Exciting News For This Blog! Please Read

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Hi everyone!

This blog has been my heart and soul for years. I love it because it helps me to deal with my lupus while helping others on their journey as well. I have tried to incorporate lots of information about lupus so it can help those who are newly diagnosed as well as those in their journey for a long time. I share my own experiences with lupus from the good to the bad, the drug trial I was in, and how I have come off of most of my meds and started using food as medicine.

You may have noticed that the name of the blog has changed. I have changed it to “My Old Kentucky Homestead”, which is my domain name. While this blog is a work in progress,  trust me, it is still the same blog, it is just a name change.

I will still be posting about lupus and all that comes with that. The same posts are here for you. The only difference is that I am upgrading the blog and making it much easier to navigate. I am also making it more professional. I finally made the decision to upgrade so I can receive passive revenue from all my hard work. This decision has been a long time in the making but I finally am pulling the trigger so to speak.

I also plan on going through the existing lupus posts to update them as many of them have changed through the years. For example, many medications are now not being used or the use has changed. I plan on bringing those posts up to date with current information on the subject.

I hope you will remain with me. I am going to be posting lupus related content as well as my homesteading journey, recipes, herbal remedies, and much more now. You will still have the lupus content as before, but you may find a new recipe you want to try, or learn a bit about the herbal medicines I use. It is going to be a true labor of love for me to combine the two things near and dear to my heart.

I originally started this way and then made a new blog just for my homesteading. This was too difficult to keep up with two blogs so instead, I used my domain name on this one and am combining the two back again. As I said, you will still have the same lupus articles but with added content now.

I know most of you may not be interested in homesteading, but I hope you will welcome the new direction and stick with me here. I really am so excited about this whole big change and I hope you are too.

I want to personally thank each and every one of you for being a follower and for enjoying my passion of sharing our lupus journeys together. Stay with me and we can continue to grow together.

I have plans for merchandise as well. I will be working hard to make this site much more easy to navigate, and new graphics and more personal content too. This is going to be a great change for our family and I hope you enjoy it. Please send me feedback as it grows on what topics you would like to see. I am also going to be working on a few instructional courses to help those interested in a variety of subjects.

Again, thank each and every one of you for being on this ride with me. I hope I do not disappoint you.

Garden Update August 2020

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Bean Trellis

Here are updated photos of our garden. Everything is growing so well. I’m busy freezing food until I get it canned. For our first year at our forever home, the stuff sure is growing! Hoping once I get this clay and rock soil more amended that next year will be much more! I only did basics this year. Enjoy the photos!

Beans are growing.
Only 24 tomato plants but wow are they producing!
Huge tomatoes!
Cucumbers growing up the trellis.
Very productive!
Acorn squash loves climbing too!
Pepper patch doing well.
Lovely bell peppers.
Lovely dill.

Garden Growth July 2020

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I forgot to post the garden pictures for June. I am however, updating for July. I got my garden in the ground by the end of May. This is the first garden at our forever homestead.

The ground here is rocky and clay. A dirt delivery was cost prohibitive at this time so I tried something different. I bought topsoil and sand. I mixed them together and added epsom salt to part of it (for the tomatoes).

I then decided how I wanted it laid out once it was plowed. Once I knew where to put the plants, I added my mixture to those areas. I left the walkways and unused portions rocky and clay.

Next, I got my trellis up for my beans. That was followed by a cattle panel for my squash. I will admit, I have never grown squash on a fence so this is an experiment for me.

Our bean trellis.

Once I got the soil ready and plants in the ground, I staked my tomatoes. I used old tobacco sticks, and used yarn to tie them to the stakes. The beauty of this method is that as they have grown, I simply untie and move further up the stick. I tie them in bows so that’s why I am able to move as it grows.

Our tomato plants are fruiting.

I also used the sticks for my pepper plants. As they got taller, they began leaning over. Ok, I gave them support. They are flowering now and I have several varieties planted, habanero, ancho, green and red bell, banana peppers and poblano. I plan on making cowboy candy for gifts.

Pepper plants flowering after I staked them.

I have a section for herbs as well. I’m growing lavender, peppermint, catnip, sage, lemon balm, dill, spearmint and cilantro.

Sage

My potatoes are flowering as well. Lots of pollinators handy to help with all the pollinating that needs done. In the row of potatoes, the red dock is overtaking next to them. I am trying to weed as I can. In the meantime, I’m using our grass clippings to kill weeds and add nutrients to the soil as they decompose. Already my soil is improving so much just from clippings. I’m covering the dock and assorted other undesirables with cardboard then covering that with grass clippings. Our dollar general lets you get boxes so I get some each time I go. Slowly it is getting done (weeding, don’t judge).

Part of my potatoes.
Squash starting up the trellis and surrounded by marigolds for pest control.

I hope this shows how our first garden at our forever home is doing. It is a work in progress but a true labor of love. By next year I hope to have much better soil to plant into. I will keep adding grass clippings and then leaves when fall comes. In the meantime I’m doing what I can with my circumstances now. The lesson is to plant something, anything, to help feed your family. Learn about things. Keep your soul growing. It truly is worth it in the long run.

Bean trellis

Lemon Zucchini Cake

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This is another way to use up all that zucchini you grew in your garden. If you are like me, you have an abundance each year. Here is another cake recipe to use up some of that yummy zucchini. It is delicious too!

Lemon Zucchini Cake

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 T extra virgin olive oil

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

2 T lemon juice

1 t vanilla

2 cups flour

1 1/4 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, drained and squeezed dry

2 T lemon zest

For the Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1-2 T lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (f). Spray a loaf pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine the sugar and olive oil in another bowl, whisking to combine thoroughly. Add eggs and almond milk to combine. Add lemon juice and vanilla and combine. Now you add the dry ingredients and stir them into the wet ingredients until they are JUST combined. Do not over stir. Fold in the zucchini and lemon zest. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Carefully lift it out. Let cool completely. Make your glaze and drizzle over it when completely cooled. Yummy!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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choczuchcake.jpgAt the end of summer, do you find you have a ton of zucchini and don’t know what you can do with it all? Think no further. This chocolate zucchini cake is moist, yummy and feels so decadent. In the post following this one, I will be giving you another cake recipe as well, for Lemon Zucchini Cake. Now, the only thing left is getting busy making these two yummy cakes. Here is the recipe for the Chocolate Zucchini Cake:

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 t cinnamon

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 cups grated zucchini

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, if desired

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (f). Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add eggs and oil, mixing well. Fold in the nuts (if desired). Fold in the zucchini and evenly distribute it.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool cake completely before frosting it.

 

Yarrow and It’s Uses

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Yarrow is an herb that most folks haven’t heard of, yet it has been extensively used in earlier generations for generations. It is related to chamomile and chrysanthemums. It’s name is Achillea millefolium. It has a flavor similar to tarragon and its leaves have been used like spinach, making it a culinary herb as well. It has a bitter and sweet flavor profile. It also has many health benefits as well. Let’s see all the amazing things yarrow can be used for.

Yarrow Benefits

  1. Yarrow can stop bleeding and is a natural wound treatment. There is a chemical called achilliene that is in yarrow and has been proven to stop bleeding. If yarrow is dried and powdered, sprinkling the powder on a wound can cause the bleeding to stop and also dulls the pain.
  2. Yarrow is a a natural antiseptic. Using yarrow on a wound can also prevent infection. Many of the present day healing ointments available actually have yarrow as an ingredient to promote healing.
  3. Yarrow helps anxiety. Yarrow has anti-anxiety properties that also act as a mild sedative. The effect is similar to valium.
  4. Yarrow can reduce inflammation in the intestines and female reproductive tract. Research shows this is because it contains flavenoids and sesquiterpene lactones. It also has astringent qualities and is commonly an ingredient in ointments for skin issues like eczema.
  5. As mentioned above, yarrow is good for the gastrointestinal tract because it has anti-spasmotic qualities and can help with various GI tract issues. The issues are diarrhea, flatulence and cramping. It reduces the muscle spasms because of its flavenoids.
  6. Yarrow can lower high blood pressure and help with asthma. A recent study has shown yarrow has hypotensive, vasodilatory and bronchiodilatory properties. It can lower your blood pressure, relax blood vessels and can improve breathing.

Culinary Uses

You can use yarrow in food dishes. As mentioned before, you can use the leaves like spinach. You can also dry the leaves to use as an herb in cooking. Add it at the very end as its flavor is destroyed by high heat. You can also make infused vinegars and infused oils with it. You may also use the young leaves and flowers as an ingredient in your salad. You can find yarrow sold as a fresh herb, dried herb, in capsule form, as a tincture, as a liquid extract and even as a tea.

I hope you can grow this wonderful plant. I have and it is not only a lovely addition to a flower bed, but since it has so many uses, it is worth the effort to grow it.

Dandelion Lotion Bars

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I know I have shared many uses for dandelion, but this was a new one for me. I found on pinterest, a recipe for a dandelion lotion bar, which is like a soap bar but it is lotion. Yes, lotion. I have seen various types of lotion bars on pinterest, however, this one intrigued me so I made it.

Why use dandelion? Dandelion has properties that help to heal the skin and also brighten it. Used on your face, it can rejuvenate skin cells and help postpone the aging process. I’m 60 now, but it has helped my complexion already!

Lotion bars are so fun to make and use. As I stated, you can see the finished product in the opening picture. It looks like soap. It is so much better that soap. I still use soap, I do not mean it can replace soap. I just mean it is easily used and can be transported as well. I made some of jasmine scent and others of patchouli scent. I love patchouli and believe it or not, it is a smell that bugs stay away from so I made some with it to help when I am outdoors. Plus, my husband is more apt to use it if it does not smell like jasmine.

Here is how to make dandelion lotion bars:

Dandelion Lotion Bars

Pick fresh dandelions, about one to two cups worth. Clean them by rinsing and patting dry. I cut off the green section of the flower bud at this point.

Put the flower petals into a mason jar, I use a pint jar. Add the oil of your choice and cover them completely with oil over the top by about an inch. The oil I used was olive oil but you can use almond oil, sunflower oil, etc. I would not use vegetable or canola oil.

Put a coffee filter on top and screw a band over it. This allows it to breathe while infusing the oil. I sit my oil on the counter to infuse. You can put it in a dark place if you desire but it will infuse faster in the open. Let it infuse for about 4 weeks. I swirl it around every few days. The oil will turn a lovely shade of yellow.

After your oil has infused, here is how to use it to make the lotion bars:

Add the following:

1/4 cup dandelion infused oil

1/4 cup shea butter

a little less than 1/4 cup of beeswax

essential oil of choice (I used jasmine and patchouli)

In a double boiler, put the three ingredients of infused oil, beeswax and shea butter. Gently heat them until they are all melted. Remove from the double boiler and add the essential oil of choice. I divided my batch up into two parts to make two scents. You will need about 30 drops of your essential oil to scent it.

Next you pour the mixture into silicone molds. Let it set up and harden. Once hardened, pop out and they are ready to use. Your finished product will leave your skin silky soft and over time can repair damage to your skin. It feels wonderfully soft. I do want to add that it can melt at a lower point so if traveling with it, remember to keep it cool. It will also melt a little when you are holding it to apply. That is completely normal.

Here is the finished product:

Now let me know if you tried this recipe and show me your results. I love the stuff myself. I hope you are all doing well! Have a great day!

Catnip and It’s Uses

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What is catnip? If you have a cat, I’m sure you have seen it’s effects on a cat. Catnip, or catmint, also has many beneficial uses for us as well. So, what is catnip?

Catnip is an herb from the mint family. It has several names, such as catmint and catswort. The scientific name is Nepeta cataria. It is grown all over, from here in the US to Europe and parts of Asia. The parts that are used include the leaves and the flowers.

Now that we have established what catnip is, what are the benefits and uses for this plant? To begin with, catnip can help with relieving stress. It can be eaten, used in a tea, or even smoked. Catnip helps by alleviating stress and also the effects of chronic stress. When it relieves stress, it also helps to strengthen your immune system.

When you have insomnia, make a catnip tea. Many folks like to make a cup of the tea before going to bed. It appears to help you sleep more restfully. This is because it has an effect similar to valerian, which is a mild sedative.

Catnip also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help with arthritis, aching joints, muscle pain and gout. I like it for muscle and joint pain from lupus. Drinking it in a tea form has so many beneficial results.

Catnip is also good for the kidneys. It has diuretic qualities that help to promote urination. Drinking that cup of tea daily can help your kidneys to remove toxins quickly.

Catnip is also a natural bug repellent. When you plant it in the garden, it will repel pests that could invade your garden. I like to plant it in an area that has a tendency for bugs to invade.

For generations, catnip has been used to remove flatulence, or gas. It is said to remove the gases from the abdomen. When you make the tea, add a bit of ginger in it for this to remove the gas.

There are lots more things that catnip can help, but this is a brief overview. Catnip will come back year after year and can take over a garden if you let it. Once you grow it, your cats also have a ready supply of this highly entertaining plant for years to come. Just remember, do not plant mints close to each other as they will cross pollinate and change the constituency of each plant.

I dehydrate catnip and since I sew, I make cat toys for my kitties that they love! They are called kitty kick sticks. My babies love to play with theirs. I load them up with catnip so they can really smell it.

I hope you enjoyed this post on catnip. Do you know of more benefits to growing it? Please share in the comments below.

Hobbies

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Do you have hobbies? I do. I probably have too many to be honest but who can choose what to omit? Just when I think I am done doing one thing, then another pops up. So, I thought I would post about one of my hobbies today.

I love quilts. I love to quilt. I find it relaxing. I quilted a long time ago and made each of my kids a quilt when they graduated high school. I kind of really put it aside after that. Life got busy and I moved on with it. However, I have discovered that I still love to quilt.

In the picture above, you see a quilt that is not put together yet. I have completed it now and plan on giving it to my newest grandson. I want him to know his granny loved him so much! So, I am giving him a hug in a quilt. I hope when he is older and I am gone, he will know that I loved him very much. It is a legacy of love.

This quilt is one I made for practice to get back into the groove as it were. I like it but have not completed it yet. I hope to in the next few weeks. I found this fabric in storage, in my scrapbooking supplies. Scrapbooking is another of my hobbies that I will go into in another post. Anyway, I found this fabric and thought why not try to make something out of it. So, I did. I like how the colors are contrasting yet cohesive. It was made with a traditional nine patch that is cut into fours. Easy peasy.

So why do I quilt? I think the main reason is that I want my loved ones to have a hug from me when I am gone, as mentioned before. I am not getting any younger, so the legacies I can leave behind are becoming more prominent. I am also making each grandchild a scrapbook too, but that is for another post.

In this day and age, I feel an urgency as never before, to complete these ideas I have had and not done. You never really know what unforeseen occurrence can happen to any of us. So, I want my kids and grandkids and now, great grandkids to know how much I love them always! I find it relaxing to make these fabric arts when it is a rainy day and I cannot be outside in the garden or yard. It calms my soul and relaxes me to see something come alive as you piece it together.

I must admit that I like scrap quilts best, but in the interest of leaving something beautiful behind, I am trying to make more posh quilts for my family. I will still make some scrappy quilts, but mostly for myself, to be the outlet for me and my pieced together scrappy life.

I am also making myself some table runners. I am thinking of selling some someday, maybe at Homesteaders of America Conference, but who knows? I might just enjoy the process and give them away too. You never know! Here is a picture of one of my runners.

Do you enjoy hobbies on your homestead or in your down time? Hobbies have been my lifesaver in times of disease flare ups and down time. Now, they lift me up on those rainy days when I cannot get outside. Do you have hobbies? Share your hobbies in the comments below! I love hearing about what others are into!

Calendula and its Uses

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Calendula is a lovely flower and is from the Asteraceae family. This flower is an annual which means that you need to replant it each year. It is not a fussy plant and it will grow and thrive in most any environment. Lucky for me!

It is also known by the name of pot marigold but it is not a true marigold. It has beautiful orange-yellow petals. These flower petals are what is used in herbal medicines. The petals have a faint honey like aroma.

Since the petals are used in herbal medicines, we should examine them closer. The petals contain high levels of antioxidants like flavenoids and carotenoids. They also have some other constituents such as betacarotene, lutein, calendic fatty acid and linoleic acids. Calendula has been used and documented use since the 12th century! In India, the flowers are considered sacred even.

For lupus folks like me, those antioxidants can reduce inflammatory processes so pain can be lessened. A cream has been shown to calm muscle spasms, heal wounds, improve your oral health and can even help to keep certain cancers at bay.

You can infuse the flower petals into oils, make tinctures, purchase the extracts, make teas, make skin care ointments and creams too. I use it in my face creams and a little in my homemade deodorant even.

All in all, this is a beautiful flower that is well worth growing! It will look good in beds with shorter flowers in front of it. It will grow quite tall, around two to three feet tall. The more you pluck the flowers, the more flowers it will put out. So, what are you waiting for? Let me know if you have grown this beauty.

Moving To A New Homestead

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Side and front of our new home
Front and other side of our new home

A short time ago I posted about homesteading in a rental home. We actually lived in a small rental home for five years homesteading. However, we were limited to what we could do there. We decided it was time to look for our forever home. Well, we did just that and moved to our new forever homestead in February. It is the beginning of June and we have been super busy since moving in.

You can see from the pictures above that our forever home is much bigger than our small rental. It is actually almost twice the size of our former rental. It is not the Taj Mahal by anyone’s imagination, but it is ours and we love it.

Moving is stressful no matter how you get it done. It can also be very exciting when you know you are never moving again. That is how we looked at it.

When you are looking to move, you have priorities in mind for how you want to live. We were the same. A few of the things we knew we needed were a larger property that was rural and gives us the ability to become much more self sustainable.

While we enjoyed the time in our little rental, it gave us time to learn new skills in preparation of moving at a later date. I encourage anyone who wants to homestead, to use the time before buying your place, to hone skills you will need to use on your own property. I mean, if you are going to raise animals, find a local farmer who may let you work with them and learn the skills you need. Trust me, it is never too late to learn skills. We did that in the rental.

Now, spring became a time of busy for us. Busy as in starting long term plantings, like the eight elder berry plants I planted this year. Next year it will be apple trees. Each year it will be a new long term item.

So, what were our priorities for moving? Here is the list of things we were looking for (yours will be most likely different depending on your goals):

  1. A larger property that was rural
  2. The ability to have animals, particularly chickens to begin with
  3. Have versatility in growing our food
  4. Better areas to forage for wild medicinals and foods
  5. Be able to become more self sustaining

These were our goals. Did we meet them? Indeed we did. We got all of the above plus five more we did not dare hope for. You know, those things that you want but being realistic, you know you might not get them. What were those five things?

  1. Bigger shed (we actually have two sheds now!)
  2. Being able to plant for the long term
  3. Our home is twice the size of our rental
  4. I have a dedicated pantry area for all my canning and food storage
  5. A huge covered front porch that faces east

In the end, we had our needs met and exceeded with our property. It’s funny because we knew what we could afford. We didn’t want to dream big. However, never give up folks! We not only got our dream met but much more…and all for the bargain price that we could afford. It is a block home on five acres (mostly wooded) that will be perfect for our future plans.

One more thing I forgot to mention… we live on top of a mountain! Yes, an actual mountain! We never dreamed we could move up here because the truth is that most properties up here never sell. They get handed down to relatives. We also thought it would be cost prohibitive. We were proved wrong!

We prayed and prayed to find something and God not only answered our prayers, he gave us so much more in the extras we got and I just think the beauty all around is an amazing bonus. God has made such beauty for us to enjoy that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that. We moved here in February, amid the cold of winter, and the area is gorgeous. As spring came in, the greens became predominant and another beautiful sight was had. Now it is summer, and it is even more beautiful.

We see sunrises from our porch each morning and sunsets each night from our fire pit in the back. We have room for our grandkids and great grandkids to run and play and enjoy. Most of all, we can live how we want to live now, in a relatively secluded place with beauty surrounding us year round. It was well worth waiting for.

My adivce is this, do not give up your dreams. Plan, then plan some more. Think outside the box. Lay out your priorities. Be honest. You may have to see a bunch of places before the right one comes along. Be patient. Do not jump on the first thing coming along, unless it meets your core needs. Keep learning new skills as you wait. It is worth it.

We are excited and have big plans for this place in the years to come. This year it is basics, get a garden in, grow some food, get things sorted out. Figure out the lay of the land to plan for more things. No chickens yet but hoping in the near future to have some. I dug out the front flower bed and planted food in it along with flowers just to get things in the ground, for example. It is a work in progress but a work that is worth it!