Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We Like It

Last week, I came across some rhubarb in the store, so bought some to try. I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie, a rhubarb crumble & a rhubarb compote. And the good news is we liked all three! Which is good, now that we've got some growing in the garden. Joseph & I had a productive holiday weekend, with some relaxation thrown in for good measure. I hope everyone else's was lovely.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good Things

Yesterday I had a massage session with Scott Hunt. Aaaahhh. Scott & I were classmates at BTI, massage school extraordinaire. He & his wife Cori Cagle are some of the most interesting, creative people I know. Cori is an elementary school art teacher & fantastic artist. I always leave them feeling energized. For those of you in the Greensboro area, Scott works at Chakras. I highly recommend him if you're in need of a massage. He does subtle yet powerful work.

This morning, I began some chickweed tincture. I often eat in fresh in salads, & have made salve with it, but this is the first time I've tinctured it. It's a great wild plant. I've found some great purslane recipes too. It's another great wild plant. I've been encouraging it since it showed up a couple of years ago, & this year have a good amount of it, so will try out some of the recipes I found. It's got very high levels of Omega-3's, good for heart, inflammation... If you want to begin using these nutritional powerhouses, that are free for the taking in most of our yards, make sure you know what you're harvesting & don't use anything that might have been sprayed with pesticides/herbicides. A great source for wild plants is Susun Weed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Toad Abode

Joseph unearthed the neatest toad tonight, while transplanting my Lemon Verbena plant. Neither of us had ever seen one like it. In doing a search, I learned it's an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad. This particular one is reddish brown with gray sides. Sorry I didn't think to take a picture, but Joseph found a new home for him, safe from the marauding chickens & cats. Yep, he's the man of my dreams!

Soap Gone Bad

I recently had a batch of failed soap; soap in which the oil separated. Today, I did my first rebatching of a soap, adding the failed batch to a small amount of milk with a little additional lye. I warmed it all in the crockpot until it melted, then repoured it into the mold. It's probably the ugliest soap I've ever made, but so far, it looks like it will harden up like it's supposed to. In looking at likely reasons for the failure, I'm guessing it was due to combining everything at the wrong temperature. In the 12 years I've been using the thermometer, it's never been calibrated. Joseph showed me how to do that, & lo and behold, it was 10 degrees off, which meant I let it cool 10 degrees too much before combining. Another possibility is that I made an error when weighing the lye, which is why I added a bit more. It's a good day when I've learned something new.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Name That Bug

Does anyone know what this critter is? I've found them on different plants around the garden recently. They're orange with black markings. They don't move & seem to be empty, so I'm guessing it's the larval form of something. Beneficial Bug? Bad Bug? Can't find it in my books or with an online search. They're approx 1/4" long & have several ridges along their back.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Loved Ones

Tonight I listed my Rose soap on Etsy, which is named in honor of my maternal grandmother, Rose Gelo aka Mama Rosie. My friend Teresa's husband, David Reavis, took an old photo I had of her & digitized it so I could use it on my soap site. It's a pretty special soap for me. I'm still working on a soap to honor my paternal grandmother. She loved geraniums & made wonderful Irish soda bread with caraway seeds, so I'd like to use those oils in it. One of these days, the other ingredients will come to me. Everyone enjoyed the Mother's Day picnic. That's Joseph in the picture. We got to meet my niece's in-laws to be, who fit right in with the rest of the family. I got to spend today on the homestead, catching up on a number of little chores, plus laundry & mowing. It always does my heart good to have a good "home" day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Strawberries & Lady Fingers

Today Joseph & I have been processing a bounty of local, organic strawberries. First we put some through the juicer & made strawberry syrup. A good portion of it will likely be used in vinaigrettes next winter, when we need a taste of summer. While they were processing, we made a batch of strawberry ice cream, then canned the remainder. I expect we'll use a lot of those in smoothies. The beautiful bowl is by Crystal King, one of the many talented folks I'm blessed to live around. I also made a batch of lady fingers, my first experience using a pastry bag. They're not as pretty as store-bought, but we came up empty in the local stores & I wanted to use them in a pretty dessert that my dear friend Mark's Mom used to make. I'll be taking it to my family's Mother's Day gathering.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Canning Vegetable Stock

We did get a lovely rain during the night & this morning started out rainy, so I decided to can some vegetable stock. I've been making my own stock for several years, but have been freezing it. With freezer space at a premium, it seemed a good idea to can it. I ended up with 5 qts, & all sealed. Yippee! I also made some cream of asparagus soup, probably the last of the year, as it's winding down. Joseph put up the remaining wall of the shed redo & is putting up shelves. With my recent slim nursing hours & him being out with his injury, we've managed to do a little catching up around here. He goes back to UNC tomorrow & will likely get the OK to go back to work.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rhubarb & Rain

Today has been another garden day. We planted several types of flower seed that we'll be able to see from the front of the house, should they germinate & survive. We got the tomato cages set up, planted corn & rhubarb. Neither of us has yet tasted rhubarb, but heck, if all else fails, they say you can make wine with it. Our stinging nettles arrived, & we carefully got those in the ground. They're an incredible plant that has a multitude of uses. I flagged them well so we won't forget & accidentally run into them. We're hoping the forecasters are right, & we'll get rain for all our little plants this evening. My cousin Laura & her family came for a visit yesterday. We got to meet her newest addition, Isabella, who is an amazingly good baby. And a cutie too. Why is it I forget about the camera when a perfect opportunity presents itself?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Growing Things

Joseph's Mom & Uncle Brent came for a visit today, & enjoyed touring the homestead. The Atamasco Lilies are blooming on the path to the back field. We've read they're an endangered species, so I'm thankful to have them here to enjoy. Today we transplanted some of the Passionfruit vines that were on the edge of the back field to the garden. I experimented with transplanting one last year, & it came back looking happy this year. They make a very nice fruit, & the flowers are other-worldly. We also planted some sunflowers along the fenceline, hoping for a sunny welcome to all who drive up the driveway.