Libby Jane

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since Aug 05, 2011
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Recent posts by Libby Jane

Nesting--get it all ready, work a little at a time. Get your space ready for how you want to live. Spot to set baby while you pee, spot for outside naps, etc.
Sleep lots.
Eat lotsa greens and eggs and protein every day.
Walk lots. squat tons, and stretch.
If you come from slow birthers, when labor starts, try to ignore it as long as possible. My mom had c-sections from failure to progress, and I found it really helpful to keep working when labor started. All our births were natural and healthy at home, though long, late labors. Most of my births took days, not hours, and came very late. First time moms are often more than a week late. We blew up the birth pool, did the laundry, baked a bunch, took walks. (This wouldn't apply to fast birthers--lucky you if you know your family's birthing history. If not, just be prepared and learn to relax.)
Get cloth diapers ready, learn about elimination communication if you're interested. Seriously reduced the volume of diapers we used and made potty training easier.
Sit forward for optimal fetal positioning. and sit less.
Belly dancing--Amira's bellydancing for pregnancy and birth totally helped turn my breech babies, turn a posterior baby, and birth them.
Get a long cloth for babywearing, won't need till baby is much bigger. Learn to tie with a friend and a bag of rice. Slings are better for newborns, but don't let baby get squished. Or just carry.
Make a basket or pack for nursing with dried fruit and nuts, big water container, good stuff to read near places you want to nurse. La leche league groups are great for nursing support and meeting moms.
Good time to get or make toddler and preschool clothes and activities that will be easy to pull out later.
Make a baby quilt. Or do stuff you're good at. Especially anything that requires concentration and focus that might become rarer for you soon.
Build good communication with the primary people in your life.
Find friends, family, neighbors who will bring you some meals in the first few months. If possible, get to know parents you can admire.
Make a plan for friends to pray for you when labor starts--just call one person, and they call others.
Good luck--you're going to do great! I was surprised by how much I loved mothering and how kids just get better and better as they grow.
9 months ago
You Can Farm by Joel Salatin!
11 months ago
Sprouting alfalfa seeds. I hang it up over the sink with seeds inside and rinse several times a day. Tie it to the outside of a pack when camping for fresh greens on trail. Or greens at home in long winter. (for use with a thinnish stocking or nylons/tights)

Similarly, tie a sliver of soap inside one and hang over sink or near outdoor water butt for a hand-washing station that won't get slimy with soap.

As a jelly bag to strain grapes or berries! Never buy cheesecloth.

To strain tea, I infuse the tea leaves in a mason jar and pour it though the fabric into cup or travel mug. Filters better than a metal strainer.

Our family generates lots of orphan socks, sadly. After messy uses, I just compost the pieces.
I feel like my suggestions are sort of weird and obscure. Of course, these are all uses for nice clean socks.

Works great to cut into thin rings for use on a loop loom for weaving. I made potholders this way as a kid.

Making dolls when kids were little. If anyone is into Waldorf dolls, they sell expensive tubes of knit jersey for the forms, and old socks work just great.  

Just the leg part cut off of a tallish sock can be a great cover for a rolling pin. Lefse and springerle pins especially need a cover! (see? obscure!)

Carrying change to the laundromat (can't use a sock worn thin!) The advantage is I can tie a knot to hold it, and it won't spill.

Keeping knitting together with the needles.

Stuff with other old fabric and use to keep heat from going out/draft from coming in under a door, especially where weatherstripping doesn't work or isn't enough.

Keeping sunglasses from getting scratched in my bag, separately keeping pencils from marking things in bag.

More personal/delicate uses:
Old smartwool or Costco/pseudo-smartwool socks can be cut up little to use for kleenex when one needs something extra soft.

Cut up as inserts for gladRags type menstrual stuff, or cloth diapers--super soft and absorbent.

I second the baby legwarmers idea! Especially good for that phase when they're crawling and still need lots of changes. Also great for Elimination Communication or potty training!

I actually didn't realize I had so many uses to mention, this is getting absurd!
11 months ago
I live in a very urban area. Raspberries and blackberries from yards and alleys. Mullberries from the boulevard and parking lot trees! Mayapples. Grapes from fences all over. Apples and pears from neighbors who don't pick theirs! We have chokecherries in the yard, but the robins get them all before they're remotely ripe for people-eating.
11 months ago
This is great! I found Weck jars at a garden store and asked about them, and I couldn't figure out why anyone would buy a jar that's so much more expensive!

My main concern with Weck is safety. I can tell I've canned sucessfully, and there's a seal, by the metal lids popping down. I only can acidic things, but I wait for the popping.
I often have a couple in a batch that don't seal, and I put those jars in the fridge and use them before the rest, which go in the pantry.
I was taught canning by master canners, who are trained here by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, now not doing  nearly as much as it once did. The whole method depends
on the metal lids that you can see and hear popping. Every canning guide I've ever read was published by a canning jar company, like "The Blue Ball guide".
I remember canning with my neighbor, as a young housewife in 2004, and we just followed all the instructions in that manual, scrupulously.  
When I saw the Weck jars, I was interested in them, for not having reactive material in the lids, and asked the store lady who was promoting them,
"But, how can you tell they're sealed?" She didn't know. I figured they couldn't really be safe.
So, I propose that a main reason Americans don't use Weck jars is that our canning methods and education come from American canning jar companies.

-I do stack my wide mouth, and sometimes regular mason jars, but it is precarious! I have canned goods stored up high, and they are always threatening to fall.
-And we break them all the time. My sons are my main dish-doers. And we also use them as our drinking glasses. It happens.
-So I would like more stackable jars, and also don't like the reactive metal coated in who-knows-what on the lids of mine, though I do get more than a few uses out of them.
(reusing metal lids also not officially recommended)
-And, there are foods that come in l canning jars. Classico sauces, some jams--a basically free source of the metal-lid canning jar. I don't get this food much anymore, but I sure used to.
-Plus, I have a lifetime supply of jars in the basement from my Grandma, and all kids of other people who don't can themselves, so they give their jars to their canning friend or neighbor.

So, I'm excited to hear about Weck. I'd love to switch if possible for all the above reasons, if I can know the food I store will be safe.
1 year ago
I second feeding them to the rabbits! As more of a side-dish than a staple food.
Our rabbits eat corn, sunchoke, and sunflower stalks and leaves.
Don't leave them where they can get wet. A nice dry spot in the shade will let them dry out. Otherwise they will mildew.
Our rabbits pretty much refuse any roots, including sunchokes, carrots, and beets.
The dried stalks are nice for them to gnaw on in the winter.
1 year ago
This is so cool how you've done this by hand! It looks wonderful.
Do you find it filling in with more soil from erosion? I've wondered about this with the pictures of ponds in Sepp Holzer's book, as I see constructed ponds in our city parks filling in and becoming swampy, unless they are regularly dredged with big machines, and I think he mentioned dredging as one of his maintenance practices?

My son had aquariums for a while that he aerated entirely with native plants. Our project was very small in scale, but it worked! We just transplanted them in from local ponds. Snails and bugs clean and clarify the water, and all the seaweed and duckweed aerate it. He also populated these aquariums with native fish, and the bottom feeders are really important for water quality. We began with the soil, and then plants, and worked our way up to more complex species as the water system stabilized. We got fish and salamanders from the bait shop, as minnows and efts. (They are usually wild-caught, not bred in captivity, and reintroduced into the wild anyway as bait.) I liked this more than getting things from the aquarium/pet suppliers, as they have rampant problems with parasites and bacteria we didn't want to be adding to our system.

I've wondered how one could use similar things outdoors, like healthy natural ponds and lakes do.
1 year ago
One of the best recipes I inherited from 'The Grannies' uses only one measurement: a jam tin. It doesn't matter what size, just use the same tin for all the measurements. Now that's standardisation!

Intriguing! I love this. Share the recipe?
1 year ago
Great topic!

One of my most-used cookbooks, Midwest Gardener's Cookbook, is
-arranged seasonally--super useful for actually cooking and planning my family's food for the week.
-within seasons, is arranged by garden ingredient. I can look up basil, green onions, radishes, or rhubarb and find a variety of recipes to use, with notes on substitutions in the intro to each ingredient. This is great. When we have something growing, or have foraged, we often have a lot of it and actually might need a lot of ways to cook it to make use of it.  
-written by a cook and gardener who cooked for her family and for community events for decades. I love a cookbook I can trust. You really want the tried and true favorites. If I make something from a cookbook and it doesn't work out, I'm not likely to try another recipe from that author. I think it helps if your target audience can clearly see what kind of recipes these are. Easy-peasy? Show-stopping stunners?
-plain and simple. no photos at all, but clear and concise. I love this cookbook, but I think I got it for cheap on a remainders shelf. I'll bet beautiful photos sell much better.  I actually wish the author had put a few more notes in. I love her little bits of wisdom and culture! It does help a lot to have appetizing photos of the finished dish. I do have some glossy coffee-table cookbooks that I love. They are more inspiration than workhorses. I tend to have to copy the recipes out because they won't stay open/aren't easy to read from. This makes me less likely to use the recipes. An author needs to decide what they are going for, and do that really well. No one cookbook can be all things.
-usually the only rare/scarce ingredient is the one I'm looking it up for. Practical and accessible. I have a basic pantry and want recipes I can make without extra hassle, with those fresh ingredients. Unless it's for a wedding or holiday! Then it's worth the effort to do more elaborate things.
-simple, straight forward recipe and ingredients list, easy to work from. I like a story about the recipe ahead of time, to draw me in. Notes about substitutions are nice after the recipe so it doesn't get too cumbersome.
-uses cups, teaspoons, etc. I don't measure most recipes exactly so I don't care that much. If you're doing a perm. cookbook, it will by necessity be very localized, right? So I'd use whatever is the easiest and most common system of measurement in your area, to make it easiest for people who are likely to have your ingredients and seasons! It does matter more for certain kinds of things--I'm less likely to cook a cake from a metric cookbook, but it's not that hard to look up conversions if I need to, and it would be cumbersome to have everything noted in triplicate!

I think there's a great need for a little guidance in using new foods, and learning to eat and live permaculturally, and connecting to local or historic food traditions. I'm so thankful for the work of the authors whose advice and recipes I use year-round. Hope you get your wisdom and insights out there in just the right way! Good luck!
1 year ago