Dandy Dandy Dandelions!


O DANDELION


O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all day?

“I just wait here in the tall, green grass, ’till the children come to play.”


O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?

“I wait and wait, while the cool dew falls, and my hair grows long and white.”


And what do you do when your hair grows white, and the children come to play?

“They take me in their dimpled hands, and blow my hair away!”
Author Unknown

I first heard this poem in Morning Playgroup with my daughter when she was barely 2 years old.  It's been a favorite ever since.  We call them Dandy-Suns when they are yellow and Wishers when they're white.

There are so many ways to use these little plants, this post would be enormous if I tried to cram it all in.  Instead I am going to share our favorite Dandelion uses; a powerful herbal remedy, a few recipes and a craft.

We headed over to The Growing Experience (where we spent Earth Day) and asked Jimmy if we could harvest dandelions.  This farm uses no sprays and is off the main road....perfect spot for dandelions.  We helped him weed the farm and he helped us get some gorgeous dandelions.  Thank you Jimmy! 

**Side Note**
Now would be where I tell you...no camera, of course.  Not because I forgot it this time, but because it's broken. :(  The lens needs servicing and I wont get it back for a few days...hopefully before baby comes!  In the mean time I am using my iPhone and my mom's little camera, sigh, I miss my camera.  So, please excuse the lack and quality of pictures.

Herbal medicine is amazing.  We can take something as simple, plain and abundant as a dandelion and create powerful, healing remedies.  Dandelion is well known for it's nutritional value.  It is particularly rich in beta-carotene (creates Vitamin A), fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and are a good source of protein (hence why we use them in our smoothies!).  It is what we call a nourishing herb. 
It is also considered a safe herb as it has almost no negative side effects.  Some people may develop a skin rash, just like you would if you were allergic to any other "food".
(**Reminding you now to read my disclaimer at the bottom of the blog...ok that's that then**)

So what do you use Dandelion tincture for?

Mostly as a detoxifying tonic.  It stimulates cell metabolism and the liver, acting as a blood purifier.  It also stimulates the kidneys and is a safe, effective diuretic that does not deplete your body of it's precious potassium.  These two actions create the perfect environment for the body to cleanse and detoxify itself.  It can help with the prevention of gallstones since it activates the gallbladder and allows it to do it's job well.  The bitters found in dandelion can aid in poor digestion, gas, nausea and constipation.

All that in a common weed?  Yes!  Go out into your backyard and start harvesting.

When preparing a fresh dandelion tincture, I use the flower, root and leaves, although some people use just the root. I feel the whole plant has something to give. There are different constituents in the root, leaves and flowers that will work together to create a good remedy. I also use a simple folk method when tincturing fresh herbs.  The tincture we made today has only root and leaves though since we used all the petals for our cookies and vinegar!


Dandelion Tincture
Quart sized Mason jar
6-7 good sized Dandelion plants freshly harvested
Highest alcohol content vodka you can get.  I used Everclear this time.
Unbleached Wax paper
Unbleached cheesecloth
Medium sized sieve

Rinse your dandelion roots gently and pat them dry. 

Try not to get the whole plant all wet as we do not want to introduce more water than we have to.  Chop the plants up into small pieces and fill your mason jar to the top.  Then take the plant material out and put it in a blender with about 1 cup of the alcohol. 

Blend it up for a good long minute.  This allows the plant material to be totally exposed to the alcohol.  Pour it back into the mason jar and top it off with alcohol, all the way to the rim of the jar.  Lay your wax paper over the top and cap tightly.  Store it on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.  Come by and shake it every day for a minute or two.  Think about how good it will be for your body!  After 2 weeks has passed it's ready to be pressed.  Lay unbleached cotton muslin over a sieve and pour the contents out into a bowl.  Wrap up the plant material in the cheesecloth and squeeze all the juicy goodness out of it.  Got it all out?  Great!  Now bottle, cap and label your Fresh Dandelion Tincture.  It's shelf stable for many years, no need to refrigerate it.
Take 3-4 dropperfuls 3 times a day as a tonic, or when you now your body needs a little "spring cleaning".

*I'll update this post with pictures in 2 weeks when I press my tincture*

Getting hungry?  Here's some fun dandelion recipes we make.


Raw Dandy-Sun Cookies (a dandy-er version of these)
1 1/2 cup cashews - soaked at least 6 hours, then drained and rinsed
1/2 cup agave (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup dandelion flower petals - be sure to remove them completely from the green collar, it's very bitter
3 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon
1 Tbs lemon Zest
1/4 cup coconut oil (slightly warmed in the sun)
1/2 cup dried unsweetened raw coconut
1 tsp vanilla or 1/2 vanilla beans seeds scooped out
dash of sea salt

Put all ingredients in your food processor except the dandelion petals.  Process until smooth.  Stir dandelion petals in by hand. 

Then drop into cookie mounds on a lined dehydrator tray. 

Dehydrate at 115 for about 5-6 hours, then flip cookies and dehydrate another few hours or until desired consistency.  Store in the fridge in an airtight container for a chewy hard cookie, or store on the counter in an airtight container for a moist cookie.  If you still want to make these and don't mind them not being "Raw", these could probably be made in an oven on low heat (maybe 300 degrees) for a few hours.  Just keep checking on them.
Of course someone was there to lick the bowl clean...


Those of you who know me, know I love ACV.  ACV?  Apple Cider Vinegar people...come on!  Worthy of it's own post, it's full of health benefits.  I add fresh dandelion flowers and leaves to give it even more of a healthy punch.  Plus it's really pretty to look at...


Dandy-Sun Vinegar
2 cups freshly harvested dandelion leaves chopped small
1 cup freshly harvested dandelion flowers (removed from stem)
Apple cider vinegar (the good raw kind - slightly cloudy, not the cheesy clear cheap stuff)  Here's what I buy.
Unbleached wax paper

Get a clean, sterile, quart sized mason jar and drop in the leaves

and flowers. 


Then pour the ACV on, all the way to the rim.  Lay a sheet of the wax paper over the top and then cap tightly.  Leave your vinegar on the counter out of direct sunlight and shake it every day.  Maybe talk to it a bit and tell it how much you appreciate all the good health benefits you'll be reaping from it...or not.  After 3 weeks have passed (4 if you're more patient than I) uncap your jar, strain the leaves and flowers out.  Bottle your new Dandy-Sun Vinegar and keep it in the fridge.  Take 2 oz a day as a detoxifying tonic, or use it for salad dressings.

Dandy-Sun Dressing
1/2 cup Dandy-Sun Vinegar
1/4 agave
1/4 cup olive oil, flax oil or hemp oil
salt
pepper

Mix well and toss with your salad.

There are a ton of wonderful recipes for using dandelion greens (we like them in our green smoothies).  My bloggy friend Kristen just posted a beautiful salad that we'll be trying later this week.  Wish I could harvest the blackberries for it too...
By the way, I am searching for these two Dandelion cookbooks:
Do you have them?  If so, can I borrow them?  I am scouring used bookstores to no avail.

On to the craft portion of this post...

Wisher Wish Catchers
Materials:
A good dandelion puff head
A piece of paper
Crayons or colored pencils
Glue
Paintbrush
A wish

First, choose a wish.  Then draw a picture representing your wish.
Paint a 50/50 glue/water mix over the picture.  Blow your Wisher seeds directly onto your picture.

Hang it and remember your wish...it just may come true!

We love the Dandelion Prints they did over at 5 Orange Potatoes.  The rocks would make great gifts for teachers!

"If Dandelions were hard to grow, they'd be most welcome on any lawn."
Andrew V. Mason

So how do you use these precious little plants?  I certainly hope you don't just mow them over now that you know how useful they are...
Artwork by Masha D'yans...love her style!

Look whoooo I made!

Picture by Jan Brett
I love owls.

One of our favorite books is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.


I know they're not considered Springtime birds, but they're still my favorite bird.  So when I signed up for the Bird Swap over at Bits of Goodness, of course little hooters were what I wanted to make.

I had found this pattern for knit owls over at Ysolda a while back and made one to attach to a little scarf I made for a 2 year old's birthday. 





I thought some cute hair clips would be fun for the swap.  Then I remembered that not everyone has girls.  I mean what's a little 7 year old boy going to do with a hairclip?  So I changed my mind and made little notebooks. 



My daughter has been spending time at night doodling and "writing" in her notebooks by the light of her crystal salt lamp.  She loves this quiet time...I think she feels like she's staying up late or something.  Ha! 
I just knit up the little owls, sewed them to wool felt squares and added the paper...done!



I like how they turned out although I wish I had some lovely handmade paper to put in them instead of boring old cardstock. 

Have you ever made your own paper?  I loved the seed paper tutorial at The Long Thread, but I haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

If you like to make natural toys/crafts, then fly on over to Bits Of Goodness and join our crafty group.

Hoot!

Five


5.
5 is big.
5 is huge.
5 is a child.
I'm ok with it, really I am.  It's just big, you know?
My little F is 5.



So...we celebrated all weekend!
Do you know the perfect way to start off a birthday weekend? 

I mean, besides Birthday Opameal (Oatmeal).

Overnight oats with raw chocolate pudding on top

Why going on A Faery Hunt of course! 



We took F and her dear friend up to Griffith Park to hunt for faeries.  I had been wanting to do this for years, but I'm glad I waited.  She was the perfect age to actually enjoy this. 





The Faery Queen was her favorite character.



E enjoyed toddling after the big girls...



but she was carried for most of the time by papa.



We all had so much fun hunting for faeries we were starving when it was over.  Luckily my friend knew of a yummy vegan restaurant close by called Flore.  Oh yum.  Yum yum yum.  The fact that they have free local delivery just might entice me to move to Silverlake!
Later that evening we got to go pick up Grandma from the airport...that's always a treat! 



We all had a yummy pasta dinner prepared by papa, but the highlight was the Raw Mint-Chocolate Cream Bars by Diane over at Soap and Chocolate



I so wish I had gotten better pictures of these.  They were seriously good.  I am going to make another batch ASAP to have on hand when baby comes.  Go make some now!

Birthday Day #2 started off with a bang.  There was a special delivery the night before for a special birthday girl...2 adorable baby bunnies.



We spent a long time getting acquainted with these precious creatures, thank you Shannon and family (they hand-raised these little critters!). 



We rushed through breakfast and got to work building the planter boxes for our garden...better late than never, right? 


The bunnies enjoyed their temporary playpen.


For the family get together that afternoon, F wanted people to help her plant her flower garden, so we went to the nursery and she got to pick out all her flowers. 


Back at home we cleaned up and got to work preparing the food for the party.
F's menu:
Hobo Dinners with choice of 3 sauces
  • Thai Peanut
  • BBQ
  • Citrus Tahini
Fruit salad
Hummus and crackers
Snap peas
Lavender cream filled cupcakes (recipe found here and veganized)

What's a Hobo Dinner?  Simply chop up all your favorite veggies, add some tofu and a sauce, wrap it all up in aluminum foil and throw it on the BBQ for 10-15 min.
Instant party food!


After the flower garden was planted we had cupcakes and singing followed by a few special gifts from family and friends. 



Thank you all for coming over to help celebrate my little big girl.

Birthday Day #3 (actual Birthday!).  Today was THE day.  F had been looking forward to her birthday circle at school for well over a month now.  The day was finally here.  I got up early to bake the special birthday muffins for her class.  When she woke up she saw the Birthday Table we'd prepared for her.



Special gifts, precious photos and her birthday spiral.  She was so excited! 

On a child's birthday the whole family is invited to stay in the class and enjoy the festivities. 




We crawled through the rainbow.



We watched her birthday story.



 We shared in the birthday feast! 



I always enjoy spending time in a Waldorf Kindergarten classroom.  It's so...soothing. 

After school we ate lunch at one of F's favorite places, Kamal Palace.

Papa came home that evening with even more gifts! 



Remember my music post?  He has found a new album by Natalie Merchant that is just enchanting.  I am sure it will be a new favorite.

What a busy weekend full of friends, laughter, love and memories (all 5 years of them!).

You are 5 now, but you'll always be our little girl.

Another year around the sun...

She is here!


She is my first child.



She is my inspiration.





She is my activist.






She is my animal lover.








She is my friend.




She is my entertainment!






She is my pride and joy.





I love you little F.


Happy 5th Birthday my sweet baby girl.

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