calendula oil

March 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

We’ve been having the most gorgeous, warm weather the past few days here in Vermont. I’ve been feeling the pull of spring, the earth calling to be loved, tended and planted with a bounty of seeds.  I’ve been told that Vermonters don’t put anything in the ground until Memorial Day weekend….Memorial Day weekend folks! That’s at the end of May. I come from Georgia where you can grow year round without really needing a greenhouse. Since we don’t have a greenhouse here and we have to find a new house in May, there’s not much we can do to get a garden ready for now.

So we’ve been working with plants in a different way until we find our dream spot and can put up a greenhouse and get to the gardening!  Papa and little O have started lettuces, and other herbs inside since we have huge sunny windows by the woodstove, so our little seedlings won’t get cold. They’ve also been growing lots of wheatgrass and sprouts.

This weekend we started some calendula oil.

First we sanitized the jars in boiling water.

Then we set them in the oven to dry. When making herbal oils, it’s important to not have any water in the jars to prevent molding.

Then we gathered our supplies.

Then we stuffed the jars to the top full of dried calendula flowers and then filled them with olive oil.

Here’s a birds eye view.

Time for lids.

The jars will sit out for a few weeks. Every so often we’ll give them a shake and then we’ll strain them and keep the oil. We’ll bottle the oil and use it as is for topical cuts, scrapes, etc. Some of it I’ll use for salves and lotion bars. Calendula is so good for the skin! And as we transition out of winter and into spring, we are in need of some yummy oil for our dry skin.

Calendula is really easy to grow in your garden or in containers. Since we moved across the country and didn’t take our garden with us, we bought a big bag of calendula flowers for very little money and hardly put a dent in it for this project.


Duckies’ Big Day Out

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, we drove to the post office to pick up a tiny box  filled with our new babes. We now have eleven thriving Indian Runner ducks. 
They started off inside our house to stay warm and then graduated to a sweet little house Shaun made for them on the back porch. They will be here for another week or so, but in the mean time we need to get them slowly acclimated to their future home {the garden} and our flock of five full grown Blue Swedish ducks. The garden is a bit of a walk from our woodland abode so we decided to load them in the wagon and take a field trip…
Our daughter helped push her ‘duckies’ the whole way. It was quite the effort on her part and she was very determined and attuned to what the duckies where up to. 

When we made it to the garden, we took them out and waited to see what they would do. Being their first time out in the big world, naturally they stuck by each other and didn’t explore much. We sat with them for about an hour and watched them slowly grow curious about their new surroundings and started looking for bugs to eat in the oregano of our herb spiral. 

Here they are a little more relaxed with their ‘papa’ next to them. They’ve really taken to Shaun…they start talking and come to the gate of their house when they can hear his voice and they follow him when they are out. It’s really adorable.

We’ve had our Blue Swedish ducks for about a year, and they aren’t sure about this whole thing. They stayed just on the other side of the herb spiral and were on alert most of the time. We have one duck that is really maternal and we’re curious to see if she’ll adopt the babes.

Our Blue Swedish ducks that we’ve had for about a year aren’t sure about this whole thing. They stayed just on the other side of the herb spiral and were on alert most of the time. We have one duck that is really maternal and we’re curious to see if she’ll adopt the babes.

I’m mean, really? Is there anything cuter? 

After a while, we loaded them back into the wagon and headed home to make supper. We’ll continue to take them to the garden with us for the next week or so. 
We’ve read the Indian Runners are somewhat of herders. Meaning, they’ll follow a flag on a pole and will stay within site of the flag out in the field. We’ve noticed they are really responsive to the color green and we’re bringing some green fabric with us each time we have them out. As they get more comfortable with the process of traveling, we’ll play with making a flag to follow and eventually walk them from the house to the garden without the wagon. 

In ideal permaculture zoning, it would serve us better to be closer to the garden, so we’d spend less time traveling back at forth. But we also need the duckies close to us while they are still young, vulnerable, and needing lots of attention.  So, we are making the best of what we’ve got and making the trip one of our daily chores that our toddler loves to participate in. We’ve loved watching these little duckies grow!

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

First of all I have a confession to make…I’m addicted to shopping, plant shopping that is. I drool over seed catalogues and rarely leave empty handed when I venture to one of the big box store’s with the hubby for his random building supplies. It seems like this spring, the one plant I keep bringing more and more of home is Lavender. It’s one of my all time favorite smells and it’s a gorgeous plant to have around the house and in the garden. I don’t quite have the patience to grow lavender from seed yet so I’ve been stock piling different varieties and this fall we can take cuttings to root and have more lavender in the spring. {Who doesn’t want more lavender?} One of my favorites I’ve found is the fern leaf lavender. It’s got amazing silvery leaves and it’s totally different from the more common lavender.

Last night on our walk home from the garden, I cut back some of our already well established lavender plants. There are lots of flowers on them, some at their full ripeness and other baby buds. I had to resist the urge to cut them all and walk home with a gigantic bundle of lavender. I trimmed the older buds and left the little ones. The birds, bees, and butterflies love them so I wanted to leave some for our fellow friends. Trimming the lavender’s older flowers will also help the plant’s energy go towards new blooms and make the plant more bushy and full.

So what to do with those fresh and lovely smelling flowers? Dry them of course, for future crafts and projects. When I first started learning about plants and herbs and how to dry them I was told to hang them upside down in a paper bag away from light. Well, that might be a great way to do it, and I did try that several years ago, but honestly, I want to see and enjoy them. Hanging herbs and flowers bring so much beauty to wherever they are and help my inspiration stir around what I want to use them for when they are ready.

I looked through my yarn stash and pulled some gold cotton thread that I love to use for embroidery and wrapped it several times around the lavender and then hung it in my kitchen window. Some of the projects I already have in mind are flax and lavender eye pillows, using the flowers when wrapping presents, lavender oatmeal bread, and lavender infused oils for baking and for body lotions.

Now I just wait for the lavender to dry and dream of my other flowers in the greenhouse and garden that I can also craft and create with. I’m so looking forward to our bounty of zinnias, calendula, celosias, poppies, false indigo, sunflowers and many more. I plan to use them all for crafts, medicine and dye plants for fabric, and even play with paper making with the dried flowers so the paper can be planted and grow new life.

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