Sunday, December 23, 2012

NASA Johnson Style

This is better than the original for which the parody exists!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Peppermint Bark

From Amanda Soule, we got the idea for peppermint bark as a Christmas gift. We made it with the recipe she favors from Orangette. The girls helped us smash up candy canes--what a fun mess.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Peppermint Lip Balm

Here's to another holiday gift. It's a small one but so lovely with the cool, dry weather. I made these peppermint lip balms before with Amanda Soule's recipe and had some trouble with the honey staying mixed in with the other ingredients. It didn't take away from the balm-ness, but it looked a little messier than many lip balms. I didn't color this batch at all. Here's hoping they stay all smooth looking!
I'm careful to use doTERRA peppermint oil in the recipe since I know it's therapeutic grade oil. As a side note, I did this little project while attempting a bigger one: cold process soap. I truly experimented trying to imitate Greenstone Soap's Tangerine Calendula blend. I had dried calendula flowers around, and when I got some bulk essential oils (not from doTERRA but rather from Bulk Apothecary), I got tangerine this time. We'll see if I was in any way successful. I had run-away hot (caustic!) soap too since my shoe box didn't seem to contain it (even with freezer paper laid in it). I scheduled this adventure for this weekend since a couple of weeks ago, I went to one of Greenstone Soap's Workshop and learned a lot. I wanted to put some of the knowledge into practice right away so I didn't forget too much. Another great resource for soap (and other self-care products) is Renee Tougas' tutorials. Lotions and hand creams are next, and I have a few books and recipes I'm looking to try.

Fresh in the down season

Here are wonderful greens and veggies from our garden, Taylor Creek Farm and broccoli from another farm (friend to Taylor Creek's). It's surprising to see all this green goodness this time of year, but be encouraged. I'm not saying January will look like this, but maybe it will? This is the first year we're growing food in the Fall/Winter. It's all the first year we've had a CSA relationship, and the Taylors will keep us in produces as much/long as they can. We're talking three varieties of kale, different greens (beet, kohlrabi, collards), baby romaine, cabbage, brussels sprouts (not pictured), radishes (not pictured) and fennel. I know this time of year doesn't feature brightly colored fruits and sweet vegetables, but it's rich none the less.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hairbands complete!

My fingers are tired of pliars, but I'm happy with how these turned out.
These will likely go to some cousins and perhaps friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

button covered hairbands

Eric and I are experimenting with a new-to-us sort of handmade gift. We want to make them for the girls and for cousins and such for Christmas. The idea came from Amanda Soule (as so many do!) with supplies and a tutorial from here.
We did the primary tutorial tonight and liked it so we just ordered some more supplies. I was just looking through fabric to see which others we'd like to use. That's as much fun as any part of it!

Homemade Enzyme Cleaner

I will learn how to make more and more cleaners since I'm tired of worrying about the ingredients in what we buy and the large price tags on them. Laundry soap is one thing in my future. For now, I've done vinegar-herb cleaners; and lately I've been working on Jillee's Citrus Enzyme Cleaner.
I'm fermenting my second batch now. I have pure cleaner stored under my sink particularly for clogged drains. The spray bottle has a 10 to 1 solution for basic cleaning.

Hand Warmers for the Holidays

As another handmade gift, I tried Camp Wander's Woolen Hand Warmers. They are meant to be heated and inserted into pockets on our way out in the morning to keep our hands warm. I deviated from her recipe in rice and oil amounts and stuck with Peppermint. (I didn't see a need for warming smells when it's early in the morning and I'm trying to get spry for the day.)
This project worked out really well for my thrifting fun since I have a couple of wool-containing sweaters that I felted to upcycle/recycle into something else.
I confess I really do enjoy playing with stamps and packaging (hopefully reusable or reycleable) even though I'll never start any scrapbooking clubs.

Winterize Your Kids

Recently, Learning Herbs' John Gallagher hosted Aviva Romm doing a free webinar about Winterizing our kids. It was a terrific education, and I took lots of notes. Some things I took away were a garlic lemonade recipe that I want to try out, ice pops (made of a mix of apple juice and a mixed tea infusion that makes me think of our fairy tea from this summer--which we haven't needed or tried yet since it's a treatment often), immune boosting supplements, echinacea tincture hidden in juice (haven't tried yet) and using elderberry syrup as both treatment and prevention. Z doesn't care for the syrup so we do a few M&Ms afterwards to kill the aftertaste. I'm sure that doesn't gell with limiting their sugar intake to prevent sickness, but it's a fair compromise in our house. We still haven't worked in the extra Vitamin D.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lotion Bars

I decided to make lotions bars as a Christmas gift. Walgreens had silicone molds on sale (half off), so I got a little one with trees. I more or less followed Jillee's recipe that includes beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil and then added therapeutic grade lavender and peppermint essential oils (from doTERRA, of course) to each bar. Tonight I worked on how I might wrap them up as well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blue Clouds

Thanks to SouleMama, I realized that Elizabeth Mitchell has a new album called Blue Clouds. It's wonderful! (We already adore You are My Sunshine.) It just keeps playing all morning. One thing I can say, too, is that if things seem a bit out of sorts, loud, grumpy etc., her music has a certain power to distill the day into something more peaceful.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Making Soap in a Crockpot

I wish we had taken some photos today mainly because we just had a great time together. St. Matthias Episcopal was so generous to open their doors to us so we could have a common place to learn and work. This morning we came in with crock pots and a few tools and walked out with soap! I even got to use the rosemary from our CSA bundle this week in my soap.
We started with olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil. We did a process with lye, and then later we added essential oil (lavender) and castor oil.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Displaying leaves and leftover beeswax

One of our favorite uses of beeswax is little molds for shapes befitting whatever our season. When we get ready to pour in the wax, we add some essential oil to the beeswax (lavender this time) and spray the molds with a cooking spray. Then we pour in the liquid wax and watch the shapes thicken. Before they completely set, we poke holes somewhere so that they can be hung as ornaments, sun catchers or gift packaging.
Once you get the leaves pulled up off the wax paper, you can string them on a thread with a sewing needle and hang them as a garland.
Not too shabby.

How to preserve leaves

Heat beeswax in a double boiler.
Dip leaves in the liquid wax.
Let the excess wax drip off before laying down.
Let cool/dry on wax paper. (We still ended up making a bit of a mess with wax droplets on our stove. We'll scrape those up soon.)

Fall Leaves in Beeswax

We won't be doing the traditional ironing of leaves between wax paper sheets as we did hunting for leaves in Petersburg, VA so many years ago. Instead, we'll opt for the soothing smell of beeswax to coat our leaves from hiking today. Then, my plan is to sew them into a simple garland for Autumn.
Eventually we get this:

Saturday Hiking

Friday, October 19, 2012

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

This book is a wonderful read to stay focused and not miss the real intention we parents have in our hearts when we're still. So many issues are raised: too many for me to list. I remember Amanda Soule mentioning this book as a recommendation, and she seems slow to preach too loudly about parenting. I could hear in it the echo of her and Steve's words about their kids and what they need from their parents: "all they need is for you to love them." It's good to remember. This book talks about practical things as regards that message. I hope I'm not blowing it off by not discussing things further, but I definitely consider this one high on the parenting books list.

Book Interests

Some books I want to read are: -Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko -Raising Girls by Gisela Preuschoff -Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron -Lighting Fires: Deepening Education through Meditation by Jorgen Smit -The Secret of Happy Children by Steve Biddulph -Mary Oliver: New and Selected Poems (a favorite poet) -Connection Parenting by Pam Leo -Billy Collins: Horoscopes for the Dead (a favorite poet) -Women's Power to Heal through Inner Medicine by Sri Swamini Mayatitananda -Calm and Compassionate Children: A Handbook by Susan Usha Dermond -Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein -Building Resilience in Children and Teens by Kenneth R. Ginsburg -God Is Not a Christian by Desmond Tutu -Above All, Be Kind by Zoe Weil -Making Supper Safe by Ben Hewitt. You know I have it in me. It might take a long time, but this is the current list. Some books from my last list were partially read because I didn't feel the need to plod through it all. One of those really great ones was "Spark" which connects the brain to exercise. Fascinating, but it didn't take long for him to make his case for me. :) Also, I might finish; but I am probably done with "Raising Happiness." It just got kind of long. Don't know about that one. A magazine I'm in love with: Taproot. It's quarterly.
So my ESOL endorsement course work will take me about a year to do, but I still aim to read a little bit for pleasure. Updates on this list just might be forthcoming. I hope so because this is a great list of books!

More Autumn Crafts

Z made falling stars (salt dough baked and then painted with acrylic autumn colors and glittered) for her Michaelmas party guests. E made some too (with washable paint and messing in the dough steps). Of course we needed glitter. They turned out beautifully, and they went with the coffee filter leaf craft we found (again, I'm lost about the source again). We made a tree out of them all in addition to giving away stars. The stars are part of the Arc Angel Michael's story of throwing them down to light the way for all people who also fight evil. It makes sense with all the meter showers this time of year. One year, I'd like to try the felted shooting stars with the girls.

Indian Corn Suns

Another craft we found somewhere (maybe Little Acorn Learning's Autumn e-book? Maybe pinterest?) is Indian Corn Suns. We took round paper and glued it around pieces of the husk from indian corn we bought at our local farmer's market from Lucille. While it set, I took off the kernels from several ears of the corn. Later, Z put a bunch of glue on the circle/center part and set in her pieces of corn. (E was too in love with the glue to really do this craft so I did hers and mine. We often try to include her someway anyway.)

Wheat Belly

The book reviews are short and sweet these days and FEW. I'm taking classes at night so it has drastically cut down on my pleasure reading. I found Wheat Belly to be a fascinating book. Completely fascinating.
I even cut wheat for about a month to see if it helped, and I think it did. I seemed to deal with less reflux, but I created more by eating fatty foods since I didn't do all the replacements properly. Oy vey. Where I'm at now (even if I revert to no wheat later) is simply sticking to organic, freshly milled stuff and sprouted stuff. That costs more, but I don't need to eat so much of it anyway. If you are having health troubles like diabetes, high cholesterol, stomach disorders, skin disorders, etc., it could be related to the wheat we mostly ingest. It's practically poison (said with Appalachian accent), I'm tellin' ya. A great follow up that I might read is Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's "Gut and Psychology Syndrome." I've seen a great interview with her, and her case is somewhat analogous with Dr. Davis' perspective in Wheat Belly. She goes further, though, and doesn't isolate grains alone. He doesn't either, but his book is more about wheat than anything else.

Autumn Crafts

Z did make one with her marker already, but we had to give that to one of her former teachers. She is looking forward to drawing the faces on the other stones we painted orange today with acrylic paint. We were inspired by a project over at No Time for Flashcards.
Earlier, we used our washable paint. We made a tree trunk and branches brown with brushes and then used wine corks with other colors to do our foliage. Hers actually turned into a finger painting bonanza. The Picky Apple gave us this idea.
Last weekend we did some paint on a canvas with leaves we found and pressed from our yard collecting. We had to add glitter, no question. Jean over at the Artful Parent has such fabulous ideas (like this one), and her e-book "The Artful Year: Autumn" is currently available for a pay-the-amount-you-can price. Wow! We love her book. We'd like to try her apple cheddar handpie recipe soon among so many other crafts!

Making Stamps

When I saw it on SouleMama, it seemed so easy and potentially kid-friendly. It probably is, but my experience was lonelier this time. Z did watch and "help" me draw the pictures that would become our stamps. She had the ideas about what should be there etc. I had trouble with the ink or fabric paint in terms of amounts. I thought the Halloween one would turn out worst, and it turned out best. (I didn't try to use fabric paint or fabric with it though.) We'll probably still use the bags we stamped for Christmas presents since it's homemade and all.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Michaelmas preparations

Here's the beginning of our food for Michaelmas and Fall. We had a little get together at our house yesterday and enjoyed the good company of friends and family.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Allergy Season

We're proactive with the traditional medicines like claritan or nasonex, to be sure. Those things are just year-round things we do at home (all four of us does at least something) to prevent allergy troubles. But this week has been just plum awful for our noses. I thought I was going down sinus-infection-hill last night, but amazingly I bounced. Such was today's trajectory, and after the small things we can do for ourselves, I'm starting to feel a little better and believe I'll sleep well.
From doTERRA, I use OnGuard (diffused, back of the neck), Breathe (on my chest) and simple Oregano (on the bottoms of my feet at night) essential oils. Also, the neti pot is a regular fixture with salt and warm water. In addition, I'm happy to report that Urban Moonshine's "Immune Zoom" has proved effective if I take it every few hours. (The taste is actually pretty nice, oddly.) Drinking water, succumbing soon to sleep: these are also most excellent.

Peach Wine

We like to put all sorts of food by for the colder times ahead, and fermented projects have been chief among our adventures. For what it's worth, I'd like to do lacto-fermented ginger carrots along with some version with okra. Here's in our next installment of drink: peachy peace wine.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Baby doll blanket

For E at Christmas time, I have here a dolly's blanket. I made the quilt part with Physh during my sewing lesson. Then I sewed flannel on the back and did a fancy stitch X across it to keep the pieces better together (apart from the edges sewn all together).