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SHAMIAN GATE a new novella by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes is now available in paperback and e-book formats. Artwork by Sean Jun.
About the book:

For centuries it has waited.

Legend tells of a magic scroll hidden beyond the gate to protect the world from the disaster that would occur should the powerful sorcery hidden on the other side fall into the wrong hands.

Only one key can unlock the gate.

Through the ages, a secret order of monks has searched China for this key so the gate could be unlocked, and the secrets of the scroll revealed.

Traveling to the Anhui Province, Jeff and Ashley Russell know nothing of this legend, but their adoption of a Chinese orphan thrusts them into the midst of the ancient mystery.

Trapped in the heart of red China with no one to trust, they struggle to stay alive and save the boy they waited so long to call son. Drawn into the legend's black shadow, menaced by the secret order, only one thing can save them -- and the world -- from the horrors that lie in wait beyond...

The Shamian Gate.

http://amzn.to/1HLKXw4

Paperback: 150 pages

ISBN-10: 1514896427
ISBN-13: 978-1514896426

Visit Fulbright and Hawkes.com for more information.

Make Your Own Seasoning Salt



Make Your Own Seasoning Salt

I was making dinner preparations for tonight’s meal when I discovered my seasoning salt was low. Checked my index, and no, haven’t posted about how to make your own seasoning salt similar to Lawry’s or many other brands. So, it’s about time I provide this simple, easy to make recipe so you can stop paying money for something you can make any time you need it at home for a fraction of the “already prepared” price. This recipe yields about 14 ounces.


Supplies:

Recycled container or jar with tight lid – 16 ounces or bigger
8 TBS Salt
6 TBS Black pepper
5 TBS Paprika
1 TBS Onion Powder
2 TBS Garlic Powder
Tablespoon measure

Use a recycled seasoning salt container or similar container if you want a shake top. In the absence of a shake top container, a jar such as a mason jar, etc with a screw top lid will work just as well. Your container should hold at least 16 ounces as you will need room to shake and mix the seasoning salt.


Put all of the ingredients into the container.

Close the container and shake well. I like to cover mine with a towel or napkin while shaking it, and shake it over the sink, to reduce leaking the powder all over. Also, on more than one occasion in my 24 years of making this seasoning salt, the lid has popped off mid-shake. If it pops off over the sink, you will have less mess to clean up…but hold tight to that lid and container!

There you have it: Seasoning Salt.


You can find other recipes, ideas, and projects here in my Index: http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/180046.html
Handcraft Your Own Versatile Herbal Healing Salve


Some time ago I grew tired of using products with ingredients so complicated I had to sit down at the computer to define the chemicals listed. I decided then if I can’t pronounce the word, I probably didn’t want to put it in me, on me, or anywhere around me. Additives, preservatives, artificial colors, chemically-based fragrances – most are all unnecessary! But with a small herd of children, a husband, and myself to look after, what was I to do? Bug bites, rashes, dry skin, wounds: they all needed topical ointments and salves. Already growing and drying my own herbs to create medicinal teas, I started researching the herbs necessary to make a topical, herbal salve that would take care of most skin ailments without drenching my family in toxic waste. This salve recipe is the result of my researching and experimenting. I have used it on all sorts of rashes, eczema, sunburn, insect bites and stings, seasonal dry skin, unexplained itches, scratches and cuts, and have even applied it to small spider veins. If you don't have the time to make this salve for yourself, I sell it in my Ebay store, FARMHOUSE FAVORITES.

Herbal Property Definitions

Analgesic: relieves pain
Antibacterial: destroys bacteria or slows the growth of bacteria
Antifungal: prevents or diminishes the growth of fungi and yeasts
Antihistamine: reduces or blocks allergic reactions
Anti-inflammatory: reduces swelling
Antioxidant: reduces or stops damage to cells
Antiseptic: disinfectant
Antiviral: kills or reduces viruses
Astringent: contracts the skin, blood vessels, etc in order to reduce bleeding or to close pores


Herbal Ingredients Defined

Calendula is a flowering herb from the daisy family, Asteraceae. If you’re allergic to the daisy family, omit Calendula in your topical salve. It is included as an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral and astringent. It’s good for all sorts of topical skin issues.

Lavender is an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic flowering herb with fragrant properties. Lavender should not be used while pregnant or breast feeding as it is a uterine stimulant.

Goldenseal is also an antibacterial herb, as well as an anti-inflammatory, antifungal and astringent. Goldenseal should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding as it has been shown to cross to the placenta and the antibacterial properties are too powerful for the developing fetus. It can also cause premature contractions in pregnancy.

Nettle, also called Stinging Nettle, is an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine containing herb. It tightens skin tissues and reduces irritation.

Comfrey is a mainstay in many country households. It’s known for being an anti-inflammatory, an astringent, and it aids in rapid cell regrowth and lessens scarring. Comfrey should not be used while pregnant or breast feeding as studies have shown liver damage to the fetus. Comfrey should never be applied to any wound exhibiting signs of infection. Because it causes rapid cell regrowth and healing, Comfrey may cause the wound to heal and close before the infection can drain.

Mullein is from the snapdragon family and serves a whole list of functions: analgesic, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It is also a skin softener.

Elder Flowers, from that wonder bush, the Elderberry, serves as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and analgesic. There is some controversy about the safety of using anything Elderberry-related during pregnancy. Check with your doctor or midwife before using.

Echinacea is a plant in the daisy family, Asteraceae. People with allergies to the daisy family should leave the flowers, leaves, stems and roots of this plant out of this topical salve. It provides analgesic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Chamomile has many uses beyond a soothing, sleep-inducing tea! Topically, chamomile has antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding because there is insufficient data to prove if it is safe for fetus/infants and it is a uterine stimulant. Chamomile is also a plant in the daisy family, Asteraceae. Avoid if you have allergies to the daisy family.

Vitamin E is excellent for the skin as it is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory capabilities. It reduces signs of aging, tissue damage, helps blood to clot, and boosts the body’s immune system.

Olive oil is known for being a “wonder” cure for the skin with its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory among other properties. It softens and protects the skin.

Beeswax, though primarily used as a thickener in the salve, also has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant characteristics. Beeswax also has a natural fragrance.

Herbal Salve Recipe and Instructions

All measurements given are for DRIED herbs.  The finished product will yield about 24 ounces of salve. Making the salve is a time-intensive, but labor-easy process. For the first month, your herbs will steep in olive oil to create“infused oil”. In a pint canning jar (or 16 ounce jar), combine the following dried herbs. I like to grind my herbs as fine as possible to increase their potency, but it’s not necessary. Pour the olive oil over the herbs. Seal the jar and place in a sunny window for at least one month. Shake the jar daily to stir up the herbs.

1 TBS Calendula
½ TBS Lavender
½ TBS Goldenseal
½ TBS Nettle
1 TBS Comfrey
½ TBS Mullein
½ TBS Elder Flowers
½ TBS Echinacea
½ TBS Chamomile
2 cups Olive oil (approximately)

Items required after the oil has infused:
Clean jar (16 oz or larger)
Double boiler pan
Muslin (cheesecloth is not fine enough)
Rubber band
Spoon
10 drops Vitamin E oil
1 cup shredded beeswax
Clean, recycled containers or new containers (recycled face cream jars, etc. New containers can be purchased online and in craft stores)


Once the month has passed, secure a piece of muslin over another jar with a rubber band. The muslin should be loose so it forms a “pocket” where the infused oil will be poured in order to strain it. Pour the infused oil along with the spent herbs into the muslin pocket over the jar. Use a spoon to stir the oil/herbs as it drains into the jar below.


When you have gently pressed the oil from the herbs on top of the muslin, carefully remove the rubber band and gather the muslin in a bunch. Squeeze the muslin/herbs to extract as much oil as possible into the jar. Compost the herbs. (The great thing about this project is your hands will be very soft when you’re finished!)


Bring the water in the lower section of a double boiler pan to a boil.  To the empty top section of the double boiler pan, add the strained infused oil. Add 10 drops of Vitamin E oil to the infused oil. You can buy Vitamin E oil online, from health food stores, and in some grocery stores.  Add 1 cup shredded beeswax. Stir gently until the wax has melted.


Test the firmness of your salve: pour 1 tablespoon of the liquid salve into a container and place it in the freezer for 2 minutes. If it seems very runny, add up to 1/8 cup shredded beeswax to the liquid salve (stir until melted) and retest.


Pour the salve into your clean containers. I boil my containers to sterilize them. The salve will shrink as it sets up, so top off the containers of salve with a little more salve until level/full. Place lids on the containers. I put my containers onto a cookie sheet and place them into the refrigerator to set up. They will set up without cooling, but it will take longer. Store the finished salve in the refrigerator if you want a firmer salve. When stored at room temperature, the salve will be more like an ointment.  This herbal healing salve is FOR TOPICAL USE ONLY. Refrigerated salve will last about a year and non-refrigerated salve about 6 months.

I add an adhesive label to the lid and a label listing the ingredients to the bottom of the container. You can print your own labels or use an online retailer like Vistaprint. I find the cost of colored ink to be more expensive than having them printed professionally, but your printer’s ink may be more cost effective. Of course, the labels aren’t necessary if you’re making them for personal use, but labels make the product look professional for gift giving or selling at craft fairs and other venues.

Resources: Dried herbs can be purchased online through sellers on Ebay, Etsy, Amazon and through various health food type online retailers.  If the seller doesn’t clarify, ask if the herbs are grown organically for cosmetic/medicinal purposes. Some sellers grow herbs for use in potpourris and sachets, and you want to make sure you’re getting medicinal/organic grade herbs. Most of these herbs are easy to grow and if you intend on making multiple batches of salve, you might want to try your hand at growing and drying some of the herbs.  Any type of olive oil works, but the more virgin the oil, the lighter in color your salve will be. The color does not alter the quality of the salve. Beeswax can be purchased in the same places mentioned for dried herb suppliers. Wax can be purchased in solid blocks, as pellets, as pastilles (little “drops), in bead form, and in sheets. I tend to buy a big 2 pound block of beeswax every few months to use in various herbal projects.  Generally, the wax blocks are the least expensive option because you have to do the work of shredding it. I shred my wax with a vegetable grater that I reserve solely for my herbal projects. Store dried herbs and beeswax in cool, dark places. Dried herbs should be stored in airtight containers.

As with all herbal products and remedies, results may vary according to how you processed, mixed and created the salve. This salve is not intended to replace the diagnosis or advice from your doctor. If you are prone to allergies, always consult your doctor before applying or using an all natural, herbal product such as this salve. Results of herbal products such as this salve will vary according to each individual person's specific body, etc.

Look for other useful tips and projects in my journal index! http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/180046.html


My article, "Easy to Make Reusable Coffee Filters" is in the new May/June #153 issue of Backwoods Home Magazine. You can pick up a print or kindle copy on Amazon, or through the Backwoods Home Magazine website. Look for my future article on Forever Gift Bags! The article can also be read online on the Backwoods Home Magazine website as well.

Look for other useful tips and projects in my journal index! http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/180046.html

How to Make Brown Sugar


Yesterday, I was baking a cake and discovered I was out of brown sugar. Not a big deal, just a bit of a nuisance. The discovery went a little something like this:

Me (taking lid off canister): Oh, shoot! I’m out of brown sugar.
Kiddo #2: Can you still make the cake? (worried expression)
Me: Yes. I just have to make the brown sugar first, then get on with the cake making.
Kiddo #2: You can make brown sugar?

At this point in the conversation, I had not only discovered I was out of brown sugar, but that I had also been remiss in my teaching/child rearing as my child did not know she/I could make brown sugar.

I quickly remedied both situations. Then I wondered if maybe other people also don’t know how easy it is to make brown sugar. So, voila, blog post! Brown sugar is made from molasses and white (table sugar, granulated sugar) sugar. That’s it. Dark brown sugar has more molasses in it than light brown sugar.


Supplies:
Molasses
White Sugar
Bowl, fork, measuring spoons


Light Brown Sugar

Mix 1 cup white sugar with 2 tablespoons molasses in a bowl with a fork until all of the molasses is mixed in with the white sugar. It will be lumpy. Smoosh the molasses/sugar lumps onto the side of the bowl and keep on beating away with the fork until it turns into brown sugar.

Dark Brown Sugar

Mix 1 cup white sugar with 3 tablespoons molasses. Follow the instructions for light brown sugar.

And that's all there is to it. Store your homemade brown sugar in an airtight container just like you would store bought brown sugar. The only difference is in the price!



Look for other useful tips and projects in my journal index! http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/180046.html



Things fall apart—Bruce Davenport knows this all too well.

On the heels of his wife's death, laid-off and penniless with an eviction notice on the door, the only thing left for him and his four-year-old son Cody is Bruce's childhood home, secluded deep within Ozark forests, haunted by the ghosts of his past.

After he receives a strange phone call from his dying mother, who has lived alone in the house for the past 15 years, Bruce reluctantly returns to the estate with his son.

But they soon find that something else dwells in the home, in the earth, in the woods. Unseen things are out for vengeance and blood. If they can survive the night, they may just find out what truly lies within the walls of…Elderwood Manor

Buzz for Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes's ELDERWOOD MANOR:

“A very dark and atmospheric horror novella with strong undertones of H.P. Lovecraft. The story took me back to the way horror was approached a long time ago … there is evil here. Everyone knows that it is there. The problem is that no one, either in the story or the reader, seems to know exactly what that evil is. This makes it even more frightening and is a subtlety often missing from modern horror … very scary.” –Josef Hernandez for The Examiner

“This short novella is packed to the brim with great atmosphere, strange creatures, and wall-to-wall scares.” –Nick Cato, editor of The Horror Fiction Review

“If you are looking for something that keeps you turning the pages quickly and that will creep you out in many ways, I highly recommend this.” –On Top Down Under Book Reviews

Sewing Reusable Eco-Friendly Produce Bags

Sewing Reusable Eco-Friendly Produce Bags

You’re standing in front of that huge roll of flimsy plastic bags. You’ve licked your fingers, you’ve savagely clawed at the roll, and you finally resort to grabbing the roll and viciously yanking off the stretchy bag…only to discover that in your zeal to acquire the bag – you ripped it. Sigh! And even if you’re lucky enough to get the desired bag off the roll and your produce into the bag – what are the odds you’ll make it all the way home without an apple or onion rolling from the top or bursting the bag?

In today’s environmentally conscious society, we want to reduce the pollution caused by manufacturing plastics and other disposable products. In addition to reducing pollution, consumers are eager to also reduce the litter and waste that these products create. How many plastic bags are buried in landfills? According to the Clean Air Council, Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every 5 SECONDS. 1 billion bags a year. 30,000 tons of plastic bag waste in landfills annually that will take about 500-1000 YEARS to completely degrade. That’s a lot of plastic.

People have been shopping for centuries without the use of plastic bags and have survived just fine. Leather or fabric bags, baskets, and wood crates have carried groceries and products from one spot to another. Plastic bags were introduced as a “convenience” for the shopper – but with the rise of floating bags littering our towns and cities, and the cost of burying these bags in landfills – how much is that convenience really costing us?

You can sew environmentally friendly produce bags on a simple sewing machine using a straight stitch. You don’t need a fancy machine to create a nice looking bag. The bag can be simple or you can add a casing for a drawstring. Adding a plastic toggle can add the security of a “lock” to keep your drawstring closed so your produce stays inside.


What you need:

Muslin or mesh apprx 2 rectangles, 13-inches wide x 18-inches long
Thread
Straight pins
Scissors
Iron & Ironing board
Cotton cord or twill tape - 30-inches long
2- Safety pins
Plastic/metal spring toggle

Place the 2 muslin or mesh rectangles together. Since both sides are identical, you don’t have to worry about an “inside out” side. Pin.

Using a straight stitch with a ¼-inch seam allowance, sew the right and left sides and one end. The end not sewn will be the “top” of the bag where the opening will be.

Turn bag right side out. If you want you can stop here and you have sewn a reusable bag. Or you can continue on with this article to create a more durable, long-lasting bag. Don’t want to make your own bags but really really really WANT the bags? Click here to buy a set in my Ebay Store (Farmhouse Favorites).



Iron your bag. You are going to “French Seam” your bag so the inside will look as nice as the outside and the double seaming will make your bag stronger. Your bag should be right side out but this will soon be the inside of the bag after you’ve finished sewing the seams again.



Using a straight stitch, and a 1/4 to ½ seam allowance (I find that wider seams sometimes are stronger) sew the left, right and bottom of the bag along the seams.

Iron the bag. Once again, you can stop here and have a stronger, finished reusable produce bag. Or you can continue on to sew a casing and insert a drawstring.

Fold over the top edge of the bag’s opening ¼-inch. Pin and sew using zig zag or straight stitch. (The photo shows a christmas fabric bag -- same step however). This is the hem.  Fold the hemmed top edge over 1-inch and pin the edge to the bag fabric. This will be the casing for the drawstring. After sewing, you will insert the drawstring through the “tunnel” you will be sewing.


Using a straight stitch and a ¾-inch seam allowance, sew the pinned edge, removing pins as you sew.  Leave a ½-inch “gap” or opening unsewn for insertion of the drawstring.



Iron the casing to set the seams and create a crisp finish to the bag’s top.  In the photos I sewed a second decorative seam to add to the aesthetic value of the produce bag.



Fasten a safety pin to one end of your cord or twill tape and attach it to the outside of the opening you left in the casing (this will keep your cord from disappearing into the casing while you’re feeding it through). Fasten a safety pin to the other end of the cord.



Insert the free end of the cord/safety pin into the casing and feed it through until it re-emerges from the opening. Pull the cord ends and adjust the casing/bag so the cord ends are even. The photo shows a christmas bag with the same step.


You can tie a knot to the cord ends or you can insert the ends through a plastic toggle, and then tie the knot. The knot will keep your cord from coming out of your produce bag. Toggles can be purchased from craft, sewing and most fabric stores.  I buy mine on ebay in bulk.


Voila! You have a finished produce bag. The instructions sound more complicated than it really is. Everyone knows what a simple bag is – and that’s all you’re making. It can be as easy or advanced as you wish to make it. Either way, you have an environmentally friendly, reusable bag that you can bring your produce home from the store in and know you are not contributing to the pollution of our planet.



Look for other useful tips and projects in my journal index! http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/180046.html

elderwood_manor


Elderwood Manor, our new Fulbright & Hawkes novella due out in July from DarkFuse, is now available for Pre-order. 15% off retail price if you pre-order now and your card will not be charged until July. http://www.darkfuse.net/preorder-elderwood-manor-ceremony-of-flies/

ELDERWOOD MANOR by Christopher Fulbright & Angeline Hawkes

Things fall apart—Bruce Davenport knows this all too well.

On the heels of his wife’s death, laid-off and penniless with an eviction notice on the door, the only thing left for him and his four-year-old son Cody is Bruce’s childhood home, secluded deep within Ozark forests, haunted by the ghosts of his past.

After he receives a strange phone call from his dying mother, who has lived alone in the house for the past 15 years, Bruce reluctantly returns to the estate with his son.

But they soon find that something else dwells in the home, in the earth, in the woods. Unseen things are out for vengeance and blood. If they can survive the night, they may just find out what truly lies within the walls of…Elderwood Manor.

Make Your Own Household Powdered Cleanser Shaker

One of the hardest things about making your own products from scratch often is the container or mode of delivery not equaling those of manufactured store-bought items. Let’s face it. Most containers, boxes, bottles, etc of store-bought items have nifty details that make cleaning, cooking, or whatever you’re doing, easier and more effective. So, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, that leaves you with 2 choices: either buy a product with a reusable container that you can use when the initial product is gone  (I have purchased products JUST for the container) or make something that will do the job.

This household powdered cleanser shaker is easy and fast to make from an empty cleanser container. If you never, ever purchase a store-bought cleaner, have a friend or family member save an empty container for you.  All you need is a mason jar, a ring (you can reuse rings that are no longer suitable for canning), a can opener, and an existing powder cleanser shaker container. I’ve also included a quick and easy recipe for an all-purpose household cleanser powder.


What you need:

Mason Jar
Jar canning ring
Can opener
Powder Cleaner Shaker Container with METAL top – Empty

Clean the top of the empty powder cleaner container.


Use a can opener to cut the metal shaker top from the can. For most cardboard type powder cleaner containers, the can opener cuts the shaker top to the exact measurements of the top of a regular mouth mason jar (I used a pint jar, 16 ounces). Be careful. The container lid may be sharp.


Place the metal shaker top on top of a mason jar.


Screw down the ring.

Easy Household All-Purpose Powdered Cleanser

1 cup baking soda
1 cup table salt
1 cup borax

Mix well. Use as you would any all-purpose powdered household cleaner.

Look for other helpful, handy projects in my Index of Entries: http://angelinehawkes.livejournal.com/180046.html

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