Friday, November 30, 2012

Homemade Chritmas gifts, gratitude

  It's the time of year we think of how blessed we are compared to others.  I have been blessed all my life, God gave me 5 wonderful children, 6 adorable grandkids and 2 just great grandkids. Along with sisters I love, and parents that I miss everyday.  I have also had 2 husbands in my life, the first was the father of 3 of my kids, for that gift I could never be grateful enough! And the 2nd gave me my last child, and 35 years of happiness. Th e hardest part of being blessed is letting go of those you love and just keeping them in your heart forever. We will never know why things happen as they do in our lives, but God does have a plan, and we are just trying to follow it to the best of our ability. I am grateful to have found a way to be helpful with my church family, by keeping in touch with cards and phone calls, and working with the Agency on Aging, calling seniors who live alone and need a little companionship on a regular basis. Spending a couple days a week talking to them is good for me too.
  Life has not been easy, my parents struggled to keep us going most of our lives. Dad worked as a printer when I was very young, and saved the wooden rollers from the newsprint. He took them home, cut them into various sized slices, painted them and made me building blocks for Christmas one year, they were great. Mom would find a doll at the good will, and fix it up and make clothes. I felt so lucky. Funny how you remember the lean years as some of the best. This year, we are only gifting the smallest, under 8 or so babes in the family and the rest we will give cards, e mails, pictures and maybe handmade things. Means so much more, and it is after all, Christ's birthday so remembering that, going to church and being grateful is more than enough!
  Ok, do you have a special child you need a gift for? Ran across a site on Pinterest that features all kinds of hand made for kids things, and loved this one, home made play dough. If you made a batch in 4 colors, red, blue, green and yellow, and put each into a nice tight closing container, what kid would not have fun with it. And its easy and cheap.
   In a sauce pan put 1 and 1/2 cups of flour
                               3/4 cup salt
                               1 and 1/2 cups water
                               1 tablespoon of oil(cooking)
                               1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
                               food color to suit
   Mix and stir, cook until no longer looks like batter, but sticks together and stays. should take 5 to 8 minutes. cool sightly, knead and place in containers. I would go for ones that have sealable lids, nice gift.
  How about a container of energy bites, pumpkin for this time of year.
    Pumpkin Energy Bites
 8 ounces chopped dates
1/4 cup honey or agave
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon of chia seeds or wheat germ
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 cup of quick oats
1 cup chopped nuts
 Mix first 5 ingredients together in food processor,  move to bowl and add the rest. Chill, make into balls.  Easy.
 I spent some days last week making seasoned salt, hot pepper and paprika, and Herbs de Provence. Plus face cream, body scrub and soap. Being a rather sloppy person, the kitchen took a beating. But now it's clean again and lots of jars of pretties are done.  Still have cookies to make, but waiting til just a few days before Christmas for those, they will be truffles.
  The joy is in the doing and giving. I am praying for decent weather the week before Christmas, so I can travel to NE to see my new grand daughter and of course, my 3 year old grand daughter that I have so much fun with. And the rest of my family, sisters , son and daughter in law , nieces and nephews, daughter in Il and grandsons there. And if I am lucky, my grand daughter and great grand babes in IL.
  Hope your Holiday season is full of love, gratitude and Happiness. Final thought, for wounded warriors recovering  from injuries, address an extra Christmas card to:  A Recovering American Soldier
                               c/o Walter Reed Army Hospital
                               6900 Georgia Ave
                               NW Washington, DC, 20307-5001
 I plan on sending several, we do owe them so much!
  Turn on the Christmas music, get your cards done and give thanks for having a home, food and family. Love to all!
 One last thought. Watched a Christmas movie last night that made me cry, called Christmas Snow. About a father and daughter.  Dad walked out on her when she was 10. She nearly hit him with her car at Christmas when she was grown, ended up taking him home with her. He convinced her that bearing a grudge was such a waste of time and living, turns out he was dead and she got a bonus few days with him, snowed in. She ended up traveling back to see her mom, that she had not seen in years, and forgiving in her heart all the hurts she had carried for so many years. What a great movie, if you find it listed, try and watch it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

More tips for Healthier Living, tooth whitener, house freshener, hand soap

  Are you stuffed with turkey, pumpkin pie and all the fixings?  I had a small lunch, sweet potato, lima beans and some turkey, and a bit more for supper as I was the recipient of a delivered dinner. Part of the meals on wheels program. I helped with it too, got the folks needing the meal contacted before hand. Hope they all enjoyed their dinner. Nice to be part of such a good organization.
  Well, I have never shopped at Williams Sonoma, but this week I read on a blog how they keep the store smelling fab. If you want to try, it's easy. Put a pot of water on your stove, bring to a boil, then lower to your lowest setting and add a sliced lemon,  a few springs of fresh rosemay, or lacking that, a few spoons of dried, and a splash of vanilla. Just let it simmer.
   I ran out of hand soap this week, being quite a few miles from town, a trip in for just one item is really silly. And a container of refill soap runs about $4.00.  So did some looking on line and found a lot of recipes for home made liquid hand soap. So easy and cheap, just grate a bar of soap into 8 cups of water, add 2 tablespoons of glycerin and  a few drops of essential oil of your choice for scent. If it seems too watery, add a little sea salt to thicken it. I used a bar of hand made soap, yogurt and rassouli, plus a little of a bar of hand made peppermint I had left over, so didn't need to add scent. It works well, and cost nothing except a little time. In case I forgot, you do need to cover the pot and let it set overnight before storing in containers, labeled "hand soap."  This can be made using any kind of soap you like, Dove,  castile,  or home made. 
  If you have tried  teeth whiteners and not had much luck, try this. Use about as much of your toothpaste as would cover your brush, put it in a small container and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. Mix well, use a small amount and brush for a full 2 minutes.  Use this one time per week until your teeth are as white as you want them, then only use once a month to maintain the whiteness.
  I was watching the Doctors this week and they all agree if you are prepping your foods from scratch, you need to add a small amount of iodized salt to your foods. If you use commercially prepared food, they are always loaded with added salt. Of course if you suffer from kidney problems or high blood pressure, avoid that salt altogether.
  And now a spoiler. Did you know that your salad dressings that are white in color, like ranch, blue cheese etc, get that white color largely from titanium dioxide?  That is a product used in sunscreen, can you image just adding sunscreen to your salad? Make your own dressings, they are easy and healthy.
 If you are looking for good ideas and recipes for natural housekeeping, I found two new sites this week, The Farmers nest, and Homestead Revival. Check them out, you can subscribe, if you want their ongoing tips and recipes.
 And now Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the next four weeks until Christmas will go so fast we won't believe it. Most of you are thinking shopping, decorating and all the pre prep for the next big day, Christmas. I am fortunate, our family is trying to get back to the real meaning of the holiday so except for the under 8 crowd, which are only 4 these days, we are not shopping for each other. Cards, e-mails, phone calls, visits and photos are our requests. We all have way more than we need in t he way of "things" so why pile in more ? And we all know we can't take it with us.
  Hoping your holidays are peaceful, warm and blessed. Til next time.

Friday, November 16, 2012

GMO bill defeated? NO! Fall cooking Thanksgiving

  Just found out it looks like the bill to make labeling GMO's a law has been defeated, and the companies that helped buy that vote are some I rely on, Silk, Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Muir Glen, Morning Star, even Orville Redenbacher if you eat popcorn. So now we have to boycott their products until they undo their votes. Here is a website you can use to get more information,  I think we all have the right to know what poisons are being put into our foods, and have the right to choose options for better health.
   If you have never thought of it, the best things to eat to stay healthy are one ingredient products.
  It's been a rewarding week, have been working with a local agency to contact folks needing Meals on Wheels Thanksgiving dinners delivered, made about 100 calls to set these up. talked to a lot of nice folks this week. Last year I went to help fix those meals, we did over 200.  Nice to feel like ya have made a contribution to your communty.
  Found another good use for empty toilet tissue rolls this  week, been wrapping Christmas gifts to mail to my grand kids, and found that if you split the  empty toilet paper roll, and slip it over the roll of paper, it really holds it together. . I have long rolled linen napkins and table cloths around those long wrapping paper rolls to keep creases from forming.
  My son came in two days ago with a huge basket of peppers, and left me a few. I will stuff some, but last night I made one of my fave dishes. In my nonstick skillet I chopped  a couple of peppers, an onion and a few fresh mushrooms. Sauteed til they were a little softened, but not mushy. then I stirred in white beans I had cooked, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a few splashes of worchesteshire sauce. Simmered it a bit til it was well combined, and supper was ready.  Had some Boston brown bread with it.
   Tonight, I am choppng an onion, some mushrooms and will cook them til almost carmelized, then add  my fresh baby spinach and a few chopped cloves of garlic. Yum, can hardly wait.  Nothing like fresh produce,  it tastes so good. Afraid we have finally had enough frost to kill out the remaining tomatoes, still have one ripening in my window, but everything looks nipped now. My sons garden has acquirred  it's winter covers, he has plastic green houses that extend the growing season most of the winter. My little garden area is not worth trying that on, I just grow a small amount, but still, I made a lot of pickles this year and had fresh zucchini to eat all summer, along with herbs and greens and tomatoes .
  Starting to think about a trip to see my new grand daughter at Christmas, it's  a long trip, and the weather is always iffy in the winter, will see what happens by then, would love to see my Nebraska kids and my sisters again. And of course, my daughter is on the way, in Illinois.
  Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with blessings and family, we do have many things to be grateful for.  I am off to start a jar of face cream, have been making this wonderful stuff for a few years now, has jojoba, and apricot kernal oils, beeswax, rosewater, a tad of borax and essential carrot seed oil. No artificial colors, scents etc, works so well. You would pay around $40.00 bucks a jar for such in a store.  Nice to have a cupbard full of organic ingredients waiting to be made into great products! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lib and I have a new adventure, pumpkin muffins, scrub

 It's been cold lately, at night, and I have added my top feather bed which traps body heat and makes a cozy nest to sleep in. Getting up in the morning is tough, know it's going to be cold when I crawl out. So this week, I reached over to pet Lib who sleeps in the small of my back to keep her warm. Something didn't feel right, uh oh, no collar. You may think this is no big deal but she is microchipped, and wears a tag that says so, also rabies tag. The collars they sell for cats these days are pop apart so if they get caught on something, they break open, avoiding choking. We have lost a collar before, usually it's caught under the bed or couch, where ever she has crawled to investigate something.  Well, got up and kicked the heat up, had breakfast then grabbed the flashlight.  Spent half an hour crawling around, taking the storage boxes out from under the bed, checking under everything in the living room, shaking curtains, no luck. It was my day to volunteer call so had to quit looking. But that nagging "where the heck is it" kept haunting me. By late afternoon I had another go at  it, checking all the places I already had, still no luck. Lib was sleeping on the bed, so I went over and sat by her, and scolded her a bit, saying "where the heck did ya loose your collar?" Well, she gets up and stretches, and what the hey, there it is, under her on the bed. All that looking on the floor, never thought to look on the bed. Ok, problem solved, collar back in place.
  Need a quick, probably unhealthy treat for a church dinner or other gathering? How about some pumpkin muffins? Take a box of yellow cake mix and stir in a can of pumpkin. Put in muffin papers in pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I could see using a spice cake, or other flavors too, and oddly enough, chocolate and pumpkin go well together.
  The peppers got a late start this year, but the past few weeks we have had an abundant supply of them. I have been roasting the red ones and freezing in individual  ziplock bags, just one of me so don't need much at a time, any way, thaw out one, make some scrambled eggs with onions, herbs etc, and stuff into the pepper half. Makes a great breakfast.
  For the first time this season, there is frost on the car. Already into the 3rd cup of coffee, but its time to get busy. Less than 2 weeks til Thanksgiving now, the holidays are upon us.  Still thinking of the folk in NY and NJ, hope their power is restored by now and they are getting resettled. I'm sure many are homeless, prayers stay with them.
 My grandson-in-law has been flown back to the states from overseas as a wounded warrior, waiting word on surgery he is to have to help him recover. For the moment he is in a wheelchair. Good luck to ya Don, thinking of you and praying for your recovery.
  Also have several church members with serious problems they are fighting, so many to think of as we are grateful for our blessings.
  Stay warm and well.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Crazy Night, Face mask, Christmas is coming

  We had a very strange night last night. By we, I mean my cat Libby and I. About 1:30 am there was a loud THONK, you know the sound a bird makes when it hits your window? Well, it sounded like that. I thought maybe it was a bat or night bird of some sort. We were all cozied up in or feather bed, which does away with the need for heat on these cold nights. So settled back in, but all of a sudden Lib was hissing and yowling and carrying on. So got up and turned on the light. Yep, in the middle of the floor was a THING. Lib had her paw on it. I couldn't get to the over head light and the lamp was not enough to let me figure out what it was. First thought was mouse. But it really didn't look like that. After a while, it didn't seem to be moving so I got the vacuum out and snarfed it up the hose. Decided to crawl back in bed, but the thing started bonking around in the vauum dust bin. Lib was going nuts. Tried to sleep but kept having nightmares about something being in bed with me. Finally gave up and got up. Needed to go to town this morning so headed out. When I got home my son came down and took the vacuum out on the porch. It was an irredescent blue treefrog.  Good golly, my doors fit tight and the windows have been shut for weeks. Must have come in with the last plant I moved in when it got cold. Sorry it died, would not have hurt anything. Glad it was not a multiplying mouse.
  Got a face mask I think you will like. Was making a pumpkin pie this week and took out 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin(pie never missed it). Added 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, you know me, the organic grainy kind, and about 1/4 tablespoon of olive oil. Mixed it well and put in a container in the frig. Before heading to bed, take some out and massage it into your face, like a scrub. Let it dry at least 5 minutes. Then rinse off. Your skin is soft and glowing. Pumpkin is a great antioxidant. think you will be pleased  with this.
  Thinking Christmas yet? How about some of those fancy flavored coffee mixes we all like?
  1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup powdered coffee creamer ( I use my vanilla soy powdered milk)
1/2 cup instant coffee. Mix, package. If you want to vary the flavor, you can add a spoonful of cocoa, or a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to make vienna style. In a nice container with a pretty bow, you have a great stocking stuffer.
  How about a body scrub?
1/2 cup brown sugar( yep, the organic grainy one)
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/8 cup olive oil
few drops of essential oil of your choice for scent.  Put in little containers
 Our neighbors up north have had a really bad week, bad storm, lots of damage, no power for many, and lots of lost homes. We are lucky here, had some breeze and misty rain. The higher elevations got 4 feet of snow, but not a flake here. Could see the snow coming home this morning, pretty but not my favorite thing.
  Are you ready for the time change tomorrow? And in 3 weeks the holidays begin. Hope you stay warm and snug and well. Til next time