Thursday, December 18, 2008


I'm considering re-branding the soap biz. I want a stream lined look, something memorable, something people will pick up and say "wow! I must have this" (OK, that last bit is what I always want). I'm thinking a Victorian meets steam punk look. Very feminine, but with teeth, as it were.
I am going to have to clean out all the soaps that are currently packaged with the old label/style. Last year I cleaned out the inventory with a huge ass sale on Etsy which was very successful! I'm thinking maybe 3 for $10 rather than $5 each. Stay posted! Fear ye not, I will come to some sort of decision!

I lack creativity when it comes to naming the soaps though. A thesaurus is my best friend.

Here is the current style:
(sorry about the blurry photo)

I really love the tree. It's just so...plain? boring? nondescript?

I need a new name. And new graphics. And new images. And new descriptions. Oh my! I'm open to the universe (or any humans) providing me with inspiration.

Skits off to play with fonts and inspiration

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vegan Mac and Cheese

We have been eating a lot of more vegan food over the last couple of days and I wanted to share an absolutely fantastic dish we had for dinner last night (and lunch today)

The low down...
Vegan Dad's Creamy Mac & Cheeze (As directed. We didn't have any sunflower seeds, so I subbed more raw cashews)
1 Tbs Green Chile Powder
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 bag Morning Star Crumbles (I have a weakness for these)

-Mix everything together.
-Pour into a greased 13x9 pan.
-Top with homemade bread crumbs (ours are, of course, spiked with some green chile powder)
-Bake in a 400* preheated oven for about half an hour.

So. Tasty! Even tasty as left overs!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rather Lazy

I've been rather lazy about updating this blog. Oh my. Hopefully I will have some exciting adventures over the weekend to share.

Current Fermentation Stash:
1/2 gallon organic wine
1 gallon wild fermentation apple cider
1 1/2 gallons wilder fermentation mead
1 pints kimchi
9 bottles wild fermentation ginger beer
1 very large bowl of some scary looking stuff The Boy is wild fermenting
2 gallons kombucha (our last batch was perfect! they keep getting better and better!)

We bought a little space heater to help the fermentation group since we are refusing to heat our house with the furnace this year :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fermentation Madness

The Boy is reading Wild Fermentation and seems to want to make every single thing in it. Since we are short of flat surfaces to store our jars of bubbling goodness we will be putting in shelves this weekend.

Currently bubbling away-
Ginger Beer
Hard Apple Cider

On the short list of things to get started this week-
Sourdough (this is a maybe for me, but The Boy loves sourdough)

We are in desperate need of more glass jugs though. Sunburst Bottles has a great selection of large capacity glass bottles, if we can't source them locally that is where we will get them for future projects.
Oh the excitement of wild fermentation! I love to sit and watch the jars start to spontaneously bubble with no aid from us other than a piece of muslin to keep the flies out. (photos coming soon)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

It's been ages since I was an omni...
Bolding=something I've eaten

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos Rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Woo-hoo! 44% I love food!

Wild Fermentaion and New Fur Kid

I've been a bit MIA lately :) We got a new furbug! His name is Ziggy and he is such a little terrorist! He is a doll, but rather a handful. Here is a photo of him while still at our local Animal Services Shelter (he is an ex-stray)
(Can you see his little goatee? So cute!)

After reading several stellar reviews of the book Wild Fermentation, I just had to get it. It's a brilliant book! I read it in one day and we now have two (not including our kombucha) wild fermentation projects going! One is a hard apple cider and the other is ginger beer, both are starting to bubble and do their fermentation dance. I'm so excited about this project! I've been taking lots of photos, so hopefully a how-to/step-by-step post for ginger beer will be in Herb-Cat's future...

Monday, November 3, 2008


These are the best "meat"balls ever. All measurements are approximate, I usually don't measure things.

-4 eggs
-1/4 cup dried minced onion
-3Tbs vegetable broth powder
-1/4tsp onion powder
-1/4tsp dried parsley
-1/8tsp black pepper
-1 tsp minced garlic
-2 cups grated cheddar cheese
-1 cup homemade bread crumbs (recipe to come)
-1 cup finely chopped walnuts (we use the food processor)

1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Lightly oil a baking sheet and preheat oven to 400*f.
3. Roll mixture into meatball sized balls (or what ever other shape strikes your fancy at the moment).
4. Bake for about 20 minutes until they are nice and crispy (don't get them too crispy, they are rather nasty when they get too dried out).
5. Nom. Or you can freeze them (on a baking sheet in a single layer then put in a container) and nom them at a later date. They freeze very well!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homegrown Evolution has a nice post about today, and I thought I would join the r/evolution! I even started my own group to discuss gardening here in the crazy SW. Please join us! Let us embrace the urban gardening r/evolution!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids"

Hard times have some flirting with survivalism. Interesting article. I want to stock up on our beans and rice supply in the very near future. Not because we are extremists. Rather, just to be prepared for any "uh ohs" in the near future. Beans and rice make a myriad of delicious dishes, they are cheap, and they have a very long shelf life. Once we get the garden producing more that just jalapenos, I will feel more confident in the availability of our food at home.
The article mentions SurvivalBlog. I think I will spend my day reading that. Information is power....and all

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend Update

Another relaxing weekend has come and gone.
We did more garden planning and research...two raspberries to go in the front courtyard area. The blueberry bush to go in the front yard. The blackberry to go behind one of the sheds. This coming weekend we are going to get a shovel (the last one died a very dead death), a wheel barrel, and some more steer manure to make the beds ready for their new berry friends.
We rearranged the living room (again), I think we have finally got the set up down. We desperately need more bookshelves! One day one of us may be crushed in a book avalanche!
Charlie got her teeth stuck on her collar during an attempt to link the thing off. The Boy gallantly saved her; he has the scabs to prove it. Her next collar is going to be leather (with a little skull and cross bones on it) since she trashes everything else!

Some of my favorite posts from this weekend in no particular order:
- I want a hypertufa grot! Like I need a new project ;) Thanks Little House in the Suburbs!
- Whole grain crackers would go great with creamy pinto soup!
- With a little help from my friends. Working dogs and a Beatles nod? You can't go wrong!
- Make your own apple cider vinegar, how cool is that? It seems to be a lot like making kombucha.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Shins

I love The Shins. Truly. Deeply.
For your viewing pleasure "Pink Bullets"...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catching Babies

I just finished a lovely book called Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. Brilliant book! I am considering going into the field of midwifery and this book was great for me. In it she share beautiful birth stories and birth stories that are sad and tragic. The novel chronicles her journey from a nursing student to a privately practicing midwife.

I believe this book helped nudge me more toward a job in midwifery. Who knows how many other nudges I will need to take that first step though.

"From Publishers Weekly
It was in nursing school at Duke in the 1960s that Vincent found her calling: delivering or "catching" babies. She moved to California and became a midwife, specializing in home births; over the course of 40 years, she brought some 2,000 babies into the world. There's a predictable plot structure to most of the stories she recounts: the initial meetings with the pregnant woman, the last-minute phone call once labor speeds up, the coping with contractions, the appearance of the baby's head, the wet newborn, the oven-warmed blankets, the celebratory meal afterwards. Despite the repetition, Vincent's account is a page-turner. It's not just the risk that something might go wrong (meaning a nail-biting trip to the hospital for an emergency cesarean), and not just the quirkiness of home birth settings (which can involve jealously raging house pets or leaky houseboats), but something inherent in the magic of birth itself. What sustains Vincent and her readers is this sense of standing ringside at the greatest miracle on earth. A solid writer, Vincent doesn't preach the virtues of unmedicated birthing; she just lays consistent stories of women doing it Christian Science moms, Muslim moms, spiritualist moms, lesbian moms, teen moms and just plain ordinary moms. With the midwife's axiom "birth is normal till proven otherwise" as a guiding principle, all these women have a chance to make childbirth a crowning moment in their own lives. Male readers may find this female-centered narrative off-putting, and mainstream readers might raise eyebrows at the inclusion of children in the birthing process, but Vincent addresses these issues fairly directly herself. Agent, Felicia Eth. (Apr.)Forecast: With appendices guiding readers to more technical resources, Vincent's latest baby is bound to be popular with women's health and alternative medicine readers. A cover blurb by Anne Lamott could break it out further."

Friday, October 10, 2008


We are back from vacation! It was a wonderful escape from the day to day, full of good people and fantastic food! I hope to post some photos over the weekend.

I've decided to bring my etsy back. I remember how much fun it was to connect with buyers and doing the happy dance when I had repeat customers. Plus, this will hopefully help with my goal of organizing the soap lab!

The holidays are coming up (quickly!) and I urge everyone to buy handmade items (or make gifts!) for loved ones. I took the handmade pledge. Will you?

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Slide Show

Off topic, but I'm proud of myself...check out the new slide show on the right side of the blog! These are pictures from our wee urbanhomestead! Yeah!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thinking Not Doing

1. Plan a garden:
I did more work on the tentative plan (Had to make room for the luffa, after all)
I put all the chicken compost that The Boy got via freecylce

2. Take a formal herbwifery calss:
Nope. I did do a lot of reading though.

3. Choose a major:
Eh. Not yet. The Boy and I did do a lot of talking about it last night though. So that is a start I guess...

4. Learn to tie-dye:
Gr. No. All the stuff is still sitting in the box by the backdoor though.

5. Organize soap lab:
I did a bit of work in there. Only to make room for the new and fun things I bought. I must stop buying things! On a positive note I did craft a wonderful hair mask :)


9. Exercise:
No :( The work I did in the yard has made my arms sore though. So that should count a little.

10. Getting into craft shows:
No. Maybe I'll look into that today.

Note to self: Have fewer irons in the fire.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Project

We started a new project here at the faux urbanhomestead. I'm very excited about it! It took all of yesterday to get the bare bones together, but I think it will be worth it later.
Stay tuned for details :D

Friday, September 26, 2008


This morning I was reading the newest post over at Women Not Dabbling in Normal in which they are responding to a question regarding growing luffas. Wow. I've never even thought about the possibility of growing my own luffas! Following links and doing some Internet searching I came up with a couple more links. Here. And here.
It would appear that the zone we live in is just barely passable for growing luffa. I'm thinking about buying seeds from Local Harvest. Now we need to find a place for it to grow. They need a strong trellis to grow their up to 20' tendrils on. Eek. I'm thinking maybe it could grow over the sheds in the back yard? I don't know how easy it would be to harvest them though. We need more wall to grow all the fun plants on! I'm wary of growing something that may become invasive near our neighbors, as a courtisy thing. I guess they could have their own luffas too though.
I think having home grown luffas for sale along with our handmade soap would be wonderful!

Luffa fruit and flowers from

A ripe/cleaned luffa and some seeds from Rasta Seed.

Luffas are also good at cleaning dishes and other surfaces. One less thing that we would have to buy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Autumn is here! (I know I'm a couple days late) I love autumn! The smell of the changing seasons, waking up when it's still dark out, putting the down comforter on the bed! And soup season is almost upon us! (Pardon the excessive parenthesis use this morning) Green chili stew. Potato chowder. Pasta fagioli. Oh my!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Solar Fiesta

The Boy and I went to the 9th annual Solar Fiesta over the weekend. There were some very interesting booths, and some not so interesting. I love how people have adapted the suns energy for various uses. The Solar Oven, for example, very cool (unless you get blinded by them, then it's not so cool). Breeze Dryer had a booth, very cool stuff. Santa, if you are reading this...I want this one :) or this one. Those are some heavy duty clothes lines!! Ban the dryer, use the wind and sun to dry your clothes! We also met some people from the local Vegetarian and Vegan group. It's always nice to meet people with similar interests. Their pot lucks sound interesting.

Definitely lots of food for thought and ideas for the future!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nom Note Of The Day

I subscribe to Dr. Ben Kim's newsletter and this recipe was in today's issue and it looks to good not to share with everyone!

Healthy Sweet Cashew Cream Recipe


1 cup raw organic cashews or raw organic cashew butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup raw organic honey


1. Combine all ingredients in a strong blender.

2. Blend until smooth. Add more water if needed.

Transfer sweet cashew cream to a glass jar, cap the jar with a lid, and chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before using. Sweet cashew cream will stay fresh in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Please note: If you prefer a thick cream, use less water and pause the blender to give the ingredients a good mix/swirl one or more times.

I haven't tried it yet but it looks so good! And I do have all that raw honey we bought the other day! Time to get cooking!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Virginia Creeper

We have a very evasive plant growing in the back yard (where the evil junipers once lived), and it seems to be taking over the entire property! I put a call out to forum members at a forum I belong to and they have identified the plant as Virgina Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Here is some interesting information I have found, since it seems I am stuck with this fellow.

Herbal: claims it's stimulating, diaphoretic and cathartic.
In India the leaves are used as an aperient, and a resinous matter that in warm climates exudes from the bark of the main stems is considered a useful stimulant, antispasmodic and emmenagogue.
The juice is said to cure headache, when applied to the nostrils.
The fresh leaves of Ivy, boiled in vinegar and applied warm to the sides of those who are troubled with the spleen, or stitch in the sides, will give much ease.

A very interesting article by Henriette and yet another article she wrote.

This bad boy takes over and can climb just about anything.
"Virginia creeper is grown as an ornamental plant, because of its deep red to burgundy fall foliage. It is frequently seen covering telephone poles or trees. The creeper may kill vegetation it covers by shading its support and thus limiting the supporting plants' ability to photosynthesize." Quoted from wikipedia.
Evidently it turns bright red during the autumn. That should be beautiful. Here is a photo I found on the internet to give as an example.

I wonder if ours will turn such a beautiful color? I'm hoping to train (as much as one can "train" a plant) to grow along the East wall to cover up the cinder blocks. Hopefully the neighbors don't mind.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trench Composting

This year we have put all of our soil amending efforts into one of the two veggie beds the house came with. We've airated (we needed to use a pic axe because the soil was so compacted), we've added steer manure and organic mushroom compost. The Boy is on his way to pick up several garbage bags of chicken compost so we can finalize the first veggie bed for the winter.

For the second veggie bed we are going to try trench composting. We've chosen this method because we don't need that second veggie bed for next year (baby steps and all), and we still have a lot of kitchen scraps that the worms can't possibly eat it all.

Photo: Those are our two veggie beds this summer while we were trying to figure out what to do. In the forefront is the bed we have concentrated our work on (ignore the weeds, they are no longer there) to the right is the second bed in which we will be trying trench composting. In the far right top corner (barely visible) is our main compost heap, that should be ready for use this summer.

Quoted from Florida's Online Composting Center-
"Trench Composting is a relatively straight-forward method of composting directly in the soil. This method does not require a bin. Simply dig a trench 8 inches deep in the garden area, fill with 4" of kitchen scraps and backfill with soil.

After a few months, the material will have decomposed sufficiently for planting above the compost trench. For large amounts of material, consider roto-tilling the material into the soil, and waiting a season before planting.

The advantages of trench composting include ease of implementation and its ability to handle kitchen scraps without attracting pests as readily as in sheet composting.

The disadvantages of trench composting include slow rate of decomposition and potential for pests to excavate trenches. Additionally, if the raw materials contain weed seed or plant pathogens, these undesirables will not be destroyed in the trench composting process.

A variant of trench composting was taught to the pilgrims by the Native Americans. You may have heard the story of how Squanto showed the pilgrims how to fertilize their corn crops by burying fish scraps underneath the corn. As the fish composted, nutrients were released for the crop"

More info:
Instructable- not a lot of info, but there is some
Horticulture Blog
Mother Earth News- article on general composting, touches on the trench method

A picture of trench composting from Garden Organic

Now we (I mean The Boy) has to dig a trench so we can get started!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two Years Ago

I met my Boy at Power To The Peacefull 2006. We had never met before. We carpooled together with a mutual acquaintance. After a long and silly adventure we finally got to Golden Gate Park. He wandered off and I grabbed his arm for all I was worth and figuratively haven't let go since. To save you all from having to read my mushyness toward him...let's suffice to say he is my best friend and soul mate.

Ah, but we are celebrating this weekend by going out of town for a couple days which I am very much looking forward to!

(Hopefully we will be able to go to California to Power To The Peaceful 2009. It was an amazing experience.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


The other day I was taking a gander at one of the local papers here and noticed this article on purslane (Portulaca olearacea). I had seen this "weed" in the backyard growing all over the pathway I put in earlier this summer. I put on my internet searching skills and came up with a lot of very interesting information!

  • Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant.
  • It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.
  • In Greek popular medicine, purslane is used as a remedy for constipation and inflammation of the urinary system.
So we decided to try some on the taco's we made last night instead of lettuce. Oh my! That is one tasty plant! It is very crisp (and stays so even on top of hot beans, unlike lettuces) and has a mild, yet distinct flavor. I can't wait to add this "weed" to other meals! It's hard to beat having a free, healthy plant taking over your yard.

Word of caution:
Please carefully and positively identify any plant before you eat it! There is a sneaky purslane look a like that is toxic. Spurge. As far as I have read an easy way to identify the difference between your friend purslane and the bad spurge is that spurge will release a milky substance from it's stems when broken and purslane doesn't. So milky substance (when identifing purslane) = bad

Related articles:
A Guide to Wild Edible Plants for Parents and Teachers to Use With Children Landscaping
Purslane Article
The Joy of Purslane by Susan Weed
New York Times Article

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thinking Not Doing: Week 4

1. Plan a garden.
-The Boy planted the bamboo (pictures to come)
-While he was amending the soil for the bamboo I found a cache of more morning glories. I have no idea where they have come from but they have the most beautiful purple flowers.

2. Take a "formal" herbwifery class.
-I brought several Sage Woman and The Essential Herbal magazines that Cory gave me. Both have amazing information and inspiration.

3. Choose a major, and act on that choice.
-The Boy and I have been talking about opening an all vegetarian restaurant. I think that would be a wonderful project, but not one we are ready for at this time.

4. Learn to tie dye.
-I'm really slacking on this goal. All the materials are in a box next to the back door, I just keep putting it off for some reason.

5. Organize the soap lab, and make space for an herbal lab.
-I went on a "cleaning out the cupboards" over the weekend on a couple products I am making for swaps. That helped a bit.

6. Replace our current refrigerator.

7. Learn to can and preserve food.
-I made and canned mustard yesterday. I think I must have done something wrong though because it is as thin as water. I took a lot of photos so hopefully I will have them up some time this week.

8. Get 24/7 off the ground.
-Voted on logo colors.

9. Exercise four days a week.
-I'm so embarrassed about this goal. We did yoga for about five minutes on day. I spent some time weeding. That's about it though.

10. Be a vendor for two more shows.
-I still haven't heard from the woman I emailed last week. I think it's safe to assume I didn't get in. I wish she would email me so I would know for sure.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Here are some fun photos from our most recent batch of kombucha.


Here you can see the scoby fell to the bottom and folded over on itself. It looked a bit like a tortilla. Notice the yummy bubbles at the top? This was our best batch of kombucha to date.


And a shot from above. Doesn't that look delicious? Ok, maybe not. But it sure makes a delicious beverage!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


My name is Brittney. I am a recipe addict. I have piles all over the house of recipes. I can't stop looking for more to print and try.

For this weekend I want to make (and can!!) some salsa and hot mustard. I'm a picky salsa eater, so it will be nice to make it just how I like it! We also go through a lot of mustard at my casa, it will be good if we can make and store our own.

Favorite recipe sites at the moment-
Post Punk Kitchen

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Three And A Half Day Weekend

1. Plan a garden.
-Emended soil in one bed with 10 cubic feet of steer manure and 4 cubic feet of organic mushroom compost
-Bought the biggest jalapeno plant. The thing is at least three feet tall. A lot of the fruit has turned red (although there looks to be at least 20 green peppers left and many flowers) so I plan on making them into a garland.

2. Take a "formal" herbwifery class.
-This weekend was supposed to be our Wild Food Weekend event, but we had to cancel.

3. Choose a major, and act on that choice.
-Yeah, nothing is coming to mind at this point.

4. Learn to tie dye.
-It rained much of the weekend so we didn't get an opportunity, it was on our list of to-do's though.

5. Organize the soap lab, and make space for an herbal lab.
-I did go through some container boxes and I think I may have come up with a way to use some of them.

6. Replace our current refrigerator.

7. Learn to can and preserve food.
-Not per say. We did make a lunch meat recipe I found on Vegan Dad. I haven't tried it yet, but is smells good (and was very cheap to make!)

8. Get 24/7 off the ground.
-I emailed some stuff to my secret agent.

9. Exercise four days a week.
-We weeded and emended the veggie plot. Not a whole lot other than that though.

10. Be a vendor for two more shows.
-I applied for one to be held in October, I haven't heard back from the venue yet.

All in all this was a great and relaxing weekend!

Friday, August 29, 2008

More Progress

I love when things start clicking into place
The Boy, as I type, is off to pick up our new rain barrel! The prospect of harvesting our own rain to feed our plant friends is so exciting!
We also ordered the bamboo (Semiarundinaria yashadake) for our privacy screen. It will be so nice not to have little kids yelling at us and watching our every move when we are outside.
And I am working on a master-ish to-do list for fun things we need to do around the house. Go lists!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rain Harvesting

I was thinking about rain harvesting today at work. I started doing a bit of research as to where to locate 55 gallon barrels. I popped over to our local Craig's list and there is someone selling a brand new, never been used rain barrel. In my price range! The rain gods are on my side.
Hopefully I will be able to pick the barrel up today or over the weekend.

Cob Oven

I've been browsing the internet for cob oven instructions and information after seeing one on The Path To Freedom site. Isn't it beautiful?
I found some instructions on the Instructable website here. In the article keeps referring to Kiko Denzer's book, which, lucky for me, my local library has! I'm so excited at the prospect of having my very own outdoor cob oven.
Here are some photos of artistic cob ovens built by Kiko Denzer and others for inspiration.

Here is an adorable toad shaped oven from

And a snail from the same site

cob oven from
Another frog oven from

frog oven from
I'm sensing a frog theme. This cute oven is from

cob oven from
I love the mustache! This creative cob oven comes from

And lastly, here is a great article on a community center putting in there cob oven. Southern Cross Permaculture Institute and their oven.

Friday, August 22, 2008


1. Where were you last night?
2. Did you speak with anyone?

3. What were you wearing?

4. What did you eat or drink?

5. Can anyone verify your whereabouts from midnight to 5am?


Wow, it's been since Monday since I lasted posted. Eek.
I've been rather under the weather lately. Stuffy nose, horrid cough, body aches. Bad news. I've missed a lot of work because of it. Also bad news.
Yesterday we hit up our local health food store to get some tinctures (as we have yet to make our own).
I got Kick Start Immune, ingredients are Echinacea root & flower, Goldenseal root, Osha root, Baptisia root, Yarrow flower, Elder flower, Yerba Santa leaf extracted in 55% grain alcohol, veg. glycerine & Rocky Mtn. spring water. It tastes absolutely horrid, but seems to have worked miracles. Yesterday I could barely talk, today I am back at work.
I also got some nettle. I've read such great things about it's restorative properties. I can't tell for sure, but it does seem to help. The Boy tried some yesterday and he said it gave him a wonderful feeling of euphoria, however, now that he's sick, he gets to double up on the tinctures.

So everyone, keep your immune boosting tinctures near at hand. I do believe the sick season is near.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Doing Not Thinking: Week 2

1. Plan a garden.
-He did lots and lots of pruning over the weekend. It's so nice to be able to really see what space we have available!
-Set up our worm compost bin
2. Take a "formal" herbwifery class.
3. Choose a major, and act on that choice.
-Leaning toward a midwifery or something similar. I'm sure it will change next week though.
4. Learn to tie dye.
5. Organize the soap lab, and make space for an herbal lab.
-I did the opposite! It's an even bigger mess due to some liquid soap making experiments.
6. Replace our current refrigerator.
7. Learn to can and preserve food.
8. Get 24/7 off the ground.
-I mailed some stuff :D
9. Exercise four days a week.
-Walked to the Farmer's Market.
-Walked to various stores.
10. Be a vendor for two more shows.
-I may have found an October show. Not sure yet though.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Quoted from Wikipedia-

Vermicompost, also known as worm castings and vermicast, is richer in many nutrients than compost produced by other composting methods. It is also rich in microbial life which helps break down nutrients already present in the soil into plant-available forms. Unlike other compost, worm castings also contain worm mucus which keeps nutrients from washing away with the first watering and holds moisture better than plain soil. For this reason, some fruit and seed pits are reported to germinate in vermicompost easily. Vermicompost made from ordinary kitchen scraps will contain small seeds, especially those of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, that may sprout weeks later.

Vermicompost benefits soil by

  • improving its physical structure;
  • enriching soil in micro-organisms, adding plant hormones such as auxins and gibberellic acid, and adding enzymes such as phosphatase and cellulase;
  • attracting deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil;
  • improving water holding capacity;
  • enhancing germination, plant growth, and crop yield; and
  • improving root growth and structure.
We set up our very own vermicompost bin today! Our regular compost pile is full and ready to be turned nutrient rich soil for our summer planting. However, we still have kitchen waste and paper that we don't want to just send to the land fill when we can use it in a positive way here!
Here is their new nest made of wet, shredded newspaper and used paper. We drilled holes in the bottom so they wouldn't drown.

Here they are in the container from the store.

Ah! Sun!!

An extra layer of dirt for them to nosh on before we can give them scraps starting next week.

Finally! Sealed and ready to eat! I'm glad we got a clear bin so we can watch them and make sure nothing gets moldy, or dried out.

If you want to make your own bin or just want more information I highly recommend (such a to the point url name)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Self Sufficiency

I was over reading at Path to Freedom this morning and happened across their self-sufficiency graph. What a clever way to set goals, and see the progress. I decided to make my own and fill it using theirs as a guide line. Very revealing! We're 50% and above (if not 100%) on most things....except agriculture. We pretty much flopped that category. Hopefully, with all the garden plans for next season we will be able to change that. I plan on making a new graph for each season (I'm a graph and list geek) to track our "progress". Self-sufficiency is very high on our list of goals!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I'm a big fan of menus. I love lists in general, but one's that involve food are my favorite.
We live 3.5 miles round trip from a wonderful little Farmer's Market. So the menu I'm making for the next two weeks (we try and cook once every two weeks) is based on additives we can walk to the Farmer's Market for.
Pizza- I will make the pizza dough and sauce ahead of time. Freeze. When we want pizza we will simply pull out two balls of dough and enough sauce, walk to the Market to buy our toppings.
Couscous Salad- We have plenty of uncooked couscous (very cheap!). We will walk to the Market to buy veggies and beans to put into our couscous.
Veggie Burgers- Again, make burgers and buns ahead of time. Freeze. Walk to the Market to gets toppings.
Assorted Salads- Walk to the Market and get pretty much whatever strikes our fancy.
A Casserole- Make ahead. Freeze. Walk to the Market if we feel like it, but it's not imperative that we go on these days.

We started to do the Once A Month Cooking (once every two weeks in our case) to cut down on food bills, and with the intent of using the extra time to exercise. I can say that OAMC has cut our food bill in half. But on the exercising front...not so much. I hope that walking to the Market will fill in that exercise bit (and keep supporting our local farmers!) and add some raw veggies to our diet.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Doing Not Thinking: Week 1

1. Plan a garden.
We actually did a lot of work this weekend! We took out a couple dead trees and weeded. We also measured the yard and I made a too-scale drawing. We're also working on getting a list together of things we want to grow next season.

2. Take a "formal" herbwifery class.

3. Choose a major, and act on that choice.

4. Learn to tie dye.

5. Organize the soap lab, and make space for an herbal lab.
I did get some wonderful glass jars to store some of my herbs in. I did a little straightening...I have so many boxes!

6. Replace our current refrigerator.
We replaced the dishwasher. A new fridge is still out of the budget.

7. Learn to can and preserve food.
Wes did a little research on flash freezing herbs. Seems do-able.

8. Get 24/7 off the ground.

9. Exercise four days a week.
We weeded on Sunday. I say that counts :)

10. Be a vendor for two more shows.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Five

1. Soothing sound:
I love the sound of people cooking.
2. Comfort food:
potato au gratin
Oh how I love the cheesey goodness of Potato Au Gratin
3. Relaxing music:
4. Gentle voice:
My mother dearest :)
5. Calming smell:
Fresh coffee.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Next year when we have a garden I want to can our bounty! Most of my family are avid canners, so of course I turned to them for help (you guys rock!).
My auntie Deb sent me this link.
Tons of great information!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor) is taking over my driveway! It was beautiful a couple weeks ago with all the pretty purple flowers. The flowers have mostly faded and now it's mostly bright green leaves. On my never ending information search I decided to learn about my new plant ally: Mrs. Periwinkle.

Quoted from Mountain Rose Herbs:

"...The garden periwinkle is the source of a chemical that can be turned into vinpocetine, a natural treatment for aging minds. Originating in Madagascar but now growing wild in warm climates around the world, periwinkle has enjoyed a variety of medicinal applications.
In Europe, periwinkle teas were used as a folk remedy for diabetes. In Hawaii, the plant was boiled to make a poultice used as a bandage to stop bleeding. In China, periwinkles became cough medicine, and in India, they were juiced to make a remedy to stop the pain of wasp stings. Throughout the Caribbean, periwinkles were used to treat infections„and as a protection against voodoo magic.
...The periwinkle contains vincamine, precursor chemical vinpocetine, in its leaves and seeds.
...More often used as tincture, can be encapsulated or served as tea.
...There is some clinical evidence that the periwinkle chemical vinpocetine can increase blood flow to the brain, increasing oxygenation, and also protect brain cells from damage by a chemical called phosphodiesterase. In one study, a majority of 203 clinical study volunteers with dementia experienced measurable improvement after treatment.
Vinpocetine is also commended for memory enhancement in health people, and tried as a means of reducing brain injury after strokes.
Precautions: Periwinkle is the source of vinpocetine; it is not pure vinpocetine. If you use the whole herb you are relying on a rounded blend of healing chemicals found in the minimally processed plant.
Periwinkle does not cause any known interactions with blood thinning medications (such as aspirin, Coumarin, Plavix, Ticlid, or Trental), although vinpocetine extracted from it does. Vinpocetine can cause either increased or decreased bleeding depending on the medication; this is why whole periwinkle is preferred."

Brain Tea sounds good :)

And from
"...Culpepper says that it: 'stays bleeding at the mouth and nose, if it be chewed . . . and may be used with advantage in hysteric and other fits.... It is good in nervous disorders, the young tops made into a conserve is good for the night-mare. The small periwinkle possesses all the virtues of the other kind and may very properly supply its place.
...A homoeopathic tincture is prepared from the fresh leaves of Vinca minor and: 'is given medicinally for the milk-crust of infants as well as for internal haemorrhages, the dose being from 2 to 10 drops, three or four times in the day, with a spoonful of water.'

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Doing Not Thinking Challenge

I have so many goals that I don't know which to work on first. I read about the Doing Not Thinking Challenge over at Two Frog Home blog and thought I would try my hand at it. Now to pick which goal to work on first. I'm going to list them now, and give updates every Monday as to where I am with them. I'm going to list big and small goals (I love being able to cross things off my to-do list!)

1. Plan a garden.
2. Take a "formal" herbwifery class.
3. Choose a major, and act on that choice.
4. Learn to tie dye.
5. Organize the soap lab, and make space for an herbal lab.
6. Replace our current refrigerator.
7. Learn to can and preserve food.
8. Get 24/7 off the ground.
9. Exercise four days a week.
10. Be a vendor for two more shows.

That seems like a good list to start things with!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Photo Gnome

It appears that someone has borrowed my camera. At least I got it back.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

May your body be blessed.
May you realize that your body is a faithful and beautiful friend of your soul.
May you recognize the your senses are sacred thresholds.
May you realize that holiness is mindful gazing, mindful feeling, mindful listening, and mindful touching.
May your senses always enable you to celebrate the universe and the mystery and possibilities in your presence here.
May Eros bless you.
May your senses gather you and bring you home.
-Celtic blessing

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Yeah! I got my Kombucha babies in the mail. Thank you Dancing in a Field of Tansy! (Kristine keep an eye on your mail box *grin*) I'm so excited to make my own rather than fork out four dollars a bottle for the ones they have at the store. If you have never had Kombucha you must try it! I didn't know a lot about the health benefits until recently. It just always made me feel so refreshed and clean. I recently read an article on Nourished Mother regarding fermented food and it all clicked! Now I need to locate a continuous brewing system so I can have Kombucha every day!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Five

1.) Favorite Food:
pad see ew or eggs benedict
Pad See Ew and Eggs Benedict are in a tie right now

2.) Least Favorite Food:
No meat for me

3.) Favorite Thing:
handspun yarn
Hand Spun Yarn (at least for today :D)

4.) Least Favorite Thing:

5.) A phobia:
They give me the creepies just looking at the photo! I don't squish them though. I just run screaming like a little girl!

6.) An addiction:
coffee and a book
Coffee and a good book