Planting Spring Onions

Originally published on QuasiCrunchy.com on April 13, 2013

 

Last weekend I planted onion sets. We mostly eat them as scallions/green onions instead of letting them mature to full sized onions.

Green Onions

We use the year-round mulch method of gardening. I learned about it from reading Ruth Stout’s book :How to Have a Green Thumb without an Aching Back

So the garden is rather messy looking most of the time, but the soil under the hay and leaves is organic and rich and fertile.

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This is what the plot looked like when I started, covered over with the winter blanket of hay and leaf mulch.

Planting onion sets is easy. Just clear away the mulch, I use my handy-dandy soil knife to move the hay and “rough up” the soil a little bit.

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Then, throw about the tiny onions on the plot

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The onion sets are sown thickly because we eat the thinnings.

Then just press down the onions into the soil… making sure the root end is down and the stem end is up.

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Then cover them lightly with hay.

Lightly cover with straw

And wait for your scallions to come up. Yum.

I recently saw an article about re-growing green onions. Cool idea, I’ll have to give it a try..

28 April 2013: Onion Update. They’re popping up! Had some in a batch of homemade coleslaw last night. Delicious.

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Homemade Coconut Oil Body Balm

Body Balm in Glass Jar

Body Balm in Glass Jar

My sister was the first one to introduce me to coconut oil as a body/beauty product. However, because it’s solid at temps below 76 degrees, you practically have to chisel it out of the container to be able to use it in cool weather.

I started this project in early spring, so the first goal was to find a way to soften the coconut oil so that it could be easily scented with essential oils and easily rubbed into the skin.

So, I began by putting together a mix of 1/2 coconut oil and 1/2 safflower oil, melting it, and adding essential oils.

Then let the mixture cool to room temp, which, at the time, was in the 60’s (degrees F). It came out ok, but the coconut oil got a little grainy. It smelled fantastic. And melted in my hands as I applied it. So, a limited success.

I did learn that it’s better to put the balm right into the fridge for a quick cool … that way the coconut oil doesn’t get a chance to be grainy.

I also learned that it’s not necessary to use the pan and the hand blender. You can actually melt the coconut oil right in a water bath (sort of a double-boiler) using the 4 oz. mason jar. Then adding the safflower oil and scented oils afterward. Giving the jar a good shake after you seal it is all the mixing you need.

This keeps you from having to wash the hand blender or the pan afterward (as long as you don’t spill any oil into the water bath.) Easy is better. 🙂

So this has been episode one of the Coconut Oil Body Balm Saga.

Did you ever watch the Muppets? Do you remember Veterinarian’s Hospital?

“And now, the continuing stoooory of a quack who’s gone to the dogs,”

“Tune in next week when you’ll hear Joanne say…it’s getting warm in here!”

Why Coconut Oil?

So, if you’ve been reading this blog recently you know I’ve been experimenting with making body balm (and other things) with coconut oil. I use it mostly because it’s smooth and sensuous, but there are actually other, more practical reasons for using coconut oil.

Coconut Oil

According to abstracts at the National Institute of Health, Coconut oil is anti-fungal and isrecommended for use in the treatment of fungal infections. It is also recommended for the treatment for xerosis (dry skin). There’s yet another abstract on the antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut oil on atopic dermatitis. And these are just on the topical uses, there is lots of other information, like the article at WebMD on the benefits of the food uses of coconut oil.

I’ve used one of my unscented coconut oil blends as a makeup remover, face wash, moisturizer and even as a treatment for rosacea (more on that in another post.)

If you’re buying coconut oil from the grocery or health food store you are probably paying upwards of $8.00 for 14 oz. A much less expensive way is to buy in bulk from a place like Bulk Apothecary. Where you can get 1 lb of food grade coconut oil for $3.95.

Do you use coconut oil? If so, how and why?

Coconut Oil Treatment for Rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that makes your face turn red and may cause swelling and skin sores that look like acne.

There is no known cure.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001882/

I have had Rosacea since around the time my son was born. It was years before I sought a Doctor’s diagnosis because it would come and go… flare up and then calm down. Finally, after seeing a dermatologist, I got a diagnosis and was prescribed Finacea for treatment. It did help for a long time. But recently, when I tried Finacea to treat a flare-up, it made my skin sting and burn and itch so terribly I figured there had to be another solution.

Since I have been using my homemade coconut oil balm as a face wash and moisturizer, I decided I would just use some extra as a treatment for the flareup.

Rosacea Flare UpThe picture above is day 1 of a bad flare up. Very red, hot, swollen face. 🙁

I gently applied coconut oil throughout the day, it felt cool and soothing instead of the burning sting from the Finacea. I used the coconut oil balm to wash my face each morning and evening and as a moisturizer throughout the day.

On the second day, my skin was still red and hot to touch, but the swelling seemed to go down alot.

Rosacea Treatment - Coconut Oil

The next phase was that the skin was very dry and rough, as if the swollen, irritated layer of skin had shrunk and died. It wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as when it was red and swollen, but I felt like I had elephant hide on my cheeks. I kept gently cleansing with the coconut oil and using extra as a moisturizer.

Coconut Oil treatment for Rosacea After that the rough dry skin began to peel… not like a sunburn peel, but more like flaking off. It was a challenge to try not to scratch off the flaky skin. Instead I applied more coconut oil and used a soft washcloth for gentle exfoliation.

I continued to see improvement and by about the 9th day, my skin was back to being smooth and soft, very little extra redness (just my usual), no dryness, no flakiness, no itch or burn, just my skin – hooray!

Coconut Oil Treatment for Rosaeaa

I hope that the continued use of coconut oil will prevent flare ups, but I haven’t been using it long enough to know. I do know though, that coconut oil as a natural treatment for a rosacea flare-up was a gentle, comfortable, easy and inexpensive treatment that worked.

DIY Reed Oil Diffuser – Fail :-(

I found a great article online a while ago on how to make an inexpensive reed oil diffuser at home. These diffusers are a wonderful way to gently scent a room without opting in to the “Glade plug in” route. So, I thought it would be great to make my own at home.

I used the instructions at: http://www.curbly.com/users/chrisjob/posts/10018-how-to-make-an-inexpensive-diy-reed-diffuser

I used mineral oil, vodka and orange and lemon essential oils. I had a old, empty diffuser hanging around, so I had the bottle and the reeds.

DIY Reed Diffuser Fail

But, silly me, didn’t realize that oil and vodka won’t stay mixed (think oil and vinegar salad dressing.)

So far, the reeds still have the leftover scent from the previous store-bought contents. I don’t know if they will begin to pickup the new essential oil scent. I guess I could be patient and see what happens. But personally I think it looks so silly as is that I probably will dump it out and try a new recipe.

Basically all I need is a way to thin out the mineral oil to be the correct viscosity to diffuse through the reeds. I suppose I could use another kind of oil…but I don’t want anything that would go rancid and defeat the purpose of a pleasant scent!

Suggestions? Ideas?

Divergent Kindle Version: Don’t Buy It

Until HarperCollins Publishers allows you to lend your Kindle book, Don’t Buy It.

Divergent Kindle Book

My daughter read Divergent, on loan from her school library, and told our four-Kindle family what a great book she thought it was. So, I let her buy the next book in the series, Insurgent for her Kindle. While I bought Divergent on mine, thinking that when I was finished I could loan the book to my husband and my son.

Then, I discovered that HarperCollins has not authorized the Kindle version of Divergent for lending.

Usually to lend a book to another Kindle owner, all you have to do it go to the section of your account where you can manage your content:

Manage Kindle Content

Then you can choose the title of the book in your library, click Actions and then click Loan this Title.  You will then be prompted to enter the email address of the recipient. 

Loan Kindle BookThe book is removed from your Kindle library temporarily (3 weeks) and appears in the library of the person to whom you lent the book. If you finish the book before 3 weeks, you can delete the book from your library and it will revert to the Kindle of the person who lent it to you. This process makes Kindle books the perfect kind of book to own, perfectly portable, highlight-able, and lend-able.

So, in my opinion, until HarperCollins makes the Divergent series books lend-able.

Don’t buy them.

Gardener’s Hand Scrub Recipe (easy!)

As a gardener, I am frequently out there in the dirt (with or without my garden gloves) and have found that good soil can really embed itself in skin and fingernails.

Dirty hands

“Dirty hands” © Håkan Dahlström used under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I used to use a great hand scrub by Mary Kay… but since I’ve started living crunchier, I thought I would see what I could make from home. I found a good recipe at One Good Thing by Jillee but instead of using the pink Dawn dish soap as she recommends, I used lavender (seemed like a good idea at the time). But the color of the pale purple with the sugar made the scrub a sort of grey color, bleh! And for whatever reason, I didn’t like the way my hands felt afterward.

So I tried again…. this time I used peppermint castile soap, sugar and a little bit of safflower oil (the castile and sugar alone felt very drying.) I used 1/2 cup of sugar, 3 Tbs of Peppermint Castile Soap and 2 Tbs safflower oil.

This stuff works great, smells fresh and costs very little to make. Next time I think I’m going to make it with lavender castile soap or maybe the unscented and add some essential oils for scent.

Another great use of Castile Soap for Handwashing, it is to use a foaming soap dispenser and combination of 1 part soap to 3 parts water. You can also heavily dilute regular liquid hand soap when using a foaming dispenser.