A comments test soap giveaway

Last month we experienced a problem with our anti-spam plug-in on the blog. It was rejecting legitimate comments as spam and then letting in a flood of real spam. Damien researched and installed a different plug-in that seems to be doing a good job, except that I keep getting e-mails from readers who say they can't comment.

So I'd like to do a comments test, to see exactly how many people who attempt to comment are not allowed. But I need your help. And because I'm asking for your help I'd like there to be something in it for you.

Time for a giveaway!

I'm giving away three bars of soap. These are from batches I prepared with friends in December.

They are beautiful bars of soap - Holiday Spice, Floral, and Mandarin Orange. Mandarin Orange was my contribution to the soap day and it's my least favorite of them all.

The Floral bar, which isn't a name really but a description of the smell, is one of the most lovely fragranced soaps I've been a part of making. It's my friend's recipe and it features rosewood, lavender, geranium and bergamot essential oils. It's amazing.

Holiday Spice is based on this recipe here, with a few modifications (as always happens with makin' soap).

Wanna get these goodies for yourself? Well, here's how you can help me.

Just leave a comment. It could be soap related, or life related, or simply, "hi I want the soap".

And then, if your comment doesn't work please send me an e-mail through my contact page. Your e-mail doesn't need to be complicated. I can be simple like, "I can't comment on the post but I want the soap", or whatever. If you get any specific error messages if you could please let us know also.

I really appreciate your help with this. By entering your name in the giveaway (and having your comment either accepted or rejected) we may be able to better troubleshoot why some people are still unable to comment, which is very bothersome to me.

Also, I have a question about blog commenting in general, if you don't mind. Commenting at FIMBY seems to be waning in general. I'm trying to figure out if this is a technical problem, comments being rejected as spam, or simply an engagement issue.

Since starting FIMBY Facebook (which I love as a place to microblog, share links, favorite resources, quick ideas, and photos) I've noticed decreased engagement in comments on the blog.

Now, maybe it's just coincidental, or maybe it's a shift in where I connect with people. I actually connect with people through comments, build relationship with them. Which is why I love them so much.

Comments often lead to private e-mails and that sometimes leads to Skype. (I regularly Skype or phone friends I've met through FIMBY, separate from my homeschool coaching.) The best, for this loves-to-meet-new-people extrovert, is when I meet people in person because of relationships formed through online writing.

There's quite a bit of conversation that goes on at FIMBY Facebook. Which is totally great. I held back for years having a blog presence at Facebook because I couldn't see how it would fit into my blogging, writing, and online connecting rhythms. I wish I hadn't waited so long. I love it.

I love chatting with you there and so maybe that's where most of the commenting action has shifted?

Change is inevitable. Changes to blogging. Changes in the way people engage with writing. Changes to social media, etc.

I just want to make sure that if you're trying to engage here you're able to. Because I value your input. And I want to have discussion and get to know you also.

As for the giveaway, you know how these work. Leave a comment, or send an e-mail if your comment doesn't work. In one week's timeSunday, February 16th I'll randomly draw a name from the comments or e-mails and send soap to the winner. Facebook comments don't count :) The idea is to test commenting on the blog!
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  • Rebecca V

    Rebecca V on Feb. 12, 2014, 2 p.m.

    I would love to win your soap! And would also like to say that I am a dedicated follower of your blog, fb page, & twitter acct. I am very excited for your family adventure this Spring :)




  • heather

    heather on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:01 p.m.

    good morning! sometimes i have trouble commenting here. i always seem to get tripped up on the word verification (yours is the only blog i'll attempt it for - not usually a fan of that step) so my comments don't come through as often as i'd like. 

    as for commenting in general, it's changed for everyone. even some of the "big" bloggers i've noticed recieve about 50 comments on a post that 2-3 years ago would garner 200 - no exageration. the climate is changing. more people are cruising through at a fast pace and not lingering the way they once did in a blog community... facebook is the new darling. :) also, people are often checking things from phone devices now and it can be cumbersome to comment and connect in the ways we once did. i miss those days too. i hope i can get this to post! ;)


  • Jeannie

    Jeannie on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:03 p.m.

    Hi! I love your Facebook page and the links you share. I attempted to post this before and got rejected as spam. Attempting again.


    • Jeannie

      Jeannie on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:06 p.m.

      Oh, the first time I attempted to comment I elected to not receive follow-up notifications. The second time, I forgot to uncheck that box. That was the only difference. Just giving you all the facts so you can factor that into your mission !


  • Misti

    Misti on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:08 p.m.

    :) Of course I'd love soap!

    As for comments waning, I'm not sure. I've noticed how and why people comment is a very strange thing. I don't comment on homeschool things because it doesn't pertain to me, but I try to find something useful to say about outdoors/simple living types of things. Sometimes I draw a blank, though. I have been to your FB page but I don't conciously visit it (or many other pages) so that's not a reason for me. 

    Heather, sometimes I get the word verification, sometimes I don't. Not sure why. I also abhor word verifications and only do it for specific blogs I really like. 


  • Jenn B

    Jenn B on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:10 p.m.

    Your soap tutorial and video are the reason I started making my own soap! First I gave it away as gifts and now folks want to actually buy the soap! So, thanks Renee!! Good luck with getting the comment bugs worked out :)


  • Kelly

    Kelly on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:13 p.m.

    I love homemade soap and would love to win some!  I usually wait for the farmers market to start up and by regularly throughout the season.  At the end of the season I stock up for the winter and spring.  I need to learn how to make it so I don't have to wait.  Any suggestions for tutorials? 


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2014, 8:51 p.m.

      Why yes Kelly! I have my own tutorials on soapmaking. That content is archived and not currently easy to find, sorry about that. Click here to find all my "tutorial" like soap making posts. My video has been quite helpful for a lot of soap newbies also. 




  • elizabeth

    elizabeth on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:17 p.m.

    Test 1,2,3, :)

    I almost never respond. I know this is annoying for blog writers (I used to be one myself), but it's just too much trouble. Some days I read your articles very intently, sometimes I simply skim over them. This all depends on the topic, my mood and the amount of time I've got. I follow you in bloglines with lots of other blogs, and I do the same on these other blogs. So it's nothing about your blog, I am simply a lazy lurker.

    I don't have FB and don't get your newsletter. I am trying to keep my online life simple and not too time consuming. Having that said, blogs provide me with the support and inspiration I won't find in real life (just don't know the right folks maybe?) and I am very grateful for that.

    Thanks for blogging! I know how time consuming it is. And I'd love that soap.... but if it's too expensive for you to sent it to Europe (UK), then give it away to someone else :).


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:22 p.m.

      Elizabeth, you can be exactly who you want to be when reading FIMBY, including a lazy lurker. I am a lazy lurker myself a few places. Also, FIMBY is not an obligation for me and I LOVE the time I spent writing it. Blogging energizes me on many levels - the writing, the sharing, the inspiring, the connecting with people. If it's time consuming, it's because I love it so much. I'm not asking for anything in return, comments or otherwise (smile). What I'm trying to figure out is if commenting is too difficult for people reading my blog, because I don't want it to be. Go back to lurkdom and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate hearing how reading blogs, like mine, fit into your life. 


      • Melonie K.

        Melonie K. on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:11 p.m.

        I just want to tell you that your response to this comment is absolutely lovely.  As a blogger, I love to get a little comment here and there - but I know I'm "guilty" of not leaving them as often as I'd like to try to buoy others up.  Thank you for encouraging freedom and simplicity for those seeking it.  Reading this thread within the comments made my morning!  :D


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:18 p.m.

    Hi Renee, I know I have been discouraged to leave comments because of the Spam issue. I also think that people are connecting more through FB than my blog too lately... The word verification test is a step more and people go for what is easier and faster, I feel.


  • Susan

    Susan on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:18 p.m.

    I'd love the soap.  Although I hardly ever make a comment on a blog, if I have something to share I would use the comment section as I don't subscribe to Facebook or other social media.


  • Kathleen

    Kathleen on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:40 p.m.

    The soap looks beautiful. I've commented before here but haven't lately just due to general life busy-ness and trying in the New Year to spend more time reading actual books and less time on-line in the evenings. It's been great so far and I've loved diving into some good fiction and non-fiction. But I do always enjoy your posts and am eagerly awaiting your video series on your AT Hike. I was so glad when you reached your goal on Kickstarter and happy to see the charge on my own account when it finished up. :) 


  • Jaime

    Jaime on Feb. 12, 2014, 2:48 p.m.

    I love homemade soap! I'm a long time reader of your blog. I really look forward to your Sat. morning email to read with my cup of coffee.


  • Melonie K.

    Melonie K. on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:08 p.m.

    I'm sorry to read you're having so much trouble with the spam - that is so annoying to me too!  I've noticed on past works that commenting slowed down when people engaged more on Facebook (and I've even caught myself commenting on close friends' FB pages when I have clicked THROUGH those to read their blog posts).  I hope this helps get you feedback - and what a creative way to get people who normally "lurk" to help.  Myself included.  ;)  But yes, I do want the soap and I hope this helps somehow with answers.

    Have a beautiful day!


  • katy

    katy on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:13 p.m.

    I absolutely love your blog. I have followed for a couple years and it inspires and challenges me. I even got my husband into it via toe salad and we have since switched to minimalist footwear. Thanks so much for sharing your heart and taking us along for the ride!


  • Marianne

    Marianne on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:14 p.m.

    Although I read your blog daily I do not comment often.   I tend to be a listener rather than a talker and probably should try to comment more since otherwise you wouldn't know I was there at all.  I'm not on Facebook so I can't comment on that.   Super excited for your upcoming adventure though.


  • Launa

    Launa on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:16 p.m.

    It seems to be working for me!

    I enjoy your blog very much , it is one of the few that I check almost daily. I particularly love the homeschooling, getting your family out doors, and personal reflection you share (wow, that's just about all of it!) I have posted a few comments in the past and I am always inspired to conversate about some of your topics, however my comments have temporarilly ceased due to an upwhirl of activity in our home. A new house (first of our own) and a new baby on the way :)



    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2014, 8:59 p.m.

      Congratulations on all the wonderful firsts in your life. No wonder you're not commenting, you obviously have better things in your life to do! (smile)


  • Anneli

    Anneli on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:16 p.m.

    I'm a regular reader too. Love your blog. So inspiring on many levels. I tried to comment once but it didn't work. I'd love to win that soap of yours, maybe it could get me to finally make sopa of my own which I've thought about for a long time.


  • Kika

    Kika on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:36 p.m.

    I am currently finishing up a bar of soap you gave me in the summer (I love the exfoliating bits in it). I simply don't do much commenting anywhere anymore-though still check in with favorite blogs-like yours. 


  • Rebecca Acton

    Rebecca Acton on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:38 p.m.

    Never commented but I read your blog everyday.  I really enjoy it and wish you well on your upcoming hike! 

    And ofcourse I'd love some soap! 


  • Kim G.

    Kim G. on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:45 p.m.

    I love handmade soap ... I would love the recipe for the floral soup ... I would also loe to WIN these.  Have a great day and I hope your "test" works!


  • Kate

    Kate on Feb. 12, 2014, 3:57 p.m.

    What a lovely giveaway! I read every post and comment when I have the time as well as something to meaningful to say.


  • Bridget

    Bridget on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:01 p.m.

    Hello, I've commented a few times but not lately. I'm just busy I guess.  I would love to try your soup though!  Thanks, Bridget


  • JenP

    JenP on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:04 p.m.

    I comment occasionally, but really only if I feel like I have something to add or a question. I don't usually take the time to just say  "Yes, I love this!" Perhaps it's because I'm an introvert, and as someone else said, more of a listener than a talker. Also, i dont always take the time to click through to the comments, so I may be missing out on the conversation there. But you should know that I take what I read here throughout my day, thinking about it deeper and often talking about ideas later with my husband (we lovingly refer to you guys as the "hiking/homeschooling/Canadian family") :) 

    The soap sounds just lovely, especially that floral one! I've always wanted to try making soap but have just never got around to trying it. 


  • Andréann

    Andréann on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:12 p.m.

    I think it's the first time I comment here, but I'm reading your posts often.

    I don't have a facebook account, I had one, and deleted it.

    I'm from Gapsésie/Bas-St-Laurent, currently living on the South shore of Québec city. I long to move back to our region, which will not be in many years.

    of course, I'd LOVE one of your lovely soaps. My children are still young and I don't want to have lye laying around just now. But it's definitely something I want to learn.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:22 p.m.

      Andréann - you're practically a local! We're going to QC for Laurent's 13th birthday. Staying in the hostel downtown. Any Quebec city must-do's you'd recommend. We only have one full day for fun stuff. The next day is shopping at MEC (for last minute gear), etc. Laurent wants to go ice skating. Is there a cool place downtown to do that?


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:14 p.m.

    I haven't commented for a long time because I kept getting rejected. I don't have a facebook account, so I can't join in the conversation there.

    Soap sounds lovely : )


  • Valerie

    Valerie on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:25 p.m.

    The soap looks lovely. I haven't tried making soap yet, but my 10-year old and I just made lip balm for the first time this week. I'm not on Facebook, but I'm more of a quiet reader who comments very occasionally.


  • Barbara

    Barbara on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:29 p.m.

    I would love to get to try your soap! (It'd probably motivate me to finally start doing my own soap). I'm a quiet reader, but I remember commenting two or three years ago (in a post about beans, I think), and back then there was no problem... let's see how it works today. :-)


  • Sarah

    Sarah on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:34 p.m.

    The soap giveaway is fun. I'd love to win!

    As far as comments go, I'm not much of a commenter on blogs or FB. I'm kind of a lurker. :)


  • Kelsi

    Kelsi on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:37 p.m.

    I've never had a problem getting my comments to show up.

    The only reason that I don't comment more is because I find your posts so lovely and dense and I need time to think about them. To ponder your ideas. And by the time I'm ready to comment, it's three days later and the blog community has moved on. I am embarrassed to admit this - how long it takes me to ruminate, reflect and then respond. But, it's the truth.

    I LOVE your blog. I'll try my best to comment more.

    Oh, and that soap looks awesome.


    • Alexis

      Alexis on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:53 p.m.

      You responded exactly as I had intended! ;) I read and re-read the posts and have them open in my browser tab for days on end and by the time I've usually digested it all, I feel full and that my commenting would be superfluous (if that makes sense). They are just such thorough posts and I think the only ones in the blogging world that I take in to that extent. So thank you Renee for such lovely material. 


  • Jen

    Jen on Feb. 12, 2014, 4:48 p.m.

    I generally don't comment on any blogs.  I read them all on Feedly on my iPhone and taking the time to click through and do battle with those word verification things is too much.  I love your blog though.  And I want that soap.  :)


  • Paula

    Paula on Feb. 12, 2014, 5:25 p.m.

    I love soap.:)

    Originally I followed your blog because of schooling and the age of your kids.  Found leadership education here and its helpful as I think through the junior high years.  I've only commented a few times over the last few years.  For me the lack of commenting is just a matter of putting relational energy into the people in my everyday life.  

    Thanks for continuing here in this spot!


  • ariana

    ariana on Feb. 12, 2014, 5:29 p.m.

    I would love to win the soap. And, since I am not on Facebook, I am unable to see conversation that goes on there. Or, at least, I'm unable to read posts and comment there. Just an fyi in case others are in a similar boat.


  • Eliiejoy

    Eliiejoy on Feb. 12, 2014, 5:32 p.m.

    I love you blog !!  And have learned so much from you!! 

    Thank you for being such a big influence for me to homeschool my four children! 




  • Sarah from WI

    Sarah from WI on Feb. 12, 2014, 5:40 p.m.

    I'm a silent reader.  I enjoy peeking in on your focused living.  Thanks for teaching, encouraging, and sharing beauty.


  • Traci

    Traci on Feb. 12, 2014, 6:28 p.m.

    I read a couple of blogs daily but have never really commented.  I like to think about others thoughts and perspectives and reading the blogs gives me this opportunity along with excellent ideas.  I do not Facebook and find it concerning that this seems to be the way most people are headed.


  • Tanya

    Tanya on Feb. 12, 2014, 6:41 p.m.

    that butterscotch colored soap looks awesome and i would love to win it! i read your blog almost daily and really enjoy it. 


  • Clelie

    Clelie on Feb. 12, 2014, 6:42 p.m.

    Hello Renee,

    I don't have a facebook account yet- I am seriously thinking of getting one though- your site and some other's I follow seem to be using them more and more.

    SOunds like fun!



  • Kelly Shultz

    Kelly Shultz on Feb. 12, 2014, 6:44 p.m.

    I've been reading for a while, but I'm not sure I've ever commented before. I'd just like to say that I really appreciate your disclaimer that your Gravatar picture will show up. I've commented other places before where that wasn't stated and I didn't necessarily want my picture to show up and I was unpleasantly surprised.

    Thank you so much for all the blogging you do. I'm always so excited to see one of your new posts in my reader! Oh, and one of those soaps would be lovely as well :-)


  • Jacinda

    Jacinda on Feb. 12, 2014, 7:51 p.m.

    Ok, so it's always a bit of a mystery when commenting on FIMBY because I'm never sure if it's going to work or not. So this is as much of a test for me as for you :-) This uncertainty has meant my commenting has dropped away although I miss the feeling like I am in conversation with you. As always I'm loving your blog. FIMBY rocks.


  • Nikki

    Nikki on Feb. 12, 2014, 8 p.m.

    I am sooooo a fellow lurker. What compelled me to comment today was the number of readers who do not use Facebook. I have been able to avoid complicatiing my life with it thus far and am struck by how many folks here are doing the same. In my "real" life I am one of a tiny minority who is without a Facebook account. At times it's rough, but my friends and family have been pretty gracious about my decsion. It only adds to their label of our family being "urban Amish" :) I love FIMBY. Many times a post has been delivered at just the right moment to inspire, uplift or empower. The only thing better would be to have our dream yurt across the meadow from yours.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:10 p.m.

      Yes! As long as you're willing to live in a mountain meadow we can totally have yurts across the meadow from each other. Damien and I were just talking about our yurt dream last week. Ironically, I posted about it at FIMBY Facebook and there was a great discussion that happened there! It took me 5 minutes to get an idea out there (vs. the hours it takes at FIMBY) and then there was this wonderful back and forth of dream casting and visioning and it was all so exciting. I'm sorry you missed out on that but you know what, we can't do everything or be tuned in everywhere, don't I know it!


    • Lori

      Lori on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:36 p.m.

      HA!  My friends call me Amish, too.  I've seem some Amish in person, and I have a huge respect for the work required to maintain that lifestyle.  It's humorous to me that someone would consider my lifestyle "Amish", but I guess that's how far our society has come, when going without a TV and Facebook seems primitive.  

      This is my 3rd comment, and no problems so far, and no word verification requested.


  • amber

    amber on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:03 p.m.

    I should comment more often.  I often mark your posts as unread to go back and comment later, but then life happens.....And as a facebook dropout, my fimby activity is all on your blog and newsletter, which you know I enjoy immensely!  ps, it would be so fun to try some of your soap! 


  • jackie

    jackie on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:06 p.m.

    Hi Renee-  I would love some soap- you're sweet to offer it.  I rarely comment but truly, you are the only blog I read religiously.  My family doesn't homeschool and we are not terribly outdoorsy (but getting more so if slowly)but I'm drawn to your blog - I love your depth, your honesty and your heart that comes through all you write.  It gives me courage and inspiration to be that for myself.   I'm not on FB but I do get your newsletter. And I too seem to reflect on your entries for days sometimes, it is a lovely experience thank you.    As another commentor mentioned I talk about you and this blog to my husband and you are "the outdoorsy family that lived in Maine and now live in Canada"  :)  Looking forward to your next adventure.  Jackie  


  • Lori

    Lori on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:31 p.m.

    Helping you to see if my comment posts the first time.  I don't recall having any trouble commenting on your blog, but it may have been a while since I've commented.   

    You're not guilty of this, but one time I read a post from a blogger who was getting on people's cases for "lurking" and not commenting.  I dropped her like a bad habit.  There should be no requirement from blog readers, other than to be respectful when they do comment.  


  • Lori

    Lori on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:32 p.m.

    one more thing I meant to add...I'm not on Facebook so I don't subscribe to anyone.  I'm probably missing some good conversation from FIMBY readers.  


  • Rachel

    Rachel on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:32 p.m.

    I would have to agree with Elizabeth that I am a "lazy lurker." I love that phrase! :) However, I love reading your posts - they have inspired me in so many ways. I would love the soap, too.:)


  • Jaclyn B

    Jaclyn B on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:45 p.m.

    Testing comments while using an iphone. Would love to win some soap.


    • Jaclyn B

      Jaclyn B on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:52 p.m.

      To add to my first comment as I have limited time to read my favorite blogs (yours included in that list), let alone comment. I have appreciated your reply when I have commented in the past.


  • Jennifer @ kidoing!

    Jennifer @ kidoing! on Feb. 12, 2014, 8:53 p.m.

    Hi Renee, you know how much I love your soap.  As far as comments, my life changed with no. 3 (as you know) and so I am reading less or more quickly (perhaps skimming, like Heather said).  I'm also less coherent in my thoughts, so I don't comment as much. :) I do enjoy the conversations in the comments, whether it's between you and me - or others. 


  • Laura Stiller

    Laura Stiller on Feb. 12, 2014, 9 p.m.

    (I'd love the soap!) But my two cents on the waning comments - I think it's easier for people to chat on Facebook. I have a much smaller blog than you, but once I started sharing my blog posts on Facebook I found that everyone commented and talked there and almost NO ONE leaves comments on the blog any more. People are already on facebook, so it's easier to chat there than click through to the blog is my only guess!


  • Isabella

    Isabella on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

    Sometimes I read on the ipad mini, and it's harder to comment on.  Sometimes I just feel like reading and not saying anything.  Thanks for the chance to win soap.


    • Isabella

      Isabella on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:03 p.m.

      p.s. I first tried putting in my wordpress address (it didn't like that http wasn't in the address) for the Homepage and it wouldn't allow me to comment.  Leaving that out, and commenting works.


  • Lee

    Lee on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:07 p.m.

    Wow - there are a lot of us here! I haven't tried recently due to a thing that's been happening (called life!) so I missed the issues you mentioned. But this past fall and summer I did not have a problem. I'm in Germany, so like your UK reader, don't feel you have to send the soap if it gets complicated (I have an APO box). But I would enjoy it!


  • Aaron

    Aaron on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:22 p.m.

    I am filthy. Have been running ragged for a week, no time to shower in the day and at night it would wake the boys because the shower is in the washroom right next to their room. So I stink. And I could really use some soap.

    Re: comments, I normally read you on a feed reader that cuts off the comment box. So it's another step to take and, in the ephemeral world of blogs, that's just enough to keep the on-the-fly comment from flying. Not that I was ever a busy commenter before, but I left the odd comment here or there.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 12, 2014, 10:29 p.m.

      Aaron, I'm sending you soap because I love your comment. I'll e-mail you for your address. I'll try to get it in the mail tomorrow.


  • Laura

    Laura on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:32 p.m.

    I haven't commented in a few months, but I am still reading here (and "liking" your pics on FB and reading your newsletter). I just haven't taken the time lately to comment myself or follow others' comments. I am looking forward to following along on your family's journey this year! Good for your family on dreaming and then making it happen! 

    The soap is gorgeous! 


  • Annie

    Annie on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:35 p.m.

    Hello!  I'm another of the quiet readers - I enjoy your thoughtful posts, so thank you for them.  And for what it's worth, I'm not on Facebook and do not want to be, so I hope to still see you here, as long as it fits into the picture for you!  And, that soap looks lovely - I love handmade soap :)


  • Wendi

    Wendi on Feb. 12, 2014, 9:51 p.m.

    What a fun way to check out your comment problem.  :)   Very creative, indeed.  I have loved reading FIMBY for over a year now, but am not one who comments very often. Nothing personal to the blogger. Reading blogs a lot of the time in my decompression time, my quiet time, after the daily demands, the home schooling the errand running. So for me to respond takes energy that I often do not muster up.  Thank you though for all your writings, I love to read them.


  • Morgan

    Morgan on Feb. 12, 2014, 10:19 p.m.

    Yes, soap!

    I'm not on FB but still comment here and there. Yes, I think that the blogosphere is shifting and perhaps people are reducing the number of blogs they actually engage/comment in and on.

    I'm so excited about your AT adventure and hope to follow the story as it unfolds. 

    sent from Colorado (seriously, a move to this propensity of sunshine could turbo charge your winters! I'm originally from the Midwest and I couldn't go back after living in this vitamin D playground ;)


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 12, 2014, 10:28 p.m.

      We would LOVE to live in Colorado but it's not in the immigration plan right now. Maybe one of our american children will return to their US roots after they are grown and we can live in the states once again (and yes we'd love to return). We'd love to be able to live in either the US or Canada, traveling to all the best mountains as we feel inspired (smile).


  • Kris

    Kris on Feb. 12, 2014, 10:29 p.m.

    I like your homeschooling posts. I especially like reading about Celine's studies. I have an eight grader who would probably be a happier student if she did more Interest Led Learning. Your home looks comfy and fun.


  • Jennifer S.

    Jennifer S. on Feb. 12, 2014, 10:51 p.m.

    Hi Renee,

    I do love your blog and would love to try your home-made soap. I have commented once or twice on your blog but I don't really tend to comment much on blogs. Not sure why - I guess I figure that I would rather have a conversation with people who "know" me, and often there is not much back-and-forth on blog comments (I don't mean yours specifically, I have noticed you writing lengthy and thougtful responses) so I just don't feel there is much point in putting my thoughts out there in the form of comments.... Hope this helps somewhat. I read an interesting article lately on how the nature of blogging - specifically interaction with readers - is shifting noticeably. I am only a passive blog-reader myself and an occasional facebook user (mostly just to keep in some kind of contact with far away friends/family) -  the tech world is always quite a few steps ahead of this semi-luddite - no twitter, no instagram, etc. but I found the article very interesting. Just as a side note, I am really fascinated/intrigued/inspired by the choices you and Damien have made for your family and if only we lived closer (we're in Ottawa), I would love to have a cup of tea with you some time and chat.

    Here is the link to the article. Hope it's helpful.



  • Kim

    Kim on Feb. 12, 2014, 11:02 p.m.

    A soap giveaway...fun! Some thoughts on comments...Facebook tends to be a bit more comment friendly because I don't have to enter my name, email, etc to comment. Also, since I've started reading blogs more on an iPad and less on a computer I am less likely to comment because I just don't care for typing much on an iPad. Just a few thoughts!


    • Kim

      Kim on Feb. 12, 2014, 11:06 p.m.

      And want to add...commenting didn't work for me the first time but when I DIDN'T uncheck the "notify me when new comments are posted" box on my second attempt it worked. I saw that someone else mentioned this too.


  • Bobbiann

    Bobbiann on Feb. 13, 2014, midnight

    Oooh, soap! I love handmade soap.

    Hello from a fellow Canadian homeschooler. I started following this blog after hearing about your planned Appalacian Trail hike. I love hiking, but 2 days is the most I've ever hiked.


  • Kim

    Kim on Feb. 13, 2014, 12:03 a.m.

    Much like Jen, I read you via Feedly, so I've no option to comment unless I click through. That being said, there are times when the topic is near and dear to my heart...I click right on through and comment. I look forward to all that you write. You and Damien are helping us shape our family's future...no pressure or anything!  You guys live an authentic life.  We work toward it everyday. 

    PS- I'd like some soap, too!


  • Laura

    Laura on Feb. 13, 2014, 12:08 a.m.

    Hi!  Just recently found your page and enjoying following along as well as poking around in the archives.  Thanks!


  • Nicole

    Nicole on Feb. 13, 2014, 1:29 a.m.

    Hi!  I read EVERY post, but haven't commented as much lately because life here is soooo busy.  I don't check the Facebook posts too often.  I have never had a problem commenting.  :)


  • Amy

    Amy on Feb. 13, 2014, 2:49 a.m.

    I am a recent stalker, er . . . I mean I found you and fell in love with . . . um, I recently searched for soap recipes and discovered your wonderful world of FIMBY and I think maybe, perhaps, we were separated at birth. Yep, that's a totally normal way to come out of 'lurkdom' and say hello. Ha!

    i have so much to say and so many things to ask, but have yet to comment because I just discovered you and now I see you and your family are leaving to have this wonderful journey, so I figured it might just be a bad time to start a new friendship. 

    anyway, there is my 2 cents on why I haven't commented on the dozens of posts I have read over the past couple of weeks. May I sum it all up by saying "thank you for being you and for sharing so much of you on your blog"?

    And about the soap . . . Yeah, I want some :)


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2014, 9:12 p.m.

      Amy, welcome to FIMBY. Never a bad time to start a friendship. 

      I don't feel weird, by the way, when people "come out" (smile) and profess an affinity for what I write, our family values, homeschool style, or whatever. I'm honored and also intrigued... since we'd probably connect well in real life. I have made connections with other bloggers the same way. 

      I know it's only wise to put up borders and boundaries in our internet lives for our safety. But I also believe in sharing our passions, interests and affinities with other people. I have met such wonderful people online. Real-life people. People whose homes I've stayed in and table I've eaten at - all because of FIMBY. Yes, I do love blogging. I do. 


  • Melissa

    Melissa on Feb. 13, 2014, 2:56 a.m.

    I stopped commenting as I've switched to reading via my reader or phone, and I often don't bother with the keyboards. When I've thought about commenting from another device I forget to cycle back in any sort of timely way.

    Btw, I recall a twitter blurb that showed up..you were thinking about trying sodium lactate in a batch of soap...I've been using it and it does seem to help keep them harder.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2014, 9:14 p.m.

      Melissa, that's what I'm finding also. My friends taught me how to use beeswax instead. Some of these bars were hardened with that. 


  • debbie

    debbie on Feb. 13, 2014, 3:12 a.m.

    that soap looks beautiful. i'd love some! i find myself not commenting unless i have something helpful or insightful or inspired to write, but i know as a blogger that having someone just say "i was here" and offer anything to the conversation is sure nice.  i'm not on facebook, and it's moments like these, knowing that there might be some worthwhile sharing going on there (and not just the huge amount of time-wasters that i know are there) that make me think twice about that.

    on a technical bloggy note, i do ask for word verification in my comments because i was getting an unbelievable amount of spam, and it seems to block it out. i'm not very tech-savvy, but maybe there's a simple alternative?


  • Sarah

    Sarah on Feb. 13, 2014, 3:43 a.m.

    Ahh, your soaps are beautiful!

    I'm still here reading (and I'm happy I am!) but there are a few reasons I haven't been commenting so much (if you're curious): 1. Surprisingly, second semester senior year has been crazy busy for me (I thought it would be the right time to fit in everything I've wanted to do throughout high school but haven't made happen... not the best idea), 2. In hopes of procrastinating less, I put FIMBY on my "SelfControl" app list of sites I can't visit from my own computer (I promise that this is a compliment--it simply means that I was spending a lot of time here before because I liked it so much!). Part of the reason I did this was because commenting on here filled a little instant gratification center in my brain (like when you post something on Facebook and wait for people to "like" it... or maybe that's just me). I always really want to see what other people are saying on those posts, or if you replied, and then I want to reply... and it goes on. I value the time I spend on FIMBY, but I found that I was kind of getting in the way of myself by checking all the time. You've inspired to live more intentionally, which means (attempting) to distance myself more from the internet. 3. Now that I don't have FIMBY on my computer, I read it every day as I eat breakfast, which means I don't have time to comment then. Sometimes I'll revist, like today... but usually its a wonderful way to start the day and I don't constantly have to confront my lack of self control when I check between every class (true story). I love commenting, but it's more of a special treat now. 

    I want to say that the reason that I read FIMBY every day is because I feel like I have a connection with you... not just a voyeuristic wierdo stalker type connection (although it may seem that way, I sure hope it doesn't!) I enjoy your writing and your photos--they continue to ground me and inspire me... but I really value the time and energy you put into developing your relationship with readers, including me. I love conversation and have really valued having a space to talk about education (and Western society in general) openly, radically, critically and experimentally. Thank you for that. Best, Sarah


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2014, 9:18 p.m.


      I'm honored to be on your self control list. I love conversing with you. You make me think. I love your energy and life enthusiasm, and your questions. My connection with you doesn't feel weird to me in the least. If you lived closer we'd go hiking together, I'm sure. 


  • Jessica

    Jessica on Feb. 13, 2014, 5:29 a.m.

    As I am reading through these comments and your response to comments, I keep looking for the "like" button.  :)  I am actually not a big Facebook user, but I do enjoy the fact that I can "like" something and essentially say, "Yes, me too!" or "I hear you!" or "I agree" or "Good point!" or "I like what you wrote, thank you" without committing to the time it takes to write a well written comment.  Even at this moment I am struggling to write this comment because I am tired and know I need to be sleeping right now, but I don't want to leave a "sloppy" comment.  I feel that way about all blogs but your blog is one of my favorites.  However, strangely enough, even though you are one of my favorite bloggers, often I don't even hop over to read because I know you've poured your heart out and so often my heart will connect with it.  And then I will be torn...I will want to comment but don't have the time or brain space to do so.  Here is where a "like" button would be so lovely.  

    Also, I like you so much that it almost feels rude to not read every word you have written but usually I flip through blogs when I have 5 minutes here or there.   Your blog is generally deeper though so I have to be in a place where I can go deeper.  Make sense?  I think I save your blog for when I have chunks of time and read a week (or two or three weeks) worth of entries at the same time.  

    I agree with Heather about the word verification...

    I am thankful for you and so appreciate your writing.  Many blessings to you.  


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2014, 3:09 p.m.

      Jessica, there is a like button on the bottom of the post. Can you see it? I get so few "likes" (1, 2 or 3 on some posts), maybe no one can see my little like button (which I've purposely kept small and unobtrusive). Is that what you're talking about? Or are you referring to a different "like" button? Do you think I should have a more prominent like button?


  • Lisette Rossman

    Lisette Rossman on Feb. 13, 2014, 7:47 a.m.

    Hi Renee! I am actually a long time follower of your blog and am a university student! I have read every post and really connect with everything you write and what your family stands for! Even though I hardly ever comment I just wanted you to know that I enjoy every post you take the time to make and that I am sure that there are a lot of readers out there like me! As for the soap I would love to win it! The idea of having some homemade soap to fight off these winter blues sounds like a treat to me! Hope you are having a wonderful week -Lisette


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 13, 2014, 9:21 p.m.

      I love knowing that students - high school students, university students, etc. read my blog. It's very gratifying to me that my words connect with more than just the stay-at-home mom types (of which I'm a proud member).


  • Melissa R

    Melissa R on Feb. 13, 2014, 8:38 a.m.

    Soap is good !

    Comments.... I usually don't read blogs in a browser.  I am reading them in my Outlook feed or on my Kindle.  If I really really really have something to say I will click over from Outlook to comment.  And if I am reading on my Kindle, well, a comment just isn't going to happen there since I can't stand using one finger to tap out my thoughts on a virtual keyboard rather than sitting and typing normally on my beloved split keyboard at my desk.  So, it's really boils down to me just not wanting to be inconvienced enough to write a comment.


  • Trace

    Trace on Feb. 13, 2014, 12:34 p.m.

    I would love to try your soap! I rarely comment here, but that's because I'm usually reading while nursing. :-) I've also had problems commenting through Feedly, but I know that's a Feedly issue, not yours. 


  • Kelly

    Kelly on Feb. 13, 2014, 1:04 p.m.

    I too have had trouble commenting because of the word verification. It says I have to put in a word, but there is no word/place to do so. 

    Your soap looks good enough to eat! I'd love a couple bars. 


  • Constance

    Constance on Feb. 13, 2014, 1:40 p.m.

    Your soap looks yummy! I've never been a big commenter on any of the blogs I read. This one is probably the one I comment on the most and that's not very often! I guess I usually only comment when I can add something new to the discussion.


  • Lori C.

    Lori C. on Feb. 13, 2014, 2:55 p.m.

    That is beautiful Soap. I've made several batches myself this winter, but I'd love to get my hands on some of your beautiful bars!


  • Kim

    Kim on Feb. 13, 2014, 7:32 p.m.

    Hi. I am a faithful reader of your blog and enoy it thoroughly but rarely, if ever, comment. I would love a bar of your soap.


  • Christine

    Christine on Feb. 13, 2014, 10:52 p.m.

    I visit your blog regularly, but don't comment often (that introvert in me!). I do enjoy your writing so much.


  • Judy

    Judy on Feb. 14, 2014, 12:20 a.m.

    I would love some soap.I first came to your blog looking for a soap recipe, and stayed for your inspiring writing. I still haven't made any soap!


  • Emily

    Emily on Feb. 14, 2014, 11:47 a.m.

    I just don't usually take the time to comment though I read regularly because I prefer reading on my phone and it struggles with comment forms.


  • Lisa Lindsey

    Lisa Lindsey on Feb. 14, 2014, 5:52 p.m.

    Hi Renee,  I am another lurker coming into the light. I found Fimby as a new homeschooling mom reading your guest posts at Simple Homeschool. I've been a constant reader since sometime in 2010, yet I have never commented. Like a few others have said, I am more of a listener than a talker.

    Reading about your family's homeschool philosophy has definitely had a positive impact on our homeschool. I also admire your bravery in laying out your struggles, along with your joy, for all of us to read. So many of your posts have me thinking for days. I also eagerly await any new additions to your instagram/snapwidget. You have a gift for capturing the natural beauty around you.:)

    My son and I are excitedly awaiting the start of your video series. We can't wait to follow along with your family on this grand adventure! Thank you for this wonderful blog, and for being an inspiration to so many:).




  • Lindsey

    Lindsey on Feb. 14, 2014, 7:42 p.m.

    One of the reasons I don't comment is because I read everything on a RSS reader (Feedly) on my phone, which makes it harder to comment.  I save the posts I want to comment on and bring them up on the computer, but by the time I do that, time has passed and it seems weird.  I also have this like, weird fear of "bothering" people, especially bloggers with lots of readers.  Anytime I do comment and I get a reply I'm like so pumped, because I know everyone is really busy, but then I comment back and it doesn't go anywhere.

    Its strange for me.  I'm an introvert and I've always prefered to talk to people online and via email or text.  Now that I'm a SAHM and I've moved away from the few friends that I know IRL, its been harder for me to connect.  I've been trying to get into more activities that involve meeting people, but its hard.  It feels like everyone has friends already, like I'm the new kid at school.  I have my husband's friends, but sometimes that feels strange.  Its a weird season in my life, I'm trying to work through it.  Luckily my few friends love texting and emails, so I can still keep in touch with them and see them when I visit my parents.

    The internet is a strange thing.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 15, 2014, 5:37 p.m.

      Lindsey. The internet is strange yes but it's also good. We rely on it for everything from entertainment, to connection with family and friends (face time, skype etc), to employment. But figuring out how to take it on your own terms can be tricky. Everyone feels like the new kid at school, people want to know, love and support you. Look at friendships as giving them that chance :)


  • Jess

    Jess on Feb. 15, 2014, 11:24 a.m.

    I am a lazy Saturday morning reader and through a recent purchase (Learning in Love Through the Preschool Years) discovered another connection in our like-lived lives.  We anticipate welcoming #3 this coming summer which will bring our family a newborn to join our soon to be two year old and 3 and a half year old daughters.  It's difficult to verbalize what encouragement and kindred thoughts I receive from your writing... Thank you!


  • Kari

    Kari on Feb. 15, 2014, 12:28 p.m.

    I, too, would be classified among the 'lurker/linger/savor' category. I also leave some of your posts open and read/think about the content, but am always encouraged and inspired by your words and way of life. I've maybe commented 1-2 times since I started receiving your newsletter, and I've also gone in and read previous posts (links with links with links) ;) I am not an active FBer so was unaware of the uptake on blogging there.  But while I have you, I have 2 questions. In the past I took Heathers 30-day vegan class & there was a video of you explaining cooking beans with your pressure cooker. I have searched what seems like all over to find this video to watch again, but have never found it again :( and somehow "lost" my manual shortly after buying my cooker. So I end up with inconsistencies in my bean production ;)

    Second question, will you be anywhere near Atlanta before beginning your trip? Would love to meet you or house you if needed, as you begin the long trek! 

    Looks like I'm making up for (my own) previous low comment volume ;)


  • Sharon

    Sharon on Feb. 15, 2014, 12:38 p.m.

    Here's my attempt to comment to win some soap.  But really I enjoy reading your blog but rarely feel the need to comment.  I just don't do that much. Your life is just different enough that I learn but don't feel I have much to add to the conversation.


  • Katrina

    Katrina on Feb. 15, 2014, 1:26 p.m.

    The photos of the soaps are wonderful - I bet they smell even more marvelous than they look    :)

    As for interactions, FB is a lot easier because it's quick... no entering name, email, etc (NOT that it is difficult to do that either, but FB is definitely faster).  Perhaps I feel if I comment on a blog post, it has to be more wordy...   and I usually read when I'm also doing a hundred other things and have multiple little people wanting my attention.


  • kim

    kim on Feb. 15, 2014, 5:48 p.m.

    i love handmade soap so much.....just never have had the time/space to do it for myself. this is a lovely trio. i read your blog frequently.....i'm just not much of a commenter, anywhere really. sometimes i feel like it's because i don't have my own blog? dunno. thanks for the chance to win the soap!


  • Aline Tamiozo

    Aline Tamiozo on Feb. 15, 2014, 9:29 p.m.

    Hello dear. I'm a reader from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and i've shared and been inspired by your family since my son was born a year and a half ago. I usually don't comment here as i don't usually comment any blog i read problAbly because i'm too shy for that. Seems like your soaps are a very good reason to comment. Thank you for sharing your experience


  • Sarah Lambert

    Sarah Lambert on Feb. 16, 2014, 2:12 a.m.

    Long time reader, first time commenter :)  I'd love to win your soap, your posts about it always inspire me to want to try it, I'll have to check out your videos for help.


  • Pam R.

    Pam R. on Feb. 16, 2014, 6:28 a.m.

    I have been reading/following your blog for nearly 4 years now (found your blog in March 2010 by clicking a link to here from another blog) but I have only commented on posts a handful of times. I only follow a handful of blogs regularly but I very rarely ever comment on any posts, mostly because I just don't take the time to do so. Actually getting to sit down and read my favorite blogs has been nearly impossible for me lately (I'm posting this comment at 1:25 a.m.--not a normal waking hour for me). I first found your blog when I was looking into starting to use more natural products in my home and the first post I ever read was the one for your homemade lip balm recipe (which we LOVE LOVE LOVE around here and won't use ANYTHING else at all). We just started homeschooling our boys this school year (we have 8th, 4th and 2nd grade boys and a pre-k boy too) and I've really enjoyed reading all your homeschooling posts throughout this new adventure of ours. My boys were all public schooled up until this year and it has been a MAJOR transition for our family in many respects. It has also been one of I have been reading/following your blog for nearly 4 years now (found your blog in March 2010 by clicking a link to here from another blog) but I have only commented on posts a handful of times. I only follow a handful of blogs regularly but I very rarely ever comment on any posts, mostly because I just don't take the time to do so. Actually getting to sit down and read my favorite blogs has been nearly impossible for me lately (I'm posting this comment at 1:25 a.m.--not a normal waking hour for me). I first found your blog when I was looking into starting to use more natural products in my home and the first post I ever read was the one for your homemade lip balm recipe (which we LOVE LOVE LOVE around here and won't use ANYTHING else at all). We just started homeschooling our boys this school year (we have 8th, 4th and 2nd grade boys and a pre-k boy too) and I've really enjoyed reading all your homeschooling posts throughout this new adventure of ours. My boys were all public schooled up until the best decisions we've ever made and our only regret is that we wish we'd started homeschooling years ago. You do a wonderful job on the blog Renee and I wish you and your family a safe and blessed trip on the AT! By the way, I'd also love to win some soap of yours ;)


    • Pam R.

      Pam R. on Feb. 16, 2014, 6:35 a.m.

      My crazy laptop had a mind of it's own here and posted this super long comment incorrectly!  The correct comment is below :)


  • Pam R.

    Pam R. on Feb. 16, 2014, 6:34 a.m.

    I have been reading/following your blog for nearly 4 years now (found your blog in March 2010 by clicking a link to here from another blog) but I have only commented on posts a handful of times. I only follow a handful of blogs regularly but I very rarely ever comment on any posts, mostly because I just don't take the time to do so. Actually getting to sit down and read my favorite blogs has been nearly impossible for me lately (I'm posting this comment at 1:25 a.m.--not a normal waking hour for me). I first found your blog when I was looking into starting to use more natural products in my home and the first post I ever read was the one for your homemade lip balm recipe (which we LOVE LOVE LOVE around here and won't use ANYTHING else at all). We just started homeschooling our boys this school year (we have 8th, 4th and 2nd grade boys and a pre-k boy too) and I've really enjoyed reading all your homeschooling posts throughout this new adventure of ours. My boys were all public schooled up until the best decisions we've ever made and our only regret is that we wish we'd started homeschooling years ago. You do a wonderful job on the blog Renee and I wish you and your family a safe and blessed trip on the AT! By the way, I'd also love to win some soap of yours ;)


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