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Monday, August 27, 2012

Listen to your Elder....Elderberry Boost

It is that time of year when children and college students return to the confinement of buses, classrooms and dorms. A healthy immune system is continuously at work protecting us from the threat of invading viral, bacterial and fungal infection.

Exposure to such environmental threats on a body in a weakened state wears down our resources and we find ourselves feeling out of sorts or flat out sick. Learn how to reduce susceptibility to illness by strengthening your immune system.

One of nature's medicines is the wild elder (Sambucus species). A shrubby, unruly bush found among hedgerows, this small tree is lanky and not much to look at when not in bloom. Attempts to rid unkept landscapes of this shrub are often in vain as it easily resprouts even after a hard pruning.

Every June this versatile herb is beautiful as it is covered with large, saucer-shaped off-white flowers. These flowers can be gathered and used as a food source such as flower fritters, a wash or toner to maintain clear skin, or as a medicinal tea to clear congestion in the respiratory tract, relieve hay fever or aid in reducing fevers. Poultices for minor burns, wounds and swollen joints are made with mashed flowers wrapped in layers of cheesecloth. Elder flower water was once considered a valuable beauty aid among women to keep the face blemish and freckle free, as well as a great aid for sunburn.

The following vinegar spritz can be used as relief for overexposure to the sun as well as a skin balancing astringent if diluted with water.

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In the late summer
the flowers have turned to dark blue berries often sought after for jam, wine and syrups. If you wait too long the bushes are soon stripped clean by the birds. Don't eat these right off the bush. The fresh berries can upset your stomach. Dry or cook the berries before eating them. If you do collect your own elderberries, make sure they are the dark blue or black ones and not the red berries. The red berries belong to S. racemosa which is toxic.

Elder is a cleansing herb that improves the body's ability to flush out toxins. It increases sweating and acts both as a diuretic and laxative. Little scientific research has been done with elder's medicinal properties, but historically black elder was one of the most popular medicinal herbs throughout Europe. In North America various Indian tribes such as the Iroquois, Delaware and Cherokee used both the flowers and the berries for rheumatism, skin problems, infections, and liver problems.

Years back, elderberries were used to darken and "age" cheap port wine. It was then discovered that drinking of this wine relieved rheumatic pain and nervous system pain such as sciatica.

Strengthen your family's immune system by daily use of the following elixir or use at the first symptoms of illness. This syrup can be taken right off a spoon or added to hot water and honey as a tea. Being this syrup is honey based it should not be used by children under 1 year of age.

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So respect and listen to your elder!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Elegance of the Rose, Old Fashioned Beauty

Aloe Rose Facial Cleanse, Serum, Make-up remover

Rose n' Elderflower Vinegar Facial Toner

Elegance of Rose Facial Moisturizer

Rose n' Glycerin Hand n' Body Lotion

Rosewater Facial Toner

The Rose, The Flower of Love


Love,
As pure and gentle as the petal of a rose,

As harsh and sharp as the venom of a thorn.

So easy to hurt, to prick one's tender soul





The rose is the one flower most steeped in legend as the flower of love.
According to Greek mythology, the rose was born and crowned the Queen of Flowers by Chloris, the goddess of flowers.
Upon finding the body of a beautiful nymph, she asked the Three Graces, Aphrodite, Dionysus and Zephyr to create a flower in her honor. The Graces added joy and charm, Aphrodite gave the flower its beauty, Dionysus added a special nectar, and Zephyr, the wind god, blew away the clouds so the sun could kiss the petals.

Roman mythology tells how the color was obtained when Jupiter caught Venus bathing and her blush turned the white rose to red. The Greeks claim the deep color stems from when Aphrodite scratched herself on a rose thorn and in sympathy red roses sprung up from the blood.

In Eastern traditions, when a soul knocks on the door to the next world, only the rose is allowed to follow, leaving all other possessions behind.
Early Christians symbolized the red rose with martyrs' blood and life after death. The white rose portrayed the innocence and purity of the Virgin Mary.

The cultivated rose was most likely from Northern Persia or what is now Iran. From there it traveled to the Mediterranean where we so often hear how the Romans lavishly used rose petals in their baths, banquet halls, marital beds and funerals.

Avicenna in the 10th century was the first to make rosewater. Pliny listed 32 medicines prepared from roses. Otto or attar of roses was discovered in the 16th century in Persia and is now a major ingredient in perfumes and the world of aromatherapy.

Oil of roses is used for depression, anxiety, emotional health as well as physical problems surrounding PMS and skin conditions. Being so labor-intensive, rose oil is among the most expensive of the aromatic oils to produce. It takes over 200 pounds of rose petals to produce one ounce of rose oil. Aromatherapy often offers rose oil diluted in jojoba oil. Pure rose oil is found in many of the more costly perfumes. Synthetic fragrance oils are commonly used to make this wonderful scent more affordable and can be found in air sprays, candles, body sprays, etc.
 Absolutely no pesticide is used on these roses.

We gather our own organically grown rose petals (absolutely no pesticide is used on these rose bushes) and make an infusion by utilizing the heat of the sun to draw out the rose's wonderful qualities. Rose petals, distilled water, alcohol for preservation and a touch of rosewater concentrate combine to bring you our rosewater which is present within our Rose, Aloe, Olive oil Soapfree Facial Wash, Rosewater Facial Toner, The Rose and Elderflower Vinegar Facial Toner, The Rose and Glycerin Hand and Body Lotion, and the Rose Facial Cream and Moisturizer.

Let the rose help you feel beautiful as you enjoy a tradition in natural beauty care carried on for generations.

http://www.meadowmuffingardens.com
http://www.meadowmuffin2010.etsy.com
http://www.zibbet.com/meadowmuffin2010

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your Own Business?! Quips and Tips

The Home Business AESOP

What is usually the first bit of advice with having an at home office?
Get the cat off the desk!

Part of me is flattered that they seem to think that the minute someone takes a seat it means lap time for them.  Not pictured here but it is a given that there is a dog somewhere under the desk as well.
Their content, blissful snoozing helps keep me calm and focused. I think we all carry around that nagging voice of doubt which tries to plant seeds of insecurity. The fear of failure can be crippling enough for many people to not even attempt that first step towards a dream. Frustration is a given, and as long as we remember the "this too shall pass" philosophy, we will gain two steps forward for every step backwards. Failure should not be thought of as a waste of time.

Long a fan of the wisdom behind children's books, I particularly like Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh. By gathering  a few quotes I came up with a little food for thought about business success. 

AESOP

A is for Attitude
E is for Education
S is for Social Networking
O is for Organization
P is for Perseverance

Attitude
"You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You're on your own.  And you know what you know.  And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..."  Dr. Seuss

We know the saying about being the masters of our fate.  All we need is to put fear aside and get out of our own way.  God gave us the tools we need, we just have to recognize and believe it enough to act on it.

Education
"The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn the more places you'll go."  Dr. Seuss

Also remember the words of wisdom from this childhood poem:
"There was an old owl who lived in an oak,
The more he saw, the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
We should all be like that wise old bird"

No matter what our age, we should never stop learning.  Not only will you become more knowledgeable in your field, you'll have plenty of sources for pulling up information when needed.
Making mistakes is all part of that education.  If we're observant we'll learn from the mistakes of others before we have to pay the price by making those same mistakes ourselves.


 Social Networking
"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."  Winnie the Pooh

With the internet and social networking sites it is a mistake to assume that just being a part of the world wide web means you will automatically find exposure.  It is a rude awakening when you realize how quickly a website or shop becomes buried in cyberspace.  An on-line business is ideal for someone who is more of an introvert and prefers to reach people through the written word rather than physically getting out there in person to sell yourself verbally.  But if that is your path of choice you have to take advantage of networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogs, and means of advertizing. 

Organization
 "The hardest part is what to leave behind,...It's time to let go!"  Winnie the Pooh

Having organizational skills and a daily schedule is paramount to a successful business.  This is especially true if you work out of your home.  Look closely at your habits and change what is necessary to stay on top of things.  A home business can easily become chaotic with constant interruptions, lack of work space and lack of organization with supplies and bookkeeping.
Find a balance between family and business.  Carve out a set amount of hours in the day that the message is clear to everyone else that you are "working" and demand respect for your time.



Staying on top of the bookkeeping can very easily become one's downfall. Take advantage of modern technology to help you keep everything straight. To help you, here is an awesome source of information from the Team EcoEtsy Blog.

Perseverance
"Don't Go Straight, Go Forward"  The Mighty Manatees (an awesome band)
Expect to make mistakes since that is the way to learn and improve in anything.
Give yourself a break when things don't go easily.  No one said this road would be an easy one.

Hold onto your values, and your customer base will eventually grow.  People appreciate honesty and consideration.  Say what you'll do and do what you say.  Your business will be defined by those values, so keep your focus, eye on the goal, and stay motivated. 

Last, surround yourself with positive energy.  So what if some people think you a bit odd or crazy for taking on the unknown.  My husbands favorite bit of advice for me has always been,
"When in doubt, go for it."    We all have the right to seek out a dream.  To each his own.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tomato, Tomata, makes the Salata

Perhaps the most popular and widely grown vegetable in the home garden is the tomato. Grown in most parts of the world it is interesting that it was once thought to be poisonous. In the botanical world it is considered a berry, so called a fruit. Yet in the marketplace it is called a vegetable. What do you do with an abundance of  these 'gold apples', as they once were called, when they all seem to ripen on the vine at once? We look so forward to that vine ripened goodness after having to resort to tasteless supermarket tomatoes during the off season, yet within days we are wondering what to do with them all. Well, you can certainly eat them, but did you know you can also add them to your collection of kitchen beauty treatments?

Some rheumatoid arthritis sufferers may find it best to avoid tomatoes in their diet as this member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family may aggravate their inflammation. Also, those with diverticulosis need to remove the seeds first.  However for most, tomatoes are very beneficial. Being rich in nutrition and mineral salts tomatoes are used to stimulate a poor appetite and can do wonders for improving the health of a weak liver. Lycopene is the red pigment found in rosy colored vegetables. This potent antioxidant ranks right up there with vitamin C.

There are two ways to enjoy tomato juice. For juicing, just wash, cut into quarters and run them through your juicer. Fresh raw juice maintains its vitamin C, whereas heating for freezing or canning purposes destroys a portion of this very important antioxidant. The plus side of the tomato is that with its high acid content they can be cold packed into jars and with a waterbath of only about fifteen minutes much of the vitamin C is still present.

If you have a surplus and want to utilize them all at once but haven't the time to deal with canning jars, they can  easily be made into juice and frozen. Just cut up (don't bother to peel), and put into a large pot. Slightly crush the first few layers to have liquid on the bottom. Slowly bring to a boil and keeping it on medium heat cook till soft. It doesn't take long, just be sure to stir and keep an eye on them so they don't scorch. If tomatoes scorch the taste of the whole pot is ruined. Cool a bit so you don't suffer a burn from splashing juice when you ladle the cooked tomatoes over to a food mill. Have ready a large bowl to catch the juice and another small bowl to catch the pulp. Run the cooked tomatoes through the food mill which will separate the juice from the pulp, wait until cool and transfer into freezer containers. Add the pulp to your compost pile if you have one. Once the juice is frozen you can use as needed for drinking or for use in recipes. Tomato juice can be turned into tomato sauce simply by adding chopped onions, celery, green pepper and garlic and cooking on low heat down to a thicker consistency. Then season as desired.

This is the food mill I have but there are many choices out there from which to choose. This type is now considered vintage but I found a link for it on a neat site called 1StopRetroShop
Super Retro Red Plastic Hand Crank Food Mill made in Italy
This food mill is also awesome to make applesauce or mash down home cooked pumpkin.





If you find you haven't the time even for making tomato juice, then just add the tomatoes to a freezer bag as you get them in and freeze them just as they are.  They'll be ready for you when you have the time to make a sauce or on hand for those recipes that call for tomatoes. Once frozen, they'll have to be used in a cooked recipe, rather than used as a raw tomato, but having your own tomatoes during the off season is a lot nicer than relying on canned tomatoes. You'll be pleasantly surprised to discover that freezing whole tomatoes is a time saving way to remove the skins without the bother of scalding in a pot of hot water, a task of canning that always seemed to me so labor intensive and a mess. Just run hot water over it and the skin comes right off.

As for your beauty treatments, you can create a wonderful facial. Since tomatoes are mildly acidic they are great to use as an astringent mask for oily skin. Using a clean cotton ball or round, spread an even layer of fresh tomato juice over your face and neck. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Sensitive skin would do better with yellow tomatoes as they contain less acid. This treatment is also good to remove blackheads. For a bit of exfoliation, you can add some tomato juice to a bit of cornmeal and use as a facial scrub. Just be very gentle. As a side note, tomato juice is also very soothing for relieving the sting of sunburn.

So enjoy your garden harvest or take advantage of those farmer's markets!






Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tasty Quick Breads Using Garden Zucchini

Kid Approved Healthy Snacking


What would late summer gardening be without the familiar surplus zucchini in which to find homes or ways to use them up.

I shred them in the food processor then measure out 2 cup portion sizes into baggies and freeze. They are then ready to go for holiday baking. If the zucchini is young you don't have to peel them before shredding. If they are like a baseball bat the skin may be thicker so to avoid noticeable "green pieces" in your bread you better peel it first. When defrosted you'll notice a lot of water in the baggie and just a small lump of vegetable. Don't drain off the water. It was part of the zucchini to start with and your baking bread won't know the difference between this and fresh.

Here are three great recipes for zucchini bread!
Pictured above are the Chocolate Zucchini and the Speckled Zucchini breads.


















CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD
recipe comes from Kitty and Lucian Maynard's book, Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or half unbleached white, half wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
*****
1 1/2 cup butter (3/4 cup) softened
2 cups sugar
*****
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup milk (or yogurt or vanilla yogurt)
1 cup nuts (optional)

Sift together the dry ingredients.
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.
In another bowl mix together the eggs, vanilla, zucchini, milk and nuts.
Alternate combining the wet and dry ingredients with the creamed mixture.
Spread batter into 2 greased loaf pans.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Cool before taking out of pans.
Makes two loaves


SPECKLED ZUCCHINI BREAD
Recipe from Gregg R. Gillespie's cookbook, 1001 Muffins, Biscuits, Doughnuts, Pancakes, Waffles, Popovers, Fritters, Scones, and Other Quick Breads

3 cups all-purpose flour (or half unbleached white, half wheat)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup either semisweet chocolate chips or cinnamon chips
******
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt (plain or vanilla)
2 cups shredded zucchini

In a large bowl, blend together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and either chocolate or cinnamon chips.
In another bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then beat in the oil, vanilla extract and either sour cream of yogurt.
Using a spoon stir in the zucchini.
Combine the two mixtures, blending until the dry ingredients are well moistened.
Spread batter into two greased loaf pans
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes depending on your oven. Check with a toothpick
Cool before taking out of pan.
Makes 2 loaves


HOMEMADE ZUCCHINI BREAD
recipe from Phyllis Pellman Good and Rachel Thomas Pellman's cookbook, From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
*****
3 cups all-purpose flour (or half unbleached white, half wheat)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
*****
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup raisins

Beat eggs till foamy
Stir in sugar, zucchini, oil, and vanilla
Sift together dry ingredients
Combine wet with dry ingredients, stir in nuts and raisins
Pour into bread pans which have been greased only on the bottoms.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Cool before removing from pans
Can be used as a bread or frosted as a cake
Makes 2 loaves


These recipes freeze well for later use.
Enjoy!