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Archive for April, 2012

Sunday Photos: Purple

Purple. What a vibrant color, so full of life. There are a few meanings behind the color purple. It is said to be the color of good judgement and also the color of people seeking spiritual fulfillment. I have also read that if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. Purple is also a good color to use in meditation.

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Even though purple is my favorite color and I have a whole garden dedicated to purple and white flowering things, I don’t seem to have many “purple” photos.  I have posted a few more purples in my life over at Sincerely, Emily.

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I’m not the biggest fan of purple, either. But without any doing of my own, there seem to be plenty of purple highlights in my back “yard,” as well as inside among my roving stash for felting. I’m sure you’ll find some purple amongst future Fiber Friends, as there seems to be bags and bags of this stuff in my stash! You can see more about my current doings inside and out at Pocket Pause.

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Here at Chiot’s Run purple is a dominate color in the garden. My first year gardening I planned an all white garden planting all sorts of lovely white flowers, which all bloomed purple that first summer. Since then my gardens are dominated with purple blooms and I love them.




Do you like purple?

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My Gram always grew red geraniums in the summer. Each fall she would severely cut them back and they would sit through the winter on the high window ledge in the laundry room in our basement where it stayed cool. Those common geraniums have a district smell to them; sort of like a tomato plant has a district smells to them. I can’t describe it, but if you have smelled either one you know what I mean.

While I don’t have any of the common geraniums like Gram did, I always smile when I see one and think of her.

I also remember my mom would have scented geraniums from time to time and I always enjoyed the different types she had.  They were always so alluring, drawing me over to brush a leaf and inhale slowly and deeply, drinking in that soft, subtle scent.

Remembering those wonderful scents and memories I picked up two rose geraniums (also known as rose-scented geraniums a few years ago so I could enjoy their fragrance.

I love picking a few leaves and putting them on my pillow. They eventually end up on my nightstand throughout the night, but their scent still lingers. I will sometimes pick a few leaves and lightly crush them and rub them on my arms. It is one of nature’s natural perfumes (and also a natural insect repellent!!)

I originally bought the rose geraniums for their soft, subtle scent. Later, I came across some information where lemon balm was used to make a scented fabric softener. I immediately tried it, but didn’t care for the finished scent, so I thought if you can use lemon balm, why not try rose geranium…. I did and I loved how it turned out.

Fill (lightly pack) your quart canning jar (or any glass jar – not metal) with the leaves from your scented geranium and cover with white distilled vinegar (the inexpensive kind in the big jug.) Let it sit for a few weeks or longer. Strain and use as you would any fabric softener.  If you use a jar with a metal lid you should use a piece of wax paper between the metal lid and the jar opening or the vinegar will react with the metal on your lid. I tend to prepare my jars and forget about them until I run out and need to strain more, so they may actually sit for a few months. The last thing I want is to open my jar and find a rusty metallic smelling mess. That certainly isn’t a scent that I want to put on my clothes.

My two plants just wouldn’t keep up with the demand so I have started over 2-dozen others plants from my two originals. I will share some some of these new plants each month at the plant raffle at our local garden club meetings and the others I will keep and grow to pull leaves from.

Making fabric softener

When I run out of the rose geranium fabric softener I rely on plain white distilled vinegar with a few drops of essential oil. Rosemary is my current favorite. I do have jars of rosemary sitting in vinegar too for fabric softener. I just haven’t tried them yet. Since we only wash a load of clothes 1-2 times a week, it is hard to keep testing new scents.

What else can you do with rose geranium; make ice cream. Strawberry-rose geranium ice cream is lovely!

What a great plant, with so many purposes:

  • It is pretty – nice green leaves
  • It has a lovely scent
  • You can use it to make scented fabric softener
  • You can use it as a natural insect repellent
  • You can use it to flavor ice cream

Do you already grow a scented geranium?   How do you use yours?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Anticipation of Sproing

Yes, you read correctly. Sproing.

Sproing is the word I use to describe the pouncing, prancing, dancing, tumbling of spring lambs. Here at Tanglewood our Icelandic ewes are looking plumper than ever. They are tired and fat and irritable and itchy and we still have at least a week until they could be due!

This is the time of year when shepherdesses anxieties run high. Did I provide enough selenium and vitamin E? Are they getting enough protein? Are they too fat? too skinny? Oh my gosh, did I vaccinate too late? I can sit in the house for hours, fretting and freaking, and then I walk out into the sun and do a quick scan of the yard…

The ewes are all relaxed and lounging lazily beneath trees, chewing cud. They’re not panicked, so there is no reason for me to be…. right?

I’ll be sure I keep you all posted over the next few weeks as things progress. For now, wish me luck!

-Emily from Tanglewood

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Hidden Treasure

I have only been gardening for a few years, and every year I’ve tried (very unsuccessfully) to grow carrots.  A few weeks ago, the husband headed out to till the garden for me.  He asked me to come out with him so I could show him what to till/not till.

Much to my surprise, among the random weeds growing/left over from last year, I found a row of carrots still growing!  I dug up a few, and was thrilled to see that most of them were even decent sized!  I ran into the house to get a bowl for my beautiful new carrots!

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While they still didn’t compare to the abundance of radishes I’m able to grow every year, I was so excited to find these fun little carrots hiding in my garden.  I had given up on them several months ago!  It obviously doesn’t take much to make me happy!

What unexpected hidden treasures have you found recently?

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Pizza night

In my next life, when I get to be Barbara Kingsolver, pizza night will be family togetherness night, when we make pizza from scratch using our own hand-milled flour and homemade sausage (from our own pigs) and then put on plays that our 9 year old wrote herself, using the great old clothes we found in Grandpa’s trunk in the attic. Probably homemade sarsparilla too, cuz, y’know pizza night is fun night!

Or maybe not.

For me pizza night is I do not have to lift a finger night. I don’t understand easy (fun?) food night that involves waiting for dough to rise. This does not meet my criteria for “easy meal.” On pizza night around here, I won’t even make the phone call. Pizza night is Mom’s Night Off. Someone else make the call, pull out the credit card and answer the door cuz mom’s watchin’ old “Road” movies on Netflix and nothin’ gonna pry her off that couch.

Incredibly, since I’m a pretty courageous cook, I had never made pizza from scratch. Until this week. I had a jar of tomato/eggplant sauce that I made for some noodles, and just decided, what the hell. Let’s try pizza. I had some mozzarella, and a nice big portobello, and that sauce.

So, scary baking stuff, first place I look is Martha. Forgetting that Martha only cooks for 40. Her pizza dough recipe yielded “eight 12 inch or fourteen 10 inch pizzas.” So, maybe not. Found a simple one on SimplyRecipes.com. They’re a content mill, but have pretty good basic recipes. Except it gave you the ingredients, instructions, descriptions, and then said “bake according to recipe instructions.” Um, I thought this WAS the recipe.

Back to the internets! SimplyRecipes did in fact have a decent complete recipe, too, which I then forgot to read, and just, as usual, made it up.

Bit of an eyeroll over the “prep time 2 hours 30 minutes.” Yup– that’s a great fun night right there.

Made two lovely 10″ pizzas. (Forgot to take a picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it.) Barbara Kingsolver would be proud.

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Spring has sprung. For many of us it sprung really really early this year and many areas are several weeks ahead of what is “normal” for this time of year.

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We had some wonderful rains this winter in South Texas and things have been very green. this spring (up until now – we are dry and in need of rain!) We didn’t get enough rain to pull us out of the drought and many areas are still suffering. We warmed up really quickly this spring and things really started growing. I  (Sincerely, Emily) have lots of shades of green in our backyard and everywhere I look.

We plants this apple tree in January 2010. It had four grafts on it and we lost one of the grafts the first year. Three grafts are still growing well.

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Spring in Chicago has been very topsy-turvey. We had May (July?) in March and are now getting March towards the end of April, with a cold 40 degree wind (that’s 4 centigrade, if that’s how you roll) blowing off the lake. But the early warmth means that the garden is bursting, despite the current frosty temps!

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April in Philomath has been mixed. Some days pouring (my days off), and others gorgeous and sunny (my days at work). On the rainy days, i try to spend my time honing my crafts and on the sunny days i venture outside. Sometimes i get flumoxed and end up hiking in the downpour or spinning in the warm sunshine. The magical Trillium blooms in the coastal range make that soggy hike worth every squishy step.

What are the greens that you are seeing right now?

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Mr Chiots is a HUGE ice cream fan. We have a local dairy that makes ice cream from their own pastured cows. It’s not made from raw milk, but they lightly pasteurize their milk and it’s non-homogenized. When he wants some ice cream that’s our go-to spot. They make good ice cream to be sure, but it doesn’t even come close to homemade, especially when we make it with raw milk from the local farm and local pastured eggs. We love using the old hand crank ice cream maker that’s been in my family for years, it even made it to my Friday Favorites at Chiot’s Run.

My recipe is whipped up on the spot and includes, raw eggs yolks, vanilla beans, maple syrup, cream, whole milk, and a dash of salt. Sometimes I add cocoa, sometimes fruit juice. If you’re not into being quite that creative I’d highly recommend looking into Dave Lebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments.  Last week we made vanilla cinnamon ice cream and topped it with homemade maple caramel and walnuts.  Mr Chiots was in heaven!  If you’ve never made homemade ice cream I’d highly recommend it.  Not only is it way better than anything you can get in a store or ice cream shop, it’s much cheaper!   I also love that there’s no wood pulp or weirdness in this ice cream, just REAL ingredients!

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Have you ever made ice cream at home?

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