Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grandkids, Ginger Ale, Bottle planters

 Yesterday I got to watch a video of my youngest  grand daughter, doing her first crawling. Aw.  The notes said she had also fallen off the couch and pulled dad's computer off the arm of the couch. Shades of Deja Vu, I remember her now almost 4 year old sister doing the same things when I was visiting 3 and a half years ago.  These are my youngest grand babies, I miss them a lot. My oldest grand daughter is married, and has two adorable kids, and her hubby is recovering from back surgery in a military hospital in Texas, due to an injury sustained in Bahrain. I hope he is recovered and able to return home soon, he has had a long time away from his family. This Grand daughter is raising the two  kids and has established her own business, the most creative cakes I have seen! Ones with mermaids, bears, just so imaginative and wonderful. She is super busy designing and creating cakes for customers. My next grandson is working at McDonald's corporate office, will be getting married soon. His brother has just started a new job at a store in Illinois, hope that goes well for him. He is so good at fixing cars and painting them. A grandson in between those two is a grad student, doing post grad studies in  forensics, very smart and studies very hard.  I am so blessed to have such a great family, my kids have done a remarkable job raising their children. I wish I could see them more often but they are between 500 and 1000 miles away, so makes that very hard to do. There are some rifts in the family I have prayed would be healed before I die, but that does not seem to be in the cards. Never the less, I feel truly blessed by all my family.
  I found a great recipe for your own home made ginger ale on a web site this last week. Ginger root is available in grocery stores in the produce section, you need to peel it and then can chop or grate it for use. I keep it in my freezer ready to go. Here is the simple recipe:
 2 lemons, cut one in half, cut the other with a thick slice out of the center, save the slice. Juice the other two parts into a pan. Add 1 cup of chopped ginger and 1 and 1/2 cups organic cane sugar. This
is is in the baking section , in a plastic jug, not hard to find.  Add 2 and 1/2 cups of filtered water and  bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain. Measure so you know how much you have, then simmer to reduce by half. Put this syrup in a jar in your refrigerator. When you are ready to drink, add 2 Tablespoons of the syrup to a glass, and pour in  1 cup of seltzer or sparkling water, stir, ice and enjoy.
 I can only do this idea if someone comes to visit and leaves water or pop bottles behind, but it's a nifty craft. You can use large size pop bottles or smaller water bottles. Cut off the top 1/3 as smoothly as possible, insert cotton cord tied in a knot so it won't slip through into the neck of the bottle, put water in the bottom of the cut off bottle, upend the cut off top half with the wick in the water, fill  the top with potting soil and plant your herbs, flowers etc . Self watering pots. You could decorate the bottles if you wanted.  A good way to recycle  some bottles that might end up I the land fill.
 I am making my first round of zucchini pickles this am, I sliced 3 medium sized zucchinis, and a medium onion, put  them in a bowl with2 tablespoons of kosher salt, ice and cold water and let them soak for 2 hours, now they are simmering in a brine of 1 cup of sugar, 1 and 1/2 cups of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon of turmeric. They simmer for 5 minutes, then are packed into canning jars and water bathed for 15 minutes. These are really good pickles, and easy to make. Have a great week,  we are looking at more rain, but it does keep the garden producing heavy, Take care til next time

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Food IS medicine, you really are what you eat. Lemon's anyone?

If you have not become pro-active about your health, I'm sorry.  It's been well proven that what you eat is what your health reflects.  At this point in life, I am trying to eat sustainable produce, no red meat, and very little chicken and fish. Protein is found in dried beans which are cheap and easy to cook, and can be tossed onto a salad or into any dish you are making. Looking for GMO free and organic products also lets Monsanto and others know you don't approve of poisoning the seeds they plant. I'm very lucky in that I have a small garden and my son has turned the side of the mountain into a large garden. Yesterday after days of rain, I was out early in the sun, picking beans, yellow and green, the first zucchini  of the season(oh boy, pickles soon) and a wealth of fresh herbs, basil, thyme, oregano, mint, chives, and I have yarrow drying for winter cough and flu ailments.  Supper last night was a tasty sauté of zucchini, onions, garlic tomatoes and fresh thyme and basil. My son's garden afforded me some Yukon gold potatoes, garlic and onions, and a lot of lettuce.  So I added a potato salad to the veggies. I will be freezing as much as possible, and canning after the freezer is full, but it looks like all the early rains have made the gardens go crazy.
  I subscribe to a magazine called Mother Earth, it gives me so many good thoughts, and I want to share an article in the new one. Its another item to watch for in the foods you buy, says: Concentrated milk protein, known as MPC's, next time you shop, check ingredients in yogurt, cheese,  and frozen dairy products.  Made when milk is put through an ultra filtration system to remove all liquid,  concentrated milk protein is a high protein additive used to artificially thicken dairy products rather than use a lengthy natural process. Problem is, this is being imported from foreign countries and is putting our dairy farmers out of business.
  This is not a problem for me as I have not used real dairy in 40 years, much prefer plant based soy or almond milk. No cholesterol problems etc with it, and love the taste. Also does away with many stomach problems, as many people are allergic to milk and don't realize that.
  Let's talk lemons, bet you had no idea how many things a lemon could do. They are excellent grease cutters, add some to your dish pan or baking items to help soak off grease, can be put on a grease stained clothing item, let sit over night and wash to remove stain.
 If you have copper bottom items, squeeze lemon juice on and add a sprinkle of salt, and scour to a shine.
 Put some lemon peels down your disposal to get rid of food odors.
 Lemon can whiten your clothes, just add a healthy squeeze or two to your laundry load,  it brightens and of course leaves a fantastic citrus scent.
 It's good for your hair too, leaves a nice shine. Having white hair, I am not sure if I would try it, but the younger ones might find it useful.
 Good for sore throats, just add to hot tea and sip.
 And of course if you cut into an avocado, peach etc, rub a little on the left over piece to prevent browning til you use the next day.
 Lastly, a clear glass bowl of these lovelies makes a charming table decoration. oh of course, I should not forget that you can rub lemon juice on age spots to help reduce their appearance.
 Today is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Guess we will now start loosing a minute a day until we get to winter, however that is far away at the moment and I am set to enjoy some warm weather and sunshine.  My sis from Nebraska and hubby will be coming this way in a few weeks, always enjoy visiting with family from home. Took a wonderful trip with them a year or so back to Myrtle Beach, we had such a good time. That's one beautiful spot. We were on the 12 th floor or so, overlooking the ocean, sunrises were spectacular.  Had not really stayed on a beach before, there is a smell you don't forget,  and watching the water is wonderful. 
  Have a wonderful week, enjoy some sunshine and fresh air, and of course time with family and friends. Take care.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Long lasting fresh strawberries, home made wipes and weed killers, sad news about stevia

 Hi all, hope you are enjoying this summer, we have had a ton of rain here, causing some trees on the upper mountain to uproot themselves and crash down, an eerie sound. Hope we dry out a little now, the garden needs some sun.  Of course, the sun means warmer temperatures, guess we can't have it all.  The cloudy, rainy days have kept us cool, and it's now mid June so we have been blessed there.
  If you have been buying or picking strawberries, I have a great tip to make them stay fresh for a very long time. They go bad because of bacteria on the berries, so when you get them, do this. In a large bowl put several tablespoons of white vinegar, and add water to be enough to cover your berries. Place them in the bowl and let soak for 20 minutes, then rinse well to remove the vinegar. You can take the leaf off now, and cut them up ready for use, they will keep much longer than if you just washed them in water.
  There was an article on stevia on Facebook this week, I hope you got to see it.  We have grown stevia here, my son has dried it and we have processed it into a powder. It's green of course. And leaves dregs in the bottom of your glass if you sweeten tea etc with it. However,  what you buy is highly processed with chemicals to make it white. Some of it has added sucrose, and some has other additives you don't want to ingest. I buy mine from Swanson and find it to be mostly pure, but it is still white. So think I will start steeping the dried leaves in organic vodka, strain and keep in frig to use as a liquid. Always has to be a way to rain on our parade, we think we are doing something good and get surprised.
  Need some weeds killed in your driveway or on your sidewalk?  In a large bottle, like an empty quart vinegar jug, put 1 cup of salt, and fill the jug with white vinegar, adding  a good squirt of dish soap.  Use this on a hot day, with no rain.  Just pour it on the weeds.
 From a site called DIY natural, I found a good recipe that can save you between $70.00 and $100.00 bucks a year on those wipes we use to disinfect our surfaces. Save your old t shirts, cut them into squares about 8 by 8 inches, be sure they are clean of course. In a quart mason jar,  put 3/4 cup of filtered water, from your faucet if you have a filter, 3/4 cup white vinegar, 15 drops of lemon essential oil, and if you wish 8 drops of lavender essential oil for a nice scent. Stir, and put the cloths in the jar, shaking well.  Keep stored in a dark cupboard. After use, rinse the cloth and toss in wash, when it's clean and dry add back to jar. Easy as pie, and saves you a bundle.
   Lastly today, if you have wood furniture with scratches, put 3/4 cup of canola oil and 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a jar, stir well, apply to scratch, do not wipe off, it will soak into wood and cover the scratch. I might make a smaller amount, would not use that much in a hurry.  Unless you are using it on all your kitchen cabinets or the like.
  Just received a dish of fresh blueberries, from my son's garden, huge things, all the rain  maybe.  Look so good. Hope you are also getting your share of the fresh summer produce, we will miss it come winter.  Time for all that freezing and canning stuff but hey, it is so worth it. Take care, have a good week, see you soon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mountain Memories, and ok, now I have officially lost it

Last Sunday my kids from NE arrived for a visit, son, daughter in law and two youngest grand kids, 7 months and 3 and a half years old.  We had such a fun week,  Monday we stayed home and I got to play with the girls. Tuesday we went to Bybee ,TN and the Safari Park.  You drive through a wilderness park and get up close and personal with all kinds of critters, who are trained to know tourists come with buckets of food so if your windows are open, they have their heads in there looking for goodies.  My son's car left with zebra, bison and deer nose prints on the windows and on the car, but it was a fun morning. Stopped at Grill 73 for lunch.  Next day we headed to Ripley's Aquarium, in Gatlinberg, that's an impressive place. Saw so many different forms of water life, Erin petted a string ray. Lunch at Bubba Gump's. And Thursday we drove to the foothills of the Smokies, great view and some good shots  of my oldest and youngest sons and grand daughter standing in front of the Smoky Mountain Range. Lunch that day was at Carver's Apple Orchard. W e had some great evenings visiting with my son and daughter in law that live here, and their 2 big dogs. But the time came to an end, and Thursday night I visited with my daughter in law while she packed. I should point out that I have a cat, about 7 years old, who has been my companion since my husband died. She is set in her ways and expects combing at night and her treats. So I got in a late combing and put the comb on the headboard. Morning came, and breakfast and packing the car took over, and the great week ended as the kids headed home.  How quiet the house was again.  That evening, I headed for the bedroom to give cat her combing. Could not find the comb. Moved everything I could looking for it, even got down and looked under the bed thinking it might have fallen off. Spent the next few days looking, finally went to Walmart and thought I would just get a new one. Well, duh, they didn't have any like that, it's a flea comb but does a good job of removing her under fur so she doesn't eat it all. Decided it had to be under the bed somewhere, so this morning got up and stripped the bedding, and moved the mattress and box springs. Oh my, it did need a good vacuuming, but no comb was there. Well, the bedroom is very clean, used mattress refresher and put on clean sheets. And then I went to unplug the vacuum, and as I leaned down, there on the bookshelf was the lost comb.  I was laughing out loud, because I had to have passed by it dozens of times the last 5 days and never saw it, right there under my nose.  I have a nice fresh bedroom and the lost is found.
Sometimes I wonder about  my head, guess most days it functions ok, but there are days.  Hope you had a good week, too, mine was extraordinary!