{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Posted 10 years, 1 month ago at 5:51 pm. Add a comment

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

Isn’t it weird how new things make old familiar things seem foreign? Like bumping into your teacher at the grocery store. Or that first brush with a new toothbrush. Or strolling through your garden barefoot. There’s a moment of floundering followed closely by a jolt of recognition. (Oh right! That’s how I brush my teeth!)

That’s similar to what happened to me when I was first introduced to dandelion tea. I imagined it to be some exotic process unlike anything I’ve done in my life. So it was with an embarrassing amount of surprise and a small jolt of recognition that I realized that making dandelion root tea is just like making… tea. It involves an almost too shrill kettle, an herb, and some steeping time.

If you are the diy type, you can wait till the first hard frost and forage your own roots from your backyard. If you’re not quite so adventurous (or you just can’t wait till the first hard frost) you can buy the roots at most well stocked natural grocery stores. You can also purchase them online from Mountain Rose Herbs. If you know an herbalist in your area, it’s worth checking with them as well. However you get them, you’ll want to roast the dried roots, which is a pleasure rather than a chore. The roasting roots make your kitchen heavy with the smell of strong brewed coffee and buttery sugar cookies.

Why would you want to make dandelion root tea? Let me answer with another question. Have you ever had an experience where you ate or drank something and felt down to your bones that it was the exact thing your body needed at that moment? Maybe it was a charred grass-fed steak, or a spoonful of fermented salsa, or even salty french fries. Whatever it was, it answered a craving you didn’t even know you had.

That’s why I drink dandelion root tea. I could say it’s because of it’s diuretic properties that gently cleanse the blood and support the liver; unlike other diuretics that leech potassium, dandelion root tea gives a net gain of potassium. It’s also rich in magnesium, a mineral that has a lot to do with your mood and ability to cope with stress. I could also say that I drink dandelion root tea because of its high calcium content, which is important for healthy bones and teeth.

I could say all those things. And they’d be true. But the real reason I drink this tea is the way I feel my body respond with a chorus of “Yes!” from every organ, every curve, every cell.

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

a palmful of roasted dandelion roots
boiling water
a pint jar

If the roots are not already roasted, spread them in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350° for 10-15 mintures, until they are dark brown and their bittersweet aroma fills your kitchen. Allow to cool completely and store in an air tight jar. Measure out a palmful of the stored roots. Pour the roots into a pint sized jar. Pour boiling water to just below the top. Allow to steep for at least four hours. Strain and enjoy warm, gently reheated, or over ice. The roots can be used again to make a second, weaker infusion.

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 4:10 pm. Add a comment

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 1:21 pm. 2 comments

You know you’re a mama when…

  • you wait until nap time to eat the cookie someone gave you so you don’t have to share it
  • you pick a half a gnawed raw carrot up off the floor and put it in the fridge for later
  • you delight in your cats because you can love them and then throw them on the floor when you’re done with them
  • you keep a mental tally of how many times your jeans have been spilled, smeared, leaked, peed, and pooed on. And you don’t even think about washing them until that tally reaches at least 17. (Poo counts as 5 points)
  • you spend your baby-free evenings watching videos to learn new ways to fold cloth diapers
  • you understand what it means to be physically but not sexually attracted to someone
  • you look down and realize you’ve been wearing oatmeal as some kind of nouveau pendant. Suddenly stranger’s small smiles and headshakes make sense
  • you can locate your child anywhere in the house based solely on the unique sound patterns resonating from the particular things being banged together
  • you spend your falling asleep moments trying to describe the smell of your sleeping baby’s head
  • you wonder how you met new people before you had a baby as an ice breaker
  • you carry around the sinking knowledge that sometime, somewhere, a guest is going to find that apple core your toddler dropped in a secret hiding place
  • you’ve slept with a teddy bear for the first time since your own childhood in a desperate attempt to make it smell like you so you can trick your baby into sleeping longer
  • it’s totally normal for your toddler to finish his lunch after his nap…. off the floor where he threw it
  • you’ll drink a glass a water that’s 15% baby backwash without a second thought
  • you forget to drop the royal “we” when your child’s not with you
  • you have nursed/snuggled/read to/ played with your child… while pooping
  • you plan date nights with the same attention to detail and wishful thinking that you used to plan your wedding when you were thirteen
  • you rarely snap all the snaps
  • you know what a full body hug feels like

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 1:46 pm. 1 comment

Milestones: Helping

Ever since Aunt Rachel and Tiffany visited and showed him where the silverware goes, he’s never let a dishwasher-door-open moment pass without helping put away something. His favorite are the spoons. Dirty ones.

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 8:12 pm. 1 comment

a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

This used bookstore sits on a corner a couple blocks from our apartment. The first time we drove past it (while apartment hunting), I thought that surely the windows were just a clever display of controlled chaos designed to lure people into the shop. When I rounded said corner a month later (oh! that’s where that shop is! who knew it was so close by!), I was fully expecting to find well ordered shelves. I was delightfully wrong. The inside is exactly like the outside: cluttered, musty, and winsome. Pyramids of books  lurch into the shoulder width aisles.

Further down the block, I had to stop and admire the artful arrangement of smooth river rocks, broken concrete, and knobbly tree trunks. Something about it makes me think of an urban fairy tale.

“This is a no kill parking spot. Help stop dogs dying in hot cars. Thanks.” Thanks to the creative medium of this public service announcement, I guarantee you I’ll be watching for dogs in parked cars. I wonder what other causes could benefit from such creativity?

Finally, someone should write a children’s book for this poor lost bunny.

What interesting things have you noticed in your neighborhood recently?

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 6:28 pm. Add a comment

an encouraging use of space

While the quality of the picture is anything but encouraging, this use of space certainly gives me cause for hope. Someone refused to let their lack of outdoor space deter them from having a garden. It’s encouraging because it proves there are people out there who are thinking creatively and willing to put in some work (even if unconventional) to grow a bit of their own food.

What things have you seen recently that have been encouraging?

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 9:08 pm. Add a comment

urban forage notes: plantain and dandelion

This past Sunday I attended my second forage with herbalist, permaculturalist, and community builder Nance Klehm. While we discussed more than two dozen plants, I wanted to share two of the most useful and easiest to identify: plantain and dandelion. I’ll share a few more as the weeks go on, that is if my notes don’t get buried amidst wrinkling laundry, evolving to-do lists, and tottering wooden blocks.

  1. Plantain
    You probably have this growing in your yard or at least on the sidewalk down the street. Go check… seriously. Go find it and grab a leaf. Then come back and do an experiment with me.Didja find one? Now, put it in your mouth and chew it up, but don’t swallow it. Pretend you’re chewing gum. When you’re sure no one’s looking, spit the whole mess out onto your inner arm. And leave it there. We’ll come back to it in a few minutes.Meanwhile, I want to  talk about the secret power the plantain seeds possess. Let’s say you your friend had overinduldged a bit and was now having trouble with ….er…. elimination. If you wanted to help “your friend,” you could go out to your yard and pick a few of the seed pod stems. Choose ones that are brown and dry. Rub the pods between your palms to release the seeds- you might want to do this over a table in order to catch all the seeds. Once you’ve collected about a tablespoon of seeds, put them in a clean quart jar and fill the jar up with cold water. Let it sit overnight or 6-8 hours. The water will thicken slightly. The next morning, you can either drink the water straight, mix it with juice, or use it to make your oatmeal. The seeds release a gentle laxative into the water that’s safe for children and even pets. This simple, gentle, and effective medicine will enable “your friend” to get back to … regular life.Bring your attention back to the wad of plantain leaf on your arm. Do you feel anything? Pick it up and move it a couple inches.  As the compounds in the leaf mix with your saliva, it turns ice cold. You can use this plant to draw out the pain from bites, stings, and burns. This means it relieves the fire ant bites you southerners are cursed with every summer. Perhaps my people at City Roots can start a new farm fashion of plantain “tattoos” on their arms and legs? This also works with poisin ivy and poisin oak rashes. If you have just a small rash, you can use the same “chew and spit” method as for bites. However, if you need a larger area of your body covered, you will want to pick a bowlful of leaves and whiz them up in a blender with some water to make a paste. You can add some oatmeal for extra relief. Spread it over your rash like you would an over-the-counter cream. You can do this as many times a day as needed.*Do be aware of your body while doing this. As I said, this plant turns ice cold, so covering large portions of your body in it could give you the chills. Follow your body’s lead and rinse it off when it’s had enough.*
  2. Dandelion
    I’ve personally never shared the lawn owner’s hatred of dandelions. When I walked home from work, I always loved discovering their sunny flowers amidst a dessert of concrete. And I must admit that I still feel a magical twinge when I find a completely rotund puffy flower and blow all the seeds into the air.So it is with smirking delight that I’ve learned of the dandelion’s myriad uses.Every part of this plant is useful in some way- from the yellow bloom all the way down to the long taproot. The crunchier ones among us are probably familiar with the pleasant bitterness the leaves add to “mixed green” salad bags. If you think they’re delicious in your bagged salad, imagine how much better they’d taste with a heaping side of self accomplishment if you foraged them yourself. In addition to tasty-ness, the leaves also are high in minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are minerals most people are deficient in.  Not only that, but they are a diuretic; they will help you pee more and thus flush toxins out of your body. However, unlike plain water, dandelions replace the potassium that’s often lost when you go a lot. Therefore a dandelion salad is a great hangover food.The roots can be chopped, roasted, and brewed as a tea. Though roasting is optional, I highly suggest doing so as it not only increases flavor, but fills your kitchen with an aroma that’s similar to what would happen if you brewed a pot of strong coffee as you pulled sugar cookies out of the oven. The tea tastes like the earth- deep and loamy with a bitterness reminiscent of a good cup of coffee. While it might sound off putting, everyone I’ve seen try it takes a small sip and then several big gulps. Even Babytidian likes it. The roots have similar properties to the leaves- high mineral content, diuretic, ect. It’s also a blood stimulant, which means it’s good to drink anytime you’ve lost a lot of blood such as post surgery, childbirth, or after your period. Like the leaves, it’s a good drink for Monday morning ailments after a weekend of overindulgence.The yellow blossoms are also useful. While you can make great flower chains out of them to decorate your tree house, they also have slightly more adult uses. During a big bloom (normally in the spring), you can gather 300-400 of the blossoms and make dandelion wine or mead. If none of the other dandelion uses have convinced you to overcome your hatred of these weeds, one sip of this elixir will. Promise

And the poofy white seed heads? What’re they good for?  Why, for making more dandelions of course!

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 7:57 pm. Add a comment

My quotidian dilemma

So in the realm of parenthood dilemmas, I recognize that this is small potatoes. It doesn’t even rank compared to having to explain what death means or where babies come from. But still, the question I face nearly three times a day is:

Where do I start?

If I start with his hands, they immediately get re-gooed on his tray. If I remove his try first, he will not be dissuaded from getting down. If I start with his face or hair, he gives himself another avocado facial as soon as I’m done.

So, you more experienced mothers out there, where would you start?

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 11:42 am. 8 comments

Gerund Pudding

  • Convincing myself that “shucking” is onomatopoetic
  • Embracing summer rather than retreating from her
  • Admitting that his baby feet are not so baby anymore
  • Smiling at my little man’s inventiveness concerning games- can you guess his favorite?
  • Discovering the savory side of berries
  • Pedaling ever more confidently all over the city
  • Puzzling over  how one meets people in a new city without a bank of classmates or coworkers
  • Appreciating how old friends in a new place can make the new place feel more comfortable
  • Ironing out my laundry routine so that I’m not monopolizing the coin op machines but also have diapers always at the ready
  • Expanding my carnivorous horizons through Mint Creek Farm’s meat CSA. (Lamb spare ribs, where have you been all my life?)
  • Witnessing a paradigm shift in my thinking about nature after realizing that animals observe us just as much as (or more than) we observe them
  • Finding excuses to put herbs from my window boxes into anything
  • Growing a new kombucha scoby
  • Flavoring that kombucha with the essence of summer- blueberries, tarragon, peaches, pineapple sage, and melon, and…
  • Pointing out every time I see a front yard/ roof top/ community garden that’s thriving

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago at 8:01 pm. 1 comment