9 things Mama taught us from the Bible

On Mother’s Day, I was sitting in church listening to the minister go over 9 things that Mom taught us.  Things that gave us confidence.  Things that warned us of heartache.  Things that assured us we were loved.  You were supposed to pay attention to the “moral” of the story….  here they are …tree row

Conduct yourselves with wisdom towards others, making the most of the opportunity. Colossians 4:5

Don’t judge a book by its cover= acceptance

wind flowers

Good manners never go out of style= respect

bugmouth

Choose your battles=discernment (sifting)

 

lone branches

First, walk a mile in their shoes= compassion

 

twisted vine

 

                         Two wrongs never make a right= forgiveness

 

loveydoves

People mean more than things= generosity

Prettypink

 

            Your word is your bond=                   integrity

 

Into each life some rain must fall= contentment

unnamed

pump

 

This too shall pass= patience

 

 

God is everywhere, and we find him anywhere we look.  As I create some of the pieces on our website www.livingakers.com, I think about God and all the glory of nature he placed right at our fingertips.

Mushrooms at your fingertips

inoculating small logs at our tree farm with Shitake mushrooms spores PAYS OFF A FEW MONTHS LATER.

Sound different?  Difficult?  We were clueless the first time we heard about this, but found how just how amazingly easy and inexpensive it is- really.During a tour at one of the Missouri Forest and Woodlands Association conferences for tree farmers, was a family farm where some short logs were propped up in a row on their place.  There were mushrooms popping out all over them! He told us briefly that he cut some logs, drilled holes, and the kids put spores in, covering each with wax.  Well, that still sounded a bit foreign to us.  The very same afternoon, the University Extension center, which is a partner with the Missouri Conservation Department, had some brochure handouts on … would you know?  GROWING SHITAKE MUSHROOMS!!!  

THE place referenced to get spores is Field & Forest.  They are real experts, with a large variety of mushrooms, advice, starter kits, tips, tricks and more.  So, we ordered spores and got started when the weather was right.  First, the logs we cut were approximately 6″ White Oak (because size matters.)  They need to be fresh cut for moisture, and the bark on Oak doesn’t disintegrate as much as other barks, so that the moisture is kept in the log.

For our third time inoculating, this is the method we chose:

1. Drilling
2. Thimble Spores
3. inserting the spores

This year, we filled with “thimble spores”.  First, the hole is drilled with a special bit, fitted for the spore.  The tray shown in photo 2 contains the spores, shaped like a thimble.  They are pre-measured, so just insert, press in, making sure the styrofoam is secure.  VERY SIMPLE

4. Inoculated logs

As I mentioned earlier, we have tried other methods, which also are not difficult at all.  We just like trying different ways, then comparing the process and results.
I recommend you check out Field & Forest, as they have more information than I can possibly begin to offer here in a blog.

September 2014 after a few days of cooler temperature with rain

September 2014 after a few days of cooler temperature with rain

7 months later, in September, 2014, we had these show up one day.  This was after a few days of cooler weather and some rain.  These are about the size of a quarter.  In 2-3 days, they were the size of a hamburger bun and DELICIOUS!!!

At Livingakers.com, we are proud to live sustainable, utilizing all that God-given nature has provided.  Trees are our passion.  They inspire us.  See what gifts and other items can be created from or about trees!

Trees are everywhere

logo1 logo4 logo3 logo2


 

 How often are trees used as a logo?

Just for fun, I googled that question and got 143,000,000 results. Way more than I ever considered. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be WHY trees are so popular as logos.  Because they have significance in all aspects of life, success, growth, stability, history and more.  I started noticing how many companies use trees as logos when I began my business finding and producing products made from trees or about trees. Everywhere I go, I see tree logos on billboards, at companies on awnings.  Could this mean that we humans appreciate this important piece of nature? In a way, it has become a symbol of incorporated (business) forests.  Maybe we should pay attention to our nations forests…  we do…

https://www.forestfoundation.org/forest-foundation-mission-vision-values-goals

The American Forest Foundation has a mission: “to ensure the sustainability of America’s family forests for present and future generations in conjunction with out strategic partners.” If you appreciate nature and your land, perhaps you consider how important it is to manage it, and here is help:  https://www.forestfoundation.org/our-focus

http://www.forestandwoodland.org/about-us.html

In Missouri, we rely on the Forest and Woodland Association, a partner of the American Forest Foundation.  They offer a wealth of information, through members sharing their experience and knowledge.  Most states have land owner Tree Farm Systems.. check yours out!

The world is paying attention to the importance of trees..

Forest Service Recognizes United Nations’ International Day of Forests

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

Try going one full day without using a product derived from a tree.
You won’t be able to use a pencil or paper or sit on your couch or at a desk. You won’t be able to check the mail or drink coffee while reading the newspaper.
Trees are important for everyone around the world, and now the U.N. has designated every March 21 as the International Day of Forests

In honor of trees, www.livingakers.com offers a variety of hand-crafted, specialty tree gifts- made from or about trees…  feel free to browse!

Tree messages

Here’s Your Sign- in Trees

Trees talk…
or do they?
History is recorded in trees, if you read the signs.

Ever carved your initials (or your undying love for another) in a tree?There are a multitude of variations, depending on the types of trees, the size of trees, and the messages presented in many different types of ‘signs’.
These are called arborglyphs.

Many years ago, I went back-backing in the Rocky Mountains outside of Sante Fe, New Mexico. At this high altitude, Aspen trees are everywhere, and so are the messages carved in these specially unique trees with white bark. If only back then, we had such a thing as a ‘pocket’ camera, but alas, I have the memories. Once I started reminiscing about all those ‘signs’ and messages carved in Aspen trees, I wanted to find out more.  Luckily, nowadays– you can find anything on the internet!

There is history in the ‘signs’ of trees. This article; “Reading the Trees” provides information following an archaeological study.  “Nicole Smith, Education and Outreach Project Director for the San Juan Mountain Association, directed the identification and documentation of arborglyphs on a stretch of the Pine Piedra Trail. The 2001-2004 research project, funded by the Colorado State Historical Fund.” 

http://www.insideoutsidemag.com/issues/2006/November_December/Reading_The_Trees/

I ran across these posts in Waymarking.com.  VERY cool!  For example:

“This is a small cemetery for the Butler family in Morgan County Indiana, north of the town of Paragon.” 

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM2MWJ_Butler_Cemetery
 

I find it very interesting when I consider that signs of the past left in trees could be markers of history.  It kind of makes you wonder how long the ‘sign’ in a tree can last?  Longer than a ghost town like this one:
“Steubenville, Indiana of Randolph County was officially plated on the day before Christmas in 1839. It only had three or four homes even in its heyday.”

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMC75R_Steubenville_IN

So, we know from history that towns may or not live long…
Have you ever wondered how long a tree can live?  (They do represent life, sort of as a parallel to human life.)  Well… the Guiness World Book of Records has METHUSULAH= listed as the world’s largest living tree! (Just more interesting info I found on “waymarking.com”). Would you believe “Earth’s oldest living inhabitant “Methuselah” has reached the age of 4,768 years?”

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1wKHUw/www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMQDF/

There are even more stories of tree ‘signs’.  Military veterans have reported messages in trees.
Remember the “YELLOW RIBBON”?  In the United States military, the symbol of the yellow ribbon is used in a popular marching song. The first version copyrighted was the 1917 version by George A. Norton, which he titled ‘Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon” (For Her Lover Who Is Far, Far Away). Ask.com 
There was a big hit song in the ’70’s- “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando. It was about a man returning home from prison who asked his girl to tie a yellow ribbon if she still wanted him, and when he arrived, a 100 ribbons were tied to the tree.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NCZ4l8FCFc
It caused some controversy because it glorified a criminal- not a soldier.

That’s all beside the point— I want to bring the attention to the TREE.  Why an OAK?  Because among common species, they have the most resiliency and longevity.  You can count on the Oak Tree being there after long, hard years away.  THAT is just another reason why trees are so important.  What they stand for, long lasting love… and so much more.

The gifts we design at livingakers.com have that in mind.

Cuckoo to get coconut oil?

So I found out that pure coconut oil is the anti-aging skin remedy. Then I saw how expensive it is and got a wild hair to extract my own. I do not recommend this for anyone lacking in the virtue of patience… After 3 days of tapping, cracking, peeling, shredding, squeezing, fermenting, separating, slow heating and extracting…I got 2 Tbs. But the coconut was $1.79!! LoLskincare 003

 

 

I started by drilling a hole to drain the milk, then placing the coconut in a big vice that we have, cracking it. I took all the pieces and separated the meat from the peel.  Then I ran the pieces through the food processor, adding warm water to make a paste.  The instructions I followed said   to squeeze the paste into a jar of the coconut milk, and wait for it to ferment and separate.   IMG_20130721_162456_375

 

A hard paste forms at the top of the jar, that is where the oil is. I took that out, melted it in a boiling bath, then ran it through the cheesecloth again to filter.  This was a long, labor filled process. IMG_20130721_171610_234

After all that, I decided to check prices and found the best quality at Mountain Rose Herbs.  The refined comes in a gallon, or 5 gallon quantity.  The unrefined is better for cooking than the refined with smallest quantity 32 ounces. I wanted it to use it as an anti-aging product. I have been using it now, for over a year, and can tell a distinct difference.

I LOVE making things from pure nature, and went a little cuckoo for the coconut oil, but it was worth it! There are more ideas and items created from or about nature on our blog at Livingakers.com.

HAPPY NATURAL SKIN HEALTH!!!

Necessary ‘Neem’ for skin care

I happened to catch an episode of Dr. Oz, and was fascinated with what I learned.  ‘Neem’ is an essential herb in Ayurvedic medicine (based on an ancient system in India).  First, the audience was introduced to the three types of dosha. Find your dosha, is a quiz you take to determine your ‘mind/body’ balance.  There are three types; Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Discussion was provided on the suggestions for harmful and helpful ingredients/spices unique to each type ‘Dosha’.  Very interesting, and the guest, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, explains easily how all this makes sense.

Then, we got into the information about an herb, used in India for centuries as skin care essential-  Neem.  It is from a tree indigenous to India: GntNeemTree

Dr. Chaudhary’s mother was in the audience because she was talking about Neem, something she used all her life by just making a poultice from leaves picked right off the tree.

Now that I viewed this episode and feel totally enlightened, I also feel ‘behind’ compared to how many people already have been aware of the special essence of this plant.  (I still have moments of delayed knowledge- but I get ‘it’ eventually.)

There are multitudes of products available, lotions, oils and combinations in products.  If you are like me, I want ‘pure’ organic ingredients. That’s why I prefer to DIY, and save money at the same time.  I did a little checking to compare prices, most average $9-19 for an oz of pure Neem Seed Oil.  It is marketed for several purposes, cosmetic (hair and even toothpaste), and a natural insect control for gardeners. It is offered in many forms; oil, dried, teas and is very common as an ingredient in lotions, facial wash, etc.  As I said before, I like to make my own, so I got mine at Mountain Rose Herbs for $7.95 8oz. Neem Oil.
Have Happy skin everybody!!

 

skin care found in the kitchen

There are many ingredients right in your very own kitchen that are useful for skin care. Honey for instance, has many uses, which you can read more about in the post on this site; Honey for natural health help

Cinnamon is another handy ingredient. Cinnamon(If you want to use the essential oil, or get even more ideas of cinnamon use, don’t forget to look for it at Mountain Rose herbs- the link is on the right)

Here is some really helpful information about this spice I found at Live Strong.com 

Cinnamon–in both grated and essential oil forms–is beneficial to the skin because it brings blood and nutrients to the skin surface while also helping to dry skin. An article at organicfacts.net reports that cinnamon can be used to help dry acne and relieve an itchy scalp, but works best when applied in a preparation with an oil or petroleum jelly, which can moderate some of the harsh effects of cinnamon.

Plumps Skin

Cinnamon is a spice that brings blood to the surface of the skin, causing minor swelling and plumping. A preparation of three drops of cinnamon essential oil mixed with a couple tablespoons of petroleum jelly or olive oil can be applied to fine lines to plump out the skin, making the lines less visible. It’s best to avoid the eye area as cinnamon can cause burning if it gets in your eyes. You may carefully apply it to the outside of crow’s feet, away from the eye. This mixture is also helpful in plumping lips and can be used in place of lip gloss.

Scalp Cleanser

Cinnamon can help clean and nourish the scalp by acting as an exfoliant and bringing blood to the scalp, and along with it, oxygen to nourish the hair follicles. Take 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon and mix it with 1 tbsp. of honey and 1/4 cup of warmed olive oil and apply to the scalp, massaging firmly during the application process. Leave on for about 15 minutes and then wash hair with your normal shampoo. You should feel a little tingle as the cinnamon stimulates the scalp.

Eczema Treatment

Some people have found relief from patches of eczema by combining 1 tsp. of honey mixed with 1 tsp. of cinnamon and applying a thin layer of the paste on affected areas. Do not use this preparation on children or on patches of eczema on the face. Try a small test area and wash off immediately if the skin becomes too irritated. You should see results within a week, according to an article on Earth Clinic.com .

Acne Treatment

Cinnamon can help rid your face or back of acne by both drying out the skin and, again, bringing blood and oxygen to the skin surface. Mix 3 tbsp. of honey with 1 tbsp. of cinnamon and apply the paste to pimples and leave on overnight. Or apply a thin layer to the face as a mask and leave on for about 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Cinnamon masks can irritate the skin, so they should not be applied more than once a week.

Oh, and of course don’t forget the added bonus of how it helps the kids!  Some in the sand box helps keep the bugs and ants away!

Pinned Image

I recently made a specialty homemade soap with cinnamon and oatmeal. Tune in for future post…

Useful Hedge Apples

Another gift of nature. Someone told me a few years ago, that if you put hedge apples in the corners of your house, they will keep away spiders. So, I tried it, and for the last couple years, it has worked. This year, I hit a jackpot of HUGE hedge apples!

Just a few made such a big pile.

“Folklore provides numerous claims that hedgeapples are repellent to insects and spiders. The fruit of the osage orange has been placed in households for ages. The Hedgeapple’s average lifespan in an air-condition environment is 2-3 months. Although some can develop spots at an early stage, Hedgeapples should only be discarded once most of the green has disappeared.” Hedge Apple resource.

These are those “brainy looking” things that can occasionally be found in the woods in the midwest. Deer love them. (I’m not sure what else eats them.)  I have heard people comment that they smell, but what I’ve noticed is a mild sweet scent. I don’t find it unpleasant. That must be a preference thing. Also, they are sticky and will turn brown and shrivel in a few months.

Such an easy, free, natural remedy. If you put some around the house, place a napkin or rag under it, or it can stain as it turns brown.  For tips on doing things yourself, using natural ingredients, or advise on just about anything frugal, check out www.frugallysustainable.com/

homemade prickly pear fruit margarita

If you live in the Southwest, or have the opportunity to visit, get out and about this time of year (late September, early October) when the Prickly Pear cactus fruit are ripe.  I had the pleasure of being in Albuquerque recently and found these in the foothills at the base of the Sandia Mountains.

This is what the prickly pear cactus plant with ripe fruit looks like in the wild

It is VERY IMPORTANT to use gloves when picking, the fruit has tiny, hairlike needles that can hardly be seen, but they sure are felt! These require tweezers and magnifiers to remove from the skin.  Look for the darkest of the fruit, a deep purple for ripeness.  We took them home and, still using gloves, peeled them.

cut out the core end

carefully remove the skin, it feels rough, sort of like peeling an avacado

REMEMBER – USE GLOVES!!! The fruit should be soft, so don’t squeeze too hard in order not to lose juice while cutting out the hard, core end.

 

 

 

While peeling, hold the fruit gently, removing the skin using your personal technique for peeling apples or similar.

Next, slice the fruit or you can quarter it, depending on the size. There are seeds inside that should be removed because they are hard, and have a tendency to stick in teeth. (They are edible, no real taste and not easy to chew).  Try different methods of seed removal that work best for you. We ended up using a pickle spear/fork.

The seeds are the granules you can make out that have a clear texture

Now the fun begins! Take about a cup of the fruit pulp (we used about 6 large fruit), put it in the blender and add 10 ounces of margarita mix (or your own margarita recipe).  This will taste wonderful with or without alcohol!!

Delicious, healthy AND gorgeous

The taste is mild, not sweet. Sort of hard to describe. The texture is similar to mango fruit.  I plan to look into what all vitamins are in these, but it is my understanding that the Native Americans could go for days eating these and nothing else. We put our extra fruit in the freezer and when we thaw it out and try it, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

November 10, 2012. Defrosted the prickly pear fruit and made another batch of margaritas. It separates sort of like tomatoes when frozen. The pulp lost it’s taste because the juice separated, and was somewhat watered down. Still, the margaritas were tasty! And the color was even deeper.

Frugally Sustainable- get info about anything DIY

Tomato Pie, anyone?

This recipe is so simple, easy, and delicious– ANYONE can make it!

a slice of Tomato Pie

I was feeling the need to get out of the same-o dishes, use some of the last of our garden harvest, and found out there is such a thing as tomato pie.  So I decided to try it, and wow, was it a big hit with the family! (even my husband, who is opinionated).

The first attempt, I used the recipe from Simply Recipes, but left out the tobasco. Luckily, I had some fresh Basil in my herb garden. I you want fresh, certified organic herbs, try Mountain Rose (click link on right).

  • 1 9-inch pie shell (see pie crust recipe for homemade version)
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally, squeezed to remove excess juice, roughly chopped, to yield approximately 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced basil (about 8 leaves)*
  • 2 cups grated cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack, or Gruyere or Mozarella)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank’s Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

*To slice basil, chiffonade them by stacking the leaves on top of each other, roll them up like a cigar, starting at one end slice the “cigar” crosswise in thin slices.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pie shell in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or longer until lightly golden.  If you are starting with a frozen crust, you’ll need to cook it a little longer.  If you are using a homemade crust, freeze the crust first, then line the crust with aluminum foil and pre-bake it for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

2 Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel, or a potato ricer.

3 Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with chopped onion.  Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions.  Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes.

4 In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, Tabasco, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The mixture should be the consistency of a gooey snow ball.  Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.

5 Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes.

The second attempt, I didn’t bother to squeeze the moisture from the tomatoes, and the only difference I could tell, was that it seems to have more flavor. Some people just don’t have a taste for the mayonaise flavor, so, I decided to try cream cheese in order to eliminate the ‘twang’ flavor from mayonaise that some people, (like hubby) just don’t prefer.  I used 1/2 cup cream cheese and sour cream instead of the mayo, and it was; according to the hubby “a definite improvement”.  The cream cheese made it distinctly richer, so smaller portions were in order. For a healthy, tasty side dish (or entree), I highly recommend you try this!!  Low fat mayonaise, low fat cream cheese, could all be used for less calories, but not take away from taste. Gluten-free flour can easily be substituted in the crust.

 I got to use some of my fresh, home grown tomatoes and basil, and now have a family-approved quick, easy, simple side dish.  :)