Did you ever just want to do something completely different and totally out of your comfort zone?
Let me tell you about my incredible weekend as a War Woman!
I have changed over the last 28 years. When I moved to Georgia with my hubby, I was still a girl that loved big hair, makeup, long french manicured nails…well you get the picture. 😀
Since then, I have learned how to ride and care for horses, not as always as glamorous as one would think. Yes it awesome to hear that little nicker as you come to the barn, create a strong bond with your horse and ride together as one but there are times when it is not so glamourous. Getting bucked off, kicked in the ribs, brushed against the side of a tree, endless poop scooping, breaking ice out of water troughs and getting pushed into the mud as you blanket one horse that is evading another horse. Yep…that would have made it in an episode of America’s Funniest Videos! I STILL love my horses.
Much more I have learned:
to garden, grow mushrooms, wildcraft edibles and medicinals, make jelly, make cheese, bake bread, teach others what I know, chop wood with an ax, use a chainsaw, care for chickens, make medicine, raise a son who loves cooking and baking as much as I do, make soap, lotion, salve etc….
Some folks get up and go to work for someone else, commute home, make or pick up dinner, watch tv and go to bed just to do it all over again. And they are content with that life. They may never learn anything new because they are scared of what may be or what if they fail? Hmmm… I have failed and I have have triumphed and you need to take chances, try new things regardless of outcome, just to do it!
You are probably thinking, when the heck is she going to tell us about being a War Woman?? Ha! Here goes…
WE, all women, were to primitive camp in the middle of nowhere with people we did not really know and learn survival skills in the cold. 🙂 OUT of my comfort zone but I was doing this, so doing this!!
Camping has not been “my thing”. I have always camped with someone else in the tent with me, with someone preparing what to bring and how to set up the tent and cooking area. OR I have just camped in the Summer NEVER in February! I prepared well or as well as I could.
At least I had my own tent to start and tarps, blankets, stakes but had to borrow a sleeping bag, cook stove and full winter proof coveralls. Thank…God…I ….HAD…Coveralls!
My friend Denise set up her cute camper, Pearl –
And she help me set up my tent right behind my car, incase I needed to ditch the tent for the back of the car. We set the camp stove up, never used one but got it figured out. Although we realized the gas was not on tight enough or something and lost the fuel in 1st small can of propane the first night, whoops!
After setting up at 5:30 in the evening, we cooked up a quick dinner of chicken burgers with grass fed white cheddar, shredded brussel sprout and olive salad and homemade creamy tomato soup. Yeah…not yo mama’s kind of camping food!!
The Talking Stick and Fire Circle were next on the agenda.
Our instructor, Joshua Kirk, aka Native, passed the talking stick around and each person that had it, introduced themselves and told why they were there and what was hoped to be learned. 9 women showed up for this event. We learned quite a bit about each other and our instructors backgrounds. Joshua, part Cherokee, grew up off the grid and learned survival skills from day one, never taken any modern medicine, survived in various extreme climates and read his bio, very interesting. A truly genuine soul!
Now when you first go to these guys website, 4 Winds Survival School, they look intimidating, maybe they mean it to be that way and yes I want them on my side in any bad situation for sure, but again genuinely good guys.
Alan Kay was one of our instructor too. He WON the first season of the History Channels show, Alone where he survived on Vancouver Island for 56 days. From the website, “Alan has taught survival, preparedness, and self-defense skills. Empowering others with the skills necessary for true self-reliance is his passion.” Read more in bio.
We enjoyed the giant fire, had some drinks, listened to Native play guitar and sing and chat with new friends.
Big day on Saturday so I finally got to my tent at 12:00am, waaaaay passed my bed time. Many stayed up long into the wee hours. I slept like a baby after a big ole cup of Reishi Hot Cacao and was warm as toast until….dum,da,da,dum. Around 4-5 I heard a “critter” sniffing and walking around my tent. I have watched too many reality survival shows so of course I was freaking out in my head thinking there was a bear or coyote or worse. I listened and listened, then thought I heard a jingle like a dog collar so I just hollared “Get!”, not too loud to wake anyone but enough for it to run off. Sigh of relief! It as FREEZING at 5am so I bundled up more and fell back asleep until 6:30am.
I made some Reishi Cacao pancakes for breakfast for me and Denise. They were good but a little dense due to the coconut flour, heehee, no more coconut flour for me!!
Meeting at the fire circle before starting our lessons, we all chatted about the night before. One of the instructors, not sure if it was Joshua or Lee, mentioned the coyotes last night in and near the camp. The what, the WHAT??? So that was no house dog….shuddering…
Lee Brown, prepper and survivalist cool dude, taught us about Backpack Essentials and Fire Starting with a Ferrous Cerium Rod. Lee is Part of the E.C.O Survival Group and 4 Winds Survival School. ECO means: Environment, Climate and Opposition. Their logo is in a triangle, the triangle has 3 sides so preparing for a survival situation, it is good to have 3 means to implement each of the 4 areas of survival.
What to have in your Pack
All of this stuff fit into a backpack, holy moly!
Now for the good stuff!! Lee showed us how to make fire with a knife and the ferrous cerium rod on brushy tinder then fat lighter was added before the bigger pieces of wood. I am trying to find the pics of this somewhere in my phone, may have to come back to add!!
It was now our turn! We gathered a tinder bundle. I used dry grasses, dry goldenrod, leaves to make my bundle. I used the serrated part of my knife to strike the ferrous rod – a knife they joking called a Rambo Knife, not a knife of choice. 🙂 Finally the sparks lit my bundle, woohoo!!!! We had to put it down in a safe spot, add some kindling that we ran to gather(I used pine cones, small twigs, leaves, tiny wood pieces) and then when we were ready, we were timed for 3 minutes to see if the fire could hold without adding to it!!! YAY I did it!
NEXT THE HARD PART – we had fire but we needed a super hot fire because the next step was to collect water and boil it. We didn’t actually “collect” water from a stream, it was from a jug, best for our first time. It was timed from moment we got the water and container until it was boiled to a rolling boil. We had 15 minutes. The task was done. 2 out the 4 skills acheived! What a thrill!!
Alan showed us how to make a bow drill out of bamboo…remember we need 3 ways of making fire right?
We used a handsaw and cut part of the middle out of 1 piece and shave of some of the edges.
Then we carved out an eye shaped area on the 2nd piece, shaved some of the bamboo to make a tiny tinder bundle and gathered a bigger tinder bundle for when we achieved a burning ember. This was the hardest, most challenging fire technique that we tried. Just when you think you are getting it to smoke, you lose your momentum and steam with the motion. What a workout!! Only one of the ladies achieved success with this method. I will practice this at home, definitely!!!
Then we learn flint knapping with different rocks and antlers to create arrow heads to hunt or just a sharp tool to cut with if you did not have a knife.
We were taught next on the bow drill. I found a tutorial at my friend’s blog, Survival Sherpa
Here I am working the bow drill.
This is hard but I am determined to focus after receiving my instructions.
an ember placed into the tinder bundle
Alas..FIRE! The emotional and spiritual feeling from this task is beyond words…This is it folks, the real deal. A trinity of Woman, God and Earth together all in that moment. Powerful! WE ALL achieved fire!
I should just end it there but more was to be done this weekend.
A dinner of hearty vegetable soup, a glass of wine, a fire and I was whooped. Early bedtime tonight. The rain was coming in tonight so I packed everything except the tent and slept in my vehicle. Cold is bad enough but cold and rain, no way!!!
It rained and rained and rained. Morning was miserable. 2 ladies had migraines and left but not before getting stuck in the mud and having to be towed out. One of the guys got stuck too but being as resourceful as he was, he got out. Denise and I were packing up and going home until we were talked out of it!
The rest of us would meet up in Alan and Joshua’s yurt/tee pee, I forget the name but it was giant and they had a wood stove in it! Lucky us that Alan brought his kids along, gotta have heat for the kiddos!!
He showed us what should be on your “Personal Carry” at all times. This dude had so much in his pockets, you would not believe it!!!! A handgun, of course, a medical kit with tourniquets and how to use, fishing kit, everything!!!! I asked how the heck we could carry all that in our yoga pants???? Laughter broke out. Here is what he had on him and has on at all times.
I promise you there is more there than you can see, each little kit had more stuff in it!
FINALLY it stopped raining so we could go on a hike. Chris and Lee led our hike and I helped to identify and talk about medicinal benefits of plantain, wild geranium, turkey tail mushrooms, pippsissiwa, rattlesnake plantain, witches butter jelly fungus and usnea. May have forgotten a few. Andrea is definitely a medicine woman underneath as she proceeded to collect lots and lots of usnea. Woohoo!! Denise and I found some shagbark hickory so I will try my hand at making syrup from it. Lee harvested a few yucca leaves to show us how to make a “soap” wash and it cleaned Andrea’s hands. We learned about making cordage too and tried…Denise had the best success with her little piece of rope. I chatted with the sweetest little girl, 9 year old Johanna, I think was her name?
While on the hike I started to feel extremely nauseous, I mean extremely!! I did have a small bag of crystallized ginger that helped but man oh man, I was sure I would not make it back without throwing up. Thank goodness I did but soon left to head home.
Said goodbyes and drove home feeling blah, got home, ate and went to bed at 6:30pm, seriously! I believe I had a 24 hour bug/virus something but took everything in my arsenol and back to normal.
Super long story but I hope you enjoy my tale of our adventurous weekend. Remember, take a chance, do something scary, challenge yourself, have a strong will and be the best you that you can be!!! We are the Women Warriors.
2018 is turning out to be quite destructive to many families out there with this awful flu epidemic.
I am determined to keep that flu away, far, far away!!! Here are some tips to help you too.
Easy peasy recipe! Go outside and pick a small handful of young fresh pine needles. Bring some water to a boil. Chop up about 1-2 teaspoons of the pine needles and pour 8 ounces boiling water over. Cover and steep 5-10 minutes. Sweeten to drink. If steeped longer it becomes much stronger, use that if needed to cough.
You want to use southern yellow pine(shortleaf, longleaf), eastern white pine not Loblolly or Ponderosa. Check your areas species first. But if in the South those pines in your backyard are fine, check the needles and they should be in clusters of 2-3 in each grouping. Here is a good photo:
Eat Your Yard Folks!
Let me know what YOU do to keep yourself healthy! I LOVE comments!!!
Peace out peeps –
November, the month of craziness. Halloween stuff barely out of stores, Thanksgiving decorations everywhere and Christmas decor edging all the rest out. I believe this is how are day to day living is during November.
Do you feel it? Are you doing more than normal in your routine, trying to get it all done? Sigh…
Take a break, make a big ole pot of soup, Tom Kha Soup. Soup nourishes you, soothes the soul and feeds that weakened immune system. I was fighting a cold since last week and FINALLY feel decent. I was NOT getting the flu, no way, no how!!!!
What did I do?
So what is Tom Kha anyway???
It actually is called Tom Kha Gai -tom kha gai means “chicken galangal soup.” It’s made from chicken lightly poached in a silky coconut milk broth which has been infused with galangal (kha), lemongrass, and makrut or lime leaves. BUT….. we have a simplified recipe here thanks to Rosalee de la Foret, I have added a few suggestions to it. I have been making this for a few years now with different variations.
EVERYTHING in this soup is so good for your immune system, you can feel yourself getting better as you eat it. I like to add sliced cabbage during the last 5 minutes for an extra crunch unless you have a bad sore throat. I make it with chicken breast or thighs or just a complete veggie soup.
Let me know if you have tried this before or if you have any variations that you do!
A delicious, hearty soup that nourishes the body and feeds the soul.
Heat large, heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil and cook mushrooms, stirring about 5 minutes. Add broth and coconut milk.
Once liquids are heated, add fish sauce, tamari, apple cider vinegar. lime juice, ginger, cayenne and garlic.
Bring to a slow simmer, make sure it does not boil and do not cover. Add the chicken, bok choy, kale, green onions, carrots and green curry paste.
When chicken if fully cooked and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes, add the cilantro and shredded cabbage, if desired cook 1 minute.
Ready to serve with additional cilantro.
Make a big ole pot of it and if you find the veggies soak up the broth while in the refrigerator, no worries add some more broth of your choosing.
Flu season is upon us and if you are like me, there ain’t no way you are getting a flu shot! So what’s a person to do?
BOOST Your Immune System, Naturally!
If you do preventative care, you will be much healthier and less likely to get the nasties that are going around. Normally I take my elderberry syrup daily from September on through to March and I rarely get a cold or if I do it is short and sweet.
W-E-L-L…..I said normally right?
I did not take my elderberry everyday, I got busy, I forgot yada yada yada. Sigh and now I am paying for it. All weekend I have been congested and feeling crappy but I am doing better today with a few tricks of the trade. IF I take it easy this week, I will be just fine. Let me share with you some helpful tips and recipes. 🙂
Why does our immune system get weak? It is not just from the germies. Environment, weather, stress, lack of sleep, bad eating habits can all play a part in wreaking havoc on our systems.
Immuno – what? Alright, I am going to geek out you for just a second.
Herbal immunomodulators are herbs that can be used long term to tonify and support the immune system. Herbs such as astragalus, eleuthero, shiitake, turkey tail and many wild mushrooms facilitate greater immune system flexibility in the body’s natural response to disease.
These herbs act slower than immunostimulant herbs. An example of an immunostimulant is Echinacea which is used at the onset of illness.
Holy Basil/Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum is a Life Medicine, Adaptogen, Anti-inflammatory, Expectorant. Drink this tea regularly, 1-2 cups a day, to help your body respond to long term stress. Reduces cortisol and adrenaline levels.
Immune Tea – you can find it in my Etsy Store or the recipe HERE. This tea is full of herbal goodness to help put a force field around you, it is a super hero! I have an alternate version coming shortly with mushrooms added. Here are the herbs in the tea:
Throat Coat Tea by Traditional Medicinals
I keep a box of this tea around because it is so soothing to a sore throat, even if you just have that tickle in the throat or you have lost your voice. It contains licorice root, marshmallow root, slippery elm, wild cherry bark, cinnamon, fennel, orange. Yum!
Back to that Elderberry Syrup! You can buy Sambucol at the grocery store and spend a crazy amount of money OR make your own. It is so easy, if you can boil water, you can make this syrup, I promise.
Here is the recipe that I use and if you REALLY need help, I put together some little Elderberry Kits that include the berries, cloves, cinnamon, ginger all measured out.
Place berries, spices and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.
Simmer until liquid looks like it has reduced to about half. Smash berries down with a potato masher.
Strain mixture through a cheesecloth or muslin cloth, be careful since it is really hot! You can let it cool a bit first.
Measure how much liquid you have. Ideally it will be 2 cups or a little less. Add the 1 cup of honey and stir until honey is incorporated. If needed, heat slightly to mix.
Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 months. Take 1 Tablespoon daily for a preventative or 1 teaspoon 3-4x/day when sick. Children take less.
More Immune Goodness coming throughout the week! Please share with your friends and I LOVE comments!!!
You want to hear a secret?
There was a time, not very long ago, where I absolutely HATED mushrooms. Yep, it was true. Then something amazing happened!
I wanted to learn how to grow mushrooms for my husband, he loves mushrooms. So I had a friend teach a shiitake mushroom class here and she brought this hummus…mushroom hummus. I tried it. Guess what? I could not get enough, I LOVED it!!! LOVED!!! Mushroom hummus with shiitake mushrooms that were log grown, not those white, tasteless, weird textured store bought mushrooms.
Holy moly, I just knew this was the start of something very, very cool. Fast forward 5 years….I am absolutely CRAZY about mushrooms, wild mushrooms, homegrown mushrooms, all mushrooms!!!
Sometimes you just cannot get the mushrooms you want on any given day so you have a choice or a couple choices. Wait for them to come in season, grow your own, have a supply of mushroom tinctures or keep a supply of instant mushroom elixirs.
Four Sigmatic Elixirs to be exact! I have been drinking these powerful, dual extracted mushroom powders for about a year and a half now…maybe longer. I got my first Sampler Pack from a dear friend once and I was instantly hooked! There was a couple mushroom hot chocolates and a couple mushroom coffees, each specific to a certain time of day or a need in the body.
*Less acidic than normal coffee (no heartburns/acid reflux)
*Extremely high quality (no pesticides, no mycotoxins)
*Includes powerful antioxidants and immune boosting properties…
*Boosts your brain & productivity
*Reduces stress, improves concentration, memory, and alertness..
And best of all — it tastes great.
My favorite? Hmmmm… I have 2!
The Mushroom Hot Cacao with Reishi is wonderful at night to help you have a better nights sleep or it can be used in these incredible Reishi Truffles, yep TRUFFLES! Chocolate + Mushrooms = LOVE!
Second fave would have to be the Mushroom Coffee with Chaga and Lion’s Mane for a “kick in the butt” so to speak. The “get” in your “Get up and Go”. 🙂
I will be talking about mushroom goodness all week and share some wonderful recipes for you to try too! Also we will have a couple special treats!!!
The sampler box consists of 8 single serving packs – one of each of the coffees, elixirs and hot cacaos. I am giving one away on Sunday evening – Sunday, October 8th. How can you win one?
#1 Comment here on the blog if you have a favorite Four Sigmatic product or which you be interested in trying
#2 OR comment on the Facebook post on the Bella Vista Farm page
#3 OR send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org
But you MUST do 1 of the above to be entered.
More shroomy goodness coming, stay tuned!!!
I get this question a lot. Puffballs, the round blobs on the front lawn, you know the ones…. that when left become dark, brittle and then “poof” into blackish smoke-like dust.
Yes, those blobs are edible mushrooms. BUT and I do mean a BIG but, you must cut open each and everyone to be absolutely sure it is a puffball mushroom and not an immature toxic or worse, poisonous mushroom.
I will explain in a moment.
Puffballs encompass a few different genera, Calvatia, Calbovista and Lycoperdon. I am still working on proper identification of each that I find. Puffballs contain their spores within instead of under gills as in regular mushrooms. As the spores develop and the puffball matures and gets brittle, the slightest disturbance even from a raindrop can crack it open enough for the spores to explode out and “poof”. There are some species of puffballs that are inedible or toxic like the stalked puffball or the Scleroderma.
So how do we know we have a puffball? First pick one.
It should be firm but somewhat squishy.
It can be all white or slightly cream color with spots.
It may be pear shaped.
Now cut one in half from TOP to BOTTOM – it should be WHITE marshmallow-like and sometimes looks like sliced white bread…seriously!
There should be NO outline of any baby mushroom, gills, cap or otherwise. period.
It should not be black or any other color.
The puffball should be peeled and it should easily peel with a knife or potato peeler.
If it is hard like a rind, throw it away – could be poisonous.
So would you be confident to pick and eat one? Maybe not yet. Find a knowledgeable friend and have them positively ID it for you.
What do they taste like? Puffballs are kind of like tofu, they take on any flavor you want by marinating them or adding a sauce to them. I usually just cook along side other mushrooms in butter or olive oil and garlic.
I tried something different this time. I dehydrating them because my hubby found a bunch – too many to eat! And they don’t keep in the fridge like other mushrooms, you must eat or do something with them within a day or 2 max.
Turn the dehydrator on and check them after an hour, then after 2 and they should be ready by the 3rd hour. They should break easy. Let cool and store in glass jars. 🙂
Easy, peasy method of saving your mushroom harvest for later.
Take out your dehydrator and take out the trays, lay them out on a table.
With a sharp knife, cut EVERY puffball in half lengthwise (from top to bottom) Look inside to make sure they are indeed puffballs, marshmallow-like white interior with no baby gills or discoloration!
On a large cutting board, peel the thin "skin" off your halved puffballs with a potato peeler.
Slice your mushrooms thin with a sharp knife.
Spread out your slices on the food dehydrator trays, do not crowd.
Stack trays, not tightly and turn on machine. Check after each hour, they should be done in about 2 hours, maybe 3 depending on your machine.
Allow to cool completely, sliced should break easily. Store in glass jars until you wish to grind or use.
Have a Lovely Day!
Chocolate + Mint + alcohol = Chocolate Mint Extract.
How does that sound? Simply delicious!
Cookies and Holiday baking are months away but I am trying to think ahead this year. Each Christmas I decide to make something different whether it be hazelnut cookies, chocolate truffles or mint chocolate brownies…then I check the spices and extracts to see what I have in the cabinet. Sure enough every season, without fail, I forget to have in stock a particular extract. Then I go out and buy it! Ughhhh….you spend like $5-7 for a teeny tiny bottle of extract!
I do make vanilla extract but I am down to my very last bottle so more needs to be done, soon! First I decided I will make a Chocolate Mint Extract. Have you ever had those weird imitation mint extracts??? Yuck, I don’t even think there is real mint anywhere in them. Here is an easy peasy, takes you 10 minutes MAX to put it together recipe…and then you wait!
I have every kind of mint growing. Chocolate mint, peppermint, sweet mint and spearmint. For this recipe you can use any one of those except maybe the spearmint. If you do not have chocolate mint, then you will add extra cacao nibs to the jar.
The hardest part will be waiting for it to finish extracting!
Loosely pack a 16 ounce glass jar with the mint and the cacao nibs.
Measure and pour in your alcohol.
Cover. Shake. Label.
Wait 2-4 weeks. You can taste it after 2 or leave until 4. Strain through muslin cloth into amber bottles and label.
Now to think up all the scrumptious recipes to use this in. I bet ya it would even taste good just by itself, just saying… 😀
I will be doing this with vanilla, almond and maybe raspberry. Yum!!
Enjoy your day today!
This is my 3rd year of having interns help me out with planting, harvesting, product making, foraging and more.
Early Spring garden planted…
We also go on fun adventures!
You never know what we will be doing…it all depends on what is growing and who calls me to come harvest an abundance of something. This Spring we went to Dawn’s to harvests lots of elder flowers and will be going back there shortly to harvest the berries.
Just LOOK at the size of these bushes!
Calendula later in the spring…
One day we ventured over to Athens to the UGArden, run by the UGA students. My friends Maisy and Noelle take care of the Medicinal Garden and love the additional hands to help harvest. Here is the chamomile we harvested –
As soon as the pine catkins were starting to fill with pollen, we harvested the catkins. Unfortunately this year I only got out a couple days so did not collect as much as I wanted! Still a fun time 🙂
The passionflower took over the garden so it needed to be desperately harvested –
lots and lots …
Sometimes we just need to take off on a hike into the woods, more often than not!
We only found 1 good mushroom – ONE!!! A beautiful reishi and yes in the background those are kudzu flowers, KUDZU FLOWERS in June!!! That is plain nuts, they should not be out until August, crazy weird Georgia weather this year.
I forgot to get pictures of our wild cherry harvest but we made cherry shrub, a fruity vinegar and sugar syrup that was sooooo darn delicious. 🙂
I love my interns and feel so blessed to be able to have them here helping me and to be able to teach them about herbal medicine. This is just a dream come true and it is all about the journey!
Blessings to you all,
I LOVE everything herbal! I am here to teach you how to take care of your family with natural remedies and REAL food. By using wild foods and plants that may be right outside your door, you will not only be healthier but you will reduce your household food and medical budget.