Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Overwhelm

Work, play, marriage, self care, exercise, meditation, friendships, maintenance of house, playing with the pets, cultivating new skills, developing businesses, spiritual workouts, pen pals, phone chats, hobbies, car rides, visits, meeting people, going out, saving money, television shows, social media, spending money, worry about family, worry about self, worry about happiness of husband, blog about the worry, paperwork, organization, take all the things to a donation place, organize all the things, priorities, two places at once, not enough arms, hands or enough brain power,  millionaires, what about me, confusion, overlooked, misunderstanding, sadness which manifests as anger, therapy, the resource of time, expectations, politics, weather, limitations, gold nuggets. This is overwhelm, friends.

I don't know where to put all the papers.

I don't know how to prioritize.

I can't feel less anxious.

I keep waiting to be happy again.

Any solutions?

Monday, November 22, 2021

Fire Cider - All Natural Immunity Booster for Cold and Flu Season

In mid-October or so, a friend of mine reached out about this stuff called Fire Cider. She asked, "Have you ever made this?" Not only had I never made it, I had never heard of it. But my friend is a bonafide "Earth Mother," so I knew she had a little secret resource that I had never hear of. My friend Jen is a researcher of energy work, a practitioner of natural life enhancements and a discoverer of unusual but helpful health impacts. This Fire Cider is one such health impact, natural life enhancement, that as we move into the "season of sick" you may find really super useful. 

She first found the recipe on Homestead and Chill. You can see the recipe here. But the original recipe is from Rosemary Gladstar's book: Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. I tried to follow the recipe exactly but found that up here in the remote Appalachian Mountains it can be difficult to find even the simplest ingredients which can be viewed as "exotic" by us mountain folks. Nevertheless, I did the best I could and so did Jen. 

I also conducted more research. I had heard from my Uncle about the thieves of the plague having doused themselves with some concoction of vinegar and oils that staved off the contracting and eventual death from the Bubonic Plague. I found the Nourished Kitchen in which, Jenny, an herbalist and writer of the information mentions an entire history of this. It's really fascinating! She also has a recipe which she calls "Four Thieves Vinegar."  Although it is different from Fire Cider, I think I'll try it next because it's aim is still to increase our immunity. May as well! It certainly can't hurt. Plus, variety is the spice of life and now I'll have two brews to keep us healthy through the winter!

We began our batches about 2 days apart from each other. I got all the ingredients on a Sunday and she got them a couple days later. You know everything is time dependent and we are both working ladies with families so we do what we can. We chopped, cut, minced, whirred and blended all of the stuff together and let it sit on the counter for a month, maybe a little longer even.

People said the most outlandish things to see this jar of "stuff" on our kitchen counter. My mom called it "mung" and said she would NEVER try it. My uncle said it sounded interesting. My sister-in-law said it stunk like feet. And my husband, God bless him, just hung out waiting for me to be done with it.

The reality is though, that we are headed into cold and flu season, not to mention the nightmare germ is around still so if this stuff can shorten the length of any viral symptoms then load me up with said "mung!"

Young Living has an essential oil called "Thieves." And this acts similarly to that
It was a fun project to do with my friend. It was a reason for us to be in pretty constant communication and our feedback was real; Authentic trials and tribulations of trying something new and natural. 

Following are first my photos and notes, then I have posted Jen's photos and notes. 

I was lucky enough to source fresh herbs from my garden. But fresh horseradish was impossible to find so I used prepared horseradish. Also, the recipe on Homestead and Chill uses Eucalyptus essential oil. I didn't have any so I skipped it.
It looked so pretty in the blender.
This is a photograph I took of the Fire Cider sitting on the counter right after I filled the jar. Everyday I shook the jar to mix it up. While it fermented the last thing we wanted was a mold batch too. Shaking the jar prevents it from growing fungus and instead spurs forth a healthy fermentation.
Here it is on Day 35. I probably could've put in the jars it on Day 30 but I was sidetracked by all kinds of other things so I just let it sit there. This is the pic I took yesterday before I put it into the bottles.
From above too so you can see exactly what it looks like in the jar after the month long fermenting process.
What a gorgeous color!
In the jars and ready to sip!

I tried it out immediately. It is quite a tonic-very heavy on the vinegar and not really spicy enough for my tastes. But drinkable just the same. I hope it is potent. How did we as a society move so far away from natural medicine? It worked for grave robbers during the Black Death!

Below are Jen's pics and notes:

These are Jen's ingredients. She processed her ingredients differently than I did. She cut all her ingredients and layered them in the jars. I whirred everything together in the blender. 

Here is a photo of her batch on her kitchen counter. Gorgeous colors! Mine were not this pretty but hopefully we were both successful in the fermentation of this medicine.

After a month of fermentation, this was Jen's yield. That should last her through the winter. She just tried her tonic today and reported that it was spicy and not too vinegary. She says, "It tastes like Nature's Medicine!"
Jen added the honey after the final fermentation and before she downed it. I added the honey a day before straining and bottling. 

I loved this project, I felt enthusiastic about this adventure the moment Jen reached out to me about it. Naturalist medicinals are just one of the ways Jen and I are soul sisters. We have known each other for years and have often compared notes about bohemian lifestyles, brewing concoctions, boat travel, cooking, crystals and energy work and exercise. We have had numerous adventures together not the least of which was a weekend at the Yoga Farm Ashram (which, if you haven't done, you won't be sorry. Try it!)


Friday, November 5, 2021

It's Fall Y'all

Up here on the hill we are into fall, full swing. As we head closer to winter it is getting colder by the second. But the fall color up here never disappoints even as the days get shorter. I have been so inspired by this season that I think my photos have gotten better, my cooking seems to have better aromas, my creativity has been sparked and my physical fitness has been charged. I am, by body, a summer girl. But, by soul, an Autumn girl, no question. I am an October baby, born on the last day of Libra. It is said, that as a "cusper," I have a touch of Scorpio in me which makes me a full fledged Fall Baby!

These mood boards are the best visual way I can show you how I feel. Most of them below are from my Pinterest board called Mood Boards

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A White Party Pop Up Dinner in Sonoma by Handmade Events

I recently went to an amazing event that you really should do your best to get to. You will not be disappointed. The premise is: You pay $40 per person, for a sensational venue, a great DJ, amazing musicians and a dance floor, complete with beautiful string lights and a magical sunset. Your part is: wear white, decorate your table with white, bring food (sky's the limit) for you and your attendees.

A view from above on the retaining wall of the Jack London property.

My husband and I saddled up the car with Charlene and Teodora and all our loot. We were contacted by email from Handmade Events the location of the event only an hour before send off. It was so mysterious and exciting (although, the drawback, how to dress?). The event place for this Wine Country Event was in the Valley of the Moon - Jack London State Historical Park in Glen Ellen Sonoma. It was breathtaking if not magical.

Here is an action shot of Charlene. It really captures the whimsy of the evening.

Everyone had their list of items to contribute. Char got napkins, plastic glasses, utensils, taper candles (strictly speaking, they aren't allowed - but I won't tell if you don't) wine and a veggie platter. I rounded up the white ostrich feathers/vases, a song bird candle holder, beet hummus/pita appetizer (recipe below) and shrimp cocktail along with the main course (my own muffaletta sandwiches - recipe below).

A pretty window with shutters and pretty window boxes on the small house on the property.

Charlene and Teodora.
These guys were clever with their decor with simple helium balloons.
Pastel flowers and the aftermath of apps.
So gourmet.
Flour sack napkins and rosemary sprigs tied with hemp twine.
The simple willow branches with one wayward feather...elegant.
These guys had initials with moss and butterflies at everyones place setting.
Faux furs and gold chargers? Over the top fun.
The fashion. This woman was stunning.

Casual and whimsical, these guys has such awesome headwear.
Teodora having a laugh.
Char and I.
Bulent and I.
The main course: Muffaletta Sandwiches containing in butcher paper tied with a hemp string. Juicy Fruit, both a favor and a palette cleanser - plus it's my favorite gum.

Poppies Pressed Muffaletta Sandwiches (Serves 6)
Dutch Crunch rolls
pesto (from the store or homemade) I make my own (1 bunch basil, 3 garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 Tbs toasted pine nuts and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese - put it all in the Cuisinart - and presto)!
roasted red peppers, eggplant, onions and yellow squash (thinly sliced)
sliced ham and turkey
sun dried tomatoes and sliced fresh tomato
sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
handful of Arugala
olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing (add some dijon and salt and pepper)
Put pesto on both sides of bread
layer all items to your taste
close sandwiches and wrap with paper, put the sandwiches under something heavy (I used cook books).

There is the beet hummus and pita platter.
Beet Hummus Recipe
4 small roasted beets
1/4 cup feta cheese
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 large bunch dill
S+P to taste
Whir it all up in the Cuisinart.
Your party goers will love it!

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Henna Party

I've been out.
No excuses. Just doing other stuff and looking for some inspiration.
I think I found it.

My friend Kendra is having a birthday at the end of this month and to celebrate I invited several ladies over to my house for a luncheon. To supplement the luncheon I also asked a traditional Henna Artist named Tara to join us for the festivities and create some temporary body art for us. It was beyond my wildest imagination and went off so amazingly that I'm going to do it again for my birthday! here is the invitation which I emailed to the ladies. (Some of you may scoff at an emailed invitation - but the cost effectiveness cannot be beat).

Original artwork by Amylee Paris.
All the elements of this little bash were extraordinary. I had big vases of white tea roses that I spirited away from SMUD and supplemented with my own colored roses from the garden. The arrangements were beautiful. The menu of ladies tea sandwiches (recipes included below) and lavender lemonade. I made a hummingbird cake and a fantastic veggie platter with a feta, garlic dip and a fruit platter with a peanut butter yogurt dip.

The favors were mismatched china plates all with a different floral patterns on them but the "piece de resistance" were the lemon, sugar cookies by my friend Leah at "I Hella Heart Sugar" complete with beautiful Mehndi designs on them.

Lemon Sugar Cookies by Leah at I Hella Heart Sugar.
The spread.

I've thrown a party before, natch. But this had just a little more magic. Kendra is all girl and, like me really enjoys these girly things. I wish her nothing but great blessings for a wonderful birthday.

Here is an excellent menu if you fancy throwing a "Ladies Who Lunch" event for a special friend of yours.

Tea Sandwiches:

1. Roasted Chicken and Cream Cheese with Fig Compote on Raisin Brown Bread.

  • Mix 4 oz. cream cheese with fig jam
  • Spread cheese mixture on thinly sliced "Boston Brown Bread" (recipe)
  • Neatly lay chicken so that the sliced chicken is not over the edge of the sandwich.
  • Cut in half resembling a half moon.
  • Fan out on a serving plate. (see above in my "spread" photo - they are the sandwiches on the top tier of the three level serving platter).
2. Radish, Mint and Lemon on Westphalian Rye.
  • In a food processor, add 1 bunch radishes, and pulse until small but not mushy. Take the container off the blade and base and drain excess water.
  • Add 4 oz. cream cheese (the other half that you used for the chicken sando's).
  • Add 1 bunch mint (leaves and stems are fine).
  • Add juice and rind of half a lemon.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spread entire mixture on the rye and cut in half to create small triangles. Cut in half again for even smaller triangles.
3. Cucumber Pesto on Fitness Bread.
  • Thinly slice cucumber.
  • Make your pesto.
    • In a food processor, add one bunch basil leaves, 1 whole kale leaf, 2 tbs pine nuts and a 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbs olive oil and the juice of the other half of the lemon you used for the radish sandwiches. Add salt and pepper and pulse until it resembles a paste.
  • Spread pesto on bread.
  • Top with cucumber slices and close sandwich with another piece of bread that you've spread with the pesto as well.
  • Slice into strips and slice again into small squares.
  • This bread can be tricky to work with so be ginger when cutting.
Hummingbird Cake:

This cake recipe was given to me by my friend Patty. I altered it so that it has a very moist consistency. It makes 1 8x8 inch pan cake.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed, brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large ripe banana, smashed with a fork
  • 1/2 cup soybean oil (or similarly light salad oil)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large, entire can of crushed pineapple, with syrup
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Grease and flour an 8x8 square, metal baking pan
  • Combine eggs, sugar, salt, banana, vanilla extract and oil in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Mix in pineapple (plus syrup)
  • Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and pecans and mix until just combined. 
    • Do not over mix or your cake will be a brick you could kill someone with at 20 paces.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  • Bake at 350 for between 40-45 minutes.
  • To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into center of cake. If it comes out with nothing sticking to it, your cake is done.
  • Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes.
  • Turn onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Frost with cream cheese frosting.
    • 1 package cream cheese frosting (Don't skimp - use Philly)
    • 1 stick butter 
    • 1 cup confectioners sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 Tbs Frangelico for a little kick).
    • Mix with a hand mixer.
    • When cake is cool, frost with this delight.
Feta Garlic Dip with Lemon:
  • 1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese 
  • 1 8 oz block feta cheese (I like the French variety).
  • 1 clove garlic (more if it's just you - but you don't want the ladies blaming you for their offensive breath)
  • Rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs olive oil and pinch chili flakes (for garnish)
  • Mix all ingredients (except garnish) together in a food processor
  • Serve with Pita Chips and crudites - I used the requisite veg, but I cut the jicama into tiny stars and flowers and hearts with tiny cookie cutters.
Peanut Butter Yogurt Fruit Dip:
  • 1 6 oz. tub vanilla yogurt (I use Chobani).
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Mix all ingredients together, pour into serving bowl.
  • Serve with cut up kiwis, apples, blueberries, strawberries, bananas and grapes or whatever fruit you fancy.