Sunday, December 18, 2011

Win good books!

Go to Food Renegade to win a couple of nutrition books!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book review: The Patron Saint of Butterflies

I read the book mentioned in the heading today. It featured two girls, Honey and Agnes, both raised in a cult/commune known as Mount Blessing. Honey hates the cult, but Agnes wants to be a saint. The two girls had been very close, but are drifting apart. Agnes' grandmother, Nana Pete makes an unexpected visit during a holy week, and discovers a sinister secret about the cult. She smuggles both girls and Agnes' brother Benny away after Emmanuel, the cult leader, does a botch job of reattaching Benny's severed finger, endangering his life. Honey is happy away from the cult, but Agnes wishes she were back in Mount Blessing, and is still trying to be a saint. But Agnes changes, and finally must confront Emmanuel.

I liked this book because it doesn't have ex-cult members becoming atheists upon leaving the evil cult. There was one other book like that but it wasn't as exciting. This book shows Agnes realizing she can be against the cult and still emulate her namesake Saint Agnes.

Random cuteness: Baby Dolphin!

Random cuteness: Kittens nursing!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Melt-and-Pour soap is easy and fun!

I purchased 32 oz of soap base, molds, lavender fragrance, and some dried lavender/orange peel to make soap. So far I have made three batches of soap, two of them lavender and one of them tea tree oil. What I found interesting is that even though the instructions say you can get burned, it is only likely to happen if you use the microwave. Heating the soap to melt in a double boiler is more like when you have a candle at church, and some of the wax drips on to you. It doesn't hurt, but it feels hot. Now the microwave, it will make the soap hot enough to burn you.
You might say that making soap from a melt-and-pour base is not really natural. Granted, there are some strange ingredients in the base, but really nothing that wouldn't be in ordinary soap. It is also possible to purchase all-organic melt-and-pour base at Bramble clBerry. Also you can choose to use only natural coloring and pure essential oils as fragrance. I'm not quite a purist yet with the fragrance, but I'll probably be m when I have more money to buy the essential oils. Someday I want to have a business selling handmade natural soap, hand-dipped aromatherapy beeswax candles, and undyed handspun natural fiber yarns. That would be so cool.

What is Disney REALLY telling your child?

I haven't really posted in a while - maybe because I've been busy spinning and just generally haven't had much to say. But this article really caught my eye and I would like other peoples' opinions on it.
This link tells of the messages in Disney films which are specific to young men. It seems as though in every Disney movie, the men are exalted for being physically strong and large, and are portrayed behaving in sexist ways toward women.
This link shows the messages Disney is showing to girls, which is basically that you have to be pretty, thin, white, etc. I would like anyone reading this post to comment on it about what they think.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adventures in Crafts

Right now I am spinning grey angora (SOFT!!!!), getting ready to knit a Swirl Hat out of handspun garnetted yarn that looks like candy canes, and sewing some red polka-dot slippers. I have three green jalepenos on my plant, which I need to pick soon.

Batt giveaway!

There is this great website called Phat Fiber where you can win art batts! Today they are giving away a Lanitium ex Machina Eternal Love art batt. Go here to enter to win!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wooly Days

I spun, dyed, knitted and felted these fingerless gloves that I hope to sell someday. I am also spinning some Cormo-Romeldale fleece that I got at a fiber festival - check out the pics. I plan to ply it and knit up some nice soft socks. The wool is so dreamy to spin - Cormo is so on my sheep wish list!
In other news, the peas are being eaten and the squash and melons suffer from powdery mildew. I plan to use enzymes to kill the bugs and spray the mildew with diluted milk - heard about the second tip in Grow Great Grub, by Gayla Trail. Great book, she also wrote You Grow Girl. Grow Great Grub is definitely more guy-friendly, and has great tips for growing organic edibles in small spaces. So, what's going on in YOUR gardens and fiber workshops?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Musings of a Teenage Spinner

I am carding and spinning my Suri alpaca outside where my allergies don't bother me. It is pleasant work, when the fiber doesn't get dirty. People come and ask what I am doing, and I try to explain: I am spinning, making yarn. One man remarked that you don't usually see kids my age doing that kind of thing. I know it must look odd, but I like how much more intimately involved you get to be with your fiber than just knitting. It does feel weird, however, that doing what people did to clothe themselves for thousands of years costs me most of my allowance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Green Pastures GIVEAWAY!

Enter here to win $70 worth of Green Pasture products including fermented cod liver oil and coconut ghee.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A dream to spin

I went to the Indiana Fiber and Music festival last week, and got a pound of Cormo-Romeldale cross wool, and 12 ounces of Suri alpaca! I started spinning the Suri and it is tricky, but so soft and such a long staple length, it is just begging to be knitted into something lacy. I am also knitting a sweater from Ethnic Knitting Discovery (the Dutch Sampler Pullover, actually) out of some handspun a friend gave me. Fun stuff!

Milk can't make an optimist fat!

Here's my logic: The cream is low-carb, and the skim milk is fat-free. So it's all safe to drink, and won't make you fat. :)
That is, of course, if you are an optimist.
Her's another one: An optimist says every cloud has a silver lining, but a pessimist says every silver lining has a cloud behind it.
An optimist sees the glass as half full, and a pessimist sees the glass as half empty, but they're in fact both wrong if it is slightly more or slightly less than 50% full.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yesterday we lost our gerbil, Pippin. He had been very sleepy for several days but we didn't think anything of it. Yesterday morning he was hunched over, had ruffled fur, and wouldn't eat even if we tried to hand-feed him. We did some internet research and fed him porridge, which he ate a bit of. We tried to give him some antibiotics for wet-tail but he wouldn't take them. He just got worse and worse and in the afternoon he stopped breathing. He is in the freezer and we will bury him in our garden plot at Blackacre Farm but he really is in pet heaven with our cat Debbie. They are friends because 'the lion shall lay down with the lamb' ought to also mean 'the cat shall lie down with the gerbil'!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cultures for Health Water Kefir Starter GIVEAWAY!

Wellness Mama is having a giveaway from Cultures for Health of water kefir starter! I have never made this but really want to! It is like healthy soda pop.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Foraging Fun - Chickweed!

I just learned how to identify chickweed - lobed leaves, starry white flowers(buds in my case!), fine hair on one side, and lack of sap when stem is broken. It is a bit tricky to pick it out among all the other weeds, but not too hard. I just gathered enough for a batch of sun/moon powered tea. Right now I am drinking sun/moon violet tea (from dried violets a friend got me from a middle-eastern store) and the taste is SO superior to the boiled water version. Chickweed contains natural saponins (you can use it as soap) which break down bacteria (and some people say fat cells too) and other nasties, a general nutritious detoxifying herb.
Today I also made cinnamon rolls - the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but with stevia/erythritol and I added raisins. They were delicious!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Silly critter!

So I had seven garlic plants growing outside in a 5-gallon bucket, right? Well now there are only six, and a hole where one was. I think it was a squirrel or a rabbit. Mom says the squirrel with garlic breath is the guilty one, I say I can't catch a squirrel to check! I hope whatever it was leaves the rest alone, though! Oh, and I planted some parsley which just started to come up!

MadeOn DIY lotion bar kit GIVEAWAY!

Click here to enter a contest to win a $30 value kit to make your own lotion and lip balm! I'm so excited, I love making that sort of stuff!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mini Cows!

Mini Cows!
It turns out that Jersey cows used to be a lot smaller before people started breeding them to be bigger. These mini cows come up waist high and are adorable! They can give 1-2 gallons of milk every day. I want one!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The World According to Monsanto

I just watched a documentary called The World According to Monsanto. You can probably guess from the name what it's about. I learned a lot of interesting and scary things, and lots of things I already knew. Did you know that the idea that GMO crops are 'substantially equivalent' to their conventional counterparts is totally made up? Or that rBGH gives cows mastitis and puts pus and IGF-1 in the milk? Or that small farmers across the globe have their families' health and business in danger because of GMO crops? Or even that Monsanto started out as a chemical company, not an agricultural one? Watch the film here:

What I'm Knitting

I currently have nothing to spin, so I am knitting a top-down seamless raglan pullover out of brown Lion Brand Fisherman's wool. Maybe SOMEDAY I will actually manage to spin enough for a sweater! But for now I can just knit. I am almost done with the first sleeve, and my hair is a mess. You can see me modeling the unfinished sweater. I know it's a bit late for wool sweaters, but the last two years we have had a March blizzard - PLEASE not once the tomatoes are planted!
This post is part of Woolly Wednesdays at Spinspiration.

Friday, February 4, 2011

From old bike part to cool fashion accssory

I saw this nifty craft idea, and my brother was sure willing to donate the bike tube in his room (which also doubles as an exercise stretch band). It is "up-cycled" - hehe, get it? 'Cycled'? Anyway, check it out - and the links with it! You are officially challenged to ascend to the next level of DIY crafting!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Candy Conundrum

As an enemy of refined sugar, I am by extension an enemy of processed candy. But it wasn't always that way. Even now I feel guilty looking at brightly colored yarn and beads that remind me of candy - and enjoying it. As a younger child, the two things that appealed to me most about candy were 1) the variety and 2) the affordability, not to mention 3) the freedom. Saving my own money to buy brightly-colored candy felt like a subtle act of rebellion and something that made me "cool", not like the boring child of a health food nut. It now disturbs me that there are so many "new" ways to deliver sugar into a child's system, such as "sour sprays" and lickable "candy stamps". The parallels between the candy world and the drug world also disturb me - in fact, some people are now marketing methamphetamine in candy form to children.
As a former candy-lover, I hereby offer tips for parents to detract from the lure of candy to their children.
1) Show them other sources of color. Try to get them excited about planting flowers, vegetables, crayons, beads, yarn, etc. I can tell you that color is a key lure of candy, or at least it was for me.
2) Show them other sources of flavor. Have taste-test contests with fresh berries, dried fruit, salty nuts, etc. Explain and demonstrate to them how natural foods are more interesting because each berry/nut has a slightly different flavor. Get them tuned in to this aspect of food. If they absolutely must have a candy at the store, inquire about what it is that makes them want it. If it is a red-hot, maybe sandwiches with tomato soup and baked apples with extra cinnamon will satisfy them. If it is sour, try them on real lacto-fermented pickles (if they are not veggie-phobic like I was!) and homemade lemonade. If it is chocolate, make homemade chocolate that is naturally sweetened. Homemade coconut macaroons dipped in homemade chocolate topped with almonds would make a yummy Almond Joy substitute. Be creative.
3) Give them other ways to spend their allowance money. The stores with gumball machines usually also have similar machines for superballs, which are a colorful, fun alternative to candy. Encourage them to save up for bigger things like toys and craft supplies (if the girls are into crafts, that is) and maybe make charts showing how this much work over this many weeks will earn enough money to buy this . . .
4) Last but not least, educate them about the dangers of refined sugar and artificial flavorings. They will most likely not care. Explain how abstaining from candy and Kool-Aid can help them get better grades in school. Emphasize non-food rewards or healthy-food rewards and don't forget to make occasional treats of homemade honey or maple candies. Explain the difference between good and bad carbohydrates and the importance of moderation. This will work best if said child is interested in science. If they are interested in history, teach them about the sugar triangle and other aspects of the history of refined sugar, emphasizing the unnaturalness. I cannot guarantee that these tips will work, but some of them might have worked for me had my parents tried them, and it is worth a try to tame your child's inner sugar monster.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil capsules Givaway!

Cheeseslave is hosting a giveaway from Green Pastures of CLO/BO capsules. Click on the link for a chance to enter!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Eye Candy

Check out these beaded cuffs by Nelkin Designs!
I won't be buying this myself, but it is fun to look!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Urban Homesteading
This website is about a family in California, where there is a year-round growing season, and they grow 99% of their produce (6,000 lbs) on 1/10 acre (4,000 sq ft)! They also raise chickens, ducks, dwarf rabbits and dwarf pygmy goats. Check it out!

Green Pastures GIVEAWAY!

Click here:
to enter to win coconut ghee and your choice of fish oil!

Quinoa Rejuvelac

The blog Green Fertility has a recipe for quinoa rejuvelac. I tried the recipe and liked it okay, but this run I am using more grain and adding apple slices and grated ginger. The idea of adding fruit was from the book Fresh Food From Small Spaces: The Square Inch Gardner's Guide to Year-Round Food Production. I looked on the internet for a gluten-free version and found the quinoa recipe on GreenFertility's blog. I'll let you know how it tastes, and please let me know if you want pictures.

Felted Wooly Moccasin Slippers

It only took me a couple days to knit these 'moccasins'. I found the pattern on Knitting Pattern Central. I doubled some Ella Rae wool with my scratchy handspun Lincoln, and the result was not too scratchy. For some reason they wouldn't felt by hand so I ran them through the dryer. I will give them to a friend.

Strawberry Soda

No, the stuff in the jar isn't beet kvass. It's going to be strawberry soda.
I saw a recipe for blueberry soda somewhere on the internet. It was cultured using a ginger bug which uses white sugar, but I set out to use whey and natural maple syrup. Only one small problem: we were out of blueberries.
Enter strawberry soda.
I made a syrup of about 2 cups of whole strawberries (I think it would be more like one cup if they were cut up - there were a lot of air spaces) with tops removed. I used frozen. 1 qt of water and between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of maple syrup, boiled, cooled, and tasteless berries discarded. Poured into a quart mason jar and added 2 tablespoons whey and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. I'll let you know in three days how it tastes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grass is for cows!

I like sprouts as much as the next person, but I draw the line at wheat grass. Some health food nuts, especially raw food people, like to drink wheat grass juice. I am not convinced of its benefits and here's why: you can't eat grass unless you're a ruminant. That is a basic fact of life. The juice has the indigestible fiber removed, but think about it - if you need something modern to process it to the point of edibility, how is that food? Food is something you can eat raw. Or boiled, or baked, or fried, etc. All you need to cook something is a pot or pan, a heat source (like a fire) and maybe some rendered animal fat for frying. Or water for boiling. But to juice wheat grass you need a hand-cranked or electric grinder, a complicated modern invention. Did people drink wheat grass juice a a hundred fifty years ago? I think not! If you are going to drink juice, use something squeezable like a lemon. Or cook the juice out. But why on earth would you need to mechanically extract the fiber? That is not natural! Cider mills have been around a little while, perhaps not long enough to be a good thing, but longer than wheat grass juicers. Grapes can be juiced by stomping barefoot in a bin. Lemons can just be squeezed. But wheat grass? Grass is for cows, not people!
However, if you want all the nutrients of grass and more, you can use one of the oldest grass-processing methods known to man: feed grass to cow/goat. Milk cow/goat. Drink raw milk. There's your liquid grass, right there, complete with vitamin C.

Ginger Ale Update

I have tweaked my previous recipe to make the ginger ale fizzier - it happened by accident, really. Here is the recipe, modified from Instructables:
1 cubic inch piece of ginger, micro-grated
juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup bottled lemon juice - the stuff from Costco rocks!)
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons whey (whey from straining kefir makes it extra fizzy)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 quart water
Mix all ingredients in a jar and let ferment for 3 days before sticking in the fridge. Strain before drinking.

Friday, January 14, 2011

REAL food nutrition E-course GIVEAWAY!

Cheeseslave is hosting a giveaway of Food Renegade's Real Food Nutrition E-Course.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Garden at last!

I was worrying about the price of pots for my ambitious container garden, well, I worry no more! My family is renting a 30 x 30 ft community garden plot at Blackacre Farm, so I can plant stuff in the actual ground! I want to grow everything!