A glimpse of our peaceful Saturday afternoon...
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
(Even in the cracks of the cement, ants can be found marching along!)
One of my favorite parts of this activity is that it can be repeated over and over and the adventure is never the same!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
A dear friend gave me a jar of homemade "Soothing Skin Cream" for Claire when she was born. Everybody in the family loved that stuff! We spread it on chapped lips and wind burnt cheeks and noses. It was rubbed it into dry elbows, and scraped knees, and used on freshly shaved legs. Mostly though, I especially loved using it on Claire's cute fat tushie! We use cloth diapers at home and disposables when we have to be out all day. (ughh! I really dislike those days!) And so far Claire has never gotten diaper rash, thanks, in great part, to that wonderful cream. When I realized that we were fast approaching the bottom of that jar, I wrote my friend and asked her for the recipe. I didn't have everything on hand that she used so I modified it a bit and still came up with a very good cream for using on the baby’s rear end.
• 1 cup calendula blossoms (dried or fresh will work fine)
• 1 cup plantain leaves (I collected my own!)
• 2 oz beeswax (Personally I prefer the unbleached kind- it smells so yummy like honey! You can buy this (in the USA) in most Whole Foods type grocery stores.)
• ½ cup olive oil
• ½ coconut oil (For this I prefer the extra virgin kind because it smells yummy too, but the plain old kind you buy in any regular grocery store would work too)
• 1/3 cup water
• Small clean tin or jars with wide mouths to hold your cream
I am sorry that I don’t have any pictures of the process. I made the cream about a month ago, late at night and just wasn’t thinking of taking photos of anything at the time. I like using the double boiler (Bain Marie) method to melt the wax and get everything mixed up.
First: Chop the plantain leaves up into fairly small pieces and stir them into the combined oils in the top part of the double boiler. Then put this on the stove to heat up until it was really hot to the touch (don’t you just love how exact that is? I actually just kept sticking my finger in until it felt uncomfortably hot.) Let that mix steep for about half an hour.
Once that part is finished put the ½ cup water to boil in a small sauce pan. When it reaches a full rolling boil add the calendula flowers and gave it a stir to get them all down in the water. Then remove from heat, cover it and allowed to steep for the rest of the half hour that is left for the plantain leaves.
After ½ hour had passed strain both the plantain leaves from the oil and the calendula blossoms from the water. You should have very green oil and nice yellow-orange colored water.
Now place the oil back into the double boiler and add the beeswax. Keep over medium heat and stir just until the beeswax is almost totally melted. (It is OK if not all of the beeswax is completely melted, if you remove it from the heat and keep stirring, it will finish melting, it is best not to let it get too hot for the next step)
Once the wax has melted remove from the heat and place mixture into a blender. Turn on your blender with the lid in place and open up the little center lid and slowly begin to add the calendula water in a thin steady stream.
This next part will happen fairly suddenly! At first it will just look like a gloppy mess in the blender but as the mixture cools and whips up it will take on a creamier color and get thick and buttery as the water is incorporated. Now you can stop blending the cream and use a spatula to spoon it into your chosen container. The first time I made it I didn’t whip it in the blender for long enough (I thought it looked well blended…) But after sitting in my jar for about 15 minutes the water began to separate from the cream. If that happens to you too, don’t worry! Just put the cream back into the blender and whip it up for another minute or two!
This makes a large batch of soothing skin cream, almost one and a half cups! We go through it pretty fast around here because the whole family uses it. You can always halve the recipe if you want. Just use 2 ½ tablespoons water and all of the other measurements will be pretty easy to halve on your own.
I hope you find this recipe as useful as Claire and I did!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Today Rodrigo and I had a date, a real one, just the two of us, and little Claire ;-). We almost never go anywhere without all of the kids, but today, in honor of our anniversary we left the boys with their grandparents, and went out exploring the town! We had a wonderful lunch and then went wandering the aisles of a couple of antique malls. After that we felt like we needed some fresh air. So we set off to find the local Botanical Gardens. Oh! It was so worth it! We had a wonderful time exploring all of the old greenhouses and potting sheds, and the grounds were awe inspiring! The gardens were built on the site of an old family farm that had been a continuously running (for over 217 years) family business as a farm/plant nursery ever since the land was granted to the family in 1786 by the state of North Carolina. (Before Tennessee was even a state!) It was converted to the Botanical Gardens in 2001. It was such fun imagining what life must have been like on that farm over the years. If you are ever in the Knoxville area of East Tennessee you should really try to make time to visit the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum. Sadly our camera ran out of batteries about 20 minutes after we arrived… so I don’t have nearly as many pictures of all of the wonderful things we saw there today. We didn’t even get one single picture of the two of us together :( But here are a few pictures we did manage to take before we were left camera-less. I plan on taking the boys back sometime soon to spend the day there. We’ll take a picnic and explore to our hearts’ content… with fresh batteries in the camera next time!!!
The gardens were full of paths and pretty stone walls, there were these adorable little round stone houses that looked like they were something right out of a fairy tale. We found “secret gardens”, stone green houses, sunken gardens, and huge virgin growth trees!
Isn't this potting shed just gorgeous? Oh! I was a little jealous of all of those neatly stacked clay pots waiting to be filled! The possibilities...
We even found a greenhouse decorated for a wedding later this evening! So romantic and such a lovely place to be wed. The Botanical Gardens were a wonderful ending to our very happy day together, just the two of us (and baby Claire)…
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Homemade finger paint recipe tutorial
• ½ cup cornstarch
• 2¾ cup cold water
• 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
• ¼ cup cold water
• Small jars with lids for storing your paint (we find it easier to dip the paint out of teacups)
• Food coloring
How we make it:
• Mix cornstarch with 2¾ cups cold water to make a smooth paste in a saucepan until no lumps remain
• Meanwhile soak the gelatin in ¼ cup water to soften until it’s needed
• Cook cornstarch mixture over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture boils and turns clear(ish)
• Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture
• Cool and divide into several different jars for various colors. Stir in food coloring until you have a pleasing color that is well blended.
This recipe makes about 3 cups of paint.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Winter in Tennessee is often hard on me. It is grey and cold and rainy for what seems like forever! At least it feels that way after a while. Within just a few weeks I crave the sunshine and warmth, I start to feel really down and blue after all those days of cold, wet, grey yuckiness. Usually, during the winter, I get outside no matter how pale and weak the sunlight, and no matter how bitterly cold it is just to absorb some of that good vitamin D!
But this year was different. Claire was born at the beginning of the winter, just a few weeks before Christmas time. I’ve had post-partum depression after one of my children. Thank God, I didn’t have it again this time! That was something so horrible; I never want to go through it again! But still with a brand new baby I couldn’t very well take her outside into below freezing winds! And I didn’t feel comfortable ever leaving her in the house while I went outside with the boys to play for a while. My husband never arrived home before dark during the winter months when the sun sets so much earlier. So for half of December, and all of January, February, and even part of March, Claire and I stayed inside. I was still basking in the glow of my “babymoon” during that time which helped some, but I was so happy to see the return of warmth and sunshine!!!
Now Claire and I go outside every single day to play. We walk around our yard and garden. I let her smell the flowers and pet the chickens. She laughs at her brothers’ antics and so do I. We are having fun!
My brother gave me this rose bush two years ago. This spring it is absolutely covered in blossoms! They smell heavenly. I have no idea what type of rose it is, but it is one of the best smelling roses I’ve ever had! Claire agrees!
She thinks it tastes pretty yummy too!