Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to make handmade eczema cream: Updated

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See botton for update.

Our little guy has an eczema looking rash as of late so when I saw the recipe for eczema cream on A Sonoma Garden I knew we should try it.

Instead of using the shea butter and following the recipe exactly we decided to use the hand lotion recipe we converted instead.

1/2 tablespoon of avocado oil
1/2 tablespoon of vitamin E oil
Olive oil
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon emulsifying wax
1/2 water

In a Pyrex measuring glass combine the avocado oil and vitamin E oil, add olive oil to make 1/4 cup total. Then add emulsifying wax and microwave for 1-1.5 minutes or until it is all melted. The temperature on this should read about 155 degrees. Microwave the water for .5-1 minute or until 120-125 degrees. Then pour the hot water into the wax/oil mixture, gently stirring and watch it turn milky white. Then pour the hot lotion into wide mouth pint size jar and place in an ice bath (basically ice and water surrounding it), remove and let cool overnight.

It may be a little separated or have watery (should be 2mm or less) stuff at the bottom, all you need to do to fix this problem is stir it up, then becomes the perfect consistency and stays that way.

I was planning on using it on Gnar for a week to see how well it worked but to my surprise in three days the rash was gone! It worked really really well and also works great for bug bites. The rash came back and we've started using it again.

Since they do not sell emulsifying wax where we live, we got our emulsifying wax from Mountain Rose Herbs, and they also carry avocado and vitamin E oil. I was bummed not to be able to get it from a more local source (especially since the shipping cost was almost as much as the order), but now we know that we like it so I can order a lot more at a time and/or next time I head up to Oregon to visit family I can get just pick some up. The avocado oil was a bit pricey and I had to get it at S&S produce but I think it will still be less expensive then a pricey eczema cream. The vitamin E oil I found at Trader Joe's and it was not to expensive.

Original recipes from A Sonoma Garden!

After making and using the recipe for several months I have realized that it molds within about a month. My recommendation to combat this problem is to store it in the fridge and make only half of a batch. Here is the half batch recipe:

1/2 tablespoon of avocado oil
1/2 tablespoon of vitamin E oil
add olive oil to make 1/8 cup of total oil
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoon emulsifying wax

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Prepping for Thanksgiving dinner

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We are really excited about thanksgiving this year, we are going to try and make the meal from things we have grown and raised here in our backyard, well as much as we can at least. Thanksgiving is really all about harvest and community so we are happy to be able to share a harvest meal with family and friends.

We planned ahead and started a second crop of green beans so were able to can or freeze some for the meal. A little over a week ago we planted the root veggies for our meal. Harris Parsnips (which we probably planted to late so they will be really small), a blend of four types of beets and purple dragon carrots. I know we will still have all the types of greens (kale, swiss chard, spinach, mache, deertongue lettuce, red romaine, and claytonia) to add to the meal.

We also decided to try our hand at raising Cornish game hens for our meat. These lil' ones will be mature enough for our thanksgiving dinner. No names for these chicks! We wanted to get a turkey but they are loud and we are not sure our neighbors would be okay with a loud turkey for 4-5 months. I am hoping that the Cornish cross chicks work out well because if they do we will just raise then instead of buying chickens at the store.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Harvest Monday 9/20-9/26 2011

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green bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes

more tomatoes and zucchini, and millet

more eggs! whoo hoo!
Yesterday here it actually felt like fall...we had a nice wind and rain but the rest of the week is forcasted to be in the 90's. That is pretty normal here and the first day of fall most people are still wearing shorts. It usually stays hot through the end of Sept. and part of Oct. That's good for us as we hope to get at least one or two more harvests of tomatoes. We are slowly (probably to slow) putting in the fall garden. Since most of the space is still being used we are starting some stuff in seed starters to get a jump start.

I wrote about South a few days ago and her secret nest...the first few days after I could find any eggs. I was bummed and thought that they had gone on strike. Finally yesterday I caught West getting ready to lay, so I left her and came back awhile later and found 4 eggs! They had created another secret nest way back under a board...silly girls. I think its time to re-design the nesting boxes. West has tried to get comfy in them but then eventually gets out for some reason. That will be one of the projects this week. Any suggestions for nesting boxes would be greatly appreciated.

Happy first fall Monday. We are linking up with Daphne's Dandelions for harvest Monday! So go check out what other people all over are harvesting this week!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chicken adventures: dealing with our first broody hen.

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I wrote earlier this week about our sneaky hen South who was hiding. Well after a few days of her hiding all day everyday. I decided to get to the bottom of it. What pushed me was finding two eggs in one day. Wait! I thought I only had one girl laying and I caught her (West) in the act.

I found South (the smallest of the bunch) way under the shed and pecking at me once she was found. I left her and kept checking every hour or so until she finally come out! She was broody and had two eggs she was "hatching". We pulled out the eggs and placed wood and large rocks so she couldn't get back under the shed. Who would have thought that our first layer would be the smallest of the bunch. I know she was the first because West has always laid inside the shed right in front of the nesting box and we found our first egg outside right in front of where South was "nesting". At least we figured it out and now have two girls laying! We managed to deal with our first broody hen! whoo hoo!

After all of this I realized that South is my baby and I really don't think I will let her be in a stew pot...she has a stand out personality and I helped her back to life, story here. As much of a snot as she is...she will always and forever be my favorite chicken!

Here is an article I read to help figure out what to do with our broody hen: broody hen

Oh and Happy first day of Fall!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Harvest Monday 9/13-9/19 2011

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Millet, green bell peppers, tomatoes, Thia basil and regular basil

Green beans from our second crop, zucchini

more tomatoes

the first egg our girls laid! We got a second two days later.

We are slowly taking out the tomato plants that are not really producing anymore (ten this week) but we are still get enough to make about a batch a week. They have really slowed down and I now know that we really probably only have a few weeks left. Change is good and I am now looking forward to fall...the cooler temps as of late reminded me how nice it will be to have fall here...even if it means no more tomatoes.

I am so excited that the girls started laying...well at least one of them. We just need one more egg and we can all have breakfast together! hehheh. Funny story...I have been out checking about every hour trying to catch the chicken who is laying. Then the other day I went out and we had only three chickens....I freaked out. At first I was I just not seeing the 4th one?

There were no signs of a chicken being taken, no holes to get out of the outside portion of the coop. So we looked everywhere and then started asking neighbors. About 40 mins later, we decided there was nothing we could do...and then low and behold....she reappeared in the coop. We think she found her way under the shed. So now the outside portion of the coop has a large rock blocking their little secret hideout! Silly girls and of course it was South who did it...she is so sneaky. Since she is the one we all nursed back to health, she pulls on my heartstrings a little more even if she is the biggest brat of them all.

Anyhow...Happy Monday. We are linking up with Daphne's Dandelions for harvest monday! So go check out what other people all over are harvesting this week!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The girls (chickens)

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I was just about to write a post about our free-loading chickens since they are 6 months old and still not laying eggs...

But I just walked out to say hi and what did I see...the first light brown egg!

Go North or West...most likely! I am assuming that it is one of the two because they are the biggest and have had bright red combs for the longest. I really have no clue who laid the first might have been East the (now) smallest who is always the last to leave the roost in the morning (most likely not her, since I found the egg in the outside part of our coop...but hey...who knows).

PS: I always check in the morning, which is when they usually lay...I guess I will have to start checking all day long...typical females, right?

How to make handmade lotion: Updated

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See bottom for update.

Yesterday we made handmade lotion using the recipe from A Sonoma garden! It was so easy and quick. We choose to infuse the olive oil with herbs in the crock pot for a day and strain it instead of adding the extract. We used 4 cups of olive oil, 1/2 cup of dried lavender, and 4 dried white/culinary sage leaves. We put it in the crock pot for a day on the warm setting and then strained out the herbs.

In a Pyrex measuring glass combine the olive oil and emulsifying wax and microwave for 1-1.5 minutes or until it is all melted. The temperature on this reads about 155 degrees.  Then microwave the water for .5-1 minute or until about 120 degrees. Then pour the hot water into the wax/olive oil mixture, gently stirring and watch it turn milky white. Then pour the hot lotion into wide mouth pint size jar(s), and place in an ice bath, basically ice and water surrounding it, remove and let cool overnight.

Some people commented on the recipe saying it separated or was watery at the bottom, which happened with our first batch. So we changed the recipe a bit by reducing the water to 1 cup and we also put the hot lotion immediately into an ice bath, it also separated. So for the third batch we tried 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup infused olive oil and 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon emulsifying wax. It was almost perfect...but since we are perfectionists...we tried again. It only really had about 2mm of water at the bottom. For our fourth and final batch we used 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons emulsifying wax, ten drops peppermint extract and just under a 1/2 cup water, and then put it into the ice bath. It ended up pretty thick, so we will use it as foot cream for a gardener feet!

I would say that the third batch was the most perfect and all you need to do to fix the small bit of water at the bottom is stir it up once, it then becomes the perfect consistency. So the perfect recipe is:

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup infused or regular olive oil
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon emulsifying wax

Since they do not sell emulsifying wax where we live, we also got our emulsifying wax from mountain rose herbs, and since you have to order $10 worth of stuff we also got Garam Masala. I was bummed not to be able to get it from a more local source (especially since the shipping cost was almost as much as the order), but now we know that we like it so I can order a lot more at a time and/or next time I head up to Oregon to visit family I can get just pick some up.

I am loving the fact that I now have hand-made lotion infused with herbs from our garden! I think the thing I love the most about it is that fact that it is not greasy, I'm kind of a weirdo about lotions and it's nice to find one I can make and use! I cannot wait to try some of the other recipes from A Sonoma Garden!

After making and using the recipe for several months I have realized that it molds within about a month. My recommendation to combat this problem is to store it in the fridge and make only half of a batch. Here is the half batch recipe:

1/4 cup water
1/8 cup infused or regular olive oil
2 1/2  tablespoon emulsifying wax

I have also read that sometimes added Vitamin E oil will help slow the molding. I recommend about a 1/2 tablespoon of vitamin E oil and then add the olive oil to make up the rest of the 1/8 cup oil. See my eczema cream recipe for help with this.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reflection of the spring/summer garden and pictures as of late

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Our second crop of Missouri Bill's Pole beans (a dry/shelling bean)

the start of some Mache

our first melon, with basil in the background

The start of some purple snap peas

our first pumpkin
We were so excited when we moved in November to have the space to actually be able to have a real (not in bins) garden. If you are a gardener you must be able to admit your mistakes and learn from them...

In the early spring (really winter) we started our seeds inside and barely got anything. We were so discouraged and worried that we bought more seeds from Redwood Organic Farm (thank goodness we found them) and started over. I kept reminding myself that no matter what happened we would at least learn something. Let me just say you can trust that anything you get from redwood will come up, we ended up with so much that we were trying to get rid of plants!

Boy did we learn this year! We followed a book to space our 90ish tomato plants and now we know that they need a lot more space than the book said! It is like a jungle in our tomato area and I think that next year less (spaced and supported better) will be more. Luckily we never really had a problem keeping up with the harvest and the girls(chickens) could not have been happier to take care of the hornworms.

We planted 4 summer squash plants and 3 of them really produced. Really what were we thinking...4!? No one in northern California needs more that one summer squash plant...they go crazy! We did find a way to use all of it up though, whether it was in smoothies, bread, zucchini pickles (blog post to come), of course steaming it or just cutting it in half and giving it to the girls.
This was our first try at growing dry/shelling beans, soybeans and garbanzo beans; let me just say...OMG! I wish we could grow only legumes! As soon as the first crop was done we started a second and although so far we didn't get as much as we wanted, it was so rewarding and great for the soil...a blog post to come.

I don't ever want to grow corn again (unless we have goats), we have a great local source that sells perfect yummy corn...really, why bother with it. Our corn this year was kind of sad. So far we have only had one ear that we could eat and the rest was taken over by bugs before it really became the lucky lil' girls have had many feasts of corn!

We are on our 4th planting of potatoes. So far the first (an early spring planting), is the only one to talk about...wonderful, large, yummy potatoes...the second and third were small but yummy. I hope the fourth is awesome because we want to use them for thanksgiving dinner!

Our peppers...hmmmm...where to start. The first seeds(I won't name the company because it could have just been a fluke) we bought never came up, then we planted a second set using a seed mat...nothing. Then we finally gave in a got some starts from the market. They are producing a lot of yummy peppers but they are so short and small that I think maybe we put them out to early and stunted them. We also wanted jalapenos and another spicy variety. We picked up a few at the market and the first two never made it. Then we grabbed another jalapeno but the peppers that we are harvesting (off the 3 inch tall plant, crazy short) are in no way, shape or form jalapenos.

Our first planting of carrots was wonderful...amazing, yummy, perfect. Our second never came up, our third...we ended up with 3! Lesson have to water seeds a lot throughout the day if you live where it is hot!

Onions and garlic; we were so excited to try that we did not do any research! Big mistake, although we made the most of it. First, we did not plant nearly enough considering we wanted to use then to make marinara sauce. Second, we didn't research to find out which types store well, although it didn't matter to much because it was all used up before they could really go bad. Third, we learned a new way to store garlic! Dehydrate it for garlic powder, blog post to come!

All of the herbs were wonderful, the only thing we will change is where we plant the herb garden. They ended up in a place that could have been used much better. We are planning on digging them up and placing them in pots so we can pull them in close to the house for winter and/or inside at night. Then re-plant them next spring in a better spot.

I gained a new love this year in my picky palate...Swiss chard! I never used to like it but for some reason I am now in love with it and Kale. Our Swiss chard was great this year until we accidentally took it out with the hula-hoe...oops! We also got a Kale plant from the market this year and although the bugs love it and we didn't really have room for it so it was not planted in the best is still going strong. Our lettuce was wonderful until the heat hit...then the caterpillars got it so we are trying different varieties in our fall/winter garden this year. I hope next summer to find a good variety for our hot weather.

The West African millet was amazing! Since the Doctor spent four years in Africa we wanted to try his hand at growing it here and making it into beer. We will be writing a blog post about the beer making.

We purchased melon seeds this year but they never came up...bummer. Later in the summer we buried a couple seeds from a melon we ate and we now have two melons growing...crazy!

Our watering system actually works out quite well, we did end up adding a second one. Once the tomatoes and Peppers had fruit on them we had to be more careful but they were all pretty well supported so it didn't matter to much. It was really nice to be able to walk out and turn on the timer, then the hose and walk back in the house knowing that half the garden was being watered all at once! Of course we still have to spot water some things that it does not reach but all in all it really helped us out timing wise and helped the plants really develop a strong root structure.

All in all we learned a lot...that is what we are most thankful for. We know that it is going to take us years to fully understand everything but since we love it so much we are excited to keep at it. What an awesome hobby to enjoy what you do and feed yourself at the same time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

30 days 30 ways Sseko Sandal Challenge: Finished!

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Tie 38- Braided Keyhole flip flop

Tie 39- Knotted Classic

Tie 40- My variation of Haley's Lake Ellsworth tie

Tie 41- Double knot toe sling

Tie 42- My variation of Nicole's Keyhole Slingback

Tie 43- Ethereal Braided 3 strap

Tie 44- Bewitching Bow tie

Tie 45- Variation of the Togo tie for regular length straps
Thank you all who supported me in the challenge! You all helped me be the final winner! Thanks to Sseko for free straps for a year! Yippee!

I had so much fun being in the challenge and feel like I now have sseko sisters. The ties that others came up with blew my many amazing and creative women involved! I was also amazed by all the strap colors I had never beautiful!

I originally mis-counted...probably one of those mornings I didn't have my coffee and realized that if I end today it will only be 44 I will wear them tomorrow!

The final count-
Ties I came up with: 22
Ties I came up with based on someones tie: 9
Other peoples ties: 14
Go me!

Over the next several weeks I will be making videos or step by step(pictures included) instructions of all 22 ties I came up with, along with the variations I came up with.

Here at the end I realized that I can go much longer...
Most likely I will wear my Sseko's most days until the weather changes and next year watch out! I decided with my hubby's support that I will try to show off 120 ties (I hope mostly ones I come up with) and wear my Sseko's from mid May to mid September (the end of the 30/30 challenge)!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Harvest Monday 9/6-9/12 2011

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pretty little heart shaped tomato

green beans from our second crop (I left them outside for awhile by accident so I think these will become spicy pickled green beans)

Oregano, thai basil, savory or marjoram, tomatoes, and a green bell pepper

More tomatoes


more tomatoes, and millet

more green beans

more zucchini, tomatoes, and millet

Our tomatoes have finally started to slow down a little. Next weekend we are going to take out about 5-6 plants that have pretty much stopped producing along with the one zucchini plant we have left. We were still able to make a big batch of marinara this weekend and should be able to make another few over the next few weeks. I think this is the first time that I am kind of sad that fall is coming. Just because I will miss making sauce once or twice a week and eating perfect tomatoes from the garden. I really am looking forward to fall...I miss the fall recipes that I usually make and I'm excited about our first fall/winter garden.

We are linking up with daphne's dandelions for harvest monday...go check out what others have harvested this week! Happy Monday!

Friday, September 9, 2011

just a few awesome things about Sseko sandals...

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As a mom on a budget I know that money is tight for a lot of moms out there. I was lucky and my sister gave them to me as a present for being in her wedding. Yes they cost money but remind yourself where the money is going...this company supports women in getting their college education. Not only do these women get the help they need to earn money for college but they get something to add to their resume.

Yes you do have to tie them...I have been working hard on a tie that is easy to slip on and off without needing to be adjusted but they are so comfy that is it so worth it.

They can be tied a million ways, which means you can wear them to the park for a play date or out on the town that one night you get to go out in the last 8 months...hehhe.

And if ever you get bored with the color...just buy a different strap and you feel like you have a whole new pair of shoes.

You will also feel really good wearing them and sharing the story because you know other women will ask you where you got your cute sandals...

Check out Sseko Designs story here!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

30 days 30 ways Sseko Sandal Challenge: Week 5

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Tie 31- Triangle Slingback

Tie 32- Braided version of Baylee's Diamond slingback

Tie 33- From the garden into my Sseko's-This is another variation of the Classic that you start from the outside front loop.

Tie 34- Tirzah's Zebra Tie

Tie 35- Start with a Bow/End with a Bow Tie

Tie 36- Braided Triangle

Tie 37- Woven Slingback
Well I am past my original goal and still going strong. I know now that next year I can definitely make it for 4 months. Thanks to all of you who voted from me and congrats to Kim from oh sweet joy for winning last weeks peoples choice! This is the last week of the contest and I keep telling myself not to be disappointed if I don't win because that's not the reason I started this thing. I started it to share the Sseko story without even knowing that they had a contest. Of course it would be fun to win! :) Happy Tuesday...I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harvest Monday 8/30-9/5 2011

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Tomatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, green bell peppers, zucchini, basil, artichoke (for seeds), millet(for beer), parsley, bay, thyme, savory, and little hot red peppers (we were told that the plant was a jalapeno...obviously not).

More tomatoes

More zucchini, the big one went to the girls(chickens).

More tomatoes...we put a table into the garage so we would have more room for tomatoes. I did not even put all the pictures of tomatoes because they are boring after a few pictures.

Today is our anniversary and we are spending it mostly in the garden. We both really enjoy it and since our babysitter is away for the weekend we are not able to go out and celebrate. Most of the time we are disappointed by dinner out in our small town dinner at home will be perfect.

Yesterday we made sauce as usual but we also tried our hand at making bloodymary mix and it came out really good. That will be the next thing we perfect since we already have the spicy beans recipe perfect. We also spent a lot of time weeding and making room for the fall/winter garden.

We ended up planting a fourth planting of yukon gold potatoes and filled the one raised bed we have with a little bit of deertounge lettuce, red romaine, red kale, red chard, claytonia, mache, and spinach. We planted some purple snap peas next to our second crop of Missouri bill's pole beans and found the first bean! Today we want to get more things started for the fall/winter garden and then relax in the pool.

Enjoy your labor day everyone!

We are linking up with Daphne's dandelions for Harvest mondays...check out other awesome harvests.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The little guys Style-Camo mix up

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Camo hat, Army green tee, camo shoes- Old navy, camo short- handmedown

The little guy loves him some Camo...he was off to say Hi and hang out with his godfather down the street. So how the new hat is now missing...

We are linking up with mamalovespapa for small check it out if you think kids are cute! :)
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