Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Enjoying Summer!

Saturday, the first official day of summer found my husband and I out all weekend enjoying the sun. We worked in the gardens, everything is so lush and wonderful with all the rain we've been having.

All the plants are so happy.

and so is the family of boxer turtles we've had living in our brush pile for years.  They were celebrating in their own way.

In the evening my husband lit a fire while I worked on my loom.
I've had a very frustrating time with it, it really needs to be warped differently next year.
But none the less it's so meditative to work on it.

Fist I added a row of woad, next another wool strip,
(you may think it must be cold out for a polar fleece jacket, no it's not but with all this rain our mosquitos are also very lush).

After the wool, I wove in a row of skinny cherry branches, another wool strip and then a row of roses.

So this is the pattern so far, wool strip, dandelions, wool, woad, wool, cherry branches, wool, roses and wool. What's next? If I can find enough St. John's Wort which is named and blooms on St. John the Baptist day (which is today) I like to add a row of that.

I'm still trying to make the best natural mosquito repellent possible before we go camping. This is my next try, catnip!

From this book by well know herbalists they recommend catnip seeped in apple cider vinegar. Let set a week, then strain out the herb and throw it away. Put in a spray bottle.

The authors who I heard speak a few year ago at the National Herb Conference are well respected in the herb community. This book is full of wonderful recipes.

Anyway if your interest read this blurb about why catnip is so good. The only thing is with natural repellents you have to apply them a lot more frequently. The natural oil is very volatile and will evaporate quickly.
Any other ideas Peggy, my herbalist friend?

             Sunday afternoon we took a picnic "up north". The boys just got their new helments

for their new dirt bikes.

                         Michigan is fill with State land full of "two tracks" to ride the bikes on.

                                            Following all our beautiful rivers and creeks.

I hope your enjoying Summer (or Winter) your way!
See you next week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Welcome Summer!

If you ever want to give your house a little "perk up" for any season a quilted table runner is the answer. It's a wonderful way to use some of the new fabrics that are out, (without spending a lot of money) or a large investment of your time.
Last week at my quilt bee we each brought our own fabric and made a new table runner.
My friend Jamie picked the pattern ahead of time and made a sample to show. She used some beautiful Japanese fabric with a great focus fabric for the center blocks and boarders.

I have several winter/Christmas/autumn table runners so this was the time a make a summer one. At our local quilt shop I found these great batiks looking summery.

                                              After cutting the fabrics the piecing begins.

Laura choose to make a festive Fourth of July table runner for her cottage. (We'll be looking for it this fall Laura!).

Jamie made another one with Christmas fabrics.

Joni's with fewer blocks finished into a square for a little table.

                                       Jody's batik fabrics, an elegant one for her dining room table.

Now even though we all spent the same amount of time piecing, there is always one over achiever, Cathy, maybe it's because she works without talking!

Sunday my husband and I took a ride North gathering wild flowers for my herb meeting. Isn't this a cute picture of a small maple tree growing in the curve of a poplar tree.

Our herb meeting was our Summer Solstice gathering. After our long winter/spring we were all ready. We met at P.J.'s farm. Everyone brought an herbal dish to pass and lots of fresh flowers to make into head wreaths.

                       Two kinds of punch, rose geranium lemonade and a fresh berry punch.

                   This is the only time everyone can wear flowers in their hair and no one wonders,

                                                            from our young members,

                                                     to Mother Nature! Isn't she so pretty.

And afterwards we hang our wreaths in our homes for summer. As some of the flower do not dry well I pull them out and add roses from my garden to the wreath.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dyed Red Wool and more Herbal Body products

Every year with one of my quilt bees we have a fabric challenge. We decided what it will be at our Christmas party and it needs to finished by the next year Christmas party. This year we each will be making each member a Santa block. Pieced or appliqued. So you will go home with 6 Santa blocks to put into a wall hanging or a larger quilt. I'm appliqueing mine with wool. I started out with these cute cream wool packets from Primitive Gatherings. I pre mordanted the wool, then first dyed them with madder root, then over dyed with cochineal. I didn't want them to bright.

This is the beginning with more fabric soaking in the dye pot. (OK Deb C. this is the last you'll see of this challenge until next Dec.)

 I have to say once you start making natural body products you get very excited to keep learning and trying new products. One I was very excited to try making was bug repellent. This year the mosquito and ticks are horrible. I studied my books and the web and came up with this recipe using the best of what all the recipes suggested. Last night my girlfriend and my little herbalist neighbor girl came over and we mixed some together. This is the recipe we used. Pouring the ingredients right in to the witch hazel bottles.
                              2 Cups of Witch Hazel
                              15 drop of Citronella essential oil
                              15 drops of Eucalyptus e.o.
                               5 drops of lavender e.o.
                               5 drops of tea tree e.o.
                               1 Tablespoon of cider vinegar.
Mix well and put into a spray bottle.

 We put them to the test, they worked wonderful, better than we hoped and felt great on the skin. Witch hazel is a natural skin astringent. You do have to reapply this more often then chemical repellents with DDT. 
One essential oil they say is as good as DDT is catnip but we weren't able to find it. Next time.

Next we made a herbal skin balm taught to us by P. J. from our herb society. She "invented" this recipe years ago. It is great for dry skin, wrinkles, sun burn, diaper rash etc. I can't tell you how wonderful this cream is.
If  interested this is it:   1 cup coconut oil
                                   1 oz 100percent cocoa butter (1 stick)
                                   6 drops of rosemary oil
                                   10 drops each: tea tree oil
                                    thyme oil
                                    clove oil
                                    basil oil
Place coconut oil and cocoa butter into small coffee can, then put can into pan of water. Slowly melt (do not boil). When liquid is clear, remove from heat. Add oil and stir gently. Pour into containers. Let cool to set.
This is expensive at first to buy all the ingredients but the essential oils will last a long time, you couldn't tell we even used any. Next time we only have to purchase the coconut oil and cocoa butter.
Coconut oil melts at 78 degrees so is quickly absorbed into skin carrying other oils with it.

Along with an abundance of mosquito we have an abundance of roses, I'm collecting and drying as fast as I can with hopes to make another skin cream. I am going to look 10 years younger soon!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Herbal Vinegars and dyed wool

My herbs are lush and ready. I thought I'd try making my own salad vinegars. Everyday, (year round) I make my husband and I salads for work. I'm getting very tired of the store bought dressings.

The first one I started with white wine vinegar, added chives, 1 garlic clove, a spring of thyme and a few black pepper corns.
They use to say let it set in the hot sun for a couple of weeks but now they advise storing in a cool, dark place, testing every once in awhile until you love the taste. Strain and discard the herbs and enjoy.

Next on the list is lemon balm.

White wine vinegar with lemon balm, lemon thyme, chives and black pepper corns.

This is a wonderful older book by Emelie Tolley, it's filled with lots and lots of wonderful herbal recipes.

I used this one for my next vinegar. It's a stronger more robust vinegar.

Made with red wine vinegar, garlic, chives, pepper corns,oregano, sage, rosemary, basil and parsley. Oh my, it sounds good!

 After a week processing, I washed out my woad fabric, I got a nice pinky tan.

The  Full Moon (money) plant gave some interesting prints. The leaves and seed pods barely left a yellow print.

But the wool has blue spots dyed into it. I have no idea where they came from, were they from the stem of the plant that I rolled the wool around? Or were they were left there by a passing Full Moon? That's what I'm going with!

Summers finally made it here and the flowers are beautiful. Have a great week.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo