Monday, December 3, 2007

we are toasty today!

yesterday, my dad came over and helped greg finish putting the chimney on the house and viola! we are now cooking with wood instead of gas...

this is such a huge financial relief. every winter for the past 3 years of living here, we have spent a minimum of $450/month in the winter to heat our house using gas (keeping the thermostat set at 58). now we'll be spending virtually nothing since we have lots of available firewood around us. i am thrilled to not worry about being sucked into the financial blackhole of juggling bills to pay the gas for the next 6 months.

it's a tiny stove but it's supposed to heat 2000 square feet which is what our house is. so far though, the upstairs is still pretty icy but i keep the doors to the stairs closed so that little bear won't climb them.

i'd have to say it was in the mid 70's in the play room (the room we installed it in) and 66-68 in the kitchen (the next room over) which is a HUGE improvement from the usual 58 that it usually is in the winter.

now for fine tuning the art of keeping the stove lit and burning fuel effeciently. i grew up in a house that used wood stoves for heating but i was never allowed to take part in stoking the fire so it's all new to me.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

winter recipe blog party

this month's local herbal blog party theme is winter recipes hosted by dreamseeds.

winter is creepy in on us here, finally. the cooler weather struck about a week or so ago, i believe on thanksgiving day to be exact. we are in the process of installing a wood burning stove which will continuously host a pot of herb root tea simmering away, ready for me to drink.

one of my favorite wintertime drinks is a dandelion chai recipe i found online a few years ago. i've adapted it to suit my preferences and it is a big hit with myself and my kids. they request it every morning.

1 cup roasted dandelion root
6 T anise seed
3 T cardamom pods, somewhat ground down or crushed to break up
3 T cloves
6 cinnamon sticks broken up to little bits
3 T dried ginger root
1 1/2 tea back peppercorns
12 bay leaves, crumbled up

mix together and store in a glass jar. add 1 T for each cup of water in a tea ball. bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. add approximately 1 T each honey and milk per cup (adjust this to your taste preference).

this recipe was originally found on prodigal gardens which has a wealth of herbal recipes on it.

this warming drink is excellent for nourishing the liver and aiding in circulation which my body seems to need more of during the winter. it is spicy but not overpowering.

in following with our ancestral heritage, this time of year is traditionally meant for slowing down our lives and bulking up. heavier foods are welcomed such roots, meats, fats and nuts. roots such as potatoes (white and sweet), carrots, onions, garlic, beets, turnips and sunchokes become a staple that will last through most of the winter. meats were often plentiful now as animals could be butchered and left outside to freeze, keeping them from spoiling. acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. would be gathered and stored. acorns need to be sorted and any with holes in them thrown out as they contain worms that will eat their way through.

sunchokes are another family favorite. they can be prepared any way that a potato would be fixed: fried, mashed, boiled, sauteed, roasted, broiled, etc. they can also be eaten raw although they really do not have much flavor until they are cooked. one of my favorite recipes is very simple:

broiled sunchokes

2 c. sliced sunchokes
olive oil
rosemary chopped coarsely (can be fresh or dried)

place the sunchokes in a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil. toss and coat them completely. add about 1-2 teaspoons of salt, a pinch of cayenne and about 2 teaspoons of rosemary and toss again. spread them out on a baking stone and put under the broiler. turn them after about 5 minutes or once they brown on top. allow them to cook a few more minutes until brown on the bottom. put them in a bowl and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. try not to eat them before you put them on the table!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

blackberries and other fall harvesting

yesterday (and today) we have seen a glorious reprieve to the pending coldness. temperatures in the 70's forced me to schluff off mundane household chores in lieu of playing outside. darn!

it is so much fun to wander around outside, feeling the warm sun on my face as the wind blows. i sing to the herbs i am looking for and harvesting, asking for their gifts of healing, their generosity of themselves, thanking them for allowing me to use them. i like to tell them what i use them for (as if they don't already know!) and tell them of the numerous human lives they have touched and healed. i think everyone needs to know they are an asset in our lives regardless if they are plant or animal.

i plucked the calendula flowers...they tripled overnight in their efforts to get a few more drops of sunshine out of themselves. i delighted in the fact that the chickweed is finally re-sprouting after it's long hiatus of summer. in a week or so, i'll be able to replenish my weedy salve!

i clipped a few wild cherry branches after reading kiva's post about tincturing them fresh and then headed to the blackberry patch, spading fork in hand.

the ground was moist and the roots gave their blessing to be harvested. i was able to harvest a fair amount in a short time while the little ones played nearby. sage got tangled in the briars once and came away with a few nasty scratches on his wrist but he seemed unphased by it.

blackberry root tincture is one of my best sellers. it's most well known for it's diarrhea fighting powers as it is quite astringent but gentle. as a locally harvested/wildcrafted herb, it is one on my list of herbs to study for the next year so i read up on it a bit more in gail faith edwards' book opening our wild hearts to the healing herbs:

because of its astringency, it is also good for treating nosebleeds. 20 drops of tincture under the tongue will constrict blood vessels and halt minor bleeding.

the same amount in a half cup of water and given to a child will help stem blood flow from a cut or scrape.

dried leaf infusion or tincture diluted in water heals bleeding gums and canker sores.

a poultice or infused oil made from fresh blackberry leaves and/or rootbark was used externally to treat long-standing skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. it is best used in conjunction with two cups of the dried plant infusion being drunk daily.

native americans used blackberry for numerous things including rheumatism and sore throat.

the delicious fruits are beneficial to the entire body. they contain malic acid, citric acid, pectin, albumen, flavonoids and vitamins a and c. the bitter purple-colored flavonoid in blackberry, anthocyanidin, is the compound responsible for much of the fruit's medicinal action. it acts as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger; it also increases peripheral circulation and helps reduce inflammation. anthocyandin is used to treat such conditions as poor night vision, periodontal disease, arthritis and gout.

blackberry flower essence helps one translate thouights into actions and manifest ideas in the physical world. it is also used for overcoming inertia or when feeling stuck.

blackberry leaves are most potent in the spring before flowers emerge, but medicinally active throughout their growing seaons. rootbark is best harvested in early spring or late fall when all the energy is focused underground.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

homeschooling myself

since i don't have the time or daycare for taking college classes at the moment, i've decided to homeschool myself a bit in the medical field. i've found some great books to help with studying that break things down very simply:

medical terminology demystified
anatomy demystified
physiology demystified

even better, they are available through the library. i'm sticking to that route for the terminology but for a & p i bought them. i've also located a great musical concept that i hope to purchase soon:

lyrical life science - volume 3 the human body

since i'm still torn about getting my nursing degree, i think this is a great route to take since i'll be learning at my own pace and still furthering my education.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

tree id

today i escaped from the house sans kids for a few hours of tree id-ing. what a great class! i found out that the watershed (a local conservation park) has slippery elm growing there. i hope to grow some here and seeing that was quite encouraging. i now have 2 more books on my wishlist: north american trees and forest trees of illinois.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

container herbs

last week i dug up and brought in several herbs: rose geranium, eucalyptys, etc. i think my eucalyptus didn't make it. :( yesterday, i planted 7 seeds in each pot. here's hoping they will sprout and grow.

this winter i also hope to start indoors:
holy basil
saw palmetto
tea tree

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Herbal Focus

i've created my preliminary list of herbs i want to focus on in the next year. i may narrow the list down a bit, add a few more and what not, but for now, here are the 40-ish herbs i've selected. i grow all on my property, either through the woods or my gardens. a few are container herbs that come inside every winter. these are in no special order:

peppermint & wild mint
st. john's wort
wild cherry
self heal
chamomile & pineapple weed
echinacea (augustifolia and purpurea)
golden rod
rose geranium
red clover
yellow dock
gotu kola
wood betony

eta: i skipped some common garden herbs and decided to add them as well:
basil, possibly holy basil

that makes 52 i think. an herb a week for 52 weeks!

i have a lot of other things growing in my garden as well that i may use here and there (horehound, hyssop, eucalyptus, spearmint, rue, horse radish and valerian to name a few) but there are herbs that are either tried and true for me or herbs that i want to get to know better and be more comfortable with. several i am already familiar with but don't know well enough. i think by narrowing my focus and using just these herbs to treat whatever crops up will help to deepen my knowledge of them.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

honey heals what ails ya!

one of the classes i took at the conference was healing with honey. i had already read up about about its ability to kill the mrsa infection and knew of its power to heal cuts but i was still amazed after taking this class. lately, intuitively, i've been eating raw honey and feeding it to my 3 year old. turns out, taking 1 teaspoon 3 times a day 30 minutes before eating will kill candida, something that i'm always battling and i suspect my 3 year old is too.

studies have been done in new zealand using honey to treat 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns, gangrene, diabetes and many other diseases, testing honey against huge name drugs and honey blew the socks off of them all.

when treating a deep wound, there is no need to clean the site first as the honey will draw out all the debris. it is recommended to fully pack the wound with honey, soak a gauze pad with more and tape over the wound. unless it is oozing a lot of fluid, the bandage only needs changing once a day. honey will pull the debris out, remove the necroses from the site, heal the skin from the inside out and offer some pain relief.

research has been done to prove using honey effective in many types of wounds including surgery incisions (which are healed w/o the use of sutures) and perineal tears just to name a few.

placing a drop of honey in each eye once a day can help with night vision, improve eyesight and dryness. i am currently testing this out myself. as the herbalist who taught it stated, it burns like the dickens for about a minute but then starts to feel good. i have even noticed the severity lessening with each treatment. i'll be updating on this trial after doing it for a month.

i have also successfully treated sore throats with turmeric and honey and used it when i and my three youngest children had whooping cough this summer. honey has been proven to kill strep and staph infections so any time there's a sore throat, you can bet it will be part of the artillery.

from now on, i'll be reaching for honey whenever there's a wound in sight. i may start making a few herbal honeys just for future use (st. john's wort would be a great one!).

eta: here are some great links from the waikato institute in new zealand on their honey research:

general contents page
research on using honey to treat mrsa

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


i've just returned from the greatest learning experience that i've had in a long time! i spent 3 days in beautiful north carolina meeting and hearing awesome herbalists such as rosemary gladstar, kathleen maier and patricia k. howell and spending time with fellow herbalist blogger maria.

i am more inspired and very moved by this experience. rosemary is such a lively sprite, her laughter and ability to laugh at herself contagious. i am honored to meet the first formal teacher i gained knowledge from through a correspondence course. she is a treat. sadly, i will not be able to study with her in the future as she is hanging up her teaching hat.

kathleen is my new mentor. unfortunately, she does not offer correspondence courses. i feel deeply drawn to her though and attended 3 classes with her including an intensive and wished i could have spent the rest of the time learning from her as her style is very resonant with how i feel.

patricia is very down to earth and has a great dry sense of humor. she and i kept running into each other in the same area of the camp as i hauled my little ones to/from childcare between classes and meals.

all these herbalists recognized me by my 'two little ones.' nice to know that i stuck out in a crowd of 400 women.

and now, i have a huge list of books i must order and read immediately!

maria was just as i imagined her. i look forward to meeting her again someday. her husband and daughter were great too. kaia made us fruit pizzas for our return to her house after the conference.

now i must go through my notes, order books and make sense of the tidbits i recorded from the classes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

must. focus.

lately, i've been feeling like i've not only fallen off the wagon of sustainability, but i've also rolled down the hill, through the woods and into the lake.

time to refocus. gardening went out the window for the most part this year. the animals have become more of a burden than anything (i have multiple lumps and bruises all over my face and legs from an accident this am to prove it). budgeting money has slipped by the wayside (but still i do not own credit cards!). even my herbal business has suffered.

i'm afraid to review my goal list for this year and for the next 5 years but i must. i hate feeling like a hypocrite.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


it made me giggle...

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Alphie Dodge

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Coffee Oatmeal

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name
) K-Bro

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)

Brown Skunk ( used to be purple...potheads will chukle at this one!)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)

Ann Alton

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)

The Olive Water

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)

Wayne Austin

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)

Patchouli Sundrop

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Ann Grant

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)

Whaley Waterloo

12. SPY NAME/BOND GIRL: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)

Spring Bergamot

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)

Apricot Skirty

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)

Oatmeal Gingko Biloba

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)

The Herbal Rain Tour

Thursday, September 6, 2007

flowers as big as your head!

our one and only bloom off the moonflower on the porch. i should have planted it in the ground next to the porch instead of in a pot i think. but, wow! what a bloom it was. the smell was intoxicating. next year, we shall have more moon flowers!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

our solar oven rocks!

right now, our dinner is cooking...meatloaf and potatoes (to become mashed). add a salad of lamb's quarters, tomatoes and onions and a glass of red wine from illinois cellars and you've got a local meal!

Monday, August 27, 2007

here comes the sun!

our wwoofer finished the solar oven saturday and we took it for a test cook yesterday, cooking spaghetti squash in the dutch oven.

it turned out splendidly.

today i was going to cook a pot pie in there but that flopped due to circumstances i'd rather not discuss.

tomorrow, i shall try again...meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

i am excited beyond words as my kitchen remains cool while our food gets cooked!

the oven was built out of scraps. the only cost was a can of silicon caulking to seal the seams and a roll of flashing for lining the interior. the two boxes were built from scraps of 1/4" plywood, insulation was a bunch of old t-shirts, and the glass cover was from an old window i dumpster dived on trash eve from someone's garbage. it's not the prettiest thing, but the beauty is on the inside in the form of cooked food.

Monday, August 20, 2007

to do

boy am i behind!

may to do

-ebay/second hand items search: chamber pot, kerosene heater, water filter, milk tote, s/s strainer, wringer, mini fridge
-finish herbal product restock
-water garden/herb spiral
-make invites
-sew dress
-dr/bath lights installed
-dr drapes
-summer garden in (beans, corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers,etc)
-june cards
-find nubian doe

so, obviously, the wedding has come and gone. kids are back to school and jaden-bird is doing preschool at home. sagey-bear will be 1 in 2 more weeks! time flies.

dare i set goals for the rest of august? i dare!

august to-do
-find ob who has access to copper iud and can do so in a timely manner
-find doors for kia so it can be repaired
-finish ninas room
-finish unit 1 in rosetta stone (i'm halfway through lesson 7 - it goes to 10, 3 classes per lesson)
-find shelter to take clothing and stuff leftover from sale (i'm purging, i'm purging!)

Friday, June 29, 2007

swamped, in more ways than one

it has rained every day for the past week. maybe longer. it reminds me of the midwest flood of '93. (which wouldn't affect us if it happens again but still, cloudy days are depressing).

the garden (and WEEDS) is flourishing. herb gardens are establishing. our wwoof'er emily is keeping the weeds at bay as they slowly threaten to devour every single garden bed we have.

the ceremony plans are coming along. my dress is about 95% finished. jaden's is finished and nina's will be when she gets home sunday. i have outfits for all 3 boys, only one left is greg. he wanted a kilt and i was going to sew it but i ran out of time and was at a loss on finding the buckles needed to complete it.

currently, i am working on the parting gifts. the plates and cups arrived yesterday. i attempted to find some silverware last night but no luck. i'll search again the next few days and come up with something, i'm sure. i have 54 napkins to sew total (15 completed so far), 18 utensil pouches total (1 completed) and 18 carrying bags to complete. the carrying bag fabric still needs to be tie dyed. i ran out of thread and had to run to the fabric store last night to pick it up along with more needles for the machine (it's on it's last one and is getting dull quickly) and advice on how to change my dress sleeves (none received).

we still have to make our quaker wedding certificate. tonight, we must sit down and rough it out. we must! and write our vows. and the ceremony for that matter.

not panicking yet. still have 8 days.

scary, the lady at the fabric store knew the exact amount of days left. think i've been there too many times?

Monday, June 11, 2007

busy as a bee!

carrots from the garden and wild grape leaves in brine

between working the gardens, running the household, tending to the babies and running my business, i am swamped with work. throw planning the commitment ceremony into the mix and you've got the mixings for a nervous breakdown!

just kidding, it's not that bad, just doesn't give a lot of time for blogging.

in the meantime, here are a few pictures of what's been going on...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

fight monsanto!

copied from lucy's blog:

TerraCycle Sued by Miracle Gro

If you do not already know Scott's, a multi-billion dollar company with ties to Monsanto, is suing a small company called TerraCycle that makes tea from worm castings and packages the tea in recycled 2 litre bottles.

They have a blog that explains where Terracycle is coming from.

Many people have been going out to Wal-Mart and buying Terracycle even if they would not normally use the product. As well as boycotting all Scott's products. This is a good thing but this boycott probably is not doing a lot of good (especially if no one is contacting Scott's Miracle Gro and elling hem they are being boycotted) because people who would be supporting Terracycle's cause likely do not buy Miracle Gro et. al.. So this does nothing to Scott's bottom line.

I was talking about this with my husband and another organic grower at a farmers market about. My Husband (who used to work for the K-mart Corp) said if you really want to hurt Scott's (and Wal-Mart) go buy some Miracle Gro (best if on sale) and return 30 days after purchase (the elapsed time will make these corps assume hey have made real sales). Be sure to buy some Terracycle and use it, it's a good product.

What this action does is artificially boosts MG sales so Wal-Mart starts ordering more MG (thinking sales are up). When the MG you bought is returned, that will go back on the shelf, causing an overstock. Soon Wal-Mart (if enough people do this) will start ordering a lot less MG because of all the returns and slow sales and Scott's bottom line will be impacted.

Imagine what could happen if just 1,000 people did this or better yet 100,000 people buying, say, $1,000,000 ($10 per person) of MG product or even $10,000,000 ($100 per person) or 1,000,000 people buying $100,000,000 of MG and returning it all around the same time for a refund.

Wal-Mart is hurt by the restocking costs it must absorb and slower MG sales (which if sales got slow enough MG could be removed from Wal-Mart shelves altogether).

Imagine what could happen if just 1,000 people did this. 1,000 people buying $10 worth of MG and returning it nationwide (or world wide). Better yet, 100,000 people buying, say, $1,000,000 ($10 per person) of MG product or 10,000,000 people buying $100,000,000 of MG and returning it all around the same time for a refund. And "spending" ten bucks is good but what if we all "bought" $100, or more, of MG products and returned them a month later. The more we "spend" the greater the impact

If we all do this and got just one other person to also do this the impact would be noticed. And if our friends get their friends to join in it would be come a movement and we would soon have the TerraCycle massacree (with a nod to Arlo Guhrie). And maybe, just maybe, Scott's Miracle Gro will drop it's suit and let this wonderful grassroots company alone.

Friday, May 25, 2007

help on the way?

3 recent college graduates, one the daughter of a friend, stopped by the farm yesterday to see everything and talk about gardening, herbs and sustainable living. they mentioned they had joined wwoof and were looking for a farm to work on for the summer. i mentioned we'd love to have some wwoof'ers at our farm.

the possibility is that they may very well just do that!

that gets my brain to scheming...

i'd love to get a fancy storage type shed and put it in as a guest house of sorts, complete with a wood burning stove for wintertime use (even if a volunteer wasn't here, i'd use it for spinning and such). we could even get a solar panel attached to it possibly to supply them with a bit of electricity. running water would be the only amenity they'd be missing.

we could get some strapping young men here to help with construction projects that need to be done desperately but that we (greg) lacks the time to do: patching the barn and shed roofs, building a solar shower/composting toilet type bath house, adding gutters to outbuildings to collect rain water, build the summer kitchen, etc.

i could use the help with: canning, harvesting, gardening, weeding, making my herbal products, going to the market on weekends (we could even possibly expand to markets in st. louis!), creating more raised beds, milking the goat(s), etc.

possibly even get some occasional babysitting for an evening if greg and i want to go out (gasp!)and so i can do some contract work outside the home to bring in more income and watch the animals for us when we take our vacations and go to conventions and such.

no, babysitting is not on the wooff'ers list of duties but it would be a bonus. finding a couple that has even their own small child would be great too so we could swap babysitting duties. it definitely opens up all sorts of possibilities!

i could desperately use the help in the garden, especially now since i have to hand wash all of our clothes and have an infant who is attempting to walk, which makes it very hard to work in the garden (and did i mention he also likes to eat everything he can fit in his mouth?!)

Monday, May 14, 2007

100-mile diet

i'm always trying to discreetly convert our household to the 100-mile diet. i'm not a fanatic about it to steal a quote from greg but i do try to add foods as they become available.

recently, we've switched to drinking illinois cellars norton wine. the wine is made from cynthiana grapes and is just as good as a good shiraz not to mention it is cheap. but, the best thing of all, the winery is only 58 miles away from us. our local grocer supposedly carries it but i have yet to see it on the shelves, even though i've seen it advertised in their weekly flyers and the website says they do. i think i'll go to the manager and ask if they could special order a case or two of it for me. it is a reasonably priced wine (ranges from 5.19 - 5.99 per bottle).

also, since i've switched to mostly shopping at my local grocer, i have discovered some more local products. i now buy a salsa that is made in belleville which is just a few towns south of us. also, their beef is local, grass fed, supplemented with only non-gm grains and hays and is antibiotic free. i don't think our local butcher can even boast that. i buy their bread that is not organic or natural but it is made in the bakery and has no corn syrup or preservatives in it.

i am fairly disappointed with their ice cream offerings though. nothing local or natural. they do have starbucks which is sinfully good but expensive and full of crap we don't need. time to start making my own.

i have been doing fairly good about eating mostly organic or natural foods. so good in fact that when we went to so mo saturday, eating a day's worth of crappy food did me in and my gut hurt so bad that night (not to mention i had really bad gas).

summer is a great time to establish a 100-mile diet since produce is abundant. i also have a side of beef on hold for this fall from a friend who raises them nearby. couple that with our retiring laying hens, wether and the possibility of venison and other wild game and we should be good meat wise. we have a crop of wheat growing so we'll see how the yields are from that.

i would love to just eat from what we grow and raise and can get locally but it's convincing everyone else that those bagels, flavored yogurts and ice cream (no one but jaden and i eat my homemade yogurt) and crackers are not necessary that is hard.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

April / May To Do Lists

april to do
-paint nina’s new room 3/4 done (need to paint new color, waiting on greg to finish moving his boxes out)
-make 2 solstice gifts
-b-day gift for mom
-finish kitchen: wainscot, flooring, strip wood trim (as time/weather permits)
-may cards
-curtains for dining room (found the fabric!)
-sew 2-3 more dresses for jaden
-sew 2 outfits (shorts) for sage
-write article #2 for herb magazine
-continue defining 3 new raised beds
-continue creating herb bed
-rough out new herb spiral/water garden
-start summer garden in progress
-mulch, mulch, mulch in progress
-continue trying to purchase kerosene heater and 2nd chamber pot (for wipes) watching ebay auctions in progress
-start watching ebay auctions for water filters in progress
-finish replenishing herbal products for market in progress
-bees! not happening this year it appears...hopefully we can at least get the equipment
-find housesitter for annual trek to colorado

this month didn't go so well, at least not according to this list. i got sidetracked a lot.

but, the garden is steadily coming along and i am progressing on things, just not as fast as i want to be.

may to do:
-ebay/second hand items search: chamber pot, kerosene heater, water filter, milk tote, s/s strainer, wringer, mini fridge
-finish herbal product restock
-water garden/herb spiral
-make invites
-sew dress
-dr/bath lights installed
-dr drapes
-summer garden in (beans, corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers, etc)

i'm leaving this month less filled to try to get more done if possible from my h.f to do list.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

hand-fasting to do list

actual h-f to do:
-finalize guest list
-finalize dress design
-sew dress
-sew girl's dresses
-design invites
-make invites
-create menu
-write vows
-find folk or bluegrass band or something...johnny fox? matt from bigelo's?
-design and make commitment necklace (more on this later)
-find photographer

house related:
-install dr chandelier
-install downstairs bath sconces
-finish kitchen (wainscot, ceiling, floor, trim)
-install ceiling fan in living room
-make and hang dr drapes
-make and hang new curtain for kitchen door

-plant lots of flowers
-shape up veggie garden
-expand herb garden
-install solar shower
-would like outdoor kitchen to be built
-water garden/herb spiral completed

3 months isn't a long time to do all this is it?!

spring is back on!

weather is warming up again. i took lots of notes about what survived...good lesson for winter gardening!

what adores a good hard freeze:
-mustard greens

what doesn't:

what will hang on:

that's a fair variety to grow in a winter garden.

i just received news that we are the proud owners of a nubian buckling. he is black & brown with spots and i believe white ears! born april 16 which means we'll be bringing him home mid-june. i can't wait!! now to find a doeling or two. i'll probably have to wait until next year for that.

i'd also like to acquire a navajo churro ewe and ram (sheep) and have recently gotten some ideas on how i could make an easy temp fence to move them around. now just to find the $500 to purchase them! that may need to wait a year as well.

i've been working like crazy outdoors, mulching paths, weeding, much to do! luckily, jaden loves the outdoors and sage is content to sit and watch me work so it's been easy to do. i'm trying to pretty up the place a bit by planting lots of flowers in hopes it will be colorful for our upcoming several-times-rescheduled hand-fasting/commitment ceremony we are planning this summer. after 7 years together, we'll finally be tying the knot. of course, that means i have a HUGE list of expectations for home renovations!

our chicks are growing like crazy! i'm trying to create a way to take them outside during the day for fresh air. right now, they are in the greenhouse.

keeping bees is a no-go this year unless we are treated to another swarm. we'll be getting all the equipment though so we'll be prepared, just in case. our local beekeeper lost 14 of 25 hives over the winter so he was unable to sell us one as he had originally planned.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

good things

the weather is being cruel right now so i'm going to only focus on the positive...

...beautiful order from simmons berry farm: blueberries, cynthiana grapes (someday, our own norton wine!), raspberries and blackberries

...morels found 10 feet from my back door! seriously, in my yard!!

...a new greenhouse to start growing seedlings in

...lots of great plans for this year

...illinois cellars coming out with a wine that proves illinois can grow an excellent red wine grape (norton)

...did i mention the morels in our yard?!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

monthly to do

march to do

-paint nina’s new room 3/4 done (need to paint new color, waiting on greg to finish moving his boxes out...still waiting)
-make bloomers for girls
-make 2 solstice gifts (came up with more ideas!)
-ostara gifts made for kids
-finish kitchen: wainscot, flooring, paint, strip wood trim (waiting for greg to cut the wainscot. put stripping on hold because sage is getting mobile and i don't want him to get into the mess)
-april cards, start may cards
-curtains for dining room (if i find fabric i like which didn't happen)
-sew apron for me (would like to have 2-3)
-write article #2 for herb magazine didn't happen but still meeting my expectations on this goal!
-start garden! (spring greens: radishes, lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli)
-purchase kerosene heater watching ebay auctions
-investigate water filters
-start replenishing herbal products for market

so-so on the goals this month. it was a long month.
april should be much better, right?!

april to-do:

-paint nina’s new room 3/4 done (need to paint new color, waiting on greg to finish moving his boxes out)
-make 2 solstice gifts
-make mom's b-day gift
-finish kitchen: wainscot, flooring, strip wood trim (as time/weather permits)
-may cards
-curtains for dining room (if i find fabric i like)
-sew 2-3 more dresses for jaden
-sew 2 outfits (shorts) for sage
-write article #2 for herb magazine
-continue defining 3 new raised beds
-continue creating herb bed
-rough out new herb spiral/water garden
-start summer garden
-mulch, mulch, mulch
-continue trying to purchase kerosene heater and 2nd chamber pot (for wipes) watching ebay auctions
-start watching ebay auctions for water filters
-finish replenishing herbal products for market
-find housesitter for annual trek to colorado

Friday, March 30, 2007

is there anything better?

a handmade dress from a handmade pattern using a cast off shirt and skirt of mine. i made it a bit big so it will fit her two years.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

gardening notes

garden to do list for this week:

-plant potatoes (beds are ready)
-transplant herbs
-sow herb seeds
-start sowing late spring veggies (green beans, cukes, etc)
-start rest of summer seeds indoor
-mulch paths
-mulch onions, potatoes, strawberries
-weed raised beds
-order raspberry and blackberry canes, gooseberries, cynthiana grapes!,
-pot up herb plants to be sold at market started
-sprinkle lime in tomato beds

today i weeded the stawberry bed, potted up some motherwort and harvested a lot of yellow dock roots. i still need to clean them and chop them up but can save that for later.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

cinnamon and lavender

next year, hopefully we'll have richer milk with our newest arrivals...nubian/oberhasli mixed does. aren't they sweet?!

cold, gloomy day projects

today i spent the day re-doing my two aprons i made w/o a pattern. the brown one i had to completely take apart and resew. i added the pockets and crossed the back straps too. i love it! the pockets have lots of room, just like i like them.

the floral print still needs the straps to be crossed but it now has added pockets and has been slimmed down on the bodice piece to fit better.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


my onion order arrived. i wish i would have had it on monday when it was nice out and i was planting. it's supposed to get cold and rainy the next few days. grrr!

the next chance i get, in the ground will go 2 bunches (about 60 each) each of:
-first addition
-red bull

i'm bummed. i thought first addition was a red and it's not. it's a yellow. only 2 bunches of red onions. hopefully the yellow will be tasty and make up for it.

also, i purchased 50 lbs of red seed potatoes today. again, they will go into the ground asap. i'll need to cut them up and let them dry out a bit first though. hopefully, they'll be in soon.

ideally, everything needs to get into the ground before sunday when the moon turns new.

Monday, March 12, 2007

let the gardening begin...

...totally AGAINST the moon cycle i might add but when one has two small children/babes to work around, one learns to seize any sunny opportunity that comes her way.

in the garden went:

mixed lettuce
mustard greens

indoors, i started some tomatoes and herbs.

i pulled the plastic off the hoop house a few days ago...everything is growing like gang busters (turnips, kale, spinach, carrots, lettuce). i should be harvesting soon. in fact, i could have some turnip greens now.

Friday, March 9, 2007

proof that silver maples can be tapped....

...and believe me, it is JUST as yummy as any old sugar maple tree sap!

sitting in my kitchen are 2 cups of maple syrup boiled down from tree sap (it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup). this is my first attempt at tapping our trees and i'm quite pleased so far.

also, our doe kidded last week and is freshened!!! i have missed our fresh milk so this is a joyous day indeed.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

monthly to do

february to do

-paint dining room (oops! did this in january)

-finish moving caleb

-paint nina’s new room 3/4 done

-move nina

-paint studio

-tap maple trees

-kitchen facelift: paint, put up wainscot, replace shelves, acquire 3x3 kitchen table (want to spend more time in kitchen but have nowhere to sit), investigate flooring beneath vct in progress - painting is 95% done

-sew curtains for front and back door and dining room windows

-march & april cards

-make 1 solstice gift

-ostara gifts made for kids

-purchase kerosene heater (back up heat source, part of preparedness plan) not in budget this month

-research and purchase laptop and printer

-get taxes done

-make bloomers for girls patterns made

overall, not bad on completing the list. the kitchen has become a huge project just because of the shape of it and the multitude of stuff (food, dishes, etc) to move and work around. it is shaping up nicely and will definitely be finished by the end of this month. because i got busy working in there, i neglected other items on my to do but i will start picking back up on them.

march to do

-paint nina’s new room 3/4 done (need to paint new color, waiting on greg to finish moving his boxes out)

-make bloomers for girls patterns made

-make 2 solstice gifts

-ostara gifts made for kids

-finish kitchen: wainscot, flooring, paint, strip wood trim

-april cards, start may cards

-curtains for dining room (if i find fabric i like)

-sew apron for me (would like to have 2-3)

-write article #2 for herb magazine

-start garden! (spring greens: radishes, lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli)

-purchase kerosene heater

-investigate water filters

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

tapping maple trees

some great links i found on tapping maple trees:

bulletin 7036 - main extension office

ma maple producers website - great info on tree identification, how to tap your own, recipes, explaining sap flow, etc. great for homeschoolers!

great misc. tips

kitchen maple

i am in the process of giving the kitchen a facelift. already, it looks so much better. i can't wait until it is finished. it is a slow process made even slower because i told greg my plans and so now he's helping which means i have to work with his time schedule. a mixed blessing. he can do the heavy work for me (cutting the wainscot,etc) but now, i have to wait for him to do the things he wants to do before moving forward (such as installing the shelves for me so i can move the two existing shelves to the basement). it is about 1/2 painted. the color is wonderful. very martha stewartish which greg is not thrilled about (it is a robin egg blue and he thought it would be a bit greener). however, he made a suggestion which got my gears turning so now, i'm booting out all the shelving in the kitchen and replacing the one i was going to keep in there with the deacon's bench so we'll have a seat next to the door for putting on/taking off shoes. hopefully, i'll be able to empty out its contents (herb stuff) so we can store shoes, coats, hats, etc. in there.

next up, something i forgot to add to my february to-do list but have been wanting to do since last february is tap two of our maples and attempt maple syrup making. a friend gave me two taps and so i'll be researching that today and going full speed ahead!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

chalkboard paint

i picked up a martha stewart magazine at the library (jan 2oo7) and discovered a chalkboard paint recipe to make any wall paint color into chalkboard paint. i am thinking about using it on a wall above a table i am putting in the kitchen when i redo it. the recipe is very simple:

1 c. flat paint, color of your choice
2 T. powdered tile grout

mix and apply several coats on wall to evenly cover. sand with 150 grit sandpaper until smooth. condition by rubbing side of chalk over surface and then wiping off with a lightly damp sponge.

i'm not sure greg will be crazy about this though. we'll see. also, i just sent him to the store with the paint chip selection for the kitchen and i'm sure he'll purchase semi-gloss instead of flat. personally, i prefer flat but he likes the semi-gloss. i just don't care for shiny walls but i guess in the kitchen, it's more scrubbable that way.

Monday, February 12, 2007

gift planning

february -
valentine's day
kids - cards and sugar cookies

march -
adelena - mini dish set for doll house
jaden - mini dish set for doll house
all kids: homemade marshmallow treats

3 - greg's b-day
8 - maggie's b-day

12 - tom's b-day
13 - mother's day white echinacea plants (have seeds, need to start at end of this month)
19 - kim's b-day embroidered dish towel(s)*

17 - father's day

8 - caleb's b-day
mom's b-day
embroidered dish towel(s)

13 - jaden's b-day matching animal card set,
31 - sage's b-day

9 nina's b-day clothes and accessories for josefina

14 - dad's b-day

7 - ridge's b-day
22 - solstice
mom & dad - photo album
kim & tom - photo album
jane - earrings*
ian - matching game set
jen & eric
(3) girls - matching game set, phonogram card set,
barbara - photo album
lisa - pics of kids, earrings*
lauri - jewelry set*
johnny -
john -
vicki - pics of kids, earrings*
mike -
tori - matching game set


Friday, February 9, 2007

preparedness list

one of my goals for this year is to be more prepared, be it for short term or long term emergencies. since there are a lot of items to procure, i've broken them down to several lists and as short term vs. long term emergency items.

my definition of short term emergency is anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days or weeks. things like water being shut off due to pipeline break, tornadoes destroying property, loss of a job and loss of electricity from a storm all fall into this category. in other words, a temporary situation that can/will be rectified to make life go back to 'normal.'

long term emergency would essentially be the end of life as we know it. lack of oil causing shortages of gas and other petroleum based products, major catastrophes causing a disruption in governmental power, the power grid, etc. would fall into this category. basically, life would not go back to 'normal' and we would need to fend what we have and make do with what we have.

while my instincts scream 'buy everything right now!!!' financially it is not feasible so i am starting with short term emergency items. i'll then move on to long term and once they are covered, i'll get into 'luxury' items (things we wouldn't need to sustain our lives but would make things much nicer such as an ice cream maker).

here are the categories i've come up with so far:

clothing- covers everything from making clothes to cleaning them
food storage/preservation - covers everything from storing seeds to storing food
food production - covers everything from raising and butchering livestock/animals to growing in a garden and other means of production such as a green house, still, etc.
cooking / canning - covers everything from preparing meals in all conditions to putting up food
shelter / heat - covers everything from protecting/preserving our home to heating it in the winter
comfort / lighting - covers things that give us comfort and how to see at night (alternative solutions to electricity)
sanitation - covers toiletries
water supply - everything from harvesting to storing and purifying
personal care - dental care, haircuts, soaps, etc.
communication - contacting outside world (friends, family)
medical - for ourselves and animals. includes conventional and herbal care
transportation - alternative sources of getting around
self defense - anything from guns to martial arts
misc. - past times, games, fun stuff, education (teaching kids the basics beyond all the above)

anything i'm forgetting?

now, i plan on going through each of these categories and making lists of what we have to contribute towards them so far, what we need to add and figure out if it's a sti, lti or li.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

a year from now...

...i hope that the meal i'm preparing tonight will mostly come from our efforts:
-chicken baked with almonds and cheese
-acorn squash
-baked potatoes w/butter
-fresh baked bread

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

solstice gifts

check it...i just found a gift idea for kids for solstice!

these beautiful matching cards modge-podged onto thin wood (plywood scraps) to make a matching game. also, these might be made into flashcards too.

heck, while i'm at it, i might make some coloring books too!

i'm so excited! they will rock! off to count the # of kids to make them for...

activity website

calling all homeschoolers. here is a great website!

jan brett

i love her drawings and had printed out her alphabet cards for nina years ago. now she has a lot more stuff!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

january and february goals

january goals:

-plan 2007 garden
-inventory existing seeds

-order seeds
-research growing mushrooms
-purge clothing & magazines
-plan food preservation
-check/update truck emergency box
-review & streamline production line
-review & tweak budget
-knit hat &
gloves for self (bartered gloves w/fellow blogger)
-move caleb into new room (we are almost done with this)
-return borrowed diapers (haven’t gotten to that part of town yet, should be able to this month)
-create gift timeline calendar
-make jewelry set for lauri, vicki, lisa &
embroider 1 dishtowel for sister (almost done)
-create feb special day cards
-write outline for next herbal class (halfway done, put on back burner for a month or so)
-write article for essential herbal (deadline jan 15)
-prioritize and start acquiring preparedness items
-sew 1 clothing item

overall, i am pleased with myself on getting most of the list done. with the exception of the mushrooms, i have at least started everything. the diapers aren’t out of the house but they are all packed together in 1 bag.

february goals:

- paint dining room (oops! did this in january)
-paint adelena’s new room
-move adelena
-kitchen facelift: paint, put up wainscot, replace shelves, acquire 3x3 kitchen table (want to spend more time in kitchen but have nowhere to sit), investigate flooring beneath vct
-sew curtains for front and back doors and dining room
-march cards
-make 1 solstice/birthday gift
-ostara gifts made for kids
-purchase kerosene heater (back up heat source, part of preparedness plan)
-research and purchase laptop and printer
-get taxes done
-make bloomers for kids

bed head

tired of having a cold head at night, i knitted up a cap to wear to bed. it knit up in about 3 hours. jaden likes it a lot. i’ll be knitting her one next.
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