A Dorothy Story

rubySlippers

If Dorothy had just followed the red brick road…

She would have met a banker with a head full of money, a mechanic with a well oiled motor bike, and a furniture salesman with a penchant for animal prints. They would have arrived at the sapphire city and stayed in a posh hotel where there was a baking and cooking contest using the magical apples.

Dorothy would have gone on to open a skin care and wellness institute and become fast friends with the artist formerly known as the wicked witch of the west who really was suffering from an emerald allergy.

Using her shoes, she would have gone back to Kansas to visit and brought with her magic apple and poppy seeds which helped bring color and a lively business to her aunt and uncle.

The wizard would have come to visit Dorothy in the sapphire city and spent long weekends talking fashion and reminiscing about life in the old world.

To be continued…

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Fiesta Salsa Recipe

It was 9:20 pm Saturday night and I was walking to the garden, again, aided by a head lamp, with scissors and a measuring cup.

Because I wanted to make salsa that morning. Here is how my Saturday actually went.

I had to hit the farmer’s market before I could start. I needed a few items that weren’t quite ready in my garden. I had tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in the house that needed to be used soon but did not have peppers or garlic yet. I got up early, ran down to my jar supply, gathered a plethera of pints, realized that I only had 2 lids in my canning supply. I suppose I could pilfer the 5 new jelly jars with lids. I have to get more today, I need to get going on pickles too.

Only first I had to take girl child to the dentist at 7:30 am. Yes there is a dentist open, not just on weekends, but early morning weekends. We finished at the dentist, and visited two stores to pick up the perfect birthday gift for her BFF. Finally, we are at the farmer’s market. I had taken a photo of my recipe before I left the house, that way I could check that I had all the ingredients. Of course once we were there I only glanced at it, and remembered I needed garlic and hot peppers. Got them plus a few extras – like fresh made irish soda bread! So good toasted with butter slathered all over. Also good with honey. Mmmm.

We got home, and I started chopping tomatoes. I even took the time to squeeze out the seeds. This is a step I usually ignore because it seems like a waste, but then I realize later that the salsa is too liquidy, so I tried to follow the recipe. Except I only had 5.5 cups of tomatoes in the house. So off I traipse to the garden. You may be interested to know that our garden is at the opposite end of our property, away from our house by about 1/4 mile. I pick all the ripe tomatoes, promising my garden I will be back to pick the cucumbers and zucchinis, and maybe pull a few weeds, and see if there are any remaining peas, or beans. And yikes those turnips have to get processed today!

Back in the kitchen, I now have 7 cups of tomatoes, seeded, and chopped. I start on the next ingredient, 2 cups chopped, seeded, peeled cucumbers. This the is the main reason I chose this recipe. If you garden you know there are always too many zucchini, and the same can often apply to cucumbers, and tomatoes. I had searched the internet and found several recipes for zucchini in salsa, but none of them were canned, so I checked my blue book, and found the Fiesta Salsa. It contains cucumbers, which I discovered over the years of too many zucchini to deal with easily, could be substituted for cucumbers in most canning recipes. Bread and butter zucchini pickles are amazing by the way.

I seeded and chopped, but did not peel, 1 cup of cucumbers and 1 cup of zucchini. I didn’t want to chance the flavor too much, and I don’t believe in peeling cucumbers or zucchini. Such a waste, althought I’m sure there is a reason the recipe planner wanted me to peel them.

Next ingredent, hot peppers, several kinds, equalling 4 cups. I removed seeds, and threw them into the food processor. I’m a whimp when it comes to spice so I got a few medium hot peppers, and most mild hot peppers.

Then I was called away to help unload the animal feed from the truck. I realized in that moment that the feed shed really had to be cleaned, since I had officially evicted the chickens who had been calling it a coop for the last year. I emptied and cleaned, and organized and now it is a working feed shed only again. Although I think we will need to store firewood in it this winter.

Back in the kitchen, I realize I have only purchased 2 cups of peppers, so I topped it with 2 more cups of zucchini and cucumber. So much for me finally following a recipe.

Next ingredient, 1/4 cup minced cilantro. I don’t usually like the taste of cilantro, and usually substitute parsley from our patch, but I did not get a patch started this year, and guess what, I didn’t pick any up while at the farmers market.

Out I go to mention going into town to my hubby. He is getting ready to reattach the tiller to our garden tractor. So I stick around to help him out. Then go to check out the chickens in their new space, collect eggs from all around in their yard. Notice their water is low, fill it.

Get back inside, let the hubby know I have to go back to town. He lists some items he needs. I make a list, it includes cilantro, and majoram. Grab boy child and let girl child nap. Off we go.

I park in the lot near the co-op, and decide to run into the thrift store first. Boy child needs a few items for his Renaissance Festival costume. We look, probably linger too long, then head to the co-op. I pick up cilantro, and majoram. No sign of fresh parsley, I hope I still like it once the recipe is complete. Head off to fill hubby’s list.

Stop at 2 more thrift stores on the way. Find a vest that will be a perfect doublet. Get hubby’s items. Check the list again. All it good. Head home.

As we are pulling into the driveway. Hubby informs me we are going to work in the garden. He wants me to show him where he can till – there are some produce that is done or I have given up on. The letuce row that has bolted. The pea row that the wildlife consumed. The root row, where we pulled all the turnips.

We worked hard. Pulled giant weeds so the tiller could make it through. Pulled posts and string. Weeded around the peppers and tomatoes. Moved all the volunteer tomatoes from the rows we were tilling under. Replanted the tomatoes, picked the cucumbers and zucchinis.

Finally back at the house. We are all tired. I turn on the heat for the boiling water canner. We sit for a few episodes of Once Upon A Time. Send the kids off to bed.

Back to the kitchen. Start the dishwasher to sanitize my jars. Add ingredients to the pot, slowly, checking them off as I go.

7 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes
2 cups chopped, seeded cucumbers (zucchini)
2 cups chopped, seeded banana peppers
1 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped jalapeno
1/2 cup chopped anaheim peppers

Shoot! I only needed 3 cups of hot peppers! I pull 1 cup of the zucchini/cucumber mix off the top, reach into fridge, open bag – nope that’s asparagus. GAH! And so I was walking to the garden at 9:20 pm to get chives, desperate to finish the salsa, because there is no room in the fridge to store anything overnight.

Back to the house with a cup of chives. I finish the recipe.
1/4 cup minced cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
1 T dried marjoram (I couldn’t find fresh)
1 t salt
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 T lime juice

A little over an hour later I am finally done. I did run into a little trouble with the limes being scary old in the bottom drawer of the fridge, but I figured it out. 5 pints plus 1/2 cup were completed.

Salsa batch 1 complete. Sigh.

My Life Story … so far … Part 3

This evening the air is summer heavy with scent. Rich and reminiscent of lilac grandmothers.

My paternal grandmother was the hub of our extended family. Every holiday the Lagardes gathered at her home and feasted. Cousins, aunts, uncles, all together. Often the evening would end with spirited board games or tv movies. Laughter, more food, and love abounded. My grandmother was almost always in the kitchen cooking, or cleaning up – although it was usually the men’s job to wash the dishes. Eventually it was realized that my uncles, one a chef and one a cook, being in the kitchen almost as much as grandma, and the aunts, it should fall to us cousins to do the dishes. I loved my grandmother, and in retrospect I wish I had spent more time with her, learning. I hope to be a little like her someday.

When my grandmother died, we all did a little posturing to see who would be the new hub. My mother tried. I tried. An aunt tried. Ultimately the Lagardes went their separate ways into individual families. Although a funeral gathering still draws us all together for hours of food, and laughter, and discussion. Now, my older sister tends to be the main hub of the Bill Lagarde clan (I’m a little envious). We also migrated more of the Norton events, mostly hosted by one of my Aunts – the hub of the Nortons. She holds a great party, very relaxed, and I also hope to be a little like her someday.

I adore hosting parties. I adore fancy glassware. I adore beautiful food. I adore having all the best things for people to enjoy. I love cooking, and arranging, and baking, and discovering beautiful things. There were several years where I hosted annual parties with live bands, catered food, and art. Once I was married with children, I held combined Thanksgiving/boy-child birthday bashes with attendance in the 60 range. However, those years of success, faded away as people became unsingle and as we all got busy with our own lives.

Then we moved out of south Minneapolis. We had started gardening and raising chickens in our tiny Minneapolis back yard (funny story about how we got into chickens – to be told later). At that time boy-child was nearing kindergarten age and I started to feel nervous. I always felt perfectly safe in our neighborhood, but I worried about my kids in large public schools. Plus, I really wanted them to experience a simple country life like where I grew up. We moved far enough away to be inconvenient for people to visit, but not far enough to be a weekend destination. I lost many of my friends and party attendees.

I have a certain amount of regret for not finding a better property. We should have bought something with more trees, more land, a barn, and maybe even established gardens and pastures. Instead we moved into a major fixer-upper, inside and out, and have fought tooth and nail to get to where we are. Where it is starting to look how we planned, but there is still so much to do. It usually feels like an uphill, I will never get it all done, battle to dead tired life.

We are here attempting to build a self-sufficient + 1 life (provide for ourselves and at least one other family). We hold a monthly open house on the first Saturday of the month. My dream is that we will become a local hub for homesteading information and learning. My goal is to create art, bake, and grow good food. I want people around me who are also wanting to do these things. People who can teach me, and who I can teach. A family by choice. A homesteading dream farm.

This is why I do what I do. This is what I dream.

My life story … so far … Part 2

I just took Dani Johnson’s GEMs personality test. I just discovered I am 42.5% Sapphire and 37.5% Pearl. I must admit I was hoping for Ruby simply for the color. I love red. It has always been my favorite color.

I had a boyfriend in college. We broke up on valentines day. After that, every valentines day until I was married, I wore black. I called it my anti-celebration, but inwardly I loved everything to do with valentines. I loved the hearts. I loved the red. I loved the roses. I loved the beautiful heart shaped boxes of chocolates. I could never admit it to anyone, but I longed for someone to give me those silly, commercial romance items.

I thought I would be happier, more content if life was easy. If nothing was a struggle. If nothing required effort. I gave up talents. I skipped opportunities. Looking back I only see fear, and feel regret for those years when I could have done so much more, been so much more.

I managed to cram a 4 year degree into 5 years. Had some great times and made some life long friends. Explored spaces most other students never got to see. Wandered late at night, writing poetry, pushing away potential loves because I was afraid – I don’t know of what. I graduated.

Then I discovered dancing.

I had danced before, at high school dances where it was more about finding someone to dance with, than the movement and music. I had danced at weddings to all the silly songs they would play. I took ballet and modern dance lessons, a few community ed ballroom lessons. I discovered dancing at a club. I discovered dance mixes played by DJs in dimly lit, alcohol laden, crowded spaces. While I danced I felt free and beautiful. I think I had somehow lost that feeling in the woods, in the top branches of the climbing tree, or down by the crick next to the gooseberries.

I discovered swing dancing. There was a usual group of us, always at Lee’s Liquor Lounge, where the music was rockabilly, and there was swing, two-step, and a little lindy. One of our group always introduced me as Eve to others. I wondered why, pondered it, and decided I liked it.

I discovered the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and began working there as Eve, the apple lady. A silent flirt who fell in love with everyone, and gave apple massages.

I met my husband at there. I thought he was cute. I wrote poetry, he wrote beans. It is a good memory. After much struggle, drama, learning, and growing; after a tree was caught, doctors were visited, and houses were purchased; we were married. Our children spent summers with us in the lanes at the festival. My little blue-eyed mud baby was quite famous as was my brown-eyed baby in a hoop skirt.

I guess I better make this continue on another day, because it is again past my bedtime, and I feel there is more to share.

My Life Story … so far … Part 1

Hi. My name is April J. I grew up on a homestead in a small town near Duluth. My mom was a Mother Earth News type before it was popular. We had close to 40 wooded acres, huge gardens, occasionally raised chickens, spent summers camping and fishing, and winters sliding and hauling fire wood.

My dad was a math and computers teacher at the local high school. My mom managed the home. There were 7 of us kids – 5 adopted. My mom kept a tight budget, planned meals, and bought what was wholesome, and cheap. She often made clothes for us, and once my sisters allergies were known, our bread was always 100% whole wheat and home made. We got milk from the local dairy stock tank.

As much as my kid brain thought we never had the money for the good stuff, candy and restaurants and designer clothes and the latest toys, we had enough.

I was shy. An introvert. Very happy reading in my room, or out exploring our woods. Climbing trees, collecting wild berries, catching frogs. I was emotional, a peace keeper. I was afraid of the dark. I enjoyed working in the garden. I thought no one liked me.

6 days before my 13th birthday I got sick. My school photo was that day and I look strange and pale. I remember loads of doctors trying to figure out what it was. One doctor said maybe appendix, but probably not. Almost a month later they decided to operate assuming an ovarian cyst. Ended up being a burst appendix. 3 hours to clean up scar tissue. My first meal after recovering from surgery was green jello because it was St. Patricks day. Funny story, when my first child was born by c-section, they found staples from that surgery still inside me.

I started writing poetry somewhere around middle or junior high school. I also took several art classes. I found school to be easy, and didn’t push myself at all – I always wish I had.

College was much of the same. I realized I wanted to be creative, but because poetry did not seem a financially stable career, I tried journalism. I realized that was not for me. Next I chose Graphic Design, which is what my degree is, a BA in Graphic Design. I wish I had pushed harder. I wish I had taken more math and science. My first year I took both and excelled and had both professors wanting me to take more. I wish I had gotten a dual degree in fine arts. I wish I had done more theatre, and not dropped music. I wish I hadn’t stopped running. I wish I had gone to the Sorbonne where I had been accepted my junior year – but chickened out.

So much of my life has had me taking tentative steps. Afraid of the wrong choice, afraid to take risks, afraid to pursue anything. I have so many regrets and I keep thinking over them all the time. I am working toward breaking free of this habit of defeat.

More next time – it’s past my bedtime and I have to work early tomorrow.

 

Why

I’m taking an course called Gameplan by Sarah Harnisch. It is a Young Living specific book. “The complete strategy guide to go from starter kit to silver.

My next several posts are directly related to things I’m learning creating as I go through the book. Bear with me please.

Lesson one is directly related to committing to a end game. What is the reason you are in this? What is your why? What has put a burning passion in you to get going in this business, yes, but ultimately, what will you do once you win? What will you do with your first paycheck? What will you do with the money once your at silver? What will you life look like? What is your bucket list dream from your life?

My why is this:

I will be debt free. I will be financially stable. I will have the freedom of being home full-time in order to spend my days building my homestead business and making art. I will bring us to Self-sufficient + 1.

I want to rise above this financial mess we have created and live a life of financial freedom. I want time to create, bake, dance, garden, whatever strikes my fancy. I don’t want to spend the end of every month worried about that last $20 covering the last 3 days of the month.

Every now an then I allow myself to daydream about what the day will be like once I have paid off the debts. Usually it involves more sleep, lots of outside time, a clean room with an easel and paints, home made meals, a slow cup of coffee.

This book promises all of this if I follow the steps.

Join me on my oily journey by signing up as a member here.

Panaway Blend Essential Oil

This is the basic script I will use in a Facebook class I will present on 2/21/17.
Post 1: Disclaimer
I failed to mention on my lemon post that I took the U of MN Extension Master Gardeners core course last year and after volunteering for a year, I am officially a Master Gardener! I love gardens, planting, and knowing that I have grown something we are eating or using. Which is why my posts on oils will often tell you more about the original plant than other posts. I plan to grow  as many of my own plants for further research and use.

I am not a medical professional. What I share with you I have read while doing research on each of the oils. I also will share my personal experiences.

I am a Young Living Independent Distributor. Feel free to send me a private message if you have any question.

 panaway
PanAway is an essential oil blend from Young Living. It contains Wintergreen, Helichrysum, Clove, and Peppermint. It is considered to be a hot oil – which means you should not apply it directly to the skin without a carrier oil (diluting oil like grapeseed, coconut, or other vegetable oils). PanAway has a child-proof cover.

Young Living says, “Apply PanAway® after exercise or to the neck and back anytime for a soothing and stimulating aromatic experience.”

I was hoping to stick with single oils, but I was encouraged by a friend to research this blend for the support of my hubby.

LIVE: WINTERGREEN
Young Living says “Wintergreen’s refreshing minty aroma is stimulating and invigorating. It is a great addition to lotions that are applied after activity.”

Wintergreen’s latin name is Gaultheria procumbens (G. procumbens). The plant is also called the eastern teaberry, the checkerberry, or the boxberry. Wintergreen is a short shrub only growing about 6″ tall. It grows well in zones 3-8 which means I can grow it here on my farm in Minnesota – another things to add to the list. I may have actually come across a wintergreen plant in the neighbors field – I will let you know once I find out for certain. The fruits of G. procumbens are edible with a taste of mildy sweet wintergreen. The leaves and branches are listed on some sites as making an herbal tea, but be cautious, I have read other reports that it is not safe for consumption. For the leaves to yield significant amounts of their essential oil, they need to be fermented for at least three days. This oil is NOT considered safe for human consumption so keep out of the reach of children.

POST:
The main chemical components of wintergreen oil are menthyl salicylate (85-99%) which accounts for almost all the health-promoting properties.  It is topically soothing. It also contains guaiadiene, a-pinene, myrcene, delta 3-carene, limonene and delta-cadinene. Menthyl Salicylate (85-99% of wintergreen’s makeup).

LIVE:
Wintergreen is a traditional native North American remedy. It was used for aches and pains, and to help with breathing while hunting or carrying heavy loads. The clean and minty scent of this herbal oil is associated with relieving pain and stimulating mental well-being; as well as its ability to clear the airway. It is also useful in dissolving gum residue.
 —
LIVE: HELICHRYSUM

Young Living says, “Helichrysum is a great oil to diffuse when studying or doing homework, Helichrysum has a stimulating aroma that no home should be without.”

Helichrysum italicum is a flowering plant of the daisy family. It is sometimes called the Golden Eternal Flower, Everlasting, Strawflower, Curry Plant, Immortelle, and Curry or Licorice Plant because of the strong smell of its leaves. It can reach 2 feet or more in height. The yellow flowers come out in summer and they keep their color after picking. It grows on dry, rocky or sandy ground in Zones 8-11 (native to France, Italy) which make it another plant for my indoor herb garden – although the height might be a little problematic. The oil comes from its blossoms and steam distillation occurs within 24 hours of harvesting.

POST:
Helichrysum contains a fairly high level of Neryl Acetate, and has a high level of Sesquiterpene Hydrocarbons and Diketones. These main components contribute to relieving, relaxing, and reducing tissues in the area of an injury, sleeping better, more focus, and improving mood.

LIVE:
Europeans historically used Helichrysum to help with wounds, infections, digestive problems, supporting the nervous system, heart health, healing respiratory conditions, and for attracting a lover. To use helichrysum essential oil for soothing skin, combine it with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil and rub the mixture onto the affected area. I was excited to see that applying helichrysum mixed with lavender oil can help cool and soothe itching after an encounter with poison ivy.

LIVE: CLOVE
Young Living says “Clove is an important ingredient in Young Living’s Thieves oil blend, and has a scent that is very warm and inviting. Always dilute Clove when using topically.”

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) oil is steam distilled from the flower buds. The clove tree is an evergreen that grows about 30′ – 40′ tall and is an ultra-tropical tree which will not survive temperatures below 50F, or above 100F. It requires a humid climate with 50 to 70 inches of rainfall annually; well-drained, fertile loam; and a position in full sun or part shade. I will not be able to grow this tree indoors because my indoor temperature will occasionally drop below 50 in the winter. The buds start out a pale, milky white color, which gradually shifts to green. Just before blooming, the flower buds take on a deep red color – it is at this stage that they are ready to be picked. If allowed to flower, the plant produces a striking pink flower, which is then followed by purple berries. The fruit, called mother-of-cloves, is an edible purple berry about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch across. The entire plant is extremely ­aromatic.

POST:
Cloves contain – among other compounds – gallotannins, triterpenes, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Oil derived from Cloves contains additional compounds including 60–90% eugenol, acetyl eugenol, caryophyllene and other minor constituents.

LIVE:
Clove has a long history as a folk remedy for toothache. Pakistan folk medicine used cloves to treat the common cold, cough and flu to more serious conditions such as asthma, jaundice and heat stroke.  Europeans used clove tea as a digestive aid. Traditional Chinese medicine used cloves to treat fungal infections, diarrhea, hernia, hiccups, indigestion, intestinal parasites, impotence, ringworm, and kidney disorders. During the Middle Ages, cloves were used to cure the plague and were also considered an aphrodisiac due to the similarity in shape to the human penis. I know a ballerina who uses it on her feet and legs diluted by a carrier oil to help with sore and achey muscles after hours of dancing.

LIVE: PEPPERMINT

Young Living says “Fresh, nostalgic, and instantly recognizable, Peppermint essential oil’s scent invigorates the mind and senses, while inspiring a sense of peace. Used topically, Peppermint oil creates a cool, tingling sensation on the skin, making it a favorite for sports massage. When your day is dragging—through a workout, class, or day at work—enjoy some Peppermint oil benefits by applying it to your head and neck. The refreshing aroma will give you a boost of positivity!”

Mentha piperita aka peppermint is a cross between watermint and spearmint. It originally grew in Europe and the Middle East. It grows about 12–35 in tall. If you find a plant you think is mint, check for a square stem: if it is square you know it is part of the mint family and it is edible. Did you know that creeping charlie is a mint? Peppermint will grow invasive in zones 3-7, so plant with caution. It won’t tolerate dry conditions. While partial sun is sufficient for peppermint, planting it in full sun will increase the potency of its oils and medicinal qualities. I have not yet planted peppermint, but it is on this list to add to one of my pots on the patio this year. oil that is produced and harvested from the leaves just before the plant begins to flower.

POST
Peppermint has a high menthol content. The oil also contains menthone and carboxyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate. Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of many additional compounds including limonene, pulegone, caryophyllene and pinene. Menthol is an organic compound that produces a cooling sensation when applied to the mouth or skin.
LIVE:

The Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians all have historical record of using peppermint medicinally. Chewing a few peppermint leaves was thought to relieve a toothache. Indigestion, cold and flu sufferers could find some relief by drinking peppermint tea. Peppermint oil was found useful in combating flatulence and mild indigestion. Many over-the-counter stomach aids today contain peppermint to both enhance the taste as well as the effectiveness of the medicine. Be cautious peppermint is something of a trigger food for many suffering from acid reflux and may cause their symptoms to worsen. Also be cautious when using peppermint around small children as it can be overwhelming and cause scary breathing issues. Our family uses peppermint as a key ingredient our focusing blend, headache blend, and in our seasonal support blend. I like to use a drop in my water after a big meal too.