Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Creative Corner






I'm learning and having fun in the creative corner with watercolor, calligraphy, a new MacBook Pro and a new Canon printer.  I'm using fruit and vegetables from Hub's garden for models in watercolor and as my fruit painting files begin to expand I've found ways to turn them into a series of cards and art prints called "The Fruit of the Spirit.

I will probably start a card line and call it "With Love from Mary" because our thoughts are to donate any sale proceeds to my favorite charities.

I'm doing some research now to determine my actual expenses and to see what I would need to charge in order to show a little profit for the charities.

Please check back if you're interested in following this thread.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Simple and Basic Hand/Body Lotion



When I ran out of homemade body lotion a few months ago, I thought a lot about what I want in my lotions before I started a new batch. 

I want a lotion that is beneficial to my skin and body, quick to soak in, economical, easy to make but decadent, smoothing and moisturizing.  And it MUST smell clean and feminine. I don't plan on adding any ingredients to prolong the shelf life of my lotion because I make up small batches that last 4 to 6 weeks. 

Here is what I came up with.  I've made up this lotion several times and it has been consistently good.

Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces filtered water
  • 6 ounces coconut oil
  • 1.5 ounces grated beeswax
  • 1 teaspoon (35 drops) lavendar essential oil
Benefits of these Ingredients:
  • Coconut oil because, well, it's just the best thing I could put on or in my body.  (Here's a great article explaining the benefits of coconut oil.)  It is softening, smoothing, cleansing.  It has a long shelf life (over a year) and protects the skin with a thin film.  It's good for almost all skin types.  
  • Beeswax because it's a great emulsifier and it helps to heal and protect our skin.  I like the pretty luster it leaves on my skin.
  • Lavender essential oil is my absolute favorite.  It is calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and I LOVE it's fragrance.  My lotions must smell good.

If you have any questions about lotion making; such as how to convert units of measure,  what a carrier oil is, what equipment you'll need you can download my free e-book here.

Directions:


  • Gather your Ingredients.
  • Sterilize containers and lids in boiling water, turn upside down on clean towel.
  • Tare your scale.
  • Pour 2 inches water into the bottom of your double boiler and fire it up.
  • Measure all of your ingredients.
  • In a separate pan, combine the waters of the formulation and heat until just beginning to boil.  Simmer on low for 2 to 3 minutes.  Set pan on the back burner of your stove top.
  • Gently melt the beeswax in the top of the double boiler. When it is JUST melted slowly add the rest of the oil, stirring the whole time with a metal spoon.
  • Remove both water and oil from heat and test the temperature of both with candy thermometer.
  • When they are both still warm and oils still clear, adjust temperatures so they are the same.
  • Pour the water into the top of the food processor and start food processor mixing.
  • Gently, slowly pour a thin thread of the oil into the water.  Continue mixing until the ingredients have begun to form a cream.  Remember, it will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Remove the top of the food processor and keep it off, gently stir with the spoon every 15 minutes for one hour.
  • Pour the mixture into the sterilized containers.  Wait 1 hour to cap.
  • This recipe makes 12 ounces of body lotion.


  • I like to fill 8 of the 12 ounces into a jar for after my bath.
    Then 3 ounces go into a 4 ounce container for the 
    kitchen and 1 ounce into a container for my purse.
    Making our own lotions can be a yucky mess, but it is so
    worth it for the benefits to our bodies.

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Making Almond Milk


    Nice, cold, frothy, delicious almond milk.

    One of the first things I learned when I started following the Paleo way was a new definition for milk.  I was raised to think of milk as cows milk.  Back in the 60s my pediatrician explained to me that cow's milk was designed (by God) expressly for a bovine who needed nourishment in order to grow a baby into a healthy adult cow with a huge skeletal frame.  In fact, if we wanted milk to be as close as possible to the needs of a human, we would want to farm and process the milk of an orangatan.


    Sumatran Orangutan with Older Baby

    I guess that was a rather radical thought in those days for we were still led to believe our calcium comes from cows' milk.  And indeed it does, but there are other ways.  We know that now.

    What do I do when I need milk today?  Well, one of my first posts for this site was one about the benefits of Coconut milk and why we would want to bring it into our diet.  And I still believe that's best for us.  But it's not always convenient and making almond milk is so easy.  In my mind, almond is a close second to coconut milk for a nice smoothy.  So today I thought I'd write about making almond milk.

    Ingredients:
    • 1 cup raw organic almonds
    • 3 cups filtered water
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon sweetener such as agave or honey (also optional)
    Directions:
    • Pour all ingredients into a blender or Vitamix
    • Blend until the contents are smooth and frothy
    • Strain the pulp using a clean cotton tea towel (my method) or a nut bag strainer.
    • Refrigerate and use within 4 days.

    That's it!  Simple.  Fast and convenient.  No really!  That's all you have to do.  IN FACT, some times I don't strain it and as a matter of fact, some times I don't add anything other than water to the almonds.

    Wait.  You want more?  Fine.  Here are some awesome links to some of my favorite Paleo sites with very specific instructions for you.  I just wanted you to know how simple, economical and easy it is to make almond milk without complicating things with photos and videos and lots of text to read.

    Nom Nom Paleo
    Paleo Simplified
    Stupid Easy Paleo
    Everyday Paleo

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    Homemade Salsa



    Last October I individually froze a ton of jalapeno peppers.  They were pretty and colorful in my sink.  And they've been yummy all year long.  We bring them out and put them on the barbie with the hub's steaks, and in our salads. Today I roasted them and made salsa with them and I thought I'd post this recipe real fast before I forget how I did it!

    Ingredients:

    2 jalapeno peppers
    3 large cloves garlic unpeeled
    1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes (I used organic)
    1/4 onion or 1 small shallot
    1/2 lime, juiced
    1/2 cup cilantro
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    Directions:

    • To roast the peppers, put a small saute pan on the stove top, pre-heat it at medium setting.  Then place the two peppers and the unpeeled garlic in without defrosting the peppers or adding any fat.
    • Roast the peppers and garlic, turning them until they were blackened and soft inside.  It probably took about 10 to 13 minutes.  The peppers were done and removed first and the garlic was removed once it was soft inside.
    • Cool them on a cutting board, remove the skins, chop, then toss them into a food processor.  Pulse them about 3 short times until they're diced and clinging to the side of the bowl.
    • Then add the canned tomatoes, juice and all, the juice from 1/2 lime, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a small onion or shallot.  
    • Pulse another 20 seconds and then add 1/2 cup cilantro.  Blitz it a little more and it it will be ready to serve.

    This sauce tasted nice on eggs, in salads mixed with oil and vinegar, and for dipping on crisp veggies.

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Spiritual Mothers


    I've been studying the Gospel with She Reads Truth for about a month now and find I’m growing spiritually from the daily communion with God.  I'm happy to take the time to write down my prayers because I see the results so quickly. Now we’re all being challenged to share our hearts and then post on our sites if we have one.  That feels pretty scary and intimidating to me...sharing in such a personal way.  But here I go.

    In Titus, Chapter 2:3-5 Paul’s gives instructions to older women.  "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

    This is interesting to me because in recent years (maybe because I’ve been through the loss of a husband of 24 years) I’ve been thinking I have wisdom to offer.  Now that I’m not counseling grieving widows anymore, I’m settling into a lifestyle of being a help mate to my new (almost 7 years married) husband, a Godly man.  If I am to focus on mentoring younger women, I would automatically think of my daughters and daughters-in-law first.  

    Each of my 4 children have made it clear they are settled in their beliefs and would prefer my not sharing the Gospel with them as I do with friends who are believers.   I came to the Lord right before two left home and after two had already left the nest.  I have come to realize I can only offer the example of my life with a few kind words sprinkled here and there for the purpose of mentoring  them.

    My metaphor here is that I am a fountain from which flows God’s truth through my words and actions.   They can see how God has changed me.  They can watch as I walk by His side, witnessing for themselves how He has taken me through the dark hours as well as the through the peaceful ones.  They have witnessed my obedience to Him.  They know what a Godly life would look like now.  That is the flowing of truth they can bring their cups to now for a refreshing drink.
     
    I was a mess when I came to the Lord in 1981.  Because I had so much to learn after my conversion, God chose 3 godly women at one time to be my fountains of love and truth.  Since I wasn’t raised with spiritual instruction He gave me these lovely mentors who are an integral part of my life's puzzle.  I pray He will use me to be the same for others and experience tells me He will.

    My daily prayer for my children and grandchildren is that God will meet them where they are and that they will be drawn to Him.  One of my deepest regrets is that I wasn’t saved soon enough to raise them in the way God says they should go.  But I also know that the things I say and the example I offer in my life is not the end of it.  In being a fountain of truth for those I love, I am merely a puzzle piece in their lives.  God is the one who will reach my children and friends.  I simply point the way.

    Dear Lord, I pray you will bring to me those you want to be mentored and when you do, that I may be a living example of Your Love.

    Amen.

    #SheSharesTruth and #SheReadsTruth.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    A New Page about Creating





    I think women are born with a desire to create beauty in some form or another.  Don't you?  I know I'm not balanced or complete if I get too far from the sketch pad or paint box, regardless of whether I'm creating digitally or virtually.  It seems to me this website is a little boring without a page on creativity. So, today I've added a new page to the menu list above.

    I'm putting another check in a box on my "bucket list" as I learn how to watercolor with sable brushes and paint and water.  Through the Internet, I'm learning how to watercolor by following Hazel Soan.  I've downloaded some of her books and sent away for videos.  If I can ever capture just a tiny bit of her talent and technique I would be living as if I'm in heaven.  She's an amazing mentor, so full of life.

    Through Emily's classes at Jones Design Company, I've been learning how to use Adobe Illustrator.  Now when I scan my watercolor paintings; I take them into my programs, rasterize them, put them on an art board to add text and set them up for printing.  I've been using watercolor paper for printing out my projects and they are turning out great.  This is the printer I'm using.

    The other way I "paint" is by turning my photos into paintings using Waterlogue.  For me it's recreation in the evening while relaxing by the TV to browse from my iPad.  I like to experiment with different photos I have saved in my photo collections; looking to see how they might appear as a water color.  When I find a good one I process it, and save it until the next time I want to send out a card.
     

    A painting of the photo above.  I think this was a sketchy
    kind of setting, but I thought it was interesting.


    And here is the actual water color I did, scanned into
    my computer and then rasterized in Adobe Illustrator.

    I have some nice photos taken the beginning of May while Hub and I were in San Francisco, celebrating my birthday.  I was using my iPhone 5 to take these photos in high definition and they turned out really nice for watercolors.  Here's one of my favorites.

    Here is a painting of a coffee cup taken at Alioto's
    in San Francisco


    I like to send note cards to friends and family to encourage, or thank someone. . .or just say "Hi".  It seems hand written cards are turning into a lost art.  It's so easy to jot down a line two on a cute card and put it in the mailbox hoping to surprise or delight someone..  

    Finally, here is a PDF, a free gift of 4 note cards for you to print out and use if you'd like to. The theme is from the garden. I hope you'll drop me a line and let me know if you decide to use them. It will inspire me if you do.

    Saturday, May 24, 2014

    Lady Bugs



    I do not like aphids.  I know they're one of God's creatures, but they are my enemy.  It's so frustrating to plant a seed, watch impatiently while it finally sprouts, then nurture it carefully with just the right combination of sun and water and food until it to grows into something beautiful and useful; only to have it wiped out by aphids.  I can say the same thing for lots of other bugs like spider mites and white flies.  

    Last year I lost all of my chamomile plants to aphids just as they were starting to blossom.  I lost several other favorites to aphids after that.  And, the bad bugs are back again this year even though I've sprayed all of my plants with soap.

    About a week ago, Hub came home from a trip into town and set a box of ladybugs bedside me.  What a wonderful solution to my sad problem.  Ladybugs can eat 50 aphids in one day.  So the next morning just after the sun rose, I released them.

    The directions said to release them in the early evening or 
    morning when the dew is still on the plants.  That
    discourages  them from flying away.  I did it around 5:00  
    AM on a day when rain was forecasted. 
    The little beetles are packaged with food to eat and mixed
     in with little shavings.  So I gently tapped them out of their 
    temporary home directly onto the foliage.
    Later on that morning, Hub and I left the house and on my
    way out I checked to see how they were doing.  Some were
    already mating!  Yes!  Make lots of families and stay, little
    bugs.  Please stay! 


    A few fun facts about ladybugs.  According to National Geographic ladybugs lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests. When they hatch, the ladybug larvae immediately begin to feed. I've read the hatchlings are shaped like tiny little crocodiles and they are voraciously hungry at that stage. Isn't that a wonderful thing?

    Hub tells me we can also buy praying mantis to release this way.  That might be my next garden adventure.  Click here to read an article I wrote last year about the praying mantis.

    May 29, 2014 Update

    I'm excited!  I saw (or maybe I should say recognized) my first ladybug larvae today.  It looked like this.




    If I hadn't just read about the 30 day cycle of a ladybug, I might have squished him.  Take a look at this website if you'd like to learn more.