Mosquito Season is Here!

 

Well it’s that season again….no I don’t mean Spring, I’m talking about mosquito season. I know this because they just love me and I’m one of the first people they visit when the warm weather arrives. Last night as we tromped around the woods DFH said he could see swarms following me. That sweet (and intelligent) man decided to keep his distance from his mosquito magnet of a wife.
I usually swell up something fierce and can’t seem to stop scratching to save my life. Over the years I’ve heard of just about every home remedy under the sun, including mouthwash, onions, mud, baking soda, vinegar, spit, tobacco, perfume, soap, bleach, hot tea bags, salt paste and too many more to list.
I thought I’d share what personally works best for me.

In order of preference

1) peppermint oil
2) toothpaste (paste, not gel)
3) tea tree oil
4) dampen an aspirin and rub it on the spot
5) plantain and calendula salve

 

What have you found that works?

My whirlwind trip to Arkansas

Some of you asked some polite questions about my quick little get away to Arkansas and so I wrote a brief blog…that’s what you get for encouraging me!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

I had never been to Arkansas and had no idea what to expect, but I think I fell in love. There were huge pastures of rolling green hills that went on forever, broken up only by the occasional stream or pond. Sign, it was GORGEOUS! I don’t know who’s pasture this is but I had total pasture envy!

 

Everywhere I looked there was creeks, ponds etc…  I nearly caused a car accident at one point when I started screaming to stop the car as we were driving down a little road, because, sitting on a log  in the pond were 5 little turtles! I’m not sure if you can see them in this picture but trust be they are ADORABLE!!

FOOD:
I think I gained about 5 pounds in the 2 days I was there. Good Lord they have some good food and large servings too. I guess it would have been okay if I had a modicum of self control,  but we know that I don’t!

 

SIGHTS:
We went to the Scott Plantation Settlement and had the most amazing time.

http://www.arkansas.com/attractions/detail.aspx?id=90337

We had the best tour guide ever and even though we only had an hour and a half to spare we were there for almost 3 hours. The buildings are all authentic plantation buildings that have been donated and moved to this site and set up. Such an amazing place. Check out this 1840’s dog trot log cabin.

After this we went to the Diamond Crater State Park to dig for diamonds.  http://www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com/digging-for-diamonds/default.aspx

There had been a tremendous rain the day before so they said that increased our odds of finding surface diamonds…but I think they were just messing with us. 🙂 We didn’t find any diamonds but I did develop a whole new appreciate for the deep, thick and sticky clay they have down there!

One of my favorite places though was  the historic town of Washington State Park
http://www.historicwashingtonstatepark.com/
The entire town is a monument to the period. We hand dipped candles, learned about blacksmithing, ate a tavern that served period foods, toured a farmstead, weaponry and print shop. It’s really an amazing place!! There was too much for us to see in our short visit but I highly recommend a visit if you get the chance.

Yes, we managed to do all that in 2 days and I’m exhausted, but it was truly beautiful and such a neat place with tons of history and friendly people.

What I learned about Homesteading from Gilligan’s Island

Let’s just jump into the most pressing question…were the castaways on Gilligan’s Island preppers or homesteaders? I mean that’s the burning question right? I know there is a lot of cross over between the groups, but let’s take a hard look at the facts. I’m pretty sure that if they had known that they would be stranded on an island for years and years they would have done some things differently. If they had thought to prepare for the unexpected they probably would have packed a little differently (like maybe a life raft)….. In fact we may have labeled them as preppers if they had had the forethought to prepare for this event.

However, they didn’t prepare and yet they did remarkable well with that they had on hand, so instead we’ll call them homesteaders. Granted the Howells and Ginger packed an amazing amount of clothing and miscellaneous items for a three hour cruise, the professor had mad skills with a coconut and bamboo inventions and they did have incredible luck with needed items washing up on the beach, but hey let’s not begrudge them their good fortune. After all, they did learn to up-cycle items they had on hand and items they found locally to make huts, beds, clothes and even more amazingly, washing machines, coconut phones, radios, lie detector machines, ovens to bake all those coconut pies, bicycles, pedal cars… the list goes on and on. With their inventions and homesteader ingenuity they were able to survive big game hunters, vitamin C deficiency, vampire bats, gangsters, head hunters, radioactive seeds and a whole collection of other oddball visitors to the island. Pretty amazing if you ask me! Heck if we had left them there a few more years they probably would have created an alternative fuel source from coconut and bamboo and solved our world’s fossil fuel pollution problem, but alas, they were rescued. What we can learn from them is to celebrate their creativity  and ingenuity by recognizing some of the most important homesteader traits:

1)      Work as a team, even when one of them does something so stupid you want to vote them off the island…Oops! Wrong show.

2)      Never give up, even when the natural glue source you find and use to repair the boat dissolves and you are stranded once again….or in any other discouraging situation.

3)      Finally, remember that nothing is impossible with some imagination. After all, if the professor can invent a lie detector machine out of bamboo and a ship’s horn you can surely create something to solve whatever dilemma you might be facing.

Fable Farms ~ Festive Summer Corn Salad

Fable Farms ~ Festive Summer Corn Salad

 

This is one of my all time favorite salads to make. It is bright, colorful and fun and it gets rave reviews everywhere I take it. But even more important than all of that, it’s super easy! Because let’s face it I’m lazy and don’t want to spend a ton of time putting together  a salad!

So here ya go:

Salad ingredients:

Bag of frozen corn

cooks and rinsed black beans

Cherry tomatoes

Bell pepper ( I like green or orange)

Red onion- diced finely

hot peppers  * optional (I use canned, but anything is fine)

Avocado

 

Dressing ingredients:

olive oil

red wine vinegar

lime juice  (fresh is best but if it’s not available anything works)

crushed garlic

salt

pepper

 

I toss everything for the salad together EXCEPT the avocado.  Cut the avocado into cubes, squeeze some fresh lime juice over it and toss to coat well. Mix all dressing ingredients and pour over the salad, mix well and then top with the avocado. Sit back and enjoy!

Homemade Mustard

I confess I have somewhat of an addiction to good mustard. I mean the really good stuff, not that fluorescent yellow stuff that people squirt out of a bottle, but the thick, grainy, deeply flavor packed mustard that costs some serious pocket change. (side note: Yes, I know, I’m addicted to a lot of stuff….stuffed olives, pickled okra, provolone stuffed pickled peppers, chocolate, cookies, red wine….hey noticing a theme? Yes, they are all food items. 🙂 Oops, I digress).

So I was bound and determined to make a good, I mean really GOOD, mustard at home and save some money. I had found a recipe on the internet a while back that said to soak mustard seeds in vinegar and add salt and pepper. Okay sounds simple…I decided to give it a try. I did it and was NOT impressed.  So, I took that mess and mixed it with the following:

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup dry mustard powder

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 salt

1/2 cinnamon

1/2 tsp turmeric

I mixed the whole mess in a sauce pan and set it to simmer. I let it cook till all the flavors had blended and it reached a consistency I liked and ….YUM! Definitely worth making if you are a fan of good mustards!