Friday, October 31, 2014

Harvesting The Last of the Lavender


I have been putting it off.... schedule is too busy... but with a hard freeze coming, I was spurred to get the rest of the harvest in. I sure didn't want all of that lovely and great smelling lavender to go to waste... to freeze out in the gardens.  So, I took my huge stainless steel bowl and a pair of scissors to the garden. I live in the city, so I don't have rows and rows of my herbs, but I have them tucked here and there. For the lavender, I have a few different kinds and I harvested the rest of all of them.



There is more in this bowl than it looks like... I am so glad that I didn't lose all of this. :)

I love using herbs... there are so many ways to do so... in teas, sachets, tinctures, salves and more.

It is pleasant to have them drying and releasing some of their wonderful fragrance into the air.

I


This is one of the types of lavender... the nice thing about having different types of lavender is that they look a bit different, some flower at different times ... and the scents are also a bit unique... some are strong and robust in their scent, while others are soft and gently scented.


A different type of lavender than the picture above. Sorry that I can't tell you the name of each type... I am getting better at it, but am still dependent on labels. :) 

I kept the same kinds of lavender together and put them into bundles which I held together with rubber bands. I seem to go through a LOT of rubber bands at this time of year. :)  


After cutting all of these and bringing them into the house, the smell was wonderful. :)

You can dry these in several ways... one is to use a dehydrator, another is to bake them, at a very low temperature, in the oven. They can also be put into a paper bag... this helps to save any seeds that may fall off as they dry....... or my favorite method is to hang them in the house. I love the way the bundles look while hanging and the scent given off is pleasant and gives us the benefit of the herb even while it is drying. 


The bundles shouldn't be too large... they need to dry rather quickly and bundles that are too large can allow some mold to grow... which would ruin the whole bundle.

Our house tends to be a bit dry, but if you dry herbs in the house, you will want to be careful not to hang them where there will be steam or too much moisture.


After they are bundled, I hang them around the house.... they will be up for several days or a couple of weeks. By then, they will be fully dry and can be put into containers to preserve them. I use tins or glass jars. 


Yes, there are some over the mirror, some below a shelf on pegs, there are nails or holders in other rooms, and here they are just hooked to a shelf. There is sunlight that gets on this one, which is not ideal, but they won't be here too long.

 Sunlight can fade the color and the nutrients from dried herbs, so they should always be stored in closed containers. I love the look of glass jars pf herbs displayed openly in a room, but that damages the herbs... shortens their life, so I keep them in the dark... either in a tin, which blocks light or in glass containers which are kept inside my herb cabinet.  Yes, I had to have a cabinet devoted to storing herbs... it is not huge, but it is so helpful to have them all (well, mostly all) in one place.

Thank you for visiting today.... I hope you have had a good harvest of your herbs, if you have any. If not, they are not hard to grow and maybe another year you would enjoy trying some. I still have others to harvest. I also hope to dig up a couple of the plants that are not hardy here, meaning they won't last the winter outside. I want to bring them inside for the winter.... if I can remember which ones they are...  :)   I hope you have a wonderful week.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Energy Has Increased Because of Doing This....

I have been taking something new in the last few months... and it has been helping me. I have severe adrenal issues and also thyroid issues and have tried a variety of things to help, but there is certainly no magic cure.

I have tried many things that do help in a slow way and I am thankful. This has helped in a bigger way and my energy is going up little by little and I am very thankful. :) I am taking gelatin water and blackstrap molasses and I drink it together like a tea. Here it is with cheese and apples, which make a good snack.



 I have found that I need a lot of protein( it can be a help for adrenal issues)...  and I find that I do much better with a lot of protein. One source advised 24 grams of protein for breakfast... and I tried... I really did, but I cannot eat enough to make up that much protein for breakfast... it would take 4 eggs (and I am getting so that I do not like eggs after having them so often.. and there is no way I can even eat 4 eggs!) or quite a bit of beef, etc. So, though I felt a bit better... I couldn't keep it up... and I never even got up to having 24 grams of protein a day most days, let alone in the morning. However, I found that when I did extra protein for breakfast, it really did help, so I continued looking for ways to do this.

 Different brands of gelatin have varying amounts of protein.. this one has 11g of protein for each tablespoon, which is great. I am taking about a tablespoonful in the morning and a teaspoonful before bed, so even with other protein sources, I am still probably not getting 24 g every day, but that is okay.

The best way that I have found to mix it is to put a small amount of cool water in the cup and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over it.
 It starts to dissolve, but needs to also be stirred in. It will be very thick... I have used more cool water at times, so that it wasn't so thick, but then it isn't hot enough for me to drink after I add the hot water, so this amount works well for me.

My husband drinks the gelatin water just plain, but I do not like the smell of it, so I have added blackstrap molasses, which I know has many good health benefits. When I started taking this drink, I was taking it before bed and I have heard reports that blackstrap molasses can aid sleep. I suffer from insomnia which is connected with the adrenal issues, so that was a plus for me... and it did help some. These small helps were such an encouragement to me and though I did not take it regularly, I could tell that it was helping when I did.  At first, I took the gelatin as a preventative for joint issues because my husband was taking it, so I wasn't very committed to it... I didn't think I really needed it.


 Here is the thick gelatin that is all dissolved in the water.

My husband takes the gelatin for his knee.. he had a meniscus tear in his knee and was headed for surgery to "fix" it. He was in lots of pain, unable to do stairs w/o a lot of pain or the knee trying to give out on him... I drove him to and from work for weeks because his knee hurt so much when he drove, etc.

 I do things in as healthy of a way as possible and he decided to try some things, although he was very skeptical that any of it would help... we did several things for many months... gelatin water is one of those things... and he no longer limps and has actually started running again... with no surgery! This helped him to believe more in the natural ways of doing things and he has since started to take better care of his body.

 Gelatin is said to be good for joints, skin, hair and nails, digestion, a source of protein and more.... it has even been said to be of some help as an anti inflammatory.  The little packets of gelatin in the grocery store can help a little, and we used them for a while... but the gelatin found in the health food store... such as the one shown above... has helped much more and has a higher protein content. I had to pay about $19.00 for the container, I think... and it says it has 38 servings (1 tablespoon) in the container, so this is not a cheap thing, but I feel that it is really worth it to me. My energy has been so non existent for so long and I had no choice but to take long daily naps.... and severely limit activities... but now I am only taking a short nap once or twice a week... and I am doing more activities.. there has been a big improvement.


 I poured the boiling hot water into the cup with the dissolved gelatin and stirred it well... it mixes very easily at this point.

 Note:  After drinking this Gelatin/Molasses "Tea",  it is VERY important to rinse out the cup... or the bit of gelatin left in the liquid at the bottom will form a very hard layer in the bottom... especially if left overnight... yes, we have learned this the hard way. :)  It will clean out after hardened, but takes more work.


 Here is where I add the blackstrap molasses and stir it in. The amount varies. For a while, I added 2 tablespoons each time (morning and evening) so that I would get a larger amount of iron from the molasses... and it also helped my energy level ... but I became concerned about taking in that much of a sugar and didn't want to irritate or start  a candida problem, so I usually only use 1 teaspoon at a time, until I can do more research on the subject and experiment a bit. I may increase it again, but for now I am content with the progress I am seeing and do not want to unknowingly create some other kind of issue, so I am just being careful.

 Blackstrap molasses has many possible benefits - for hair, laxative effects, iron source, calcium and magnesium and other minerals and more. I have heard of people who were unable to take iron tablets because of constipation or other problems, but they did great on blackstrap molasses. If you are interested in it, you should do your own research... I am only sharing what has worked for me.. but I am not a doctor and am not advising that it will work for you. Note: Molasses and Blackstrap Molasses do not have the same benefits.. blackstrap molasses has much more good nutrition in it than regular molasses.  The blackstrap molasses that I bought.. also at the health food store... was about $7 or $8 for a 31 oz container, which should last quite a while.

 Here it is all stirred in and ready to drink. As I have been taking this combination consistently for a while, I have noticed a more stable energy level...without as many ups and downs. It is not perfect, but in my search for more energy and better health, these two things have really helped and I plan to continue them. For so long, I have found nothing that would help, so this is huge for me.  I have been able to function much better and add things to my schedule... and I have loved having some energy again, although I still have to be careful not to overdo it.  This is not the only thing I am doing for my health, but it has been a successful addition and I am so thankful to have found it. I still have down days where exhaustion hounds me all day, but I am not having as many of those at all... and I find that those days tend to be the days when I didn't have any gelatin in the morning, so it makes sense to me to continue it. I will continue my search for improved health... and for now I am so thankful for a simple and easy thing like this.

By the way, this has worked well for me... and the gelatin and other things worked well for my husband, but I am not a doctor and would never advise you to think I am saying this is some sort of "cure all".  I am just sharing what has worked well for us. It doesn't taste bad... and has become one of my "regular" teas that I drink every day or twice a day.

Sometimes there are health issues that we can face that can be quite discouraging... and it seems there is no help for them. If you are in a place like this, I hope you won't despair... God made our bodies and He knows the answers to the health issues we face and so we just keep searching and waiting on Him to show us. I feel that this is one of those areas He has allowed me to learn and I am so thankful... and I will also keep searching. Thank you for coming to my blog today and I hope that your health is good or continues to improve.



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Monday, October 27, 2014

A Sister's Gift

When we have birthday parties, they are rather simple affairs... no big parties here. We love each other and we like to spend time together, but we don't make things too elaborate. The birthday person chooses the meal, dessert and activity for the evening and we all give gifts. We don't spend a lot of money... but sometimes we buy gifts or make them. I encourage thoughtfulness and discourage throwing a lot of money at gifts.


Many times, the kids will ask if I have something they can buy from me for a sibling...like when the boys are stumped for a "girl" gift.... or when someone just doesn't know what to give. I try to watch at garage sales for special little gifts to have on hand.

I like that they care about giving each other something... the gift is not the important thing, but the love behind it is.... and the gift is fun too. :) 

Well, this son's birthday came at a super busy time... several had been sick, I was really weak and tired, etc.  My older daughter helped make the meal.. and I made the dessert. When we came to the opening of the gifts that night, this was a gift I had not seen or heard anything about. I was so surprised over this gift... and my heart was touched.  It was from our youngest daughter to one of her brothers who loves to play with the oldest brother's dog... Sherlock.
 I questioned her as to who helped her make this... no one did. I felt proud of her... and also sad that I had been too busy to help her.

I asked how she had done this... she found a board in the garage that was the right size.. and drew a picture on it.  She used a slotted screw driver to push into the wood to form the picture and then painted it... with markers. :)

She somehow made this hole in the back and it really will hold the picture on the wall... she has it deeper up inside the top, so that a screw or nail will nest up in there and stay secure. I am amazed that she figured this all out on her own. We are a family who does a lot of projects, but she has never done anything like this... or even worked in the garage. In fact, I would have said she would be unable to do it, if I had been asked.

I was so pleased with her initiative to go ahead and do something on her own, but as I said, I also feel so sad not to have been available to help her... or direct a brother to help her.  She is learning traits that I want her to learn... and she certainly put herself out to do this.  The gift is certainly precious to me... she really surprised me. By the way, Sherlock is a black lab... and she did a really good job of making the picture. I didn't even know she could draw this. Sigh. I am thankful that our kids learn what we teach them... and I am glad they take what we teach them.... and learn on their own also. :)

What a blessing to see our children grow and become capable...  Thank you for joining me today. I hope you have a wonderful week. :)





 
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls-Wow!

I have a large family and I cook and bake a lot. I also do a lot of "experimenting" and usually that leads to some new dish or way to cook something that we really like. There have been those that were not so successful, like the "Coconut Soup" which was an accident.. .the dried coconut from the Amish store looked too much like the mashed potato flakes and I was in a hurry and needed to thicken the soup... I was planning to put mashed potato flakes in and put coconut in instead.
Oh, it was pretty bad. My family valiantly ate it... and even said it wasn't "that" bad, but let me tell you... it was bad and they still tease me about making "Coconut Soup" even though that accident was several years ago. We sure laugh about it now.


This experiment, though turned out much better. I had made homemade apple butter the week before and my mind was conjuring up all different ways to use apple butter. The thought of putting apple butter in cinnamon rolls came that week. So, a few days later I tried it.







 First, I started out with my regular bread dough recipe, which you can find HERE.

Next, I floured the table and scooped the dough out onto it... my dough was not real heavy as I wanted it to be lighter this time... so it was a little bit sticky still.


 I just rolled it out... it doesn't look pretty... and I usually try to keep it more of a rectangular shape, but we had out of town company and I was in a hurry... and this was an experiment, so I just needed to get it done.

Life seems to be so busy here... I keep trying to slow things down, but it isn't working too well. Obviously, I need to work more on this... how nice to have a bit more energy to try something like this, though. :)

 I put butter on... I think the layer of butter was a little lighter than usual. Have you seen the price of butter lately?  Almost $4.00 a pound at Aldi's! We use a lot of butter here, so I am being a little more careful with it. :)
 I put a light sprinkling of white sugar and then a lighter than normal layer of brown sugar.


Here, I have already put a layer of my homemade apple butter on it. Yes, the whole thing does look like a big old bear. :)

I rolled them up.. and it was so messy. I didn't get any pictures of that step, sorry... my hands were a mess and I had already gotten flour on my camera.  Anyway, I rolled it up into one long log and it was so messy... some of the apple butter pushed as I rolled...



 I cut the cinnamon rolls and they flopped over... they were a mess! They didn't even look like regular nicely shaped cinnamon rolls... I was determined not to waste this though, so just put them in the pan. You can see they look a bit strange. I also scraped the excess apple butter off of the table and smeared it on top.
 I figured the family would eat these anyway and I would have to "go back to the drawing board" for any future attempts at making these. They just flopped over and looked awful.
 Here they are set to rise with the loaves of bread.


 I remembered that I had forgotten to put cinnamon inside the rolls. sigh. Why do I try something like this with company, painting decks and everything else going on?

There is cinnamon in the apple butter, but I wanted more, so I sprinkled cinnamon all over the top... then sprinkled cinnamon and sugar also. Hmmm..
 Here they are after rising... they look a bit better, but still not like usual.
This is the pan after baking.....rather messy.
 I made a glaze using powdered sugar, salt, butter and milk and drizzled it on with a fork. The pan of rolls was still warm.
Well, they are looking better! :)
















 My daughter cut a cinnamon roll for each person... people can't wait long to try cinnamon rolls at my house and they especially like them warm from the oven. :)  Plus the cinnamon-apple smell had been teasing our taste buds.

They sure weren't pretty, perfectly formed cinnamon rolls.... but they were good! They were REALLY good.

They were very very moist, which we all liked. The tiny bits of apple from the apple butter added a little burst of flavor and the apple flavor was strong enough to be tasted. These really were very good... and so much better than I had expected when they just flopped over and wouldn't stand nicely in the pan.

I kept hearing comments of "These are the BEST cinnamon rolls you've ever made!" and more. They were a total success with the family that was home at the time. When my husband came home and we gave him one... he was very complimentary and was sad I had only made one pan of them. He kept saying, "Oh... these are SO good!"

Will we make these again? Yes, absolutely! In fact, my family keeps asking me to make them again..  SOON. I need to buy more apples (I hope they go on sale.) to make more apple butter... I can tell we will be using the few jars I have already made,  rather quickly.   :) 

Whenever I do one of these posts of some loved food that we had ... but do not have now... the kids groan when they see the pictures on my computer and start asking when we will have it again. I suspect I will be hearing that today... and when I told my husband this morning that I was working on this... he asked when I will be making them again. :)  Thank you for visiting today.... I hope you have a great week and that you can see God's hand of blessing in your life.











You may also enjoy this new post... another wonderful new way to make cinnamon rolls... tested and winning rave reviews in my house. :) 
Apple-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls










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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Just A Cup Of Tea....

As I have shared recently in both blogs, my heart has been heavy... so heavy over the state of our world... over the apathy and easy acceptance of evil. My heart is heavy over the sadness, fear and terror many are suffering.... and yet, I am thankful. God has a plan. He is not defeated. Though I don't understand His plan... or even like it sometimes, I know He is trustworthy... He is worthy to be praised.






Yesterday, as I grappled with some heavy heart issues, I got out a pretty tea cup and had a cup of tea. I have two of these cups, but I do not have the saucers, so I used a pretty hand-worked item under the cup and it looked nice. A cup of tea tastes good and also is a bit uplifting. I especially liked the blue reflections in the tea and behind the cup... it just looked pretty.





God encouraged me....and I am thankful. We are so blessed... and I want to keep that in mind and be thankful each and every day. I don't want to take these days for granted. I want to honor Him.

Anyway, I sure enjoyed that cup of tea... it was just a cup of tea... but it was actually even more than that.










It is funny how a simple cup of tea can help me to slow down, to think a bit, and to notice the beauty of a tea cup. Little things like that can help to change our perspective.








I just realized that a cup of tea sounds pretty nice right now. :)  I am choosing to trust God today... I am praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are suffering terribly, and I am going to make this day count.... and I am going to go make a cup of delicious tea.

Thank you for joining me... I hope you are also able to enjoy some tea even as you remember others in prayer.



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