Written By:  Scott @ County Seat Living

I love this time of year in rural Nebraska.

It is that small window that exists between the bitter cold temperatures of winter and the sweltering humid days of summer. This time is fleeting and as dwellers upon the Great Plains we tend to devour the few days of pleasant weather that we are allotted. It consumes our conversations and we talk about it at the grocery store and the gas pump and we write about it in emails to family and friends who can’t fathom our appreciation for a cool breeze. Church leaders pray for it to continue and farmers beam about the gentle rainfall as they order a hearty breakfast at the cafe that sits in the shadow of the local grain elevators.


This is the time of year when crops are sprouting and you have hopeful prospects of a bountiful yield come harvest time. The recently tilled soil is as black as night and you can actually smell the scent of sweet corn in the air. Other crops bloom as well; milo, alfalfa, wheat and soy beans. They will soon compliment the landscape of rural Nebraska. Adding to that agricultural bounty is the local gardener and their efforts are no less than that of the professional farmer. My friend, Betty is one of those seasoned gardeners who beautifully cultivates some of the urban land she owns. She recently invited me over to view her modest herb garden and gave me a tour of her flourishing crop. 

herb garden


herbs lavender

We agreed it must have something to do with the beautiful weather. 

She was surprised at the growth of her lemon balm and wondered what she was going to do with that herb as it was quickly taking over her garden. 

lemon balm plant

I told her I would do some research and see what I could create from this resource. I found recipes for flavoring ice cream and herbal teas with lemon balm and its useful aromatherapy properties. Then I remembered I had purchased a few bars of goat’s milk soap on my last trip to Los Angeles. 

goat soap birdseye

goat soap2

This would be a great way to incorporate the gifts of Betty’s garden.

I put the goat’s milk soap in a melting pot, added a lot of lemon balm leaves to steep and placed it in a double boiler…

soap melt2

While that was cookin’, I organized my supplies. A few soap bar molds…

soap molds

Some freshly chopped lemon balm…

lemon balm closeup

And some dried lavender buds…

lavender closeup

Simple soap from an herb garden in rural Nebraska! What could be better?

Once the goat’s milk soap was melted, I added the minced lemon balm and lavender as well as a few drops of organic essential oil to help the scents “pop” and I poured them into their molds and allowed them to set for a few hours…

soap setting4

soap setting birdseye

The finished product turned out beautiful and took me back to the scents of Betty’s garden…

soap stacked raw


soap bar

Next, I had to focus on wrapping and wanted to keep the packaging simple and classic. Very “County Seat Living”. Sorry…I had to say that.

I first wrapped the bars of soap in parchment…

soap in wax paper closeup


soap in wax paper

And then finally in butcher paper with a “County Seat Living” label…

soap stacked

soap stacked2

I love when you have the chance to use ingredients that compliment their environment. In a rural setting that is a particular joy. Since I have been back in Nebraska I have had the opportunity to churn ice cream made from summer’s sweet corn, bake a frittata created from organic veggies and farm fresh eggs less than a mile from my home, grill trout fresh from a local source and make bread from a flour mill that continues to thrive in a town with so few people it’s considered a “village”.

I guess the ever changing weather isn’t the only thing that fascinates us here on the Great Plains. Like our ancestors before us we continue to tap into our resources and carve out an existence from that which we are given. I think it keeps us grounded and connects us to the land. 

Now, let me tell you more about this nice weather we are having…

Scott Rager

Robert Scott Rager is a Nebraska native who returned home to start a boutique business called "County Seat Living". His personal goal for "County Seat" is to translate the lifestyle design he was creating in Los Angeles for the past twelve years and apply it to the sensibility of the Great Plains. Whether he's writing about decorating, homemade ice cream, floral creations, event planning or product design, he wants the personality and style of Nebraska to shine bright.