Better Late Than Never Garden Update

Well friends, it’s June 16th, and I am coming at you with my first garden update of the 2017 growing season.  Hum.  Where exactly did the time go?  And better yet, what on earth have I been doing?  Time has somehow slipped between my fingers so rapidly, that I cannot even seem to identify the activities that filled these minutes, hours and days.

But nonetheless, this garden of ours is surely well underway, and perhaps the furthest along we have ever been come this time of the year.  I believe I can owe a great deal of this success to the fact that my girls have been real, active participants in our homestead this year.  While in the past the girls surely had “jobs” like collecting eggs in the morning, watering their fairy garden, and picking ripe cherry tomatoes from the vine, but this year the girls have been logging some legit man-power hours.  Gianna hauls spent dishwater outside to water plants, and she moves the sprinkles around to various locations throughout these hot, dry days we have been experiencing.  Addie tilled all the garden beds this spring, and she does a great deal of the wedding that needs to be done in the veggie beds.

And let me tell you, this year these littles are much more appreciative of the strawberries gracing their breakfast table and the cilantro and lettuce making its way into their tacos come dinnertime.  And isn’t this what homesteading and forming connections with our food is all about?  With the knowledge of the human labor and natural resources needed to grow our food, we are much more humble and filled with an awe-inspiring sense of gratitude when we are able to bring that food to our tables.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, in which you are able to nourish your body with food that gives you strength in body, as well as soul.  

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Homemade Sunscreen

Homemade Sunscreen

I have been experimenting for a while now to craft a homemade sunscreen that works for my family.  I wanted a sunscreen that was not too oily, didn’t turn our skin completely white, and most importantly, one that actually worked.  Well, after much trial and error, I believe I have found the perfect combo and ratio of ingredients that meets all of those requirements, plus one:  it smells amazing!  I am so thrilled to share this recipe with you today.  Enjoy!

2 oz. beeswax

2 oz. cocoa butter

2 oz. coconut oil

1 1/2 oz. grapeseed oil

1/2 oz. carrot seed oil

1 oz jojoba oil

2 1/2 oz. non-nano and uncoated zinc

Measure the beeswax, cocoa butter and coconut oil by weight and place in a double boiler.  Heat until all components are melted.  Remove from heat.  Add grapeseed oil, carrot seed oil and jojoba oil.  Mix well to combine.  Finally, whisk in the zinc (also measured by weight).  The mixture will thicken up pretty quickly.  Once mixed and thickened, spoon into a glass jar with a lid.

As with most natural sunscreens, you need to reapply often.  I have found best results when reapplying this sunscreen every 60-80 minutes.

(*Note:  Be sure to wipe out all vessels and utensils thoroughly with paper towels before washing, as beeswax can clog plumbing.  You can then discard of the paper towels in your compost bin.)

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Home

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The last few weeks have kept us very busy with a variety of DIY projects around the house.  With the absolutely beautiful weather gracing us, my girls and I decided to take advantage, move school outside most days, and just get after it.

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We first needed to fashion a new table for our deck.  Our old table, after weathering many a Midwestern winters, had finally called it quits and we needed another piece on which all of our summer family dinners could take place.  I happened to find a local woman who was selling barn wood, so we ventured to her barn and listened to a wonderful story of a Swedish family who immigrated to the Rockford area with hopes of building a family farm.  They bought property on the corner of Baxter and Mulford Roads and there constructed a home in 1902.  Later, in 1903, they gathered with neighbors to build a barn in which to begin their farming venture.

We brought home three 10-foot boards, washed them, and ran over them once with some sandpaper.  I then applied three coats of //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B000C011CE&asins=B000C011CE&linkId=96a4608fd8c32411f7f8bbe7d4f64747&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>an exterior marine polyurethane to all sides of each board.  I connected the boards with 2 x 4’s in order to create a removable table top that I can bring inside during the winter months.  I then created “table legs” using cinder blocks.  I was so thrilled once the project was complete because I was able to craft a one-of-kind ten-foot table to entertain upon for under $100.

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My girls and I also got busy building a backyard washing station. While visiting Koviashuvik Living School in Temple, Maine last August, I was struck by all the ways in which the Knapp family used seemingly random household objects to craft “new” devices to serve a very sustainable purpose.  Our washing station is not completely sustainable, as we do plan to start our washing process with city water from our home, but our hope is to eliminate one avenue of waste through this process.  (And keep my kitchen cleaner too!) Each garden season we are faced with what to do with the dozens upon dozens of 5 gallon buckets filled with dirt-caked veggies that make their way into our kitchen.  Enter…our OUTDOOR veggie washing station 🙂

We had a random cement slab that was found in our yard when we bought our house and it has been milling about under a tree ever since.  So, with much assistance from my strength-and-conditioning-coach hubby, we moved the cement slab near our backyard water spigot.  I used the old legs from our outdoor table we had just scraped, and attached them to a countertop my dad had just removed from his basement during a remodel.  I then placed a washtub next to the table, with a bucket beneath the drain.  We plan to plug the washtub, dump in our muddy produce, and fill the tub with our nearby hose-water.  Once all the veggies have been scrubbed clean and placed in a strainer on the table, we can drain the tub into the bucket and then use that greywater to water our plants with.  And all of this will happen outside, and now only gloriously clean veg will make its way into my kitchen.

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And last, but certainly not least of our DIY adventures of late, I have created a spot in the garden entirely for me.  I moved around some aimless pieces that had been littering our property and used them as the basis for this new space.  I then crafted prayer flags and stitched each stitch with a heartfelt intention.  So here I stand to greet my morning, in my very own corner of the garden, setting positive intentions for my day.

Wishing you all a productive, yet peaceful start to your week.

 

 

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In Gratitude

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Awhile back, I use to post trinkets of thanks each week.  I felt that in expressing my gratitude I was able to put positive vibes out into the atmosphere, and illustrate that it is often those seemingly minuscule or insignificant items or events that end up constructing a full life.

So, after a four year hiatus, on this 13th day of April, I am so very grateful for…

~a new computer and refreshed space in which I can write.

~Apple Support and their aid when this non-techy gal tried to set up the above mentioned computer. Whew.

~my seven year old, who led me through on the of the best yoga sessions of my life.

~this new book by Ashley English, and the fabulous recipes it contains.  Many of these recipes are sure to find themselves on my kitchen table in the very new future.

~a freshly mulched garden. (And yes, that is a glass of wine on the fencepost.  One needs some mode of relief from the back pain of hauling said mulch, right?)

~several days with family this upcoming weekend—sure to be filled with farmer’s markets and swimming, farm-fresh food and tasty cocktails, laughter and tears.

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Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

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After finding my family’s old ice cream maker in my dad’s basement a few weeks back, I decided it was time to test it out again after over 25 years.  The ice cream maker still worked great, and I was so happy to be able to find an excuse to make homemade ice cream in the middle of winter 🙂

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

3 cups organic half and half

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream

1 cup organic sugar

8 organic egg yolks

2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

Place the half & half and whipping cream in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Mix the sugar into the egg yolks.  Once the half & half and whipping cream have reached a simmer, temper the eggs with the mixture.  Continue to stir the custard mixture over medium heat for 5-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate until cool.  Pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s instructions.  Enjoy!

Variations:

Chocolate Ice Cream:  Add 1 1/2 cups organic cocoa powder to the cream mixture and then simmer.

Pistachio Ice Cream:  Replace the organic vanilla extract with organic almond extract.  Then add 1 1/2 cups chopped pistachios once the mixture is cooled.

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Social

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My girls and I have found a new love:  ceramics.  We happened upon a class that had some open seats and immediately we knew it was a match made in Heaven.

A common misconception of homeschooled-children is that they lack socialization.  My experience (be it only a brief one and a half years so far) has illustrated to me that the exact opposite is actually true.  Not only do my girls interact with children their own age while at homeschool co-op, through sports and camps, and during their involvement in scouts, homeschooling allows time for my girls to interact with those much younger and older than them.  My girls love helping out with the little bitty ones when they are at the YMCA or at co-op, and they also cherish the moments they get to spend with residents of their great grandmother’s retirement community.

Our new-found ceramics class has also offered my girls a wonderful opportunity to, not only learn a wide array of artistic techniques, but also interact with a lovely group of ladies of an older generation.  My girls love listening to their stories, and watching their experienced hands craft the most beautiful pieces of art.  Our time spent in the studio on Tuesdays with these women is definitely a life experience for which I am so very grateful.

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Old Becomes New

A few years back I shared with you my love of all things old:  books, clothes, music and furniture.  I love that in nourishing vintage items, we can breath life into them and make the old become new.

My husband’s grandmother recently got some new digs, and she was unable to fit all of her furniture in her new place.  I was thrilled when she asked if I could use them for something.  Yes, please.

It’s amazing what a bit of paint and some clearance fabric can do!  The only downside of this project is that now I have the itch…and I want to do oh so much more 🙂

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