Friday, July 30, 2010

Busy Days

We have been busy.  Although the weather hasn't been that nice recently, cold, rain, wind, we have been outside in it.  We found a recipie for a nice salve for little N.  He has psoraisis on his scalp and this has been working wonders.  I found the idea at a natural remedy site.  We made our own formulation of calendula, oregano, olive oil and a bit of beeswax and just a drop of geranium oil for scent.  This has been more effective than his prescription medicine.  Yay for herbs!  Yesterday we gathered puffball mushrooms, washed them, sliced them thinly and put them in our food dryer. :)  They smell yummy.  The little boys don't get any though.  There is a wild mushroom rule that says that under 11 years of age wild mushrooms are not the best.  Each to their own, but it makes sense to us.  (Plus the husband and myself will get to have more, hehe.)
Little J went off of the diving board yesterday, all by himself.  He is very proud and so are we!  The swimming instructors here are fantastic.  The boys take swimming lessons just about everytime they come around.  I have scads of nettles and will be drying them for nettle tea.  Also, happily and for the first time here, my chamomile is almost ready to bloom.  I'm so excited to have real chamomile tea. :) 

Will write more soon.  We are off to look for more mushrooms. Happy Friday to everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Almost Summer

Here are some cute pictures of the kids and baby Springtime animals.
J and N are in TBall this year.  Sometimes they pay attention to TBall and other times they're into the dirt on the outfield and that's fine.  They're learning and having fun.
We saw a Mama Moose with new twin babies.  Here they are:

Moose babies are so cute!
We made a trail down to the lake.  The boys found last years pushki stalks and had a lot of fun.

Yup!  Those pushki grow very large here.  They make good swords because they usually break apart fairly easily when dry.

I think J is blowing me a raspberry.  He sure likes those just now. :)
I helped the boys set up their painting materials and we had fun painting in the sun.

Red, Yellow and Blue are SO exciting!

We're working on our paintings here.

J is done and his painting can dry in the sun.

N is ready to let his dry and both boys are pleased with their work.

The first dragonfly is here.  They're beautiful and they eat plenty of mosquitos!  There is a giant snowshoe hare eating every bit of our garden so we're working on putting in a fence.  We tried sprinkling our greens with hot pepper.  I think he prefers his chard hot and spicy.  We've decided to try chickens again.  We're butting the chicken pen up to the garden fence and making the fences strong and tall.  I hope it works and so do the chickens.  We got our first order from Wolf Lake Wellness and everything was fantastic!  Yum!  I love fresh tomatoes sliced with salt pepper and olive oil.  Pollen allergies are done with for me now and I'm full of vim, cleaning house, weeding the garden, playing with the boys and my hubby and getting things done.  Hope all are having a happy and productive summer.  What a beautiful world!  We're finally moving past the family bed.  N is now making a go of it in his bed all night.  J still comes in at about 4 a.m.  It has been sweet and I've enjoyed being a big cuddly bunch; but it is time for the boys to move on and M and I are relishing our evening time together.  Hello to everyone! xxoo  Love you, family. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Love You Mom!

You're the best, Mom.  We're hoping to come and see you when school gets out.  I wish we lived down the road, but that's not how it is.  I've already hung my kitchen angel and I love her.  Thanks so much!  I love everything you ever made for me. :)  She's very sweet.  Here she is:
She is very cheery and perks up the kitchen with her sunny ways!

I just love her to pieces.  Thank-you, Mom.  Love you.  Miss you!
Here's an update on the recent goings on....
The moose have headed to the local bowling alley.  You should see them bowl.  I think they're getting a team together....

The bald eagles are keeping an eye on things... Here is a bald eagle perced on a dead spruce tree.  
Look  at those talons...yikes!

Our Dad is now a college grad!  My husband finished his Bachelor's Degree.  He went back to college and has worked very hard.  We are so proud!  He wants to continue on and get his Master's next.  Go, Dad!

Diploma in Hand!

Mum is so proud of Dad!

The boys are proud of Dad, too!

Yay, Dad!

Here's to getting an education- Salute!
Hi family, here are the pictures we promised!  Love and miss you.  Happy Spring!

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Cuddly Pillow for J

This morning it was just little J and I.  We worked together and made him this cuddly pillow.  We got it all done.  He is a happy little camper and an excellent pillow stuffer.  I did the embroidery first.  Then J. colored the ladybug in with Fabric Fun Pastel Dye Sticks.  It was easy for him to color inside the embroidery and he was very careful.  We heat set the cloth pastels by ironing it with a piece of paper over top.  It worked like a dream.  We'll use these again!  The embroidery pattern is by Jack Dempsey Needle Art of St. Louis, MO. (Made in the USA since 1949).  This is not an ad.  I just like to give credit where credit is due.  They have lots of easy patterns for beginners.

 I haven't sewn or stitiched in awhile so my blanket stitch is quite rusty.  But we had lots of fun.  James rolled in the stuffing and said, "It is like being in a cloud."  I agree.

  The cloth is part of a set of fabric bits from the 1930's.  We'll have to make a few more.  :)Yay!  I love completing a project.  Have a nice weekend! 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Gathering...

Yesterday, little N and I checked the buds on the cottonwood trees.  They were ready, firm, slightly sticky with thick yellow resin, and barely opened.  We live on a parcel with quite a few cottonwood trees.  You can spot them by their very rough bark.

I have heard several opinions on when to gather the cottonwood buds.  One person said that you should get them before they open and are still slightly frozen.  Another said that they should be half-open.  I decided to go with the middle of the road.  We gently threw a rope up and over the lower branches and pulled them to our height.  (These are some tall trees.)
And more branches....I love these trees!  We are always careful to take only a few buds from each of the branches and to spread our "gathering" out over quite a few trees.  We don't want to hurt the trees.

Here are the buds, ready to pick!

The resin (sap-like) is very yellow and sticky.  It is also very aromatic.  To me it smells a bit like tea tree oil.  My kitchen still smells springy :).  If you don't wear gloves be prepared to get sticky, yellow fingers.

I pick carefully through the cottonwood buds.  I put about a cup full of cottonwood buds into the top of my funky homemade double broiler.  This time I added about 1 1/4 c. almond oil.  (I have made this with olive oil and added a bit of beeswax after it simmers.  It ends up more like a salve.)  Cover and simmer on lowest heat for at least 2 hours.  Do not make this in your favorite pan!  It is a sticky mess to scrub when you're done.
Here is the double broiler and the cottonwood buds are ready to simmer.

When it cools I strain it into a clean jar.  You can use it on small cuts, scrapes, rashes and skin abrasions.  I like best to warm the oil and massage it into my wrists and hands when they get achy.  Hi family.  Are you picking your cottonwood buds there?  I hope so. :)  I now feel like spring is here.  Here is the finished oil.  I cap mine and store it in the fridge.  When I make the salve w/olive oil I store it in a cleaned, recycled tin also in the fridge.  My fridge is an exciting destination. :)  Try warming gently and massaging into achy wrists.  Happy Spring!
Finished Oil

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hooray! It rained!

Today raindrops were falling on my window pane and I loved every single watery droplet.  What a nice day to work on projects.  I finished up three things that have been waiting for me to get around to them.  First of all, here are some pretties from my desk.  Pink and green have been my favorites for awhile.  The inlaid stone came from Russia.  The piggybank was my Grandma Eloise's, the green glass vase, too.  The geraniums are from my inside window ledge.  All of my boys helped collect the pink and green stones from one of the local beaches and sweetly brought them to Mama.  The glass decanter in pink is an antique.  We got it in Seldovia, AK.  It says, "Courage," and is filled with agates from another beach.

Cheerful things on a Sunday afternoon.  I completed a saying that I found and wanted to hang.  Here it is:

 Sometimes I remind myself that good enough is plenty good. :)  and then breathe a sigh of relief. 

The boys love costumes..  There's nothing like a fake fur moustache to give you that macho old-time feel.  Here is young Zorro

Don't forget Wyatt Earp

And, a cleeew, Inspector Clousseau

I saw on the news that Fairbanks was 67* today.  Bring on the Spring!  Hope everyone has a good week.  Tomorrow I'm meal-planning for the week.  I can guarantee that we'll be eating fish since it is time to eat down the freezer before things go bad.  I love fish and feel blessed to have such good fishermen.  I'm down to my last bit of blueberries.  Wah.  This year I'll have to pick extra so I 'm hoping for a good berry year.  There was an article about making birch napkin rings in the paper today.  I think it involves powertools. :) 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yogurt On the Cheap!

Hi, Sis, this one is for you.  For homemade yogurt I use a clean pyrex bowl with tight-fitting lid or corelle-type dish with lid.  The rubber lids are best.  Mix up 2 c. powdered milk into about 1 1/3 qt. water.  I also add a little whole milk (1/2 c.) because I like my finished yogurt to be a little creamy.  Add 3 tablespoons fresh yogurt (preferably plain).  Make sure that the yogurt you add as starter has lots of fresh and active yogurt cultures.  Whisk this all together really well.  You are spreading those cultures around and getting rid of the powdered milk lumps.  Fill your glass bowl or container almost all of the way to the top.  Like you would for jelly or jam.  Put it in a warm place for 12 hours.  If it is too runny let it sit longer.  You can put it on a heating pad set on low.  (If you're like me :) , make sure that your very old heating pad is not a fire hazard.  I'm on very old heating pad #2.)  Today, I'm trying mine on a trivet on the woodstove.  You want it to be pretty warm but not too hot.  You can double-up by using your crock pot to cook, leave more space in your crock pot and turn the lid upside down.   You can set your yogurt container on top of the upside down lid.  If I am baking I put my container on top of the stove burner that lets the heat out of the oven.  It should be hot enough that you can rest your hand there for a quick moment.  If it is too hot to do that, it is too hot.  When you're done let your yogurt cool and then stick it in the fridge.  You can use the yogurt you made as the start to a new batch.  After about 5 batches I get a fresh start.  Some people go more batches, but I like lots of cultures.  I mix this with juice for the boys sometimes too.  Sorry, lots of gab and little recipie.  Hope you are having a happy Saturday.  I'm off to label my soaps.     

Friday, April 16, 2010

Could It Be the Last Snowman of the Season?

The other day we received what we hope is one of the last big snows of the season.  There was enough new snow to make snow people.  Nico and Uncle John worked together and made snowmen.  The sun that came after the snow was very welcome. 
And yet another
photo with both happy snow sculptures...

By afternoon the large snowman's head had melted away.  Yep, it is Springtime!  We had some yummy food projects today.  The boys squeezed their own fresh orange juice and I made honey and whole wheat brownies and even snuck in some wheat germ.  Thanks to my sister, Rose, for the awesome honey.  It made lovely brownies.  We enjoyed our visit from Grandma and Uncle John and can't wait till they come again.  Lots of fun, food, card games, board games and good company.  Relatives are great!  Wish everyone lived even closer!  Happy Friday!

The boys had fun making juice.  I love it when they're so industrious.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Before Easter

It's Friday night.  The woodstove is keeping it very toasty.  I only need to light it at night now.  In one more month I won't even have to light it at all!  The boys are all looking forward to Easter.  We'll color our eggs tomorrow night.  I hope the Easter Bunny has LOTS of extra chocolate for good mommys.  My soap came out very nicely.  I had figured out a lovely shade of pink, but forgot that my dried rose petals would change the color.  So, they're a lovely tomato red.  It is all for the best though because I mixed rose scent, apple and spices.  I'm naming this batch of soap "Spicy Love Apple."  I really like this organic soap base, a mix of palm and coconut oils.  I'm still getting bubbles.  I think I'm greasing the mold a little too heavily.  If anyone knows the answer, let me know.  Right now these little soap gems are curing on a rack in my bedroom.  Really enjoy the smell of scented soap.

What a beautiful evening.  It was 45 degrees F.  That's sure nice for Alaska in early April.  The sun felt warm and snow is melting.  I see that the squirrels have chewed my clothesline.  I don't mind much.  It isn't hard to fix and the winter is long.  Can't get to it yet anyway.  More snow has to go first.  I can tell that Spring is on her way.  The birds are happily chirping.  The large flies are hatching out up against the sunny side of the house and there are giant mud floodles (huge puddles) forming during the day.

James cuddled with Ratty today on the couch.  They're buddies.  Rats actually make very good pets.  They aren't as smelly as many rodents.  They're smart and aim to please.  We don't have them up here naturally so I'm not used to them being vermin.  We've seen three wild hares in the last few days.  The peninsula here is very much overpopulated by the Snowshoe Hare.  I really like to see them jump because with their extra long feet they can jump both high and far.  Here's James and Ratty.

In the winter sometimes the sunrises surpass the sunsets.  Here is a January sunrise from the backdoor.
  Hope everyone has a Happy and Blessed Easter.  He is risen!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Green Paint for the Living Room

Today, Marc and I finally got a chance to go to the paint store together to pick out a new color for the living room.  We looked at all of the shades of green and asked each other what our fav. color was.  It was Island Vacation Green :)  Maybe we're both longing for a bit of an Island Vacation right now.  It is so nice to agree.  I guess great minds think alike and fools seldom differ.  I'm so excited to paint.  It's warm enough now so that we can open the windows.  Even the no VOC paint has fumes because the colorant still smells.  It shouldn't be too bad.  Stay tuned for pictures.  It will be bright and green and cheery! 

 I'm watching the Cottonwood trees in the yard.  The buds should be coming on soon.  I want to pick some and make a propolis ointment.  I haven't made it in a few years.  It is fantastic for aching wrists and carpal tunnel.  I'm going to hunt for my recipe.  I've already saved and washed out empty spice tins.  Mom, do you remember hanging off of the bridge picking the Cottonwood buds?  The boys want to get chickens, but last year a hungry grizzly ripped into our pen and snacked on my feathered babies. :(  Most people here say you need an electric fence.  I don't like the noise or cost of those so will have to do some research.

  I'm making soap tomorrow. :)  I've saved up and dried my rose petals and am adding them in.  Nico went to T-Ball tonight.  He's really enjoying T-Ball.  Who knew?  James wants a goldfish for his birthday.  I still have my little tank.  I think he'll do well with one.  He wants a black and orange fish.  Vincent finished his homemade book.  He and Marc were reading it.  Roy is working on his English Literature class.  Yay!    I'm really proud of Rosie for winning 2nd in the cooking contest.  She promises to make me Chicken Piccata(?).  It sounds delicious!  

Wish List for the Yard
Sitka Roses
Red Currant Berries
Maybe Blackberries (a friend saw some last year)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Boys Coloring Eggs Easter 09

On a Sunday the Merry(?) Month of March

I'm taking it easy today. This cold is sure a long one. The buds are fattening up here on the trees. James, age three, wrote Mom and Dad today. He asked what to write. I told him to write an M and and O and then an A and a D. He did those all on his own. I had been worried about him learning his letters, but he's up on that. I guess he's a writer. :) I'm proud!

We've three pet rats, Ratty, Snowy and Gizmo. We also have three dogs (all from dog rescue or the pound) Jack, (a collie, black lab, golden retriever mix), Odie (mostly Rhodesian Ridgeback) and Puppa (a rat-terrier, german shepherd mix). We also have one mouse, Mousie.

Today is part of the Merlin Marathon on SyFy. I am a big SyFy fan since they're having Season 2 of Merlin. Shame on NBC.

I like to clean, organize, make my house "homey" and work on crafts and projects. I love completing a project, craft or goal that I've set for myself. I love flea markets, scrapbooking and hobbies. Can't wait till Spring really comes, the snow melts and I can see which of my plantings made it through the winter. I'm working on finishing my multi-colored scarf. I hope to be done by Wednesday. A Walmart is opening near us in Kenai. It will be the first Walmart here. We are all wondering what they will have and whether or not prices will go down on some groceries and goods here. The cost of living is very high for us here in Alaska. Hello to all and Mom, now you can read this and see what we're up to. How is your doll coming? :) Happy Sunday!