Monday, April 25, 2016

72 Hour Survival Bag

Putting together a Basic 72 Hour Survival Bag One Step at a time.

I like to do things step by step. That is why I am putting this step by step building of a Basic 72 Hour Survival Kit together. I am going to add items for you to get for your Basic 72 Hour Survival Bag one or two at a time. If you want to skip the weekly posts you can jump to the bottom and check out the FEMA pdf that lists everything.

Week One

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sweet Violet Syrup and other Recipes

Who are the violets now That strew the green lap of the new Come spring?
                                                                      Richard II

Within Christian symbolism the violet stands for the virtue of humility, or humble modesty, and several legends tell of violets springing up on the graves of virgins and saints. European folktales associate violets with death and mourning.

The leaves are tasty both raw and cooked. They are a wonderful addition to fresh salads for a vitamin boost. The flowers are sweet and tangy, and make a gorgeous garnish on salads and desserts.

Medicinally, violet is a gentle but potent remedy. It is classified as an alternative (or "blood purifier"), which means it helps the body restore optimal functioning by aiding metabolic processes, especially the elimination of waste products. Violet stimulates the lymphatic glands, helping the body get rid of bacteria and other toxins. It is especially useful for swollen glands. Over time, violet can help clear stubborn problems like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Taking Violet after a long winter is a wonderful way to get our bodies ready for a healthy and energetic spring.

Violet also supports the immune system, helping to clear infections of all kinds. Soothing and cooling, it helps reduce fever and inflammation. It can be useful in treating sinus infections, bronchitis, sore throats and coughs.

Violet leaves can even help to shrink tumors and cancers. They are most effective when taken both internally and used externally as a poultice. They are also helpful in clearing up other growths and lumps such as cysts, mastitis, and fibrocystic breasts.

Making Violet Syrup

The first step is gathering violet flowers.  Fill a one quart canning, packing loosely.

Pour boiling water into the jar, over the violet flower and filled it to the top. Put a plastic lid on it and let it sit to cool for a while. Once it was cool enough to handle put it in the fridge to cool over night. 

Strain the water from the violet flowers using a fine mesh strainer, measuring and pouring into a large kettle as you go along.

I averaged about 2 and 1/4 cups to 2 and 1/3 cups from each one quart jar I strained.

Use equal amounts of sugar to make a light syrup. You can use any kind of sugar you like. I used raw cane sugar to make my syrup.

Add the sugar to the strained liquid and bring to a boil, continue on a light boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

At this point you may either preserve your syrup in canning jars according to the manufactures instructions or you may put it in a clean and sterilized jar or bottle of your choice to refrigerate for near future use.

You can use your Violet Syrup over pancakes, scones, waffles, you can add it to your tea, or use it on Derby Day and make some Violet Julips.

Violet Julip

1.5 ounces bourbon
1.5 ounces Violet Syrup
1.5 ounces lemon juice
4-6 Violet flowers

To a tall glass add bourbon and violet syrup. Fill with crushed ice and garnish with violet flowers. 

In the same fashion you can make
Violet Vinegar.

Fill a pint jar, loosely packed, with violet flowers. In a small sauce pan heat a cup plus a splash more of apple cider vinegar to boiling. When hot remove from heat and pour in jar over the violet flowers. Cover with a plastic lid. Cool and place in a cool dark place from 1 to 6 weeks until desired color is reached.
Strain and decant into pretty clean and sterilized bottles.

  • Full strength on a cotton ball is very cooling and good to relieve bug bites and itchy spots. 
  • Makes a lovely hair rinse; assists in soap removal, can help control dandruff.
  • Add 1/2 to 1 cup to bathwater for some softening, skin soothing and anti inflammatory properties. If you add Epsom Salts to the mix the synergy becomes more powerful; add equal amounts of both. 
  • Dilute to half strength and store in a micro mist spray bottle in the fridge for sunburn.
  • Micro mist spray on your face for Rosecea.
  • Mix: 3 parts Witch Hazel to 1 part Violet Vinegar for after shave splash.
  • Sooth tired achy feet in a foot bath.

Violet Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tablespoons light oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Violet Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon crumbled bacon
  • 1/2 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

Shake together in a covered jar and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld together. Shake again and pour over salad. Recipe may easily be multiplied.

Note: Violet Vinegar should be stored in a dark cabinet as the light will fade the beautiful color. It will keep at least a year though the color is most brilliant during the first months.

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you. Please note that the information here is not to be used in place of professional medical advice from your Doctor. I am not a medical practitioner but a woman who loves nature.  Do you have any other recipes and uses for violets that I could add to this page? Do you like to use natural ingredients? What are some of your favorites?

Keep Scrolling for the Iroquois Legend of the Violet...

Many Moons before the white man came to the land of the Red Indian, there lived a young warrior who was the pride of his tribe; for dangerous deeds had he accomplished for the good of his people. He had slain the Great Heron that destroyed their children, and he had brought back from the Mountain of the Witches the healing roots that cured the plague.

Once when he led a band of warriors against another tribe, he saw in the lodge of one of his enemies a maiden so gentle and lovely that he longed to have her for his wigwam. But because of the strife between the two tribes, he could not buy her with quills of the Wampum Bird.

So after he had returned victorious with his warriors to his own village, he often thought of the maiden, and how, unless he could light his wigwam with the brightness of her eyes, he would no longer lead out his young men to battle.

At last he went forth alone, and hid in the woods near the village of his enemies. There he watched patiently for the maiden whose eyes had softened his heart.

He sang her praises so often that the little birds took up his song and carried it in their flight, over valley and meadow. The Bear, the Fox, and the Beaver heard him murmur her name in his sleep, and thought that a bright new flower had been born in the woodland.

With the calls of the song-birds, he wooed the maiden from her lodge, and lifting her, bore her away toward the hunting-grounds of his people.

But, alas! a suitor of the maiden saw her carried swiftly off upon the shoulder of the dreaded warrior. He dared not follow, but fled to the village and gave the alarm. The braves left him—a coward—in the hands of the women, and hastened in pursuit of the maiden and her lover.

They followed them over mountains and plains all through the dark night. And as the morning dawned, they found them in the forest. And when the braves saw the maiden, they were filled with anger, for she had plaited her hair about the neck of the young man, to show that she was a willing captive and had given him her heart.

Then her people, enraged at their foe for his daring, and at the maiden because she had deserted her tribe, killed them both, and left their bodies lying where they fell.

And from this spot in the forest sprang up the first Blue Violets. And the winds and the birds carried the seeds of the flowers and scattered them over all the Earth. So they did, that in the Springtime youths and maidens might pluck the little blue flower that breathes of constant love.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring has Sprung

So, spring has finally decided to show it's pretty face today, here in Southern Indiana (Zone 6b). I was outside bright and early, this is the first year for me to actually be able to do this since we moved in June 2014.  I have been growing in pots and tried to create a raised garden which ended up being too shady for all the greens that I planted in it. (The garlic that over wintered there looks good and should be ready in about April) The pets played outside and enjoyed the sun too, I will show you some more of them as we go, the above picture is Silver, she is a very loving young cat.

Today I began digging a new garden spot to concentrate my herbs in, it's in an area that has quite a bit of clay but a lot of humus matter that the little red worms seemed to like because they were in every forkful I lifted and turned. They were in every size imaginable and the large worms had nice sized clitellum (egg making sacks). If you would like a fact sheet on the red worms you can find it here at the Earth Matter website. I was happy to make new little red wiggler friends because when we moved I dumped my indoor worm farm outside in my "old" garden.

Zazoo walks back and forth on the fence watching over everything and everyone, here he in in stalker mode.

Above is the columbine and to the right is the row of marigolds and the radishes. You can see the chunks of clay in the soil along with the leaf litter that I have been mowing with the lawn mower and just turning into the garden area.

I am still working out where gardens and walks will be. I spend a little time staking out my chicken yard fence so I can live within these boundaries and  see how they work before I actually get the fence up. The chickens are roaming the whole yard at the moment but this needs to end quickly because they kept coming to my newly turned garden area. I did turn some soil for them to play in away from the new garden but when I came back to gather up tools I noticed there was a fresh wallow on the marigold and radishes.

  Elsa roamed in the sunshine today too. This was her first real play outside day since her surgery when she was spayed. She wasn't interested much in me so I didn't get any pictures of her beautiful eyes while looking at me.

The man child came home from school just in time to help me plant the garlic, gee, you'd think I planned it that way. It was so nice that he was eager to help out. I have a feeling school will be getting hard to go to soon. He was excited because they are offering swimming lessons at the YMCA and he's signed up to go.

Good job planting the garlic!
Nice and evenly spaced all in a row! 

Here is the man child letting off some after school wiggles by sword (stick) fighting with bad guys (the tree). I love the nice weather when the boy can get outside and run off that steam instead of saying, "can I watch tv now?". It's easier to distract him from it when he's outside than it is when he's inside.

Here is something that might make you giggle. After we planted the man child wanted to do a little bit of a photo shoot so while he was off to get his cape I wandered out into the back yard and was delighted to find this stripe of lush green grass that was warmed by the sun.

So as I lay down and wallowed in it a bit I started thinking about it... I sat up and looked around and began to giggle, this must be where the septic tank is. You know what the old saying is, "Life is always greener over the septic tank."

Then I had the man child lay in it so I could take a picture.

Nothing quite says, "Spring" like a boy in a tree.




All in all it was a very good day and I got to spend the end of it with my hero!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bird Feeding Zone

When we moved here we put a lot of stuff in storage and my gardening things were some of them which included all of my bird feeders. Now I have some really nice ones so I acquired one more... but when it didn't seem like the birds realized it was there I knew I needed to have more feeders. I looked about and came up with some ideas that could get me through and this is the first one.                                                                                                                                                                      

 I used a large plastic pretzel container I had saved and then I found this plate in the camping box, it is also plastic.

I put three holes in the bottom equal distance apart using a high heat glue gun and a paring knife. I then put some Original Gorilla Glue on it and weighted it down with a heavy book.

The next morning I reinforced it with three self tapping metal screws. I wrapped the top with 20 gage wire to hang it up with.

 and filled it with Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

I hung it out in an oak tree and the birds began to come.

If you build it they will come.

Tuffed Titmouse


 This is a dark eyed Junco (male)

 This is a Tuffed titmouse again

This almost looks the same but then again it looks different.

Predators: Remember to hang your feeders high when planning your Bird Feeding Zone.

The Chickens have found the Bird Feeding Zone too...

This cardinal has taken charge over this feeder, he has been chasing the chickadees away when he feels like feeding. That is why I filled the second feeder so they won't have to go too far while he is around.

I have really enjoyed watching the birds over the last few days. As I see more birds I will add them to the page as they come along. Also, this is just a spur of the moment Bird Feeding Zone. I will plan one out this winter and create it in the coming summer. Please share with me any and all your birding secrets.

Peace, Kirsten

Friday, January 8, 2016

January is New Beginnings

This picture was taken last year at this time when we were looking to buy this house and property. 
It doesn't look so shabby this year, the lawn is now mowed through this space.

Today is January 8th, 2016. I am getting excited already for spring. One of the signs that spring is coming have happened; my solar lights that have been dark for a while began to glow last night, after a long sun filled day. It is as if hope is in the air; "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all." Emily Dickinson. 

I pretty much lost the last two summers in the way of gardening. I did get in the ground a bit of greens, onions, potatoes, pot herbs and garlic last summer but the fulfilling dig in the garden time was not there. I am looking forward to it very much. I am pleasantly aware of the fact that Southern Indiana has such a short winter.

I bought a garden fork the other day. I can do great things with one of these. Most of my gardening tools and my rototiller is still being stored at grandmas in the north, the plan is to begin toting these items south this spring. It is all part of planting roots in a new place, a new homestead. The possibilities are endless. It has been quite a while since I have started a new garden... I will miss my little house in the north with its untamed English Style Garden but I look forward to starting again and creating something new. This property is like a blank slate, I have found only a few planted things; hosta, ajuga and some purple cone flowers.  It will all be new and fresh. Starting over is hard and a new beginning harold's the end of something else.  

I have met some wonderful new people since I have moved here but I have noticed that people my age (not too old but old enough) are a bit set in their ways. They have lives, friends, family and even though they are gregarious and quite friendly they aren't completely interested in rearranging their world to create space for a new friend. I understand this but it doesn't really change the fact that I miss my bff, the one who can finish my sentences and show up at my house at 5 am in her jammies and make a pot of coffee, if I don't already have one going. I am a social creature and even though my friend is the sister of my heart she is 407 miles away and isn't available for visits. This doesn't make me any less lonely and do I understand it isn't about loyalty, it's about moving forward and being open for new friendships. Now taking applications for BFF; must love coffee and digging in the dirt. Having a creative spirit and a solid opinion are great assets! Apply over coffee! "A single act of Kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees." Amelia Earhart

I struggled with the fact that when we moved we were leaving family behind. We are missing out on the daily growth of the children and grandchildren. I think when my son and his family moved away to New York for a better opportunity for their success, it made me realize that we did not need to stay in a spot where we were unable to thrive. I am grateful for cell phones and skype! I love all of my family who are miles from me and I miss them deeply but I do understand they have the purpose of living their lives too.

Everyday is a new day full of great things to come and I look forward to sharing them with you.

How about you? Have you had new beginnings? What things did you do to prepare and accomplish them? Are you contemplating a new beginning? I would love to hear about your new beginnings and the steps involved.

Peace, Kirsten

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 Kirsten Hughes Photography

Photos by Kirsten Hughes Photography
DePauw, Indiana