medicinal herbs: red clover blossoms

There's a vacant lot near our house that the girls and I like to visit. Yesterday, on our way there, Lizzy ran ahead and yelled back, Mommy! The clovers bloomed! 

Maren helped(ish) gather up a big bag of blossoms (Lizzy was busy picking other flowers). We went home and stuck them in the dehydrator right away. I ended up with a semi-packed 2-quart jar!

Red clover blossoms are a sweet, pretty, pleasantly floral addition to any tea, although pregnant and nursing mamas are advised to steer clear (sad face). Uses: PMS relief, hormone control in menopausal women, heat flash relief, delay of bone loss, and cholesterol reduction. Externally applied, red clover promotes wound healing. More info on red clover here.

There's also a yummy-looking recipe for red clover lemonade that's been floating around on Pinterest. I'm dying to try it, but it will have to wait until next summer, thanks to the little man. 

The blossoms are out in force in our area; if you go foraging, remember to harvest only unsprayed plants -- and don't take it all! Try to leave at least 70% of the plant there. 


summer food: strawberry-rhubarb crisp

I hope your Memorial Day weekend has been fantastic. We've been loving good weather, good friends & neighbors, good fun, good work, and some doggone good desserts. It is high rhubarb season here in the North Country, and the $6 worth of gorgeous red stalks I bought at the roadside stand could probably feed our entire neighborhood ad infinitum.

And so, I give you my neighbor Helen's uh-mazing recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp. Crisp topping, I'm finding, is an intensely personal preference -- some like it thinly spread and crunchy, like granola; some like it soft and fluffy, like a biscuit -- and a thousand variations in between. This crisp topping is a thick layer of rich and buttery goodness, slightly crisp when you first bite into it, then soft and crumbly as you keep chewing, a little like a huge, supersoft butter-oatmeal cookie. And the ratio of crisp to fruit is, in my opinion anyway, perfect -- nearly 1 to 1.

It's a lot of butter. To quote Rapunzel, Don't freak out! Totally worth it.

Helen's Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

For the topping:
1 1/2 c flour
1 c packed brown sugar
1 c rolled oats
1 c butter, melted

For the fruit:
4 c diced strawberries
4 c diced rhubarb
1 c sugar
3 T flour

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine dry ingredients for topping. Stir in melted butter. Stick it in the fridge while you prepare the fruit. Combine all the fruit ingredients, adjusting fruit ratios and sugar to taste. Pour fruit into a 9x12 (or similarly-sized -- I used an 8x10 and it was perfect) casserole dish. Crumble the topping over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes, until richly golden brown and bubbly. Cool for a few hours before devouring.

Postscript: like this dessert wasn't enough... we made s'mores, too.


updating the entry, part 1

We've spent a lot of our Memorial Day weekend renovating the main entry of our house. After ripping up the last of that gorgeous shag, we found this totally rad linoleum-ish floor smiling up at us. We were really excited about it until we found a few damages that made it unsalvageable (sniff, sniff).

Out came the floor, out came the ceiling, out came the walls. And when I say "we," I really mean "he." 

We think this is some of the original(ish?) wood siding on the house. Super cool.

We He spent Saturday wrestling with beadboard. Monday: caulk, trim, drywall, tile... can we do it all??

Probably not, but it'll be a whole lot better than it was before.


nature journaling

Last Child in the Woods is being thoroughly enjoyed over here -- by mama because it's so inspiring and interesting -- and by the chickies because we're all getting outside and exploring a whole lot more. One idea in the book is to help the children start nature journals. The girls are thrilled with theirs, and I can't help being a little bit proud, even if Maren wants to erase everything she's just drawn/written, just because she just learned how to erase.

Oh, Spring. We're so glad you're here.


molly peasant, again

The Molly Peasant dress is by far the most-used pattern I've got. It's simple, cute, and runs from 6-12 months to 11-12 years(!). After tinkering with it a bit, I've finally settled on using the width of the fabric (selvage to selvage) for the skirt, gathered to fit the bodice. That allows a little more room for running and playing than the pattern does as written. This time I used cotton gauze for Lizzy's bodice, which was kind of a pain to sew with, but I ended up loving the way it looks, all ruched and pretty, and it's nice and light for summer.

The girls have only wanted to wear dresses since the weather got warm. I love that they like to be girly and flowery, but still dig for worms in the mud and want to spin faster on the merry-go-round than any other kid at the park. Lizzy is going to whup all the boys at kindergarten this fall.

My onions are completely freaking out. If nothing else, we shall have onions.

Maren told me today that I look like a camel.


ed emberley pants for the little man

This kid is totally set for newborn clothes, but seriously, is there any way to say no to teeny tiny Ed Emberley pants? Nope. Nopeity-nope. I loved Ed Emberley as a kid and have loved introducing the girls to his work. Rae's newborn pant pattern + tutorial was fast, easy peasy, and totally fabulous. If you are a beginning sewer or just need something super fast for a baby shower... this is it. I got my fabric from Hawthorne Threads (I heart them). A lot of the prints are backordered, but it is worth the wait -- the prints are beautiful, the fabric is very soft, and the colors are still vibrant after a wash + dry. And also, I love that the frogs have frowny faces.


re-introductions: raspberry leaf + dandelion

I've got herbs on the brain this weekend, thanks to my new book that came in the mail this week. I'm looking very much forward to the coming weeks of growing, collecting, tincturing, and concocting. This morning's gatherings came from the backyard -- raspberry leaf and whole dandelion plants (who knew?).


bare feet at last

We had a zillion things to do yesterday, but get everything in the ground before the rain comes was priority no. 1. Technically it's still a little early, but the forecast is favorable, it's been a warm year, and I just can't wait any longer. In went the tomatoes, marigolds, basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, cucumbers, and about a thousand flowers. The girls helped a lot, then got hot and hung out in the clothesline shade. I still need to dig up some sod to make room for the melons and squash, then a bunch of medicinal herbs I'm itching to try out. This new-to-me blog is a treasure trove of natural healing information. I've got this book on order at the library and am so excited about it. So now it's pouring cats + dogs and the plants are all bathing happily. Today's looking like a cleaning, coloring, movie-watching, popcorn-eating, puddle-stomping, baby pants-sewing kind of day.


green pond

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.

This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.

This is my Father's world:
He shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world.
Oh let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

On Saturday we hoofed it back to Green Pond (near Lake Bonaparte... perfect for kids and preggy peeps). This song was in my heart the whole time. I've been so preoccupied with gardening lately and my heart surged with the realization that, while I've got my little 8x9 plot in the backyard, the whole earth is God's plot of land... He is the Master Gardener and has so tenderly created every tree, every flower, every spot of mossy rock, just because He loves us. 

Perfect. Day.



The next 3 days are supposed to be incredible + then followed by a few days of rain, so I am in full digging mode. I keep reminding myself that I shouldn't get overzealous because the baby is coming smack at the beginning of August, but have you ever tried telling someone (especially yourself) who is in the thick of planning/planting a garden that they shouldn't get overzealous? Yeah-huh.

We were outside at 9:30 this morning running wild with the neighbor kid, worm-hunting and sod-digging and sun-soaking. I am so ready for this.

The most exciting news: SPROUTS! radishes, kale, mesclun, and arugula all popped up overnight and I feel like a brand-new parent all over again. To be fair, Lizzy told me yesterday that the radishes had come up, but it was raining and I didn't go outside at all, and honestly I halfway didn't believe her. Bad mommy.

This is my garden. 8x9. Small. The one area I've managed not to get overzealous. Ask me how big I'm digging the perennial bed along that fence, though. I don't know, because I haven't stopped digging yet.

Some unrelated freakouts:
Bach cello suites by Jorg Baumann. Totally affordable bliss.
Anna Maria's forthcoming All Set Skirt, which is going to cause a freakout all its own around here.
Sistah gettin down in WalMart at 39 weeks pregnant. Freaking rad.
Rachel's hanging map DIY caused the man + me to immediately order a rad map for the living room. Hasn't arrived yet.
Soap re-batching? Why has no one told me about this?