Today I made a calendula salve! I made one previously, and have been absolutely loving it. I put it on all my wounds, bug bites, and skin irritations. Infected piercing? Calendula balm. Bad zit or acne? Calendula balm. I heard you should use it like neosporin (which some people like me have allergies to the neomyacin, so this is a good alternative.) I use it and just keep applying when my skin has absorbed it and it feels dry again.
Making it was a fun mess—well, it was only messy at the end when I poured it into tins. I started by infusing olive oil with calendula resina flower petals. This flower is a relative of the marigold, both very beneficial flowers. They are beautiful flowers, a rich yellow colour, so vibrant yet soft. They dry on a screen of recycled lace I put on a hanging quilting hoop, flat on their faces with their petals sticking straight out in every directions, each one a perfect, holy circle.
The flowers release their medicinal substance under the heat and it becomes infused with the oil. To this I added tallow, Shea butter, and beeswax with the embellishments of lemon, tea tree oil, and turmeric powder (all beneficial for the skin).
Once it all melts and is incorporated, I can pour it in its little tins from the double boiler (and of course the edge of the glass makes the liquid fall down the side 😂). I let it harden, add lids, and put in my stash for to sell and gift! $15 my friends! Message for sale!
Tallow, refined beef fat, is useful in cooking as well as homemade cosmetics products. It is shelf stable when rendered to purify it from imperfections (meat bits) and so so soft, soothing, and an ultimate joy to work into your skin—both as a finished cosmetic product and as I work with processing it!
I started this process at the Trackside butcher shop, purchasing first three, then five pounds respectively, of beef suet. My first recipes I planned on trying were bird food suet and tallow lip balm.
when I brought home the thawed tallow, I put the three lbs through my kitchen aid grater. After doing that, I can say it melted and processed way faster than just cutting up the suet—however it was quite a bear to grate, as it has lots of membranes that do not want to grate at all and then coat the grater. The second time, I just cut up the fat and put it in my rendering pot on very low heat with 2 cups water.
Melt, strain, sit and harden, and repeat is the process it takes to refine tallow. A few repeats should leave your tallow whiter than it starts, and free of floating chunky bits.
Once it was done, I poured melted tallow into my bird feed mix and let it harden for bird suet. I waited until it hardened into a bar to measure it out for my lip balm.
For the lip balm, I mixed tallow with beeswax, honey, and turmeric, and tried both pouring into a container to harden and letting it harden and whipping it—and I did like the whipped version better.
I love the tallow products so far! The lip balm is so soft, tastes just like a hint of honey but not much else, and the birds are eating up the suet really fast (I have a fine crop of songbirds and woodpeckers in my backyard). Next I plan to try a whipped body butter and a calendula salve. Stay tuned—and if you are interested, listen up in my shop, I actually have my lip balms available right now for sale! Blessings!
Please enjoy my video of my time at the Kentucky State Fair and going through all my 19 ribbons I won!
My goal/experiment with the home garden this year was to let everything grow that came up. I did not have many weeds at all, it was mostly covered with tomatoes, beans, and squash in my bed areas—and actually ended up getting completely covered up and unnavigable. Thus, I have it a haircut. I will keep the home garden more pruned in the future—that was the value Learned this year, pruning. I chose to do this experiment as I was a little bummed out at getting started with seeds very late. Even when you get started when you think it’s late, you can still get a shite ton of growth. Too much. So when it needs to be managed, manage it. (Though, I also had a lot of time restrictions on my plate this year…) For next year, I already have a different plan. Stay tuned to hear what it was. Also, I did want to share what I was most proud of this season, which was my cushaws. Cushaws are a type of squash crossed kind of like between a pumpkin and a zucchini, and I cook it in either pies or breads. Just skin, roast, blend, and substitute 2 cups for a can of “pumpkin” (which is usually actually just butternut squash).
After the haircut
Leather Britches (strung beans)
Oregano infused olive oil
Boneset and Pokeweed for dye
Various sunflower heads drying for seed
Calendula salve which I had made with calendula petal infused olive oil, and thus, needed to make more calendula olive oil
Fiber fun in the garden with alpaca wool from my cousin!
Well my folks, I’ve (maybe) finally decompressed from the state fair. One of my friends was like,”how do you do all the stuff you do???” Well my secret ended up being, I don’t always do everything. This summer I took a total break from my passion of Flamenco dancing at Flamenco Louisville—something I’ve been doing off and on for 15 years now. I took a big break from going out and seeing people as much as I did, which gave me time to be a hermit a little and go more internal for the summer. I had lots of other responsibilities that needed seeing to. Always the garden gets out of hand but this year whew… so I’ve been taking it all in and thinking how can I prepare now and move forward now to not have as much of the downsides of a busy schedule as I have had this summer. And as much as I want to just write out that seemingly simple two word goal “do everything”—girl 😂, no… However that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna still shoot for the moon! You know me!
So we all visited the fair (me, family, friends, club members, Kentuckians, others) for a good long time. It went well I think! I picked up my things (with a mild panic attack when we couldn’t find anything then realized there was a special pile for mine), I picked up my ribbons, critiques, and premiums, and made it home! Of course, myriad photo shoots ensued. Decorating of my room with ribbons, putting all the critiques in a safe place, and deciding where each entry item lives now. One yarn is getting ready to zoom off to her new home. A painting as well. Things moved to the famous Christmas present bag, things moved to the “hope chest” shelf in my closet. After a brief yet highly satisfying yarn reorganization, my room/workspace looked highly pleasing 🥰.
In all, I won 19 ribbons from the Kentucky state fair this year, with two firsts. My baby socks are just as precious each time I see them. My handspun headband was soooo satisfying to see that ribbon, satiny blue, seated atop its gold. I’m starting to think when I get my great wheel I should pick up some more Camaj Fiber Arts Merino Ohh Shiny gold fiber to spin on it so I can pretend to be Rumplestiltskin 😂.
Mom, two days into the fair, prompted me “so whatcha thinkin for next year?…” and I laughed really hard. I was ready to relax for a few months (from fair stuff). However, my mentor has spoken 😂 so I did, yes, start BRAINSTORMING ONLY for next year.
I also had a garden CTJ with myself. Tomatoes love me…? Maaaaaaybe not… well, Champagne Bubbles tomatoes love me. Sadly nothing else does. It’ll make a big huge unmanageable plant, but for some reason I only get Champagne Bubbles tomatoes… so I’m not gonna grow tomatoes next year. Nope. Everybody else does, so I can get them cheap in bulk from the farmers market and can them.
This way I will have more space for better plans. I’m also working hard at my community garden plot. When I got it it was a total 6 feet in every direction weed farm. Im working to get the weeds out again so I can put down cardboard to keep the weeds out now. Then more compost. Workin workin workin day by day.
But now, my focuses are working with alpaca and angora now to perfect a baby sock pattern and then start making some to donate to preemies in the nicu. And focusing on Fall Sale buildup. I’m going to be selling again at the Lawrenceberg Chicken Swap Sept 16, 30, and Oct 14. And I’ll keep everyone updated on those dates!
Hope you all are well—look up, fall is starting ❤️
These are some of the hilights of a shaker lemon pie I made. The Shakers, who lived in Pleasant Hill, KY, were kind of like Amish Quakers. They did not believe in having children, so they did die out, but their town in Pleasant Hill is a historical learning farm now, where they preserve some of the Shakers’ traditions—one of those being Shaker lemon pie. The Shaker Village was very close to a trade route on the Ohio river, where oftentimes, lemons would come in in the trade. The Shakers would rest thin slices of lemon in sugar for a long time and use that (plus eggs and flour) for the pie filling. Now, I’m still perfecting my recipe of shaker lemon pie, but this was one of my pies that I had made. The recipe basically is:
— two lemons sliced razor thin, rested in sugar for 24 hours-two weeks (still perfecting, but 48 hours is pretty good)
—Mix with four eggs, and two tablespoons flour
—Bake in your favorite crust for 30 minutes to an hour at 375F
—Always rest before slicing
For the crust in these pictures, I cut extra crust into daffodil shapes, and egg washed with food colored egg washes to paint on greens and yellow.
Play with your food, folks, it’s fun!
20 years after my Grandma Mimi, Gloria Gramig, became an Angel quiltress in heaven, I began my quilting journey. Of all 28 of my cousins, I was the only grandchild that took up quilting and sewing. My Mimi was a big seamstress, making lots of clothing for all 10 of her kids, and after she learned quilting, quilts for every member of our family. Mimi was a member of the Louisville Nimble Thimbles in the 1980’s and 90’s, and would even teach some classes. As I got further along and more skilled in my quilting journey, our family matriarch, my Aunt Theresa, began passing down my Mimi’s sewing things to me. Last thanksgiving, she gave me a Lowe’s yard bag filled with quilting hoops and “some other treasures your Mimi had saved for you”. There were rulers, cutting mats, notes, paper handouts from her tutorial classes, and some unfinished quilt blocks in her quintessential aplique with red flowers. She had been inspired by my great grandmother Leila Gramig and a quilt she had done in red flowers, and it became kind of a family tradition. For my remembrance quilt I used one of these unfinished quilt blocks, some of her old fabric, and her Bernina 1030 to finish her block into a wall hanging, her favorite type of quilt. Our family was always a gardening family, so to show my own style inspired by my Mimi’s style, I created aplique strawberries. This quilt isn’t technically perfect by any means, but it represents a relationship I never thought I would get to have with my Mimi. She passed when I was two, so I am only just getting to know her now through quilting, and I feel her guiding me into my own style and also as a family historian preserving her work and legacy.
It’s a few days before the 2023 Kentucky State Fair! Last year was my first year volunteering through my quilting guild, the Louisville Nimble Thimbles, and my first year entering the fair as an adult. I entered a bunch of crafts in the textile department, and won seven ribbons. I was at the fair quite a bit over the 10 days it went on. Not only is there almost too much at the fair to see and do in one day , but there are a bunch of different events and special things going on on different days. It was also fun to explore the fair with different friends and family on different days. There are so many things to do—animals to see, vegetables, tobacco, honey and all the bee displays. There are agricultural booths with farmers and farm representatives, backing their products, giving out samples, telling the cultural importance of their work. There are performances, games, giveaways. The pride of the counties. There’s no more fish tank displays, but it’s hardly noticiable because the fair is still so so full of things.
Every year the new premium book (the book of entry categories) comes out in April or may, and entries close in early July. It’s so fun to read that book and dream about allllll the things you could enter. You could enter a pie, you could enter a handmade sweater, you could enter a home brew beer—there are so many options. In a move to encourage more entries, the fair opted to make it a single $15 entry fee for everything—you could enter however many categories you want to enter all for $15 total. Naturally, I entered 77.
8 baked goods, 17 veggies, and 52 crafts.
Now, I wasn’t expecting to turn in all 77 entries. Sometimes all your pumpkins get eaten. Sometimes you burn your pie. Sometimes you don’t have time to make that quilt. Anyhow, there’s no shame in not making it to the drop off with every single thing.
Now, a day before turn-in day, I have 39 crafts done. I feel like that’s a pretty good turnout. The veggies may be a wash, but I’m sitting here gathering my energy to go bake things. Tomorrow I’m working at the turn in desk from 10-6, and Sunday (on the second drop off day) I’ll drop off my crafts and baked goods. And then I can rest before the fair starts next Thursday. So close. So so close!! It feels like Christmas and I’m thrilled. Ready for all the festivities, ready for the people watching, ready for the celebration of Kentucky!
Today I turned in all my fine arts, textiles, and hobbies entries for the Kentucky State Fair—around 40 items! Handing it all over is nerve wracking but also so freeing. Knowing it’s all done and turned in and my work is finished. I made it to the finish line and today, I am a winner. I helped direct other competitors to the take-in desks, I volunteered an entire day at the Quilt pre check desk, and I was a part of Kentuckys greatest show and tell. Tonight I’m cooking and tomorrow I’ll turn in my culinary entries, then I get ready to hang quilts and turn in veggies Wednesday. And Thursday it starts. Thursday we learn what ribbons are awarded, Thursday is my day!
Im this video, I show my process for making butter in my kitchen aid stand mixer. All you need is heavy cream and a way to agitate it and you can make butter. A kitchen aid is fastest, but you can also shake cream in a jar til it turns to butter. Whip heavy cream past whipped cream consistency, add salt if wanted, it will change color as you keep whipping until the buttermilk releases and it becomes sloshy. Squeeze out the buttermilk, wash the butter in ice water, and store (or put it on some fresh out of the oven sourdough, whichever you prefer ☺️).
Disco Chicken of Love
sTate fair ready!
seed starting 2019
ky state fair quilt
A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.