Broom Corn–or is it Broomcorn?

...mer I suggested we plant broom corn for no other good reason than I saw the seed pack at the nursery and thought it would be fun to make a broom. (This sort of temporary insanity often overtakes me in the seed aisle.) So without knowing anything at all about broom corn or broom making we planted a block of the stuff. Maybe I should have done a little research into broom making before planting, but I let it slide ’til harvest time. It’...

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The Whip: A Homemade Moisturizer How-To from Making It

This 2011 post has been edited on 7/8/14, also to include new tips and new pictures. Most important of these are directions on keeping the lotion fresh. Confession: I can’t live without my homemade moisturizer. This recipe appears in Making It as Olive Oil Whip. It’s my everyday body lotion/face cream and I figured it was about time to share it with you. It only has three ingredients. It’s safe and wholesome and very effecti...

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Tame the Email Beast and Have Time To Run Your Urban Homestead

...rders). Like lab rats waiting for a treat to shoot down a slot, we get rewarded via stimulation for for checking it constantly. This is where a suggestion in a book I otherwise strongly dislike1, Timothy Ferris’ The 4-Hour Workweek,  comes in handy. Ferris suggests checking your email twice a day, at 11 AM and 4 PM. Why these two times? He believes that we get our best work done early in the morning and that it’s best to have that mor...

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Making It

Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (Rodale Books, 2011) ISBN-13: 978-1605294629 Buy it at:  Amazon • Abe Books • Barnes & Nobel • Powell’s Making It provides you with all of the tools you need to become a producer instead of a consumer and transform your home from the ground up. Projects range from the simple to the ambitious, and include activities done in the hom...

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Time Banking

So what is money but an abstract representation of misery, time spent doing things we’d all rather not be doing? How about an alternative? How about taking all of our hard earned capital away from the Wall Street types? Get ready for time banking. With time banking, you get together with your local community members, friends and family and exchange hours rather than currency. Time Bank USA describes the concept succinctly: “For ever...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...transforming. Milk, of course. Make sure your milk doesn’t say “Ultra Pasturized” or UP on the label. That stuff is just nasty. Otherwise, you can use whole, 2%, 1% — and even skim, I presume, though I’ve never tried it. How much milk? As much as you want. But it seems to me that for the trouble, a quart would be the minimum it would be worthwhile making. After all, it keeps a long time.  The procedure: Heat milk...

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Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

...hope to get some nice clean wax from our hive soon, but in the meanwhile I buy my wax from Mountain Rose Herbs. It comes in both pellets and blocks. Pellets are a lot easier to work with. Good organic beeswax smells heavenly, by the way, and that scent carries into the finished salve. How much beeswax do you use?  Making salves is all about simple proportions–the ratio of oil to wax. 4 parts oil to 1 part wax yields a firm salve. You̵...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

...t will put out.  After the first cutting, you can probably return to harvest more every 3 days or so. The ideal time to harvest is in the morning, before it gets warm, but after the dew dries. You want them all fresh and perky and at their peak. This is traditional wisdom. However, I believe it’s better to harvest when you can than not at all, so I harvest at all times of day. A side note regarding seeds: If you don’t harvest the he...

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A Homemade Mattress?

...t, Blanc du Massif Central and Dorset Horn wool. 2) The game Welsh craftsperson who re-stuffed that lady’s 45 year old mattress said she figured out the wool needs to be laid down one layer at a time in the ticking, not actually stuffed. You have to work with the nature of the wool. It took her about 6 hours to fill the mattress. 3) Here is a webpage, in French, showing the mattress making process. Lots of useful pictures. I have to run it...

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Remember to Label Those Jars!

Label, label, label!” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in my Master Food Preserver training. You’ll note, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.”...

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