Living in a nearly 300 year old house, my husband and I are always hoping to find some hidden treasure in our house. It doesn’t have to be treasure in the “someone hid a box of gold in our floorboards” sense, but something old, something interesting, a box of historic letters would be cool. Sadly, in 3 years of ownership we’ve not found treasure. There are some very old license plates wedged somewhat permanently into a crevice in our basement, but that’s about it.
But! A few weeks ago my husband and I got the bright idea to pry open the door on one of our old chimneys. The chimney itself was long ago cemented off, but we had a thought that maybe we could rebuild it and put another wood stove out there. Plus, I’m insatiably curious. If there’s a door, I want to open it. If I can’t see something, I want to peek. So with pretty minimal convincing (my husband shares my desire to peek inside things) and some WD-40, we opened her up. Continue reading
This year we added bees to our little backyard homestead, using the awesome services of the Best Bees Company, since I have no idea what I’m doing. Two exciting developments recently with our bees. We got to witness an awesome (in the awe-inspiring sense of the word) swarm, and our bees are so happy and prolific, Best Bees recently added a third box to give them more room. We also reportedly have loads of honey, although not yet ready to harvest. While I still hope to learn beekeeping, this is pretty much the best way to have bees as a total noob – I get all of the joy and pleasure of having bees with none of the actual work. It gives us yet another way to help support local pollinator populations, and we get honey. Win. Continue reading
The gardening/homesteading blog conundrum: in the dead of winter I’ve got nothing but time to write about the garden, in the actual gardening season I’m too busy outdoors to post updates! Despite actually having a fire in our wood stove for a few days in early June, spring/summer has finally arrived and things are starting to grow. Nothing too exciting happening yet although my bucket potatoes seem to be thriving. The best part this year is that the strawberries just won’t quit.
This is my haul from today. Similar harvests yesterday and the day before that and the day before that and the day before that. Strawberries love hugelkultur. And maybe my new beehive has something to do with it too. I bought these plants 3 years ago for 4.99 for 10, expected nothing from them, and basically neglected them ever since. Apart from planting them in modified hugelkultur beds (rotting logs covered in soil) I have given them next to no love. And this is how they repay me:
I can’t keep up with all the strawberries this year…
Raggedy and neglected, but so happy
I’m taking this as proof that all the rigid instructions for growing strawberries “properly” that I read thoroughly and then promptly ignored as not in line with my lazy tendencies, are not necessary. Lazy gardening FTW.
Here we go again…
As part of my ongoing quest to live a life that is more sustainable, I’ve been implementing a few changes to further lessen our family’s footprint. This week I’ve finally gotten around to hanging up an outdoor clothesline, and I’m making the effort to switch to washing most of our clothing in cold water only. What this means is that my trusty and tested powdered laundry detergent isn’t going to work. Like at all. So I set out to make a great big old batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent. I used the recipe from Wellness Mama, because it seems to be a pretty common and popular method. Check out her site for the full directions and measurements.
I can’t report on efficacy yet, because strangely for someone with pets, kids and a gardening habit, I actually don’t have any major laundry to do today. I’ve got one load in now, because my son had a small overnight accident – woo hoo! So, my first test will be on how well it gets out urine smells.
I do have a few thoughts on the process though, and the final resulting product. Continue reading
Updates time! I’ve still got a million unfinished projects in the garden, but some of them are gradually approaching something like completion. Progress has been derailed by work and life and general chaos, but it’s getting there.
We turned an empty raised bed into a multi-layer strawberry tower, because my dog keeps using the existing strawberry bed as a toilet.
Beginnings of a strawberry tower thingy
I planted an ungodly amount of potatoes. All in containers of various kinds due to the aforementioned dog.
Potatoes sprouting in the cupboard. May as well plant those too!
Some potatoes went in a giant garbage can that already had holes in it because it had a previous life as a compost bin.
Some potatoes went in pretty containers, because I can’t always be function over form.
As promised, I’ve finally found the time and space to both make another batch of herbal tallow cream, and take pictures and write up the process. This time around I was assisted by my enthusiastic helper Beatrix so photos of every step didn’t happen, and my measurements that I was trying to be SO precise with were all over the map. Like why did I even bother using my digital scale? I should have just hurled things in a pot and been done with it. But, even with the measurements not being super accurate, the cream came out great! So even if you kind of fudge things, or get distracted, this cream should turn out okay.
The great thing about this cream is that these herbs are all pretty gentle, and are considered safe for children (if you recall I made this for a young neighbor with psoriasis). Since Beatrix is OBSESSED with creams of all kinds, I feel okay about her slathering this one all over herself.
We have a little neighbor (as in she’s a kid, not exceptionally short) with dry, painful, cracking hands from psoriasis. I mentioned to her mom that tallow is supposed to be great for psoriasis, but that I didn’t know for sure. But I said I’d whip up a healing cream or two for her daughter to try. I gave her a tallow lotion bar and threw together an herb-infused cream using tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, lavender, chamomile, and calendula (also trying a new method for whipping up body butter type lotions!). Initial feedback: she says her hands felt SUPER soft afterwards and haven’t felt like that in ages. Hooray! So. I’m going to whip up another batch for her soon and actually take pictures this time so I can share it with all of you.
But in the meantime, if you’ve got access to tallow and itchy, dry, eczema or psoriasis prone skin, give one of my previous tallow recipes a try!