Thursday, July 19, 2012

Calendula Lotion

It seems somehow intimate to talk about what we put on our skin or personal hygiene, but I did want to share this with you.

I've had excema all my life and acne (not terrible, but always there) and I've always had trouble finding creams for my hands and face that don't feel too heavy and greasy, or that I don't react to in a nasty painful fashion.

My hands are a particular problem for me.  Over the years they've actually gotten better, but my summers are spent with my hands in the dirt.  Constant washing isn't great for them, nor is the contact with plants.  I've never liked gloves, so I usually work without.   Actually, I've finally found some I like this year which may change life for my hands, but that's not for today.

For my face, I tend to find a cream that I like and then stick to it for years. Oil of Olay was my favourite for a long time.  Then I switched to something offered through a mail service called Silky Essence.  I've read too much maybe about how much your skin absorbs and how terrible all of the ingredients are that I had to stop.  I don't understand all of the science, but at it's simplist I'm trying not to put on or in my body things that I can't pronounce or find easily in nature.  I couldn't even find the ingredients of Silky Essence which is usually a sign that something isn't "revealable".

For my hands, nothing really has worked well except for cortisone.  That always comes with a warning from the doctor about longterm use.  Yeah, yeah, whatever.  What are the options?  Well, there are some actually.
Last year I made my first lotion.  It wasn't an unqualified success because it didn't emulsify properly.  Basically it was bees wax and calendula-infused olive oil.  Although it didn't look good, it was great on my hands and face and even on my lips.  I didn't have chapped lips at all this winter and my hands and face felt great.  I also spray my face with witch hazel after washing as a toner.  Together, the witch hazel and cream work really well for me. 

I ran out a few weeks ago, and my calendula wasn't blooming yet.  I had to start using cortisone cream again, which I haven't done for months.  Luckily, my calendula flowers just started blooming, so I was able to try a new recipe yesterday and made this:

It looks like lotion this time, my hands don't react to anything in it, and it feels nice.  The coconut smell reminds me of the 1970's and suntan lotion, so in the future I may try a fragrance in it, but for now I am pleased with the result.

Ingredients:  Coconut oil, calendula flowers, bees wax, witch hazel, Vitamin E capsule, water.

Easy to make (it's like making mayonnaise), simple and few ingredients, everything is pronouncable, and if you're interested, there is a lot of science behind the healing properties of witch hazel, calendula, coconut oil and bees wax.  This website (Frugally Sustainable) explains a lot of it.  I just know it works for me. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 17

 When I woke up this morning, one of the first things I saw when leaving the room was this.

  Then I wandered into the living room and saw this.

Although they leave a mess in their wake, I am forever grateful for the creativity and play that goes on in my house.  I could focus on the mess, but that isn't what I was thinking about.  They still ask (like all normal children) if they can play on the computer or turn on the tv, but if I say no (as I often do), they very quickly find something else to do.  Sometimes it's without hesitation, which makes me wonder why they even ask. 

So this was yesterday.

The mailbox was part of some shortlived game that I don't quite understand or know about.

Ukelele and black binder:  Beth decorated a plain binder with duct tape and has been filling it with music for the piano, guitar and ukelele and has been strumming on and off daily.

Crayons:  You know what those are for.

Giant barbie heads:  All three girls are constantly trying new hairdo-s on each other and on these heads.

Chickadee - Go Craft Crazy:  Always a source of inspiration.  I don't know what they got from it yesterday.  I'm much more hands-off than I used to be.

Science Rocks book:  Alice did an experiment with crystals that should develop over the next few days.

Beverly Cleary:  There are always books and lots of reading going on.  That's a constant.  We'll never understand people who don't read.

At some point Alice cried out from the basement.  It sounded fake or not really bad, so I didn't go running.  Is that how tough kids are made, or just neglected ones?  I don't know, but we discovered that she had gotten her finger slammed in a door.

She recovered very quickly, especially when Dr. Laura made her a splint and cast out of cotton strips, flour and water.

Then they decided to make a plain t-shirt more interesting with fabric paint.  That was so fun that they went in search of more plain or stained t-shirts and came out with these lovely "new" shirts for themselves.

After all that activity, there was still energy and time for Shakespeare in the Park, where we watched The Tempest and even understood lots of it. 

It was a great, creative day and I fell asleep exhausted last night. I did different things than the kids did, but I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Beat the Heat

Here's my theory.  You can't.  It's been too hot for too long, so you've just got to suck it up and get out there.

Testing the inflatable kayak

Kayaking up to the pelicans at Hasse Lake

Our own strawberries!

Parking downtown offers interesting views

Street Performer's Festival

The best heatbuster in Edmonton!

3D Sidwalk art

Humourous portapotty signage - the volunteers even walked you to your "seat"

Togetherness with my grownup daughter
The other thing we did this week to beat the heat was to camp in the city.  Down in a ravine is a wonderful little campground that feels like you've left the city.  One bonus of the location was that at 3:00 am when the hail is falling on us, and the rain is dripping on our heads, we can drive home!  We did have two days of fun there though and it was a bit cooler among the trees beside the creek. 

Today's schedule:  a spray park and setting up the wet tent to dry in our neighbour's yard.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Activities List

Every year I mean to do this, but I never do.  I sat down with the girls sometime in June and we made a list to go on our fridge of activities we'd like to do this summer.

We won't do them all.  I don't even want to try, but it gives us somewhere to look if we have restless days, days when we are bored.  And some of the things have been on my own wish list for years.


2012 Summer Activities List

Alberta Art Museum (free on the last Thursday night of each month)
Devonian Gardens (discounted for gardening club members on July 18)
Swimming/kayaking (but we need to do more)
124th Street Art Gallery walk
Fishing (with someone to teach us and assemble our rods properly)
Paddleboat rental
Rock Climbing (UofA has a good wall)
Mini golf
Horseback riding
Weiner roast/s'more making (but we need to do more)
Heritage Park (planned for August long weekend)
Calgary Zoo (planned for August long weekend)
Shakespeare in the Park (Pay-as-you-can on Tuesday nights)
Valley Zoo
Telus World of Science
Humane Society to spend time with adoption animals
Wash van with buckets
Outdoor movie party
Visit my parents
Theatre production
Street Performers Festival
Stony Plain Museum/Gallery (a church friend has paintings in the gallery this summer)
Stay in a hotel (went to Hinton/Jasper for the May long weekend)
Skating in the mall
Cinnamon buns at Kingsway Mall
Batting Cages or driving range
Taber Corn Festival (Aug. 25-27) - includes a rodeo, so we could cross two things off!
Corn Maze
Ukrainian Village
Torrington Gopher Museum
Picnic in downtown park
Visit Mandolin's Books & Coffee Shop
Eat at Mr. Wong's restaurant (a substitute teacher that the girls all like)
Go to every outdoor pool in the city (we've gone to 2 so far)


We have done a few things already, and on the rainy day this week it was great to have the list to refer to.  We spent some time petting the dogs and cats at the Humane Society unless our allergies got to be too much.  It's hard to walk away from all those dogs without wanting one though.

I wonder how many we'll find time for.  It was fun just to hear some of the things they wanted to do.  Cinnamon buns at the mall?  Washing the van?  I'm pretty sure we can handle that!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 3 Garden Tour

The rain today meant no weeding or gardening, but yesterday was spent pulling a lot of weeds out of dry soil. 

It's interesting to me how my soil differs around the yard.  The back garden is boring, but the soil is always easy to work with.  It's been a garden much longer than the front has been and the soil doesn't seem to dry and crack like some areas of the front.  I need to continue to use mulches and have started using grass clippings again and leaf mold.  

Here's the garden, as of yesterday.

Back garden

Mostly self-seeded back wall

Climbing beans to cover our front step railing, cabbages and tomatoes

My last perennial bed, with a few basil and tomatoes

My Mother's Day herb pot

Front garden

Somehow it's more appealing than ever to sit here now that the bed is the right shape

Herb spiral

Celery patch

Starting to eat our first strawberries!

View from the city sidewalk.  One of those black pots has become one huge ant hill and I am NOT impressed.

First days of summer spent making Polly Pocket shelters and clothing out of flower petals and leaves.

My favourite prolific poppies

Keeping my pots alive! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

And then there were three...

We were certainly hoping for more than 50% female, but it was not to be. 

Donald.  We didn't name him that because we really thought it was a "him".  We were always hoping to change it to Donalda.  He was getting pretty loud though and there was no question that it was a "he". 

And Calendula.  He'll be really beautiful when his tail fully grows in. 

Last week we found an acreage to house our roosters.  We brought two out last weekend, and then two more prompted a trip out to Camrose to bring the second two.  Crow and Sukie were already settled into their new/old barn and now the four will have to reaquaint themselves.  I'm not sure how four roosters will behave with no hens around, but they all seemed happy in their new home. 

I can't believe how much they changed and grew in only two months.

Baby Donald
Baby Calendula

I hope they live long and happy lives.  And I'm so grateful that we didn't have to eat them. 

Canada Day and Ductivities

I know I'm late, but HAPPY CANADA DAY!

Last year we were in Medicine Hat watching the fireworks, and then followed that up with a trip the US for July 4th.  Both were fairly anticlimatical.  In the US, we searched for some celebration, any celebration, and found now even though we were in a state capital.  We were expecting something from the movies -- BBQs and fried chicken, picnics in the parks, followed by fireworks.  Maybe they celebrate privately with their families.  I must say that once the fireworks started it was pretty impressive though. 
This year, in our own city, we knew where to look for activities and had better luck.   We ended up in a nearby town and and took in their Street Performer's Festival and grand opening of a new park. 
We did see a few performances, but the highlight for us was the little tent of "Ductivities".  Crafts made of Duct Tape.  We would make something, wander off and return again to try something else. 
We made a wallet for plastic cards,

a cameral case for Laura,

a wallet with billfold and credit card slots,

and bracelets. 

Beth has a new iPod case too, with a hole for her earbuds to come out.  On the way home we then followed up with a trip to the store to search for a few rolls to play with at home.  I had no idea Duct Tape came in all sorts of patterns, and it really has a nice feel to it. 

Beth figured out how to insert a zipper for a change pocket on her wallet.

 And she made a book cover as well. 

I'm not sure how that celebrates Canada, but it was lots of fun. 

We finished the night with fireworks that were pretty amazing.  The kids haven't seen them often and so are easily impressed, but I think most people enjoy them.  The atmosphere was very "Yay, Canada!" and a nice way to end the day.