Sunday, April 21, 2013

Citrus and Herb Soap Recipe

A simple soap recipe for adding to melt and pour soap bases; I added the following herbs to this company’s olive oil base. 


Lime peels, grated
Carrot, grated
Rosemary, finely chopped
Stinging Nettle Leaves, finely chopped
Orange essential oil
4 Leaf Clovers, dried (for decoration)
Melt the soap in a double broiler

Add herbs, oils, etc.

Pour into mold

Then I pressed 4 leaf clovers into the soap

Allow to cool and harden completely


Friday, April 19, 2013

Preparing the Garden for 2013

Well we have been insanely busy down here in the Maketewah Valley.  This year my boyfriend and I are working at 3 different garden spots in the neighborhood, with help from some friends too!  It's been rather tough working full time, and spending every free hour of sunlight digging and turning beds!  I’m worn out, but the big projects are done!  Here is a brief overview on what we’ve been doing…..
One of gardens is in a friend’s yard down the block, just a big grassy backyard; perfect for bigger plants that need more water (easy access to a hose).  We dug a few beds out last year, but this year we made them larger and used the cut strips of sod to build up a natural border.  Added compost and leaf mold so they are ready! 
The border will be nice so we can keep building up that soil.  The two long beds in the back grew our corn, beans, gourds and amaranth last summer; but this year I’m trying tobacco! More about that later :)  The huge bed adjacent to the tobacco beds will be full of peppers and okra.  We threw some peas in for now; they should be about done by the time the peppers are going in.

At our house we are starting lots of seeds. 
Everything is doing great!  We have a small hoop house for starting seeds and storing tools.  We set up a heater a couple nights last month when the temperature dropped below freezing, but for the most part the hoop house stayed warm enough.

Here is a look inside….
We put our seedlings in tubs with glass or plastic bags over them to keep everything warm and moist.   Now that the temperature is rising, we remove the covers in the morning otherwise the seedlings will get fried. 
We used these old metal storage containers to hold planters and then wrapped a large trash bag around them at night.
My boyfriend started some basil in these 2 liter bottles.  Just cut them in half, add water and a cotton “wick” and plant.  Seem to be working out so far, and you don’t have to worry about watering.
For this large, floating tobacco tray we just set up scrap wood barriers with glass and plastic on top.; which worked perfectly for starting greens.

Our compost piles....
We have been having beautiful weather here, so we took this opportunity to turn our compost piles.  We have two big piles and two small ones, so we started with the bigger pile.  Fork it up, then turned the adjacent pile into the first pile.  Once we got all the stuff that was still decomposing turned into the first pile; we collected the pure, worm filled compost in plastic tubs and trash cans.
The plan is to let the compost dry out in these tubs over the summer.  The tubs and trash cans are pretty deep so we will have to mix them up so the compost dries evenly.  Drying the compost makes it easier to work with.  Rather than adding a handful of compost mush to your soil, you’re adding dry compost mulch that easily forks into the soil and spreads evenly.
We covered the tubs in plastic bags to keep the rain out, and we will go from there this summer.  We turned the smaller compost piles onto the large pile.  Now we have one huge pile that is close to being done.  The chickens get to scratch around in this pile; turning it up, eating bugs and pooping all over making our compost into gold!  We throw our food scraps in the smaller piles, layering it with yard waste and old hay from the chicken coop.  Another benefit of having our compost organized in various stages of decomposition is that we don’t have to worry about the chickens eating things they shouldn’t out of the food scraps, like egg shells and avocado skins.  Dirty work, but the plants will thank us later!

Winter rye was planted all over last fall as a cover crop. So we turned it all over and added leaf mold and compost to prepare those beds. Took a bit of work, but the soil looks beautiful and ready to go. 
We also rolled all the plastic off our hoop houses, so the garden is ready for spring and summer.  Currently we have peas, onions, greens and lettuces planted.  The fruit trees are blooming, all our perennial herbs are coming back and the seedlings are growing strong.  This year looks very promising! 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Messenger Bag

My brother turned 22 last week!  He mentioned that he could use a new messenger bag.  He has been using the bag I made for myself to carry books and whatnot during college.  I knew I still had the pattern too, which made it easy, Butterick See & Sew Pattern # 4583.  Not sure if it’s still a current pattern, but there are plenty of similar messenger bag patterns out there.

Since it was my second time around using the pattern, I figured I would actually follow the directions correctly.  I tend to start with the directions, and then eventually abandon them to figure the steps out on my own.  Not a bad technique, but I’m starting to use patterns more as teaching tools to learn new sewing skills. 

I wanted this bag to be extra strong too, because my brother was born for academia!  I’m sure he is carrying around much bigger books than I ever did!  So I used a heavyweight fusible interfacing, and doubled up on it, fusing it to the outside and the lining; whereas the pattern only calls for one layer of lighter interfacing.  It made for a pretty sturdy bag; we will see how it holds up!  I added a zippered pocket inside, and made another pocket into a pen holder, making it a perfect school bag!