Wildcrafting

Charlotte and Susie made countless runs down into the woods for "just one more bunch, please?!" of jewelweed.

Charlotte and Susie made countless runs down into the woods for “just one more bunch, please?!” of jewelweed.

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.IMG_2899 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. IMG_2900You 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.IMG_2904 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. IMG_2915Don’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. IMG_2921This 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. IMG_2928Then 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! IMG_2925I used the infused oil for my soap and I also made some salve by adding a few tablespoons of beeswax to the strained oils.IMG_2926 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. IMG_2909I 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.

Noky?

No! Gnocci!! A delicious, plump potato-y dumpling. Amazing. And homemade bolognese sauce. Oooooh, it was good, let me tell you. IMG_4161The girls have a friend who is from Brazil. But Ms. Gina also has spent time in France and Italy. Her cooking is out of this world!IMG_4177 She spent one afternoon teaching the girls how to make gnocci. It is quite an involved process, but so worth it.IMG_4167 Potato, cheese, flour, eggs, rolled together, cut into small pieces, boiled, cooled, covered with warm sauce. Mmmm! All the kids enjoyed it. IMG_4147And they enjoyed her fancy desserts..chocolate mousse cake, coconut pudding with prune sauce.IMG_4202 It was like eating at a delicious ethnic restaurant, plus we got to spend time with an amazing friend.IMG_4208

A taste of summer

Bright yellow cheery lemons! An order of sweet meyer lemons has arrived from our local co-op! Nothing beats the winter doldrums better than a tart, tangy lemon-y treat! I sliced many of the lemons and froze them so they will be ready to add to lemonade or water kefir all summer long.IMG_2393 I made a ton of lemon curd. I have a plethora of eggs, so what better way to use them than in a beautiful curd. And the whites were reserved for Katie to make a couple angle food cakes out of. I love lemon curd on scones, on biscuits, in yogurt, on angel food cake, in smoothies, but right out of the jar is my favorite way to enjoy it.IMG_2398 I’m also trying something new this time. Lemon infused vodka. After a month of sitting in a dark pantry, I will strain the lemons out, mash them, mix them with some honey and water and add back to the lemon infused vodka. What a great way to spike some summertime drink! IMG_2389

Sticks and Glue

IMG_2248Lately 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.IMG_2250

I’m so bluuuueee

IMG_2119While cleaning out the greenhouse I was packaging up some heirloom dent corn that I grew for the animals. I also came across these beautiful blue ears of dent corn that was gifted from a friend. The cobs take up so much room so the kids and I de-cobbed it.IMG_2120 I plan to use it for cornmeal, grinding it in the wheat mill. And for feeding the animals. I have a lactating, bred cow that will love the extra energy from it. And of course, save some for growing this summer. It was a lot of work. My thumb had a blister the size of dime by the time we finished. But I hear tell it makes delicious cornbread!IMG_2133

Quilting

I guess to be more accurate I should title this post “blanket making”, since I didn’t really have to “piece” anything. But anyhow….

I used the same fabric for the back and binding. Here is the "quilt" laid out and ready for trimming.

I used the same fabric for the back and binding. Here is the “quilt” laid out and ready for trimming.

I have had these tye-dyed fabrics that I made one year at Family Camp and I’ve been waiting for just the right project for them. Feeling inspired one weekend I decided to turn them into quick and easy baby quilts for our highly-anticipated new one. I just used leftover fleece and flannel for the filling, so the project came together quickly. I have a special foot on my sewing machine that lets me freehand stitch and I love the results. No puckers like I struggled with last time! Can’t wait to snuggle a new baby in this hand-stitched, hand-dyed earthy lovliness! IMG_0669

Knitting Part Deux

Well, it’s seems I’ve been bitten again by the knitting bug. I just can’t resist all those cute little girlie patterns! Ruthie’s cardigan is finished, complete with blingy buttons. But she doesn’t like the buttons and tries to pull them off. I love the puffed sleeves and the dreamy aqua color. IMG_0559And this is soon to be a romper for the new babe. Everyone asks me “what is a romper?” It will be a one piece pants/jumper piece. Probably with ruffles on the bottom. See what I mean?… endless cuteness.IMG_0625

Fall is for apples!

IMG_0066What’s better about fall than making applesauce with all those gorgeous fall apples??!!! My recipe is a little complicated, but oh! so worth it. Follow the recipe carefully for some of the most delicious applesauce you’ve ever eaten. IMG_0070I’ve been told it tastes like apple pie filling, but better! Wash, peel and slice your apples. Cook them over med high heat in a covered stock pot. When soft, add 2 tsp of cinnamon. Voila! That’s all. It truly is delicious applesauce. We like to leave it chunky, full of tasty bits of apple. IMG_0064Can it in a water bath canner for 20 (for quarts) and you’ll be able to enjoy this special treat all winter long. I also freeze some, to no ill effect, for a different option. I used all the cores and peelings to make apple juice. It was a breeze in my steam juicer!IMG_0176