Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Salve making part 2

**This is how to make plantain salve with fresh leaves.

Well, after I sat them in the car for a couple hours, I went to check on them. I intended to let them sit for about an hour and completely forgot about them until 4 hours later. They really wilted down but that's okay.

I used a Prego Spaghetti jar and put the plantain leaves in it.

Then I poured the olive oil in. My friend that gave me the oil just gave me enough to fit in a propel water bottle. So, I just poured it in. Had I had more oil, I would have put it to the top of the jar, but that's all I had. It at least covers the leaves.

I gave the jar a few shakes and set it on the counter. Every day for the next week I'll give it a shake. Then 6 weeks later, I will strain it out. Keep posted for the rest of the recipe!

Salve making- Part 1

Plantain salve is great for many things. I use it for applying to skin after getting bit by a mosquito. (or flea, or tick, or ant...) It takes the itch away and soothes my skin.

There are so many ways to make it but this is how I'm making it this time. (I have made it a quicker way in the past (if you want that recipe, email me), but I am choosing to do it the slower way this time around.)

First I pick the plantain. Wash it in a large bowl. Sort out the bad ones. Then, I lay them on a tray and dry in the car or some other warm place. After it's fully dry and wilted, (if it's not, I towel dry it) Then, I stuff it in a jar and fill it to the top with olive oil.

It doesn't matter how much plantain you have, if you don't have much, then just use a smaller jar.

I'm letting it steep in the oil for 6 weeks before I make the salve. You can leave it in oil form, but I'm making this for a friend who requested salve.

Check back for more progress pictures.

Here is what it looks like now.

Shopping, Saving money

For the past two weeks I have been shopping at the local grocery store and visiting a produce market stand for our food.

In the past, I was shopping exclusively at Walmart and bringing in ads to price match. I always felt bad about doing that because I wasn't giving the local stores the business that they deserved to have it on sale.

Not only that but it was a huge pain to drag around all the sales papers. It caused me a great deal of stress at the checkout lane. Instead of being able to watch as each item was scanned to make sure they did it right. (Every time I go into Walmart for groceries, they ALWAYS charge me wrong on something. EVERY TIME! I would spend hours (literally- just ask hubby), shopping, and writing down how much things were to add in my cart later. Then when they'd ring it up, I'd have the amount memorized so I'd know if they were charging me right or not.

It also brought along a few nasty stares from shoppers who were annoyed that I couldn't find where in the ad that something was on sale because I was holding up the line. I would literally be covered in sweat by the time we got done because of all the stress I was feeling. This happened week after week. And on top of all that, to have the cashier look at me like I'm from another planet when I show her my reusable bags.

The reason we never shopped at all the local stores before was we were trying to save on gas, but decided it doesn't use that much more and it is so worth it! There are actually two local grocery stores but I shop at one of them more.

There is also a produce stand that we frequently go to. We try to do our grocery shopping in the early morning before it gets too hot and so far we have not been able to make it to the farmer's market due to their afternoon hours. (or their early hours on Saturdays because we don't go anywhere on Saturdays due to Nick's work)

Anyways, we love this particular produce stand because the veggies and fruit are grown without the use of chemicals. Their prices are a little higher than the farmer's market stand but there we do not know how it was grown. There are some people there we found out that simply get their items from trucks and then resell it. If I'm going to buy food from the farmer's market, I want to know that a local farmer grew it! I want freshness and flavor!

The other day, we stopped in at the local produce stand, and they were not there so we had to go to Walmart (this was before I started shopping locally) and picked up some corn. While the corn we got from Walmart was as sweet as the one from the local stand, it lacked flavor. The corn from the stand was juicy, and had the most intense flavor I have ever enjoyed. It tasted like corn was meant to. And knowing that it was GMO free made all the difference more!

So, back to my original story, I have found I can save more on groceries when I shop locally. Here's why. They have sales every week. The grocery store here has double coupons every day up to 50 cents. For the products I do buy name brand, this is a great help! I don't have to carry the sales ads in with me and point to each and every item that I buy. I don't have to worry about them not having it in stock, and if they don't, they'll give me a rain check. Which is sometimes nicer because I can stock up that way.

The produce selection is much nicer than Walmart. There is always someone willing to help me find what I need at the local store. Shopping for meals goes so much smoother there. I don't leave in a complete mess of stress!

Something I've been working on lately is creating a master list for meals/shopping. I will share about that later on. We enjoy some of the same foods week by week and I am excited about once I get this master list made that shopping will be more of a breeze than ever before! Knowing how much my groceries will cost each and every time will be a bonus! I have a grocery budget of $300 a month and I am constantly trying to find ways to make sure I spend less.

We eat less meat and more vegetables with every meal. I try to stay away from boxed or prepackaged foods as much as possible. I also try to buy foods without any High Fructose Corn Syrup in them.

I will add that some foods are more expensive when bought locally compared to Walmart, but I've found that they will eventually go on sale and when they do, that's when we'll enjoy them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mary jane booties and Skidoos

I finally finished up all four sets of baby shoes/booties for my friends who are expecting. The only thing I need to do is go to the local yarn store and get some buttons to finish them off. I just hope they like them.

Any suggestions on the color of buttons I should use? Black or white? Sorry the picture is fuzzy.

The cream colored booty pattern can be bought here. It is such an easy pattern and if you need any help, she'll help you along the way.

The mary jane baby bootie pattern is found here for free. It was an easy pattern too. A bit challenging but fun to make.

Basket weave dish cloth

When I first started making a lot of knitted dishcloths, this is the one that was requested the most often. I was still learning to purl and I hated this pattern! lol Now that I've been knitting for almost two years, I enjoy this pattern. It's so pretty! Some friends of mine made a afghan and scarf using this pattern. It turned out so nice!

I like this pattern because it has a nice border.

Needle size 6-8.
Cast on 40 stitches


1-6 Knit across

7-12, 19-24, 31-36, 43-48 Knit 4, (Purl 4, Knit 4) 4x's, Knit 4

13-18, 25-30, 37-42, Knit 4, (Knit 4, Purl 4) 4x's, Knit 4

Repeat this until you have a square
Knit 6 more rows for border.
Bind off all stitches.

Grandma's Favorite Dish cloth with pictures

When I first learned to knit, it was with this pattern. In fact, I was given a dish cloth years ago and it was using it that I decided I wanted to learn to knit! There are so many variations of it but they are all pretty much the same. You start in one corner, work to the middle and then start decreasing. I once made a baby blanket using this pattern and some baby yarn.

It was a last minute baby shower gift idea and I knit it on larger needles  and just knit it across until it was the size I wanted it to be. I was aiming for a smaller sized baby blanket just the right size for baby to toddle around with as he got older. I mixed one blue yarn with one white and love the way it turned out but forgot to take a picture of it when I was done.  :-(  Super soft and stretchy! In fact, it was actually pretty heavy and I almost thought too heavy since I had to be careful not to let it hang on the needles and stretch it out. But all in all, I liked it and plan to make more later.

I like this pattern because it's so easy for beginners to do. It doesn't take much thought so I can knit one while watching television or talking with friends. I like the more complicated patterns where I have to concentrate really hard not to mess up, but sometimes I just want to knit. And this is the one I use.

Sometimes called Grandma's favorite Dish cloth pattern.

You can use whatever size needles you want. I usually use anywhere between a 6-9 depending on how tight a weave I want it to be.

Cast on 3.

Knit one row across.

Knit 2, yo (yarn over), knit to the end.

Repeat this until you have 48  (or the desired size you want) stitches across.

The yarn over's create the eyelet hole and give you another stitch. 

Then it's time to decrease.

Knit 1, Knit two together, yo (yarn over), knit two together, knit rest of the row.

Repeat until you have 5 stitches left.

Then bind off.

I made some small sized baby washcloths as well. I used Paton's Bumble bee baby cotton yarn and size 6 needles. I didn't start decreasing it until I had 36 stitches.

Have fun! Send me a link when you get done so I can see your dish cloth!

More pictures here, here and here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to crafting again

I pretty much gave up on knitting and crocheting this summer, other than a few prayer shawls I made. I think I burnt out on it like everyone said I would! lol

But then talking to a friend of mine about some crochet patterns, peaked my interest again and I've been busy ever since.

I've got three friends having babies in the next month or two, so I've been trying to get the booties done for them. I realized that when I feel under pressure to get something done, I usually start an entirely new craft project. I'm not sure why!

I found a really neat pattern yesterday for a crocheted headband and flower. I loved it so much that I made one. And then another this morning. I'm out of yarn almost except what I'll have left after I finish the baby booties, so I promised myself that I would finish three half pairs of baby booties today before starting anything new.

So far so good, as I'm working on my first half pair. That's right, I completed three half pairs before school got out and haven't touched them since.

I'm even more motivated than ever to get them done because of another pattern I found on the crocheted headband website. And, there is a new pattern here for a cabled beret pattern. All her patterns have been so easy to make so far and I get so many compliments on them. I just need to learn how to do cables. (another thing to do)

So for today, I will finish the baby booties and get them mailed out before starting anything new.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Benefits of Apple cider vinegar

I've heard that Apple Cider Vinegar (acv) with the mother works to keep pests off animals. I bought some awhile back to drink mainly in the summertime as a Gatorade type drink. It works great when you're working outside to drink this concoction: 1 teaspoon acv mixed in 1 cup of water and a little honey for sweetener.

There are times I don't need the honey at all. Like my body just craves it without it. Other times, I can't stand the smell of the stuff and some sweetener helps it go down.

Anyways, this summer the mosquitoes and ticks and other undesirable critters have found their way to my skin and have been having a buffet on me. My legs are full of scabs and the itchiness is more than I can handle.

So, this morning, I decided to try the apple cider vinegar drink. I poured some acv in my cup and added some honey. I think a lot more than 1 teaspoon went in because it is quite tart and usually it tastes like water with a tiny bit of vinegar flavoring added in. Not that it's got a bad taste to it, but definitely takes some getting used to after drinking soda's and fake juices all summer. I also plan on cutting down my sugar consumption and instead eating sugar in moderation. (the way it ought to be)

I plan on drinking one cup of this every day for 30 days and see if I don't find me some relief. For dogs, the recommended dosage is 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. I used it on both our dogs with good results.

If this doesn't work, I guess I'll try some garlic!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Embarassing Moment

This morning, I was using some DE (Diatomaceous Earth) around the camper and had it all over my hands when I remembered I had another container still in the car. So, I went to get it and realized I couldn't do much with the stuff caked all over my hands.

Without thinking and looking around me, I began clapping my hands wildly trying to get most of it off. That's when I looked up and saw a construction worker standing in the yard across from me wondering why I was giving him a round of applause!

I thought to try and shake off my hands more so he'd know I wasn't clapping at him, but I was so embarrassed I ran for the house!

Friday, July 8, 2011

How to make zucchini relish

This is my favorite zucchini relish recipe. My aunt taught me how to make it. It was one of the first things I learned to can many years ago. A favorite at our house!

You'll need a water bath canner and some sterilized jars. But before you get the canner all ready, first thing you'll need to do is chop up all your zucchini and other vegetables. You want about 10 cups of chopped vegetables. I always use what I have on hand. Sometimes I mix cucumbers with the zucchini or just use the zucchini. I like to add green and red bell peppers, onions, carrots for extra color. If you don't have the other vegetables, then just use about 8 cups of zucchini.

Chop all the vegetables up (whether by hand or food processor) I prefer to hand chop it all. Takes forever but I like the uniformity of the teeny tiny chunks like the store bought kind looks like. The most important step is to then soak it in a large bowl without about 1/4 cup of salt in it. This draws the moisture out of the veggies. As my aunt calls it, she lets the veggies cry. Otherwise, when you cook the veggies and can them, all the moisture comes out then, and you're left with watery tasting relish.

Cover the bowl with something to keep flies and bugs out and let it soak for several hours. I let my last batch sit for 4 hours. Though ideally, you could prepare this and let it stand overnight and then can it first thing in the morning. I waited until the afternoon and the heat was just unbearable!

Then, rinse the veggies to get the saltiness out. Doesn't have to be perfect, just rinse a few times.

When you're done with that, get your canning jars ready. If you're new to canning, this is a great website that teaches you all about that. To make the brine, you'll need:

1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
If you need more brine, double it. I don't like a lot of juice in my relish, personally.

Dissolve the sugar and get the brine boiling. Then, add the chopped rinsed drained veggies. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1-2 Tablespoons pickling spice. You can put it in a cheese cloth bag, but I like having the spices in with the relish.

Spoon into hot jars,  wipe rims, and add rings and lids and lower into canner. Water bath for 10 minutes.  It's important not to have any fans blowing right on the canner when you take your jars out. Otherwise they might crack. I like to let the canner cool a little before I remove the jars out. I place them on a towel and listen for the pleasant "pings" knowing that they are sealed. If any did not seal, I usually just put those in the refrigerator to use up first. Otherwise you have to can them all over again and they will be mushy from overcooking. I always use new lids though and have only had a couple from time to time not seal.

Not sure how my picture came out sideways but...

I had some liquid leftover from the first batch and took some extra zucchini and chopped the pieces up rather large this time. Just left it chunky and heated the liquid back up and added the zucchini and cooked it the same way. Then I just put it in some quart jars for the refrigerator.

    • and by the way, when I made the pint jars you see above, I forgot to get out the air bubbles and was convinced the whole thing was ruined so I stored them all the in the refrigerator to be safe, only to find out that air bubbles are normal!

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Ginger- my pet rabbit

    I've been wanting a pet for some time now since we moved back to Missouri. I decided that I wanted a rabbit after taking care of the neighbor's rabbits whenever they'd go out of town. Picking clover, plantain, dandelion and more for their rabbits has proved itself a fun time. I love riding on the country roads on my bicycle looking and hunting for herbs. Now I get to feed Ginger my new pet bunny all those things too!

    Ginger is almost 8 weeks old. She is about three times bigger than the neighbor's rabbits which I thought were the same age, but not sure.  I wonder why she is so much bigger... I was set on getting a brown rabbit so when I went to pick her up, I didn't think to pick out a particular one. She was the only brown female and she's what I got. And I'm very happy with her. She's very mellow and so cute!

    When I go outside to talk to her, she comes to greet me and always has to tap me with her nose to say hello. When I move her cage around the yard, she has to tap her nose on all the things in her cage to make sure they are still there. (I guess, that's why she does that) Maybe she thinks that since her surroundings change her stuff might too.

    She has a little wooden toy in her cage that once held a dried apple. She'll pick it up time to time and throw it in her cage. Books I've read said that rabbits can get bored, but not her. She will scamper about in her cage and nibble on the grass that sticks between the cage holes.

    I'm very thankful for Ginger.

    Ginger loves to receive a block of ice when the weather is hot. She'll mostly lay on top of it while she chews on the sides.

    Today we got her a package of timothy hay which the books recommended. She loves it and started eating it up right away!

    Zuchinni the neighbor's cat thought the rug on top of Ginger's cage made a nice bed.

    Cell phone zippered pouches

    Last week a friend asked me to sew her a cell phone holder that she wanted to give to a friend. So I took out my supplies and started to d...