Showing posts with label simple living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label simple living. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2019

ETSY... DANGEROUS PLACE TO VISIT

I need to stay away from Etsy.  Just a few seconds on there and the next thing I know I have a dozen new knitting patterns, a few sewing patterns, some incense, a new shirt... Oh my.  I am NEVER going on there again.

But, in the meantime I bought and made THIS cute little penguin rice heating pad pattern.  It is super easy and the instructions are very clear.  I'm just not great at sewing so I'll need to make a few more to perfect it.  I came close though, right? 



Sunday, July 3, 2016

SUNSCREEN: I PREFER TO MAKE MY OWN


I've been making my own natural sunscreen for a few years now with various degrees of success. I originally started with just oils known to protect skin from the damage of uv rays but oils alone are not very effective.  I then formulated a product that I considered sending to an spf testing lab but I didn't like that what I had created required a preservative.  So now I am using a simple recipe I came up with based on the research I've read on using sencha green tea topically.  This sunscreen is very heavy, perfect for swimming and if sweating a lot.  I'm really happy with what I've created because it's as natural as it can be and it keeps my fair skin from burning.

For my sunscreen I use sencha green tea infused olive oil, coconut and almond oil, shea butter, beeswax and zinc oxide (uncoated, non-nano - mesh size 325 nm).

Sencha green tea has been well researched and found to be effective in sunscreen formulations.  READ HERE
Green tea has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in both human and animal skin.[] Animal studies provide evidence that tea polyphenols, when applied orally or topically, ameliorate adverse skin reactions following UV exposure, including skin damage, erythema, and lipid peroxidation.[] Since inflammation and oxidative stress appear to play a significant role in the aging process, green tea may also have antiaging effects by decreasing inflammation and scavenging free radicals. Researchers have found that the main active ingredient in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), works well as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and sunscreen.

Infusing sencha green tea in olive oil


Great consistency for bottling

Smooth cream

Goes on white but can be rubbed in, skin feels silky smooth

Perfect!









Sunday, May 22, 2016

THE NON SEWERS GUIDE TO MAKING A DOGGIE BELLY BAND

I like to pretend I know how to sew but truth is I'm really no good at it.  I wish I could make fancy clothing or a nice set of drapes but my skill level only allows for sloppy doggie wraps and maybe a tiny hand bag that small children will like.

Doing this post for my friend Julie, my sewing "lingo" is my own, I have no idea what the proper verbiage is for those that actually know how to sew.


The best type of fabric for the belly band is a thin fleece because it is soft against your dogs skin.

Cut two pieces of the same size fabric.  The size will depend on your dog.  I cut two pieces that measure 17" long and 6" wide (remembering the seam allowance of 1/4").


Then I line the two pieces of fabric up together (right side in)





Next, I sew three sides of the rectangle (1/4" seam allowance) leaving one 6" end open to flip right side out later.




After you flip the sewn piece right sides out then you'll bend in the edge of the open pieces of fabric and sew closed.



Then when you are done with that you can apply velcro to each end of your belly band.  I use velcro with adhesive and although the package says it does not need to be sewn on I have found that to be NOT TRUE.  If I don't sew the velcro in place it comes off in the wash so definitely sew it on.  


I sew one line on each side down the full length of the belly band so it goes over the ends of the velcros and then I sew across the width of the fabric through the velcro also so it remains firmly in place.

This is what it looks like when all finished.


P.S. Don't forget the pantie liner that goes inside the belly band to absorb urine.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

CRYSTALLIZED HONEY

While I was at Valley Natural Foods the other day I was standing behind a couple in front of the honey shelf and I overheard them discussing the quality of the various honeys.  The woman leans in towards the man to tell him that some of the honeys had gone bad "you can tell because they are crystallized" she said.  I didn't correct them but I had to laugh to myself because prior to becoming a beekeeper (once upon a time) I use to think that too. I'd always toss out honey that had crystallized and I learned to do that from my mother who would say "that honey is bad."  So, here's the truth for those of you who have done the same.  Crystallized honey isn't bad, not even inferior.  In fact, it is great! Trust me, I learned this directly from the bee genius Marla Spivak.

Since I learned about this in my beekeeping course I now prefer my honey to be crystallized.  I'm a firm believer that if it doesn't crystallized at some point then it is an inferior product. Why? Because the more natural (raw) a honey is the more likely it is to crystallized or be sold in that form.

I purchase raw honey from a local beekeeper (sold at our natural food store) and my recent purchase looks like this:







I had two jars from the same MN beekeeper and one was liquid for about 1-2 weeks and the other solid (like you see above).  How is that possible?  Well, how fast a honey crystalizes depends on where the bees found their nectar.  Example: nectar that comes from goldenrod is more likely to crystallized faster than nectar that comes from blackberries.  So, the amount of sugar vs. water content is what contributes to the rate of crystallization or granulation.

Another factor affecting crystallization of honey is in how it's processed.  Heating and filtering is what keeps it from crystalizing and both can destroy the healing benefits of honey.  Commercial beekeepers will heat (pasteurize) up to 150 degrees F, filtering out all pollen, wax and other bee particles.  Makes honey pretty but not healthy.

It's easy to make honey liquid again without destroying the beneficial components (nutrients and enzymes), all you have to do is warm it up a little.  I prefer avoiding the microwave to do this, instead I'll use a pot of hot water (don't heat above 95 F) and set the honey jar inside til it is liquid again.

There is a huge misconception that pasteurizing (heating) makes the honey safer to consume.  That is not why commercial beekeepers or companies do this, they do it because the customer prefers it.  Not sure how that came to be but I'm assuming it is similar to why we preferred white soap over non-white...ADVERTISING! They market liquid & clear honey as "more appealing" to look at but in addition they'll also claim that their honey is also beneficial to your health when it isn't.  What made it clear and liquid also destroyed its beneficial properties.

So, buy RAW and don't be afraid if it is crystallized or granulated or if it was once liquid and becomes crystallized or granulated.  Honey does not expire in the way other foods do which is why you likely will not find an expiration date on locally made RAW honey from a small beekeeper.  When commercial honey is sold it often has an expiration date on the bottle or a "best if used by" date.  When you see this, remember it has nothing to do with the honey but more to do with the company selling it wanting you to buy another bottle.  That expiration date in conjunction with the crystallization will make you think your honey has gone bad but that commercial honey was crap to begin with.  It will still taste great and work fine in your tea, baking, etc… but it will not help you recover from a cold or sooth that sore throat the way RAW honey does.  Much of the commercial honey now is being adulterated with ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup so its best to avoid anyway but now I'm drifting off topic.

End of point… crystallized honey is NOT bad  :-)



Thursday, August 20, 2015

JUST SOME PICTURES

At this time of year we have every insect imaginable hanging out in our backyard.  You have to be very careful if you walk the trail around the Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod because literally hundreds of wasps, honey bees and bumble bees call the JPW & GR a source of food.
 
One of hundreds of yellow-jackets calling our yard home right now. They are hungry for the Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod.

Monarch butterflies are just interested in the Joe Pye Weed.

This little lady(bug) has been spending her day poking around the goldenrod.



I saw this frog and thought it was deformed but turns out it was crossing its legs like that on purpose.  Who knew they did that? I didn't.
 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

STRAWBERRIES!!! TIME TO GET PICKING!

It is that time of year again, when the kids think they get to sleep in for the first time since the school year ended but instead I am dragging them out of bed at 6 am to go berry picking.

We headed out to our favorite farm yesterday, Sam Kedem's Nursery in Hastings. It was a perfect day; sun was shining and temps were decent.  When we arrived, there were more pickers than I am use to so we got busy before all of the berries were gone.  We ended up with 16 lbs worth of juicy organic strawberries and rushed home to make jam.  

As usual, what was suppose to be a family affair turned into my oldest daughter cutting up all of the strawberries and me finishing the rest on my own. LOL! That's ok, I enjoy it. 












Wednesday, December 3, 2014

RECIPE SHARE

Since going back to a lacto-vegetarian diet I am always on the look out for recipes that fit my diet choice and since, in my opinion, good vegetarian or vegan meals are hard to find for picky eaters like me I get really excited when I come across one that I actually like so I am happy to share this one.  If there are any other picky eaters out there on the look-out for a meatless meal this recipe is for you.   

If you love artichokes you will want to make this.  CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RECIPE. I almost ate the entire pan just by myself.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CHRISTMAS TREE CANDLES

It's always fun to see what people do with their Christmas trees after the holidays.  If you ever go on Pinterest you'll find some really cool ideas or just surfing the web you'll find some interesting ways of making your tree last.  This is one thing we've done with ours.


Step One: Cutting the tree trunk


Step Two: Decide where to drill cavity for candle.


Step Three: drill candle cavity


Step Four: drop in candle and you now have a rustic, natural candle holder and it took less then 15 minutes :-)






Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DIY VANILLA EXTRACT


My daughter and I made some vanilla extract again this year.  We'll be giving these bottles away at Christmas time. 

Last time I made vanilla extract I purchased beans from Beanilla, I really wanted the Mexican vanilla beans at the time but they were all sold out so I bought the Madagascar beans instead.  I found that I really loved the way the vanilla turned out so I ordered the same this year.



I learned I could make my own vanilla from someone on Twitter.  Prior to that I would always buy the McCormick brand from the grocery store.  What I don't like about the cheap commercial vanilla extract is the ingredients tend to be vanilla bean extractives, alcohol, water, and corn syrup.  Why eat corn syrup when you don't have to?

So...I figured if I didn't know I could make my own then maybe others didn't know either, so here is a little tutorial.

What you need: vodka (40%), 4 oz. bottles (mine are from Specialty Bottle), and vanilla beans (mine are from Beanilla).  Beanilla also has instructions on making vanilla extract 





Once you've opened your vanilla beans cut them in half.



Then slice each one down the middle (do not cut all the way through, just slice the first layer)



Open the bean (the inside is where the good stuff is).



Put 5 of the cut beans into each jar.  I had a package of 10 vanilla beans so I ended up with 20 pieces after I cut them in half so I made 4 jars of vanilla extract)



Fill each jar with vodka, make sure you cover the beans.


When you are done filling the jars, cap and label them.  Put them in a dark cool place to sit for 6 weeks.



Here are the labels I made for my vanilla extract.  If you want to use them just CLICK HERE, print on sticker paper and cut out.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

GARDEN TALK TIME

The garden is doing pretty good this year... in some areas.  Not sure what is up with the shallots and onions, I'm thinking it is poor soil quality, but everything else is doing great.  Since the backyard was regraded we've been spreading wildflower seed and planting a few things here and there and things are starting to really grow.  This is what it looks like right now:


The Joe Pye Weed is taking over and as much as I like JPW I need to get that sucker under control.

The great part about our backyard, with all the beautiful things growing, is that wildlife is loving it. Every day I can go outside and not only see deer like we usually do but daily we have rabbits, birds, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, frogs, turtles, dragonflies, butterflies, bees, wasps, and a whole host of other things. The rabbits like hiding in the growth so each day we run into about 4 or 5 back there.  

So onto what else I am having success with.

German Chamomile


One of my favorite herbs. In the past I'd always keep a pot of chamomile inside but last year I planted some and forgot about it.  I was delighted to see it return this year so I planted some more. It is a zone 4 herb but our last harsh winter killed off things I thought were meant for this zone so I was pleasantly surprised when the chamomile popped up. 

Dill


Dill is hardier than I thought. Not only does it appear in odd random places around the garden, after planting a whole new bunch this year we let the Black Swallowtail caterpillar devour it all and yet from the nubs that were left it regrew.  Great, because I need it for canning :-)

Tomatoes

Someone please explain to me what is up with the tomatoes?  I purchased two heirloom tomato plants at the Friends Plant Sale this year and they've grown into these monstrous things (5 feet tall) but the fruits are all still green.  I've never had that experience with tomatoes before.  I'm not surprised about the growth as much as the fact they aren't red or turning red yet.  I am worried with the way the weather has been that the frost is going to appear before the tomatoes ripen :( 

Sweet Potato


Omgosh! Last years sweet potatoes didn't grow but this year they are doing great.  I am more of a "learn by trial and error" and not so much by reading so I have no idea when to harvest the potatoes or how long they take to grow but I have learned one thing and that is not to plant them in a garden box again.  They want to spread far and wide and the box is just too small for them.

Asparagus


Now this I don't want to do the trial and error thing with.  I am going to have to watch a few YouTube videos and read up on this delicious plant. I have been trying to grow asparagus for a few years and each time I'd plant the root something would come along and take it or eat it. I was at the Farmer's Market this spring and a vendor was selling itty bitty plants so I put 3 in the ground and they are growing great! Not sure what the next step is but I'll be staying on top of this one since this yummy plant is a perennial  :-)

That's it.  Anyone else have success or failures in the garden this year? Luckily we've not had any pests but the onions and shallots aren't coming along like expected, they are both itty bitty and so I think I need to do some type of crop rotation next year and amend the soil much better than I did this year.  If you have any thoughts on why the shallots are the size of marbles, please let me know.