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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rhubarb-Orange Marmalade

So this marmalade came into being because we have a LOT of rhubarb. Last year, at the beginning of spring, my husband and I split our plant into 8 smaller plants. We gave away 4 of them, and kept 4. Those divisions were fairly large and now I have 4 huge plants.

My rhubarb is green. It's a Victoria-type that's very sweet, very tender and tends to have thinner stalks that get very long. The bottoms are red, but the lengths are a celery green.

Those oranges are fairly large oranges.

There are a lot of recipes for orange-rhubarb marmalade on the internet. They call for various cooking methods and varying amounts of the ingredients. Sometimes they have nuts or spices in them. Our recipe is fairly simple, but it's really tasty. My daughter did the cooking. I did the harvesting and gave her the recipe.

Rhubarb-Orange Marmalade- makes 3 pints of marmalade

You will need:

7 cups of  rhubarb  (12-15 stalks)
2 large navel oranges
6 cups of sugar
2 cups of water

Wash your fruits. Anything that you grow yourself and you know what gets on it, you can decide how best to wash it. For oranges from the store, wash with a bit of soap and water. For store bought rhubarb, dunk it in 1:4 vinegar water mix, scrub lightly, then rinse.

Zest the oranges into a bowl using a paring knife, microplane or vegetable peeler. After that, cut the orange into quarters, and cut off the peel and pith. Then cut the quarters in smaller pieces and put them in the bowl.

Cut the rhubarb into half inch pieces. This might require cutting them in half length-wise then chopping them into smaller pieces.

Put the rhubarb, oranges, sugar and water into a heavy bottomed 5 quart pan and bring to a boil. Turn it down and let it simmer for about an hour stirring frequently. It will thicken. Check it by lifting the spoon, when it sheets off the spoon, it's ready.

While you're doing that, prepare your jars. We used a combination of 4 oz jars and those gorgeous Ball Canning Elite Jelly Jars that are in the photo.

Fill the jars leaving a 1/4 inch headroom, remove bubbles, wipe rims and process jars (hot water method) for 10 minutes.

This makes a lovely, tart and sweet marmalade that is delicious on pancakes according to my daughter who is eating some just that way right this moment. Me? It's hard not eating it just by the spoonful, but I'm looking forward to trying it on chocolate ice cream.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Natural Plantain Anti-Itch Salve

Natural Plantain Salve Recipe

I used the MB2E from Magical Butter to make this salve really easily- but I'll include instructions for making it without using the machine too.

The Magical Butter machine is meant for making butters and oils using various botanicals. The way it works is just fantastic for salves made from wildcrafted ingredients.

Plantain- not the banana type fruit, is one of the most common weeds in the USA. It likes disturbed soil like driveways and stuff- or in my case, my deliberately weedy yard. The only thing that's been used on my yard in the 16 years I've lived here is a lawn mower.

It's fantastically soothing for itchy skin. I am not a medical professional or a scientist, this is my opinion and this works well for me.

So the first thing you'll need to do is find a fair amount of plantain.

Fortunately, I have a broad swathe of it in my yard.

Pick about 3 cups of healthy leaves.

Rinse them, put them in a salad spinner to dry, then spread them in a single layer in shallow pans to dry until quite crisp. 

When they are dry, it's time to collect your materials. 

You will need:
  • 1 packed cup dry plantain leaves
  • 4 cups pure olive oil- don't bother with extra virgin. I don't for salves!
  • 3/4 cup grated beeswax OR beeswax pellets
  • jars and tins for the finished salve
  • strainer of some sort (the MB2 comes with a straining bag) 
  • Pans, double boiler set up OR an MB2 
  • measuring cup with a spout
If you're using a pan- 
Combine the oil and crushed leaves in a pan.  Simmer over a very low heat for 4 hours. 
Strain out leaves. The oil should be green.
Set aside. Set up double boiler with at least a 6 cup capacity. Mix the infused oil and the beeswax and melt together, stirring often. Pour into tins and jars. I find it's easier to pour from a spouted glass measuring cup and have a 4 cup one. 

If you're using the MB2-
You'll put in all the ingredients. Crushing the leaves is not necessary.
Then set it at 130 degrees and for 2 hours.

The MB2 has a blender in it and it stirs and blends as it works. The botanical matter is shredded into a fine paste. It will beep when it's done.

Set up the included Purify Filter, and put on the LoveGlove to squeeze all the oil out. 
Then you'll pour it into tins and jars.

Label the tins and jars with the date and type of salve you've made. Keep in a cool dark place, but also keep one in your car for bug bites and quick first aid, and keep one in your medicine cabinet. 

Clean up is a cinch. The Purify Filter can be hand washed, the MB2 has a self-cleaning cycle. Just follow the included instructions.

No affiliate links. This is just something that makes me very happy and I thought you should know about it. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Another Swirly Mandala to print and color

swirl mandala to print and color- blank available

Yay! It's June!

I'm still working on the Bill of Rights coloring page for this month, but have been playing with swirls again. I hope you enjoy this mandala to color!

Click the images below for blank versions to print and color.

Small jpg version:
Swirl mandala to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png formats

Large transparent png version:
Swirl mandala to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png formats

Monday, May 29, 2017

Wedding Ring Quilt Boxes

Double Wedding Ring Quilt Printables

I've been going out walking with my husband every night and bringing my camera. Last night, I took this photo of chokecherry blossoms at the local park-
Alaskan chokecherry tree

I loved the colors in it- so used it as the palette for this simple double wedding ring patterned set of boxes. I hope you enjoy them.

Click images for a larger version. print on card stock, cut out, score folds, fold, glue.

Wedding ring printable box 2x2x2
Wedding ring quilt printable box available in 2 sizes. #printables #papercraft

Wedding ring printable box 3x1x1 
Wedding ring quilt printable box available in 2 sizes. #printables #papercraft

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How to make spruce tip salt

Spruce Tips

This year the spruce tips are coming out a little later than normal. Spruce tips are an easy to forage wild edible that's widely available. They have a green, citrus-y flavor that's bright and my family is pretty wild for it.

Any time you're trying a new wild edible, pick a couple and taste them before harvesting, because you want to make sure you like the flavor! If they need some sort of process to eat- like some mushrooms need to be cooked (NEVER PICK MUSHROOMS UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!) - pick a couple, bring them home, and cook them. Just make a note of where you found them.

Spruce tips can be eaten raw. You're looking for just the tips that come out in spring- they will be a light green and the needles are quite tender compared to the rest of the needles. You pick them like berries, just pinching them off the tree. As with any wild edible, harvest sustainably. There are enough tips that you can collect from different places on the trees, and leave most of them in place.

Spruce tips

These are the picked tips. See that papery brown coating? It slips right off. Take that off, and discard it. Make sure there is no debris on the tips.

Chop up the tips. You could use a food processor- but I don't like even the mild heat that a motor can generate, or how much gets stuck or pasty because of the slight moisture. Chopping a bunch at a time by hand doesn't take very long.

Mix it with white sea salt. In this case, I got some sea salt from an artisan salt maker in Valdez. She gets sea water and evaporates it. I wanted my spruce tip salt to be made using Alaskan sea salt.

I like a 50/50 mix.

 This is just some of the tips added.

Spread it in a thin layer in a baking sheet and allow to dry overnight. The salt helps it dry quickly. Then put in jars.

What can you do with it?
Spruce tip salt is delicious on vegetables, fish and chicken- and probably good on pork. I'm not really a pork eater.

It makes a lovely, personal gift.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Movie Night with G.H. Cretors popcorn (sponsored)

When I got an email asking if I'd like a couple bags of G.H. Cretors "Obsessively delicious" popcorn and a couple fantastic movies for a movie night- I'm going to admit that I didn't hesitate.

I probably wouldn't have hesitated even if the movies weren't movies that I wanted to see because the popcorn is just that good- but one of the movies was one my family really wanted to see and the other was one that people have recommended repeatedly. Both movies were nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

So the package came and the popcorn flavors were going to be a surprise. G.H. Cretors has the following flavors available:

  • The Mix
  • Organic Chili Jalapeno White Cheddar
  • Organic Dill Pickle
  • Just the Cheese
  • Just the Caramel
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • NEW Organic White Cheddar
  • NEW Organic Honey Butter Kettlecorn
  • NEW Organic Salted Butter
I got The Mix and Just the Cheese

So for the first night, we watched Moonlight- which was the movie that TG and I really wanted to see, the one that Mahershala Ali won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.  That night, we opened the bag of The Mix- which is a perfectly balanced, not too sweet, not too salty mix of cheddar popcorn and caramel popcorn. 
Look at that! The shiny candy caramel and the perfect cheddar! It was delicious. 
My daughter curled up under the blanket they sent, and I curled up with the tissues. It's a really beautiful movie, a coming of age movie that's gorgeously done in 3 parts. 

The other movie was Arrival, which also won an Academy Award for the Best Sound Editing, and that night was watching with my husband. I opened the bag of Just the Cheese and my husband and I were just wild for it. 
Isn't that pretty? Yes. I took both popcorn pictures out in the sun to get the best lighting possible and cropped them but didn't otherwise edit the photos. 

It's a fantastic cheese popcorn. It's not too salty or bitter, just cheesy with just the amount of cheese. My fingers didn't turn orange eating it. 

Arrival was lovely too, and watching it with my husband was very nice. He's so used to my love for action-adventure, that he enjoyed watching a thoughtful science fiction movie that actually had a plot with me. It's a gorgeous film, with a lot about language and communication and making choices. 

Both movies were about love, without being romantic films. 

The popcorn! Oh my gosh. It's perfectly popped. Nice sized roundish pieces with fantastic flavor. 

And it's easily available. You can find it at Walgreens, Target and loads of other places. Check here for a list of retail locations near you. 

I absolutely recommend both movies and the popcorn. Grab tissue. You'll need it.

G.H. Cretors Popcorn supplied the movies, blanket, tissue and popcorn at no charge. I was not otherwise compensated for this post and all opinions are mine. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

2nd Amendment coloring page- Bill of Rights series

2nd Amendment coloring pages

The 2nd Amendment is the next up in my Bill of Rights coloring page series. You can find the rest (which right now is just the 1st Amendment) HERE.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Click the images below for a larger version to color.

jpg version:
Print and color the 2nd Amendment- available in jpg and transparent png #BillOfRights #2A #Constitution

transparent png version:
Print and color the 2nd Amendment- available in jpg and transparent png #BillOfRights #2A #Constitution

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cottonwood Buds- spring stuff

Geese back in Anchorage
Sorry I haven't been updating. It's spring and my garden calls and the stuff I like to wild harvest is starting to come up.

One of my favorites is cottonwood buds to make a cottonwood bud salve that's just as good as commercial aspirin containing topical creams but smells a lot better for my arthritis.

Cottonwood Buds

Black Cottonwood grows literally like a weed in the Anchorage area. During what my family refers to as "tree sex" season, the fluffy seeds are everywhere, almost like snow in the middle of summer. Really sticky snow that is hard to get out of carpets and drives my housekeeper husband completely nuts on the job. (He recommends alcohol to dissolve the sticky. And patience. And putting up a lot of signs for people to wipe their feet)

But in spring, the branches are covered with buds that will become leaves, and those buds have a fair amount of salicylates in the resin. If you can't identify cottonwood, mature trees have a thick, gnarled, grey-ish brown or grey bark and buds smell medicinal- like camphor. The buds will also leave a reddish-brown resin on your fingers when you roll them between your fingers. When you wild harvest anything- my family goes with a strict 1 in 3 method with everything except willow. So we pick one out of 3 buds on a tree and never the ones at the tips of a branch.

This is widely considered the tree to make Balm of Gilead from, and my ancestors used it as a medicine by dissolving the resin in animals fats.

Well, I'm not going to use rendered tallow or lard for my balm. Fortunately, while half of my ancestors probably had no idea that olives even existed, I can go to the grocery store and pick up olive oil.

Generally you want about 2 parts oil to one part cottonwood buds. My family picks from trees in our neighborhood and goes to state parks- our state parks allow reasonable harvesting for personal use as long as you harvest responsibly and it makes a nice hike.

So you put the oil into a jar with the cottonwood buds then top with a coffee filter or a piece of clean fabric. The reason you use the permeable top is because there is some water in the cottonwood buds and you want that to evaporate. Stir daily until the buds sink. Then leave sit for 1-2 months. That's where I'm at now-
As you can see, as the resin dissolves into the olive oil, the buds are getting more green looking. The oil is a gorgeous dark gold color at this point. In colored jars that's hard to see.

Cottonwood oil is considered liquid gold by the people who use it.

After another month, I'll strain the oil, pressing to get as much oil as possible, and then I'll add 2 tablespoons of grated beeswax/cup of oil to make a balm and melt it gently over a double boiler then pour into some of my husband's old pomade tins and mark them clearly.

It might be too late to pick cottonwood in your area, but there are people on Etsy who sell buds and completed oil, and there is a possibility that next year TG and William may be among those sellers.

This year, this is all for me. :)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

1st Amendment coloring page- Bill Of Rights series

1st Amendment coloring page- available in jpg and transparent png
Today I'm starting a new series that I hope you will enjoy as much as you liked the birthstone/birth flowers series. It will be the Bill of Rights in simple to color patriotic layouts.

The first one is the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Click the images below for a larger version to print and color.
jpg version:

1st Amendment coloring page- available in jpg and transparent png #FirstAmendment #Coloring #1a #Patriotic

transparent png version:
1st Amendment coloring page- available in jpg and transparent png #FirstAmendment #Coloring #1a #Patriotic

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Peace Symbol- coloring page

Peace symbol

It's been a while since I've drawn anything this delicate, but I'm really feeling the spring vibe right now. There are seeds started on my shelves and in mini-recycled greenhouses on my porch and the weather is getting warmer even if there is still a ton of snow.

So I hope you enjoy this simple spring inspired quick coloring project!

Click the images below to print and color.

Small jpg version:
Peace symbol to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png format #hippie #spring #peace

Large transparent png version:
Peace symbol to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png format #hippie #spring #peace

Get this peace symbol on a shirt in my Redbubble shop!

Also just for fun- yesterday my husband took me out to see the ducks because it always makes me smile.

And this one of my little recycled greenhouse seed starters-

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Alien mandala to print and color

Alien mandala  with blank version to color

Oh I hope you like this!

A fun alien mandala to print and color-

Click the images below for a larger version to print and color.

Small jpg version:

Alien mandala to print and color available in jpg and transparent png formats

Large transparent png version:

Alien mandala to print and color available in jpg and transparent png formats

Friday, March 10, 2017

Shamrock printable box

Here's the printable box!! I used slightly different colors for it, and hope you enjoy it.

Click the image below for a larger version, print on card stock, cut out, score fold, fold, glue!

Shamrock printable box for Saint Patrick's Day

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Shamrock coloring page- 2017

Shamrock knotwork

It's that time of year again!!! Shamrocks!

I'll be putting the example above on a printable box in the next day or two.

Here's the coloring page though! I hope you enjoy it! Click on the word shamrock in the tags to see more shamrock projects, click on knotwork to see more knotwork.

Click the images below for larger versions to print and color!

small jpg:
Knotwork shamrock to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png

large transparent png:
Knotwork shamrock to print and color- available in jpg and transparent png

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nevertheless She Persisted coloring page

Nevertheless, She Persisted coloring page

I hope that a lot of you enjoy this coloring page! I'm offering it without commentary, except to say that it's dedicated to my mother, who was a feminist, and raised me to be the same.

All comments on my blog are moderated- that's not just this post. It's been that way for years.

Click the images below for larger versions to print and color.

small jpg version:
Nevertheless she persisted coloring page available in jpg and transparent png

large transparent png version:
Nevertheless she persisted coloring page available in jpg and transparent png

By request- because I posted the original design on my Facebook page for feedback, I did put my colored version in my Redbubble store.
Nevertheless, She Persisted shirt


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