Category Archives: Homesteading

Sewing and sewing

So now that I had a little more time with my new, improved non-school dependant schedule, I thought I’d finally get around to doing something with all those scraps I made from cutting up our school uniforms in July.  (See Transition Year)

I decided on a pattern for the latest patchwork pillow creation, sat down to sew at my treadle sewing machine (See Seamstress) and BING…BONG.  The teeth that move the fabric no longer moved the fabric.  Well, this was something beyond my abilities to repair, so I asked my husband to look at it.  He did, after a few weeks of nagging.  It took him 20 minutes to fix.

So then I sit back down ready to roll, and CRUNCH.  The wheel that turns the band that makes the whole rigmarole go was bent. Frustrated, I piled up my patchwork pieces and started in about getting a new sewing machine base.

My husband knew a guy whose mother had an old machine.  But the mom didn’t want to sell. She had another older base she’d be willing to part with but it was crooked.  One of the legs had been damaged over the years.  And she wanted $500 pesos for it.  

Then I remembered when we went to get a piano in Morelia (See Piano shopping) we had stopped at a roadside flea market and they had the most beautiful Singer sewing machine and base I had ever seen. After having bought our lovely piano earlier that day, I didn’t have any money on me for the sewing machine besides which it was a bit pricey. The guy wanted $2,000 pesos for the set (machine and base). Now that my own sewing machine was kaput, maybe we could see if he’d lower the price any. Consequently, my husband and I spent 3 weeks trying different random days and times to see if the place was open.  No luck.

On the way back from one of these fruitless trips, we drove past another junk shop in Moroleon.  The owner was just setting out a wrought iron sewing machine base.  We immediately stopped and asked the price.  $250 pesos and he’d throw in the curvy part that covered the wheel so that the ladies skirts didn’t get tangled in it.  I whipped out my wallet.

It was quite a trip home with this HEAVY iron between us on the motorcycle, but I was determined and hung on off the back of the motorcycle rack hoping that I wouldn’t fall off at every tope (speed bump). Me, the iron, the motorcycle and my husband arrived home safely.  My husband spent the afternoon fiddling with it.  The bolts were stripped and needed to be replaced. $20 pesos for a bag of bolts.  Then it was rather rusty, so we picked up a can of paint ($50 pesos). It ended up that my husband didn’t put that wheel guard on.  I mean I typically don’t sew with a full skirt on, so no worries about getting tangled.  All in all, I’m delighted with the new improved sewing machine.  It runs as smooth as a baby’s bottom (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

So then the question was what to do with the old base.  As the wheel was bent, it really wasn’t going to be good to anyone as a serviceable item.  Well, waste not, want not.  My son varnished a piece of scrap wood and my husband mounted it to the base and voila, a new, vintage table.  Everybody around here has at least one of these sewing machine base tables. And now I do too.

So now that the pillows are piling up, it’s time to head to the tianguis (flea market) and see if we can convert those old uniforms into a few pesos.  My next project will be curtains for the upstairs windows.  Stay tuned for details on that remodeling project.

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Hand Beaded Silk Yarn - 7 PackDarn Good Yarn: Online Yarn Store | Ethical Yarn

 

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Blackberry Leaf Tea

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The blackberry bush in the backyard is trying to take over!  Shoots are popping up left and right, and it continues to wrap its spiny clutches around the lemon tree despite being cut back several times.  Since I will not be one of those ill-prepared preppers that lament the loss of coffee and tea after TSHTF (See Into AutumnInto Autumn) if you’ve got it, use it right?

Blackberry tea leaf is easy to prepare.  Just pour boiling water over dried leaves and let steep. It’s a darker color than some of the other teas I’ve prepared.  It has a rich, deep taste, just right with a drop of honey as a sweetener.

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Fermenting the leaves increases the tea’s flavor.  To ferment, crush wilted blackberry leaves with a wooden rolling pin.  Wrap them in a damp cloth and hang in a dark, warm area.  In 2 or 3 days, the leaves will smell like roses which I thought odd until I realized that blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis) are part of the rose family after all.  Remove the leaves from the cloth and allow them to dry completely before storing.

Not only is blackberry leaf tea delicious but it’s good for you as well.  Used medicinally since the ice age, leaves were chewed to strengthen gums and made into plasters to treat shingles and hemorrhoids. During the Medieval and Renaissance periods, blackberry leaf infusions were used as a gargle for a sore mouth, throat cankers and wound washing. Now in more enlightened times, blackberry leaves have been shown to fight cancerous cells and are a good source of antioxidants.  Blackberry leaf has also been effective in diabetes treatment, as a wrinkle preventative, and as a protection against cardiovascular disease.

There’s been some evidence that the tannins found in blackberry leaves, bark and roots may cause nausea in some people.  However, adding milk to the tea neutralizes the tannins quite nicely.  Thus the German regulatory agency for herbs has approved blackberry leaf tea for relieving non-specific acute diarrhea.  In addition, just like our medieval ancestors, the Germans have determined that blackberry leaf tea, mouthwash or gargle is appropriate for mouth sores and gum inflammation.  

(after use, please put it backin its proper place)

With all these reasons to drink blackberry leaf tea, perhaps this spring you should harvest your own.  Pluck the tender light green new leaves before the plant flowers, being mindful of those tiny pickers.  Ferment as described above or hang to dry and you’ll be all set.

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The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy
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Bone Broth

Recently among the Prepper and Homesteading groups I follow, there’s been a lot of excitement about bone broth.  Apparently, it’s the best thing to come along since sliced bread.  Only, it isn’t something new.  We’ve been making bone broth for years.

For those of you not familiar with bone broth, it’s the liquid that results from boiling the bones of an animal, poultry, fish, sheep, goat, cow, pig.  That’s it. (Bone Broth Basics, Nourishing Broths, Bone Broth Benefits: From Digestion to Joint Pain, Traditional Bone Broth in Modern Health and Disease, Making Real Homemade Chicken Stock or Bone Broth, Gut-Healing Bone Broth Recipe)

It’s SOOOOO healthy.  Look at this list of health benefits!

Alphabetical Listing of Conditions that Broth Benefits

aging skin, allergies, anemia, anxiety, asthma, atherosclerosis, attention deficit, bean maldigestion, brittle nails, carbohydrate maldigestion, Celiac Disease, colic, confusion, constipation, dairy maldigestion, delusions, dental degeneration, depression, detoxification, Diabetes, diarrhea, fatigue, food sensitivities, fractures, Gastritis, grain maldigestion, heart attack, high cholesterol, hyperactivity, hyperchlorhydria (reflux, ulcer), hyperparathyroidism (primary), hypertension, hypochlorhydria, hypoglycemia, immunodepression, increased urination, infectious disease, inflammation, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis), insomnia, intestinal bacterial infections, irritability, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Jaundice, joint injury, Kidney stones, leaky gut, loss of appetite, meat maldigestion, memory, muscle cramps, muscle spasms, muscle wasting, muscle weakness, Muscular Dystrophy, nausea, nervousness, Osteoarthritis, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, pain, palpitations, Periodontal Disease, pregnancy, rapid growth, restlessness, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rickets, seizure, shallow breathing, stupor, virility, vomiting, weakness, weight loss due to illness and wound healing

My first real exposure to bone broth was at Mama Sofia’s dinner table.  Mama Sofia is now nearly 100 years old.  Think on that!  She served us up some chicken broth and there was a chicken foot in it.  The broth was absolutely delicious, but I didn’t know how to eat the chicken foot.  My son, only 4 at the time, was also taken aback.  He couldn’t stop staring at it.  My husband’s aunt Caro finally picked up the chicken foot and said that this was her favorite part because she could use the toenails to scratch the top of her mouth.  She was teasing of course.  Once the bone was out of the way, we all tucked in. 

We tend to have either chicken or beef soup at least once a week.  Twice a week when it’s colder.  There isn’t a set recipe.  We use whatever happens to be in season.  The guy who runs a vegetable stand in front of his house always has a small bag of freshly cut vegetables for 12 pesos and then we add whatever else we have at the house.

Today, for example, we made beef soup with 2 kilos of soup bones, 3 garlic cloves, first of the season squash, some carrots, an ear of yellow corn, a bit of cilantro, 2 chayotes, a medium sized onion, a tomato, 6 small potatoes, a hunk of cabbage, a piece of cauliflower, a joconol (yet another type of cactus fruit), a piece of broccoli and a handful of chickpeas, a handful of green beans and salt to taste.  Sometimes we have nothing but potatoes and onions available, so that’s what we use.

Let me tell you, a mugful of broth from this hodgepodge soup is just the thing right before bed.

These middle-class ladies that have “discovered” bone broth might be on to something. That something being real food is better.

This broth will raise the dead–South American saying

Sometimes I wonder why it is I feel more alive here in Mexico.  I still have health problems, life sure ain’t easy, money is ALWAYS an issue.  It could be as simple as there’s no fluoride in the water.  Or perhaps it’s the constant challenge of managing in a culture not my own.  Or just maybe it’s the bone broth.

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Herbal Courses from beginner to advanced

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Back to Basics Living Summit Thursday highlights

day five

Today was the final day for the Back to Basics Living Summit and there were 8 presenters.  Being short on time today, I was almost relieved to see that I wasn’t really interested in all the courses.  I did view 3 and was pleased with all three.

Making Herbal Medicine

The presenter was a vet, so he’s tried hiss herbal remedies on the furrykind with great success.  However, he did start his presentation with quite a disclaimer.   Be that as it may, he actually didn’t give any herbal medicine recipes in the video.  He did provide some good pointers for harvesting and preserving.  He talked about making teas, decoctions, cold infusions, tinctures, glycerites, oil infusions, pills, and poultices.

Introduction to Preserving Herbs for Winter Use

This woman talked exclusively about different ways to preserve herbs (as the name of the course implies). Being off-grid and old-school myself, I tend to go for the old-fashioned hanging to dry method. She demonstrated a really nice hanging dryer that I’m putting on my wish list. She also talked about making herb butter, seasonings, teas, jellies, layering in salt or sugar, and freezing.

Jump Start Your Urban Farm

This was my favorite for today, although he didn’t score very well in the voting polls.  Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of how-to start your urban farm, he talked a bit about how he arrived at this point.  His total transformation was reading the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn in the 1990s. SAME HERE BABY!  For me, it changed my understanding of my place in the world.  So, since the presenter and I shared this life-transforming experience, I was all ears.  Of course, the main focus was on permaculture, working with nature instead of against her.  He had some basic gardening suggestions and showcased his own urban food production compound.

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I did not watch Discover the Benefits and Simplicity of Thermal Cooking, From Consumer to Producer–Producing Value and Income in your Household, Getting Back to the Basics for Fat Loss, Top Tips on Buying Off-Grid Property and Setting Up a Successful Homestead (the #1 for today), or Your Custom-made Food Storage Planner in 13 Guided Steps.

I hope you enjoyed the highlights as much as I enjoyed viewing these FREE presentations!

Friday and Saturday are Encore Days.  The presentations for each day that received the most votes will be replayed.  I don’t have the complete schedule, but I’m pretty darn sure some of my favorites will be in the lineup!  If you want to purchase full and unlimited access, you can do so here.

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