Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Yes...it's been a while...again

Obviously my plan of keeping the blog updated didn’t happen. Have I truly not shared here in almost 2 months??? Holy cow am I bad at this or what?
Well then, some updates. If you’re one who has followed me for any length of time, you clearly know that even if I haven’t been around for a while, I don’t have anything super spectacular to share. We just have one of those mundane, everyday-looks-like-the-next sort of lifestyles here. I swear, we had a lot more exciting adventures when we had the cow and a lot more goats. Now it’s mostly dog rescues, and they just aren’t the exciting adventure types. Not that I’m going to complain, LOL

Makes me wonder how I have any blog followers at all honestly. We are about as boring as one can get.

At any rate, here’s what I think happened in the past month that I neglected to share here…
We have been working on the kitchen area again. We weren’t making any progress with it other than using it for storage. It still needs some fine-tuning, but it’s finished enough I can call it the KITCHEN now. The farmhouse sink is in, the wood countertops are in, I’m still working on my wood cutting board tops for the work tables and electric stove, but the cookstove is piped in and all is ready for winter so I count it as done enough:

   the view from the new dining area into the kitchen. I’m loving the big “window” and can’t wait to decorate it for winter! I think it will be perfect for my Christmas village :-)

 the countertops are plain and simple…2x6 boards, oiled and ready for the abuse of a country kitchen :-) 

my sink…I love it, but I’m not yet convinced it will last. I’m worried about chipping the fireglazed clay, scraping it with the heavy pans when we wash dishes, etc. I’ll adapt in time I’m sure.

the woodstove is finally in place just waiting on cool temps to fire it up. I really love the tin we did on the walls, and I’m thinking about wooden ‘shutters’ to frame the windows, maybe using some old barn boards for them. What do you think?

We’ve done a lot of baking, put together some of the bulk mixes we use the most, made granola for breakfasts, and more. It was a very hot
and sticky summer so I was pretty excited to have cooler temps and extremely low humidity move thru for a short time. I admit I went a bit crazy with the baking and such then. I am so ready for winter and cooler temps. I want to really COOK in my new kitchen space, not slap together easier meals because of the heat. I’m ready for long simmering soups and beans, daily fresh baked breads or rolls, noodle-making, holiday cookies and all that good seasonal stuff.

  Liam had a blast helping grind the flaxseed for our granola

We grabbed a bushel of apples and made a few pies, then suing the cores and the peels, we did several jars of apply jelly for the pantry. Yum! 

We use a lot of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups so what’s better than having a big jar of bulk soup mix ready to thicken and flavor our meals? We also stocked the pantry with dehydrated goodies as I cleaned out the freezers. Jars of dehydrated mixed veggies, broccoli, etc. all lined up and ready to add a handful here and there to our soups and casseroles this season. The best resource I can share online is this one, 21st Century Simple Living. No end to the ideas and recipes you can get for filling your pantry.

 I finally found my long lost cornbread recipe. We like this one, but of course, I pulled it out of the binder at some point, used it, and poof…never made it back to the binder. I shared it on my Facebook wall, and now here, so that maybe if I (ok, when…) I misplace it again, someone can remind me where it is, LOL

I pulled out all the poor, neglected cast iron so I could start getting it cleaned up and back into shape. I have a few favorites I use all the time, then I have a collection of pans in waiting. Some of them are horribly seasoned and not fit for use. I need to find ways to get them stripped down and start over with seasoning. Definitely a project on my list.

 We’ve been getting our herbal medicines restocked as well. I am way behind of getting the Fire Cider going for the year, but I can always dip into it early if necessary, while it does its thing :-) We did up the elderberries again as a glycerite, though I did one small batch in brandy. We did Mimosa flowers earlier in the season and we’ve collected a bunch of goldenrod. That’s what we have hanging in the large kitchen “window” photo above. It has dried and I have a jar of it in ACV as a daily tonic, some with ACV and honey, as well as a batch done up with vodka and honey. I almost hated to make anything up with it…they looked so cozy hanging in the kitchen like that, LOL

We took a few hikes up the mountain and gathered some American Beautyberry and infused it for a no-bite bug balm

As soon as the humidity dropped (truly it took a nose-dive for almost a week…barely getting 30% humidity was such a blessing!) we hit the trails at one of our favorite parks, Big Hill Pond State Park in Tennessee. Click that link and you can see some of the sites there with their virtual tour set up. There is a great view of the Dismal Swamp boardwalk we love, as well as an incredible 360* view from the top of the tower.

Liam went along on one of the hikes this time. We haven’t taken him ‘hiking’ at all yet, just visiting parks with paved trails or roadways we can use his stroller or the wagon on. This was his first hike with us. We took a long trail and it proved interesting to say the least. Apparently I have lost a vital skill set that includes planning all day hiking adventures with toddlers, LOL! We had a lot of steep grades, a rock, a large outcropping of boulders to navigate, and he fully expected to climb the 70 foot tower with the rest of the kids. I had to bribe him with a granola bar to stay down below with me, LOL He had a blast though, so it was all worth it. We’ll get better at the toddler hiking as the season moves along.

I’ve been working on some yarn work and a few sewing projects as well, The weather changes just make me antsy for winter gift making. I am so ready for moving my rocking chair into the kitchen, lighting my oil lamps, and working on yarn or fabric projects in front of the cookstove on a cold wintry evening. Sigh. Hopefully I get to this winter. So far, almost the end of October, and it’s barely cool at all again. I miss a good crisp autumn and chilly winter.
So, those yarn projects…have you tried your hand at the latest craze this season, Planned Color Pooling? If you’re a yarny type, you can’t have missed the gazillion posts on blogs, Facebook, and Instagram about creating those lovely argyle-looking scarves, washcloths, placemats, blankets and more. It’s definitely the ‘latest and greatest’ of the season. I am trying it out myself. I need to play around with some other hooks to fully achieve the affect, but I am yarned up and ready for Christmas gift projects. Here are some links to get you started if you’ve missed the idea…
Red Heart tutorial along with a list of their yarns that work for the best effect
Glamour 4 You has a good tutorial as well

But there’s always regular yarn work to do as well :-) 

And plenty of fabric gifts to be made. This went on to become a raggy quilt for a friend in town’s new baby. I love how it turned out, and have plenty of squares cut and ready for a girly version in rose tones and grays as well. Might need to make a larger version for the grandson next.

 And thinking about some other Christmas ideas…how about these neat denim stockings from Nebraska Views blog? I love them, and they definitely fit our rustic life here. You could easily dress them up with lace and other fancy fabrics, embellishments, etc, but I’m rather drawn to the rustic homespun cottons and ginghams myself. She has several pages of interesting ideas to share. I need more time to dig around, but the denim stockings and these cute little button men ornaments look like some projects I need on my list this year.

I think that pretty much sums up the events of the past couple months around here. We’ve been reading the My Side of the Mountain trilogy in the mornings before school starts.  

For my own free time I’ve been reading A Quilt for Christmas and The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas. She’s one of my favorites. I can get totally wrapped up in her stories, traveling along with the characters, her writing is so vivid :-) I put them in my audiobook list so I could keep reading while I did some handwork in the evenings. I don’t know what I’ll move to next…maybe Alice’s Tulips or The Quilt Walk. Anyone have any other reads I should check into? I’m always looking for something I can throw in the audiobook list or grab for the shelves here at home.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Crafting the Homestead Apothecary, my favorite resources (so far!)

As I build my homestead apothecary I visit several sites and glean all I can in the way of herbal recipes, natural health options, beautiful printables for my binders, recipe cards printables and more
 We've come a long way in our journey of "alternative medicines"...like this once popular children's syrup, loaded with morphine and cocaine...or the cocaine toothache drops...WOW!

I have been working hard this past year at building my knowledge base with online sources. I have always been more 'natural' than common RX and OTC medicines, but this past year I have really moved down the path of relearning the lost art of the herbal apothecary with actual coursework and as many goodies as I could find online...
  • the Intermediate Herbal Course from The Herbal Academy
  • Ultimate Bundle bonuses like an essential oil mini course, more ebooks than I can even count, and a year's access to the Herbarium 
  • several great videos and PDFs thru The Christian Herbal Conference  from last year
  • the Herbalism 101, Herbs & Oils: Beyond the Basics, Essential Oils for Families, and starting soon, Confident Family Herbalist course from Vintage Remedies
  • Monthly subscription access to Herb Mentor, a site full of resources...courses like Herbal Basics, Herbs in Practice, Learning Your Plants series, Food as Medicine...more videos and interviews than I can even tell you about, several great reference sources including an Herbalpedia, and a wonderful community of folks ready to share their experiences and knowledge with each other..all for a $1 week trial or $9.95 monthly subscription. Well worth the subscription!
  • Amercian Botanical Council's Herbal Library is incredible (I go to the German Commission E monographs often!
  • Annie's Remedies has several herbs shared
  • Henriette's Herbal Homepage is a definitely go-to
  • Herbnet
Pink Pills for Pale People...such a PR slogan, LOL

There has been a lot of reading as I build my home library with wonderful resources...

 I still have a lot to learn. One day my prayer is most of the common illnesses and medical moments I come across will be treated quickly, with information that has been built upon study and experience, and has become second nature to me. I want to be able to instantly bring to mind a short list of health options, and to have these items available in my yard, ready to wild forage from our woods and creek bottom, or preserved and waiting in the herbal pantry. Once upon a time, our ancestors had much of this knowledge, but it has been replaced by the Tylenols, Robitussins, and ibuprofens of our present day.

The art of The Home Apothecary is gone from much of our mindset these days. I pray I can instill the love of natural healing, of the medicines God has placed along our paths, in my children and grand-children. I have a long way to go, but I've taken those first steps by being intentional :-)
What is holding you back from starting the journey?


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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