Friday, August 27, 2010

{ this moment }

A Friday ritual.A single photo

-no words -

capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

~ Yarrow Salve ~

Yarrow is well-known as an antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-styptic (stops bleeding). It's wonderful for insect bites, paper cuts and any other little painful cuts. It’s a perfect choice for all abrasions,cutting down the pain dramatically within minutes and minimizing chances of infection. A thin layer on the inside of the nose will also stop a nosebleed.
I recently held a Yarrow Salve making class at Thrive.
Here are some photos & the the recipe we used.
Happy Wildcrafting!

Yarrow Salve

1. Wild, white yarrow (not the golden yarrow or other hybrid colors)Gather the leaves (flowers in full bloom can also be used), and dry in the shade or indoors (never in sunlight, which degrades the chemistry once it is separated from the earth). Dry for minimum of 5-7 days, longer is fine. Store in clean paper bags (not plastic, as this will promote growth of fungi, with any stored herb)

2. Melt 4 cups of olive oil and 1/2 cup of pure beeswax on a stovetop, or if funds are tight 4 cups of Crisco instead (no need for the beeswax to solidify it at room temperature).; smaller batches are simply scaled down from these proportions, using about a 1/8 ratio of beeswax to olive oil

3. Add as much dried yarrow leaf (and flowers if included) as you can immerse in the oil, stirring gently with a wooden spoon on simmer. Avoid "french-frying" or blackening or browning of the leaves. Simmer 15-20 minutes on low, stirring. The medicinal aroma will be prominent, and the color of the oil will turn green or golden green.

4. Cool approximately 15 minutes to allow safer handling. Strain through a fine metal-screen sieve into a 4-cup glass measure, then pour from that into clean, small glass jars, e.g. baby food or tiny jelly jars.

5. LABEL each jar with "yarrow salve" (Achillea millefolium), and the date. Store in refrigerator. Will last for over a year if refrigerated. These make great gifts for friends and family.6. Use liberally with a band-aid or other sterile dressing, to cover the wound, keeping in the salve and keeping clothes protected from the oil.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Basic Bread Recipe

I love to bake.

Unfortunately, I don't have as much time as I would like to bake with a busy career & two kids.

That being said...the bread machine is my new best friend.

A friend gave it to me several years ago..a thrifting find.

It sat on a shelf getting dusty for a long time.

I love to knead dough.

It is so very meditative.

I love to watch my dough rising in a bowl on the stove.

I had no tolerance at all for this impostor that was in my house.

But, I just couldn't get rid of it.

Finally one day as I was Spring cleaning I pulled this big, white, clunky thing out of the cabinet & dusted it off. I took a good hard look at it & decided to give it a whirl.

Truth be told, all that was accomplished was the house smelled like bread baking & that loaf flopped in the center and was hard.

The dog ate it.

Again, Ms. Machine went back in the cabinet.

About a month later, we walked into the library & I spotted a recipe book just for the bread machine. Who knew you could make so many things with it?

I sat in the children's section scribbling recipes on scrap paper for over an hour and came straight home to try one.

Three months have passed since that day & I have since made at least two loaves a week with her.

I must say, I am quite satisfied.

We never have to buy bread again.

When I am too tired to bake by hand, it takes me less then 3 minutes to load the ingredients in & set it to go.

If I do it before bed, we have fresh yumminess to wake up too.

I never thought I'd say it but I'm quite smitten with my bread machine.

Here is my Basic Bread Recipe. I played around with flours & sweeteners & this one still is my children's favorite.

Sara's Basic Bread Recipe

1 c. warm filtered water

3 tbsp local honey

3 tbsp organic, non-hydrogenated oil

2 c. Whole Wheat flour

1 c. Whole Wheat Pastry flour

1 tsp. sea salt

1 package yeast

Set to basic light bread.

~ Back to School ~

It's 10 pm.
Bags are packed.
Pencils are sharpened.
Clothes are laid out.
Bread is just finishing baking for sandwiches.
Two stories read aloud & three lullabies sung.
Two beautiful, excited children are finally sleeping.
Tomorrow, school starts.
I officially have a 5th & 3rd grader.

Friday morning, we were able to go into our school for the very 1st time & to meet our teachers. Discovery Charter is a brand new school. For the last year, we have attended many meetings, wrote letters to the newspaper editors, voted, signed petitions & rallied support of this new environmentally focused green school. It was very interesting to be a part of the process. Many people were against this school because our public school system really is amazing. It was a tough choice to leave our old school. They were like family to us with a staff so kind and loving. I was involved in many debates with close friends who opposed it & teachers who were worried about funding. But decisions had to be made & I am beyond thrilled that we have this opportunity.
As we begin a school year filled with new beginnings & not really knowing what to expect, I have watched my children go from anxious about it all to being incredibly confident & brave.
Some of the things that make this school amazing ::
1. All lunches will be organic/locally grown when possible with a vegetarian option offered every day.
2. All oil used in cooking will be recycled to make biofuel.
3. The cafeteria will be zero waste. What can't be composted will be reused &
all sack lunches must be packed with no waste.
4. We have a Composting Committee.. how cool is that?!?
5. The children will spend at least 1 hour a day hiking & learning outdoors in all kinds of weather (unless of course there is lightening or danger.)
6. The school is located right next door to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore & has a trail system being built through the woods & wetlands.
7. Cross Country Skis & Snowshoes are being purchased for Winter outdoor activities.
8. The school was an older building that had been converted using the greenest methods.
9. Nature themed artwork & photography lines the walls of every hallway highlighting the beauty of the area we live in.
10. Children are inspired to learn in such a way that they hold on to a sense of wonder & develop a connection with the world around them.
I really could go on and on.
It's all so new..we shall see how it goes.
Don't you just love the fresh possibilities of a new school year?

Friday, August 20, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual.A single photo

-no words -

capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wandering:: Chicago

One of the things I love about living where we do is how close we are to Chicago. While we live in a small, artsy, beach town, it's a quick 40 minute ride to soak up all the city has to offer.
Some days, it's just the sort of mini get away we need.
Come along with us as we explore Chicago....

It all started with a train ride to Chicago for a day filled with fun..

We ended up exploring the Adler Planetarium..

...became famous...

...studied the night sky...

...and then the big, blue lake.

Wandered to the Shedd Aquarium..

& ran off some energy near the Field Museum.

Ate a quick lunch al fresco...

and discussed the moon cycles.

The children saw a twinkie for the 1st time, a wild experiment in processed food..

and lightening inside!

The Museum of Science & Industry is full of things to explore.
We ended the day at "the bean"...

and listening to this amazing band from Bali who played with Howlin' Wolfs Band.
Jazz Fest in Chicago.
This city has soul.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

true blueberry

"Then we shall have food for the winter." ~Blueberries for Sal

We have been doing a lot of berry picking this last month.
Which leads to reading these books over & over again...

Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow

and also a Mama reading over and over again this fantastic book I found at the library::

This afternoon, we went to the farm to get some fresh whipping cream to make blueberry ice cream but sadly, they won't have any ready until Sunday so in the meantime, we made this simple recipe.
Lip smacking, finger licking, easy~peasy Blueberry Jam.
Because, in my opinion, one can never have too much blueberry jam stored up for winter.
Easy Blueberry Jam
(adapted from True Blueberry)
One 11 1/2 oz. can of frozen white grape juice concentrate
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 c. blueberries
Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil over med-high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium stirring frequently for about 25-30 minutes until the mixture thickens up & jells.
Remove from heat, cover & let sit for 1 hour.
Jar & Process or Freeze.

Lazy Days of Summer

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.”
~Henry David Thoreau~

It was a normal Saturday afternoon.
We had been to the farmers market, the house was cleaned & the laundry washed.
I had just sat down with a glass of ice tea when Maya walked into the room looking rather glum.
"Whats wrong? Why the frown?", I asked her.
She replied, " There is something I've been wanting to do this Summer, Mama. Something you don't usually do because Papa would take us."
"Well, what is it Miss Maya? Is it something we can do together?"
"Mama, I just want to go fishing this afternoon. I know you don't like to but it would make me really super happy if we could. Can we pleeeeeeeeeeese?"
River looked up from the book he was reading & smiled really big.
Before I could even say "yes.", they were running out the door to gather poles, nets, tackle boxes and..... little did I know, while I was cleaning house, they had been in the yard digging up worms... a whole yogurt container of them.
I grabbed my camera & we were off.
Now, let me just add here that while I have fished in the past, it really isn't something I enjoy. As a vegetarian, I just can't get past how sad it brutal to the worms..but, alas, my children really wanted to go. And I knew deep inside this was more of an emotional sort of thing..a familiar ritual they had with their Papa.
So, I quickly learned to put a bobber on the line, a hook under that
and well, then there was that worm part.
The wriggly, helpless worm.
Fish bait.
"I have an idea.", I said excitedly.
"How about we let these worms free & then we use the bread I brought along to put on the hooks?"
My kids weren't buying it. After all, they had just spent several hours digging up these slimy creatures & plotting & planning how they would talk me into going.
They had a lot of time invested here.
So I picked up a worm (oh the things we do for our children) and I proceeded to try and tie him on the hook. I pleaded with him..I begged..I did not want to stick his poor body.
But he wriggled and jiggled off every time.
Now, 10 year old boys can become quite impatient when their Mamas aren't as brave as they may be when it comes to these things.
River took the worm from me and hooked it on good with ease.
(I swear I only shrieked once when half its body fell off and crawled away.)
Casting his line, he sat on a rock & waited quietly for something to bite while Maya did the same on the other side of the pond.
We sat here for the next 3 hours quietly taking it all in.
In the end, no fish were harmed..a couple worms were dinner..and a beautiful frog hopped right into our net. We were greeted by dragonflies, bumblebees, butterflies & the most beautiful, golden sunset.
They may not have had any luck fishing, but the peaceful joy they brought home was enough to make this a new hobby for us all.
May you find much solitude in the lazy days of Summer.