would be if she were still alive today. It’s good to be remembered. I hope some of my loved ones will do that for me long after I’m gone from this world. In the meantime, I blog–or at least I pretend to blog, when I find time . . . and let me just say, this is not an effective way to blog.

My business keeps me far busier than I’d like to be, and it seems to me that this being busy thing prevents me from doing what it is that truly brings joy to my heart and fulfills me. Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making soap, and I am passionate about growing my business, but some days I find myself forgetting my why. Continue reading

The Birth of a Brand – Big Fat Soap

The question asked of me most often is without a doubt, “Where did the name, Big Fat Soap, come from?”  Let me begin by saying, naming a business is about as tricky as naming a child. It’s a big responsibility, because this business (or child, as the case may be) will likely have to suffer through the rest of its life with this moniker.

Like many folks, I’ve always had a fantasy of owning my own business; however my early soapmaking endeavors did not begin with a business in mind. I made soap because it was useful, fun, and creative. The problem was I could not seem to stop making soap. Continue reading

Ode to Dad

This morning I picked up a book and a book-marker fell out. It was one of the ones made my niece, Kelly, for my Dad’s memorial service last December.  There on the floor was a picture of my dad staring up at me, unexpectedly.

Father's Day Goodbyes
Dad and me saying our goodbyes at Ontario Airport in 1993 when we moved to Chicago.

It occurs to me that this has probably been a contributing factor to my down feelings the last ten days.  Buying Father’s Day cards for other people’s dads is not the same as buying a special one for your own and spending time with him.  I miss him.

If you still have yours and if you are lucky enough to see him tomorrow, give him a hug and hold him tight.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.


Slow Down and Rest–That’s an Order!

I love what I do at Big Fat Soap, but being a sole proprietor is hard work. One of the reasons I choose to be self-employed is so that my work schedule can be flexible. What a great plan! You may be thinking . . . but reality is when you work from home and are Director of Everything, like me, you tend to work far more hours each day than a typical American employee – 7 days a week. Orders must be filled and shipped, supplies must be inventoried and stocked, marketing and sales tasks must be done, forecasting, reports, planning, follow-up with customers, and on and on it goes. It is truly never-ending. Add to the equation, the personality type who feels guilty sitting down to read a book or relax in the garden during day-time hours, and you have potential trouble.

A friend I’ve met recently—also an entrepreneur—gave me some valuable advice: You MUST take a day off. This is not negotiable. I’ve been replaying her words in my mind and I know that it is important, but I haven’t been able to heed her advice until . . .  one day I got the message. Continue reading

Denial – It’s Okay (Or is it?)

I took a short break from blogging, which turned into a longer-than-expected break. Truth is, I’ve been in a transition period since ‘losing’ my full-time caregiver job, i.e., my father, a few months ago. While he was living with me, this past year, I kept my business going, somehow. Having a work-from-home business can be a blessing and a curse, all at the same time. There is no doubt the blessing part this past year, was being able to be home and take care of my dad. However, taking care of Dad was painfully difficult and created a situation whereby I was unable to focus on anything else – the curse. I would be living in a ridiculous state of denial if I did not confess this truth. Those who know me best know that I pride myself in being real. I don’t believe that putting up a front for others honors our true selves, so I tend to tell it like it is. There will be a touch of this honesty in every future blog post, no doubt, for it is who I am. Consider this your fair warning.

I learned much from watching my father in his last months. He was an interesting character, to say the least. He had an innate ability to live in denial; yet, at the same time he was a huge worrier. It was confusing to observe this, but thankfully I learned some life lessons that will forevermore stay with me. My denial antenna (the one that allows me to spot it in myself and others) has sharpened. Continue reading

Confessions of a Caregiver

I thought when Dad first arrived that this could be a precious time where father and daughter might open up to each other and share honest truths. After all, plenty of well-meaning friends have said, “Cherish this time, Debbie.” These well-meaning friends have never been in my shoes, I guarantee it.** With all that said, I am a realist and I know my father pretty well. He has never been a great communicator. He tells stories. The same stories over and over. Stories are valuable and so I (try to) listen. Continue reading

The Beginning

Like a lot of people, I live my life with eyes wide open. Except of course when I notice I’m entertaining my friend, Denial. Perhaps you know her? She’s nearly everywhere once you start paying attention. She means well. In fact, she might even be considered a life-saver in certain circumstances.

Dad's First Winter
My Dad, Winter 2010

A year ago I inadvertently became full time caregiver to my 85 year old father, the King of Denial. Continue reading