Friday, 24 January 2014

Garlic Dreams

Looking out my kitchen window earlier this week I was thrilled to see some green poking through in my garlic raised bed. This is the first new green of the year in the yard. About this time of year I start to feel bogged down by darkness and chilly dampness. I need to begin thinking about what I would like to plant for the coming growing season and catching a glimpse of the garlic was just what I needed to get my imagination flowing. 

I can close my eyes, see myself running my fingers along the garlic scapes and smelling the heavenly scent of the pungent garlic. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and hear my daughters shrieking and running around the yard. 

Despite using straw to mulch my garlic bed there were some weeds beginning to grow around the edges. Getting my fingers dirty doing some weeding in January was just what the doctor ordered at the end of an intense work week for me. 

I will have garlic dreams tonight. 

Friday, 17 January 2014

When To Plant - An App Review

With seed starting season quickly approaching (I will be starting some seeds indoors in a few weeks), I was interested in trying the When to Plant app created by Mother Earth News that I purchased for $1.99

There are numerous websites to help plan when to start seeds indoors, transplant seedlings and direct sow seeds outdoors, based upon planting hardiness zones. I enjoy reading articles from Mother Earth News so I was curious what the app has to offer.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

One Little Word for 2014

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Every year I like to pick a word to help focus my attention and actions.

Last year I chose gratitude for my one little word because I wanted to change our habit of focusing on the negative and being frustrated with life. I wanted my family to be happier with what we have and how we live. The previous year I chose move, because I wanted to be make being more active a daily habit.

This year I have chosen make as my one little word. This isn’t a change in direction for me, and it isn’t going to cause big changes in my life. I have already made a commitment to make things by hand or from scratch. I enjoy crafting and learning how to make things myself. So if I already do this, why did I chose make as my one little word?
My latest batch of fire cider. The peppers were so hot
my hands were on fire. 

I spent very little time in stores and malls over the Christmas season this year, and when I did I continually noted all the things that I didn’t need because I could probably make them myself. I love the creative process, but somehow it ends up being on the bottom of my list, with three daughters, a job and activities.
Some of the presents I made for Christmas this year:
lip balm, lavender bath salts, cup cozies, hand towels.

I already grow my own food in my kitchen garden in the growing season. I make cards and presents for friends and family as much as possible. I enjoy knitting. I have been learning more about making my own personal care products. I make food from scratch as much as time permits.
I enjoy making cards.

This year I am committing to doing all of this as much as I can, as much as I enjoy it. I am learning which things are worth the effort of making by hand (and homemade goldfish crackers are not one of them, which I learned the hard way). I like knowing how things are made and what the ingredients are.
Delicious homemade crackers that took half a day to make.
Not sure they're worth the effort.

Some things I want to continue making this year:
Now that I make fresh pasta I can
never go back to store bought pasta.

  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Hand knit items for children, toys, small presents like cup cozies
  • My garden
  • Meals from my garden
  • Shampoo
  • Lip balm
  • Plastic free food wraps
  • Cards
  • Presents for teachers (like handmade cards)
  • Presents for family members, such as homemade photo canvases
  • home cleaning supplies

Some things I hope to make this year:

  • gluten free pasta and bread (so far I have only had abysmal failures with gluten free breads)
  • A hand knit sweater for me
  • Something on my sewing machine (this has been on my list for a number of years)
  • Canned food from my garden
  • Mascara and other makeup
  • Kombucha tea
  • Jewelry (for presents)
  • yogurt
  • cheese
  • deodorant

I am not going to be disappointed if I don’t meet some internal standard that I have set for myself, however, because I am not setting a standard that I feel I have to meet. I know that life ebbs and flows, and there are times when I will need to walk into a store and just buy something for my own sanity. But there are times when I will have time to learn how to make new things. I am fortunate to have my summers off because I am a teacher, and this gives me great latitude to take on projects that require time and energy.

So I am hoping to play and create more this year. It may be my easiest and most fun one little word yet.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)
  • Always an Artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to 'stay the same' and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I'm AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • 'The Other Mums' and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the 'great big magic show of life' and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn't change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else's children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband's military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it "Normal" — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama's World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama's son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn't kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband's MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband's baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter's early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now - Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family's default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we've taken to promote "breast is best," Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Using Aloe to Treat Burns

The internet is full of information about the wonders of the aloe plant. It can be used as a digestive aid, as a source of vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, C, E, B3, B6 and even B12), it can be used for detoxifying, and as an immune booster.

It is aloe's ability to heal and rejuvenate the skin that I appreciate on a regular basis. As a chid visiting Hawaii with my family I became aware of aloe for skin burns. It seemed like each trip someone in the family would get a sun burn because people were not aware of the impact of sun damage as we are today. In fact, I don't remember using sunscreen with anything stronger than SPF 6 growing up. Luckily the complex where we stayed had aloe vera growing in the gardens so my mother would cut off a small piece, open up the stalk and rub the gel on our tender, stinging skin.

I have three aloe plants growing in my front, south facing window for first aid purposes today. In the fall my nine year old was helping me chop ingredients for my fire cider, and she forgot to wash her hands after cutting up red hot peppers. Unfortunately she touched her eye and immediately regretted it. She was wailing in agony from the burning and stinging. A little bit of the aloe gel rubbed on her eye gave her instant cooling relief. We reapplied the aloe gel an hour later when the burning sensation began to return and then she was fine.

This week I noticed that we are almost out of my fire cider. Even though it has a very strong odour (the onions and horseradish will do that), it is delicious as a salad dressing when mixed with oil. I decided to prepare some more fire cider for us and set about chopping up the ingredients.
My fire cider all prepared and ready to infuse the apple
cider vinegar for a few weeks.

I should have realized how hot the red peppers were when I rinsed them out after removing the seeds. My throat choked up when I breathed in. Yes, they were that hot, which I hope will make a delicious and potent fire cider.

When I finished chopping up all the ingredients and placing them in the glass jars with apple cider vinegar, I dutifully washed my hands. I gave them two very good scrubbings with dish soap to ensure we wouldn't have a repeat of what happened to my daughter.

Rubbing the aloe gel on my hands.
Unfortunately this wasn't enough, because when I sat down to respond to my students' new year journal entries, my hands began to sting. At first I didn't realize what was going on. Then when the sting became a searing burn. I was in agony! Luckily my daughter reminded me of how we treated her eye because in my pain I forgot about the aloe in my living room. She had to help me open doors and drawers because my hands hurt too much to touch anything.

After cutting the stalk off the plant and removing the spiky sides with a knife, I sliced it open length-wise. I applied the gel directly to my skin and slathered it all over my hands, front and back. The gel is cool and soothing and my hands felt much better. Later that night I had to reapply when the burning sensation started returning, but then it felt fine.

If there is any left over aloe I recommend removing it from the green part of the plant and putting it in a sealed jar so that it doesn't dry out and it is ready for the next skin emergency.

Next time I make my fire cider, or anything else with hot peppers, I think I will wear gloves!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Gardening Intentions for 2014

In the last week of December I received a 2014 seed catalogue from a local seed company, and when I saw it my heart skipped a beat. This meant that I can begin to think about my garden for 2014 in earnest. I can dream about what I will grow in my new garden. It may seem early to be thinking about the coming growing season, but many seeds can be started indoors in late February or early March, and last year I missed the window for some of the early varieties.

The new year naturally is a time to reflect on the year that was and look ahead to goals and plans for the coming year, but I don’t like to make specific and definite statements because I feel like a failure when I don’t follow through. Instead, I like to have intentions, which at least in my mind is different from resolutions.