Archive for June, 2010

I know it’s summer when herbal things abound around my house.  I have catnip drying, comfrey oil steeping, and flower waters infusing all simultaneously.  This time of year is so abundantly wonderful!

The comfrey oil is a concoction of the healthiest leaves and flowers from my comfrey plants, first wilted a bit and then covered in extra virgin olive oil.  This mixture sits on a sunny porch step for two weeks, gets filtered of the old plant material and then gets another two-week round of fresh comfrey parts.  This yields a wonderfully potent medicinal oil that will be used to make salves and ointments for fast healing of cuts and scrapes.

The catnip gets dried in an out-of-the-sun location (my pantry seems to work perfectly for this) and then chopped up and jarred for winter use in teas.  Catnip tea cools a fever, soothes the nerves and, when frozen into pops, is the perfect remedy for a teething baby.

My floral waters are a mixture of 3 parts distilled water to 1 part witch hazel.  The flowers steep in this mixture on a shady shelf for two weeks (I add the freshly opened blooms as they appear daily) and then get strained and put into little spray bottles for me to use as a facial toners.

So much herby goodness abounding and it’s just the beginning of the season….

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The birthdays of my chirpy pen pal and my littlest sis are both part of the occasion-filled month of June that keeps me very much on my toes.  Knowing that both women are avid journal-keepers (and knowing that sister Eliza already told me that not only did she want her own strawberry-covered journal, but that everyone else in the world would want their own handmade book too), I set to work.Each book is filled to the brim with a happy combination of paper from old ledgers, grade books of classrooms past, decorative paper, graph paper and good old drawing paper.  It makes for a really delicious variety.  Gridded paper for those left-brained days and blank paper for those right-brained days and enough color and pizazz for hopefully everything in between.

I love that these books flow from whatever is dominating my scrap paper drawer at the moment.  I always seem to have just enough of something to pull an album out of it.  The cover and spine boards were made from postal boxes and are of a thickness that is both sturdy enough to hold up and easy enough to cut and work with.

Each album I make feels so special.  They feel so good in my hands that I always have to hold them for awhile before I’m ready to wrap them up and ship them off.  I admit that there’s a little (okay fine, maybe bigger than that) piece of me that wants to keep each book I make.  All I have to do though, is think about all the beautiful female recipients of my creative album-making endeavors thus far, and I’m instantly ready to let them go.

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There are occasions when a lot of custom cards are called for all at once.  Father’s Day is one of these.  I’ve discovered that it’s easiest to pick a theme and then mess around with it to arrive at a bunch of unique variations without spending hours entrenched in the designing process.  With Father’s Day cards for my own dad, the dad of my little guy and my guy’s grandfathers all on my plate, this was certainly the occasion to employ such a technique.  I picked an oceany theme (shocking for me, I know) and kept within the same color palette for each card (that way I could work from one bunch of envelopes, see?).  It was easy and fun and yet the end products all remain special unto themselves.  The best of all worlds.  For the best of all dads.

Wishing a wonderful weekend and a very happy Father’s Day to all those amazing dads out there!

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It’s the end of the school year already!  Eli’s had a fabulous year of kindergarten and naturally, his wonderful teacher will be the recipient of many thank-you gifts.  I didn’t want to overlook his hard-working bus drivers, though.  Especially since riding the bus is such a cool part of his first-year-of-school experience.  The bus is a big deal, really.

So Eli’s bus drivers will each get their own little set of special Deep Blue Sea Designs note cards.  It must be totally obvious how much fun these were to make.  And it’s very likely they’ll become part of our annual end-of-school gift repertoire.

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Oh my do we have an abundance of chives!  We inherited all this chivey goodness from our home’s previous owners who filled, it seems, any available space with chives.  The benefits to us are many.  We’ve been able to add this zippy little allium to salads and slaws and marinades all spring and summer.  The wall of pungency that the chives make up along the edges of our vegetable garden no doubt are one of the primary reasons our vegetables remain relatively insect-free.  And, as I discovered last year, chive vinegar makes up just about the prettiest little kitchen gift you can muster (and mixed with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, it makes a very fine salad dressing).

This year, Jeff’s stepmom blessed me with bottles!  She saved up a whole bunch of  bottles from her fancy specialty vinegar and offered them up to me.  I was overjoyed.  The graceful long-necked bottles make up an even prettier batch of vinegar than last year.

I so love that this punchy, pretty vinegar is becoming a annual tradition!  It’s just one more glorious way to celebrate the season.

*A total anecdotal side note:  Just recently, after a pretty heavy-handed cold I wound up with a whopper of an earache.  Trying to avoid a course of antibiotics I looked into natural remedies for ear infections.  It turns out that I had the very best remedy right there in my kitchen all freshly made!  A 50/50 ratio of chive vinegar and water made up the perfect ear drop solution.  The mixture helped the hurt instantly and now after a few days of treatment, my ear is back to its shiny little self!

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