Just Plain Living…

Stories from our gentle Home…

Bloodroot Blooms April 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — justplainlivin @ 2:55 am

The weather in the mountains of North Carolina in early spring is quite inconsistent…that is about all I can say for sure. One day it is quite warm. Sunny. Warm. Then, in the blink of an eye…windy…cold…snow. Cold. Snow. The past 3 days have been filled with thunderstorms. Thunder. Lightning. There is nothing like a thunderstorm in the mountains. When the thunder makes its sound…which is amazing if you think about it…the echo then repeats it…louder and louder and on and on. Truly, it is amazing. What would be a quick note elsewhere is a short symphony here.  Definitely something to make sure to experience in life. That along with standing out in the storm…right in it.

Just a few days back (on the 9th)………………

It was a perfect time for strange weather…with the Full Pink Moon rising just that night,  and while  in search of undisturbed Chickweed (for my spring batch of ‘ApotheCarey’s All Healing Salve’) to infuse in oil…under a full moon being the best time to begin that two-week process (of course), I came across the early blooms of the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). 

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Bloodroot’s name comes from the fact that the root exudes a red juice similar to the color of human blood. Other common names are Indian Paint, Tetterwort, Red Puccoon, Red Root, Coon Root, Snakebite, Sweet Slumber. Many native tribes used the juice of the root to decoratively paint their skin for ceremony. A bachelor of the Ponca tribe would use Bloodroot as a love charm by rubbing the root on the palm of his hand, shake hands with the woman he desired to marry, and if the charm was successful, after five or six days she would then be willing to marry him. The juice was also used to dye cloth and baskets. Bloodroot is of the Poppy family and contains Protopine, an alkaloid also found in Opium, thus giving it mild narcotic effects (don’t you remember the wicked witch using Poppies to put Dorothy and co. to “sleep” to delay their arrival at the Emerald Castle?…ahhh, it all makes since now…). Don’t try this at home-you can go so wrong with medicinal herbs, and this herb is in fact listed as poisonous!!!

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 Sanguinaria canadensis received its latin name from the word sanguine which means: consisting of or relating to blood. Sanguinarine, the predominate alkaloid which is considered poisonous, can cause slight central nervous system depression and narcosis if taken internally.  However, it has been found to have an incredible list of medicinal properties such as: antimicrobial, anesthetic and anticancer. It is also an expectorant.  It is antispasmodic and is also an emmenagogue (YOU go to herb school and learn what those mean!). This incredible lady plant is not commonly used by herbalists today-likely because of it’s potential toxic side effects. You will however see it  used as an escharotic salve for skin and breast cancers. It is also found in mouthrinses and toothpastes as a  plague deterrent.

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Where I live, this time of year all you need to do to view this plant in bloom is walk into the woodland forest. She is abundant. You can just feel her power. I dare not harvest for she is a tricky plant to know…I simply admire, respect and keep moving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhh…check us out…absorbing the Vitamin D…during the strange window of sunny weather before one of the storms…kids?…what kids?

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It’s Difficult to Leave Hibernation When… April 8, 2009

Snow resting in the early Dogwood blooms

Snow resting in the early Dogwood blooms

It is hard to believe that it could possibly be snowing. Just Monday, it was in the 70’s-sunny and warm. It felt like spring was finally here. Prior to that, it kept teasing us…cold one day, warm the next. However, yesterday the cold came back…and it started snowing and snowing. We were surprised to see it still snowing this morning when we awoke. At times it was really coming down and we knew it was going to be one of those hibernating type days. Just when I was trying to kick that habit…! My body totally follows the rhythm of the seasons and it was finally convinced that spring has sprung…time to stop sleeping in…staying up late…you know. Well…how quickly I have fallen back into the deep sleep…last night my blog entry posted at 3:30am. Yeah…I was not feeling too good this morning…and well…hmmm…it us currently 1:20 and the end is not in sight. Sometimes I wish I could really honor my mind and body and just completely listen to what it wants…sleep…wake up…eat…run…play…whatever it felt like…whenever it wanted regardless of time… I think it would not be possible..as Plain & Simple as I am, I am way tainted by the world I live in-at least in that sense. Trust me…I’d rather it not be that way…but I think I’d need some of that ZIP (as mentioned in the NY Times newspaper on Monday) that makes the brain forget specific things…by blocking a learned memory. Then again, there is that thing about how it has only been tested on lab rats….hmmm. Or, I might just decide to focus a bit less on time…yeah, that sounds more appealing.

Moving on…time is ticking, you know.

So, we decided to do give in to the hibernating and bake bread, make soup and generally veg.

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Yummy. Kale, potatoes, carrots, corn, lotsa garlic, onion and some slow-cookin brown rice.

And…bread from scratch…we opted for the recipe in Taige’s nature based learning guide for the week…it had an Easter theme and sounded fun to make. Haley took charge of it and did a great job. It called for dyed eggs but, since our chickie-poos only lay brown eggs, that is all we had. Brown eggs don’t dye well!

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Well, I did have to help “weave it”…

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That bread recipe is nice…but, like most artisan breads, it is a long (many hours) process…mix, knead, rise, punch down, rise, etc…Look at how cute and spotty the eggs turned when we cooked them…thanks chickens…

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And our sprouting Easter grass is growing so fast, if you watch it you can almost see it get taller…

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‘Twill make good wheatgrass shots once Easter is over!

Going back to hibernation now…we’ll see what tomorrow brings…

 

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By-Product Creation… April 7, 2009

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My dear son, Riley has been working on this project for about a week now, off and on. I try not to push crafty time on my kids…I always want them to go to it because they want to…not because they are forced. In our homeschooling  history syllabus, Riley had a lesson on the Civil War era (I do get quite exhausted doing history with the kids…it is so much fighting…I love the way our curriculum approaches it though!) and one aspect of it focused on sewing/quilting. Well…he first chose to sew a dream pillow and then he chose to go for a bigger challenge…designing and sewing a quiver for his arrows. So, we purchased some scrap leather from our favorite supply store… and after letting it sit for about a week, we decided to figure out how to do it.

First, he decided to have the suede side face out. Then, he determined the shape…cut it out…and made a mark where he wanted the holes to go. Then, with a stitching awl and a hammer, he “punched” the holes. Next, we decided upon using book binding thread, (mostly because we had it at home-and leather would have been a real challenge to “sew” with) which is waxed linen thread-strong and durable. I have hand-bound several books and love the ease of using this thread.  I helped him to get the thread on the curved bookbinding needle (perfect for leather work-who would have known?), pick a “stitch” and he took it from there. We had a fun time…sitting on the Plain kitchen floor…laughing…talking and randomly picking up the camera to take pictures…actually…Riley had a little too much fun taking photos of me…I am a bit sleep deprived today and he took advantage of it…NO, I am not posting those photos…I was just TOO silly…I wonder how I learned to make all of those terrible expressions!? Ok…anyway…here are the photos of the quiver…april62009-037april62009-030april62009-043

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For the strap, I purchased two pair of leather shoe laces and used three single laces in a braid. I measured Riley and we knotted the straps where he liked and stuck one end through the bottom (inbetween stitches) and the other end in through the top flap that is folded down-we just punched a bigger hole. All in all it looks great and he did an awesome job. GO Riley! If I gave grades…surely he would receive an A+++!

 

I am going to bed now…

 

Embrace the LIGHT! April 5, 2009

With rain, rain and more rain this week…I am feeling super grateful that the sun is shining brightly through the windows of our Just Plain home this morning. When I let the dog out the door, I had to just stand there in the light for a moment and embrace it. Ahhh. It is so refreshing. We have plans to get out into it as soon as we are all fully awake and thinking more clearly. Yes…we just woke up a bit ago. For some reason each year at this same time, we get on this habit of staying up way too late and sleeping in just the same. It is so dark at 7 in the morning and just barely light at 8 so, it just feels more natural to sleep…and enjoy the daylight hours that are now into the evening. Our winter time hibernation is clearly coming to an end though…as new  blossoms are emerging each day and letting us know spring is here! I think the sleeping in is one last attempt to drag the hibernation out a bit. Next week, we will go back to more “normal” (yeah, I used the ‘N’ word…whatever it means) hours.

Despite the presence of the rain this week, we still managed to stay busy (remember busy for us is different than hustle and bustle busy). The theme for the week for Taige’s nature based learning guide was “Plants and Growing”. It was great fun to jump into this! We started the week with a watercolor painting session…

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We are still loving our new Stockmar watercolor paints. We used all three colors this week again and were able to create this lovely scene of a flower. We had talked about what a seed needs in order to grow just prior to painting so we made sure to include those things in the photo. Sunlight, nutrients from the soil and water. Well…you just have to imagine the water….and the soil…well, it’s under the grass. Taige’s painting is on the left and mine on the right. I led the painting this week since we used all three colors again and had an image we wanted to create. Yellow went on first…for the sun. Then, it went all over the bottom with little blades sticking up as well as a stem and any leaves. Next came blue…for the sky first…all over the top half…careful not to touch the sun…as she likes to stay yellow…not green. Next, blue decided to play with the yellow on the bottom half to make our grass…green. Then, we went to red…but the tiniest amount ever…we could hardly see it…had to squint! And we then barely touched blue in the sky where we wanted our flower(s) to go…and Viola! Purple! And the damp paper (we did wet-on-wet watercolor) took the purple and let it run. It is so beautiful to watch. We often become captivated. After purple was finished playing, we dried our paintbrushes and made an outline for the flower-at Taige’s request. Not something I would normally do…the idea is to let the colors  blend and run and play. But, outline he wanted and outline he got. I did help a bit with the outline…and I used a wet paintbrush for mine…(on the right) and the water wanted to play with the blue. It was fun and I enjoyed the peaceful painting time with Taige…

Once they dried…the next day, we added the “seeds” with glue…and the “roots” (hemp) and we each picked the verse that we liked the best from the week. Both of these are actually fingerplays and are really cute when acted out. Here are the finished pieces…

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In keeping with the theme for the week…and with Easter coming up…although celebrated quite alternatively in our home…we decided to sprout easter grass in our baskets! We went to the Co-Op  and purchased some winter wheat berries and then made a stop at Home Depot for a bag of potting soil. We made a stop out back of our house…at our shed…and dug for the box labeled “Easter”.  We gathered all of our supplies and set up in the front yard-during the only point of the day that it was not raining…and began! We lined the baskets with a plastic grocery bag…then, added some soil…then, the seeds. Since we are sprouting them, there is no need to cover the seeds with soil…but, they do  need to be kept in a warm environment. So, we set up our grow lights…which needed to be set up anyway for the garden seedlings and covered each basket with plastic wrap (creating the greenhouse effect). They are still there as I type and have already sprouted! It took less than 24 hours! I did soak the seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting them to “help” them on their way.  Here is the process in photos…

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And, last but not least…

Remember the beeswax sheets we bought last week? Well, even though this did not totally tie into our theme for the week…it was great fun and served as our modeling day. We typically have one day of modeling a week…either playdough…or pure beeswax. So late in the week, here is the modeling that we did…april-2009-060

Heat with the hairdryer…insert wick…roll, roll… roll, roll…heat, connect another piece…roll, roll…heat to seal! Then, with the modeling beeswax, I created this embellishment for one of the candles…

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This is the modeling beeswax I use. It is heavenly and can be shaped into anything. You just have to work it a bit to get it to soften.  april-2009-068

 These are the finished candles. I generally wrap the exterior with the paper that the sheets come on just to protect the candles. They pick up dust and can easily be dented if left unwrapped. They smell so great and are so easy to make. Taige mentioned that he wants to sell them when we set up our Etsy shop. I have been meaning to do that for a while now but just have not had the time. Soon maybe! april-2009-066

 We had a great week…