If you don’t usually read the comments, you might want to check them out today. I got some wonderful responses on yesterday’s post on the expiration dates of both food and medication that I found really helpful. The references to soap and shortening got me thinking.

I don’t do everything every day. I don’t bake all of my bread. I don’t make all of my clothes. I don’t dehydrate or can or make sprouts or anything all the time but I do all of those things often enough to feel confident in my ability to use the skills if I have to. I hear from people all the time who are hesitant to try something new because they can’t really envision themselves as, say, a soapmaker. (that would be me)

My goal for this week is to begin the process of learning to  make soap. I have a couple of options. I have seen a kit in Lehman’s. The plus side to kits is that you usually get everything you need in one box and, if the kit is a good one, instructions meant for beginners. The down side is that kits are nearly always a lot more expensive than buying the individual components. The other down side is that, if you are stuck with some part of the process, there is no one to turn to.

My next option, and the one I am most comfortable with, is to read a couple of books or articles on the subject and then look for a mentor, someone with the experience I lack, to walk me through it, step by step. I have the first part covered as I have two books on soap making in my library. The one I like the best is The Art Of Soap Making by Merilyn Mohr. It’s a Harrowsmith Contemporary Primer book and very well done. You may not think the history of soap could possibly be interesting but it is. I reread the first couple of chapters last night and had a hard time putting it down to go to bed. Next, I need to find the mentor. I actually know a soapmaker. She used to display her wares at our farmer’s market before she had her baby. I am fairly certain she would be willing to help me. If she can’t, I will ask at sustainability group for someone to help. If that doesn’t come up with a mentor, I will ask some friends to come over for a soap making day. Two (or three) heads really are better than one in these things, not to mention its a lot more fun to make the process into a party.

This does not mean that I’m committed to making all of my soap from now until eternity, although that would be pretty cool, but I am committed to learning new skills. So how about all of you. Is there something you want to learn to do? What would be your first step? Can you take that step today and keep us informed? We should all be learners; We are all teachers.

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