Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

december blog party: herbal aesthetics

this month's blog party is all about the beautiful side of herbs. cory at aquarian bath is hosting. swing by her blog to see all the submissions after dec 1.

we have a lot of fun dying silks using herbs. our two favorites are poke berries and black walnuts. it takes about 2 weeks total to do. all sorts of herbs can be used. i've even used dandelion blossoms to make a pale yellow. goldenrod, elderberry and st. john's wort all make great dyes too! poke berry is not color fast, but it is such a lovely color that we just try to re-dye our silks each year.

to dye silks, first, i fill a half gallon jars with the herb i am using. i mashed any berries a bit in their jar (the walnut hulls i just break up roughly & stuff in. i add enough water to fill each jar to the top. then i set them out in the sun for about a week, shaking every day.

the next week, i strain out the plants and add 1/4 teaspoon of alum to each jar. you can find alum in the spice section at the grocery store.
next, in go the silks. i buy ours from dharma trading. (the 35 x 35 make a great size). i've also dyed a silk dress that i found at a thrift shop with the walnuts. it is a beautiful shade of gold. i hope to dye it again to make it darker as it is the same color as my hair right now and makes me look a bit bland.

i push them in with a stick and make sure they are covered. then i let them sit for up to another week, shaking & stirring daily, turning them with a stick to get all areas evenly exposed.

the longer they sit, the darker they get. drain out the liquid and rinse with cool water until the water is clear.

black walnut rinsed and wet:

black walnut dry. can you see the leaf design??? that was a total accident caused by wrinkled fabric but a really nice one.

poke wet:

and dry:

now all that’s left to do is play with them!

these make GREAT gifts for friends! natural herbal dyes can be used to dye all sorts of natural fibers from wool to cotton to silk to linen. each fiber will naturally dye a little differently.

another fun temporary dye using poke berries is for hair dye. poke is not very colorfast, even with alum. when used on hair, it washes out very easily but is a fun way to spice up your hair. simply mash, paint on with your fingers or a wide paint brush and viola!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


i love change. in fact, i crave it! today i started painting the 3 doors in our kitchen with chalkboard paint. so fun! jaden and sage helped as well. they are fairly good with a paint brush for their ages. these chalkboards will see much drawings and writing, practicing spelling, math, etc., creating drawings for main lessons, a place for communicating between family members: items we need from the store, things needing to get done, activities and appointments we have coming up, to do lists, list of items to take with me when running errands, etc. it's going to be very useful i think! jaden is in awe that she will actually be able to color on the walls, lol!

painting the doors changed the entire look of the kitchen. the previous people had painted the inner panels a hideous red (they had a coca-cola theme going on so everything was white, black and red). the retreat of the red was a pleasing sight! i think the black is a definite improvement. once i'm finished painting them, i'll try to remember to post some pictures. for now, you'll just have to take my word for it!

this week, we created a gratitude tree. i saw this on a homeschooling blog and thought it was lovely. on our daily walk, we found a cherry tree sapling that had died for the tree and then gathered fallen leaves to string up on the tree. then, each day, we wrote on a leaf what we were grateful for and used thread to hang the leaves. it made a nice centerpiece for our untraditional thanksgiving meal.

yesterday we started working on our advent wreath and candles. i thought it would be fun to make the candles so i broke out the beeswax, crayons and candle wicking string. after the wax melted, i dipped the wicks into the wax and let them dry. then i wrapped the centers around pencils so we could dip 2 at a time then we all dipped...greg even joined in for a bit of the fun.the last candle i dipped in melted crayons to make an orange candle to represent the sun on solstice. here they are in their lumpy glory, before i trimmed up the ends. i must confess the orange candles looked very phallic and reminded me of the orange stinkhorns that visit us in our yard on occasion.

today, we cleared off our nature table. boy, was it a mess! we settled on a dark greeny-gold walnut hull dyed playsilk as our cloth and clipped some spruce branches for the wreath. i dug out some old candle holders and viola! our table is ready to start the advent celebration tomorrow. we'll be using the traditional waldorf poem along with a pagan twist to set the advent tone each sunday morning. jaden had a blast helping me set the table up.

i haven't done an advent since childhood. i think it will be a fun way to count down to solstice!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

routine visit

we have been lacking routines in our life to say the least, or perhaps, more honestly, developed routines that are not healthy for ourselves and household. having committed myself to schooling more in the waldorf manner, i'm taking this opportunity to visit our routines and start tweaking them.

two places i want to start are morning routines and bedtime routines. we have slipped into the habit/routine of watching too many dvd's. it has become custom to pop a dvd into the player as soon as jaden gets up, at her request. generally, i'm fumbling around on the computer, trying to catch up on emails and work a bit while they sleep which is just silly because they always wake w/in 20-30 minutes of me. so, one thing i've tried with success is popping a cd into the player instead and listening to some gentle waking music such as cat stevens. morning has broken is one of my favorites by him so i try to have that playing when they rise. i also am trying to get into the habit of leaving the computer off for that time and getting breakfast made pronto. instead of us scattering (kids usually eat breakfast while finishing up their movie and me at the computer), i'm working on us sitting at the kitchen table together. we've started saying a waldorf type blessing (jaden requested we start saying a blessing) that i've tweaked a bit:

earth who gave us all this food
sun who made it warm and good
mother earth and father sun
we thank you for the work you've done.

it works well for us. after that, i'm trying to get us into the habit of combing out hair, no easy task with all our long, wild, tangly hair (mine included). i try to braid all of it or put it into a ponytail but jaden is in a princess phase right now and won't let me braid the entire hair, just the sides and pull them back together.

once we get that routine established, i'll start getting our circle time established. more to come when that actually happens.

the other routine we just started tonight is getting them to bed by 8:30. this is no small feat. again, they are accustomed to watching a movie and falling asleep (usually) on our laps while doing so, around 930 or 10. so, i suggested to greg that we DON'T watch a movie every night (something i detest doing anyway but if i don't put one in, he goes upstairs and sits on his computer all night and leaves me to deal with the kids alone). i suggested that we establish a bedtime routine starting around 8pm by putting on their jammies (we don't bathe daily so i'd rather do baths during the day), having a snack at the table, brushing teeth and then sitting down to read a book. sage was not into it tonight and greg finally took him up to bed. jaden loves to be read to and fell asleep laying next to me while i read. so, the first night was fairly successful although my intent is that greg and i get alone time at night to either a). watch an adult movie (rated r movie) b). read c). talk d). work on a project (for me right now, it's working on sage's solstice gift). greg ended up falling asleep when he took sage up but i managed to get some work done on the solstice gifts.

holidays and weekends are generally killer on routines and starting one today seems a bit odd but we didn't go anywhere for thanksgiving, stayed at home and had the best one in our lives. greg cooked a lovely meal of pork roast with potatoes, carrots, bacon, scallions and bell peppers plus gravy, sauteed zucchini, fried apples and scalloped potatoes. i contributed homemade bread and homemade cranberry sauce (grind up a bag of cranberries with a whole orange, skin and all, add about 1 cup of honey and chill. yum!). plus, i made two butternut squash pies with freshly whipped cream.

tomorrow, we'll most likely all get up later than normal since greg's alarm won't be waking us at 5:00am. but, i'll attempt to get up and start breakfast so that it will be ready to eat when everyone gets up.

i'd love to hear everyone else's homeschooling morning and bedtime routines...are your weekends different than your weekdays? how do you handle the grey area of morning between you waking and the kids waking (if there is any)? i get great ideas from all my blogging friends. :) care to share your routines?


i really do need to organize my blog links. i've been adding some homeschooler links that are inspirational. one i've recently added is annette's blog. annette is the author of the wonderful seasonl preschool waldorf curriculum seasons of joy. she JUST came out with an advent curriculum that looks delightful and is giving away a copy on her blog. stop by for your chance to win it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

absinthe makes the heart grow fonder...

...that IS how the saying goes, isn't it?!

i finally have wormwood in my garden and decided to harvest up a bit and try my hand at absinthe making. i'm currently converting the grams to ounces and dried to fresh so i can brew up a batch and see what happens...i'm thinking of a few friends who would be tickled green to get some absinthe for the holidays...

the ginger beer making efforts have been a flop twice. i keep forgetting to feed the starter. oye. too many distractions at this moment. i must try again when i've got it on my mind. ginger just so happens to be january's herb so i'll be working on projects for that very soon and will try again while i'm focusing on ginger.

our washer completely died but greg patched up my maytag wringer washer which i absolutely love...i worry about energy conservation using it but i suppose it can't use any more than the regular washer did. now that it's working again, it is overcast and threatening to rain. i washed a load anyway but they are just hanging on the line, not drying at all. unfortunately, it is too warm to justify building a fire in the stove so i can hang them inside as well. this time of the year is hard for drying clothing!

lorilee posted a great website/blog that has ideas on incorporating books into real life. the blog is called jump into a book and the subject is 'something to do book review.' it's got me thinking of how i loved acting out/doing things i read in books as a child (gone away lake and my side of the mountain are two that come to mind). i'm going to have to dig through our books and start bringing them to life for the kids!

progressive pioneer giveaway

this week, the progressive pioneer is featuring herbal roots zine and luna herb co (my herbal product line) in a great calendula themed giveaway! head on over for a chance to get a copy of calendula (august 09) plus my cale-comfrey salve, baby oil, spicy soap and rose calendula lotion!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

holiday gift thoughts

i hope to knit up a bunch of small items this year for solstice gifts:

crowns for the kids (aren't these great? you can do them with or w/o the hat...i plan to do w/o and do a different color band for each of the 3 kids i'll knit them for)

scarves for the american girl dolls simple 1" x 18" knit scarf with fringe for nina and jaden's girls

american girl doll clothing for jaden's fake kirsten doll: jammies, dress, leather shoes

i found this great etsy seller (from bek) who makes very inexpensive wooden blanks. i ordered dinosaurs, king, queen, princess, prince (she made one just for me and then added it to her shop!), dragons, castle set, tree asst. i get to paint them and decide who gets what.

creating a doctor's kit for jaden (who wants one and likes to play with my medical supplies: stethoscope, otoscope, blood pressure cuff, etc.)

my 3 youngest are the easiest to shop/make for. the 3 oldest are the hardest and i'm's hard making things or buying inexpensively when their tastes/desires are not! but, i'm working on it...

more to come!
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