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.

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