Thursday, July 24, 2014

Balsam Poplar Infusion


Yesterday I strained my jars of balsam poplar infusion that had been sitting in the sun since early spring.
(though we didn't have much sun in May or June....)   This batch has a lovely fragrance, but it is a milder scent compared to the first batch I made which I let steep for over a year.  This infusion was put together in late March/early April.  

So the lesson I learned is to put this infusion together and forget about it like I did the last time.  
However, the strong infusion sometimes puts people off with its pungent scent.  (My kids can always tell the minute I open the jar of salve I made last year.)  My original batch was VERY concentrated.  I'm interested to see if family and friends react to this batch differently.  I tend to think medicine might as well be strong.  But a gentle approach also has its place.  If people are more willing to use the recipe because the scent is not so sharp, then that matters too.

I used organic olive oil for the infusion.  But I haven't decided if I will experiment with a new recipe this year.  Since there is more than 3 quarts to work with, I can play with the original recipe if I want to.  I call the original recipe, Healing Salve.  It is excellent for wounds, scrapes, sores, and bruises.  

"Native Americans used resin from buds to treat sore throats, coughs, lung pain, and rheumatism. An ointment, Balm of Gilead, was made from the winter buds to relieve congestion."
http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/trees/populusbal.html 

One of my friends, a piano teacher, applies it to her hands as "good medicine" to ward off stiffness.

Me?  I just like the smell.  I think it smells like spring... and walking through the swampy section of our driveway to the school bus in the early spring mornings of my childhood.  I loved the smell of "bombagillian", the Northern Minnesota slang for Balm-of-Gilead.  I always knew that beautiful fragrance must be good for something.  So I was delighted when, as an adult, a friend shared with me how to infuse the buds and make a simple salve.
I like to use my salve on my hands and feet in winter time.  My skin is dry and cracks easily.  The salve is very healing and effective on broken skin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Water From Rock Bible Craft


Here is another Sunday School craft that Clancy helped me design.  It relates to the story of water from the rock found in Exodus 17.  
Moses struck the rock with his staff.
For the craft I had the kids glue down flat wooden toothpicks as the staff.  Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph the toothpick...  Just remember to add a staff using a toothpick, a twig, paper or even just draw it in with a black marker.
The templates may be photocopied onto standard 8.5x11" white card stock.  
Use a crafting blade to remove the cut-out from the rock, and put tiny cross-cuts where the paper clip goes through the rock and the wheel.
Cut out Moses and the sun ahead of time.
It is easiest if the kids just color the picture and pieces, and do the assembly with glue and the paperclip.
I also had the kids glue Exodus 17 to the back of the craft.  I think it is good to have the story included somewhere on the craft because some homes are less familiar with Scripture than others.  This way the craft also provides the story.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Goodbye, Chloe Cat

I took Chloe to the vet yesterday and had her put down.
She was 19 years old.
This is a pic from her 14th summer...
These last few months she had a difficult time walking and eating.
But she definitely put in a long run as a good farm cat.  She was a great mouser, with a distinct personality...
She swiped every dog we ever owned across the nose if they got too rowdy in her presence.  Hence, all of our dogs had a deep respect for her.
When our youngest son was four months old we discovered he was severely allergic to Chloe and he could not breath.  It was a scary time for us as a family and, on doctor's orders, the cat was sent to live outdoors.  I was initially filled with guilt and worry for her.  Within a week Chloe had systematically destroyed every window screen on the house.  After that I think we both called it even.
She was relatively sweet with us at home, but the first time we took her to the vet's office there was an "incident."  I dropped her off for shots and a spay and when I picked her up the vet told me he didn't want to ever see her again.  Apparently she was not well-behaved.
A few years later we decided to have our horse vet give Chloe her vaccinations during a farm visit.  Chloe began growling when she saw the vet across the yard.  There was a great struggle, which resulted in two bent needles and Clancy laying his entire body across the vet's tailgate, thereby squishing the cat flat underneath him.  The injection was given and Chloe released.  I will never forget the image of her furry body springing up and flying through the air...dead set on clawing the vet's face off.  One would assume she'd be mad at Clancy for restraining her.  But she blamed the vet for the entire situation and tried her best to take revenge.  Clancy swatted the cat off the vet, who was busy trying to protect her face with her arms.  Chloe was pronounced "set for life" that day as far as vaccinations went.
 Despite her lack of veterinary attention, she was remarkably healthy throughout her life.

Chloe refused to share her territory with any other cat.  She regularly whooped on any stray that came along and disposed of the intruder, like clockwork, the very night after it was first spotted in the yard.  We only ever had ONE cat....Chloe.

She will be missed...
the way she would rub against our hands...but bite us if we petted her....
except Clancy....
she had a soft spot for Clancy.
And he certainly had a soft spot for her.

Bye, Chloe. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sunday School Crafts

I love teaching Sunday School at 
Here are a couple of crafts we did in class recently.  Many thanks to Clancy for sketching the people and the ark and the background for the Noah story.  Please note that this is not our best artistic work, as most of it was drawn and cut out late in the night before Sunday.  Mercifully, kids are less critical about these crafts than our inner critics.
Feel free to borrow the designs and make your own versions of these crafts.

Moveable Noah's Ark 
(Genesis 6-9)
Have kids color background card stock.  Glue down large blue wave (with cutout to fit around cardstock slit).  Put a line of glue ONLY on the straight edge of narrow wave.  Add narrow wave so it covers but does not block the slit in the card stock Color ark and add people/animal stickers (option).  Glue or tape ark to wooden stick and slide stick between waves and through the card stock slit.

Crossing the Red Sea 
(Exodus 14)



Monday, May 26, 2014

Bonfire & Bears

One of three fires Clancy lit last night.
Six teenagers were on hand to make the most of it.
What a gorgeous night.
 Plus the plum blossoms are in full bloom. 
And I saw another black bear (this one a true shiny black rather than last week's Hershey brown color) grubbing for turtle eggs along Boston Lake Road yesterday.
(sorry-no time for a photo before he bounded into the watery cedar swamp)
 But thanks to our faithful Lleulu, no bears in the yard so far this year.
(I love love LOVE her!)
This has already been a lovely weekend...with one more day to go.  
Thanks to all the Veterans and their families out there.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Bonding-Fully Funded!

I would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to my friends from Bemidji High School Class of '91.  Many of them donated to this project and it was fully funded yesterday.
So happy!

Do you remember the first moment you fell in love with reading?
One of my earliest memories is of my Richard Scarry's Mother Goose book.  It was hardcover and I still have it.  I lived inside that book's world until I went to kindergarten.

As I progressed through school my teachers introduced me to other authors.
Beverly Cleary
Walter Farley
Roald Dahl

I loved reading.  I loved reading for reading's sake.  I loved all kinds of books:  love stories, murder mysteries, against all odds, historical, science fiction, fantasy...
I just loved reading.  And all those stories have played a part in molding my person.

I'm guessing that many of you reading this blog are also avid book readers.  
If you are, take just a moment to imagine your life if your connection to reading had never been established.  However you came to be a person that loved reading....just imagine that never happened....
Where would you be without those books that influenced your life?
Where would you be if you had never latched on to the joy of reading?

Without doubt or question, my life would have been bleak.  It is unfathomable how my spirit would have been sustained through my darkest hours without access to reading.

Now think of all the distractions that a modern-day teenager has.  So many young people enter their high school years without having fallen in love with reading yet.
Do you really want to live in a world governed by young people that never learned how to love reading?
I find it terrifying, myself.
And so deeply, painfully sad.

Here's where I'm going with this:
My dear friend from high school is now a high school teacher herself.  And she is trying to raise money to get high-interest reading materials in her classroom library.  She wants to put high-interest books in the hands of her students so they can fall in love with reading for the first time in their lives!  "High-interest" means the books kids are talking about NOW.  You aren't going to see Steinbeck on this list.  But a kid that doesn't like to read isn't going to pick up Steinbeck anyway.  A kid that loves to read will, quite possibly, eventually visit some of the classics.
So I'm asking you to PLEASE DONATE to my friend's classroom library by clicking on one of these links.  It only takes a minute to donate any amount you choose to give.
  Help Ms. Dittrich lead her students toward a lifetime of reading. 
If YOU recognize the value of reading in your life, this is a WORTHY cause.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Selfie

I wanted a nice photo of Clancy and myself by the lake....


Yep, we are still wearing our parkas in Northern Minnesota, folks.