Friday, November 30, 2012

Have a furry Christmas

What is Christmas really about? 


Jesus gave the most precious gift of all time. 

It's easy to want gifts, and food, and holiday music to make our celebrations special. But I know two boys who want something more.

You see, there are homeless animals. They don't have a home. They have no family to love them...unconditionally. 

For Christmas, my boys really wanted to do something for the pets at our local animal shelter. I do too.

We've decided that as a family, we would start a sponsorship program. 
Every time someone donates either $10 or drops off one item on the list of needed supplies, they in turn, sponsor one half hour of cuddle and cleaning time at our shelter. Cylas says he will even scoop poop.

I'd like to invite you all to consider giving this gift for Christmas..please find the tab at the heading of our bog...this will take you to our facebook event where you can learn more about what we are doing. You can also find that link here.

Even if you cannot send your support to our cause....please consider dropping by your local shelter and just visit with the furry friends. Love and compassion, when there is none, is the most precious gift. And just maybe, you will fall in love...and adopt :) 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homeschooled Shrooms

 Homeschooled Shrooms

We learn, where ever, when ever, always.

A few weeks ago, our class of 5 were out hunting, and doing some foraging. We found some Oyster Mushrooms. I wrote about that and our discoveries here. Today was day 10 of our mycelium growth and it seemed to be ready for planting. So, we did just that. Here is our progress.

Carter is stirring the soil/compost mixture that we heated in the was frozen from storage in our garage, so it both needed to be thawed and heated thoroughly to 140deg F. This ensures any seeds, micro's or fungi is not already living in the soil.

Cylas has noted that worm poop smells distinctly gross..and exclaimed that he will puke. In math, they have been learning about temperature, and so reading the thermometer was a breeze :) 

 Here, we are sterilizing the bin that will host our growing mushrooms...Carter noted the sauna effect...and so both stressed boys relaxed in the steam. No, mama did not give them facials.

 After my class mates took off out of pure boredom from waiting on the kettle to heat, I was left solo to sterilize our growing for our shrooms. We chose a mix of shredded paper and wood shavings.

 After soaking in boiling water, we squeezed out the excess, and allowed them to cool outside on the cold porch.

This is the point in our project where Cylas started to take an interest...I don't blame him. Who can resist white fuzz that smells awkwardly musty?

The boys take the mycelium covered strips of corregated cardboard and "plant" them on top of our soil/compst...

Here is a closeup of our fuzz.

My shroom boys posing with their batches :) I had taken a video of the boys covering their mycelium with the paper/wood mix..but it has failed to upload.
 I will try that again a little later

Here is our shroom garden...we named and dated the boxes, and added a humidity tent. Our storage room stays quite cool and dark, which these shrooms should appreciate. Stay tuned (follow my blog) for updates on our Oyster Mushroom Project

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Because babies don't keep

Mother and child enjoying an afternoon nap

We will cuddle while we can little V. I remember a time when my babies were still blissfully unaware, dependently needy, their slumbering bodies needing mine. I could set you down to wash the dishes, or bake...but for today I will cradle you...soaking up the precious moments while they last.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Everyone told me how to mother best.

If someone had asked me "What kind of parent do you think you will be?" ....I probably would have come up with some type of stereotypical version of the perfect soccer mom type. Well, that was then. More than a decade, time has escaped me. After much dilemma, debate, trial and error, I find myself nestled into a role of "Mom". This role is ever changing. I face each challenge as it comes. Sure, I have ideals...but I have thrown out the "mommie does best" and "Best mom in town" books, advice and opinions. None of that matters. My children will grow, we will be matter what the newest parenting fad decides I should be doing. The truth is, there will always be someone who knows better than you do, gives a glare when your kids are unruly, suggests a better nap time routine, or seems to be flawless and effortless in their technique. They, are not you or me. However picturesque a fantasy family may's not real, and following an image of perfectness, constantly striving for excellence and perfect children is unrealistic and only results in defeated tears. I have found that a perfect parent has one, namely one quality. That is, they love their children. I know that in my heart, whatever I choose to do as a parent, is exactly what works for that time. Sometimes we are inconsistent, sometimes we conquer our fears, times we cry over spilled milk, and others where we fly with our wings..or by the seat of our pants. I'd have to say though, to anyone looking for advice on how to potty train, or wean, or just get sleep....the most important YOUR INSTINCT. 

More on parenting to come.
Good Day.

This is full blown separation... bad, bad! ;-)

I have been making soap now for little over a year...perhaps 5-7 batches under my belt thus far. Last week I had a friend join me in creating some suds. She was taking notes as I guided her through what I knew. As a novice, I have been really blessed with soap least up until this point! My soap was over due to come out of their molds. I had noticed, when I poured the soap that there were little blobs of, what seemed to be, oily patches near the end of the pouring. Weird aeh? I thought, well...we will see. Come to find out, while I was cutting my soap today, those patches turned into one large pocket of water. Humm...I poured off the water into the sink. A little baffled, I thought I'd search for an answer on line. I came across this page at Miller Soap. My problem, as per the chart, is as follows:

Soap has layer of water (lye solution) underneath This is full blown separation... bad, bad! ;-) Remelting is necessary! Double check your recipe for lye to fat ratio before proceeding, just in case. Be sure to save ALL liquids from your original recipe for the remelt.

Not exactly what I wanted to hear...I had dumped my liquids down my drain! Back to the drawing board, and to the trash my botched batch goes!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fungi, storage, and our winter garden.

Fall has settled, bringing the end to the summers harvest and marking the turn towards colder days. We have taken rest after much work in storing and prepping for the coming winter, but all has not ended. Fall is a special season filled with a renewed flavor. Hunting has become a family affair, and a time to spend quietness in the forest and enjoy the abundance that God has given in nature. Here are a few of his blessings, and some of our fall projects. 

Above is our newly discovered Oyster Mushroom. I have long aspired to learn and forage for this special treat, and this year I was glad to have an experienced guide show me how to find, identify and harvest this delicate and tasteful food. There is much fear surrounding wild mushrooms, understandably, but Gods great gifts are everywhere, and plenty. Once learning and searching for knowledge on this food, I have found it is not such a mystery, as many may believe. These mushrooms are one of the easiest to identify, and in North America there are no highly toxic look-a-likes, which renders them quite safe for the amateur forager. In addition, I have discovered that this particular shroom is very simple to grow yourself at home...and we are attempting precisely that. Below shows my 2nd eldest checking on our mycelium growth, which has taken hold very well, and will soon be ready for planting.

In the above Photo is another form of fungi that has been an elusive treasure for our family. I learned about Chaga a good year ago, and ever since researching and learning all I could, I still could not find any growth. This fall, during our hunting treks, we hit gold. This fungi grows primarily on yellow birch and is full of antioxidants. Made into a tea, it's medicinal properties and benefits and plenty.

Below is out Carrot storage. Packed in moist shredded paper, out carrots are cool, firm, and still growing. I am well pleased to see that this new method (for us) to store these carrots has shown to be a great success. With little maintenance, they should stay fresh and crisp for the winter months.

Above is a photo of our onion harvest from the late summer. Many have dried out nicely and can be trimmed and stored on shelves...but to my amazement, many are still sporting fresh greens, and still growing! This is nice as they will remain ultra fresh for longer.

Below I have added a photo of the "web" in our laundry area. I am super cheap, and using a dryer for the winter months just seems like a waste when we have a warm area near our furnace that is well able to dry our clothing. I don't see the point in paying for all that heat and air circulation, just to have it blown out of the house. Drying our clothing this way takes 12-18 hrs to dry medium weight fabrics, so it's a little more time consuming, but works well for us. 

Lastly we have started a winter garden area in our available windows. Our ginger has taken off incredibly well, and our little sprout-lings look promising. We are taking a little gamble with the beans and peas, but with Gods good hand, we may have fresh pods and beans in mid winter. Below shows a close up of a tomato plant I have started using compost...I am a little baffled. There are a few different things growing in this pot...none of which I can identify as the Tomato that I planted....any ideas??