Friday, August 29, 2014

Defining Organic, why it's better, summergrowing

Doing my Bible study this morning, reading in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 26, I am reminded "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." The last two years have had some odd growing conditions, last year too much rain molded the squash plants and killed them off with little product to show for the season, this year it's been hot and dry, but some things have done better. We had useable peaches for the first time ever, and the pear trees are bending to the ground with their heavy loads, soon ready to pick. Tomatoes are prolific, and I have had a steady crop of beans. Cucumber, not so good, spotty zucchinis but the vines seem to be getting a second wind now. The pantry and freezer are filling up with winter goodies. It's good to know that there is a new interest in gardening, and many people are growing some of their own food now, even if it's just pots of tomatoes and peppers on the porch. I think we are finally waking up to the poison our crops are grown with, and the damage it does to our health. More than 70% of processed foods contain at least one GMO grown crop. When my kids were growing up, cancer in a child was rare, but now we have hospitals full of kids with it. And so many other things too, allergies, asthma, aches and pains, must be time to wake up and get real. Organic foods are defined as grown with ecological balance, conserving biodiversity. No chemicals, fertilizers, herbicides, drugs or hormones. Those have invaded every part of our food supply. Meat and Dairy included, so much of our dairy is full of hormones and antibiotics. Watch for organic versions, they can be found, I love the non GMO little square blue symbol on cereals, milk etc,, more are showing up all the time. I have not had dairy milk in over 40 years, like my almond or soy or rice, and it has more calcium than dairy. There is one thing to watch, some farmers can not afford to be certified, it's an expensive process, so if you have questions, get in touch with your local growers and ask those questions. We even need to watch our personal products, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, cosmetics, read the labels, avoid the parabans, lead, yeah, gets scary. It's easy to learn to make your own cleaning, washing and personal stuff. Have been doing this for about 5 years now. Mostly cheap ingredients like baking soda and vinegar with essential oils added. Make a great face cream I love, and my own face washes and toners. Have been making lip balms with beet root for color, as opposed to lead . There is a very sad struggle going on in our church. Being a big branch, we are governed by higher ups. And they have now passed rules that I can not accept. In order to follow what we know, we are being forced to take our church out of this sect, or accept the rules. I find it sad that man thinks he can change God's rules. And more sad that so many are so apathetic about what is going on. We had a congregational meeting a while back to inform our members of what has happened, and our options. Only a handful of people showed up, so it seems as long as folk can go to church on Sunday and hear a sermon, and go home til the next week, they don't really care about policy. I am fond of our lovely little church and the people I know and work with. But the future is very iffy. I truly hope we separate from the head church and become our own church, staying with our Bible upbringing and beliefs. My grandson was married this week in Hawaii. Wishing he and his lovely bride many happy years!! Keep growing, keep smiling, life is still full of many wonderful, good things.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Out foxing the super market's stategies

Most of us head out with a list, and a plan for shopping and not going broke in the process. But did you ever stop to think that the lay out of the grocery store is meant to part you from your money and good intentions? Where is the milk? At the farthest point away from the front door. And on the way, many end caps with pop, cookies, chips and needless snacks, to get you to pop a few into your shopping cart. Produce is usually at the other end of the store, taking you past other tempting items you didn't come in for. The stuff they want you to buy is almost always at eye level. I only get two brands of cereal, Cascadian Farm and Kashi, both organic and GMO free. And where are they? Bottom shelf where you would not see them if they are not your usual brand. Oatmeal is also on the bottom unless you are into the packaged sugared pop in the microwave type. At eye level are all the highly colored, sugared not good for you stuff. More money in those. If you venture into the center of the store, like the baking area, it takes some real searching to find the organic flour and sugar and baking items. And oil, well, one big brand that starts with an M says its better than olive oil for your health. Disregard that statement. Corn is grown with heavy amounts of Round-up and poison sprays, most corn in this country is not safe. Olive oils bear watching, a lot is cut with other oil to make it cheaper so you will buy it, a good quality imported oil is on higher shelves and pricier. At the front of the store you may find the bakery, with it's incredible smells, pulling you in for fresh baked bread, fried doughnuts and other goodies. My hubby was a baker for over 45 years, I know what goes into those doughnuts. He did make incredible breads that were good, but the fried stuff was never good for you, the frying lards get used for a very long time, adding more in as they get used up. Walked in the back door to go to work one day when I had not eaten, had done my gardening and headed to town to be with my daughter who was in the hospital, then headed to work starving. Grabbed a doughnut which was not my usual fare, and got really sick. Have had no taste for them since. The center part of your store is all processed stuff, which most of us are learning to avoid. Every one of those boxed or canned items contains at least, at LEAST one GMO item, some more. By now we should all be aware that most health problems are caused by what we eat. Choosing Round-up and spray laced foods causes gluten intolerance, ADHD, cancer, arthritis, and so many more ills its just scary. Eating good stuff can be done, it may cost a bit more and take a little more prep time, but the taste of fresh, home cooked stuff is well worth it. Think about a slimy can of spinach compared to a bowl of lightly steamed fresh, mmm. Arm yourself with a list of must haves, and be sure to eat before you shop. It makes a big difference. Don't be tempted by all the junk stuff placed so you can't miss seeing it. I know everyone can't have a garden but once again, I am grateful for ours. My son brought me a bouquet of fresh flowers this am, he uses ones that deter bugs, plus tomatoes and fresh rosemary, oh how good that smells. Was watching the news early this morning and Dollywood and Pigeon Forge are already putting up Christmas decorations. It takes them a long time because they do so many but it still seems really early for that. Have been giving some thought to things for grand kids but that's about all we buy these days, us grown ups have way too much already. Love pictures, calls, and emails and cards, and those require no place to store. Looks like a very hot week coming up, getting to that part of the summer. It's been cool for the most part, so far no need for the AC. Hope to get through the next few weeks without it too. SO, make up your list, have a meal, put on your blinders and hit the store. Happy shopping.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Home made slime for your kids, peach jam, lip balm and chatter

For a long while now, my car has been sounding pretty bad. Squawking and squeaking as I drive, the dogs hear me coming from a long way off. Not sure what it might cost for repairs, I have put off getting it looked at. But it has been so bad lately, the thought of the exhaust system falling off became a bigger scare. So I took it to a welding shop this am, and was pleasantly surprised. Seems there was a heat shield of some sort that lost some screws and was sitting on the exhaust system, causing all the racket. A few minutes, a couple of screws and 10 bucks later I was on my way. Snuck into the driveway without a bark to be heard, funny, now it does not seem like my car it's so quiet, love that. Our peach tree yielded some gorgeous fruit this year, for the first time ever. I made several rounds of peach jam. It was so easy, 2 and a half pounds of peaches, peeled and pitted, a teaspoon of lemon juice over that, stir in 2 pounds of sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn heat way down, skim off foam and simmer to reduce by half. Put into hot sterilized jars, screw lids on tightly and turn upside down til cool. Came out to be very tasty, something to share with family for the holidays. Also tried a new lip balm this last week. I am allergic to coconut in any way, inside or out. So this was worth trying. In a glass measuring cup put 1/4 cup of grapeseed or apricot kernel oil and 1/4 cup of shea butter. Heat til quite warm, add enough beeswax( I use pellets) to make 3/4 of a cup, and heat in microwave til beeswax is melted. Stir well, add a few drops of peppermint oil and I added some beet root powder, hoping for pink. Using a funnel I poured it into lip balm tubes. It worked well but the beet root powder settled out and did not make the color I had hoped for, suggestions appreciated. You could also try cocoa and orange oil, or other combinations for flavor and color. Next time I will try the cocoa. Do your kids like play dough type of products? Here is a slime recipe they will love, and its safe, even if they should eat some of it. Maybe. The Elmer's glue is not recommended for eating. In a container, put 1 T Elmer's glue and 1 T water, mix. In another container put 2 T borax and 2 T water. Mix that well, then combine both containers, adding color if you wish. Would be nicer green, or red. On second thought, discourage eating. Did you know sugar is considered addictive? As much so as cocaine and every bit as deadly for your health. Try and back off the amount you use, go for plain iced tea and water to drink and eat less candy, cookies etc. It's hard as so many products are laced with sugar to get you hooked on them and you don't even realize the amount you are taking in. Another reason to stay away from processed foods. Not only are there GMO's in them but added sugar and salt that you may not find listed. My husband was diabetic and we were told he could not eat anything out of a can or box. Cooked beans from scratch and bought fresh foods and did quite well. And the bonus is you find out how much better real food tastes. Really spoils your craving for mac and cheese out of a box etc. And a last thought for the upcoming winter. To use for cough and sore throat. Most of us have a spice jar of thyme in the cupboard, I happen to grow my own but what you buy will work. Put a good amount, maybe 1/4 cup into a teacup, pour a cup of boiling water over it and add the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and 2 T honey. Steep , strain, and use every few hours. 2 teaspoons at a time. Funny, our ancestors knew and used herbal cures way back when and now we are finding a resurgence of use as the meds we are given prove to have so many side effects. I have been doing some online herbal classes the last few years, plus using the computer to pull up and read information on things I hear about. Not a big techie but sure find my computer can be a great learning tool. I would rather give up tv than my good old computer. Hope you are enjoying the end of the summer weather, it's been lovely here, upper 50's to around 60 at night and mid 80's during the day. Open windows, blankets at night and a fan for the daytime. Take care, stay well, never quit learning. Keeps your mind working and focused. Until next time!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Thoughts, recipes, early Christmas ideas

It's cool this morning and drizzling rain, nothing heavy but makes it feel nice. For the first time in all the almost 14 years I have lived on this mountain, the peach tree in the front yard is heavy with lovely, blush colored peaches. Tried making some peach jam, and because the peaches are super sweet cut back on the sugar, not so smart. Next round will go with the recommended amount. Yesterday was voting day, it was a lovely sunny morning and I hope we made a difference, time to sweep out the debris and get better minds into office. By now you must be aware that anti bacterial soaps and cleaners are not good to use, don't allow you to build up a tolerance to the stuff around you. Here is an easy recipe to make, that's safe for you and your babies. Put 16 ounces of castile soap( Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs) into a container, add 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel, 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin and if you want it scented, add 6 or 8 drops of essential oil of your choice, though it is not needed. Mix, pour into a saved pump container, and you are good to go. I have found some rose scented castile soap I really like, which makes it very pleasant to use for this kind of thing. If you like lemon extract, it's easy to make your own. You need 3 lemons, zest them and put zest in a bottle, use 90 gram vodka to cover, use cork to seal, not metal lid, and steep for 2 weeks on your cupboard. Can use right out of the bottle, zest sinks to the bottom. Before you know it, the holidays will be here, school has started so we will be looking at all the upcoming holidays as gauges. Here is a thought for your friends and family, dryer sheets and fabric softeners are mostly toxic so make a set of dryer balls. All you need is a skein of 100% wool yarn. Make it into a golf ball sized ball, put it into the toe of a sock and bag tie shut, wash and dry with your next load of laundry. Then add more wool, making the ball about tennis ball size, repeat the wash /dry cycle. This felts the wool so it will stay stuck together. Instructions are to toss into dryer with clothes, static free and soft. A set of two is a good idea. A nicely scented front door wreath can be made by cutting a circle the size you want from cardboard, making it like a wreath with center cut out, and hot gluing cinnamon sticks to it, starting at inner center and working your way out. Add a festive bow and hang. Think I might add some whole cloves too. Flavored oils are easy to make and in a pretty container make a great gift. Be sure to use dry herbs, fresh will cause bacteria growth and be unsafe. Use 2 and 1/2 cups of olive oil and add the herb of your choice, 6 to 8 sprigs dried rosemary, or dried thyme or if you like spicy, 2 dried chilies and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. You can experiment, use herbs you have on hand and like. Just add to the oil and put in a large flat skillet, heat until bubbles form around the edge, take off heat, cool and put in pretty bottles adding ties and tags. (funnel helps) Our family is big on home made useable gifts, we all have so much stuff we don't need more to find a place for. I usually have a cupboard full of creams and salves I have made over the summer, and lip balms etc. Gifts in jars, like soup mixes and brownies or cookies are always nice too. It's a good time to start thinking ahead to the holidays so you are ready by December and not left with a ton of last minutes rush-rush shopping, maybe not finding what you really wanted. With school started, it begins to feel like fall, though we are hoping for a longer summer and growing season. Some things have had a hard time this year, like greens. Too hot. Getting lots of beans, and now the new potatoes are useable a few at a time. There are many pears to ripen as the next month goes by, which will become pear butter, sauce and just canned pears. Nice to be able to grow a good amount of what we eat over the winter. Have a great week, enjoy summers bounty while you can, find a farmers market and get some great produce. See you next time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lots of recipes, for toothpaste, thinning hair, chalk paint , oh my

It's been a great week. Had a big storm come through the area Sunday evening, over 2 inches of rain but the severe stuff missed us, I am convinced the mountains spread themselves around us and become protective bulwarks. Not far away, there was wind damage, power out, trees down and a tornado in one county. So again, we were blessed. And since then, the weather has been just super, very cool, new record at night, in the 50's, not been there since 1874. Days are very comfortable, anywhere from 70 to 82, just about perfect. If I could choose the best weather to have always, it would be this last week. But like all good things, it will end, we have upper 80s and 90s coming back in another week. For the moment, will enjoy the windows open, cool breeze and cool temperatures. My sis from Nebraska and her hubby have been here a couple of times this last month, on their way to VA and on their way back to Branson and home. My porch and front deck are about 12+ years old, and despite coating, scrubbing etc, beginning to look old. My son power washed the back porch last week, and I scraped off the rest of the paint. This time I used a deck restore that fills in the cracks in the wood, you pick a color, I went with Beechnut which is about the color of new wood and our red clay dirt. Thanks to the help of sis and Bob, two coats of finish are now in place and the back area looks great. Still have some work to do, bushes to clip etc. and the big front one to go but will be a bit before I get to that one. Thanks for the help!! Ran across some recipes to share. Is your hair thinning? Try tossing equal parts of fresh rosemary and olive oil in your food processor , mush it up and store in jar, rub it onto your scalp before a shower, at least 10 minutes. Try every day when you shower and see if it will make a difference. How about sensitive tooth paste? This will refill small holes and heal to some extent. Mix 2 T coconut oil, 2 T baking soda, 2 T calcium magnesium powder, 2 T green stevia (can use white) 2 t sea salt and 20 drops of peppermint oil(essential). Thinking Christmas gifts yet? How about some peppermint scrub? Use 2 cups white sugar, 1/4 cup of good oil, coconut recommended, I am allergic so would use jojoba or apricot kernel, they say red color but I use a tad of beet root powder, and 10 drops of essential peppermint oil. Put in fancy jar Speaking of jars, if you take vitamins, the bottles are not recyclable here. Funny green things in my case. But I saw a bit on Pinterest where they took those old bottles, glued a knob to the lid, and painted the whole thing with chalk paint which will stick to the bottle. Decorate with raised glue gun pattern before painting, or whatever strikes your fancy, add bows, bead strings etc and you have nifty storage bottles. You can make your own chalk paint by mixing sand free grout with water into a paste, then adding flat latex paint in your choice of color. It needs to be thick. I found some craft paint by Folkart, multi surface, dishwasher safe that also works., And its colored already. Says it works on plastic and it seems to be okay. Went to town at dawn this am, rain is predicted for today but the sun is shining. Another great morning. Now I am getting my quota of coffee, don't drink but 1 small cup before I head off to town, funny, it seems to be a liquid that I only borrow for a while. Made my first round of pickles, watching the peaches, some are beautiful now but not sure if they are buggy, wormy etc. If any one knows a good organic way of spraying them, please share your recipe. Have a great week, it's almost time for those kids to head back to school, seems like a very short summer this year. Take care, stay well.