Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shopping for Bulk Goods

This beautiful sight is of the bulk section in our local Whole Foods. Most dry goods bought in the bulk section of stores are less expensive than buying it in a package on the shelves AND you reduce the amount of waste that goes into the trash. Beans, grains, flours, nuts, dried fruits, salts, sugars, spices, cereals and even raw local honey and maple syrup. Buying in bulk has become popular again just like many other old fashioned ways of living. I love when things come full circle.

Here is what I brought home one day. Although I used the bags available in the bulk section, I learned that you can bring your own containers and have them weighed before filling so that way the cashier can deduct the weight of the container from the total weight. Once you get home you can just put your beautifully filled jars on your counter or in your cabinets.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Natural Remedies - Mustard Plaster

Grandma Esther Walton. She was a midwife and a mountain herbalist. She was always treating her family members with natural remedies when they were sick. One of The Walton episodes that I watched recently had her treating Grandpa Walton's influenza with mustard plaster. This was the first time I can recall hearing about mustard plaster. If anyone knows me then they know how much I love natural remedies and I am glad to add this one to my kitchen medicine cabinet. 
Mustard plaster is applied externally to the upper chest and/or back. Mustard plasters are traditionally used to treat congestion, wet coughs, bronchitis or pneumonia, and even rheumatism. A mustard plaster can offer instant relief to discomfort in the chest as well as help treat infectious conditions of the lungs. It increases circulation, perspiration and warms up the area where the plaster is applied.  It should never be applied to bare skin.

Mustard Plaster

4 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon fresh ground mustard seed powder (black mustard seed is best but yellow will do in a pinch)
Enough water to make a batter like paste
12x6 inch cloth like, muslin, flannel or any thin cloth.
hand towel

Mix the flour and mustard powder together and add enough water to make a spreadable paste. Spread the mixture on the thin cloth then lay a towel on top of that like a sandwich. Rub the chest with olive oil and then lay the mustard plaster on the chest. Drink plenty of fluids during this treatment. Check the skin every 10 minutes to assure that there is no irritation under the mustard plaster. (If there is irritation then remove the mustard plaster). Leave it on for up to 30 minutes. The skin may be pink or slightly red but there should not be any blisters or burning. This can be repeated 2-4 times a day within 2 hours of the previous treatment. Not recommend for children under 6. I would use this treatment along with other herbal remedies for lung ailments. 

Amelia and I love watching retro Disney shows with Goofy, Donald, Mickey and the chipmunks. We came across this video of Goofy and his wife gives him a mustard plaster for his cold.  I thought it was cute. If you follow the directions and use caution then your mustard plaster will not hurt like Goofy's!

Goofy Cartoon - Cold War (1951)

This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat or diagnose. Please consult with your doctor before using any herbal treatments.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers

My little helper. 
Quinoa is gluten free and oh so yummy.

I love stuffed bell peppers.  It can be a whole meal in one or a garden salad can be served with it.  I prefer red, orange or yellow bell peppers to the green because they are sweeter. These freeze well making them perfect for a quick meal.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil 
1/2 tsp dried oregano 
1/2 - 1 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup goat cheese
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 can diced/crushed tomatoes with juice
1 cup cooked quinoa or rice
 salt and pepper to taste
Mozzarella cheese (optional)
4-6 bell peppers

Saute onions till tender. Add garlic and ground turkey.  Cook till browned. Add the herbs, Parmesan, goat cheese, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, cooked quinoa, salt and pepper. Cook till cheeses have melted. Mix well and let cool slightly. 
Cut the stems out of each bell pepper, making sure to clean out the guts.

Add about a cup of water to the bottom of a baking dish then add the bell peppers.
Fill the empty bell peppers with the meat filling. I would suggest adding the mozzarella to the tops of the bell peppers during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. The cheese browns too much if added at the beginning. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 170 and the bell pepper is tender.

I love the texture that the quinoa gives the filling. So delicious.

Enjoy one of my favorite meals to make and eat!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Basket Weaving!

flickr kthread
I adore baskets. I use them for everything! They hold my overflowing collection of vintage cookbooks, yarns, cloth napkins, toilet paper, Amelia's toys, craft materials, snacks and so much more. I use them to carry food to a friend. I have always preferred to to store items in baskets and glass instead of plastic containers and Tupperware. It adds warmth to a room and is pleasant to look at. I came across the charming blog, An Apple A Day and was excited to see that she was learning to weave baskets! I had an "ah ha!" moment and decided that I HAD to learn how to weave baskets. Oh I would love that so! There are so many different ways to weave and design a basket. I grew up with lots of baskets in our home and we used them often.  

Amish Workshop- I want to make an egg basket. Such a pretty shape.

One of our favorite places to buy baskets was Baskerville in Williamsburg, Va. Sadly, it closed. Although expensive, Henn makes some of the best baskets. They will definitely become heirloom piece because they are so sturdy and well made.  Micheal's and World Market both have a good selection of baskets.  Micheal's has a bigger selection than World Market but most of the baskets at Micheal's do not seem as well made as the World Market baskets do for the price. I tend to like World Market for the fancier baskets and Micheal's for the bigger baskets.

An Apple A Day- her weaving progress
Baskets Of Africa- Bolga baskets are absolutely stunning! The color combinations that can be found in bolga baskets are limitless. I have to collect these!

Baskets Of Africa!!!!
I've found some very informative how-to videos on youtube. I hope this is a hobby that I can start soon.  I have so much to do before the end of fall.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dreaming of Autumn

I have been so giddy about Autumn lately! I know summer isn't over yet but I adore the Fall season.  The smells and colors are so vivid and hold so many memories for me. I stopped in to The Yankee Candle store to check out their new fall scents.  Talk about intoxicating! There candle scents are so strong and accurate! It amazes me every time I step foot into their store. They make a lot of people happy.

The smell of the "Macintosh Apple" candle transports me straight to an apple barn in the mountains of Virginia. Seriously I can relive my childhood just by smelling the Yankee Candle selections. Their spicy fall scents are so cozy. The "Fall Leaves" scent smells so much like the pile of fall leaves we would jump into as children! I love the "Harvest" scent. It's like everything Fall wrapped up in one candle. I prefer the tarts because I don't have to worry about an open flame. Mrs Paranoid here.

(These pictures are from last year so they aren't that great. I'm working on taking better pictures with our new camera.)

When I was visiting family in Virgina I went to a Micheal's craft store and they had the biggest display of Halloween and Fall decorations in the middle of June! The great thing about Micheal's are the sales! They put seasonal things on sale quickly so that I can buy the decorations I want at 40%n off and still enjoy them for the season is over.  Yay for Micheal's!

A harvest cornucopia I made last year. Looks better is person I promise. :-/

Autumn Fun That I'm Excited About
Fall decorations  
Fall leaves 
Orange and black flowers
Dehydrating oranges and apples
Drinking mulled apple cider
Visiting an apple orchard 
Pumpkin patch
Craft Shows
Renaissance Faire
Cooking with winter squash 
Soups, soups and more soups
Pumpkin spice and lots of it!
Wool Cloche hats
Crochet hats and slippers 
The crochet ripple afghan I'm working on!

Black pansies called Halloween II 
Baskets full of yarns. Trying to use these up so I can buy some real wool and cotton yarns! Husband's orders.
I love wrought iron details. Especially with the warmth of fall colors. Wrought iron reminds me of primitive New England.  Ohhh and that's a dream of mine.  To tour New England in the Fall!!!! I am giddy just thinking about it. Saltbox houses, swirling red and orange leaves on the ground, New England clam chowder, visiting Stars Hallow....wait that's not real.
My house plant looks sad. It looks way better now!
I love these primitive flickering black candles that are dipped in real wax! Found these at a Boutique in Amelia, Va. They have the prettiest collection of primitive inspired furniture, wrought iron pieces and decor.
I can't believe how much Amelia has changed since last fall! She looks like a baby here.

She dressed as a little baker for Halloween last year. It was a last minute costume for sure. This year I plan on making a nice costume.  I'm thinking Little Red Riding Hood or she can go as Snow White since she bought the gorgeous Snow White costume from the Disney store with her birthday money.

Me and Miss Amelia last Halloween before I went red. :-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Amelia's 3rd Birthday Party

I can't believe my baby is 3 years old! They tell you that they grow up so fast. They were right.
I started planning for Amelia's 3rd birthday party for so many months! I came up with a woodland fairytale theme and ran with it. I blogged about my inspirations for her birthday party here.

I always tend to go a little crazy with handmade decorations.  I may get frustrated while making them but it usually all works out in the end.  Sometimes down to the last minute.
I started buying up flowers from Micheal's back in early spring when they went on sale.  I bought lots of maidenhair fern bunches and separated them then attached them end to end with florist wire to make a simple garland. I bought burlap from the fabric store to use as a rustic overlay on the table.
Lots of yummy food!

Iced coffee and peach iced tea! I used The Pioneer Woman's iced coffee recipe. It was a big hit.

I took inspiration from the Renaissance Faire to make this garland. I dyed muslin fabric different colors then ripped them into strips. I tied the muslin strips onto garden twine.  

 I sprinkled a trail of "pixie dust" onto my plants to lead to the special fairy messages.

Fairy house....naturally.

At the end of the pixie dust trail were pieces of blank paper. Fairies leave secret messages didn't you know? In order to see the secret messages you have to paint the paper with colors from the rainbow of course.

 And like magic the secret fairy messages appear!

 Cool Huh? So fun and so simple. Draw images on watercolor paper with the end of a white candle. Wherever there is wax the watercolor paint will be repelled.
I molded toad stools with fondant and let them dry a day or two. I dipped my finger in water and rubbed the toad stool top until it got a little sticky which didn't take long.  I then sprinkled tiny white sprinkles on top to resemble the spots on real toad stools. I used a leaf tip to pipe "grass" onto the gluten free cupcakes.
My mother-in-law and niece Olivia,
My husband Joaquin and his comical mustache.

Little Miss Olivia.
Favors! Burlap bags filled with cosmo seeds and pixie dust! I made pixie dust bottle necklaces for the little ones. You have to keep your pixie dust close by don't ya know.

I made all of the girls different fairy crowns. They looked so cute in them. I made gnome hats for the boys too.
The kids got to dig for buried treasure! Jewels, gold coins and a few small toys.  They spent a lot of time in the sand box. There was sand everywhere! 

The after math. THE END