Sourdough & Detergent

I neglected my sourdough starter for too long and it died. I started a new batch today and I’ll be able to start using it next week. I made it the old fashioned way, following Sally Fallon’s instructions in ” Nourishing Traditions”. I ground 2 cups of rye into flour and added 2 cups of cold water. The mixture stays covered with a clean cloth and will be kept on the kitchen counter. For the next 6 days I’ll transfer the starter into a clean bowl and add a cup of rye flour and a cup of water.  It will get bubbly. Then it will settle down a bit and be ready for me to use for bread and baked goods. After that, I’ll keep it refrigerated and fed with rye flour and water . Hopefully, it will last for years, unless I abandon it again.

Two or three times a year, I make laundry detergent.  One batch makes 5 gallons.   I was getting low  so I made that too.  It took about 20 minutes and it has to stand for 24 hours.  Tomorrow I’ll fill up my milk cartons and be set for a while.

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Loose Ends


This has been a busy week! Mostly I’ve been cleaning, organizing and tying up loose ends so next week I can focus on Thanksgiving. Then our Christmas season begins. So exciting!
Oranges are tasting good right now. Citrus shouldn’t be composted but I don’t throw away the peels. The oils are naturally antibacterial and they smell so nice and fresh and clean. I spread them out on some paper and as they dry I add them to  white vinegar in a big jar. Soon this will be filled with the dried peels and in about 4-6 weeks, I’ll strain the peels out, put the liquid in a spray bottle and I’ll have a good, natural cleaner that won’t smell like salad dressing.
The tinctures I made this summer were all ready to be strained, bottled up, labeled and put away in the medicine chest. One of my favorites is lemon balm. It’s such a safe and gentle herb and it is said to have anti viral properties and be mildly relaxing. The tincture picks up that green, lemony scent. It’s delicious as a tea but it’s properties aren’t retained well in drying. It’s very easy to grow, kind of takes over really, but for some reason the tinctures and essential oils are  pricey in the stores. I think it would make an excellent cordial- another project for next year.

There’s going to be a lot of cooking, baking and holiday projects going on here. I arranged a separate work space for the projects because I’ll need my kitchen free. It’s been fun organizing my sparkly bits and pretty patterns and arranging it all together. Just looking at everything gives me so many ideas! The sewing machine will take up a permanent residence in the midst of it from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas week. This is such a wonderful time of the year!!!

November- Wormwood & Apples


Wandering outside in the garden today, Silver King Artemesia caught my eye. It’s a Wormwood, one of the few things harvested in November and I had almost forgotten about it!  I snapped a few stems and within minutes had them wound into a simple wreath. It has a fresh, clean scent. I hung it in the kitchen, on the door leading to my spooky old cellar.
Tomorrow, I’ll gather the rest of the Silver King. Dried, it makes a great addition to sachets, being a powerful moth and insect deterrent. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties so I use it to make a simple household cleaner. I fill a glass jar with fresh or dried wormwood and citrus peels and completely cover everything with white vinegar, so all the herb is submerged. This mixture sits for 4 weeks and is shaken daily. Then the herb and citrus are strained out of the vinegar and it’s all done. All this will take no time at all but today I had other plans.
I had a big basket of local organic apples and wanted to use them while they were fresh. I made apple turnovers. They freeze really well and are worth the effort. I used organic, non hydrogenated vegetable shortening and butter to make the pastry and rolled it a little thinner than I would for a pie. Also, I mixed a couple tablespoons of arrowroot flour in with the apples, sugar and cinnamon. That thickened the juice as the fruit cooked so the crust didn’t get wet or soggy. So delicious!
 

Rainy Day Remedies

imageThe ordinary arts we practice every day at home are more important to the soul than their simplicity might suggest -Thomas Moore

We’ve had a lot of rain.  Truth be told, waking up to gloomy skies again had me feeling a bit glum. I began to imagine all the bulbs I recently planted rotting away outside under all the soggy leaves. That led to the thought of leaf removal, never a fun prospect. As I thought about this, my yard grew into gigantic proportions and the thought of raking it all made me want to stay in bed. Overwhelming thoughts…one led to another. Better to get up and moving instead of mentally wallowing around in moldy leaf piles.

A little Aromatherapy was called for. I added some lemon oil to the cleanser I’d made.  Lemon, clean and bright was bound to help lighten up this dismal day. Motivating too….soon the kitchen was sparkling. A touch of lemon oil and tangerine on my dust cloth had things picking up a good shine and looking better. Thunder began rumbling outside, the temperature was dropping. I soaked a bit of cotton with cinnamon oil and sucked it up with the vacuum. The faintest scent of cinnamon trailed behind me as I made my way through the house. By now the rain was pouring, pounding on the roof and lashing against the windows. Definitely a day for soup and some home made bread. A big pot of soup went on the stove and as it was simmering, I mixed up the bread dough and set it to rise.

Upstairs, before putting fresh sheets on the bed, I sprinkled a few drops of lavender oil on the mattress underneath. A few drops more on the mop smelled heavenly and picked up the grain on my old wooden floors. It looked so good, I did the stairs on my way down as well. The wind was picking up and howling. Leaves were coming down in sodden masses. Soon the trees would be bare. Still some time for apple picking but not this day. This was a good day for baking them. Baked apples and whipped cream. I peeled the apples, sliced them up, added brown sugar, some spice and popped them into the oven with the bread. I made myself a cup of tea and pulled out my work bag. Spreading out my projects, deciding what to work on, I noticed the darkening sky which got me thinking how nice it would be to light the fireplace…..

DIY Laundry Detergent

DIY laundry detergent!  Simple, inexpensive and good for the environment

DIY laundry detergent! Simple, inexpensive and good for the environment

I’ve been making my laundry detergent for a while now.  It gets things nice and clean.  It’s a huge money saver but mostly I do it because I  don’t want to use sulfates and all those chemicals and artificial perfumes in my house.  I also really like the idea of repurposing my milk jugs instead of consuming Continue reading

Simply Wonderful, Natural Household Cleanser!!

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Here is a recipe for an inexpensive, all natural, effective and versatile cleanser that I have been using for years. Hopefully, most people are aware of the negative impact harsh chemical and antibacterial, commercial cleansers can have on our health and our environment. Vinegar based cleaners are a healthy option but personally, I don’t like the smell of vinegar very much. This is also environmentally friendly, has no harsh chemicals, and is so simple to make! Continue reading