Saturday, February 18, 2012

February 18, 2012 - ARGH

Having issues with Gallery2.0 at and I've been wanting to make room within my hosting limits so I'm in the process of editing older posts to nab the images off of my Picasa Web album. There may be some older posts with missing image files. If you see that don't send me an email or leave in in the comments just know that I'm working on it. All the pictures of our adventures and mishaps (with the exception of half of 2006 and all of 2007 and 2008- working on that too...) and can be seen here if for some reason you can't find them somewhere else.


Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012 - Birthday Girl and Dead Nettle Tea

First things first: my beautiful, creative, and super smart baby girl turned 14 today. 

Happy Birthday, Chan-Chan

To avoid becoming too reflective and to stave off the urge to sing a few bars of "Sunrise, Sunset" here is Esther in her toboggan and funny shirt.

Super effective

And now on to the tea...

I've been wandering around the yard looking for something to turn into tea. I recently collected a bagful of dandelion leaves to dry and put in the tea cabinet. While I was on the ground plucking weeds for the tea pot it occurred to me that we have an insane amount of these little purple flower things that look like teeny-tiny orchids. I know I've been told what these things are called so I asked the wife and she very patiently told me (again) that they are dead nettle

Off to the Google I went in search of some validation for my desire to turn this little weed into tea! I found people with plans to put it their pancakes and frittatas, plenty of evidence for its use in salads, and more than enough examples of it being made into tea.

Dead nettle fresh from the yard, pluckity-pluck
As I've been doing with all the wild herbals, I placed the plants on a black pizza pan and let them dry in the oven at 170° for about an hour, or until dry and crunchy.

Right out of the oven, crunchity-crunch

Then, using pure brute force and no actual tools, I grind them all up with my bare hands. Brutal. Remember when you were a kid and the most fascinating thing you could do with your time was to mash dead leaves in your hand until they were powder-fine? Yeah, just like that, but in a bowl so I don't waste anything.

No, officer, not that kind of weed

Then it goes into the tea kettle with some just-barely-boiling water. Green herbs tend to make bitter tea if you steep them in water that's been brought to a rolling boil. The resulting brew is earthy in smell and flavor and really needs some sweetener (honey works well). When I say "earthy" I mean it smells like a hole that you've dug in the ground. The fresh plant has this same smell, only much stronger. The tea is more subtle and little bit minty.

Dead nettle is purported to have all sorts of healthy properties and benefits. I'm just drinking it for the taste and joy of taking in something that would normally fall to the lawnmower and came from right outside our door. 

Other pictures of birthday girl and dead nettle tea preparation can be found in the gallery here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5, 2012 - Rush Creek, Bankhead National Forest

Esther and I set out today, sans kids, to find something new in Bankhead National Forest. We didn't have a specific spot in mind but she wanted to see a waterfall if possible. Luckily, there's a series of geocaches that have been placed near many of the waterfalls scattered across Bankhead. I punched the nearest one into the GPS and off we went.

The cache we were seeking is called "Bankhead Waterfalls Series # 14 Hidden Cove Fall". Parking is located on the side of the road just below were it crosses the creek. The bridge was covered with moss and ferns.

We headed down the clearly marked trail and set off in search of splishy-splashy and, I guess also cachey (forgive me).

First error in judgement- started off on the wrong side of Rush Creek. No problem. We realized this after arriving at a point directly east of the falls/cache and just kept walking along next to the water. The winter has been incredibly mild and all the plants and trees are either budding or on the verge of budding, if not down-right blooming.

When it became apparent that following the creek was only going to result in a gradual climb and the waterfall now somewhat behind us we decided to wade across the creek and start hunting on the other side. Esther was much better dressed for this in her fancy new zip-off-leg pants. She suggested that I should ford the water in my undies, but I disappointed her by merely rolling up my jeans and making a go of it.

Esther: Woodland fashionista.
Let's just take another look. *swoon*
Once on the other side of the creek we promptly decided to walk in a direction that was not towards the falls, but indeed in the opposite direction! We could hear some sort of falling water feature nearby and headed towards it at full speed! But first... WITCH'S BUTTER.
Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle...
The detour paid off with not one, but two waterfalls that we hadn't even been counting on seeing! (High-fives and knuckle-bumps commenced.) 

The next hour of hiking contains what I like to think of as "the part that didn't happen". We did not wander along the top of a giant bluff with sheer rock walls of twenty to thirty feet in height. We did not crawl under, around, over and through (yes, this) mountain laurel, holly bush, saw briar and cedar. We did not walk around in a big giant circle only to backtrack and climb down the bluff right were we climbed up it. I know these things did not happen because I have no pictures of them (regardless of what the GPS track log may indicate.)

We finally found the correct route but due to continued resistance from the brush and faced with having to cross and re-cross the stream to reach the falls we called it a day and headed back towards the van.

Esther got hungry along the way, and well... 

I did find another nearby cache and we did both take a handful of pictures, so the day was not a waste. Oh, and also we burned collectively enough calories to summon roughly four Whopper Jr. combo meals from the unassigned proto-matter of a new universe in another parallel reality.

The album of my pictures of the day are right here: CLICKY LINKY!

The track log: PUSH BUTTON!

Esther's blog of the same event but with touchy-feely girl perspective and pictures of me: MASH THIS LINK!