Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the no-poo experiment is going quite well. hair looks minorly greasy, but not overwhelmingly so. i think it'll look better once it's grown out more as well, right now it's in that horrible inbetween stage that's prevented me from growing it out for a couple years now. made the simple mistake of too much essential oil in the acv rinse, so instead of my hair smelling mildly of frankincense, it was almost like black pepper. thankfully, that faded within about 12 hours, but i'm not sure how wes slept next to me without getting a headache.

this week, the focus for me will be on finding my balance again. spend a little too much time socializing and cutting loose last week, a little too much drinking, a little too little focus. tuesday, thursday, friday, saturday, spent most of the last two days chitty chatting on the internets whilst getting my overdue homework done and working.

man, my cucumber plants look TERRIBLE. although, we've finally spotted a few little cukes growing. harvested two zucchini this weekend the size of baseball bats, stuffed them, and had them for dinner. and lunch. and dinner. andrew LOVED it, which is great. harvested purple and green beans as well. don't think we've eaten those yet. ...why can't i remember? one melon plant is growing well, the other took one for the team and got eaten by japanese beetles. broccoli plants are doing well. still two mammoth zucchini to harvest, my blasted heirloom tomatoes are finally starting to turn beautiful colors. four giant tomato plants....all will ripen at once. this does not bode well. my little loose leaf lettuce plant is still pretty small though. yes, way to plant a cool weather plant in the middle of the summer. tim and eric awesome show, great job!!!

hops seem to be a wonderful relaxant for me, but i will say, too much beer....not so great. i've come to love the bitterness of ipa's. however, liquor just doesn't bode well for me. i don't often drink enough to get a physical hangover, but it does not take much to give me a brain hangover. this effect is usually felt not the first day after drinking, but the second. sluggy thought processes, disconnection, tiredness, some anxiety, some depression. the longer the period of drinking, the worse the brain hangover is. i'd like to tincture some hops and see how that works.

speaking of tincturing, my 4 tinctures should be ready now - calendula, wild yam root, licorice root, cramp bark. i was told to hold off on my pressing, and it didn't dawn on me until later why wes told me to wait.

....i'm getting a tincture press for my birthday.

also, so far, i've gotten some more sewing supplies (i haven't sewed in a couple of years, but plan to pick it back up perhaps this winter). got myself a book: The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism by Matthew Wood. got a gift card from my mom for amazon.com. can't decide if i want to get more books or put the money towards a dehydrator. dehydrator is winning, for now. we'll see.

wes apparently got a wild hair across his backside and is now fixated on the idea of turning our humble little shed into a grow room for mushrooms in the summer. being one of extreme logic and rationality, he has costs associated with it, methods to achieve his goals, failure rate percentages....etc. good thing one of us has a brain and gathers information before wasting time and money. so, that may be in the works for next summer.

went stomping around a little protected patch of woods a few miles from our house, along 696. started to go down a trail that was an offshoot of the main trail, and happened upon a doe happily munching away at some plants. she looked up and saw me and just kind of stood there. then her fawn comes frolicking along. we took a couple tentative steps toward her, she straightened up, squared off, and started to walk toward us. i, of course, got spooked. seriously, when does a deer walk TOWARD you? the only thing i could think of was her being pissed that we were in her territory, and she was with her fawn. we beat a hasty retreat.

one of the sad things about that little patch of forest is how many trees are dying or dead. kind of creeped me out.

still haven't addressed the student loan issue. will do so this week. last couple of weeks have been hectic - two deaths (only went to one viewing), friends in from out of town (due to one of the deaths), saw an age old friend (due to the other), a wedding, a birthday. family stuff. the usual.

and uh....that's about it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

it has a nice ring when you laugh.

latest happenings:

jarred up some peaches in a light syrup. the jar promptly broke. put the peaches in a bag to ripen and get bagged and frozen. left them in the bag a day too long and lost half of them. bagged and froze the rest in a light syrup. i'm freaking SHOCKED nobody around here sells canning equipment. so, i have to order it. not to mention, leery of pressure canners. with my luck, i'd lose an eye.

wes has tried valiantly to save our dishwasher. it started with a clogged hose. then wes flooded the kitchen with what smelled like raw sewage. got that taken care of, snaked the hose, cleaned it out, got it hooked back up, and the motor has died. it's cool, though. no matter what happens, i'll be happy. we've talked about replacing it in a month or so with something that'll have one of those hard food thingies in it so it doesn't get clogged, but i think i'd be just as happy to put a rolling cart where the hole in our counter will be to have a place to put cookbooks and jars of food n stuff. not having a dishwasher is not the end of the world, although it's inconvenient.

something i forgot to mention - we saw a reishi type mushroom on our neighbor's lawn. i should go back and snap a pic of it. i didn't think reishis grew here. wes said it was probably a tsugae, but i don't know that those grow here either.

i have miss dig coming out to mark off lines and such so we don't hit anything while destroying our lawn.

there should be a new book waiting for me when i get home. andrew's got a school picnic tonight, so it's going to be torture!!

i got denied for a student loan. bummer. no idea how that happened. my credit should be great. could be all of the cosigned stuff though, like my house, and only counting my income. i'll have to pay off achs another way, i guess. or get a cosigner.

money, money, money. nobody's got any.

so, i shampooed and conditioned my hair for possibly the last time last night, if all works out. i'll be doing baking soda and apple cider vinegar with some essential oils thrown in. gotta get a natural bristle brush to distribute the oils, though. i can't remember the last time i BRUSHED my hair. maybe a couple of years ago when i had hair??

there is a crispness to the air at night i love. it reminds me fall is coming soon.

took a long hard look at my diet. realized i'm getting next to no protein aside from the occasional egg, and cheese. and yogurt. hmm. no wonder my hair is falling out. this could possibly be behind the dizzy spells as well, i don't know. been reining it in, though, and been trying to follow a balanced diet. stupid pms bloat gave me 5 extra pounds. now that pms is over, the 5 pounds are gone. who does that?! seriously! does anyone else gain 5 whole freaking pounds when they have pms??

wes kindly burned me some basmati rice in the rice cooker, so today's lunch was just as dismal as yesterday's. a couple of cups of rice with a peach on the side. yesterday i had two egg sandwiches. one for breakfast, another for lunch.

spent some lovely social time this week. i often forget about how young i am. i've been a wife for 3 years, home owner for almost 3 years, a mother for more than 4, i've worked a "grownup job" for 8 years, etc. i haven't looked to validation through socialization in quite awhile, it feels, but spent some amazing time socializing with a group of funny and kind folk at my favorite hideout downtown this week. not only was it refreshing, it was an out and out riot.

lessons learned this week:

+get some freaking canning equipment and do it right.

+don't freeze narrow mouth jars. even if you leave the cap off and leave what you think is enough head room, it could break. (wide mouth jars may work better for this, i don't know.)

+take a break to see your friends.

+if you don't have money, ask to barter. don't be a 'tard and miss opportunity just because you're broke.

+give sallie mae the finger.
(seriously. between wes and i, we have 9 or 10 student loans through them. all are paid on time, and double the payments. we both have good credit, all obligations are paid on time, or ahead of time, and they won't give me a student loan? thanks for the loyalty.)

+time doesn't stand still, even if it feels like it. life marches onward, and you are responsible for yours, and the meaning it has.
(i mean, i already knew that, but it was reinforced by a funeral i went to, and how life just thrummed on outside of the funeral home.)

+participate more in email group discussions.
i've traded emails with 4 people this week that i would never have talked to if it weren't for opening my trap once in awhile. these emails have enriched my life.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

where does the time go??

i had planned to do another planting for fall, but never got around to it. not to mention, those vegetables i planted in the too-hot middle of summer are starting to come out of dormancy.

Lessons recently learned -

+when books say separate the seedlings, they mean it. i have 2 gigantic zucc plants growing out of each planting. same goes for about every other vegetable in my yard. jesus haripod criminy.

+my son is super freaking awesome. ok, i knew that already. but still, totally reinforced this morning. we went for a walk to collect leaves and twigs and flowers for a wax paper windowpane. and then he helped me weed the garden, and ate a bunch of stuff out of the garden. lemon balm, fennel (blech!! he loves it, though), sage, creeping woodsorrel, lambs quarters, basil. he'd take whatever i handed him and fearlessly stuff it in his mouth. what a trooper.

+come to think of it, my whole family is awesome. seriously, we're probably the neighborhood wierdos. i don't know how many other families around would pour outside and exclaim how awesome a giant hairy spider is. (the thing was awesome, though. looked like chevron stripes on his back, and he was HUGE. he's still hanging out on my door that i'm sitting next to.)

+i have some unidentified weeds growing in my yard that are driving me nuts, because i can't seem to figure out what they are.

+Freecycle is the best invention ever. In the last week, I've given away about $200 worth of quilting fabric (and it was all stuff that was gifted to me that I never would've used), a crap ton of baby toys and clothes and accessories, and a fish tank. Yes! Please! It helps me clean out my house.

Some thoughts i'm currently cogitating on - i've got a bunch of scrap wood in my garage, that's actually FROM the garage. The previous owners had built shelves and stuff, and we pulled them out. I'm wondering if that wood would be good for the raised bed boxes for next year, and if they need to be treated with anything. The area where I was thinking of putting the boxes does get full sun, full day. So...that's good. I'm dreaming of a greenhouse. Some day. I should've bought a lottery ticket.

Also, what to do with a peck of peaches? I'll probably slice and freeze some, and then can some others. That requires going out and getting some accessories, though. Not a big deal. Maybe a $10 expenditure. Also going to order a book of Matthew Wood's. Need to get my student loan figured out. Boo.

My genius self was going to take some pictures of my yard (and my pathetic garden) for posting, then I realized that my camera was at work. Double boo.

Oh. Definitely going on a diet. Good freaking lord. I stepped on the scale this afternoon, and while I realize I'm swollen with PMS bloat, there's still been some poundage that's crept up on me. Need to balance my calories, for sure. Lots of cheese and bread lately and not much else. For SHAME.

After my dad comes to pick up the sproutlet, we're going over to some nice lady's house to dig up her Rose of Sharon plants. Oh man, the resurgence of hibiscus tea. Mmmm. I've got some roses as well, and some lemon balm. Drank some motherwort tea last night, the viewing for the suicide of the girl I knew in high school was a little more traumatic than I expected. Closed casket, and I was only there for about 5 minutes. I felt like an intruder. The astonishing thing is that this is the 7th or 8th suicide amongst that particular peer group in the last 12 years. As my friend Thom was saying, it's been one every year and a half or so. It's very hard to understand, and it also makes me paranoid and worrisome that perhaps there's something in the water here. I didn't grow up here, but all of these suicides did, and now I'm raising my son here. Hmmm....

I don't fiddle with meditation nearly as much as I should (and I say that because my mind is like a hamster wheel and only shuts up if and when I meditate), but I decided to bust out and blow the dust off of one of my favorite meditative tools - a tarot deck. I don't necessarily think the universe is trying to tell me something, but I definitely believe in the pattern seeking of the human mind, and as such, no matter what card I pull, there is a message for me there, it's up to my subconscious to make the connections and to think about it. So, my card for the rest of the month is the Prince of Pentacles. Of course, as per usual, this totally random selection made me smile.

The PoP - This card is usually called the Knight, but in some modern decks appears as the Prince. Traditionally, this card in this suit pictures an overseer of fertility and growth. His period of ascendancy is during the quiet years between conflicts, when everybody can collaborate in raising the collective standard of living. His horse is usually huge and thickset, more suitable to pulling a plow than riding swiftly into battle. His temperament is easygoing and relaxed, he's moving at the rate of the flow, because he knows that you can't hurry time.

Seeing the bigger picture, like a farmer planning for the future, he doesn't allow momentary fads or fancies to distract him, and he doesn't take seriously those who do. One can feel his stability and dedication -- he is totally responsible and even somewhat predictable when it comes to his projects. He is earthy and gentle, as simple and deep as the soil he tills and the flowers he loves.

Of course, my other favorite meditative tool is coloring mandalas. Probably won't have much time for that this weekend, as we'll be out digging within a half an hour, then off to a wedding, plus have to process that peck of peaches. Oh...and then there's my homework. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ok, so the sky really isn't falling.

last night, after a mini freakout (ok, who am i kidding...i went postal), i went out and trimmed off leaves affected with powdery mildew. my squash plants have it too. big surprise there, since it apparently has something to do with heat & humidity. (hi, michigan? this is sarah calling. seriously, you're killing my garden. knock it off. yeah? i know i have no idea what i'm doing, but please. spare a little mercy?)

a few things i neglected to mention in my spilled milk post:

+wes went out foraging yesterday. he got out of work early after pulling an all nighter, so instead of going home to nap, he went out to proud lake. scooped up what we're sure is probably the last of the chantrelles, and a little specimen of chicken mushroom. he's going to look into other ways to cook chicken mushroom, because as of yet, i've only had them one way that i can stomach. honestly, it truly is like eating chicken, and it grosses me out.

+went to Nature Made in Detroit yesterday, and met the hermit and self taught herbalist Gary ....W. I can't remember his last name. i had seen jim mcdonald's post on herbwifery.org (yet another lurking spot of mine) about gary being one of his favorite herbalists, especially locally. gary's an awesome guy, and really inspired me to kick my school addiction and learn it myself. also, we talked about all sorts of alternative energy stuff, he gave me some really cool tips as far as greenhouses go, and we talked about heat pump technology.

+in poking around on other people's blogs, i discovered that yes, there are urban homesteaders. and yes, there are two within 20 miles from me whose blogs i've discovered. (this discovery was this morning.)

this makes me slap my forehead and bemoan my lack of brain power. who needs an acre to homestead? i've got a 120 X 60 lot, i'm sure i could put much more of it to good use. and why in god's name did i not think of growing stuff in containers on the patio, thereby freeing up future above ground boxes for stuff that DOESN'T grow well in containers, like greens? freaking...triple duh. geez.

+ i've learned so much this summer about gardening, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. for instance, the plantain and woodsorrel that run riot in my yard both indicate acidic soil. the clover? mostly infertile land. this helps me to figure out how to amend the soil. score!

+decided what to do about school. (inspired by DIYers the world around). There's some things that I definitely do better with a little direction and exercises, like learning A & P, pathology, pathophysiology, etc. so, for those, i'm going to continue with ACHS. just for a few more classes. after that...(thinking about something Gary said to me..."when some guy was teaching an herbal class for $300, I thought to myself, how many books can I buy for $300??"). Also, I do intend to do a summer program with Gaia over in Ann Arbor, as I think this would give me more vital hands on experience I am sorely lacking. Add in the fact that I'll have to do work study, as I'm always broke, that's more experience, both in terms of wildcrafting and cultivation. Plan to take as many of jim's classes as I can possibly afford. blogs, herblists, and websites are so invaluable to me, as people relate their experiences in the world of herbal medicine. also plan to do some stuff with other correspondence courses, but that's not going to be for a bit, as I need to finish up some stuff with ACHS, and nobody else is going to take a student loan.

+another huge duh. who's got years of experience with natural medicine? my internal martial arts teacher and good friend, rick. he was trying to tell me how to make lye when we were bowling on friday night. i had been drinking, and subsequently promised to pay him a visit. saturday didn't work out. sunday didn't work out. this week hasn't worked out. i can't even afford to spend the gas to go out there right now. not even for class. i haven't left my house aside from going to and from work in days. (also the tincturing calendula dilemma? hi. i'm an idiot. i forgot to grind the herb up. ...or just cover it in alcohol. rick says - you remember from the school of cultivation and practice, sarah. the method is not the truth. once you get the feeling, get rid of the method.)

+figured out what i'm missing, i think. i had said something before about cleavers, chickweed, and mullein. dunno where mullein came from, but i'm pretty sure that's not what i had in mind. cleavers, duh. good for sluggish lymph system. (we'll not go there now). chickweed? bigger duh. full of vitamins & minerals, especially zinc, which is sorely missing from my diet, due to vegetarianism. and the biggest duh of all? oatstraw. duh, duh, duh. good for anxiety, and extremely nourishing to the body. jim mentioned it in some emails we passed back and forth. i've read about it. it just didn't strike me.

also, need to do nutritional overhaul, for certain. i've been eating like crapola lately, with the exception of lots of fresh stuff. i just need to balance a little better, and address some gaping vitamin/mineral holes.

also planning on doing an about me post, as there is surely a reason i (usually lightheartedly) call myself a fool. all inquiries as to the nature of the beast can soon be directed there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Houston, all hell has broken loose.

The universe must get a big kick out of me. I mean, anyone should. I make beginner's mistakes, and reap beginner's rewards. Which, let me tell you...are pretty slim pickins.

Not having weeded my garden in a couple of weeks, I failed to notice some major problems developing. I knew one of my tomato plants had blight, and I have a sneaking suspicion this has to do with having my garden backed by a chainlink fence backed by my neighbor's garden, where their tomato plants have a serious case of blight going on. (The blight first showed up on a plant where our foliage touched their diseased foliage, but I think it may also have to do with the soil). However, they are now all showing symptoms of blight.

Wait, it gets worse. My cucumbers? Oh, right. Those have powdery mildew.

My bean plants have yellowed leaves on the bottom. I don't even KNOW what that's a symptom of.

I wish I had known about my neighbor's experience with blight last year. I wish I had, you know...maybe studied what I was doing before I decided to dig up a big patch of lawn to plant vegetables. This would've told me half the plants I was planting do better in cooler temperatures, and that the 90+ degree weather with 80% humidity for the past month might be a reason why some of them would not grow at all. Speaking of, since we've cooled off in the last week, I've had three plants decide to grow. ...I don't even know what they ARE. I didn't label them.

The icing on the cake? One of my backyard herd of cats decided to use one of my big ol unripe tomatoes as a scratching post. I bet it was Bummer, and I bet he thought it was a toy. The Corporal Cuddling treatment will not work on him, as he is feral, and I can't get near enough to him, and it would probably result in a removal of my eyeballs and a large patch of skin.

Rookie mistakes. Wes is cheerfully optimistic. This is usually reserved for me. He says, hey, at least we learned a lot this year, and we'll do better next year. This includes planting before and just after last projected frost instead of the beginning of July (don't even ask what the rationale for that was, I don't even want to go there). Replanting grass along the fence and doing a big above ground patch near Andrew's swing set. Picking disease resistant varieties, perhaps.

At this point, I don't even know what to do. I hear fungicides work for mildew, but I don't know that I'm willing to do that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

assassin bugs, good food, and other misgivings.

assassin bugs. specifically, immature masked hunter bugs. if you see these things, freaking...run.

so, this morning, i was screwing around with my glasses. the screw had fallen out of one side last night, and i had secured it with some wire that i snatched off of a needle threader. well, when i took my shirt off this morning, it pulled the wire out of my glasses, so as i was trying to get it back in, i stabbed myself in the finger. good enough to draw blood. this, of course, pissed me off. i ended up breaking off part of the wire as i was putting my glasses back together. a minute later, i put on my intended shirt, rescued from the pile of clothes on the floor. i walked out to show wes where i stabbed myself, and i thought i had the fallen wire stuck in my shirt or something. SEARING PAIN. so i rip my shirt off, and i'm wondering why it hurts in two totally different areas. i look down, and oh ho, dear readers, this was no wire poke. within a minute, i had two swollen blood blisters a little smaller than the size of a pencil eraser, and wheals around the blisters the size of half dollars. so, i'm thinking, great. brown recluse or black widow in my shirt, i'm going to die. way to stay positive. i examine my shirt, and instead come up with this delightful little critter:

keep in mind, this thing is freaking small. and the size of the bites i got..well, not so small. i didn't know at the time it was an assassin bug, but the skin reaction and ensuing numbness and tingling in the area of the bite (which were on my left breast and underarm) freaked me out, as did the stomach ache. so, i called Botsford. they said, sounds like an allergic reaction, mosey on over. i scooped up the critter in some tupperware, brought it in, talked to some doctors. they didn't know what it was, and treated the reaction as an allergy - prednisone and antihistamines. the swelling is nearly gone, and the pain is under control. you can read more about masked hunters here - http://ping.fm/f7LoQ

When they say that assassin bug bites are some of the most painful, they're not messing around. it felt like a hot wire. it was excruciating. i've been stung by bees and wasps, even bitten by fire ants. it does not compare. not even a little. ...bastard. thank god we're too far north for those to carry chagas disease.

moving on here...
i've been noticing a RIOT of purslane in the parking lot here at work, as well as other stuff like perennial sowthistle, wild lettuce, lambs quarters. it really makes me think about and appreciate that some plants do much better without cultivation. i work in a heavily polluted industrial area, and here is this green and red stuff just bursting out of the cracks in the pavement...it's amazing.

i also saw some prostrate spurge, and they certainly do look much different. whereas purslane has thick glossy leaves like jade plants, the spurge has papery leaves, a much more straggly looking red stem, and a red tear shaped drop in the center of the leaves. also, there's the stuff that comes out of the stems when you break them. like latex, only it pissed my skin off.

cooking (and eating) adventures this week have included:

+ raw food mushroom tamales with mole sauce and salsa, courtesy of holly
+ pan fried stuffed grape leaves my sister and i made with grape leaves harvested from my back yard, fresh raw milk mozzarella from zingerman's (oh dear god that stuff is good), basmati rice, chipotle, lemon, cabbage, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and butter toasted pine nuts. This recipe was courtesy of Loba's Lovin Kitchen, and can be found over at the Anima Center's blog - http://animacenter.org/blog/?p=245
+fresh raspberries and sliced peaches both nights for dessert, a winning combination. With homemade whipped cream on it, when my sister was here.

plus, i got to share the delicious parcels of grape leaves with my neighbor, who hates my grapevine and asked that i cut it down (i did, it grew back). she liked them.

i got the costs associated with the associates degree program, and they are remarkably high. i have to sleep on it for awhile....i just don't know if i can commit that much money, especially not when HHP's are not licensed here. plus, there's other people i want to study with. i don't know. we'll see.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

up yours, tidy bowl man.

so, as many know, i like to stick it to the man in nice, small comfortable ways. and by this i mean, if it's going to land me in jail, i probably won't do it, but if it saves me money and requires testicular fortitude, i might.

so, my house is a mess. i mean, really really nasty. i hate cleaning, i always have, my dad used it as a punishment when we were growing up. as such, my toilets need to look like something housing a creature from the black lagoon before i'm like, hey, i should probably go ahead and clean that. well, today we were out of pretty much everything we use to clean, minus some ms. myers counter spray, which we were running dangerously low on. i've got a book called, clean house, clean planet, and it's got all sorts of recipes for do it yourself cleaners, as well as tips for doing things naturally (you know, like washing your windows using newspaper for a streak free shine). so i whipped up a batch of "hollywood bowl" using castile soap (thank you, dr. bronner), baking soda, vinegar, water, and tea tree oil. cleaned the toilets better than commercial products, and it smelled nice (if you like the smell of tea tree. if not, sorry man). So, that's right, up yours, clorox. up yours, tidy bowl. my cleanser smells better and my kid probably won't die if he decides to eat it, although he might throw up. i made it myself, it was cheaper, it cleaned better, and it smelled better.

however, my cats might die. i made sure the lids on the toilet bowls were closed, and didn't clean the outside of the toilets with them. i'm wondering what good antibacterial EO can be usen in something like that that's not overwhelmingly toxic to my four legged friends (or enemies. depends on who threw up in the bed and who i've caught pooping in my garden.)

bonus? i've got a recipe for castile soap in my inbox. but it uses lye, and that's not something i keep around the house. someday soon, i'll get some and keep it in the garage.

let's see...what else.

united plant savers conference was awesome. herb walk with jim mcdonald, class on medicinal mushrooms with george vaughn, a lecture by althea northage-orr. i meant to go to the fermentation class, but was in the wrong building. whoops. overall, it was pretty great. watched what i thought was going to be a plane crash while out on the walk, i nearly lost control of my bowels. it even freaked wes out, and he doesn't get freaked out pretty much ever. it was SUPER low, way under 1,000 feet, and quite loud, coming in sideways. come to find out later, romeo airport was about 10 miles away. it was a 4 engine plane, we guessed a cargo.

today was busy - made some tea for my mom, went over to visit her for awhile. made a summer squash souffle, 2 loaves of zucchini cinnamon bread, the toilet cleaner, cleaned the house, changed the beds, planted fall veggie seeds, put up 4 tinctures, one of which was calendula, which i am sure i did wrong.

herein follows my horrible account of putting up tinctures with no practical experience, reliance on someone else's formula, and no in-person teacher.

dried calendula flowers are light as air. to make a tincture, it's a 1:5 ratio, wherein you need 1 oz herbs to 5 oz liquid. calendula needs 70% alcohol, so if you're using 100% ethanol (grain alcohol), you'd do 3.5 oz of alcohol, the remaining 1.5 oz should be distilled water. first, you can't get grain alcohol here, and it's illegal to ship alcohol into the state as far as i know. i picked up a bottle of polish rectified spirits, which is about 76% alcohol. so, it was about 4.6 ounces of the spirits, the other .4 oz were water. that's all good and fine, simple math. then you run into, is that oz by volume or oz by weight? because an oz by volume of rectified spirits is different than by weight? i did by volume, which is what michael moore of SWSBM says to do. here comes the problem. are you ready? an ounce of dried calendula flowers is like....80% of a quart sized mason jar. no lie. 5 oz by volume of fluid does nothing. it sits in the bottom of the jar like swamp water. ...wth? i wish i had a real teacher. i'm not nearly far enough into my curriculum at ACHS to have anything more than a basic recipe (1 oz dried herb to 1 pt fluid, which is not really a recipe, but more of a general guideline), and i routinely fail to make connections... man. i know people make calendula tinctures all the time, but i'm a fish out of water. i need help. i'm considering posting to the herbstudent list...but i hate looking like a douchebag. Gonna have to do it, though.

Tinctures should be ready in two weeks. they're for my mom's diverticulitis. good thing they last a year and a half, too. i'm sure she'll have another attack before then.

this week - finishing up the liver unit @ ACHS. harvesting grape leaves (pan fried grape leaves a la The Anima Center, oh yes). i HAVE to finish the vegetable garden book and make more tracks on the canning book. i need a pressure canner. raw food extravaganza. cooking with my sister.