Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happy First Birthday

One year ago I decided to share my journey with others by writing a blog. I had planned on doing something "big" like a give away to celebrate the birthday of my blog but alas, life got in the way. As it should. Because really, isn't life more important? As much as I love to share what I'm learning with you, I wouldn't be learning much if I wasn't living. So I'll just commemorate this joyous occasion with a top ten list. The top ten were determined simply by the number of visits a post received.



  1. Stay-cation: Fun Things to Do Around Rochester, MN
  2. A Week of Chicken
  3. Kale
  4. CHEESE
  5. No Poo Results
  6. Naughty Henny Penny
  7. Garage Sales: Green Frugality at it's Best
  8. Homemade Granola
  9. Kefir Brews
  10. Super Duper Power Smoothies
Thank you for joining me in my journey. 

Five Minute Friday.....on Saturday



Ok, I'm a bit late but I'm joining in on Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday anyway. Even if it's really Saturday. The rule on Five Minute Friday's is to write for five minutes. No correcting. No going back. Today's, or should I say YESTERDAY'S, prompt is GIFT.



I long for the gift of time. Time to finish all my tasks and then still some more time to have with family and friends.

More time to complete all the projects that I've began. The scarf I started to knit in December. The chicken coop I've been meaning to build. The stack of books that I want to read. The playroom that stills needs to finished (this project started a year ago....walls are finally painted yet there are still many finishing details that are unfinished). 

More time with old friends. More time with new friends. How often do I say, "Oh, I need to call so and so." or "I would really love to have such and such family over for dinner". Relationships that I'd love to grow and nurture get put on the back burner for another day. A day with more TIME. 

More time with my children. How often do I say, "Not now. I don't have time"? Too often. Occasionally I let the housework slip....ok, maybe more than occasionally...but only occasionally to play a game with my son. 

I'm always out of time. Even now as I see my five minutes have expired.




Friday, March 30, 2012

Must.Have.Chocolate


Yogurt + Mocha Mousse Cheesecake Blend = Chocolaty Goodness  
I'm trying really hard to be good. Really. I am ready to shed some pounds and have spent the last couple weeks being very diligent. Smoothies for breakfast, huge veggie filled salads for lunch and healthy dinners. But sometimes, usually in the afternoon, I just crave sweet. I've been warding off these cravings with Larabars but the this week I wanted chocolate. 


This week I made up three treats that satisfied my cravings. Cranberry Yogurt, Chocolate Mocha Yogurt and Chocolate Chia Pudding. All were simple, yummy and not too naughty. 


Cranberry Yogurt
1 cup of Viili homemade yogurt
1 T. Wildtree Cranberry Spice Blend
Blend with a spoon and eat!


Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
1 c. milk
2 T. chia seeds
1 T. cocoa powder
tiny splash of vanilla


Stir ingredients and let sit for 20 minutes (this gives the chia seeds time to expand and thicken the pudding).









Mocha Yogurt
1 cup Viili yogurt and 1 heaping teaspoon of Wildtree Mocha Mousse and Cheesecake Blend 


Stir well and enjoy!
















Shared on:


Delicious Obsession's Traditional Tuesdays

Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jars Full of Goodness

I like canning jars......and all other glass jars. I'm kinda a jar pack rat. But as I've leaned towards "green", moving away from plastic wrap and baggies, I appreciate my jar stash. 


Whether the jars are found in the cellar, filled with fall's harvest........
.....a jar of lemon and honey to sooth the throat or an old kombucha bottle turned vase for a handful of fresh cut pussy willow branches, in their usefulness they become beautiful.
















I have jars in my refrigerator, jars on top of the refrigerator, jars in my bathroom and under the kitchen sink, even a few jars on my counter. Some people collect knick-knacks. I collect jars full of goodness. 


Here's just a few in my collections ~
From left to right: Ant Killer, Dishwasher Detergent, Shaved Soap, Bone Broth, Viili Yogurt, Flax, Cold Remedy.


ANTS
I was amazed to see ants under my cupboard the other day. It's March. I live in Minnesota. Really? I have a bucket under the sink that I keep for collecting scraps for the chickens. This, and the mild Minnesota weather, brought the army. I don't like bugs in my house. I quickly googled "homemade ant poison" and found that borax, sugar and water make a fine poison. I mixed one part borax with three parts sugar, covered with water, stirred and poured a little onto a plastic lid. I did that yesterday. Today there are no ants!


SOAP

In my attempt to make all my own cleaning products, dish soap and dishwasher detergent have alluded me for quite some time. I've tried MANY recipes. Recently I found recipes for both that work better than most. Not perfect but better.


Dishwasher Detergent
1 c. borax
1 c. washing soda
1/4 c. citric acid 
1/4 c. salt
I also added about 20 drops of grapefruit essential oil. Use 1 T. per load.


Dish Soap
1 T. grated homemade soap
1 T. vinegar
1 T. washing soda
Add 1 1/2 c. boiling water to the above ingredients and vigourously stir until soap is dissolved. Add tea tree essential oil. 


Instructions for bone broth can be found here.


Viili is my newest favorite homemade yogurt. SO EASY! When I see my yogurt stash is depleting, I top my jar with milk, give it a good shake and place it on top of the frig to inoculate for 10 hours or more. The longer it's left at room temperature, the thicker the yogurt becomes. I bought my starter here. But if you are in the area I share! 


Cold Remedy
The other day I shared my "Day of Garlic" which incredibly relieved me of most of my symptoms. On Monday, although I was feeling tons better, my throat was still a little so I made some Lemon-Honey Sore Throat Relief. 


I cut 1 lemon into chunks, added 2 cloves of garlic, 3-6 pieces of candied ginger and topped with honey (1/2 cup or more? I don't know....I forgot to measure). I stirred and squished this all together. I added about 1/2 T. ...or a little more to a cup of hot water. Yum. Store in the frig. 








DaisyButton1

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Solid? Liquid? It's SLIME!

When public school has a day off, so does my homeschooling boy, simply because no school means more kids for me. Big Kids (that's what we call the school-agers), for some reason, are harder to entertain than the littles. School (or their peers) must teach them the phrase, which is quite often delivered in a whine, "I'm bored........."  I try to stay a step ahead of them to ward off their lack of creative play. 
I don't know what it is about these things but  it is quite magical to see how they captivate children.  

Last Friday, with no school and a houseful of kiddos, I had the playmobiles ready. I bought the playmobiles on ebay last year and it was the best money I EVER spent as they entertain both the the Big Kids and the Littles for literally HOURS! I also had the ingredients ready for making SLIME! As soon as the playmobies had lost their popularity, we picked them up and made our slime. It was a big hit. The kiddos helped me mix up the slime, we then divided it into pie plates to play with. Afterwards I put the slime into baby food jars for kiddos to take home. Yep. I'm pretty sure the parents loved me. <dripping with sarcasm>

It was a little messy but a lot less messy than hearing "I'm bored" or dealing with boredom inspired naughtiness. A little mess for a little sanity....a fine trade-off. 




SLIME:

1/2 c. Water
1 c. Liquid Fabric Starch (I think corn starch would be a good substitute but           a little extra water may be needed)
1 c. white "school" glue.
Food coloring 

Love this stuff. I really does feel cool to slide the slime through your fingers.


Now if I could just find a fun craft to use up all these pie tins............






Shared on Polly Want A Crafter and Playing with Words 365, Thrifty Thursdays
Polly Want a Crafter

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Wonderful Powers of Garlic

Please excuse my appearance in the following pictures. Keep in mind that these were taken in morning, shortly after waking. It is also Sunday and part of my Sunday routine is to delay showering for awhile so that I can spend the morning in my pajamas, sipping coffee and enjoying the quiet. I am "blessed" with bags under my eyes. I don't know if it's due to age, lack of sleep, "luck", or a combination of all of these. If I was ever to go back to wearing makeup, my bags would be the reason. I've heard cucumbers work but I've chosen not to waste time (or cucumbers...they are better used in a salad) in the mornings. Luckily I'm not too vain about my appearance. I am even more lucky that my husband tells me that my lack of vanity is the most attractive part of me. (Thank you, Lord, for giving me a man that isn't attracted to superficial beauty and loves me as I am.). So, any small amount of vanity in which I possess is being tossed  to the side today while I show you my "morning look".  All for the greater good of mankind.


I have been battling a cold for a week. Symptoms include sore throat, dry cough, and cloudy vision. I've found differing opinions regarding if there is a difference between an eye cold and pink eye. I don't know. My eyes aren't pink....just cloudy, weepy and full of morning matter (I know. That picture is about as attractive as the ones posted here). I haven't been aggressively attacking my cold. Until now. This cold has got to go!


So this morning I grabbed my garlic and decided to attack this cold with every garlicky-home remedy that I know about. Garlic applied in one way or another on my feet, eyes, ears, and neck all while sipping on my garlic-lemon-honey-ginger tea. Take that you nasty cold!






This week I found that sucking on a piece of crystallized ginger gave me temporary relief for my sore throat. The most common use of ginger is to treat nausea and heartburn but it also promotes sweating which helps remove toxins from the body. This makes ginger a great immune booster. Although ginger would be more beneficial in raw form, I've chosen the sweet and spicy form this week.


Garlic is anti fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. For years I've used garlic to fight colds by simply making homemade salsa and homemade soup using LOTS of raw onion and garlic. Recently I've added GOOT and poultices to my list of remedies.


Today, before preparing my garlic poultice, I heated some water and added a chunk of ginger, a big slice of lemon, a dollop of local honey, and a smooshed garlic clove to sip on and slathered my feet with GOOT. GOOT (garlic olive oil treatment).


GOOT:
3 T. olive oil
3 T. coconut oil
3 T. garlic


Heat oil until coconut oil has melted. While heating the oils, chop up the garlic. Once oil has melted add the garlic. Throw all the ingredients into the blender and blend at slow speed. Strain the remaining garlic chucks (I save these for sauteing and adding to soup!). Pour oil into a container and refrigerate.


Before going to bed I rub the GOOT on my feet and cover with socks. Whatever oil is left on my hands in spread in my ears.




After slathering up my feet with GOOT and covering with sock, I heated water in the teapot and chopped up a bulb of garlic.  I kept two smaller cloves intact to put in my ears. Once the teapot began to whistle, I covered the garlic with about one cup of the hot water.
I tore the coffee filter in four - two for my eyes, two for my ears

Garlic in my ears!







I made a garlic wrap for my neck using a recycled t-shirt-turned-bib. Garlic can "burn" the skin so take necessary precautions by using cloth between skin and garlic. I folded this t-shirt bib over, wrapped it around my neck (making sure that the garlic poultice was positioned near my swollen glands, and wrapped a scarf around to secure the poultice.










A hat to keep the garlic in my ears and a scarf to keep the garlic around my neck.


Now it was time for my eyes. I wrapped some of the minced garlic which was soaking in hot water into two pieces of coffee filter and placed on my eyes. After a few minutes the garlic began to sting my eyes a bit. So I waited a little longer. :) Use your best judgment when trying this. Although my eyes burned from the garlic, I could feel an immediate improvement.


This morning I woke up with no matter in my eyes, less congestion, no cough and a noticeable difference in my swollen throat.








Shared on Delicious Obsessions, Traditional Tuesday, Hearth & Soul, and  The Homestead Barn Hop
Hearth & Soul Hop

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Loud. Just one more part of my life.

The other day, through a wandering path of blog hopping, I ended up at Gypsy Mama. What a blessing. Her writing is pure poetry which captivated me. Gypsy Mama (Lisa-Jo) hosts a writing party,  Five Minute Fridays.  Each week she gives a different prompt/word to write about with this rule: "Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking." 

Today's word: LOUD

Loud seems to be a large portion of my day. Kids playing. One child banging on the drums. A boy that does not know the meaning of "be quiet". He makes noise not only with his mouth but with his hands and feet constantly in motion. 

I try to embrace each part of my day. The good, bad and the ugly. Sometimes the noise is overwhelming but when I step back, clear my head and listen. Listen with my heart. I hear laughter. I hear learning. I hear babies learning to speak their first words. 

Occasionally my day is quiet. The days when I am all alone. The days when I drop off my son at an activity and I'm left to run errards alone.  At first these moments were uncomfortable. What do I do in the quiet? 

I now embrace these quiet moments. I listen to classical music while in the car (this isn't done with other family members in the car). I pray out loud. I read. I write. I listen to the birds singing their morning song. A song that awakes and rejuvenates a tired mama. 

I thank my heavenly Father for both the loud and the quiet. For times of rest and times when my house is full of energetic and LOUD children. I accept these things in my life. I embrace this. This is my life. Often loud but sometimes quiet. 


 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happiness.....in the Kitchen


I love being in the kitchen preparing nutritious and delicious foods. I have a deep feeling of contentment in the kitchen.....more than contentment. Joy.

I love the colors. Organic potatoes in purple, red and white. Orange peppers. Green kale.


I love the smell of onions and garlic. 


I love the sound of the coconut oil sizzling in the skillet


I love the rhythmic sound of the knife chopping the vegetables. Munching on a raw pepper as I chop and mince. Finally the taste test to see if anything else is needed. To make sure the peppers are still a tad crisp, the potatoes are just right....not too hard, not too soft. 


Time in the kitchen, preparing food, makes me extremely happy.






Hearth & Soul Hop

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Maple Syrup

Yep, time to get some more maple syrup. This gallon jug lasted about a year. I love using maple syrup to sweeten oatmeal, granola, yogurt, smoothies, etc. 

As I've mentioned before, I often look at things that I buy and ponder if I can make it myself. Maple syrup is no different so when I received a newsletter and saw "Sugar Bush" on the list of upcoming classes at a local nature center, I didn't waste any time signing up. After learning the basics I set out to find some trees at my parents farm.

I think the hardest part of maple syrup-ing is finding the right trees (elder or maple will work) and the cooking down of the sap (haven't done this part). I remember in Jr. and Sr. High studying trees in Science class.....yeah, I haven't improved on this skill. I mean, to me a tree is a tree. During my sugar bush class the instructor showed us what to look for when identifying trees but when we went out to field we only looked at maples and elders. We didn't look at non-elders/maples. I think that comparison would have helped me. Dad to the rescue. He showed me which trees that I could tap.
I drilled holes into the trees, tapped in the spiles and used milk jugs for sap collection.

Some of the jugs wouldn't "stick" to the tree so I used plastic tubing/hose that ran from the spile and into the jug. I cut this hose long so that the jug couldn't easily slip off the hose. I then tied twine around the tree to hold the jug onto the tree.

Six trees tapped and then spring decided to arrive early. As much as I love the warm summer-like temperatures, it's not helping my new hobby. In order to get good sap flow night time temperatures need to be near or below freezing with warm, sunny daytime. Since Minnesota is know for it's fluctuating weather, we still may get some night time freezing (wasn't it snowing in April last year?). So I'll wait another week or two before pulling my spiles. Maybe I'll get just enough for one morning of pancakes. Otherwise I will try again next year.





Shared on Delicious Obsessions Traditional Tuesdays and Homestead Barn Hop
 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kale

After hearing so much about this super-food, I finally decided to give kale a try. I love it and will be growing kale in my garden this summer. 
Kale Chips
Toss kale in a little oil (I used Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil), sprinkle with salt and bake at 300 for 20-30 min. That's it. 



Benefits of Kale:
Lowers cholesterol
Antioxidant
Anti-inflammatory
Contains glucosinolates, an anti-cancer nutrient



Kale and Bulgar Soup
This was an experiment that turned out to be so good that it is now my new favorite soup. Of course I didn't measure...

















I sauteed in coconut oil:
2 garlic cloves - minced
Fist full of cilantro
Handful (or two) of kale
2 T. of bulgar (next I may double this amount)
Cumin
Tumeric 
Dried Peppers (these are the peppers that I dehydrated and crushed up last fall).


It was good just like this but my intention my soup so after nibbling a little (I couldn't resist) I added it, plus 1/4 cup of chicken (leftover from the previous nights dinner) to 6 cups of homemade chicken broth.



Shared on Homestead Revival's Barn Hop, Delicious Obsessions Traditional Tuesdays , and Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday

 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Terrarium in a Baby Food Jar

Remember the hundred (give or take) jars of baby food that were gifted to me? I have a bucket full of empty jars now that need to be "crafted".  I also had a bucket of aquarium rock that needs to find a new use. This week we used up a few rocks and jars while making terrariums. Easy peasy and the kids loved this project.

 First we painted the lids a sunny yellow. 

I was wondering where I'd find moss or other greens to put into our terrariums. It is March in Minnesota after all (although you won't know it with temps nearing 80 degrees today). While at the farm checking my maple trees (I had hoped to harvest a bunch of sap to make my own syrup this year. Unfortunately the weather has been too mild to produce a good sap flow), I noticed a pile of concrete blocks, which were once the walls of the horse barn, covered in moss. Perfect! The Boy and his big, muscular arms loaded up a moss-covered block for me to bring home for our project.

Yesterday we filled our baby food jars with a layer of pea rock (or in our case, aquarium rock), a little dirt, a piece of moss and a sprinkle of water. So simple yet so perfect of a project for preschoolers. 


Repurpose My LifeSChic on a Shoestring Decorating Polly Want a Crafter