Friday, June 30, 2017

They begged us to let them stay longer at our kids summer camp June 2017

As we sat around our closing circle, I had to hold back tears.  This happens every time after spending two days with the kids who attend our summer camp.  We get to know them, laugh with them,  watch them learn, bond with them, and when they tell us what they liked most about our summer camp, I lose it.

This time, there were a total of 15 kids (including our own three), and many of them expressed their appreciation about how nice everyone was, and how respected they felt.  Sigh.  This is what we aim for...

And then they begged us: "Can we stay here for one more week?"

(If you want to send your kids next year, you can get on our waiting list).

Also, I made a movie about this camp, and you should totally watch it after reading this post.

One of the reasons we only do this camp for two and a half days is because it's a lot of work, and it takes a lot of effort.  Steve and I do all the teaching, cooking, cleaning up, and supervising.  We love doing it all, and at the end of camp, we are tired.  

Our good friend Mike Brondi, an experienced youth educator who has worked for North Cascades National Park for decades, helped out for a day.  He is an extraordinary story teller and teacher, and we were glad to have him.

Let me show you some of the stuff that happened.

The kids showed up at our homestead Sunday at 5pm, in time for a little orientation around the farm, boffing with foam swords, harvesting stuff in the garden and dinner.  

Afterwards, we headed out into the forest for a treasure hunt, where kids sharpened their observation skills by finding natural things we hid for them: antlers, skulls, feathers, arrow heads.  They each got to keep one thing.  Sorry, dear parents, for sending  your kids home with deer skulls.

Since the day of their arrival was the hottest day of the year so far (97 degrees), we also fit in a dip in the creek.  The kids soon realized that our creeks and rivers are fed by glaciers, and that when you stay in too long, your extremeties go numb.  Did that keep them from swimming and having fun?  No.

Some years we hold the camp later in the year, when salmon spawn in the rivers, but June is too early for that.  Still, the good thing about June is that salmon berries are ripe.  The kids picked all the bushes in the vicinity of our camp clean.

When we got back, we gathered around the campfire, which Steve lit without a lighter but a friction fire, and told stories, while roasting marshmallows.

After one more foam sword fighting session close to dark, the kids went to sleep in the tipi, treehouse, or tent.

In the morning, we headed into the forest for primitive skills lessons, where the kids learned how to build a primitive shelter or debris hut, played awareness games, identified plants and wildlife, learned about the sacred order of survival, did a fire challenge, smeared mud and charcoal on themselves for camouflage and learned how to stalk.

Afterwards, we found another spot in the creek to jump in.

Home for lunch, and then I taught them how to make fermented bread.  The bread is always a huge hit.  When we eat it the next day, the kids go nuts for it.  I teach how to make it here, by the way.  

You're welcome.

Then they started making their own traditional long bows.  It's a lot of work, but, man, were these kids motivated!

After dinner (and more sword fighting), our son Luke showed everyone how to flint knap arrow points.  Later, Steve taught them how to make cordage out of natural fibers while the chickens strolled among the kids.

And of course, ice cream.  I was popular for that one.

Next morning, I taught the kids how to milk goats.  Everyone got to try it, and they all did well.  I wish I could hire them all to milk goats for me.  

After breakfast, the kids worked on their bows some more, and then got to practice archery.  You should have seen how proud they were shooting their own bows!  And they should be!

When the bread was done baking, we went to the river once more, where everyone fought over the bread, ate a huge picnic, and jumped into the creek again.  We saw an owl and wolf tracks.  It's never boring around here.

Our little fluffy dog Yoda was a hit.  People fought over him, and the whole duration of camp, he never lacked any attention for a split second.  In fact, he seemed relieved when everyone left.  Ahem.

I will leave you with an image of me and the youngest participant, who backed himself into a patch of nettles and cried bitterly.  Nettles hurt!  Fortunately, I knew just what to do.  After a hug, I grabbed a handful of plantain leaves and ripped them up in my blender with water.  I slathered the green stuff all over his poor legs, and right away, it took the sting out.  Then we pretended to be green aliens, so I needed green legs, too, of course.

PS: If you want to participate next year, you can get on our waiting list.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

How to make calendula salve

Calendula is starting to pop up and bloom in my garden!

Calendula is a cheerful annual flower known for its beauty and medicinal qualities. I use it in my garden, for medicine and soap making. 

Cheesemakers and cooks used to add the petals to butter, cheese and custards to make them look more golden. 

Either grow the plants from seed and collect the petals yourself, or buy dried flower petals. (Rose Mountain Herbs sells dried calendula in bulk online).

If you grow your own plants, make sure you purchase the correct seeds. You want Calendula Officinalis, not other kinds of cultivated marigolds. 

I seeded half a flower bed years ago, and it faithfully comes back every year - voluntarily spreading cheer in other places, too. It wanders and spreads because its seeds are prolific.

Why is calendula so famous? It has been used for eons to heal wounds and irritated skin, and is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and an immunostimulant. Since the properties in calendula stimulate the production of collagen, this plant helps to minimize scarring and wounds, and also helps with stretch marks, sunburn, diaper rash and dry skin.

My favorite way to use calendula is to infuse it in olive oil, which I then make into goat milk soaps.  I wrote a tutorial on how to do this here.

Another favorite is to make salve with it. Let me show you how.

How to make calendula salve:

This is super easy, very quick and saves you money! 

You need

  • 4 ounces calendula-infused olive oil (see above)
  • 1/2 ounce grated beeswax (about 2 tablespoons packed down)
  • optional: about 20 drops of essential oil (I love lavender)

Put a stainless steel bowl inside a pot of boiling water. This creates a double boiler effect.  

Melt the beeswax inside the stainless steel bowl, and once it's liquid, add the calendula oil.  

Keep this in the double boiler and warm it up for about a minute, and then stir it together so it's all mixed and blended well.  

Add essential oil if desired.  

Pour this into a small container and let it cool.  

You can buy little tins for this, or just use what you have in your house.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our lives will be forever changed. This is a very personal post, and scary.

I don't know how to say this.  I've been struggling with it, wrestling with it in my own mind and heart, and wondering how to break this news to you.

I wrote about it in my other blog the other day, because there's where my deep stuff goes, and I want to share it with you now.

Sorry if I sound melodramatic.  What I really would love are kind words of encouragement from you when you are done reading it.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day, an interview with our local radio station, more mountain biking and the garden

Before I forget to tell you: Marblemount Homestead got interviewed by our local radio station KSVU 90.1 a couple of weeks ago.  The lovely Erma Baude interviewed my entire family: the head honcho (namely me), Steve, Kai, Luke and Eva.  

I think it's a great interview and really shows our personalities, so if you want to learn more about us, listen to the audio hereor click on the vimeo link.

KSVU Radio Interview with Marblemount Homestead from Corina Sahlin on Vimeo.

So remember to click on the interview above after you are done reading this post, which you should, because I'm writing about my lovely husband Steve, father to our three children, and our biggest supporter, cheerleader, and steady rock of the family.

I'm writing about Steve because it's Father's Day, and I want to celebrate the fact that he's the best Daddy and guy I've ever met.  Hands down.  

The man has the patience of a saint, unconditional love of Jesus or Buddha, adventure spirit of the first guy ever to climb Mount Everest, nurturing side of Mother Theresa, strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger (we used to call him our mule when he had to carry our children up and down mountains), and all-around number one guy.  Plus, he's hot, so there.

The photos above were taken on one of our adventures last week, mountain biking and camping in the Methow Valley for my birthday, and fishing here on the West side.

I love the fact that Steve is as much an outdoor adventure person as I am.  He keeps up with me, if I not with him, but he's nice about it and won't rub it in.

Here are some more pictures, taken at Rasar State Park closeby where we live.

And here are photos of our adventure in the Methow Valley.  Camping, camp-firing, biking, hiking, kayaking.  The dogs came, too, and were great sports about everything.  

My little guy even sat in the Kayak with me and paddled in several lakes with me.  Although he looks like a disgruntled teddy bear in all pictures, he adores hanging out close by my side.  Honestly, I don't know if this dog can even swim.  Maybe I should get a life vest for him?

I can't tell you how much fun I'm having mountain biking with my sons.  It's great exercise, of course, but apart from all the endorphins, it also produces lots of oxytocin (the bonding hormone).  The kinds of talks we have, when we actually have breath left to talk, the laughs, the cheering each other on... it's precious.

I will leave you with pictures of some of the beauty in our garden.

If you are a Dad, I wish you a Happy Father's Day.  May you be adored by your kids, and may you realize that being a father is much, much more important than your job, you know the one you bring the bacon home with.

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