I have been blessed by Charlotte. I mentioned to her that I would love a neckalce with all the kids’ initials stamped in metal. And Voila! I absolutely love it.It is everything I wanted. It’s beautiful and delicate, but strong. I love every detail about it. And I love her heart in making it for me!
Our 4H group runs some really fun camps for the kids during the summer! Susie and James went to a day workshop about leather working. They both got to make a belt. They stamped it and dyed it. We’ve done quite a bit of leather working in the past, and it is always fun to see the finished results. They got a few tips from the Tandy Leather Company rep that came to help them get started!
A friend requested that I share some of the crafts that my kids have done. This is a little house done out of make and bake it clay. Susie loves to create tiny detailed things out of clay. Notice the leaded glass front door window. She has put a tea light in the house making it an adorable night light. We aren’t big “fairy” people, but if I was a fairy, I’d definitely want to live here! This is a knife that Tommy made out of a file that he found laying around. He had to grind it down. The method includes heating the cutting edge to a different temp than the back of the blade. After heating it in a ground forge he set up, he quenched it in motor oil. I’m sure he can tell you all the details, much better than I can. I love the handle. He cut squares of leather and stacked them together. Then he ground them down to the shape he wanted for his hand. I am in awe of his craftsmanship and skill.
Every year Jeremie and I sit down and toss around ideas for this farm of ours. Projects to be tackled. Countless items to be fixed. Purchases to be saved for. And then I add my own personal goals as well. And for the last couple years I have written down, “Learn to make cheese.”. I’ve done the easy stuff like mozzarella and goat cheese. But I want to tackle cheddar and Colby. I have no excuse now, except my own fear to hold me back! Look at this beautiful cheese press Jeremie made! He researched different methods for pressing the whey out of cheese and came up with this design. I cannot wait to give it a try. Too bad you have to wait so long to try your cheese before you know what it’s going to taste like.
While the older girls were enjoying the dirt and dust of the barn arena in KC, the rest of us were enjoying the lovely downtown area. We saw a fabulous electric train display at the gorgeous Union Station. The kids were fascinated by all the tiny models of people, animals, towns, and trains. It was really loud in there with all those engines going! Then we took the skybridge over to the Crown Plaza where we visited Lego Land. I. Just. Can’t. Even. All those legos! All those bricks! All those mini figures! It was such a fun experience for my kids that adore Legos. Then we headed over to Kaleidoscope. This is an area hosted by the Hallmark Company. It is full of different arts and crafts stations for the kids to create, create, and create some more. The kids made artwork, then turned it into a puzzle. They painted. It was so fun to see them all engaged to intently. And Benja…that boy and his tape. Unlimited tape, tubes and paper. He was in heaven! Kansas City was a lovely city. Just a little, big city. I had heard negative things about it (the armpit of the midwest?) but I thought it was wonderful!
Here are a few of our favorite craft items this year. I like to post pictures so next year the kids can look back and remember what they made so there are no duplicates! And I didn’t get a picture of it, but James made an awesome walking stick. He sanded, stained and poly U’d it all by himself. And Tommy made lego robot that solves the rubix cube, but unfortunately the rubix cube we ordered from Walmart was the wrong size, so he didn’t get to enter it.
Jeremie and the oldest three have been gone for a few days. While they were gone, the kids and I made all sorts of concoctions in the kitchen! I always have a green salve on hand for baby butt rashes and bug bites. Usually I buy dried herbs to infuse into oils, but I was inspired by a friend to harvest my own. We have an ABUNDANCE of plantain growing in the yard. Sadly, the lawn had just been mowed. No, not sadly. I mean I an super greatful to have short grass! That is an on-going struggle at the Funny Farm.
Jeremie Some people around here like to have the yard look like a hay pasture! Anyway, I was still able to find plenty of large leaves of plantain in the orchard. Plantain is good for so very many things! Look it up! Bug bites, burns, itchies. It’s edible, so add some to your salad! After thoroughly washing them (I do have chickens, remember? And chickens poop everywhere.) I dehydrated them in my Excalibur. You never want to infuse oils with fresh herbs because the water content in the plant matter will make your oil go rancid or moldy. Except when it comes to Jewelweed. That’s another wild plant that we harvested this weekend. Jewelweed is God’s remedy for poison ivy. He even plants is right in the same vicinity. Jewelweed has a juicy stalk that, when applied to the infected area, counter acts the irritation caused by poison ivy. But these juices are ineffective after being dried. So after we harvested this jewel of a weed 😉 (three times!) I did a couple different things with it. First, I chopped up the stalks and leaves and covered them in water. After letting it simmer on the stove for a couple hours I strained the plant matter out. This juice will stay good in the fridge for a few weeks, but I froze most of mine in ice cube trays to be used as needed at a later date. Don’t forget to pop those frozen cubes into a ziplock container so they don’t dry out in the freezer! Applied directly to the infected area, the coolness and the jewelweed juice ease the pain and the itch. I also used the infused water to make a batch of jewelweed soap. This soap is packed with poison ivy fighting weapons! I infused the water and the oil both, before mixing together. I made the bars very small, individual size. Only two people in the family suffer from a reaction to the poison ivy. Once a bar of soap gets wet, it doesn’t last as long, so I wanted many, small sized bars for the many times Tommy or Benja need them. Then I also infused oil with this plant. Specifically avocado oil and sweet almond oil that are so good and nourishing for the skin. Care must be taken when infusing a fresh herb into oils because of the water content. After the oil is infused let it rest and the water should sink to the bottom. Simply pour off the good oil, leaving behind the bit with water. This will help keep the oil or salve fresh longer. There are a couple different ways to infuse oil. You can let the herbs and oil sit in the sunlight for a couple weeks, giving it a good shake now and then. Or you can heat the jar of oil in a crockpot on low overnight. Or you can heat the oil with the herb on the stovetop. But keep the heat low! I used the infused oil for my soap and I also made some salve by adding a few tablespoons of beeswax to the strained oils. The last thing I did with my jewelweed was to make a tincture. I chopped the plant, put it in a mason jar and covered it with witch hazel. 100 proof vodka would work as well, but witch hazel is cheaper. If using vodka, the tincture can be taken internally, just a few drops in a shot glass of water. I keep the witch hazel infusion is a small glass spray bottle to apply topically to the infected area. This works not only for poison ivy, but for bug bites and burns as well. There is some controversy regarding tinctures and jewelweed so do your own research. But it works fabulous for us! You might think I’ve got a bit overboard with my remedies, but folks, if you could see Tommy and Benja suffer you would understand. It’s horrible. And we have poison ivy everywhere. And fences must be run. And forts must be built. And creeks must be explored. And boys must be boys.
This post is already too long, so I’ll share the rest of our wildcrafting adventures another day.
Lately my kids have been delighting in making little boats to float in the pond. It’s been a great lesson, figuring out why some boats float better than others, why some boats flip over in the water, why some sink. The kids have made little people as sailors out of wooden beads and have decorated sails out of scrap fabric. What a fun activity..even more so when it’s time to take them out to the pond for their maiden voyage.
Katie was honored to perform her speech at the regional contest for 4H down in Lexington, Tn. Only 3 kids were asked to go from our county. The competition was fierce, but the experience was so valuable. Public speaking is always scary, but it gets easier every time and is such a great skill to possess. We hope our kids grow up to be bold speakers, able to communicate clearly. Through them, the world can be changed, people can be reached with the gospel, lives can be transformed.Ruthie has been growing by leaps and bounds it seems. She loves to clean and help around the farm. Recently she has insisted on washing the table after meals. Her short little arms don’t reach very far but she doesn’t let that stop her. She just climbs right up and wipes all the mess away 😉A couple of the girls received shrinky dink paper for Christmas. Far from the lame my little pony/colored pencil craft I remember from my childhood, there are all sorts of cool jewelry and stuff one can make with it. Recently they’ve been churning out everything monogrammed. I like the Southern quote, “if it’s not moving, monogram it”!