Self Care Sunday

Self Care Sunday: Zinnia Edition

Self care is so important. One of my favorite methods of self care is making my own flower infused oil for my moisturizers. I enjoy using coconut oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil to make this concoction. In this post I’ll be infusing coconut oil with Zinnias, but you can use whatever flower and oil you have at hand. Remember to use flowers and ingredients that are organic and healthy for your skin, body, and soul. Beware of using plants and ingredients with pesticides or unknown chemicals.

While working on a community garden, I was given a plethora of Zinnias for my trouble. Zinnias, I found, are not only edible but they are a great flower to use in tinctures and other medicines as they may improve cholesterol levels and have anti-fungal properties. These plants are also great soil cleaners, and can be planted to remove toxicity from the soil.

Along with all the positive health benefits and attraction of humming birds and beneficial insects, these flowers are absolutely beautiful. I’ve really enjoyed working with them.

To begin, I took all of the Zinnias and cut the flowers off the stems, leaving only an inch or less of stem. Then, I dried the Zinnias in an oven at the lowest setting possible for about twenty minutes. The lower the heat the better, as the higher the heat the more terpenes get burnt off. Terpenes are kind of like the essential oils of the plants.

After I dried the flowers in the oven at a very low heat, I melted whatever was left in my coconut oil jar. I used a small metal pot, but really you can use whatever pot or deep pan you have on hand. After the coconut oil melted, I put the Zinnias in it and let it sit on the lowest heat possible for about two hours. You can leave it as long or little as you’d like. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why I chose two hours, it just seemed like the right amount of time.

Then I grabbed one of my small glass jars and put a funnel on top. After pouring the liquid in the small glass jar I squeezed the flowers to continue pressing more of the oil into the jar.

The small glass jar is my Zinnia infused coconut oil.

This little glass jar will last a while, and if kept in cool conditions can last even longer. I will use this particular concoction as body butter, face moisturizer, and hair cream.

To use this as a body butter I’ll use a more generous amount and massage it into my skin. The warmth of my hands will melt the coconut oil if it has solidified.

To use this as a facial cream I’ll take a very small amount, just touch it slightly with my index and middle finger, and apply that to my face. I don’t use more than that as coconut oil is very rich and too much makes me break out.

To use as a hair moisturizer I use a small dab about the size of my index finger’s tip. I don’t need much at all, and I have long hair.

Post a comment and let me know: do you like playing with your self care goop and making your own measurements, or do you like carefully built recipes? What’s your favorite method of self care?

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Uncategorized, Wood Working

Chainsaw Flowers

Yesterday, we hit the lottery! A local homestead wanted this beautiful, dead tree to be chopped up and hauled away. Banjo, Hillbilly Gilly and I couldn’t resist. This beautiful, ginormous tree had hard, sturdy wood and it was absolutely beautiful.

As you can see in the photo, there are these floral-like pattern in the grain of the tree that is just gorgeous.

I have been brainstorming a few different projects with these large, gorgeous circles and the options seem endless. I’m completely new to wood working; in fact, I’m new to all of these hands-on projects. I was a city gal and bookworm up until a few years ago. I’m still a bookworm, but now I’m a bookworm that knows how to use a drill and a Sawzall.

Let me know below what you think about this wood! Do you like wood working? What would you make with this?

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Gardening

Oh no, my [EDIT] tomatillos!

NOTE: The first part of this post was originally written and published on Nov. 6, 2020

So my first time growing peppers I was very excited to sow the seeds, try to grow small pepper babies, and hopefully end up enjoying some beautiful garden peppers in no time. I sowed some $0.20 seeds in small to medium sized pots with a mixed soilless medium of coco coir, pete moss, and some left over Better Homes and Gardens soil. I was pumped.

Did I mention that this was about three-four months ago?

Yes, my journey with growing foods is incredibly new. I’m not sure about you, friend, but this year has been a big eye opener for me. After graduating college a year and a half ago, I started seriously thinking how much I consumed and how I wanted to vote with my dollars. That’s where my journey to start growing and foraging my own foods began.

So this is how I’ve gotten to sad, balloon-y peppers.

These are my incredibly sad peppers.

Trying to grow foods has left me beginning to realize just how much beings of all kinds have in common. Both plants and humans need so much from our environments, and communicate this in so many ways.

These poor peppers had been telling me, for clearly a long time of neglect in my container garden, that they needed nutrients. They tried to blossom with fruit, but sadly this poor plant didn’t have enough fertilizer to actually be able to develop the peppers themselves.

So here was my solution to these balloon-y peppers:

I found this at a local nursery. It seems to be worth while, as for only $13.00 this bag should feed my plants about 100 and some odd times.

I only used the tip of a tea-spoon’s worth per plant, using a little less for smaller plants and a little more for bigger plants. This brand seemed the best because it has active soil microbial in it and seemed to be the most natural out of the selection.

I will update you all on how these turn out in a week. Here’s hoping that this plant can grow and thrive on this nutritious feeding, and that maybe the balloon-y pepper ghosts will grow some meat.

Let me know what you use to help feed your plants and how you know your plants are hungry. What type of fertilizer do you use?

UPDATED NOTE: This was written and published on Nov. 9, 2020

This is so hilarious to me; I was so excited to write this and update you all. Thank you so much Carolee for your comment, as it sparked me to do some research on what I had been convinced were sad, balloon-y peppers.

What I found is that indeed, they are not peppers! Carolee had mentioned in the comments for this post that she thought they were a weed in the nightshade family. When I did research I realized she was right, they did look a lot like a dangerous weed! My research also showed me the similarity between the look of this weed and the tomatillo, or Mexican Ground Cherry, looks like.

I deduced that these were tomatillos because of two factors: I had not seen this weed in the area before and I had planted tomatillo seeds along with the peppers, but assumed that the surviving plants were peppers.

So a huge thanks to Carolee who has a really rad blog with so much amazing knowledge of organic farming.

Learn with me, let’s continue the discussion below! Have you ever grown tomatillos?

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Forest Projects

Mushroom Inoculation

DISCLAIMER: we are amateurs at mushroom growing and foraging! This is a fun experiment for us to see how we can grow edible mushrooms in the forest with all natural components.

You might be asking me, “why inoculate mushrooms so close to winter?” And that, my friend, would be a very good question. Like all plants, mushroom have different seasons they fruit in and seasons in which they are dormant. Today, we started Lion’s Mane mushrooms, Maitake mushrooms, and King Oyster mushrooms by inoculating logs with dowel rods. Lion’s Mane will grow throughout the winter so we should be able to harvest these soon. Maitake is normally found in August until the beginning of November, so hopefully these will grow hardy mycelium and sprout epic mushrooms next year. There are some species of oyster that blossom in winter, I am hoping this species will.

Essentially, this quest started when we were gifted inoculated dowel rods, or small cylindrical wooden pieces with mushroom mycelium already growing. These we felt would not be getting any better with time, and instead of letting these waste away until Spring we decided to plant them now and hope their roots grow and strengthen over time.

This is the dowel rod that is inoculated with Lion’s Mane mycelium.

To try this yourself at home you need the following:

1. Something to make a small hole in wood. We used an electric drill with a 3/8ths paddle bit.
2. Mushroom spores or an inoculated medium. We used Lion’s Mane and King Oyster inoculated dowel rods and a Maitake syringe.
3. Something to host the mushrooms as they grow. We used logs in the forest and tree trunks as our substrate.

To begin this process, we found trees that were dead or dying. We chose the north facing side of the log because we are in the northern hemisphere and therefore the sun exposure comes from the south. These mycelium should be kept out of direct sunlight, as they begin to die off in the heat and light.

When choosing the logs to host the mycelium we went with logs that were already growing mushrooms.

Then, we began drilling holes in the logs that were about 2 and 1/2 inches deep. This allowed us space for the dowel rod and for a bit of the saw dust, which we packed on top to protect the mycelium. It is very important that the hole with the mycelium is covered to protect against direct sunlight and keep moisture in the area of growth.

This is the end result: a firmly packed saw dust-covered dowel rod. For extra protection add more covering in the form of leaves, branches, or wooden pieces/logs.

A few extra notes…

We planted a few of the dowel rods in saw dust piles that have been left in the forest from a few different chain saw projects we’ve completed in the past. These hold moisture very well and protect the dowel rod. We are hoping these too will blossom come Spring time.

Some cool information about the mushroom species we used:

Maitake Mushroom
This mushroom has, “demonstrated anti cancer effects,” and is used in Japan and China as a part of treatment for diabetes and hypertension. Maitake also stimulates the immune system and has been studied in small groups of cancer patients.
This information was found in the MSK Cancer Center website.

King Oyster Mushroom
Eryngii or king trumpet mushrooms are the largest of the oyster mushroom genus. They are enjoyed for their meaty texture and umami flavor. These mushrooms are often compared to scallops or abalone, and often are called ‘vegan scallops’ or ‘mushroom steaks.’
This information was found on the Great British Chefs’ Website.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Latin name: hericium erinaceus. This medicinal mushroom has been used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used as an anti-cancer supplement and gastritis medication. In clinical trials, Hericium was shown to improve cognitive function.
This information was found on the Restorative Medicine website.

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