January starts the urban homesteading doldrums. There's not much to do except for making tons of soups and toasty yeast breads. Around here, there's not a whole lot of garden work to be done, except for doing a little weeding, planning for this year's crop and mooning over the seed catalogs. Canning and freezing are projects that are months off.
So, what should we be doing with our time? Well, I've designated January through March as soap making season. Last weekend my sister-in-law came over and we made a cold process Castile soap (100% olive oil) with goat's milk. This weekend I'm hoping to make a coconut oil and cocoa butter soap. The hardest part is waiting the four weeks for the bars to cure.
I've written before about my fascination with making soap, and now is the perfect time of year to get back into it. I'd like to make enough soap in the next few months to last us all year. If I plan things right, we'll also have enough leftover for next year's homemade Christmas gifts.
If you are interested in making soap, my favorite reference book is The Handmade Soap Book. It's great for beginners as well as those seasoned pros out there looking for good recipes. Plus, all the pictures make for great soap porn.
If doing the cold process method is too intimidating, you can always try out melt and pour soap making. Personally, I don't find it as challenging and, since you don't have much control over the ingredients into making the soap base, it's not as fun. But, you don't have to deal with the lye, so if you are a sensitive individual this may be the way to go.