Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saving Herbs

Harvesting and drying herbs from the garden during the summer is just as important as harvesting the vegetables.  If you want them for winter use that is.  I have found an easy way to dry and put up herbs that really doesn't take much time at all, and they sure look pretty in the mean time.

When we had our cabinets built for our new house, I asked for the old fashioned shelves around the kitchen window.  Our cabinet man looked at me funny and said "the old dust shelves?"  I said "Yep, I don't mind dusting them."  And they do collect a tad of dust at times but I find them very useful as I spend a lot of time in our kitchen.

This year, I have installed something fancy.  A stick between the top two "dust shelves."  I adore it!  I used an old tobacco stick but you can use any stick or broom handle, whatever fits!  If you don't have dust shelves, take your curtain down and use the rod or you can buy a tension rod for just a few dollars and put it from cabinet to cabinet over your kitchen sink.

I purchased a roll of cheap twine at the dollar store.  Cut a piece of twine about a foot long and tie a knot towards the bottom.  Before you tighten the knot place the stem of your cut herbs inside, then tighten.  Make several knots in order to hang dry several pieces of the same herb.  Be sure to leave ample space in between knots so the twigs aren't touching.  End the section by simply tying it to the stick.

In a couple of weeks your herbs will be dry.  Cut them down and crumble them onto a paper towel.  Then transfer them into air tight containers and label.

You can also hang herbs that you buy from the grocery store instead of throwing out what you don't use or letting them go bad in the refrigerator.

I wish I could remember the exact words that my friend Jennifer used to describe the dill that I gave her for Christmas last year.  I knew that she fancied using dill, so I grew and dried more than usual for her last summer.  They make great gifts and are very useful in your own kitchen!

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Hot and You Need a Pool

What is the perfect solution to this....

and this???


or this.

After I finished my chores for the morning and got a text about the rest of my week, I decided to take a break for an hour and hit the pool. 

It turned out to be a fabulous idea!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fish Tank at the DC

I have had several people suggest having a real live fish tank at the day care.  You know... to give the kids something to watch and feed.  Sounds fun but I just don't think I am ready for it right now.  So, today the kids and I made our own fish aquarium of the crafty kind! 

I have a small bulletin board by the front door that I planned on putting notes to parents on but find that I haven't had the need to put any notes up yet.  So, I have been pondering over ideas of what to put on this board and decided that today was the day.  We turned it in to the fish tank. 

I covered the background with blue tissue paper.  Then cut out brown construction paper (or instruction paper as one of the kids calls it) and glued small wads of tissue paper in white and light pink, to make it look like rocks.  We drew and cut out plants and one of the kids cut out and painted a castle to go on the bottom of the tank. 

Our fish were cut out of cardboard, painted white and then colored with glued on tissue paper.  We put them on longer pins to give them a 3D look. 

I am tickled at the outcome of our aquarium.  Maybe we will get a real one one day but for now we are pretty proud of this one!

You've got to get the water to the right temperature before adding the fish ;)
 Artist at work.
 Three little fish.
I over-thought the fish all morning wanting to chicken wire and paper mache.
I gave up on that thought since I didn't have the stuff with me and settled for cardboard.
 Here I go with the tissue paper again!
The colors remain vibrant when the glue dries.  It's nice!
 Big buttons for eyes.  We wanted the googley kind but didn't have any.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Day Off

At times I feel that someone or something is trying to reach me.  I feel a tugging in areas of my life.  Like writing, taking photos, canning... something that really speaks to my soul.  I get too busy and stop listening.  I was lead to a writer's blog that was inspiring but not quite enough.  Then this afternoon I was led to this interview with a fellow Etsian, who had a quote that I quite liked. 

Live your life the way that makes you happy and damn everyone else.  ~michelle levy

I just love it when people aren't afraid of being themselves.

Today I lucked up and got the day off from the DC.  I love the time I have at my day care but I also love the time I get all to myself.  This morning I hung day care fliers up in town and drove to my sister's wild blackberry patch to do some pickin.  She and I headed to the patch decked out in our gear in hopes to avoid critters and chiggers.  Not to mention thorns!  We picked and came back to the house with two bowls full of berries. 

When I got home, I strained my Elderflower Fizz and made blackberry jam.  I have a little left over that will probably go in to Blackberry Margaritas for an after supper treat tonight. 

Here's some pics from the weekend and today. 

Saturday's Pickins
 Elderflowers smell absolutely divine.
I want to wear it.
 How pretty is this!?
 I am no good at self portraits.
My props go out to people that are successful at doing this.
P.S. this fizz will be ready to enjoy in two weeks.  Stop by!
 Ripe for the pickin!
 Our haul.
 End result.

HEY I KNOW!  Let's have a last minute Give Away!
Today, I made six little jars of Blackberry Jam. 
Leave a comment here or email me and I'll put the names in a hat and send you a jar
of my freshly made Tennessee Blackberry Jam!
Easy enough!

Oh Sweet Blackberries

I have a small tip for you.  THE BLACKBERRIES ARE FABULOUS THIS YEAR! 

I'm not sure if it is due to our short winter, long spring or warmer temperatures, but the blackberries are ripening and they are sweet.  So sweet in fact that I have been picking every day for the last week.  Sometimes I only come up with a handful and other times, such as yesterday at my sister's fantastic blackberry-honey pot, I come out with a bowl full. 

If you have access to a wild blackberry patch or see some while driving down the road, I highly recommend stopped and having a taste.  This is truly a wonderful year for them.

this pic was taken with my phone and is totally out of focus. 
on the good side i realize that my phone cam does focus somewhat.
so there is room for improvement.

have a great week!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fabric Covered Train Case

I have had a slight passion for vintage luggage. I only own two older suitcase pieces. One of them is a country blue make up case and the other I actually purchased more recently at a yard sale for three dollars. It too is a make up type case but was more referred to as a train case. I thought the most recent one would be perfect to house bottles of craft paint for the DC. Mainly so I could have my paint set here and there.

After seeing a post on A Beautiful Mess, which is a blog that I frequent, I had to transform my little train case. I went through my fabric scraps and got the Mister's opinion, which went something like "Which ever one you like" and "I like them all." He's so wonderfully neutral sometimes. I wound up cutting some fabric and cut the opening for the handle too large. So I started over with the fabric that I liked to begin with.

I absolutely adore this idea! If we didn't already have luggage, and live our lives like we are on vacation so no need in new luggage, I'd hit up every thrift store in town until I found bigger suitcases just so I could cover them in floral fabric!

Just as pretty as it is like this.
But for three bucks at a yard sale... it's coverable.
 Notice the lovely paint brush holders sewn in to the lid.
 Cool hinges huh?
 I love the dogwood flowers.
This project was just as easy as it could be!
Oh I see now I had not yet trimmed around the handle base.
Whoops... it's been done :)

You can find the fabulous idea for fabric covered luggage HERE.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Herbal Morning

Today, was misty-rainy outside, was slightly humid, was a day for taking a long walk to see what's growing now. I woke up in a sort of herbal trance.  Herbs and wild plants were on my mind big time and so remained there all day.  I took a long walk, just a tad short of two hours, around our farm.  I was looking for new blossoms, edible plants, Elder flowers, and sweet blackberries. 

Before I even left out in my rain boots, my journal entry for today went like this. 

I have the desire, and have maintained the desire for three years, to make oils, tinctures and teas from herbs that I grow and find in our fields and woods. 
Wild Bergamont - I feel extremely lucky to have a wild growing patch right behind the house and down a bit.  I want to collect Sorrel Dock as I have read that it helps psoriasis, of which I am a candidate.
I am hesitant to get in to it because I don't want to waste. I don't wish to make, dry and do and not have the interest to use what I make.  So I find these plants and maybe I will study each one and figure out how each plant could benefit me and uses, I will do it in time. 
I truly wish there would be an old wise woman come in to my life that knows all of the wild plants by name and their uses and would show me how to do this stuff. 
Maybe I am that old woman, in the making.

I had a similar conversation with Shaun after my walk and he said "maybe she is you." 

My walk included a walking stick, rain boots, camera, waterproof shoulder bag, scissors, herb book, journal, pencil and my phone... on vibrate. 

This is the Wild Bergamont patch. 
The leaves as well as the blooms are edible.

 I learned today that honey bees are unable to reach the nectar,
but bumble bees don't have that problem.
 Butterfly weed.
I picked some of this for the tables at our wedding.
 From this spot in the woods. 
I probably stood in this spot for twenty minutes, listening and looking.
I saw two different woodpeckers. 
A small bird was very interested in me and kept flying from branch to branch in front of me.
Mint was in the air.
Sweet blackberries were my snack.
 This one was soft and tall and had the most wonderful scent.
 This, what I called onion top, came home with me and is in my window vase.
They are everywhere in the field.
 I take pictures of plants that I find so when I see them in a book I can identify them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nature Boxes

I have to admit, I have been wanting to make a 3d nature box for a while now.  But it takes a certain age kid, other than myself, to have the attention and want to learn.  Learn a little about habitat and environment and landscape.  Then put it together in a small world view. 

We found up one shoe box and split it between two kiddos and I got a smaller box.  While the rain dried off outside, we decided to decorate the inside of our nature scenes.  We used construction paper to line our boxes with blue skies, snow capped mountains and green hillsides.  Each one of us used our imaginations big time! 

Then after the day warmed up a bit, we each grabbed a paper bag and headed out to collect bits of nature for our shadow boxes.  We didn't have to go far at all.  We found small rocks, moss, flowers, tree bark, twigs, and grasses.  When we all felt we had enough, we headed back in.

We glued trees in moss to make it stand up.  We made ponds and glued rocks and pebbles all around.  All in all we probably spent three hours making our shadow boxes, maybe more.  We wound up having lunch right after we finished.  Everyone was very pleased with their creations.  Even this big kid.