The Results of the Poll

A few weeks ago, we took a poll asking what kind of posts you would like to see more of.

To the ten of you that voted: Thanks!

“Wild Herbs/Edibles” and “Faith Based”, were the top two choices, with three votes each. Then there were two votes for “Daily Experiences” and one each for “Animals/Farm Critters” and “DIY”

Ok, so my mind, working like it does, my first thought was faith based wild herbs and edibles? Well, ok, maybe not.

Let me ask you this: What do you all think of a weekly or maybe biweekly post about each of those things? Tell us what you think in the comments, use our “Contact us” page, or talk to us on facebook.

For now, let me say this. Every time I go out to forage, I am always amazed at how much God has given us that we don’t even recognize. Go for a walk in the woods, or in a meadow, or some place where wild things grow, and just look at the variety of plant life. Look along the side of the road, and see all the different wild flowers. Look at all the different types of trees!

Genesis 1: 11-13 says

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.”

It was good! It was ALL good! Do you realize what that means? Before Adam and Eve sinned, there were no poisonous plants! Poison ivy wasn’t! Stinging nettles didn’t! Still, even after the fall, God made a way, like he always does. There may be poisonous plants now, but there are also healing plants.

From what I’ve been told, jewel weed, which can be made into a salve for stings and itchy rashes, always grows close to poison ivy. The cure grows close to the poison! How cool is that?

Oh, and stinging nettles? Their “juice” can treat the stings of their own leaves! Not only that, but nettles are used to stop bleeding and have all kinds of other health benefits. You can read more about that here.

So, I guess I did write about faith based wild herbs and edibles, huh?

Connie

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Writing 101: When I’m Not Writing

This was the Day 11 assignment from Writing 101:

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking?

Today, publish your post in any form you wish, as long as you focus on one or all of these questions.”

What do I do when I’m not writing? Every thing else!

The most important thing I do is spend time with the Lord. I talk to Him. I read my Bible, and sometimes some other devotional material. I write down scriptures from my reading that speak to me that particular day, and sometimes I write down prayers, and other thoughts. The earlier in the day I can do that, the better.

Then, of course, is the work of the homestead: Cooking, cleaning and caring for critters. There is gardening and foraging. Look at this beautiful Goldenrod. I recently found out that tea made from the flowers can help with kidney trouble.

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Today, after we ran to town for groceries, Ed, Kat and I worked on expanding the chicken coop. Although Moonrise is much smaller than Sunrise; we’re pretty sure he is a rooster too. So, we will have to find some hens soon.

Sunrise and Moonrise

Sunrise and Moonrise

The almost done, expanded coop

The almost done, expanded coop

Then there is the homeschooling. I really like Charlotte Mason’s methods, but coordinating it all takes a lot of time and a lot of reading. The upside to that is that my daughter is getting a great education, and I’m improving on mine.

When I don’t have any of that to do, then I work on repurposing projects, practice piano and guitar, and try to learn new things for myself.

I try to check in with facebook at least once a day. I have a lot of family spread out across the country and that is the easiest way for us to stay in touch.

I really like Pinterest, but I could really waste a lot of time in there, and I can’t afford to do that right now.

At the end of the day, I try to come back and write it down to share with you. Sometimes I’m better off sleeping on it first.

Oh, and here are some pictures of a few other projects I’ve been working on.

My first refrigerator pickles. They were awesome!

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles

Straining the mullein and plantain oil that I started in July. Now I can make plantain salve. I put some of the mullein oil in a recycled brown bottle with an eye dropper. That way, it will be ready should one of us have an ear ache.

plantain in oil

plantain in oil

straining the plantain

straining the plantain

mullein oil

mullein oil

Remember the day I was going to take pictures and it rained? Well, as promised here are some pictures of my painted junk. I’m thinking of planting clematis around the bike, and turning the baskets into fairy gardens. There are some rather sickly cone flowers (echinacea) between the pots.

painted junk

painted junk

Here is some of my not painted junk as well as some nice mums I bought at the flower shop here in town. You can see my tin man and some other stuff in the back ground.

Not painted junk and mums

Not painted junk and mums

This is my latest project. I got the idea from something I saw on Pinterest. Those are olive oil bottles that I coated on the inside with acrylic paint. You just pour some paint in and swish it around until it coats the bottle. I want to do my kitchen and dining room in these colors…someday.

painted bottle candle holders

painted bottle candle holders

Anyway, that is just some of what I do when I am not writing.

Connie

Let the Horror Begin!

That is what Katherine said as we started school this morning. Yeah, that was encouraging. Well, we made it through the day with only one meltdown. Although, I guess you could call it a double, because we both got pretty hot. Fifteen-year-olds with attitudes are so much fun. Yeah, right.

The rest of the week was just as busy as last week. I did get my herbs harvested, but haven’t done anything with them yet. I got the strawberry bed mulched, and cleaned out the mess in the driveway that runs into the basement/garage. We had stuff sitting out there covered with tarps, and the tarps were useless. The garbage man had a busy day. Oh well; it’s just stuff.

harvested sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and mint.

harvested sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and mint.

Katherine and I pulled out some old tires and an old bike we’re going to turn into yard art, and scrubbed them down with dish soap. Now, I just have to get the paint.

scrubbing the bike, tires, and other things.

scrubbing the bike, tires, and other things.

Speaking of paint: We have a ton of paint left by the previous owner. Most of it is interior latex paint. Any ideas about what to do with it? She and I have totally different tastes in color schemes. Most of it is pastels, except for a really bright “melon”. Not my thing at all.

I do want to share a few things with you that I’ve learned in the last few weeks. You know I can barely stand to throw anything away if I think I can do something with it. Well, I have been reading for years about things to do with toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and have a bunch in a bag. Last week I was fighting with two different glue guns and a glue pot, trying to untangle their cords. I was about to roll the cords around their respective owners when the bag of tubes caught my eye. Ok, it’s not pretty, but it really works! As for the pretty part. I covered coffee cans with scrap book paper and old dictionary pages to make tube collectors that sit on the back of the toilet.

cords in tubes

cords in tubes

tube can

tube can

Since I keep all glass jars and bottles, I have spent a lot of time trying to remove labels. Then a few weeks ago, I read this blog post. She is absolutely right. Wow that works! Only don’t leave them to soak over night. Your jars will be clean, but the cold washing soda will set up in the bottom of your sink around the drain plug. Using, vinegar, running water, a table knife, and about thirty minutes time, we finally got it out.

washing soda hard as rock in the sink

washing soda hard as rock in the sink

petrified washing soda

petrified washing soda

Some time over the last few weeks, and I honestly don’t remember where I read it, there was something that said you could spray a table spoon of Epsom Salts diluted in a gallon of water on your peppers and they would produce better. Since mine weren’t producing at all, what did I have to loose? So I sprayed them. Of course, it could be a coincidence, but my peppers are blooming like crazy and I actually have a few small peppers growing. I’ll keep you posted. I took some pictures, but you can’t tell what from what with all the green.

Oh, here is a picture of our pitiful potato crop. Our neighbor, Mr “A” says he doesn’t “fool with potatoes”, for that very reason.

pitiful potatoes

pitiful potatoes

The other day, I noticed something growing in front of the barn doors that I thought I should know. I had to wait for blooms to be sure, but it’s mallow! I’ll tell you about it in my next post, as well some info about preserving herbs.

Mallow!

Mallow!

Connie

Yes, We’re All Ok

It’s just been a crazy week.

In the last 10 days, Ed has had one day off: yesterday. Of the nine days he worked, he has put in mostly nine and ten hour days, in addition to the hour or so drive time. The drive time has extended too, due to road construction. He’s spent what little spare time he’s had, building the chicken coop. I know he’ll want to tell you about that, but I will tell you that it’s finished enough for the chicks to be in it, in relative safety.

Since yesterday was his only day off, we had to run all day. First was a trip to the vet for Libby. I was concerned because she seems to be losing weight. She’s always had trouble with flea dermatitis, and I wanted to take care of that too. It was our first visit with that vet, and it won’t be the last. He was very good, and he didn’t charge us an arm and a leg. He said that Libby’s issues are more than likely flea related and he put her on the flea pill. We took care of her shots while we were there. He told us we could just bring Meeko over and he could get his shots and a flea pill. He wouldn’t charge us for an exam. You can’t beat that.  We brought Libby home, and headed back out for the hour drive to Liberty. We were home long enough to put groceries away before I had to be at a Sisters-in-Service meeting at church, and Ed the men’s Bible study out at the preacher’s farm. It was a long day.

What am I doing while Ed is working?  To be honest, since we started the Whole 30, I’ve spent most of my time in the kitchen. Since processed foods are out (as well as grains, dairy, and legumes),  I am spending a whole lot more time cooking. There is no “grabbing a sandwich”. There is a whole lot more clean up too. The up side is that I have energy to do it all. Looser fitting clothes are a bonus too. We have ten days left before we enter the “reintroduction” stage.

When I haven’t been cooking, I’ve been planning for school, which we start next week. I did have one day where I was able to get outside and do some clean up. That is when I got our Thursday picture of the week. I went out to the barn to look for something that I had misplaced (that happens a lot), and saw this guy on the door. I called Kat to bring my camera, and we used hers for scale.

Kat and the praying mantis as long as her phone

Kat and the praying mantis as long as her phone

Lord willing, I’ll be able to get the herbs harvested tomorrow, and set to preserving them. Oh, we harveseted the potatoes this morning. It was disappointing. I’ll share more about that next time.

Connie

This, That, and The Other Thing

Last weekend marked our first anniversary on the homestead. This weekend will mark a year since my accident. A lot has changed in the last year, and in some ways, not nearly as much as we would have liked. However, in all things we are thankful to God. He allowed us to get this place, and He kept me from being crushed under the wheels of my son’s car. Life is good!

Earlier this week, when we were out feeding the dogs, I told Ed that although we seem to have the ticks under control, the dogs (Libby particularly) were still infested with fleas. He suggested we bathe them Thursday morning since he didn’t have to be at work until three. I thought that was a good idea. By the way, the DIY tick repellant recipe that I use on the dogs, as well as the one for us, can both be found here. It works great for ticks, but like I said, the fleas are still a huge issue.

So, early Thursday morning, Ed, Kat and I, did dog bathing duty. We hadn’t bathed them since we moved. Bathing them at our last house was a super challenge. If you are interested, you can read about that, and a couple year’s worth of other dog and cat stories here. (I went back and read Ed’s post about that bathing, and noting his analogy and vocabulary choices, I am amazed at how much the Lord has worked on that man!) Of course, he told you a lot about Libby yesterday. I  can add a little information: Before I got Libby, I was told she was a “pure bred Lab”. Obviously, she isn’t. As I’ve often said, “She’s no more pure bred Lab then I am!” You cannot bribe her with food. She just dosen’t care. Our last vet witnessed this and told me that training her was going to be challenging. He was right: Libby is now eight years old, and she still won’t come when she’s called, if she has something better to do.

Anyway, back to the bath. Now we have outside water spigots and hoses; things that make dog bathing oh so much easier. I recorded the bathing this time, but compared to years past, it was a non-event. The highlight of the bathing was probably Meeko running past Libby a little too closely and hitting her right in the jaw with his hard head! Besides, from where I placed the camera, most of what you see is our backsides. Nobody needs to look at that! We don’t even want to look at it!

Speaking of big backsides. Today, we are starting the Whole 30. I will keep you posted as we go through our thirty days of eating only meat, veggies, fruit and healthy fats. No grains, no legumes, no dairy and definitely no sugar or processed foods. I’ve already been doing a modified version of that as we used up food we already have, and I’m feeling pretty good.

Also, earlier this week, Kat and I carried some things out to the barn. While we were there, I wanted to check the two rooms that have doors where we have been storing holiday decorations, things that belong to my boys, and the majority of my book collection.

To be honest, I was most concerned about the books. I had seen rodent evidence around the barn, and I didn’t want them nesting in my books. I turned on the light and stepped up into the room. I had started to check some of the boxes; shaking them first and listening for anything moving. Then I heard Katherine express some surprise. I honestly don’t remember what she said, but when I turned to look, she was pointing at the floor that I had just stepped over.

There was a rather large snake skin. I think I may have jumped. I really don’t like snakes! Intellectually, I understand that there are good snakes and poisonous snakes, but the scared to death side of me doesn’t pay much attention to intellect. My second thought was that if that skin was in this closed room, it’s previous owner might be in here too! We went back to the house.

017

Kat and the snake skin. She thought it was cool!

Later that evening, I relayed the incident to Ed, showing him the skin that we brought back to the house with us. He said, “Well, he’ll keep the rats and mice out of your books.” “Yes,” I replied, “and he’ll keep me out of them too!”

We’re still debating on whether we should give up on the garden for this year. It’s really over grown and not producing much. The pole beans have been showing us lots of lovely blooms, and very little bean. If anyone has any ideas about that let us know. Since we were told the previous owners had their garden in the same place we have ours, we are both thinking that we should compost and mulch that area well, and then let it be fallow for a year. That way, if the soil is as depleted as we think it is, it will have a chance to recover. If we can get a cold frame built, I am thinking about a fall garden with some greens and broccoli, cauliflower etc.

beanless beans

beanless beans

I am also working on pulling together what I need for this home school year. We are switching to the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, which means shorter lessons on a wider range of subjects. We will still be using Life of Fred for Math. We will be reading from many different books, some of which I already have, and some I will have to order. Amazon and I have become great friends! I would love to be able to take advantage of their affiliate program, but Amazon and the state of Missouri had issues, so I can’t. Anyway, for Kat and I, school starts September first!

Speaking of home school. Last year, during Botany, we stuck some tooth picks in an avocado seed and put it in a glass of water. Now, we have a nice looking start on an avocado tree. Don’t expect to ever bear fruit here, but it is a nice looking house plant. I just have to keep Adora from laying in it.

avocado seed

avocado seed

avocado plant

avocado plant

Well I guess that’s enough this, that and the other for now. Have a great weekend!

Connie

Proof I’m an Idiot, or Stress Makes Me Stupid

Like well worn grooves in a old dirt road, our patterns of behavior often keep us in the same old rut. When something happens, we don’t think it through, we just react. Remember the scene in Jumanji where Peter is looking for the ax and discovers the shed is padlocked? Focusing on the locked door, he picks up the nearby ax to break it. Then he realizes that what he wants is already in his hands. You can watch the scene here.

I have some issues with anxiety, but normally I catch it before it takes over. One of my favorites verses is Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I have used this verse often both as a prayer and as a simple reminder; and as I said, normally, I can catch the anxiety before it develops a life of it’s own.

Evidently, yesterday was not normal. I don’t even really know where I lost track. Okay, yeah, well maybe I do. Ed’s late schedule has meant that I am up way later than I want to be, which also means I’ve been sleeping in later too. Yes, I could just deprive myself of sleep, but as anyone with Bi Polar disorder knows, that just isn’t a good idea. I woke up feeling rushed, and didn’t get my morning Bible reading in. I usually check my email early in the day, and I didn’t get to that either. Like I told you yesterday, Ed had to be at work by one, so again, that threw the “schedule” behind.

Since I didn’t have Bible study at church this week (a large number of our church members are in Colorado for the National Youth Roundup: NYR), I thought it would be good day to get Katherine in the kitchen and do some meal prep. Then I discovered we had one onion left.

First proof of idiocy: What are the number one and number two veggies that we use more than any others? Onions and Garlic! What did we not plant this year? Onions and Garlic!

Have we mentioned that we only have one vehicle? Have we mentioned that it has a manual transmission that I don’t know how to drive? The second point becomes irrelevant when Ed is at work, because he has said vehicle with him. Still it leaves us at a disadvantage.

Anyway, we needed onions. There is a little grocery store on Main Street. It’s a mile round trip. Before the accident, I walked that distance several times a week. No big deal. Now, it seems daunting. Nevertheless, we needed onions and I wanted to go get them. Katherine thought I had lost my mind when I told her, but was more than willing to go along. The whole trip took thirty minutes. Maybe I’m in better shape than I thought.

We spent the afternoon prepping veggies and cooking meat, using recipes found in It Starts with Food. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I kept thinking that I really needed to post something here, and really wanted to do some kind of feature (I actually have a couple more in mind that I will share later). That is where I got the idea for “Picure of the Week Wednesday” After I made that post, I checked my email and saw that I had a ping back from Rebirth of Lisa for my participation in her Word Crush Wednesday event last week.

Second proof of idiocy: I completely forgot about that event, and I really liked doing it. May end up choosing the quote earlier in the week, posting it on Wednesday, choosing my pictures on Wednesday and creating “Picture of the Week Thursday” Are you all totally confused now? Wait, it gets better.

Last night, at about 10:10, Ed called, as he always does, to tell me he was on the way home. I got his supper lined up, and then went to take a shower so that when he got home, I could go to sleep. As I was heading for the shower, the phone rang again. Ed’s truck broke down eight miles from the house, and he needed me to find someone who could come pick him up. He didn’t have any numbers in his phone, and this is where the proof of idiocy becomes undeniable…for both of us.

I don’t have a single phone number of anyone in town. I take that back. I have two numbers: one of those people is on vacation in Alaska, and the other is in Colorado for NYR. So, I did what I always do when I need to get a message to someone. I hopped on facebook to see if anyone was available…nope. OK, look up phone numbers online. Ever tried to do that? That is when I got a small glimmer of brains. I remembered that old, almost unknown, and rarely used thing called a phone book! Yes people here still have house phones, thank the Lord! I looked up the number of one person that I thought might be available, but his answering machine picked up. I left a message, and then had the only brainstorm of the day. There is an elderly couple who live across the road from us. Mr “A” has helped Ed mow and helped us with other things too. I had his number at one point, but I don’t know where it went. So I checked the phone book and there he was! By this time it is 10:50, and I really hate calling people late in the evening, but I did.

I talked to Mrs. “A”, apologizing for the late hour of the call and explaining the situation. Sure, he’ll go get Ed! No problem! So, our nearly 80-year-old neighbor went and brought Ed home. In the meanwhile, the person I called first called back, asking is Ed still needed a ride. I thanked him and told him we had it covered. When Ed got home, we both thanked God for good neighbors, and asked Him to handle the truck situation. We should have let him.

This morning, we had another problem. The truck was still eight miles from town and Ed was afraid that the damage was severe. We don’t have a lot of cash. There are (at least) two mechanics in town, but evidently, no tow service. The closest one is twenty five miles away. You KNOW that cost, right? The second problem was that the mechanic wouldn’t be able to work on the truck until tomorrow. Ed needed to be at work by three today.

Ed got hold of the tow service and then called his job to give them a heads up. He told them that if they wanted him to come in, they might have to come get him. He really didn’t think they wanted him that badly.

Not being one to just sit on my hands, I felt the need to do something. I know two people who have cars they could loan us for the weekend, but they both live about seventy five miles away. I got hold of my son Kyle and asked if I could get use of a vehicle, would he and his girlfriend bring it to me. He said yes. I did manage to track down a vehicle but it wouldn’t be available until this evening. Okay, we’ll take what we can get.

About an hour later, Ed’s job called. They had someone lined up to come get him and bring him home tonight. We were both impressed. A short time later, the phone rang again. It was the mechanic. Not only had they got to the truck today; it was fixed. The problem? A broken belt. While Ed walked down to get the truck (again, about a mile round trip), I made phone calls, thanking everyone and telling them we wouldn’t be needing the loaner vehicle. As I hung up the phone, I felt that I could almost hear the Lord say, “Oh ye of little faith!” Yep! Last proof of idiocy!

Ed went to work and I sat down to catch up on my time with Lord. I’ve decided that tonight is going to be night off. I cooked a lot yesterday, so I wouldn’t have to today, so supper can just be leftovers, and Katherine can help clean up. Maybe we’ll watch a movie. Maybe I’ll just take a shower and go to bed early. Tomorrow I’ll start working on smoothing out those old ruts.

Connie

Deception

As most of you already know, I have been taking WordPress’s Blogging 101 class. Yesterday’s assignment involved looking up the daily writing prompt and using it to write a blog post. The prompt had to do with being deceived by someone.

One might think that the art of deception is limited to human beings, but it isn’t. The natural world is full of deception too. I’m not going to go into my beliefs about how the earth is cursed because of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, I”m just going to discuss some interesting ways that nature can be deceptive. Knowing many of them could save your life.

One of the most common deceptions is camouflage. Think of the chameleon that changes colors to match it’s environment, thereby protecting itself from predators. Many species of butterfly have markings that make them appear to be something else entirely. That “log” in the river just might be a crocodile.

Plants are deceptive too. Think of the Venus fly trap. When you start foraging and learning about wild edibles, and edible plants in general, it is extremely important to understand that not all berries are edible, no matter how tasty they look. Pretty is no guarantee for safety. Unless you absolutely know the identity of that plant; don’t eat it! When in doubt, leave it out!

Elderberries and mulberries are wonderful edible berries. Choke and pin cherries are edible, but you probably won’t want many of them. Poke berries will kill you. When in doubt, leave it out. I have everything on my property except Elderberries. I just may have to plant some.

Green Poke Berry

Green Poke Berry

Several wild edible plants have poisonous lookalikes. Wild Carrot, aka Queen Anne’s Lace, is edible. One lookalike is the wonderful medicinal plant, Yarrow. A second lookalike, Poison Hemlock, will kill you. To tell the truth, once you know for sure the differences between these plants, you won’t mix them up, but for a novice forager, the similarities are confusing. When in doubt, leave it out! I would love to find some yarrow on our property, but again, I will probably plant some next spring.

Hemlock that hasn't flowered yet.

Hemlock that hasn’t flowered yet.

Queen Anne's Lace. Notice the purple flower in the center

Queen Anne’s Lace. Notice the purple flower in the center

More Queen Anne's Lace

More Queen Anne’s Lace

It’s a good idea to get a book, or books, on the wild edibles located in your area. I have a little book called Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide To Over 200 Natural Foods. It’s available on Amazon here. (This is not an affiliate link). What I like about this book is that it lists poisonous lookalikes. The internet is a good source too. I belong to a facebook page that is devoted to wild edibles in Missouri. I am constantly impressed with the knowledge in that group. I bet you have one close to you too.

If you’re like me, and really need to see it, youtube videos, like this one, can be a great source as well. However you choose to find your information, I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing what you are eating BEFORE you eat it. Don’t be deceived. When in doubt, leave it out!

Connie

Chicory on the Homestead

Yes, I admit it; I spend entirely too much time exploring the net. Pinterest is one of my biggest downfalls, but email notifications from blogs I read can keep me going for days. I’ll see something, which will make me think of something else that I really need to look up, and suddenly the whole afternoon is gone.

A few weeks ago, during one of my exploration excursions into the world wide web, I saw pictures of chicory blossoms. A few days later, when I saw those pretty blue flowers on tall, spindly stalks, I was really hoping I had chicory growing outside my barn doors. I went online and looked at more pictures of chicory plants and blooms! Yes, it’s chicory! Chicory root can be dried and used for coffee! Yes!

One thing I have discovered about identifying plants; once you know what something is, you see it everywhere. We have a lot of chicory. I noticed some growing outside my back door. It had been cut off several times with the weed eater and lawnmower so it wasn’t in the best place for a long healthy life. I thought that would be a perfect place to dig up the roots.

Well, not quite. This first snag was the stones underneath a very thin layer of top soil. The roots grew down through the stones. Ok, well, I’ll just dig them up. I wasn’t expecting the larger layer of gravel underneath the stones. At that point, I knew that my little garden trowel was not going to help me. I did manage to break a few roots loose, but called it a day.

A week or so later, when Ed was off and it was too wet to mow, I asked him to help me get the chicory root by the barn. Ed really likes chicory so he was agreeable to the task. Well, guess what? Underneath a thin layer of top soil, he found gravel: dry, hard as a rock, gravel. He went to find the mattock. If you don’t know, a mattock is kind of like a pick ax.

Ed and  the mattock

Ed and the mattock

more rock

more rock

After breaking up the dirt and gravel, He alternated a couple of different sized shovels to dig up the gravel and expose the roots. It took him over an hour to get this.

Wheelbarrow full of chicory

Wheelbarrow full of chicory

Since I really hate to waste anything, I spent some time looking up alternate uses for the stalks and flowers, but didn’t find much. However, I did find out some things I didn’t know about dried chicory root.

For instance: while it’s true that chicory is often used as an additive to coffee, it actually has sedative properties. So I suppose if you drank enough of it by itself, it would put you to sleep. It also works to relieve constipation. When I told Ed, he said that he would hope that it wouldn’t do all that at the same time!

Since all I need are the roots, I tried to remove them with my garden shears, but that was not going to happen. I ended up getting the hatchet from the garage and chopping the roots off. Chicory blossoms open and close at the same time every day. It was fascinating the see rootless flowers continue to open and close for four days after the roots had been removed.

Anyway, my plan was to chop up the roots, roast them, and then grind them in my spice mill/coffee grinder. Chopping up the roots was a little harder than it looked, and to make an already long story short, I enlisted Ed’s help. Between him, I, and the food processor, we finally got it ready to roast.

washing the roots

washing the roots

all clean and ready to chop

all clean and ready to chop

chopping the root

chopping the root

Roasting chicory smells wonderful! Katherine asked if I had something chocolate in the oven. She was disappointed to learn it was the chicory. Once it cooled, I ground it in the spice mill and put it in a repurposed honey jar.

ground chicory

ground chicory

I made Katherine a cup of chicory tea, but she wasn’t impressed. She said it smells a lot better than it tastes. Out of curiosity, we made a pot of straight chicory in the coffee pot. It was ok, but not something I would want all the time. However, adding a tablespoon or so to a pot of regular coffee adds something that I can’t quite describe.

Yesterday morning, Ed noticed the chicory jar is nearly empty, and asked me if I was ready to go dig some more.

Did I mention Ed really likes chicory?

Connie

Unplugged

Unplugged

My daughter is a Visual Spatial Learner.

That means her thoughts come to her in images rather than words. She “thinks in pictures”. She needs time to “translate” what she hears into images so that she understands what you mean…that takes time.

It means she has a poor concept of time, but an excellent concept of space.

It means she struggles with handwriting, but is a talented artist.

It means she has no organizational skills.

It means if she has been somewhere once, she can easily find her way back (she could do this at three).

It means that her ability to learn from you depends on whether or not she thinks you like her.

Here is the article that I found about 18 months ago that opened my eyes to the true nature of my daughter’s educational issues, and eventually lead me to home school her.

I wanted to explain that because when I write about her, I think it will help you to understand how she thinks and why she does things like she does. It might also help you understand why I do some of the things I do.

Katherine loves technology. She loves gaming, making videos and computer animation. She has a laptop, a Kindle Fire, and the newest iteration of the Nintendo DS. Most of these have come as birthday/Christmas gifts from her father. I did suggest the laptop however, because it comes in handy for school. As long as she does her chores and turns everything off and goes to bed when I tell her, she can play, talk and create all she wants. Yes, I do monitor where she goes and we have discussed internet safety in depth.

A few days ago, I told her to clean her room, and put her clean clothes away. I had noticed the same clean clothes from last weeks laundry were still on her dresser. I make sure that I never tell her to do more than two things at a time because of the translation lag. Then I usually ask her to tell me what I said so that I know she understood me. You would not believe what she has thought I’ve said before.

Anyway, the room was not getting cleaned, so I had to pull out the big guns. Unplug for the day. No computer, DS, anything. Then there will be plenty of “time” to clean the room. She was not happy, but she didn’t argue.

Then the fire radio went off. She and Ed have both become volunteers for the local fire department. Kat is a junior volunteer, of course. They were needing people to show up for a work day. She wasn’t crazy about going, but as much as I needed her to clean her room, I also needed her to understand that when you volunteer to help with something, you need to follow through, and give it your best. This time, the room would wait.

Ed was outside cutting grass, so I went out and told him about the fire message. I knew he had to go to work that afternoon so he wouldn’t be able to stay over there and help, but he could take Katherine over there. That is what he did. It is less than I mile from the firehouse, so she would be able to walk home when she was finished.

Five hours later, my dirty, hot and tired child came back home. She didn’t have to walk. They brought her home. She said that she, the fire chief and a friend of ours from church were the only ones who showed up (then I was really glad I had made her go), and they did a lot of work, she was really tired, and her new tennis shoes were dirty!

I told her we would postpone the unplugging until the next day, and I would unplug too.

She looked grateful and went to take a shower. During the course of the evening, she told me about her day, and even though she was tired, I think she enjoyed it. Ed heard from the chief later that she did a great job.

Saturday morning, I got up, notified my facebook friends, my sons, and other members of the blogging 101 class I’m taking, that I was taking the day off, and shut down my computer.

My first plan had been that I would get Kat up early, and get her going on her room so that she would be done by the time Ed went to work. That way, she and I could spend some time in the kitchen, and maybe do some kind of crafty stuff later in the day. Most of all, we could just spend some time “hanging out”.

One of Murphy’s Laws of Combat says, “No plan survives the first contact intact”.

First of all, Ed and I both slept in later then we normally do and it all went down hill from there.

Let me add something here: We have been reading “It Starts With Food” as a family. The reason we are doing that is that is the only way I could think of to get both Ed and Kat to read it in time for us to actually start implementing it in this decade. The book is the first step in the Whole 30, which is a method to change the way you eat and think about food. You can read more about that here. I imagine there will be many posts about this in the future, once we actually start the program.

Just so you know, there are currently no affiliate links on this site. When there are, I will let you know.

Normally, we try to have breakfast or lunch all together so we can read after the meal. That didn’t quite happen, but we did read a section in the book, and Katherine moaned her normal “I’m going to die!”. However, I think she is starting to see the connections discussed in the book, she just doesn’t want to admit it.

Anyway, I sent her in to make her bed first. In the meanwhile, I am working on purging our kitchen of Whole 30 “non-compliant” food. I’m doing that by using it up. I had a ton of colored sugar that I had made myself. It needs to go, but I didn’t really want to throw it out. I had read how you could make powdered sugar in a food processor or blender, so I thought that would be the way to go. I probably need a more powerful blender but it worked out okay.

Kat made her bed and came back out to me. We mixed the batter for home made Oreos. It needed to chill for thirty minutes, so I told her to go work on her room while I washed a few dishes. At the end of 30 minutes not much had been done. I think she was overwhelmed. So I told her to pick up the stuffed animals first, and just put them all on her bed. That was kind of how the day went. We would cook some, and I would give her one thing to do in her room. Then we would cook some more. Her room didn’t quite get finished because I realized that the way it is set up is not conducive to her keeping it clean. We discussed a few different options and discovered we probably need more open shelving and clear containers and less drawers and out of sight storage. There was some progress made.

By the end of the afternoon, we had made home made Oreos, home made oatmeal cream pies, no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, and blueberry muffins. We had both smelled so much sugar and tasted so much along the way, that we were both about half sick by the time we were done. I think we both ate one cookie. Katherine asked what was for supper (by this time it was about 5 in the afternoon, I think). Supper? She asked if we could go get pizza at the quick shop up the road. We might do that about once a month. We actually have a “buy so many get one free” card from there that is usually on a shelf over the sink. It has the phone number on it. It wasn’t there. Normally, I would have looked the number up on line, but we’re unplugged. So, I showed Katherine how to do it the old fashioned way: we looked it up in the phone book!

It’s about 2/10ths of a mile to the quick shop from our house. That is the beauty of where we live. We are outside the city limits on five acres, but we are a half mile from “down town”. So we walked up and got pizza.

After we ate, we went to check on the dogs and gave them fresh water. I still wanted to do some kind of crafty project with her and one just kind of fell into our lap.

We have a cat named Adora (yes after the “She-Ra” character). Ed calls her arrhythmia because she stays in a state of freaked out. We have both her mother and grandmother, and while they have their own brand of feline insanity, Adora takes it to a whole different level. She is scared of everything. She still hasn’t recovered from James and his dog being here a few weeks ago. She goes from outside, to the basement, stops long enough to eat and then goes back outside. I noticed one day last week, that she was sleeping in the litter box in the basement. After watching for a few days to make sure she isn’t sick, I realized that the basement floor is damp and cold and she just might be laying here because its a better alternative. Ed says it just proves she’s crazy.

Adora hiding by the printer

Adora hiding by the printer

Yesterday, Katherine and I discussed making a cat bed to put in the basement for her. I have stuffing left over from another project, and remembered there were two flannel garments in the rag bag. I don’t sew well, and Katherine doesn’t sew at all (yet) and so I thought this would be a good experience for both of us. Since it was for Adora, I knew Katherine would be willing to put in some extra effort. Some time I will write a post about Katherine’s gift with animals.

I told her we probably wouldn’t be able to do it all at once because there would be measuring, cutting, ironing, more measuring and cutting, pinning, sewing and stuffing. She understood. First we took the two garments apart. Then we measured one of Katherine’s bed pillows to get an idea of how big to make the bed. When it came time to cut the pieces we would sew together, I couldn’t find my quilting ruler. At least that is what I call it. I strongly resisted the urge to start pulling everything out of the two closets that holds the majority of my crafting supplies. Guess who else needs open shelving and clear containers?

So we stopped for the night. Katherine created a cave on her bed, with all the stuffed animals, and was sound asleep by 10:00. I really enjoyed the day. I think maybe we will unplug more often.

Connie

Gooseberries, Mulberries, and Cherries; Oh my! Or The Walk Around the Pasture

The rain stopped for a day or two, and the weather turned off hot! The good thing was that it gave us the opportunity to walk the pasture, look for wild edibles/medicinals and take pictures. The majority of our five acres is pasture. Since all we have, at present, is a push mower, the “hay” is already waist high. Any trip out there requires long pants and heavy shoes. Long pants to dissuade the chiggers and ticks lurking in the hay, and heavy shoes to traverse the swamp underneath.

Ed up to his waist in

Ed up to his waist in “hay”

The fence rows have been neglected long enough that large trees conceal the right hand fence, as well as the center fence between the back pastures. Between the trees, honey suckle, wild rose and wild grape vine grow; both separately and together. I was kind of hoping to find some wild black berries, but no such luck.

The right fence row

The right fence row

honeysuckle

honeysuckle

grape vine

grape vine

wild rose

wild rose

We usually start our “walkabout” between the barn and the dog pen, and walk up the right side of the right hand pasture. That is where I start counting mulberry trees. I never have got a good count, because something else will distract me and I will lose count. The closest I can figure is about 15, from little saplings to the monster just off the barn. If I can beat the birds and the rain, I plan on doing a LOT of mulberry harvesting. The birds are already dropping evidence that they have head start.

There are also several trees with large amounts of green berries. The biggest one looks to be about forty feet high. I thought it might be choke cherry, but my friends on the Missouri Wild Edibles facebook page think its pin or service cherry. I’ll do some more research and let you know what I find out.

mulberry

mulberry

the mysterious cherry

the mysterious cherry

In the back right corner is a gooseberry bush. Like a dragon protecting a treasure, poison ivy vines protect the bush from all but the most brave, or non allergic (like Ed). The berries are ripening, but the birds like them too, so it may be a matter of who braves the poison ivy first and best. I think the birds may win this round, but I have plans for propagating that plant a little closer to the house this fall.

Found several of these trees too. I was kind of hoping they were elderberry, but they appear to be a type of dogwood. They are pretty though

Ed, the gooseberry bush  and poison ivy

Ed, the gooseberry bush and poison ivy

mysterious dogwood

mysterious dogwood

We walk along the back fence and down the center. From this side you can see the mad over growth of honeysuckle (in the picture above), and grapevine, and the odd purple sweet rocket.

sweet rocket

sweet rocket

We make the turn at the barn to go up the other side of the fence. This is where the real fun is for me. More and more mulberries, and whatever cherries those are, wild roses and the other side of the honeysuckle covered tree. The over growth makes a canopy that I would have lived in as a child. Ed feels the same. It would make a perfect hide out. Between a rather large stand of wild rose and the hideout, is where we buried Marshmellow a few weeks ago. Ed will want to tell you about that when he’s ready.

From inside, you can see the massive trunk of the, as yet to be identified, tree. You can see where Ed cut off some of the branches last fall. Under the canopy, is another gooseberry bush, but this one doesn’t get much sun, so it isn’t doing as well.

Outside the hideout looking in.

Outside the hideout looking in.

Inside the hideout, looking out

Inside the hideout, looking out

The big tree trunk

The big tree trunk

the hideout gooseberry

the hideout gooseberry

Heading along the back fence and toward the left hand side of the left pasture, I started seeing these fuzzy plants, culminating with the large one on the other side of the fence. We went out to the road to get a better look. It is called Mullein and it does all kinds of stuff. It probably deserves it’s own post, so I’ll save it for another time.

mullein in the pasture

mullein in the pasture

the monster mullein

the monster mullein

The fence row behind the barn is more of the same mulberry, cherry, and other, yet to be identified, trees.

Did I mention, that about half way through the walk, Meeko joined us. He’s done it so many times now, that we just started letting him out to go with us. It saves time and aggravation. He stays right with us, so we don’t have to worry about catching him. Libby, however, is another matter entirely. If she gets to go, it’s on a leash.

Meeko on the back side of the hideout

Meeko on the back side of the hideout

Out in the dog’s area, amidst the poison hemlock are Indian strawberries. They also grow around the barn and a few other places on the property. They are stunning! They look like bright red gumdrops on a bed of dark green ground cover. They don’t taste like gumdrops, however…they don’t taste bad, they don’t taste good. They taste like…nothing. From what I understand, the leaves serve medicinal purposes, but the berries are all bang and no buck. They do make a pretty ground cover. Saw this thing out there too. Most of my wild edible friends think it’s either wild rhubarb or burdock. Of course, you already know about all the poison hemlock.

Indian strawberry

Indian strawberry

wild rhubarb

wild rhubarb or budock

Of course, in the pastures themselves red clover is prevalent, as is wild mustard, plantain, thistle and wild parsnip. Each one has its own use and, in the case of the parsnip, precaution.

purple clover

red clover

wild mustard

wild mustard

plantain

plantain and white clover

thistle

thistle

wild parsnip

wild parsnip

I told Ed that we could probably corner the market on plantain, if there was one, but its kind of like dandelion; everyone just sees it as a weed. That’s too bad. Don’t be surprised if you see a plantain post too. As a matter of fact, I may do an entire series on “weeds”.

Connie