I am on day three of my "attainable" cleanse...I have felt a little hungry but overall rejuvenated. I think that, due entirely to my friend's advice, I have chosen a realistic program to clean and restart my body. Today I kick-started myself with a blended berry smoothie. Yum!
Not only do I have a habit of knitting my brow, but I struggle with insomnia. When I go to bed each night, I have become accustomed to wearing a lavender eye pillow to help relax the muscles in my forehead and calm my whirling thoughts. I like to make my own, even though I don't own a sewing machine.
Materials Needed to make a sew-less lavender eye pillow:
A 12"x12" piece soft, flexible fabric
1/2 C. dried beans
1/2 C. dried lavender flowers
1. Use scissors to crop fabric to appropriate size, approximately 8"x5". You will want the eye pillow to cover both eyes when filled with beans and lavender, so be sure not to cut it too small.
2. Turn fabric to wrong side. Bring long edges together. Use fabric glue to fold edges securely in place. You do not need much glue, but spread it evenly along edge to ensure fabric does not fray.
3. Bring one side of short edges together, fold and glue down. You should now have one side open, like a bag.
4. Line zipper up with open edges. Make sure that the zipper is facing the right direction! Fold and glue fabric to each side of zipper. Let your creation dry for several hours.
5. Cut zipper edges. Turn work inside-out.
6. Fill bag with beans and lavender. Zip shut.
Lavender Health Benefits:
Organic Facts states that..."the various health benefits of lavender essential oil include:
Nervous System: Lavender essential oil has a calming scent which makes it an excellent tonic for the nerves. Therefore, it helps in treating migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma removes nervous exhaustion and restlessness and increases mental activity.
Sleep: Lavender essential oil induces sleep and hence it is often recommended for insomnia.
Pain Relief: Lavender essential oil is also an excellent remedy for various types of pains including those caused by sore muscles, tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backacheand lumbago. A regular massage with lavender oil provides relief from pain in the joints.
Urine Flow: Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders as it stimulates urine production. It helps in restoring hormonal balance and reduces cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces any associated cramps.
Respiratory Disorders: Lavender oil is extensively used for various respiratory problems including throat infections, flu, cough, cold,asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. The oil is either used in the form of vapor or applied on the skin of neck, chest and back. It is also added in many vaporizers and inhalers used for cold and coughs.
Hair Care: Lavender essential oil is useful for the hair care as it can be very effective on lice and lice eggs or nits.
Blood Circulation: Lavender essential oil is also good for improving blood circulation in the body. It also lowers blood pressure and is used for hypertension.
Digestion: Lavender oil is useful for digestion as it increases the mobility of the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile and thus aids in treating indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhea.
Immunity: Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to diseases.
Skin Care: The health benefits of lavender oil for the skin can be attributed to its antiseptic and antifungal properties.It is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammations. It heals wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns rapidly as it aids in the formation of scar tissues. Lavender oil is added to chamomile to treat eczema.
Other health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to treat leucorrhoea. It is also effective against insect bites. The oil is also used to repel mosquitoes and moths. You will find many mosquito repellents containing lavender oil as one of the ingredients.
As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender essential oil. It is also recommended that diabetics stay away from lavender oil. It may also cause allergic reactions to people having sensitive skin. Some people may also witness nausea, vomiting and headaches due to usage of lavender oil."
I am intrigued by The Clean Program, recently recommended to me by a good friend. It appears to be a healthy way to reset and your body, both emotionally and physically. Clean seems to be a good place to start. I love smoothies and creating my own "folk remedies" combining fresh ingredients.
Ginger is a common folk remedy for colds. According to Wikipedia, it has also been historically used to treat inflammation, and is used as a throat lozenge in traditional medicine to relieve sore throat. It is often used to prevent motion and morning sickness. It is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration and is sold as an unregulated dietary supplement.
To make a Peach Ginger Smoothie...
2 C. fresh peaches
1 C. yogurt
1 C. apple cider
1/4 C. honey
2 Tsp fresh ginger
- Blend all ingredients. Add extra cider if the mixture is too thick.
Growing ginger brings me great satisfaction. Ginger is an essential ingredient in Asian cooking. It's simple to grow your own. Once you do, you will have an endless supply of ginger for your cooking. Ginger grass grows to be 2 to 4 feet tall at full maturity.
Dinner Garden provides a plethora of information about growing food for your table. According to them, "ginger grows outdoors in zones 10 and 11. If you grow it in other zones, you'll need to bring it inside if temperatures drop below 55 F degrees . The ginger rhizome won't grow grass in temperatures less than 75 F degrees. Between 55 F and 75 F degrees, the ginger will be in winter dormancy, and the grass will die. Temperatures less than 55 F will damage the ginger rhizome."
Dinner Garden writes:
To grow ginger plants, buy a small piece of ginger root at your local store. Look for fat pieces that have small nodes on them. You will need a large pot, about 12 inches tall by 12 inches wide. Fill the pot with potting soil mixed with compost. Make sure the potting soil has adequate drainage because ginger rhizomes don't like to sit in wet soil.
Place the ginger in 100 F water and let them soak for 8 hours. Plant 3 to 4 pieces of ginger in the pot. Bury them with about an 1/2 inch of soil, with the buds on top. Water regularly, but don't let the soil get soggy. If the ginger grass turns brown, you may be overwatering.
It can take up to 10 months before you can harvest the ginger. To use it, simply dig up one of rhizomes with the new sprouts, cut off the ginger you want, then bury the rest. The ginger will continue to grow. You can also cut off a larger piece and refrigerate it for use during the week.
Be sure to clip pieces of the ginger grass to use for cooking or to brew tea. You can do this at any point, so while you're waiting for your ginger root to grow, use that tasty ginger grass! For tea, steep the leaves in boiling water for five minutes. When using it for cooking, slice it thinly and only cook it briefly, like at the very end of your stir fry. The flavor of the grass is like very mild ginger with a hint of lemon, so it pairs well with almost anything.
- Turn oven on to 385 degrees F. - Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl (except dried fruit).
- Sprinkle with brown sugar and vegetable oil. Toss thoroughly.
- Spread onto ungreased baking sheet.
- Place mixture into oven & let bake for 5-7 minutes. Take out & turn mixture. Repeat every 5 minutes until the entire mixture is golden brown.
- Remove from oven. Let cool.
- Add dried fruit and mix.
- Enjoy with your fresh homemade yogurt.
To Make the Blueberry Smoothie...
2 C. frozen blueberries
2 C. milk
1 C. apple cider
1/4 C. honey
- Blend all ingredients. Add extra cider if the mixture is too thick.
Ingredients: 3 C. cooked pork, cut into bite sized cubes (pork shoulder or other pork roast is traditional) 2 Tbsp bacon fat 1 large onion , chopped 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced 1 Tsp cumin ½ Tsp oregano ½ tsp black pepper 2 (4oz) cans diced green chili peppers 2 (15oz) cans white hominy, drained and rinsed 1 ½ C. cooked pinto beans 1 quart meat stock ½ cup chopped cilantro Lime wedge
Directions: - In a large pan, saute onions in lard or bacon drippings until clear. - Add garlic and spices and cook 2 mins. - Add meat, green chili, rinsed hominy and beans. Cook for 2 mins. - Pour stock over all ingredients. - Add salt to taste. - Simmer, covered, approximately 1 hour. - Serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro, lime and sour cream.
When I saw this colorful wool yarn, I knew I had to knit something striped. I couldn't resist blending the colors into cheerful, spring-like accessories. Here's the simple pattern:
4 double pointed needles, size US 6
3 skeins different colored yarn, 100% wool
STEP 1 With first color, CO 33 sts evenly across 3 needles. Join to knit in the round. Mark beginning of round.
Row 1 - Knit
Row 2 - Purl
Rows 3-7 - Knit
Change colors. DO NOT cut yarn.
Rows 8-12 - Knit
Change to third color. DO NOT cut yarn.
Rows 13-17 - Knit
Change back to first color. Repeat rows 3-17.
Change back to first color. Knit 3 rows.
STEP 2 To create thumb hole: At this point, do not work in the round. Work back and forth, turning work at the end of each row. Row 1 (WS) - Purl. Turn. Row 2 (RS) - Purl. Turn. Continue in pattern, changing yarns every 5 rows, until you have completed 5 rows with the first color.
Row 1 (RS) - Using second color, knit, do not turn. Continue in pattern until you have finished 5 rounds of Second color, 62 rows.
BO loosely in knit.
Using the same needles, PU 22 sts around thumb hole. Join to knit in the round.
Knit one row.
BO in knit.
Weave in loose strands. You are done with the first hand warmer! Repeat directions for second hand warmer.
Sa'be's sisters came to stay with us for the weekend. Given how much I knew they would exercise once together, I figured it would be good to stock up on dog treats. I tripled my normal recipe, added ground oats and doubled the bacon drippings. They were definitely a hit.
1 1/2 C. Emmer Flour (or other brown flour)
1 C. rolled oats
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. chicken (or other meat) stock
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 large egg, beaten
4 Tbsp bacon drippings
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.- Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets & lightly flour surface area to roll out the dough.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
- Mix together egg, milk, chicken stock and bacon drippings, add to the dry ingredients. Stir.
- This dough is tough, so add more chicken stock if it is too stiff to work with.
- Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/4" thickness.
- Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into desired size/shape.
- Bake for 30 minutes and let cool.
According to Wikipedia, hibiscus tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine.
People with kidney ailments often take it for its beneficial properties and as a natural diuretic.
Studies have shown that consuming hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure.
In the Indian traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, hibiscus is considered to have medicinal properties. The roots are used to make various concoctions believed to cure ailments such as cough, hair loss or hair greying. As a hair treatment, the flowers are boiled in oil along with other spices to make a medicated hair oil. The leaves and flowers are ground into a fine paste with a little water, and the resulting lathery paste is used as a shampoo plus conditioner.
4 cups water 2 cups honey 1/2 cup organic dried hibiscus flowers Freshly grated zest of one lime 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 - 6 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
- Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
- Add the honey and stir.
- Add hibiscus flowers, turn off heat and let the mixture steep at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour for a stronger color and flavor. - Strain the syrup into a metal or glass bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cold.
- Pour 2 cups of the syrup into a glass pitcher or bowl; stir in 1 cup cold water, lime zest, and lime juice. I like to add one thin lime slice to each mold.
- Pour into a popsicle mold and freeze until solid. - Makes approximately 8 popsicles depending on your mold.
I am a seed. The frozen dirt that holds me snug is thawing ever so slightly. As the day passes, my dark nest moistens. I can smell must. It's not stale, but there's a hint of rot. The earth snaps and crackles. I hear an occasional pop. I am cold but don't mind. My eyes are closed as I wait patiently for the right moment to sprout.
I can tell that today is cold. The earth hardens, clenches its fists as it strives to hold its energy. I close into myself. I cannot force myself to feel at ease when, just yesterday, I was convinced that winter had passed. My hopes rise when one drop of water hovers above me, teases me before it expands, contracts, and absorbs me with its sweet, fresh embrace. It stays with me, holds me, then tightens as day turns to dusk. But now I am stuck with a frozen ring of water enveloping me. I turn inward. I am chilled to my core. The smells around me have dissipated. There is no give in the dirt, and silence ensues.
I tell myself to surrender. Accept the sadness. Acknowledge the struggle. Ride the wave rather than fight the inevitable as I’m pulled into the belly of the whale. Embrace the shadows as they dance around the light. They’re flirting, taunting, sending me into an abyss. I must find peace within the darkness that blankets the earth. Breathe deeply.
The sound of dripping water pulls me from my deep slumber. I awake to find a worm wriggling beside me. I am annoyed by its slimy presence and stretch out to push it aside, to give myself more space. The realization that spring has arrived carries with it a sense of anticipation. As the worm slithers beyond my grasp, I am able to stretch into the cavity it left in the dirt. The warmth nurtures me, soaks my shell, and softens my sharp edges.
Blue breaks into view. A brilliant light presses through a crack in the soil above me, and a crisp draft bears fresh scents. I reach up to caress the soil causing it to crumble in toward my face, but I continue to stretch my fingers upward to grasp the beam of light. I want to cry with relief as my fingers splay to absorb the warmth. Yearning for more, I sprout.
When designing my own art studio within its cramped quarters, I stumbled upon a number of brilliant eco-friendly, reclaimed storage solutions. I bookmarked them to eventually share in my Top Ten. Here we go.
The Storage Geek demonstrates how to use recycled coffee cans or tins for cubby storage.
Thread Banger uses recycled plastic water jugs to make low-income cubbies.
I love the idea of incorporating vintage keepsakes into functional home decor. Country Living shares this idea of using an old dollhouse for laundry room shelves.
DIY Life gives examples of how to turn old wooden ladders into shelves and storage racks.
Wooden crates are increasingly popular, frequently used as shelves, carts, and end tables. Design Stamped adds a new twist by transforming a crate into a bicycle basket.
Another popular storage idea, shown here by Practical Enrichment, is to transform wooden pallets into shelves.
Flat Tire Decor creates these really cool baskets out of old rubber tires. They are durable and attractive, perfect for hauling wood.
Eco Friend fabricates stylish bookshelves out of recycled skate boards.
Chairs in themselves are often unique pieces of art. Recyclart takes this art one step further and makes a chic bathroom rack out of an old chair.
This reclaimed refrigerator couch shown by Eco Friendly Furniture Home Design may be my favorite. Not only does it smartly incorporate a useless appliance into functional furniture, but it combines retro colors with clean, modern lines.
Stay tuned for another round of Top Ten next month!
We had some fresh rosemary left over from a dinner a couple of nights ago that I didn't want to go to waste, and I enjoy using herbs in our organic products. I came up with this simple lip balm recipe. The results are delightful, a combination of sweet and savory, soft of the lips.
Directions: - Place the oil and beeswax into the top of a double boiler or into a bowl set into a saucepan of boiling water. - Gently melt them together and then stir in the Shea butter and rosemary. - Keep the mixture at just bellow simmering point for a minimum of 30 minutes. - Strain into small containers and let cool.
Making rose petal and rose hip oil is a highly laborious task, but once it's done, it can be utilized in bath salts, salves, and other wonderful products. The following is a tutorial on how to make rose petal and rose hip salve, using the oil I pre-created.
- Heat the oil with Shea butter in one pan.
- Melt beeswax in a separate pans.
- Once the beeswax has melted, mix the ingredients together.
- Allow it to blend for a few minutes over heat.
- Pour the mix into tin cans or small glass jars to cool.
- Your Rose Petal & Hip Body Salve is ready to use. Enjoy!
I use natural, organic rose petal oil in salves and bath salts. Stay tuned for those details in a future post. To make rose petal oil...
8 C. rose petals and hips
12"x12" muslin cloth
1 gallon glass jar
- 16oz organic carrier oil
- Potato masher
Spread rose petals and hips out on muslin cloth. Be sure to select the most healthy and fragrant botanical materials for this project. Do not use rose petals that are bruised or wilted.
Wrap the muslin cloth up around the rose hips and petals, and tie it securely with the rubber band so that the petals and hips don't come out of the bag. Drop it into your jar.
Add carrier oil to the jar.
Use the potato masher to apply firm pressure to the bag of rose petals and hips while it's in the jar. Do this to bruise the contents of the muslin sack to help the carrier oil draw the essential oils. Secure the lid on the jar and place it in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks have passed, smash the bag again with the potato masher.
Remove the bag from the jar and squeeze it repeatedly to remove as much oil as you can.
Replace the contents of the muslin sack with your second 4 cups of rose petals and hips.
Repeat steps 4 through 6 four more times. Note: the more times you replace the materials, the more potent the essential oil will become.
Discard the used petals and hips. You should now have sweet scented rose petal oil.
I am often referred to as the woman who does it all. People ask me how I balance everything I have going on in my life: my daughter and her activities, a positive marriage, work, garden, small-scale farming, exercise, art, our dedication to maintaining a sustainable lifestyle, a clean home, a blog, and so on. The answer is, I don't. Not really.
Do I have advice?
Just like everyone else, I constantly revisit my sense of balance. I ask myself, "Right this very minute, do I feel sane or out of control?" If my answer is the latter, I consider three questions:
How can I prioritize?
Did I secure my oxygen mask?
Am I being consistent?
How can I prioritize?
I tend to be a "yes" person. If someone asks me to assist with a project, I generally say "yes". I enjoy being an active member of our community. Yet, if I accomplish everything with poor quality, what's the point? Therefore, with each "yes", I ask myself how the project would integrate with the other things going on in my life. Does it make sense in the greater scheme of things? How will I, my family and our community benefit from my participation? If the answer is unclear, then consider saying "no".
Did I secure my oxygen mask?
If you've ever flown on a commercial airliner, you probably remember how, just before takeoff, the airline attendant stood in the aisle and reviewed the flight safety instructions, demonstrating how to fasten a seat belt, how to use an oxygen mask, and pointing to the aircraft's emergency exits. When considering your oxygen mask, passengers are instructed to make sure their masks are on first before assisting other passengers or children.
So? The question is: how can I be a positive role model if I am not first nurturing my own needs? Breathe.
One day several years ago, when driving home to the Methow Valley from Seattle, I was apparently in a very bad mood, my tolerance minimal. I planned to take a run when we got home, but was increasingly anxious that time was limited. Twelve miles from home, Derek pulled over to the side of Washington Pass, instructed me to get out of the car, and drove off. Initially, I was furious. However, as I ran home along the picturesque river, my mood lifted. I walked into the house ready to positively interact with my family, to find the table already set with a delicious dinner.
Am I being consistent?
I strongly believe that we will maintain balance if we tackle things in our lives frequently yet in moderation. Adults can drink wine daily, in moderation. Women can hot tub regularly during pregnancy, in moderation. My home will remain tidy if we organize/clean habitually, in moderation. Our bodies will remain well toned if we exercise often, in moderation.
What does that mean? It means that it's essential to follow through with our priorities in a consistent (not obsessive, and not compulsive) manner. Shower our children with love consistently. Sit down to communicate with our partners regularly, not just on date nights. Eat nutritious meals and exercise every day.
I tackle one - just one - blogging project per day to ensure that it never becomes overwhelming. If I don't have time to exercise after work, I commute by bike or take my dog with me to work to prioritize an afternoon walk. Throughout the summer months, I weed my garden just a little each morning when feeding the animals. If any one thing seems to be slipping from my grasp, I return to my three questions.
I am certainly not perfect. In fact, I must periodically remind myself to take my own advice.
This past weekend we took a ski trip on the west side of the Cascades. Before heading out in the morning, I gathered some Spanish moss to make a garland. Simply pull it off the trees and wrap the strips around twine and into small balls. It naturally clings to itself, so no glue is required.
Spanish Moss grows naturally from Argentina to the southern United States. It is actually not a moss, but rather a member of the pineapple family, which is often found hanging on the branches of trees. Its common name is Spanish Moss or Old Man's Whiskers, and its botanic name is Tillandsia Usneoides.
Spanish moss is a perennial, moss-like epiphyte. It does not have roots, and hangs in long grey strands from the trunks and branches of host trees. The slender stems are covered in silvery white scales which absorb moisture and nutrients from the air.
Spanish moss can be grown on tree branches, or hung on fences to form an unusual privacy screen. It makes an excellent garden mulch.
It makes an excellent packaging material.
Birds use it as nesting material.
It was used to stuff old mattresses and seats of T-Model Ford cars.
These are simply brilliant! My friend Ashley took her daughters' outgrown or ripped tights and transformed them into colorful, one-of-a-kind bean bags. I struggle with throwing out our Smartwool socks when they are too small for Cymone or beyond repair. These bean bags now give me a fun alternative.
I've always found it a little odd to serve clam chowder up here in the mountainous Methow Valley when my parents dig for fresh clams on a daily basis on Cape Cod. Still, it's a favorite soup, so we bend our general locavore ways and purchase cans of clams at the grocery store.
Ingredients: 4 slices bacon 1/2 C. chopped onion 4 potatoes, cubed (I prefer red potatoes) 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 C. broth
1 bay leaf
1 C. carrots, chopped 2 (6 ounce) cans minced clams (strain the juice and set aside with the broth)
1 C. half-and-half salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh green onions
Directions: - In a large saucepan over medium high heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving the bacon fat in the pan, crumble and set aside. - In the same saucepan with the bacon fat, saute the onion and potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well to coat. - Pour in the clam juice and broth.
- Add bay leaf and carrots. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are tender.
- Add the half-and-half and minced clams and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk in the heavy cream, if desired. Allow to heat through, about 5 minutes.
- Serve, garnish with green onions and crumbled bacon.
Jil Eaton's Knitting School guides you through nineteen lessons and corresponding knitting projects, all of which are laid out with clear visuals for the reader to easily follow along. Jil Eaton uses bright colors and interesting stitches, making each project a delightful and engaging piece to work on.
I decided to knit this intricate, lace shrug - the outcome is simply magnificent. It has a soft, relaxed fit, provides the perfect amount of warmth in cool environments, and adds a splash of color to my usual winter grays. I used 1.5 skeins of fabulous, hand-dyed Fiberphile yarn. Additionally, I changed the pattern slightly so that the arms measure 12" long rather than 5".