Friday, January 30, 2009


Our week has flown by without a lot of computer time and we're looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Hope you have one too.

Sharing one picture that sums up our week of play... Ian as Luke Skywalker and Sawyer as R2-D2. The trash basket was completely their idea and Sawyer makes little robotic sounds following Ian around on various missions. And I think I've heard plans of building the Millennium Falcon this weekend...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I had a request to make my posts and recipes easier to print and so my wonderful husband stepped in to figure how it could be done. Blogger isn't the easiest to customize but he manages to find ways to answer all my urgent blog needs and my oh please please please can you get it done this evening? requests.

So if you want to print a post with say, a recipe, then you would click on the title to bring only that particular post up and at the bottom will be a PRINT THIS POST link. You can preview it to make sure you are printing only what you'd like. Let me know how it works for you.

Thanks for the suggestion Lori!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hand-dipped beeswax

A first attempt at hand-dipped beeswax taper candles. The process takes a few hours but it's really enjoyable. Begin with a wick, dip twice in melted beeswax, hang to dry, dip, hang...repeat. They are rustic and bit wobbly in places but exactly what I had hoped for. The boys and I spent the day at my sister's house making them. She posted more of the process here. I think I see another tradition beginning...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

(mostly) raw asian rolls

This is my new favorite meal right now. It's very adaptable and this peanut sauce makes everything tastes incredible.

For the asian rolls I take whatever type of veggie I can find, usually it's zucchini, carrots, spinach, green onions, and red pepper, and slice them thin. Then I add some rice noodles (like pad thai noodles) for some extra filling. Regular rice would work great too! I roll all of it in a spring roll skin which is perfect to hold onto and dip. The spring roll skin is actually fun to play with because it's stiff until you soak it in hot water for a few moments and then it turns soft and paper thin. You can totally experiment with this and add whatever you'd like. It's a great way to way to eat raw foods!

Peanut Love Sauce

4 T almond butter
2 T creamy organic peanut butter (for peanut allergies, substitute almond butter for all)
3 T nama shoyu or soy sauce (Tamari for gluten free)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T honey or maple syrup
2 soft dates, pitted
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 -2 garlic cloves
1 T ginger, freshly minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 - 2 t dried chili pepper (optional)
1/ 4 - 1/2 cup fresh water

In a blender, blend almond and peanut butter (optional), soy sauce, olive oil, vinegar, honey or maple syrup, dates, green onions, garlic ,ginger, cilantro, and parsley until smooth. Add fresh water a little at a time as necessary to blend smooth. The sauce should be pourable, but still thick. Set aside half the sauce and add the chili pepper so you have on that is hot and one that is not. (I usually leave the chili out completely since my boys don't like spicy foods)

This sauce is delicious and works perfectly with any type of roll you can come up with.

Recipe from Happy Foody

Friday, January 16, 2009

Herbal Tincture Tutorial

I've made this herbal tincture for a couple of years now. It began when I took a course online from a holistic college and then read all the books I could find on herbal remedies. We mainly use herbs and homeopathics at home, most of which I have bought, but I plan on making more homemade herbal remedies in the future. For now... here is a little tutorial on how to make an herbal tincture.

A tincture is basically herbs, fresh or dried, that have been steeped over time in alcohol, distilled water and/or glycerine. The herbs are strained out and you are left with a concentrated herbal remedy that you can take by itself or mixed into juice or water. In this case, I made a sleep tincture that I can give the boys if they are having a hard time sleeping. It calms them down and relaxes them enough to fall asleep and usually stay asleep. I buy these herbs pre-mixed but you can make a tincture with any combination of herbs or a single herb as well. Tincturing single herbs is usually recommended in the beginning so you can see if that particular herb is helpful and does what you need it too (sleep, healing, etc...). For this batch, I'm using chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower, oatstraw, catnip, and hops. I'm also making a single herbal tincture made with echinacea root.


Start with a wide mouth quart-size glass jar (any size glass jar will work) and fill it about a 1/3 to 1/2 full with dried herbs and about 3/4 full with fresh herbs.

I use a mixture of food grade vegetable glycerine and alcohol. I use cheap vodka (100 proof) because it pulls the herbal properties out more efficiently but if you want a nonalcoholic tincture, vegetable glycerine and distilled water is fine. Vegetable glycerine is very sweet so I use about 50/50 between the two.

I fill it about 2/3 of the way, alternating between alcohol (or distilled water) and glycerine.

Then I stir it gently to make sure all the herbs are mixed in.

Add a little more leaving a 1/2 inch to 1 inch room at the top to allow breathing room. Put a clean lid on and make sure it's tight with no leakage.

When it's all prepared, always label the jars right away with the name of the tincture, the date it was tinctured on, and what was used. Then store them in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. I use my basement or garage. Shake the jars occasionally to keep it well mixed. If you find that there are herbs exposed at the top of the jar over time, just add more liquid to make sure they are covered.

...4 to 6 weeks later.... it's time to prepare the tincture! You'll need a container to strain the liquid into, cheesecloth, and sterilized jars (fresh out of dishwasher will do) to store the prepared tincture.

Slowly pour the jars contents onto the cheesecloth to strain the liquid out. I usually let it sit for a little bit and let it drain.

Then, very carefully (especially if you use a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth and that rubber band chooses to fly off taking the herbs with it!) and squeeze the rest of the liquid out by hand.

Strain the liquid one more time. It's very important to strain the tincture a second time to ensure there are no leftover herbs. Even very small amounts of herb can change the ratio in the tincture over time. So I put more cheesecloth over the mouth of my clean jar and that usually catches the last few pieces if there are any.

You can keep the finished tincture in a jar. I have little brown bottles with droppers that I bought from a supply store online. They aren't very expensive and I would recommend them if you plan on making herbal tinctures at all. They are so handy when giving the tinctures to a little one.

Lastly, I make sure to label the jar/bottle with the name and date.

Most tinctures made with alcohol will last indefinitely and the others will easily last a couple of years. Just make sure to store them in a cool, dark place because both the heat and light can make them less effective.

One thing to remember is that this isn't the same as canning so the jars don't need to be vacuumed sealed. But the lids need to be on as tight as you can get them, making sure there is no leaking. If at any time you are unsure about your finished herbal tincture then it's best to just throw it out and start over. Last year I had left two jars of herbs for about 6 months before I remembered them. I strained them but noticed the smell was just slightly off. I figured it was better to be safe so I just tossed the whole thing. If you find that you don't need the tincture for awhile then my advice would be to strain it after the 6 weeks anyway and store the tincture itself (which like I mentioned above will last many years) until you do need it.

Both the boys love herbal tinctures. They take them straight without any juice or water, even ones I think are strong. If you aren't used to them though... then adding them to a drink will work just as well.

If you are new to herbs... then here's a couple of good books I really like.

The ABC Herbal (my favorite)
The How To Herb Book
The Herbal Home Remedy Book

and for homeopathy:

Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants

Disclaimer: I am a mama not a doctor... please see a doctor if you are ill and have questions.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fabric for Haiti... and me

"All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle."

-Ellen Birdseye Wheaton 1851

I've been filling my evenings crocheting row after row, focused only on finishing my blanket. It helps that our 'no new spending' stops me from rushing out and starting new projects that I'm just aching to try. Then one little phone call from my Grandma who says she wants to donate some fabric and I immediately volunteer to go to the fabric store with her. Our church is planning a medical trip to Haiti and they're asking for fabric to take with them. One of our life resolutions is to always have some money aside for people in need. Well how could I pass up a need to send fabric to Haiti? So off we went. I told myself that I was only getting fabric for Haiti... two different fabrics, 3 to 4 yards each. See? I'm not sure what type of clothing they will be used for and for whom, but I'm sure they will find the perfect home.

I did, however, allow myself to deviate just a little. It started with the plan of just looking for color ideas but then I picked up one bolt of fabric and then another and soon I realized that I would have to start on that new project I've been thinking about this past month. I saw an idea for a "Happy Birthday" banner and knew I just had to make it for our family birthday celebrations. I wanted something that could be hung up on the wall for each birthday. Something the boys could look forward to when it was their birthday ... something that could be passed down to their kids if they wanted. And well, since we have a certain birthday coming up for a certain soon-to-be 4 year old I figured now was the perfect time to get the fabric and start it. It's the collection of fabric in the first picture... the one with the little boy and the polka dots in red and those greenish blues.... It took us a while to pick them all out but I love how sweetly they come together.

And this morning, even though I should be finishing up the towels in the laundry, I'm moving them aside to wash the new fabrics. And my plans to start on our taxes early this year (meaning tonight!) may just have to take a step back for a few nights. I can't help it really... it's just calling to be cut and sewn. At least I can say it all started with a good deed... some people in Haiti will be happy we made a trip to the fabric store last night.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A year in pictures

I'm not ashamed to admit it... really, I'm not. The truth is, I don't like to scrapbook. I've done it before... I've gone to workshops, bought supplies, even completed a couple of albums and enjoyed looking at the finished product. I love craftiness, I love looking at pictures of my boys, and the idea of making something unique and special to look at year after year seems like it it's a win-win situation (not to mention that my mom loves scrapbooking and does an absolutely beautiful job). I've urged myself just to get in and do it and maybe my feelings would change. But they don't and my pictures are still sitting in computer files begging to be printed and put in an album. I constantly put them out of my mind so I don't feel guilty that my kids don't have any album to physically hold on to and look at.

This year I decided to let my shame go and just accept it. I simply want to print out pictures and stick them in albums... maybe add a short explanation, maybe not... definitely the date and place... but not much more. Then I ran across this idea recently and fell in love. It's called Project 365 (they are selling a kit if you want everything in one fell swoop) and all you do is take one picture a day of anything and everything you want, print them out once a week or once a month, and then put them in an album with (or without) a short explanation. What you end up with is your entire year in an album, without too much fuss, and you've captured details of your life, things you may never think of capturing otherwise.

It reminded me of a little conversation my sister, niece, and I had with Alicia Paulson at her book signing about capturing memories. That a picture of a mug or that little corner in your home that holds your library books can be just as powerful of reminder of your life as pictures of your family are. We usually all take pictures of the people around us, but not nearly enough of the things around us. I started a new computer folder called 365 for 2009 and I'm adding one picture a day. I'm so excited to see the things that will end up there. Forgotten things that I hope will thrill me in 30 years when I look back and remember. Here's a couple examples so far:

My boys, always. I know they will be in many.

A collection of our hats, scarves, and mittens sitting by the front door.

A common sight in Jeremy's office where he works from home 2 days a week.

I saw this idea from Aimee at Living, Learning and Loving Simply. Here's a great list of ideas if you need some. I'll post pictures every so often, or mayble I'll post my picture everyday along the sidebar.... hmmm... I'll think about that one...

Just a side note.... there is a lot of info on it, especially on the creator's site, Becky, if you feel like browsing around. I'm not going to buy the kit or 'scrapbook' in any of the traditional sense. Mine will be very simple, mostly pictures and writing, no fancy papers or pens. Otherwise, I will be right back to where I started! So feel free to do this any way you want, it's all up to you how easy or hard you want to make it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Life resolutions

Last year I could hardly come up with one new thing that I wanted to be resolute about. I was never big on making bold statements, even to myself, of what I wanted to accomplish, or undo, as the new year unfolded. But this year.... this year my head is spinning with ideas. Maybe it's that I'm into my second year of my 30's and I'm really happy about it. I've heard that the 30's can be that way... suddenly you realize who you are and how good that feels. Or maybe it's just that I'm not as tired as I was last year with a 7 month old waking often at night and an almost 3 year old who needed just as much attention during the day. Either way... I'm hopeful for 2009 and all the new things to learn.

I've been feeling this strong need to pull back, get back to basics, and to demonstrate that on both an emotional and physical level. I was looking around on a few blogs and Linda's post on her word for the year struck me. I never thought about putting an actual word to it but when I thought about what I was feeling, the word "quiet" came to mind. And it fits so perfectly with what's in my heart. To be quiet and appreciate all we have and who we are.

I think our nation's recession is doing that for a lot of people. You can't spend the money you don't have and for those who haven't lost a job or been directly effected financially by this past year, they are saving. We decided that for us it's a state of being, that we are very content with what we have and that the constant drive for bigger and better that is marketed to us everywhere we look, is not what we want to teach the boys. However, saving money is. I fully believe it works on a spiritual level too... being happy with the things you have makes you appreciate most things in life on a deeper level.

In the end, we are hoping to finally take care of that lingering car loan and to rid our house of all the extras that are still hanging on. What a better time to sort and clean out and get rid of when nothing new is coming into the house to take it's place?

Beyond that... I have renewed plans for my worm compost bin that never took off due to lack of red wigglers (seriously... every place I tried was "currently out of stock"). I'm really hoping to get a recycling system going and get to one garbage can a month like Karli successfully did. And to organize my basement laundry area and to hopefully utilize an indoor drying rack for the winter and rainy days.

We are planning a big garden this year and I'm hoping to start the plants indoors in this next month. I want to finish my crocheted blanket that I've been slowly working on but that has taken a back seat to my new found love of knitting. And I desperately need to organize our enormous 'digital pictures' folder on the computer holding somewhere in the range of 3000 pictures, and then, only then will I even begin to think about printing some out to put in an album.

And as always, being present and aware, taking in all that my day holds with Ian, Sawyer, and Jeremy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Out and about with my neck scarf

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive -- it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"

- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


I decided in November that it was time to pick up knitting again. My crochet projects were going well but I wanted to try my hand at knitting again. This time it just clicked... and I'm loving the rhythm of it. I finished this neck scarf earlier in December from the wool yarn my sister gave me for my birthday. It's just so perfectly warm and snug. I knitted a second one, in green, just this past week. I first saw the scarf here with a link to the original pattern.