Tuesday, December 30, 2014

That other side of me....

Who is that woman from the past, the one whose strong, powerful, resilient, and confident enough to stand up for what she believes in? Am I now but a shadow of who I was...So many lifetimes, so many stories to tell.. So many experiences...Where did she go? Did she disappear along with the memories of hurt and torment. Could I be that woman again??? A powerful force, unrelenting..A woman who knew herself completely, and accepted the good with the bad..How do I find her once more?

Raven Spirit Symbols:
Introspection, Self-knowledge, Courage, Magic, Mysteries, Shape-shifting, Creation, Divination, Wisdom, Truth, Answers, Secrets, Messages, Instruction, Change
Message/Meaning/Medicine:
Many birds are seen as messengers between heaven and earth, and the raven totem no exception. In addition to carrying messages back and forth from a higher plane, raven spirits also bring meaning from a darker place, within. If a raven guide has appeared in your life and spoken to you, turn your focus inward, it is time for a change. Though as people, we often fear change, the changes raven totems bring are often meaningful and revelatory. The message of change is often difficult, but it is through overcoming obstacles and difficulties that we grow the most. Instead of becoming fearful or uncomfortable when confronted with the challenge, instead anticipate the end result. Ravens are incredibly perceptive; meaning, that if you’ve fallen under the scrutiny of this bird, that which needs to be changed should be revealed. If you’re having difficulty realizing what should change, then change the way you’re looking at yourself or a problem.
Ravens are also considered powerful teachers of the mysteries, or magic. Consider the truth and inner wisdom we each hold within. Just as a raven spirit can mimic the calls of many birds and animals so can you learn to understand the meaning buried in the symbols and messages that surround us. Raven totems teach magic, or reveals the magic within, not hocus pocus magic, but how the energy of your will can be used to shape and create the environment around you. This ties into the message of change, not only can you change internally, but you can change the external. Again, people often dread the raven guide and his message because developing strong willpower, changing, or exercising your intention, takes dedication and persistence.

This and That

Wow I have like 35 post so far this month with one day left to go...That means one of two things? Either I was very involved in life, happy and sharing....Or I have been a little down and out this December. Truthfully it's probably been a combination of both.. Me and a friend of mine went to a new health food shop today called "Seeds and Greens"  A Very cool and interesting place and you can even eat lunch there at their deli...Nice...It's right next to a quaint little antique shop with delightful finds. Sadly the shop will be closing tomorrow so I'm glad I stopped in before it was no more. Seed catalogs have been coming in the mail!! Woohoo, something to look forward to during the dark, wintry months ahead.

Where did????

Yep where did those last couple posts come from??? A hurt, dark place in my mind that needed some mending...frown.

Is it such a wild notion....

Why did I post this? All I've ever said is that everyone on this earth is equal...Thats all...men, women, all races, religions, and creeds....Is that such a wild notion????

Monday, December 29, 2014

WHY

WHY AM I ALWAYS WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm always so hurt.....I never no what I'm talking about... Do my opinions matter???

The Birch Moon

Although I mentioned the Birch Moon in the previous post...I feel it deserves its own showcase, as I do with all the Moons.. Thank you Birch for your gifts, and for reminding me to change!!!

Birch symbolizes opportunity and new beginnings. The power of the dark is waning and the first signs of spring are emerging, symbolizing new energies and ideas. There is no struggle here, just a natural rising of newness that can only be blocked by those who adhere to old patterns. Let the past go and renew your faith in your path, understanding that if you follow the natural order change proves easy to embrace. Opportunities exist for you to bring movement into areas of your life that have been barren or stagnant, which in turn will create new understandings and insights. Be patient, walk in the light and the fruits of your labour will be realized.

The first leaves on the bich tree herald the rebirth of creation and the dawn of spring. Where man has raped the land and then left it abandoned and barren, birch will come carried by the gour winds to bring back harmony and balance. It has a deep and long relationship with humans giving its sap for sweetness, wine, and vinegar, its bark for writing and containers and its oil for tanning hides. Birch wood has provided cradles, boats and roofs protecting and transporting humans for millennia.

It cares not where it grows and indeed favours places where other trees find it hard to establish. Then it sheds its twigs and leaves season after season until the ground is fertile and ready for its brothers and sisters to join it.

 

LESSON OF THE BIRCH

from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford

The birch tree symbolizes a fresh start and can bring courage and determination to those of us who are treading the path of spiritual growth and development for the first time.

Although the birch does appear fragile, it is in fact extremely hardy. This teaches us that in apparent weakness there is often to be found great strength.

The birch also promises new life and love, and is a potent symbol of purification and renewal, which focuses our attention on our potential for the change and on the consideration of new directions and goals to be experienced in our lives.

It teaches the lesson of unselfishness and of caring for the needs of others in ways that help them to flourish of their own accord.

The Coming New Year....

The Birch Moon has officially arrived! This moon is always the easiest for me to remember.. I think because its gifts and meanings coincide with the time of year it is in my conscious reality...Huhh??? Well what I mean is the Birch is all about new beginnings, fresh starts, and leaving the old year behind you. Which is exactly what New Year's Day is all about. Everyone makes a list of New Year's resolutions and usually we try and keep them...well at least a few months anyway..lol. For me I do the same...Last year I went to the gym regularly for about 5 months. Then summer hit and I was out in the yard so much...I thought there was little need for more exercise.. I was getting enough of it in my yard. However summer ended and I got a bit off track..I still try and walk when I can, but the rest has gone by the wayside. I always want to get healthier, be more fit, drink more water, eat better.. It's a hard task to change all the bad habits we've collected over the years...But I believe we are all capable of great change if we put our heart and soul into it. Last year my goal was to find a new job, my life was kind of turned upside down at this point last year...I thought this year would bring me so many possibilities. After putting in about 50 job applications, to really no avail...I became a bit discouraged to say the least. Also my restaurant I have worked at so many years reopened in September...so I've kind of got back in that rutt. I actually was seriously depressed when I heard it was reopening...What???? I knew I'd get back to that same stagnant place. But for the time being it is a job, and provided me much needed money to buy Christmas and pay my bills. I've figured out I make about 12$ a hour....sooooo That means It would be stupid really to quit my job to work for 9$ a hour??? Wouldn't it?? I'm so confused??? Where do I find a better Job, a life path?? God help me please.......

Health...

Well I finally broke down and went to the DR. on Saturday..I have a sinus infection which I pretty much knew...and I got a much needed antibiotic, some prescription decongestants, and nasal spray. I'm feeling much better today. But still not 100% and my medicine makes me a bit dizzy..yuck. I haven't been this sick in awhile and it reminded me of a time about 8 years ago when I was the sickest I've ever been with endometriosis. When you feel bad it reminds you of how important health and vitality is in our lives.. Life is to precious..There is to much of life to enjoy to feel so bad you can't fully experience it. Health is a our Greatest Blessing! Without it none of the rest really matters.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Think....


Go IU...and Cards

We play Georgetown today at 12:00. Also a huge rivalry game comes on today at 2...Louisville vs The Kentucky Wildcats......It will be a tough game but if anyone can beat the number one Cats...It's Louisville!

Home Remedies...

I've been sick for about a week and a half....I just called the Dr.. but they are closed.  Maybe it's time for some home remedies.

Home Remedies for Colds and Flu Shopping List:

Garlic – anti-viral, antibiotic, and antiseptic.
Onion – great for coughs and raw onion keeps the respiratory tract open.
Ginger – antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. In addition to treating cold/flu, ginger is excellent for nausea and vomiting.
Sage – carminative, antiseptic, and astringent – the mouth and throat plant. Used for sore throats and cough. Also used for sinus congestion. Sage should not be used when pregnant or breast feeding.
Thyme – antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent. Thyme is great for respiratory infections and coughs. It is also good for the stomach and relieves gas.
Cayenne powder – stimulant, anti-microbial, analgesic, carminative, diaphoretic, and expectorant. Cayenne can help prevent a cold or flu as well as shorten the duration of a cold or flu. It brings heat to the body, which can help dispel coldness.
Honey – raw, local honey should ideally be purchased either at a farmer’s market or at Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. Do not give honey to children under 1 year old.
Lemon – high in vitamin C, lemon may help decrease the strength of the cold and flu virus in the body and reduce phlegm. Many folks use lemons to build resistance to cold and flu, and speed up healing.

TEA AND INFUSIONS

HERBAL TEA – GENERAL PREPARATIONHerbal teas are a great way to treat cold/flu symptoms! Not only do you get the medicinal benefits, but they are also soothing, warm, and relaxing.

  • Pour boiling water over the herb, steep at least 20 minutes, and strain.
  • You can also use a French press, preparing as above and pressing after 20 minutes
INFUSION – GENERAL PREPARATIONInfusions usually use more herbs than regular herbal teas and are steeped for longer periods of time. I find using a French press to be the best method of infusing and the easiest way to strain. But, any glass jar (mason or recycled food containers) and a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth can be used.
  • 2 ounces of herbs or 2 generous handfuls of dried herb
  • 1 pint of water (if not completely covered add more water until the herb material is completely covered)
  • Steep for 4 – 10 hours or overnight
  • Strain herbs

Basic Cold & Flu Tea


I use this tea as a base and then add some of the other remedies below if needed. Garlic can irritate the stomach. If you are drinking this often you may need to adjust the amount of garlic or eliminate it.
Ingredients
3-4 slices fresh ginger with skin
One clove chopped garlic
Cayenne powder
Tea of choice (black, green, oolong, herbal)
Honey to taste
Milk/milk alternative, optional
Directions
  • Bring 3-4 slices of fresh ginger (skin on) and one clove of chopped garlic to a boil and simmer for approximately 20 minutes
  • Use ginger water to steep tea (black, green, oolong or any herbal tea)
  • Add cayenne powder as hot as can be tolerated to induce sweating
  • Honey to taste
  • Add milk or dairy alternative (almond, soy or other)
  • Drink 3-4 cups per day
  • Drink before bed and bundle up to induce sweat

Garlic Lemonade


This is another base recipe to drink daily through the duration of illness.
Ingredients
2-4 chopped garlic cloves
3-4 slices fresh ginger
Raw honey
Water
2-3 lemons
Directions
  • In a 1 quart mason jar combine 2-4 cloves chopped garlic and 3-4 slices of fresh ginger.
  • Cover and let steep for at least 20 minutes.
  • Add juice of 2-3 lemons and honey to taste (approximately ¼ cup)
  • You can strain or leave herbs in mixture.
  • Consume warm and as needed. It can be consumed at room temperature, but not chilled.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Candied Nuts

A neighbor of mine made me a jar of candied nuts this year for Christmas..They look like they will be quite tasty...I tried one but since my taste buds are all screwed up from this cold...alas I'm not sure how good they are.. Though I'm sure their wonderful! The cute little mason jar paired with plaid material and raffia bow really made the gift...sooo cute. It got me thinking of making candied nuts for people next year for Christmas.. I really struggle with getting all the baked goods, fudge, cookies, cakes etc.. done and fresh before the holidays. There is just so much to do.. I enjoy baking but when it becomes a endurance raise to finish..it becomes less than fun...It becomes work...Baked goods don't stay prime fresh for long, but nuts I could make weeks in advance, jar them up, and at Christmas they'd still be delightful. I need to find a way to still do handcrafted yummy things without the mad rush 2 days before Christmas....Homemade is awesome, but sometimes it hard to pencil it all in, during the few days before Christmas?? It's a thought? I found a couple different recipes on the net, I'm going to try them both to see which makes a better nut...smile

Directions: 1/2 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 cups almonds.

  1. Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds. Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Separate almonds using forks. Allow to cool about 15 minutes.

The Next Recipe.....First, you’ll beat two egg whites and 2 tablespoons of water to a frothy, fluffy, cloud-like consistency with very stiff peaks. It took me about 4 minutes, beaten on medium-high, to get the egg whites and water to that point. You want this mixture to be as voluminous as possible because the sugar will weigh it down. Next, add the sugar. Two cups of the sweet stuff. You’re making candied nuts, not diet food.Finally, mix in cinnamon and salt. I adore cinnamon in my recipes and, more often than not, have quite the heavy hand when pouring it. Cut down to 2 teaspoons at the minimum if you aren’t a cinnamon lover like I am. The salt in this mixture cuts down on the sweetness and each bite is partly salty/partly sweet/partly spiced. A plethora of pleasant taste profiles on your itty bitty tastebuds.
Once the sugar coating is ready, toss in the nuts and mix everything up well to cover every last morsel. Trust me, you want every inch of the nuts coated with a heavy blanket of the cinnamon/sugar/egg-whites, so make sure you do a job here.
Line a baking sheet with heavy duty parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. You’ll be thankful you did – I certainly don’t want burnt cinnamon sugar glaze stuck to my baking sheet. Spread the coated nuts over the lined sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 300F, stirring every 15 minutes to avoid burning. Warning: you’ll be so mesmerized by the glorious scent of the candied nuts roasting away in the kitchen, that you may just forget about anything else important in life. Like laundry in the dryer or a voicemail from your boss… just be aware of that in advance. (oops)
As the nuts cool, you’ll find little crunchy sugared coating bits that didn’t quite make it onto the nuts scattered around. Those may just be my favorite little bites. I could eat a bowl of just the crispy sugar coating! Package them up in little treat bags for your friends or set them out at a holiday get-together, perhaps along with some sprinkle-loaded chocolate covered pretzels?
Homemade Candied Nuts - I love this recipe!

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Homemade Cheesecake...

Let me tell ya...Homemade cheesecake is a real pain in the a#%...smile..LOL I did one today.. And let me tell ya I haven't made a baked from scratch cheesecake in many years...Hmmm...Maybe there was a reason for that. I ended up finding the recipe a guy at work uses so I ventured to try that one. It was simple enough to put together...but the baking was what seemed like hours.. Well actually about a hour and a half...for real.. no exaggeration. It didn't crack though..woohoo.. Will it taste good not sure?? I added a little white chocolate in the mix. And I put crushed oreos and drizzled white chocolate on top for presentation.. It actually looks quite scrumptious but I'm not sure about in reality if it tastes good or not. I'm chilling it in the fridge I hope that will firm it up more. I love those easy  Jello mix ones there actually very yummy.. Also I make the kind where you mix sugar, whip cream and cream cheese and let it chill in the fridge those are indeed fabulous.. I think from now on Ill stick to them..SMILE

For My Best Friend....

Merry Christmas Eve....

Today is a old rainy day, but that won't put a damper on today's Christmas Cheer. Christmas Eve for me is always spent at my best friends house with her family...I've kind of become a permanent fixture in the family as at one time I was going to marry the son...lol Well that didn't pan out but my love for them all remained...I have some last minute baking to do and I hope it all turns out well.. I had a recipe for cheesecake from a friend that I've seemed to misplace soooo...it's time to take to the net for a little look see...SMILE.. Oh I'd like a little husky for Chrsitmas...ruff..ruff

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Just Believe....

What I've Been Up Too....

Here are some photos of what I've been up too....Between baking and crafting for Christmas...I've been a busy girl..smile!

Homemade Eggnog

OK I swiped this recipe from one of my favorite blogs...The Prairie Homestead. The lady has such interesting posts I really enjoy getting on there and checking out her latest info... Here was a great recipe for Eggnog.
  • 2 cups milk (raw is best, if you can find it!)
  • 2 cups cream (raw is best, if you can find it!)
  • 6 egg yolks (from a reputable source)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (where to buy maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (how to make your own vanilla extract)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (where to buy real cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of sea salt (where to buy sea salt)
  • 2 tablespoons egg white (optional: for extra creamy version only)
  • Quick Version: Combine all ingredients in a blender or stand mixer (a blender is less messy), and mix thoroughly. Chill completely before serving.

    Kitchen Notes:

    • Sometimes I like to strain my eggnog to create a smoother finish–especially if I’ve ground my own spices and there are coarser bits.
    • Don’t have a good source of pastured eggs? Try this cooked eggnog recipe instead.
    • This eggnog recipe makes 3-4 servings.
    • The good thing about this eggnog recipe is that it’s super flexible– you can definitely adjust the spices and sweetener to fit your tastes.
    • If you’re still feeling nervous about eating raw eggs from your chickens, give them a quick wash in soapy water before you crack them.
    • This is a non-alcoholic eggnog recipe, but if you’re looking to spice it up a bit, try this eggnog recipe with bourbon.
    • Don’t want to make your own eggnog, but still want to avoid the junk in this storebought stuff? I love Kalona SuperNatural Eggnog– check your local health food store to see if they carry it.

    Almost Done...

    Well I'm almost done with everything Holiday related...well..almost. Today marks my "Big Endeavor". This is when I spend the day in the kitchen, baking sweet treats, and putting together special boxes for loved ones. Usually I bake about 10 batches of cookies 3 batches of fudge, and some other goodies like no-bake cookies and this year possibly truffles??? Yummy!! I have to admit I'm a little intimidated, but already this morning I've accomplished 2 batches of fudge and they are already chilling in the fridge...woohooo a head start. One good thing is I've already done my suckers, and my bread, and the puppy chow...soo actually the day won't be quite so long.. But I do love baking...creating something beautiful from sugar, chocolate, and flour...smile. Last nite I made roll out sugar cookies with my friend and her grand daughter. We cut out snowflakes and Christmas trees, and they turned out great...Christmas is such a lovely time, a special time of year to make memories, remember laughs, and love lotss... Bless Be

    Monday, December 22, 2014

    Think about it?

    Why do the Pansy's resist the frost...it's almost like they shake it off in the suns light...and become more like themselves once more. Vibrant and full of life and color!! One of nature's little miracles...smile

    Sunday, December 21, 2014

    Merry Yule!

    Although I love Christmas...and celebrate it for its true Christian meaning. Today I honor another side of my self...the more wild, into the woods, natural me...smile. Merry Yule to all!!!

    The Winter Solstice - Yule Lore

    The date varies from December 20 to December 23 depending on the year in the Gregorian calendar. Yule is also known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere due to the seasonal differences.
    Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun's "rebirth" was celebrated with much joy. On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. From this day forward, the days would become longer.
    Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider. Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun. The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not "die" thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit tthe residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration. It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.

    The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder's land, or given as a gift... it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

    A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.

    Many customs created around Yule are identified with Christmas today. If you decorate your home with a Yule tree, holly or candles, you are following some of these old traditions. The Yule log, (usually made from a piece of wood saved from the previous year) is burned in the fire to symbolize the Newborn Sun/Son.

    Symbolism of Yule:
    Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

    Symbols of Yule:
    Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

    Herbs of Yule:
    Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

    Foods of Yule:
    Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb's wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

    Incense of Yule:
    Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

    Colors of Yule:
    Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

    Stones of Yule:
    Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

    Activities of Yule:
    Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule

    Thanks...

    I'm so thankful for my blog...it is my release, my way of getting away from it all... This little niche in the Internet world has brought me lots of sanity this year. So THANK YOU you blogger. Merry Christmas!

    The True Meaning??

    For many the Holiday Season marks a time of year for gift giving....Yes its a wonderful thing... To share your love with those closest to you and to give and receive expressions of that love. In today's world we take that expression a step further...well wayyyyyyyyyy further. We have people fighting over the cheap TV's on a day that has become known as Black Friday...aka the day after Thanksgiving. People are shoving there way threw lines, fights always seems to break out, and anyone who has been shopping on Black Friday knows, people are seemingly at their worst..complete with foul moods and attitude... OH My... I've come to the conclusion the sales will wait till next week, nothings worth dealing with those type of crowds. Internet shopping is on the rise...I can see why..smile. Our expressions of love have become how big and expensive a gift can be. Yesterday I heard on the news...that men aren't suppose to buy cheap jewelry for Christmas that's just somehow wrong.....UGHHHH what if that's all he can afford, what if she likes costume jewelry better, and besides and this is probably the biggest point of all....It's the thought that counts. Money spent doesn't mean the thought is deeper?? Does it??? Somehow are society seems to think the more you spend the more you love...I don't by it! So the true meaning of Christmas is what...Commercialism, Sales, Materialism??? Not to mention the actual true meaning of Christmas......Jesus's Birthday!!! To honor his birth!! What happened to that..Today we are arguing over whether or not we can display a manger...Ughh.. Come on now that's what Christmas is all about?? Right? Isn't Christmas a Christian Holiday??? Why would we not put up mangers?? How did we get so lost. I know my friends and family have talked for years about one year just trying homemade gifts...you know breads, jellies, cookies, ornaments, and other things you can make.. Things that one has to really put forth their time and talent to create.. To me those types of gifts are the best anyway. Because it shows how well a person knows you, and a great deal of time and effort on the person's part to show their love. Now does going to buy a 3,000 dollar ring show the same love...hmmmm. I'm not saying a ring isn't nice but I'm not sure it sends the same message as a handmade scarf? However my own family has yet to try the handmade gift thing??? Why??? Well it's extremely hard to make that transition. For one children have been raised in world where if they don't get all the expensive computers, ipods, and cellphones they desire they are in some way unloved, and underprivileged?? I mean they really think this...no lie. So it's hard to give a kid a scarf and expect them to be happy and thankful...Ohhh I know the horror of my words is clear to me as I type them... But that is our reality... Hopefully the next generations will have someone to tell them...Hey there is a thing called selfishness. Please be happy with what you get. Please realize that love isn't the same as things...Maybe one day my own family will come to that place... I do try to make somethings though, boxes of treats, and other handmade items...it's a start in the right direction...atleast.

    Saturday, December 20, 2014

    Down Sick....

    Well its been a few days since I've felt like posting...I've been sick..blahh. It was so strange I'd just said..."Knock on wood..I've really dodged the bullet" As in being sick when everyone around me had been. Well I guess I spoke to soon. It was an inevitable part of Winter...the dreaded sinus infection...It couldn't have come at a worse time..Christmas preparations are now a must.. I'm working in crunch mode. I have about a zillion cookies to make..oh my. The other nite while sick..I made about 7 jars of bread, which for some reason wouldn't get done. I'm not sure I'm attempting that idea again. Luckily I made my chocolate pops last week and got a head start. I made a batch of cookies and boxed them up for my cousin. I always have so many big ideas for sweet treats for Christmas...but the problem is having the time...or feeling up too doing said endeavors. I also got the "Puppy Chow made" It was awesome, after having totally screwed up the first batch of chocolate. Alas I did the double boiler thing and it all worked out on Trial 2...LOL I've got most of my presents wrapped or bagged up, and I've only got a couple more things to buy. Sooooo I guess I'm in better shape than alot of people...also I'm definitely on the mend. The glass is indeed half full today!

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    This truly says it all........Live by it!

    A window to the past....

    “For truly we are all angels temporarily hiding as humans.”
    Brian L. Weiss
    “What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now.”
    Life is but a mirror that we've happened to glimpse into...but the frailty of human nature disallows us to truly see.....where did that come from???
    “I recognized you instantly. All of our lives flashed through my mind in a split second. I felt a pull so strongly towards you that I almost couldn't stop it.”
    J. Sterling, In Dreams



    Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Stop Dwelling!!!!

    Oh the self torment....Why do I do it???? Is it some deep seeded hurt, some feeling that I will be unloved if a I screw up? If I'm not perfect? A insane and paranoid fear of letting someone down???? Where does that come from?? Help...I need it erased!!!

    Saturday, December 13, 2014

    On Chocolate.. In Defense Of Melts!!!

    After researching chocolate...uhhh..Honestly chocolate seems like a tricky substance. Mannn you might as well be a chemist working in the lab...lol.. Basically it sounds to me that chocolate must be a perfect consistency, temperature, and type in order to work well for your baking needs... Ummm lets just say I'm a little intimidated. The author of the article seemed to steer us away from the candy melts...But I for one really like them. I use the chocolate melts from Wilton every year at Christmas to make the Holiday Pops I posted about a couple days ago.. They always turn out lovely, smooth, firm consistency. And....by all accounts they taste wonderful!!! So I personally don't have any issues with the melts, plus they are obviously easier to work with than..."REAL" chocolate.. Sooo I'm wondering if maybe I should just go with what I know for dipping.. However I did get some Guiardelli white chocolate and I'm going to try it tooo....What can I say I love to experiment...smile...

    Friday, December 12, 2014

    How to...

    Today I'm searching the net on How TO....effectively dip things in chocolate. Now I've tried this all before to no avail...all on my own with no help.. Well it's time to consult the experts...lol. Here's a article I found below...

    Chocolate Dipping Tips

    I am by no means a professional, but am happy to share some of my chocolate dipping tips with you. If you have not yet read my tab working with chocolate. I highly recommend that you do. This page will explain a little about tempering and will help you choose a good chocolate to dip with, as well as help you decide between chocolate and candy melts.
    If you are ready to dip... read on!

    Working with Chocolate

    Chocolate is not the easiest substance to work with, but knowing a little about it before you begin will save you a big headache later on. If you are a beginner I recommend working with Candy Melts first and moving on to real chocolate as you progress. (Scroll down for more information on Candy Melts.)
    A Little About Working with Chocolate
    Chocolate that you buy in a store has been "tempered". This means it has been heated and cooled a number of times to very precise temperature ranges to create cocoa butter crystals. These crystals are what give the chocolate a firm set and a shiny look. Tempered chocolate has a good "snap" when broken. Because of this hardness, it can be wrapped and kept at room temperature without melting or leaving chocolate residue on its packaging. Almost all chocolate bars you buy at the grocery store have been tempered. Chocolate will differ in "hardness" based on brand and purpose for use. Good quality chips like Guittard are usually softer than chocolate bars (they usually contain wax or other additives to keep their shape instead of tempering), and thus they are less ideal for chocolate dipping. You want to use the "hardest" tempered chocolate you can find as it will give you the best set. This chocolate is usually found in the candy aisle by the fancy bar chocolates, or sometimes in the baking aisle.

    Melting chocolate can cause it to lose it's temper. This is where most people run into difficulties when chocolate-dipping at home. This results in a product that is not hard at room temperature; touching it will leave fingerprints, thus it cannot be wrapped, and is incredibly messy to eat. This is what you want to avoid when dipping chocolate.

    You can re-temper chocolate at home, but it a very complicated process. I do not temper my own chocolate, but instead attempt to "keep" the crystals (and the temper) that comes in pre-tempered bar chocolate from the store. To "keep" the crystals you'll need to avoid heating the chocolate at high temperatures, as heat destroys the crystals. The hotter your chocolate gets as you melt it, the more crystals you are destroying, and the softer your set will be.

    In summary, you want to choose a chocolate with a firm temper and keep it tempered for best results when dipping chocolate.

    A Few General Rules for Working With Chocolate

    These are a few tips that will help you as you work with chocolate, particularly if you have never worked with it before. These rules apply to "real" chocolate and not Candy Melts (which contain no cocoa butter and thus do not need to be tempered, and do not seize as easily).

    #1-*Never* combine it with water.Water "seizes" chocolate. If even a drop or two gets into your bowl, or you use a damp spoon right out of the dishwasher- you can seize an entire bowl of melted chocolate. You will know if it has seized. Your mixture will get thick and clumpy and grainy. It is nearly always impossible to salvage. You will not be able to use it for dipping, although if you add about a Tbsp of vegetable oil or shortening and mix until smooth, most of the time this chocolate can still be used in other recipes that call for melted chocolate, like brownies, cookies, or syrups.

    This water rule includes coloring and flavorings that contain water. If you would like to color or flavor your chocolate you need to use Candy coloring or flavoring. These can be found at Hobby Lobby or other craft stores, and specifically say "Candy" on the package. If you look at the ingredient list they will contain oils and not water.

    #2-Melt at the lowest heat possible. Overheated chocolate will seize even if no water has gotten into your bowl. This is one of the reasons it is important to melt chocolate at the lowest possible heat until smooth. You can use a double boiler to melt your chocolate, which usually keeps the temperature low. Essentially you place an inch or so of water in the pot of a double boiler, place it over low heat, and place the pan on top where you will place your chocolate. Your chocolate should never touch the water. This method can be tricky, however. The boiler pot can produce quite a bit of steam and water droplets, which can easily seize your chocolate, and you must constantly be checking that the water is not boiling and the bottom of your chocolate bowl is dry. This method is also very slow. Recently I have found it to be much more trouble than it is worth.

    I typically prefer to melt my chocolate in the microwave. Each microwave is different so you really need to pay attention to your machine and always err on the side of caution. For me, it works best to microwave at 50% power, stirring my chocolate every 30 seconds or so. Most of my chocolate melts in about a minute and a half total. If your chocolate is nearly melted, it is a good idea not to put it back in the microwave for another round, but to stir until the small chunks have been melted by the hot chocolate. This will keep the chocolate from overheating and losing it's temper and will also ensure you don't seize your chocolate. If your chocolate is nearly melted but you really need to put it in the microwave for another round- try only 15 seconds or so at 50% power.

    After the initial 30 second round, you may look at your chocolate and think, "This doesn't look melted at all. It doesn't need to be stirred.". It *does* need to be stirred. Even if none of your chocolate is melted, parts of it have trapped heat, and the uneven heating of a microwave has concentrated it in certain areas. If you don't stir it, it is very likely you will scorch or seize your chocolate.

    If your chocolate has seized as a result of overheating, you can try adding a Tbsp or so of vegetable oil or shortening to it. If you can mix it smooth, you may still be able to use it for dipping (although it may set "soft"). If not, you can still use this chocolate for other projects, like cookies and brownies as mentioned above.

    If your chocolate has not seized, but you are afraid you have overheated it (if the bowl burns you it has probably gotten too hot!), you can try to salvage the temper by using the seed method. Add a handful or so of solid (unmelted) chocolate to your bowl and stir until the temperature of the chocolate mixture has come down and the chocolate chunks are completely melted. Essentially you are adding more "seeds" or "crystals" to your chocolate since you have likely lost most of yours (and thus your temper) by overheating. If you have access to large blocks of chocolate, it is sometimes easiest to add a large chunk and stir it in until it will not melt any longer. Then you can just remove what is left of the chunk and not have to worry about having small unmelted bits in your mixture that end up needing another round in the microwave. (Do not mix different brands of chocolate however; if you want to do this, make sure you use this same chocolate initially.)

    If you dip something in chocolate and it never sets at room temperature, you have overheated your chocolate and lost it's temper. Try melting at a lower heat next time.

    #3 Get the hardest possible set.Getting a hard set is really important if you want to wrap your treats or give them away. If you do not care, you can use untempered chocolate (Guittard milk chocolate chips are delicious) and just keep your treats in the refrigerator until right before eating. But usually you will probably want a firm set for your treats.

    The trick is a combination of things we've already discussed. Use a hard-tempered chocolate. It should snap when broken. It should not be a soft chocolate. Melt it at the lowest possible temperature, and stir in an extra square or two after melting the rest of your mixture to ensure your chocolate has lots of crystals. (It is okay if your square doesn't completely melt and you need to remove it.)

    So What About Candy Melts?

    Candy melts are a type of "pseudo-chocolate" used often in candy making. They are usually disc shaped and found in the baking aisle of craft stores and sometimes even Walmart. They come in a multitude of colors. These are best for beginners to work with, because they melt like a dream and set up very hard. They are very runny when melted so they dip easily and beautifully. Candy melts do not have cocoa butter in them, so they do not need to be tempered. In this sense they are not a "true" chocolate although the brown ones do contain cocoa powder which makes them taste a bit like real chocolate.

    The con to using candy melts is that they don't taste very good. I actually quite like the white candy melts that are sold at Hobby Lobby (Make-n-Mold brand), but I have yet to find an impressive brown chocolate candy melt. I typically tint my own chocolate so I don't usually buy colored melts and cannot make recommendations there. In my experience the Wilton brand melts are the most widely available, but also my least favorite. I do not care for them.

    When buying candy melts, look for melts that are not discolored or dotted with white. Old melts can seize and do not melt very well. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for stores to sell melts that are up to 5 years old! If it doesn't look right, don't buy it.

    Candy melts are great for painting into candy molds and making "chocolate" suckers. They are also great for drizzling, and piping hearts, skeletons, or words, for topping cupcakes or cakes.

    So... Chocolate or Candy Melts?
    This is a personal decision. Some people only use real chocolate for dipping, while others use Candy Melts for nearly everything. My rule is if I am going primarily for taste- I use real chocolate for dipping. If I am going primarily for looks- I use candy melts for dipping. (Particularly if you are wrapping up your goodies or serving them as a party- because the melts will guarantee you a hard set and not a gooey mess!) 

    Chocolate Dipping Tools

    You don't need a lot of fancy tools for chocolate dipping at home. You can use a simple fork or spoon to rest cookies or other treats on while you dip them into chocolate, but since the dipping sets are so cheap, I do recommend getting a set if you are planning to dip more than once. The "fork" is particularly useful for cookies, and the "spoon" is best for truffles and cake bites. The dipping spoon in particular, allows excess chocolate to drip off through the hole in the middle, so your finished product will not be resting in a big pool of chocolate like it will if you use a regular spoon. Some stores also sell plastic sets which are only a few dollars but I prefer the metal sets for repeated use.
    Dipping... What do I actually DO?

    1. Prepare your item to be dipped.
    If you want to practice or experiment, Oreo cookies are a great starting point. Have your item of choice out, at room temperature (unless otherwise stated in the recipe), and completely dry. Dampness can seize your chocolate, so when dipping fruits and other damp items, it is best to let them drain or "dry out" for 15 minutes or so on a countertop. Be sure to pat them dry before beginning.

    2. Choose an appropriate container.
    If you are dipping something long like pretzel rods, it may be a good idea to melt your chocolate in a tall skinny glass so your chocolate will be very "high" on your rod. If you are using only a small amount of chocolate, or dipping only a few treats, it is a good idea to melt your chocolate in a custard bowl or shallow cup. This will make your chocolate higher in the container so you can completely submerge your treats. If you are using large amounts of chocolate it usually does not matter what container you use; just make sure it is microwave safe!

    3. Melt your chocolate.
    Break or cut your chocolate into small chunks. Microwave at 50% power in increments of 30 seconds, stirring after each interval. After 1 min 30 seconds, melt in intervals of 10-15 seconds only. Do not let the chocolate get too hot. If your mixture is nearly all smooth, don't microwave again, but stir for a few minutes, allowing the hot chocolate to melt the remaining chocolate lumps.

    You want your chocolate to be "of dipping consistency". This means, very thin. A thin chocolate will coat your dipping item smoothly and evenly and will drip off nicely. If your chocolate is completely melted and still not thin, you may need to add a bit of shortening or vegetable oil to thin it out. (This is often the case when using chocolate chips because they contain wax and other thickeners.)

    4. Dip your item.
    Be sure that your chocolate is not TOO hot (it will run right off your treat and won't leave a very thick coating) and not too cool (it will "gloop" on your dipped item and will not run off nicely and evenly.) As your practice, you will come to know when your chocolate is at the best temperature for dipping.

    Place item to be dipped on chocolate dipping fork or spoon (or use a regular fork or spoon) and dip straight down into your chocolate mixture. If the chocolate is not deep enough for the item to be completely submersed, either dip your item half-way (cookies dipped half in chocolate look great), or tilt your container towards you about 45 degrees to make a little "pillow" of chocolate in front which is deep enough to cover your treat. If you'd like you can roll your treat around in the chocolate, or turn it over several times to get it completely coated. Pull the item back out with chocolate dipping fork or spoon.

    TAP the fork or spoon gently on the side of your container. This will pull excess chocolate back into the container and will leave less of "puddle" when you set your treat down to cool. It will also help you get a smooth coat on your treat.

    5. Place your dipped treat onto a parchment lined tray.
    The parchment will keep the chocolate from sticking. A Silpat is another alternative. When all treats have been dipped, move the tray to the refrigerator if desired to help them cool quickly. You can also use the freezer but the quick cooling of the chocolate can sometimes cause cracks in your chocolate so I do not recommend this.

    6. Remove from refrigerator when set and package up or consume.
    Treats can be stored in the refrigerator, but chocolate can bloom or turn grainy after a few days in the refrigerator so keep this in mind. (This can also happen out of the refrigerator, but I've found it much more likely in the fridge as the cool temperature exacerbates the separation).

    Holiday Chocoloate Pops!!

    Last night I started my Holiday Chocolate pops, as I call them..There fun and easy to make...and everyone just loves them. I wrap them with decorative christmas bags, then tie a bow around them. They are so cute, and look really professional! So far I have about 50 made and I probably need about 25 more. Today I have to go out and buy some more stuff to make them!!

    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    Puppy Chow....

    Christmas is fast approaching...It just seems to come quicker and quicker every year. Why is that? I've got alot of my Christmas shopping done. Hooray! But there is still alot left to do. I haven't started my "Great Undertaking"..Which includes somewhere around 30 tins, and this year I'm doing Puppy Chow...smile, and Bread in mason jars...LOL. I figure it will take me about 2 solid days. The trick is finding the right window where I have the time to do all this baking and it's close enough to Christmas to have it all fresh...and coincide with me seeing all these people and every ones schedule....whoaahhh not an easy task.. But I try! Below is a recipe for Puppy Chow... I thought I'd try to make this sweet and salty treat this year...God Bless

    White Chocolate Chex Mix – aka "Puppy Chow"

    Ingredients
    • 1 12oz box of Rice Chex
    • 2 cups pretzels (we used holiday shapes)
    • 2 cups peanuts
    • 2 cups Mand M's
    • 1 to 2 lbs. white chocolate (or almond/candy bark)
    Directions:
    1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
    2. Melt the white chocolate. I always just use the microwave, but you can get a smoother melt by going with the fancier double boiler method!
    3. Pour melted chocolate over the dry ingredients and combine. You want everything to be coated–how well coated is totally up to your discretion. I’m not a fan of being too sweet, so I tend to use a little less. If it’s not coated to your liking, then just melt some more and add it in.
    4. Pour mixture on to a large cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Allow to dry completely.
    Then, place it in baggies or tins for storage…or package it up for gifts! Super easy to make and SUPER yummy!
    Enjoy!

    Tuesday, December 9, 2014

    That Freedom....

    Something that I've learned from my travels. You find freedom in life when you realize that people aren't always going to accept you. That people will judge you without fully knowing who you are. And even if they do know you...there will always be those misconceptions that you can never quite shake. Don't let this alarm you, for that is the nature of human beings. You have to rise above the bonds that others try and place upon you...to free yourself from the shackles of living up to others expectations of you...Once you realize it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks...as long as you know who you are....that is the big win in the end...Knowing who you are??? I've walked so many years seeing myself through others eyes, trying to fit into others misconceptions, perceptions, and notions of who I AM. It's a lost cause. I have to stop judging myself, doubting myself based on what others say to me or think of me. Who cares what they think...I don't have to convince them...I only have to convince myself.....

    The Divide


    Sometimes its hard to walk in 2 worlds...never being fully accepted by either..

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

    Master Gardener Wreath Making Class!!!

    Today I had a great time working,helping, and making my own Christmas Wreath at the Annual Master Gardener's Wreath Making Class!! Actually it's more of a Yule Wreath...very natural and rustic. Kind of like the people of old would have made to decorate their homes and commemorate Yule time! Take a look..smile. These how to instructions make use of a different type of form than the ones we used today. I personally like the metal ones with the little prongs best. Why? Well basically because you don't have to mess with extra wire, and the prongs easily clamp down onto the inserted greenery, holding it in place...It's just easier. However these directions are pretty similar to today's activities!!
    TOOLS AND MATERIALS
    - Fresh evergreens, such as pine, holly, cedar, bittersweet, turkey beard, juniper, boxwood and many others. Be creative and use what you’ve got!
    - Pruning shears
    - Floral wire (on a roll)
    - Heavier wire for a hanging loop (optional)
    - Wreath form (You can either purchase one at a craft store or create one yourself with anything that will make a firm circular shape).
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Gather Your Greenery. You can purchase your greenery or collect it from the yard. There are even many parks that will let you snip greenery, as they often need to prune back certain areas. Get pieces anywhere from 6″ to about 18″ in length. You can always trim later. Look to include interesting accents like berries and pine cones.

    How to Make a Wreath - Starting the Process
    Bill starts this wreath with a piece of fresh cedar. Photo: Jennifer Noonan
    2. Add Greenery to Your Form. You’ve got to start somewhere, so just pick a piece of greenery (or a small bunch) and lay it on your form. Wrap floral wire around the lower part of the stem to secure it to the form. Wind the wire around three or four times and pull tight. Very tight. Lay another piece (or small bunch) of greenery over the first piece, with the stem 3″ to 4″ behind the first one, with the result that they overlap nicely. Wrap with wire, as you did the first stem. Continue to add greenery to work your way around the form.

    How to Make a Wreath - Adding Greenery
    Working around the form adding greenery. Photo: jencelene
    3. Finish it Off. Once you’ve reached the place where you started, lift up the first piece of greenery you attached and stick the stem of your last piece underneath. Shift things around until you get the look you desire. If you find a spot that looks a little bare, you can simply wire another piece of greenery onto the form. And if you want to add a hanger, wrap a loop of heavier wire around the wreath form at the top. Add a bow too, if you like, before hanging your wreath for display.
    How to Make a Wreath - Finishing Up