Volunteers for Dinner

Cooking and Household, Gardening

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Volunteer plants, ones that I didn’t go through the effort of planting but somehow still grew in my garden, are the best kind of weeds. Here is a walking onion that had walked right out of the onion bed and into the pathway and a radish that managed to grow despite the odds, as all of its fellow radishes had been picked already. The radish was a lovely afternoon snack, and the onion found its way into dinner the night I discovered it.

Repairing Clothing in the Evening

Cooking and Household, Sewing

I strongly believe in using and maintaining what you have, and I repair my clothing when it is damaged. This is me redoing the buttons on a manufactured dress using a stronger technique in a thread color that I felt better suits the dress (original thread was navy). In the same evening, I also repaired the shoulder of another dress and re-stitched the waistband of a skirt where the original stitching had come out some time over the years. Much of my clothing is secondhand, so sometimes things arrive in my closet with a bit of wear and tear that I need to repair before wearing, and also things can get worn while I, myself wear them.

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Chive Blossom Butter

Cooking and Household, Gardening

When the purple chives bloom, I love harvesting the flowers to make chive blossom butter. A handful of chive flowers, their green parts removed and their flowers separated into little bits, plus a softened stick of butter, gently folded together while taking care not to crush the flowers. Plop the butter mixture onto some wax paper, form a stick, then chill until solid again. Delicious on homemade bread!

Bee Balm Tea

Cooking and Household, Gardening

Mybee balm, which I am so happy is vigorously growing, was shading out another plant, so I had to pull a small amount of it to let this plant grow, too. I made the bee balm leaves into a tea. I got the seeds here (Baker Creek Perennial Bee Balm Spielarten Mix) and they have about a year of growth now. I can’t wait until they finally bloom!

P1040640 - CopyBee balm tea has a refreshing, gentle lemon flavor and is the lightest green possible without being totally clear. If I were to make it into a tea blend, I would make sure that the other ingredients impart some amount of color to help me determine when the tea is properly steeped.

Delicious Dandelion and Violet Salad from Garden Weeds

Cooking and Household, Gardening

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Not all weeds are unwanted. Some are delicious. I use dandelion and violet flowers in my cooking when they are available. I use some caution with harvesting violets, for while they are common and easy to find, I want them to stay in my garden and become even more numerous. I only harvest a small amount of violet leaves or flowers at a time, and I take extra care to spread the harvest across the entire garden so I don’t wipe out one plant. With dandelions, I am far less careful. I can pick all of the dandelion flowers and find more again tomorrow. I think my neighbors would prefer that I pick as many of my dandelions as I can.

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I believe that part of making a tasty meal is making it look appealing. This salad consists of dandelion flowers, violet flowers, and spinach all from my garden, and also some carrots and button mushrooms from the fridge. It tasted great with a light Italian dressing I already had in the fridge. Yum!

Dandelion Flower, Radish Sprout, and Salmon Patties

Cooking and Household, Gardening

While weeding the garden, I saved the flowers off the dandelions. I added these to the radish thinnings I also picked that day. These were washed, and added to store-bought green onion, button mushrooms, cabbage, and a can of salmon. Seasonings included pepper, garlic, parsley, and oregano. I made the patties granny-style, using egg, mayonnaise, and breadcrumbs as a binder. Scoops of the patties were fried in peanut oil until golden brown, then served with horseradish sauce and a side of potatoes.

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I completely made up the recipe, but it worked out great. Very tasty. I’ve always been a bit cautious around eating dandelions because the late green get so bitter, but the flowers were even a little bit bitter in this dish! I don’t worry about putting a dent in the local dandelion population like I would with native wild edibles. There are so many, I couldn’t possibly take them all.

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Easy Sewing Project: Juggling Pyramids

Cooking and Household

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This was a very simple project that has yielded a lot of use. As an artist and seamstress, my dexterity and hand-eye coordination are important to me. I got the crazy idea that perhaps I could improve these by learning some juggling, so I made these juggling pyramids to practice. I’m still terrible at juggling, but I’m having tons of fun!

The pyramids are 3″ long on each side finished dimensions. They are made from 4 triangles stitched together and can be filled with gravel, plastic beads, or anything else you might have at hand to give them a little weight when tossed. Fabric for this project was the scraps of an old sweatshirt that was recycled into several other projects previously. I think just about any type of fabric would work.

Reviving an Old Leather Wallet

Cooking and Household

A loved one inherited this leather wallet. They like it, and, since I have the supplies, I offered to clean and condition it so that it can stay nice for longer. This process took a few days to complete.

All of my cleaning and polishing rags are repurposed, threadbare cloths that came from other things: towels, shirts, flannels pants (excellent texture for polishing!). I try to avoid using paper towels whenever I can be reusing old things. Leather conditioning rags don’t go in the wash, but general household cleaning rags can be reused and washed quite a few times before they go in the trash. This practice reduces household waste because I’m not buying as many paper towels and my completely worn-out clothes have another use.

First, I wiped off the dust that had accumulated in storage. Then, I used saddle soap and a soft cloth to really clean the leather, as it was old and well-worn. I followed the directions on the tin, then I let the wallet sit quietly for an evening, then buffed it in the morning. The small gap in the ID window was protected with an expired membership card to avoid marring the lining.

After that, I dug out my old mink oil and boot sealant. I generously applied the mink oil, taking care to work the mink oil into the seams and creases of the wallet. The leather soaked up a surprising amount of oil. I left a thin layer on it overnight, just enough to make it tacky to the touch. Almost all of it was soaked up by the next day, leaving very little for me to buff off when I next took up the project.

Next, I used my boot sealant- there was just enough left to complete this project. The sealant is a brand that uses lanolin, beeswax, and coconut oil in a thick blend to protect leather shoes from bad weather. This wallet will definitely have to earn its keep, so I think that a protective application of sealant will help it stay nice for even longer. I applied the sealant, carefully working it into the seams but not applying it too thickly, then gave the wallet a final buffing the next day.

Originally, the wallet was dull and had a dry feeling to it. After I finished working on it, the leather is pleasantly soft and has a little bit of a shine to it!

You won’t have to go out and buy more things if you take care of the things that you already have!

Slippers from Nothing but Scraps #2

Cooking and Household, Sewing

Remember my nice warm slippers from last time? They’ve been working great! I don’t feel the chill from the floor on my feet at night.

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A loved one saw my slippers and wanted a pair for himself. I made them from wool and denim scraps. The sole is crocheted rag tshirt yarn with cardboard stacked like plywood for stiffness. I used a half-double crochet for these soles. To check my work, I would compare the size of the sole to the size of an existing shoe.

This iteration, I figured out a better method of attaching the top of the slipper to the sole, shown in the progress pictures here.

The slippers are quite thick, which provides excellent insulation from the cold floor. The fabrics I chose are thick and sturdy. The whole thing should hold up to plenty of use.

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My decision to use a nice, warm wool for the slipper came with a drawback: the underside of the slipper is very slippery! I used a bottle of puffy paint and drew designs on the bottom of the slipper, and it greatly improved the grip. He won’t have to worry about slipping in the night with these slippers.