Reflections

It Will Not Be Taken Away {learning from the story of Mary & Martha}

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(This post was written yesterday evening.)

Earlier this afternoon, I found myself in an interesting situation. (Warning: bodily functions ahead!) I was in the middle of assisting my daughter off of the potty.

And there it was.

Poop.

I’ll spare you the details, but it was in places where it should not have been.

Let’s face it. When you are a mom, things like this are second nature. You see poop and you don’t even bat an eye.

And most days that would be me. But not today.

Oh today I am tired from lack of sleep and from tending sick kids. To be honest, I am worn out from worry.

But I’m still doing this crazy thing called life, rushing around trying to get things done.

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And a voice in my head says something like, “This is all very well and good, but are you forgetting that one thing…?”.

Ah yes the story.

 

Mary and Martha

This story is becoming more and more relatable as the day goes on.

How well I know it. Or thought I knew it. In reality I don’t think I know it as well as I thought I did.

You’re probably familiar with the story of Mary and Martha, from Luke 10:38-41. 

They were two sisters who were friends with Jesus. Here are their stories, based on what I’ve studied from scripture.

 

Martha

Sister #1 is running about like a chicken with her head cut off. Barking orders. Even at…Jesus?

But wait. She’s all on her own, a one-woman show. Where is her help?

Sitting down?!

I always used to wonder about that. I don’t think it’s by accident either that the story is told from Martha’s perspective. God knows us well.

Martha is just trying to be a good hostess, right? Baste the roast, set the table, fluff the pillows.

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Mary isn’t doing anything at all. Except that she is. She’s doing everything that she needs to do. All that her heart and spirit needs is being met at this moment spent at Jesus’s feet.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” (vs. 41-42a)

Worried and upset. About many things.

A page in the diary of my life. A phrase most relatable in this storm cloud of a day, in this season.

I’m thinking about so many things. My mind and my physical body are being pulled in so many directions. My very soul is weary. I am running on E but I keep going somehow.

But look at what Jesus says next after that bit about Martha’s troubles.

 

 Mary

“Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (v. 42b)

Two wonderfully positive things going on here in verse 42.

  1. She chose what was better.
  2. It will not be taken away.

Mary is actually a very quiet person in scripture. She is only recorded as speaking once, in John 11:32, before Jesus raises her brother Lazerus from the dead.

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But this isn’t a matter of personality… quiet Mary vs. bossy Martha. Jesus isn’t saying here, “Hey Mary is better because of her temperament”.

It was her actions and the state of her heart alone. Martha does exhibit strong faith when she speaks with Jesus in the same chapter I mentioned above (see John 11:21-27).

What I think Jesus really meant here is that physical needs have their place. There is no sin in being a kind hostess. It’s easy to be blindsided by life. But the inner, rather than the outward person is more important.

 

Sitting at Jesus’s Feet

Jesus keeps us going! He never meant for us to walk alone. To mother alone. To shoulder our problems alone.

No. He wishes for us to come away with Him. To dwell in the quiet for a little while so the crazy is less crazy. 

Because when we take the time, it makes all the difference.

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Did I feel rushed and pulled about today?  I did. But did I carve out time to spend with Him? I failed to. I was blinded by my to-do list.

But guess what? He’s still faithful. He still comes alongside me, encouraging my heart.

And what was playing on my Pandora today? I kept skipping through songs. Nothing was sounding good. “It’s Gonna Be Alright”, by Sara Groves comes on.

I couldn’t help but smile. It’s one of my favorite songs and talks about “not getting any sleep”. It felt like Jesus was singing it right to my heart.

Folks,

He is good. 

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Blog Updates, Reflections

Thank-you for 200 Followers!

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Hello everyone! Short post today as a share an important blog update ☺

You can probably tell already from the title, but…

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I’m now at 200 followers! I’m amazed! I’m grateful for all of your follows, likes and time to read my posts. Thank-you so much!

I feel I need to thank two very important people who have been very instrumental in the creation of this blog.

First, is my friend Amanda. Amanda, you may think I’ve forgotten about the time I asked you for advice about becoming a better writer. You told me it would be a good idea to start a blog and that has been some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Thank-you❤

Additionally, this post would be massively incomplete without recognizing the Source of much of my inspiration and occasional prodding haha. Thanks be to God, for seeing then and Who still sees now the future of the blog when I cannot.

He put the vision for this blog in my mind. And where I have the will to write, He directs my steps.

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To illustrate what I mean, here is a quick story about how the name of the blog came about.

 

Secret Flowers Helped Me Name My Blog

It was last May that I changed the name of the blog to The Buttercup Lamb. I had thought long and hard about the name, but still wasn’t sure.

See that post here: Addressing the Name Change

Then I was outside and I spied something growing near the pine tree where elderberries grow now.

They were buttercups. Half-hidden in the weeds, I couldn’t see them until I was in the middle of my backyard.

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Was this an act of chance, of happenstance? Not to me.

These buttercups popped up at exactly the time when I was doubting. I felt it was an amazing and beautiful thing that these flowers were there, at this exact time.

I think that God can speak to us in small, quiet and unexpected ways. Is it beyond Him, to make a statement with flowers?

I would say no. I don’t think that anything is beyond His doing.

Sometimes I lack the faith to fully understand. And yet I know, even if I don’t yet fully understand…nothing is out of His reach. No cares that we have are too small or unimportant to Him.

🌼💕🌼

Happy Monday, may you have a blessed & happy summer and another big thank-you to all of my followers!  

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foraging, The Great Outdoors

Foraging for Blackberries & Elderberries {and what I made with them}

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Ah berries. One of summer’s sweetest, yummiest and healthiest gifts. Berry picking in the summer always brings back wonderful memories for me.

Did you pick berries in the summer as a child? If so, you probably remember the sweltering heat, berry stains on your fingers, pesky bugs and sneaking some fruit before it made it into the bowl.

And when you take the berries home…oh then the fun begins. Party with the berries! Haha. There is really nothing that compares with those fresh, juicy treats.

What to do with them?

I’m really into foraging (I’m sure you haven’t noticed 😉) Foraging in itself is great fun. Even better is a chance to preserve that harvest a bit longer and turn it into something scrumptious.

The photos below show the progression of the elderberry tree from flower to fruit.

The elderberries pictured are from harvest #1 and the blackberries are from harvest #2. And there are still more berries! It’s good to leave some for the “critters” anyways ☺

 

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Now I had some berries. I had nearly 2 cups total and then I did a little research.

Ugh.

Many of the elderberries I had painstakingly plucked were not ripe enough. None were green, but some were red and I didn’t want to make anyone sick by using underripe berries.

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Ripe berries are on the left, unripe on the right. The difference is subtle but important enough to take note of. ⤵⤵

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After properly separating the berries, I decided on making a syrup as per the recipe for Elderberry Syrup on the blog Wayward SparkI loosely followed the recipe and ended up with a tasty finished product. 😋

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Here’s what I did. I ended up with a little less than 1 cup of ripe berries. I had a few blackberries in there after *cough* eating some.

They were then mashed a bit, boiled, simmered and strained through cheesecloth.

At this point I had a bit less than 1/4 cup of juice. I neglected to add water at the beginning so I added a bit to make it a full 1/4 cup.

I added a small splash of lemon juice and 1/8 cup of raw honey to the warm juice and then froze attempted to freeze it.

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Psyche! Honey won’t freeze. Good try though I guess. *pats self on the back* I tried to make an apple and elderberry jelly earlier this week and I ended up with caramel-elderberry flavored candy! 😰 Boo. I like these results better.

There it will sit, in the freezer. I’ll take a bit as a tonic now and again to keep colds and flu away. Isn’t it awesome that elderberries can do that?

Ever wondered why?

This article from Huff Post says that the pigments, or “molecular chains known as anthocyanins…[are] capable of preventing viruses from reproducing and infecting new cells. They also kill many of the bacteria that cause chest and respiratory infections.”.

Cool, eh? Nature’s little wonder, the humble elderberry.

Hope you guys are having a good summer ☺ Have you had a chance to go berry picking yet this season?

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A few helpful references for you

https://www.talesfromthekitchenshed.com/2016/09/harvesting-elderberries-picking-preserving-recipes/

(Lots of info on harvesting and preserving.)

http://waywardspark.com/2013-food-preservation-season-elderberry-syrup/

(Recipe I followed.)

Reflections

Poetry in (E)motion

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Hello my lovely readers & happy Saturday to you!

Today isn’t my typical day to post but I’ve been in a canning flurry lately. The garden and produce stands are booming! Gotta take advantage of it 😉

You guys seem to love the poems I share so I thought I’d share a recent one. It’s hot off the press haha just scribbled it down last night.

This poem expresses a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately as a mother and just as a woman in general. In this I’ve folded in several topics. Work ethic, time, serving others and confidence are the themes here.

In spite of the business of life, I am content and I am happy just being me.

 

Sugar and Bliss

 

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Spin

Spin dear spider

Spin sure

And tell me how

You spin

And never tire

Never cross

Your eyes.

 

Be aware of the lies.

 

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Run, run

Run

Little mouse.

Chase your tail.

Hurry, scurry.

How can you

Run

Without the hum

The tick and the tock

Of a runaway

Clock

 

Run, telling clock. Away.

 

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Sing

Oh do

Sing

Sweet little

Bird

Warble and tweet

Hop on those

Feet

Fill the air

With your sweetness.

Give back

And take less.

Such a song you sing

 

A song of love.

 

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Dream big

Little butterfly.

Delicate

In beauty

Flutter

Flutter

Soar.

Life is worth living

It’s worth living now.

Trust your wings

To take you

Where you need

To go.

Don’t answer to

No.

 

Trust your wings.

 

This poem is my own. All photos are from pixabay. 

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Reflections

Frugal vs. poor {a penny for your thoughts}

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What does it mean to be frugal? And what does it mean to be poor? 

Although I think about these words often, and define them in my head, I realize I’ve not yet shared this on the blog.

In this post, I want to outline the definitions of the words “poor” and “frugal”, just as a starting point. Then I will share what these words mean to me and open the post up for discussion.

So if you have any thoughts or stories to share, please do so ☺

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Definitions

According to dictionary.com, a frugal person is one who is “economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful”.

A poor person, by contrast will have “little or no money, goods or other means of support”.

 

My thoughts on being poor

Poverty is a complicated issue. On the surface, it seems an easy fix. Work hard, get money and improve your standard of living.

Some people only have seasons of struggle. Some have a lifetime. There is no easy fix for that. But please understand that if you are in a difficult time in your life, there is hope and you can, you can move past it.

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I think the bottom line is that no one really wants to be poor and struggling, but it is possible to get out of it. Usually this takes some clear thinking, a good work ethic and help from others to accomplish.

 

My thoughts on being frugal

I think that most people would agree that people are not poor by choice. Some choices may lead to poverty, but people largely do not wish to place themselves in that uncomfortable place.

However, frugality is a choice. It is a way of life. It is essentially saying, “Hey, I make x, and I don’t want to spend all of x, so I will save where I can”.

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Frugal people, in my eyes are people who live as if they have less, so that they can have more in the future.

One way to save is to learn ways to slash your grocery budget. I’ve educated myself on this topic a bit and I enjoy passing on little bits of what I’ve learned to you guys.

((Are you up for a new series on saving money on groceries? I may have one in the works 😉😉))

So let me ask…what does being frugal mean to you? Does a certain picture come to mind? What does the word poverty mean to you? Where do you think the line is between poor and frugal? Would you consider yourself a frugal person? 

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The Great Outdoors

Lazy Summer Happenings

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Hey everyone! I debated whether or not I should post today…I’m getting a little lazy about blogging.

One of the reasons is that I’m devoting more time to my kids and family and to keeping my home in nice shape. It has been a good decision ☺

I do miss blogging more than 1x a week, but my kids are still rather young and have a lot of demands needs at this stage in life.

Plus, you know, getting one post per week gives me time to brainstorm a good post for you guys. Everyone has been loving the food posts lately and I Thank-you for that 😄

Summer can be such a lazy time, but it can also be a time of high energy. When I think of summer, the words “lazy” and “productive” come to mind.

I’ve been both so far. I’ve got my garden and garden beds, my sewing and knitting projects, fun places to go, people to visit with.

Annndd..you know. Sometimes I like to be lazy, sitting on the couch with my knitting or a good book. I have to get up a million time to break up fights, get snacks and so forth. But whatever. Life with kids is mayhem sometimes.

Anyway…enough of my rambling. Here is a bit of what my family and I have been up to this summer.

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Making dandelion wine.

This was the last step before bottling. All of the ballons had to be flat for 24 hours before we could cork them. (Shows that the fermentation process is complete.)

We bottled these in early June, so they should be ready in early December. I can hardly wait! My husband and I have always wanted to try this and I’m so glad we did.

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Harvested this bunch of sheep sorrel from the garden.

I ate some of it fresh and some in a smoothie. It has a nice tart taste and tons of vitamins.

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These itty bitty radishes were so cute.

I was impressed with how fast they grew. They literally sprouted the day after I planted them and were ready to harvest in about 3 weeks.

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This little wonder is a garlic scape.

I harvested about 3 of them from my garlic plants about a month or so ago. I had read a post about garlic from two branches homestead that discussed how to grow garlic. One step is to cut off the curly garlic scape so that the plant’s energy will go toward growing the garlic bulb and not the flower. The light green part in the photo is where a flower would appear.

I cut up some of the scape, like a green onion and had it on my salad. It was good!

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Joy of joys, elderberry blossoms!

There are so many this year that I think I can safely harvest some to use in a recipe.

Last year, there wasn’t many, so I let the birds have their fill.

The flowers smell so beautiful! There should be berries in another month or so…you know I’ll share if I make something ☺

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Most recently, I made these little treats for the 4th of July.

I used a tiny star cookie cutter to cut out peices of watermelon, then piped on a bit of almond yogurt, then a blueberry on top.

Magnifico!

(My daughter just liked licking the yogurt off. She let me eat the rest 😆)

What about you? Any lazy summer happenings of note where you are? Stay cool & enjoy this beautiful summer that He has provided. God bless!

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Food, Lunch/Simple Meal

Garlic Butter Shrimp with Quiona, Brown Rice and Garden Fresh Peas

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Garlic butter makes everything better. It’s a known fact.

Well, you know. Savory dishes. Like pizza, and pasta.

And shrimp.

Of course shrimp.

I made this delicious lunch yesterday and it was so wonderful that I had to share. It was the first time I had ever made this recipe.

Ask any food blogger and they will probably say that the first time isn’t always a charm when it comes to new recipes.

But I’m glad it was the case here. Garlic butter and shrimp are like a married couple. They just go together. And quiona makes rice taste better and kicks up the protein a notch. Then some super fresh garden peas gives it a bright and beautiful punch of color and texture.

All together, these foods just made an awesome combo.

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Most of you know what quiona looks like when it’s done, but for anyone who isn’t sure, here it is. The edges of the quiona will become white and start to peel off a bit.

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Quiona, rice and peas are re-day! The texture should be more on the dry side so it absorbs the soy sauce and garlic butter better. Butter better. Haha.

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😋😋

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Garlic Butter Shrimp with Quiona, Brown Rice & Garden Fresh Peas

 

Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 1-2

Prep time: 3 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup medium cooked frozen shrimp
  • 3-4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup quiona
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • handful of fresh peas (frozen works too!)
  • low sodium soy sauce, to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a small skillet. Add garlic just before butter has completely melted. Cook 1 minute.
  2. Add shrimp. Saute for a few minutes.
  3. Next, cook the quiona according to the package directions. (About 1 cup water with the 1/4 cup of quiona, simmered for 15 minutes.)
  4. When the quiona is completely cooked, add the rice and peas, along with a 1/2 cup of water. Cook for about 5 minutes, or till heated through and peas turn bright green. The texture should be dry, not wet.
  5. Plate up! Spoon rice mixture onto plate and toss lightly with your desired amount of soy sauce. Spoon shrimp and garlic butter over rice.
  6. Serve & eat!

 

Cost:

It cost me $2.69 to make this entree for lunch yesterday. And it made a lot! I had 2 helpings, with some leftover. Definitely getting your money’s worth here, and lots of protein to boot!

Enjoy!

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Food, Snacks

Super Easy Peanut Butter, Oat & Cinnamon Cookies {no-bake, gluten-free, dairy-free and no refined sugar}

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These cookies have taken me for a stroll down memory lane. You can relax though…no long stories (today that is haha).

I remember eating these cookies when I was pregnant with my daughter (she’s now 2). I needed a quick snack with some protein to get me through some of those rough days. (Pregnancy isn’t all rainbows…sometimes you hate eating protein and can’t stand around a hot kitchen for long…oh the fun.)

Nowadays I have different nutritional needs. I’ve recently been trying to go gluten-free because I’ve been noticing some food sensitivity after eating wheat products.

This morning I wanted toast so much. I haven’t jumped into the gluten-free bread melee just yet. So gluten-free bread there was none.

But I thought hmm…maybe I can whip up some breakfast cookies.

So I hopped on Pinterest and looked up the No Bake Healthy Breakfast Cookies, from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

I changed things up a bit and the result is the recipe that you will see below.

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Super Easy Peanut Butter, Oat & Cinnamon Cookies

Prep/hands on time: 15 minutes or less

Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 4-6 (maybe 😉)

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a few sprinkles pink Himalayan salt
  • *1/2 cup plain cheerios, crushed
  • **1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats

*I put some cheerios in a ziplock bag and crunched them up with a heavy glass cup.

**I like to make a bunch of oat flour in the blender so I don’t have to make it every time. Then I sift it through a mesh strainer to get a fine texture.

Directions

  1. Place cheerios, oat flour, quick oats and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. Measure the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt into a medium saucepan.
  3. Set heat to medium high and stir till melted and thoroughly mixed. (Or you can use a microwave to melt the ingredients.)
  4. Pour and scrape the melted peanut butter mixture into the bowl you set aside and stir it into the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Shape into 16 or so small balls.
  6. Place on a plate and dust with cinnamon.
  7. Flatten and criss-cross with a fork.
  8. Eat!

 

Price Breakdown:

It cost me $1.54 to make 16 of these cookies. That’s only a little under 10¢ per cookie!

Enjoy!

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Books

Summer Reading Goals {what I’m reading right now}

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Hey everyone!

Summer. Sweet summer. When I think of summer I think of books.

Oh yes. Books.

Give me all the books. Let me go out and get more books. Let me sit in the a.c. and read all those books.

Mountains of books!

Ahem.

Worked myself into a book frenzy. Anyways.

I have this habit of starting so many books and then not finishing them for some reason or another. 

To help resolve this issue, I decided to narrow down my list to 5 books I want to work on finishing. I am more or less actively reading these books. And lets face it, I probably won’t finish them all by August but this is a start.

 

My Current Reads This Summer

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1. Fountain Creek Chronicles, by Tamera Alexander

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 689.

  • book #1: Rekindled
  • #2: Revealed
  • #3: Remembered

Why I love it:

This particular series is set in Colorodo Territory (western US) in the mid- to late 1800s. I enjoy this particular time period and westerns have piqued my interest lately.

It’s hard to put into words exactly what I love about these books. Maybe its the fact that the characters are so real, so genuine in their struggles. They are committed to their faith.

The author walks a fine line here with providing just the right amount of detail to make the story flow. I also like her gutsiness to write about topics that not every Christian writer would. And she does it with eloquence and grace.

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2. The Magnolia Story, by Chip & Joanna Gaines

Genre: Biography.

Pages: 184.

Why I love it:

Most people are familiar with the dynamic duo that is Chip and Joanna Gains through their show, Fixer Upper. One of my friends (who is a fan) loaned me this book.

Chip and Joanna have a cute story. Joanna is so…Joanna and Chip is so crazy! I’ve enjoyed reading about the “ages and stages” of their lives…and how they got to be famous!

 

3. The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman

Genre: History/ World War I

Pages: 368.

Why I love it:

This one. This one is very deep and quite detailed. I’ve found I cannot do this book justice by reading it quickly. So, just like the classics I’ve been reading this novel slowly.

The book is based on the true story of Jan and Antonia Żabiński, a Polish couple who manage the Warsaw zoo during the Holocaust. What is so special about them? The synopsis says that “..[they] managed to save over 300 people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages”. Although I haven’t yet reached that point in the story.

I can tell that this book will be heartbreaking and beautiful. It is full of rich detail and I know that it will touch my heart.

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4. The Cranford Novellas, (Girlebooks) by Elizabeth Gaskell

  • Cranford-16 chapters.
  • Mr. Harrison’s Confession-31 chapters.
  • My Lady Ludlow-14 chapters.

 

Genre: Novel

Pages: 134 pages.

Why I love it:

Earlier this year I finished Gaskell’s North and South and I liked it (for the most part).

My thoughts on Gaskell’s works are hard to explain. I like her books, but they can be slow and the characters not as easy to like as say…Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet.

When I read that Cranford was supposed to be her best work, and saw a preview for the BBC series I decided to read it. The show came out in 2007 but apparently I missed the boat haha.

I am currently having some difficulty following the storyline and need to find some sort of spark notes to help me.

I did really enjoy the beginning of the novel. I found it to be quite humerous and entertaining. This book seems much more…easygoing? than other novels of hers.

 

5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Genre: Fantasy.

Pages: 306.

Why I love it:

It’s J.R.R. Tolkien. Need I say more? His writing style is beyond amazing. And it’s no wonder, when he devoted such a large portion of his life to the series.

I don’t read much fantasy at all but I can definitely make time for a little Tolkien ☺

 

Any books on your summer reading list? Now’s the time to knock them out! Stay cool out there! ❄☀🌻🌺

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Beverages, Food

Easy Strawberry-Coconut-Chia Milkshake {dairy-free, gluten-free & paleo friendly}

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Last night my family and I binged out on homemade popcorn. It was delicious, as always.

But it left me feeling super-thirsty. So after I cleaned up the kitchen I made up a nice little milkshake. Everybody knows mundane chores go by way faster when you have a reward dangling at the end 😉

So I mixed up this and that, keeping in mind my Pumpkin smoothie recipe. Except this time it was strawberries.

I love strawberries 🍓🍓🍓Don’t you? (Strawberry allergy sufferers, you have my sympathy.)

No fresh strawberries this time, but maybe there will be more on that in the future. This time I used frozen, which I bought on sale, too. Yay!

Strawberry season in the midwest will be here soon & I can hardly wait.

This is a good strawberry recipe to whet your appetite. The concept of “rubbing x food through a seive” is one I learned from reading old school cookbooks. I’m thinking it was what people used before blenders.

But anyways. Here’s some photos, with the recipe to follow. My daughter and I fully enjoyed it both times (yes today and last night, it was that good 😋).

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Easy Strawberry-Coconut-Chia Milkshake

Prep/hands on time: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Makes one 16oz serving.

 

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 frozen strawberries, diced
  • *a drizzle of raw honey
  • **10oz/300ml vanilla almond milk
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chia seeds

*using an alternative liquid sweeter, such as maple syrup would make this recipe vegan.

**any kind of non-dairy milk will work here. If you can have cow’s milk, that works too.

 

Directions:

  1. Pour the diced strawberries into a pint mason jar, or any desired container with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Add the honey and stir well.
  3. Add the almond milk, attach the lid and shake it up.
  4. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the strawbwrry mixture into the bowl. Rub the strawberries through the strainer with a metal spoon (until you have extracted as much strawberries as you can).
  5. Set the strained strawberries aside.
  6. Pour the strawberry mixture into a glass and add the chia seeds. Stir.
  7. Top with a dollop or two of the coconut “cream” and the leftover strained strawberries.

 

Cost:

This recipe was fairly cheap, although I used a bit too much coconut cream in my recipe. Using much less of it would bring the price down from $3.06 to about $2.06. Still, at 19¢ an oz it’s not a bad price.

Got any favorite drinks to keep you cool this summer?

Enjoy!

Note: I realize that pictures of the topping when contrasted with the directions may be a bit misleading. In the photos, I did not “scoop on a dollop”. Instead, I whipped the cream. However, it was very liquid-y and I thought I could firm it up by freezing it, which didn’t exactly work out according to plan. But it did make the cream nice and smooth. So my recommendation is to save yourself some effort and just add a scoop on top. I sandwiched the leftover strawberries between layers of the coconut cream, in case you are wondering where it went 😉 Hope that makes sense!

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Uncategorized

How to Manage Anxiety as a Parent {5 questions to ask yourself}

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Hey guys!

Today I have the awesome privilege of making my very first guest post. I’m so excited!

Ruth, from the blog 1000 Ways To Be Fearless graciously invited me to do a guest post on her blog. I asked her if I could post on how anxiety affects parenting and she said yes! Yay!

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My previous post on mental health was last week, when I shared a link to one of Ruth’s posts, a speech she made about how recovery from a mental illness isn’t always what people would expect.

Ruth’s blog is full of encouraging tips for people with anxiety that are looking for creative ways to cope. I’m happy to add to her blog with this post 😊

Head on over to Ruth’s blog to check out the post.

Thank-you for joining me on this journey through the month of May as I’ve focused on this important issue of mental health. 

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Gardening, The Great Outdoors

No Plans Like Garden Plans {companion planting and crop rotation}

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Hello everyone 😄

I am so wonderfully excited that it is spring. Wonderfully isn’t even a good enough adjective to describe how excited I am.

I’m over the moon.

I. love. gardening. so. much.

I’ve not been as active on the blog lately and this is partly due to the fact that I’ve been spending all kinds of quality time with little green things…and the little brown things that they come from 😛

Little seedlings🌱🌱🌱 below (picture captions are still being glitchy).

Clockwise from left: radish sprout, hot pepper plants, radish and carrot sprouts, marshmallow, dill sprouts, tiny beets, and alllll the tomatoes.

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I have done a lot, and I mean a lot of work on my garden. I’ve expanded it, which is a short phrase to describe a long and back breaking process associated with the relocation of S-O-D.

But you don’t want to hear about that.

**Just for the record, before I dive in. I’m in a zone 6, so planting usually doesn’t happen till memorial day/late May. 

 

Crop Rotation

For a visual on my expansion and what I’m growing this year vs. last year check this out.

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This ⬆⬆⬆ is last year’s garden. Dimensions are about 12×13′.

(In an additional garden bed #8 by the house I grew sweet potatoes and marigolds.)

And I got bored of it.

I read in The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible: Discover Ed’s High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions, (by Edward C. Smith) that if you find you are bored with your garden, add more to it. Woo hoo!

So I did.

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Here ⬆⬆⬆ is this year’s garden plans. It measures 20×17′. New garden beds this year are #s 2, 3 and 7.

So the old beds that I rotated are #s 1, 4, and 6.

Confused yet?

Here is a better description:

Bed #⬇     2017➡2018

  1. Corn ➡ cucumber, nasturtium, bush beans, carrots
  2. (New bed)
  3. (New bed)
  4. Tomatoes, marigolds ➡ cauliflower, dill, carrots, radishes, onions
  5. (Unchanged)
  6. borage, cosmos, thyme, basil ➡ borage, echinacea, marshmallow, bee balm
  7. (New bed)
  8.  Sweet potatoes, marigolds ➡ spinach, strawberries.

Basically, it’s all about taking care of the nutrients in the soil so the plants grow better. And It’s also about planting the right things together so that they benefit each other.

I understand it’s mostly rotating the heavy feeders with the lighter feeders.

 

Companion Planting

And that’s crop rotation. But what about companion planting?

Companion planting is just planting things in the same bed or row that will benefit each other. Those plants are friends. They grow up together and make each other happy, either by keeping away pests, or giving each other nutrients or both.

Q: How did I implement companion planting this year?

A: Pretty much any way I knew how to.

Companions

Bed #⬇

  1. cucumbers & nasturtium. Bush beans & carrots.
  2. sweet potatoes & marigolds, onions & tomatoes.
  3. tomatoes, onions, hot peppers and basil all go together.
  4. Cauliflower & dill, carrots, radishes and onions. The onions area divider of sorts because dill and carrots do not go together.
  5. (Unchanged.)
  6. Most herbs go together, especially bee & butterfly friendly flowers. 💐 🐝
  7. See above.
  8. Spinach & strawberries. 🌱🍓

 

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Found some spinach randomly growing in the garden…didn’t want it there, so I picked it and ate some!

Got any garden plans? Do you have any fond memories of gardening as a child, teen (or even as an adult)?

What do you think of crop rotation and companion planting?

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Uncategorized

So When Will I Get Better? {a new way to look at recovery- from the blog 1000 Ways To Be Fearless}

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Have you ever had someone ask you, “So, are you better now?” It’s a well-meaning question, but it is one that is sadly a misinterpretation of just how mental illness works.

But in all fairness, I have asked myself the same question.

“When will I get better?”

It isn’t an easy question to ask, because I already know the answer.

“People tend to think that recovery is one upward trajectory. You go through a bad time, you get better, then you’re back to your normal self. Unfortunately, the complexity of human emotion and experience doesn’t quite fit into such a pattern.”

-Ruth, 1000 Ways To Be Fearless

from: A Talk: Recovery Isn’t Linear-A New Way of Viewing Recovery from a Mental Illness.

But what I’ve come to see…is that I’m not a failure for struggling with mental illness. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean that day is shot. Worthless. Over.

No.

Recovery from a mental illness is not carefully constructed. It can’t be controlled or planned.

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It just is. It might be a bit messy, but that’s life, and life is messy

I want to invite you to check out this post from Ruth, of the blog 1000 Ways To Be Fearless. Her blog has been a wonderful tool in my own journey towards recovery. 

In her post she shares a speech she made at an event for the NHS (National Health Service in England). I thought what she had to say about recovery was beautiful, relatable and so, so true.

I really enjoyed this post of hers and I think that you will too ☺

A Talk: Recovery Isn’t Linear-A New Way of Viewing Recovery From a Mental Illness

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Blog Updates, Uncategorized

Blogiversary Reminisce {blog update #4}

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Hello to my lovely readers,

I’m rolling 3 thoughts into one, as this post is an anniversary, thank-you and a reflection on one year of blogging 😄

Today, this day, one year ago is when I started blogging…blogging for real.

I started in 2014 but didn’t have the gumption to blog regurally. It was 1x a month at the time, if that.

May 17th, 2017 I decided to make my first post: Pregnancy, Parenting and God’s Grace. It was about my long (16-month) absence on the blog and what motherhood is like with a baby and a toddler…and how God’s plans aren’t always my plans, but they turn out to be the BEST plans anyways 😉

I was unsure of where this blog would take me. I was nervous that people wouldn’t like what I had to say. That people would never like my posts or think that my blog was worth reading.

But I was wrong. People did want to hear. People did care. You, my fellow bloggers, were kind. You cared. I was a newbie and you took the time to read my stuff.

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So thank-you to all of you. To my readers on and off WordPress. I’m honored. I’m blessed. Thank-you for following my blog. Thank-you for taking the time to read. It means so much to me 🌞❤

I’ve been going through my blog stats, looking at my most-loved posts. Seeing what you guys like so I can improve the blog.

In my reminesce, here are the top 5 posts that you guys loved most on The Buttercup Lamb.

 

Top 5 Posts

1. When Grace Doesn’t Seem Like Enough {5 things to remember}

2. The pain in the quiet, healing flow

3. 5 Favorite Things {on our FL vacation}

4. Nourishing Lentil Stew with Daikon and Sweet Potato

5. Crockpot Calico Beans

Going through these helped me realize what kind of content interests people, which turned out to be the posts that I most enjoyed writing 😯😝

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It’s another year. Of learning, growing and writing. I’ve written 100+ posts and have been slowly gaining followers (but pushing closer to the big 200!)

I’ll be brainstorming new ideas for posts, new designs and new ways to mesh my visions and goals with the stuff I love writing about.

Thanks again everyone!

What kinds of topics would you like to see on the blog? Do you enjoy the recipes and food? The poems? Reflections posts? Or maybe something else? Let me know in the comments, it would be such a big help to me 😊

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Reflections

Struggling Against Anxiety {part 2 in a series of poems}

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As I said in my last post, May is Mental Health Awareness month. And it seemed like the perfect time to talk about some important topics.

Stemming from the subject of mental health is a variety of topics. Mental health can be everyday stuff. It can be things like phobias, or illnesses like OCD, depression, panic disorder, anxiety. The list goes on.

And I just want to say…I am not a mental health expert. I only know what I’ve experienced. This series of poems on mental illness are meant to bring awareness and share what these things really feel like.

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It’s hard. It’s hard to live with. It’s hard to share. And if you or someone close to you struggles with mental illness, then you know exactly what I mean and where I am coming from.

Today’s poem is about anxiety and panic attacks. The very words “panic attack” steal fear into the hearts of people. They don’t know what to say about it. They are…unsure. Uncomfortable.

And it’s ok.

It’s ok. But for the people that don’t know, and maybe want to know…and yet don’t, I wrote this poem. It is a description of a small piece of my world when anxiety comes in and erases much of what I know.

 

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Invisibly Visible

 

I’m invisibly visible

You see me

And now you don’t.

 

You see me

And I’m fine

But you can’t feel

My heart

 

My pulse.

My mind.

 

You see

And yet you don’t.

 

Fear makes fear

Afraid

 

And so you turn

Away.

 

Afraid it is contagious.

Afraid you’ll catch my pain.

 

And though I crave

Your understanding

 

I hope you never know

This invisible

Disease.

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Important Note: If you or someone you love is dealing with intense anxiety and/or panic attacks, it is important to remember these 2 things: 1) you are not alone and 2) there is help for you. You can call the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255. You can call your doctor and get on a prescription, you can call your mom, your spouse, your bestie. You can dig down deep and find therapies and healthy ways to cope. There is help, I promise. And it will, it will, it will get better

For more on how I cope with anxiety, see my post Bravery in Motion: 10 Ways to Help Overcome a Panic Attack

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All photos are from pixabay. The poem is my own.

Sewing & Repurposing

Whipstitch Wednesday: Making Bears for Carry the Future

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Today I finally, finally got to finishing some stuffed bears I had been planning on making for Carry the Future.

Last August, I was nominated for the Leibster award by Sharon, of the blog Leadership2Mommyship. In my post One Lovely Blog Award & Leibster Award I shared that I was totally in love with an organization called Carry the Future that gives aide and baby carriers to refugees, especially those in the Middle East.

They had a great need for certain items, and while I have slightly limited resources, I do like to sew. I saw that Carry the Future was partnering with Dolls of Hope, which made simple doll and bear patterns available for anyone interested.

(I decided on the bear pattern because it looked easier.)

Not too long ago, I actually downloaded the pattern, planned the project and then went to Wal-Mart to get my fabric.

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I bought a few flannel prints ⬆⬆⬆ for the front of the bears, and combined those with some Sesame Street fabric I already had and another flannel solid that was gifted to me.

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These ⬆⬆⬆ are the fabrics for the backs of the bears. There is a combination of minky, fleece, and plush fleece (the green).

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I probably started these in March and have just now finished 3. My goal is 12, but we’ll see 😄

These bears are fairly easy to do. And for anyone interested in making these, here are a few tips:

  • Minky is hard to work with because it likes to slide, but once it’s matched up correctly I found it easy to sew.
  • Using a peice of felt for the nose as the directions reccomend is the way to go.
  • You will use a lot of black embroidery thread. Buy lots.
  • 1 bag of stuffing will get you far. I’ve used enough for 3 bears and it looks like I’ve used hardly any.
  • Minky and plush fleece will shed everywhere, which you will probably notice when it is cut at the store. I found it helpful to use an old sheet spread under the fabric when I cut it and then cleaned up the mess with a lint roller.

 

I think I will get better at these bears as I go along but just wanted to share my progress for those interested.


 

Price breakdown:

Fabric– $15.61, for a 1/2 yard of 6 different fabrics (1.99-3.92 each).

Stuffing-$3.47, and more than likely way more than I need.

Blue thread-$1.45 (I always buy Gutterman).

Total: $20.53

It is very doable to make 10 or more bears for under $25, that’s in the ballpark of $2.50 or less per bear.


 

If you want to get started making these, you can find information and directions here:

https://www.carrythefuture.org/announcements/dolls-hope/

Does this look like something you are intersted in? Have you ever participated in a project like this? Let me know 😄😄

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Reflections

The Debilitating Nature of Depression {part 1 in a series of poems}

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Today I would like to open up and talk a little about a topic I don’t normally discuss here on the blog.

Mental illness.

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Because May is Mental Health Awareness month, I wanted to devote a few posts to the topic.

So many people have had good things to say and share about the topic. Here on WordPress, Facebook and other places on the world wide web.

I admire their courage. I admire their strength.

It takes courage to live with mental illness, but just about as much to share that you struggle with it.

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Today I would like to shed some light on the mental illness that is depression.

More specifically, I have sought to describe how depression can both make a person feel like time is standing still and yet going on forever. You can feel stuck. In life, in your day, in a moment.

If you are one of the many who struggle with depression, I hope that this poem can be an encouragement to you and a gentle reminder to get back to the you that you know.

Depression is a real struggle. There is hope. You are not alone.

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You Can’t Stay In Forever

You can’t stay in forever

If ever,

You know.

You can’t fight the pace

That’s slowing

You down.

Forever

Is never

a’ changin’.

And change

Oh change

Is

Good.

I crave forever

When I’m feeling

Down.

But forever

Is heavy.

Forever’s a trap.

Don’t let

“I’m never changing ever”

Spin you out of

Control.

 

Bring you back.

 

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This poem is my own.

All pictures are from pixabay. Photo 1 and 2 are my design.

foraging, The Great Outdoors

More Spring Foraging Fun: Dandelion, Violet and Skunk Cabbage

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Dandelions

There are a ton of things that can be done with this common “weed”. You can use all parts of this plant. Blossoms, leaves, roots.

I’ve blogged about my experiences with roasted dandelion root tea. And as I’ve been expanding my garden this year, I’ve saved all the roots I’ve found for tea making.

I’ve also added some greens to my salads. They are best (I feel) when they are very tiny. Otherwise they are a bit too bitter for my liking.

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This time of year, I’m concentrating more on the blossoms. A few days ago I (with help) picked a ton of flowers. Why so many, you ask?

Here’s a few reasons:

  1. Dandelion wine
  2. Dandelion salve
  3. Dandelion bath blend
  4. Baked goods with dandelion
  5. Dandelion jelly

I (again, with help!) picked the petals from enough flowers to get 3 quarts needed for wine-making. Then I filled up my dehydrator and dried as much of the rest as I could. (5 hours @ 135ºF.)

I picked the petals from those flowers and stored them away for later use in salve and bath blends.

 

Violets

Aside from their obvious beauty, here’s another reason, nutrition-wise, why violets are so awesome….

According to Euell Gibbons in his book Stalking the Healthful Herbs, just one half-cup of violet blossoms have as much vitamin C as 4 oranges!

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I haven’t done a lot with violets thus far aside from eat them in salads. But I would like to try to make a violet syrup, as well as dry some for bath blends and tea.

 

Skunk Cabbage

For the record, I did not eat any. Just want to get that out there haha.

Story time. There is a creek bed not far from my home that has these absolutely gigantic plants that fill the area, beginning in early spring.

I have been dying to know what they were. I knew they looked like cabbage. I asked everybody. I asked google. I asked my grandma. Could not find out…what it was.

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And then I read a very entertaining chapter (again from Stalking the Healthful Herbs, by Euell Gibbons) all about skunk cabbage.

I smelled a fresh cut leaf. It did have a bit of an odor, but not as intense as I thought. It did smell a bit like actual cabbage and a bit skunky. My husband agreed with the verdict.

How about you? Have you seen any interesting looking plants about?

Happy Spring everyone!

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Motherhood, Reflections

When Grace Doesn’t Seem Like Enough {5 things to remember}

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What is it about motherhood that keeps me coming back to the issue of grace? 

What is it about this stage of life that has us holding on to it? Whispering about it? Pleading for it?

I think the reason is…

Because motherhood is a time of great vulnerability. It can be a time of great struggle. Of growth, yes. But also a time of many, many demands that can leave us breathless.

And we (or at least I do) get into this place where we think, “I should be doing everything. And I should be doing everything right.”

Sounds silly when it’s written down, eh? But it’s there. That grapple for grace.

To understand it. 

To open your arms to it.

To breathe it in and let God’s grace settle around you.

And I’ve found that I need it most when I want it least.

The definition of grace, according to dictionary.com is…

  • the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.

  • the influence, or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Something will happen, an instance, be it great or small. And you’ll think, “I can’t receive any grace. I’m not deserving!”

And that, my friend is when you need to dig deeply into The Word, and see what God says about it and who He is. And realize just what this grace means for you.

Follow me on this journey through scripture as I’ve learned about this marvel that is God’s sweet grace. 


 

5 Things to Remember When God’s Grace Doesn’t Seem Like Enough

 

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1. I am unique.

 

1 Peter 4:10

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it’s various forms.” (NIV)

 

You, my friend, are a uniquely created woman of God. He loves you. He’s given you talents, abilities and gifts that make you, you.

It’s like the veggie tales slogan, “God made you special, and He loves you very much!” It’s so so true!

By God’s grace, we are entrusted with spiritual gifts. And I would argue that since He made us, He has given us gifts, talents and interests that make us so wonderfully unique.

 

2. I am free to give as I have been given.

 

Matthew 10:8b

“Freely you have received, freely give.” (NIV)

 

But it’s not always easy to freely give, is it? Not always. Sometimes I’d rather just freely not give. Freely do what I want on my own terms. But oh…that minset will not bring freedom or peace.

As freely as God has given to me, I should give back, serving others and thus serving Him. Glory to God!

 

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3. I am a new person, alive and breathing in Christ.

 

Ephesians 2:4

God is merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that He made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you. (CEV)

 

There is so much power in this verse. God, through his perfect and beautiful kindness, has made us whole. He made us His own. We are His special treasure. (Deuteronomy 7:6).

 

4. I can trust Him.

 

Galatians 2:20

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (NLT)

 

My old self is no more. Some days I struggle to remember! Christ has made His home within my heart. I must trust Him. Trust that He knows what He’s doing. He knows the way and He is a faithful guide.

And when it’s hard to trust? Ask Him to help you learn to trust Him more. 😊

 

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5. I can rest in His deep love.

 

Hosea 3:19-20

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.” (NIV)

 

Something about this verse strikes my heart deeply. I’m currently in a study on Hosea and I have learned way more about God’s deep and tender love reading this book of the Bible than I ever thought possible.

Just like Isreal in the book of Hosea, I mess up. I stray. I glory in my security and forget God.

Sometimes I get lazy. And I neglect to do things. Like mop my kitchen floor. Which, believe it or not, is what inspired this post. Simple as it was, I could not accept that God had given me grace…for neglecting my housekeeping of all things. Why couldn’t I just accept His grace?

I realised I needed to dig deeply into who God is. (For my Hosea friends…I realized I needed to yada God. 😉 For others who may not know, yada=to intimately know.)

He is righteous, just, loving, compassionate.

Never ever ever will he forget us or abandon us.

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His love for us is a strength we can never fathom. A love we can never outgrow. A love that will not run out based on the things we do.

He is faithful.

He is gracious.

And He will restore.

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All photos are from pixabay.

Beverages, Food

Chickweed and Cantaloupe Smoothie {with banana, strawberry and oats}

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So. *glances at clock* It is rather late on this Friday night but a promise is a promise. I said that I’d share my chickweed smoothie recipe today.

And so never fear, my loyal readers. I shall share it! *cue superhero music* To the blender!

(This recipe was alluded to in my last post: Two Ways to Eat Chickweed {spring foraging fun}.)

If you didn’t read the post, here is a quick summary⤵⤵⤵

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This⬆⬆⬆  and this ⤵⤵⤵ is chickweed.

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  • It grows in your yard.
  • It is an edible weed.
  • Birds/chicks like to eat it, hence the name.
  • It is full of vitamin C.
  • It tastes a little like spinach, but on the bland side.

Perfect for smoothies. And so I came up with the………..

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Chickweed and Cantaloupe Smoothie

Servings: 1-2

Cook/prep time: 10 minutes or less

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole frozen banana, diced
  • 4 frozen strawberries, diced
  • 3 smallish cubes cantaloupe
  • a handful of well rinsed chickweed, torn into a few pieces
  • a handful of *quick oats
  • about 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
  • 1-2 cups (240-480mL) unsweetened vanilla almond milk

*gluten-free oats will make this recipe gluten and dairy-free.

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender from first to last. (Fruit first, almond milk last.) I poured in almond milk until it reached the 2 cup line.
  2. Give it a quick stir.
  3. Blend on high until you reach your desired texture.

Cost:

I calculated that this smoothie cost me no more than $1.40. And that is probably overestimating. That’s about 70¢ per 8oz/240mL serving. Pretty good deal, eh?

Enjoy your smoothie! Let me know if you try it with the chickweed. It’s totally worth looking ridiculous for as your neighbors stare at you ripping it out of your yard. Haha! Promise! 😝😉

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foraging, The Great Outdoors

Two Ways to Eat Chickweed {spring foraging fun}

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It was about 2 weeks ago and I decided it was time. After a long, dreary winter that never seemed to want to stop…it was time to commence spring foraging.

I’ve been watching, waiting…observing the subtle signs that spring whispers to those who choose to listen.

Robins. Little green sprouting things poking through the earth.

Buds forming on the trees in my backyard.

Geese flying through the sky.

The sweet spring sun has come. Easter has passed and brought joy in so many different ways.

I’ve always seen Easter as the tipping point for the winter season. February is that first ray of hope and then it’s Easter and I think, “Almost. We’re almost there. Full blown spring is quite close”.

And it’s a time of celebration and joy and thanks for newness of life. All of nature brought together to celebrate the victory of life over death.

Ah me. I’m turning reflective. When this post is to be about foraging. Haha. Continuing.

One of the earliest plants to grow and really thrive in my backyard is chickweed. I’ve recently learned to really love the stuff.

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Until recently, I’ve really only looked at chickweed as a flat spreading weed with tiny leaves and pretty little white flowers. I never considered the benefits of chowing down on it.

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I’ve purchased a few foraging books over the winter. They are:

  • Stalking the Healthful Herbs, by Euell Gibbons
  • Midwest Foraging: 115 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Burdock to Wild Peach, by Lisa M. Rose.

From those books I learned a myriad of things about the plant in question but mainly:

  1. It is called chickweed because baby chickens/small birds love to eat it.
  2. It has a ton of vitamin C.

It’s easy to find. It’s free. And super-healthy. It has a bland spinach-like taste, but not quite as strong.

Ok great. But how to eat it? Glad you asked 😊 Lately I’ve had 2 ways I love to fix chickweed.

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First off, salad. Here I combined beet greens, a bit of chickweed and some baby dandelion greens. Then I topped it off with some cucumber and radish slices.

It was pretty good and a nice way to get a mixed greens salad without buying a big container of expensive organic salad that I can never seem to finish.

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Next I decided to use a handful of chickweed as the greens in my smoothie. It accompanied frozen bananas, strawberries, quick oats, cocoa powder and almond milk.

And I threw in a few pieces of cantaloupe because I wanted something different.

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And it was! But in a good way. 😊😊 I loved adding in super fresh greens in place of my usual spinach leaves.

**I will post the recipe tomorrow for you guys. 😊🍓🍌🌱

Thus concludes my adventures with chickweed…for now…..

Do you enjoy foraging for spring plants? Any particular plants or recipes you wish to try?

Let me know, I’d love to hear about it. Everyone’s foraging experience is unique and I love learning from others. 😄😄

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Food, Lunch/Simple Meal

Nourishing Lentil Stew with Daikon and Sweet Potato

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Today for the second time in 3 days, the weather has chosen to deviate from acceptable “spring” conditions to an unacceptable wintry mix of horror.

It has been snowing.

Monday-snow.

Tuesday-rain (and lots of it) ☔ ☔ ☔

Wednesday-snow. Coupled windy-like blustery weather reminiscent of a hurricane.

What??

Quit it winter. Goooo away. Seriously.

 

So I decided that if the weather is going to be wacky and un-spring-like, I was going to make a dish of food that was reflective of that.

I made a lentil stew using a bunch of veggies, some of them spring veggies.

Take that, winter weather.

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I began by thawing and heating some chicken bone broth in my dutch oven. Then I cooked up some lentils.

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Next was more chicken broth and a plethora of vegetables. Onion, carrots, daikon, red radishes, beet and sweet potato. The only seasoning I used was thyme and salt. Keepin’ it simple is my jam 😝😎😋

I just added what I had and went a little bit out of my comfort zone with the flavor. But it turned out well.

For this recipe, I cut the carrots, sweet potato, and beet into smaller pieces so they would cook faster. The onions, daikon and radishes will not need as long to cook, so you could add them in last if you want a chunkier stew.

And don’t feel like you have to use any veggies you don’t like or have. Make it fun, make it you. 😋

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Nourishing Lentil Stew with Daikon and Sweet Potato

Serves: 4-6

Cook time: about 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups/46oz/1,680mL homemade chicken bone broth, divided.*
  • 3/4 cup/113g lentils
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small piece daikon, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 2 red radishes, thinly sliced.
  • a few slices of fresh beet, sliced.
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt

*I used a combination of chicken bone broth (4 cups/960mL) and chicken soup base+water (3 cups/720mL, I used Gia Russa brand).

 

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, add lentils to 4 cups/960mL of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies. When the lentils are done, add in the 3 cups/720mL remaining chicken broth, veggies and seasonings.
  3. Cook on medium high heat, uncovered, until carrots, sweet potatoes and beets are done.

 

Cost:

I estimated that it cost me about $2.05 to make this pot of stew. That’s 51¢ per 4 (large) servings. If you divide it into 6 servings, that’s 34¢ per serving.

Cheap, filling, delicious and nutritious.

Enjoy!

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Natural Skin Care

Favorite Spring Lip Balms {review and rank by $}

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Spring+lip balm.

I had so much fun with my last lip balm post that I decided to do another. So here we are😃

(If you fancy checking it out, that post is here: My Top 5 Favorite Lip Balms {stocking stuffer ideas}

Two things (before I get to the lipbalms)

1. I like natural stuff. (If you follow along, I’m sure you couldn’t tell 😛😛) So many of my choices here are…

  • all-natural
  • or organic
  • vegan
  • made with free-trade ingredients
  • all of the above, etc.

I like my beauty products crunchy. Not always. But usually. I’m not vegan, but I do appreciate vegan products. And I very much love being earth and people conscious.

Products made with recycled materials. Ingredients that come from companies who give fair wages and don’t exploit poorer workers and resources in other countries. All that good stuff.

I like buying products that go for a good cause. I can’t always afford to. But…I like to.

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2. I’m going to start rating the lip balms I review. The scale will look like this:

Good 💜

Better 💜💜

Very nice 💜💜💜

Really (really) nice 💜💜💜💜

Factors will include flavor, texture, smell, and effectiveness of the product.

 

The Lip Balm Lineup

 

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Smooth Sphere Lip Balm in Blueberry Acai, by EOS

Flavor-nice sweet taste.

Texture-good balance of oil & wax.

Smell-not keen on the smell. I think it smells like a blueberry muffin. Can’t make out the acai very well.

Effectiveness-I feel like I have to keep re-applying, maybe because the sweet taste makes me want to lick my lips.

Other things I love: I love the shape and colors of the eos lip balms. Additionally, my daughter (age 2) really loves this one.

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Mongo Kiss Vanilla Honey Lip Balm, by Eco Lips

Flavor-flavor is ok. Pretty mild.

Texture-Very balanced oil to wax ratio.

Smell-Nice but seems slightly off to me. I think I expected a stronger vanilla smell.

Effectiveness-Wears very well. I especially love to use this lip balm at night.

Other things I love: The ingredients are organic and the company uses fair trade cocoa seed butter.

The ingredients are also non-gmo and cruelty-free.

Also the mongongo oil intrigues me.

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Everyday Coconut Fair Trade Lip Balm in Coconut Mint, by Alaffia

Flavor– Absolutely love. Coconut and mint are subtle but not too subtle. Taste is fresh and clean, but warm.

Texture– Somewhat oily, but waxy enough to protect my lips and wear well.

Smell– Love it.

Effectiveness-Works very well.

Other things I love: It is vegan, has only 5 ingredients and uses fair-trade coconut oil.

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Wildflower Lip Balm (Vanilla and Violet), by GypsyFaeCreations

Flavor– The flavor, to me tasted a tiny bit like grape.

Texture– More oily/buttery.

Smell– Really love. I can totally make out the violet and it is divine.

Effectiveness– I didn’t feel like this balm was super moisturizing, maybe because of the buttery-ness.

Other things I love- This lipbalm is from an etsy shop. The owner, Tierrafae, is very creative and makes mainly soaps. I love supporting small businesses through etsy.

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Pemberley Lip Balm (Rose and Honey), by GypsyFaeCreations

(No picture because in taking a group picture of the lipbalms in water I damaged the label.)

Flavor– The flavor was a bit strong on the rose element.

Texture– A small bit on the waxy side to me.

Smell– Same as above.

Effectiveness– I really wanted to love this lip balm but I found I didn’t enjoy wearing it long enough to really tell how well it worked.

What I loved- I loved the idea and Jane Austen fandom behind this product, which is the main reason I chose to buy it 😊

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Chai Spice Lip Balm, by Hurraw! Balm

Flavor– Love it 100%.

Texture– A bit oily, but still good.

Smell– Love.

Effectiveness– Wears well.

Other things I love- the ingredients are organic, vegan and raw. I love this chai lip balm even better than the one from Primal Pit Paste (Pucker Paste).

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Price comparison: $-$$$

 

Eco Lips (Mongo Kiss)- $1.97, for .25oz

1oz= $7.88


 

Eos$3.49, for .25oz

1oz= $13.96


 

Alaffia (Everyday Coconut)-$2.24, for .15oz

1oz= $14.94


 

GypsyFaeCreations (Wildflower)- $3.00, for .15oz

1oz= $20.01


 

GypsyFaeCreations (Pemberly)$3.00, for .15oz

1oz= $20.01


 

Hurraw! Balm$3.79 for .15oz

1oz= 25.28


 

So from this price comparison you can see that the more product you get for the cheapest price, the better deal you have.

However, it isn’t a deal if you don’t love the product. (Eco lips is an example of a great product for a great price.)

Another good lip balm I mentioned in my previous lip balm post is Smith’s Rosebud Salve. I purchased some when we were on vacation for $5.95. Sounds pricy right? But it’s .8oz, which equates to $7.44/oz…cheaper than even Eco Lips.

Eventually I hope to get into making my own lip balms. Possibly this summer or fall, if certain plants in my garden decide to cooperate. We shall see 😃😃🌱🌱🌈

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Caturday

Stella in the Sunshine

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Ah sweet sunshine. We have had more of it lately. I love to chill out and spend awhile in the afternoons soaking up the sun.

Stella decided it was safe to come out (the kids were distracted playing a game) and she decided that sunbeams are wonderful too.

In fact, she probably knows that better than I do.

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Cats love sunshine. And somehow, cats and knitting always go together.

I’m knitting another dishcloth here..my 3rd one so far. It’s covered in cat hair by now but of course I’ll wash it first when it’s finished. 😆🐈🐈🐾

Happy Caturday! Tuck into a bit of a sunbeam, if you can find one today😃

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Reflections

Letting Go {amidst the purls and the knits}

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I must confess…

Letting go has never been easy for me. I hold too tightly, keep myself from change.

But in knitting…

If you hold too tightly, if you don’t let go, then you will never make a stitch. You can’t make any kind of progress at all.

It’s a simple enough concept, but I keep coming back to it. When I started knitting, my kids were sick with the flu. My son got it first. He was so sick. Sick with a high fever every night until Advil calmed it down.

Holding tight to our babies-that’s what mamas do best. I’m not suggesting letting go in any sense. 

But for me, I had to let go of the fear. The worry of, “Will he be ok??”. I wasn’t in charge of his healing. I had to trust that my prayers of petition to God and my limited ministrations would get him through.

And he did. He got over the flu. In spite of my fears and the paranoia fed by constant news updates telling me how horrible the flu is for children. (Thanks NBC.)

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But back to knitting. I know I’ve been talking about knitting a lot. And that’s just because I’ve been doing a lot of it.

On vacation I knit square after square. It’s so grounding and therapeutic and easy to do while riding in the car, visiting with family. As a person who fidgets, knitting is bomb.

When I began learning how to knit, my work was a tangled mess. My stitches were loopy. I couldn’t figure out the direction of the needles. I would get nervous once I had formed thread on the needles, dreading letting go. Dreading the wrong stitch.

Isn’t that just how life is? We don’t want to mess up. So we hold on to things. We hold on and hold on, telling ourselves,”I can’t do that. I don’t want to fail. I don’t have what it takes”. 

But that’s wrong. I’m in the wrong for thinking that. I can’t is powerfully debilitating.

I can’t

It can cripple your life.

Your will.

Your desire to grow.

To be a stronger & better version of you. 

I’m not saying that who you are is not good enough. No, never. 

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What I mean is that you will fulfill whatever prophecy you proclaim for your life.

If it is “I can’t do that“, then you won’t.

If it is “I’m afraid to try“, then it will keep you from new experiences.

I say these things from experience. I say them because I’ve believed “I can’t” about things for far too long. Because I’ve allowed fear instead of a desire to be vulnerable and different and broken to pervade my life. To control me.

I’ve feared letting go.

And I can fear it no more.

It’s time for change.

Bring on spring.

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This poem is my own.

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Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 4, Dessert & Beverage)

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Welcome back my wonderful readers to this Moroccan edition of Global Eats! It’s been a wonderful journey 😄

Here we are at Part 4, the end of my research and recipes on Morocco, and possibly the end of Global Eats for a time.

You can view parts I-III below, if ya care to:

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

But today, oh today is about….

Dessert! (And tea…but mostly dessert!)

I’m pretty excited for this one. How about you? Today I am sharing pictures from a recipe for Moroccan Coconut and Semolina Cookies, from blog Tajoon.

What I love about this blog is that it is authentic Moroccan food from a Moroccan blogger.

Loubna lives in the states but is from Morocco. One issue I had with this series is that it was difficult to find authentic recipes from Moroccan bloggers. This site has quite a few awesome recipes & I was happy to find it.

Making the Coconut and Semolina Cookies

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Here is the set up for the cookies. I planned to make a 1/2 batch.

I subbed a few ingredients here. I didn’t have much white sugar (I try not to use it too much) so I used part white sugar and part coconut sugar.

Because the coconut flakes I had were on the chunky side, I ground them down a bit with a mortar and pestle to give it a finer texture.

Then lastly, I did not have orange water but I used what rose water I had. That stuff smells so good! 🌹😊

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A half batch made 12 good-sized cookies.

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These were messy, oh so messy to make. But fun and pretty easy.

As the cookies cooled, I made a cup of chocolate mint tea and let it steep for a good hour or so.

Then I added some raw honey and poured it into a pretty glass jelly jar.

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What I Love About This Recipe

Several things. First of all…

  • It’s dairy-free.
  • It uses a flour I’ve never worked with before.
  • And you don’t have to chill the dough.

Taste

The taste is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in a cookie. Like I said, I’ve never used semolina flour. The texture is a bit like fine cornmeal.

Texture

The texture of these cookies is what I would call crunchy. But not crispy. The semolina flour and coconut gave these cookies a good bit of texture. To me they tasted like a crispy waffle.

After letting these cookies sit overnight, I would say that the texture improved. The cookies were less crunchy and softer in texture.

I think this is the same concept as a cake made with oil. The first day it’s a bit dry. So you let it sit and its better the next day.

Taste

Not a whole lot of taste going on. Maybe this is due to the coconut sugar? There is some flavor from the coconut flakes and flour but it’s not like the dramatically flavored and sweetened American cookies I know.

But that’s probably a good thing. More sugar=more cravings=you can’t stop eating them=sugar crash.

These are good cookies and they do go well with the sweetened mint tea. They go well with a hot beverage the same way that biscotti goes well with coffee or whatnot. Although I’ve heard most Italians like their biscotti with wine…

Conclusion

Quick Preserved lemons, Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine and Coconut and Semolina Cookies.

Thus ends the Moroccan edition of my Global Eats series. Hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the beautiful and uniquely delicious country of Morocco.

It’s been far from a complete culinary experience but I’ve had a lot of fun learning about so many unique dishes and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed sharing some of what I’ve learned with you guys. 🙂

It’s been a fun series but I’m looking forward to writing about other things.

I just finished planning my garden today so perhaps that will be one of the upcoming categories.

Thank-you for following along & God bless!

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Sewing & Repurposing

Whipstitch Wednesday: Large Envelope Style Pillow Covers

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A week or so ago I decided it was finally time.

I needed to make new pillow covers for the livingroom pillows. Like yesterday. We had bought a new couch a year or two ago and it came with matching pillows. I didn’t like them but I also didn’t take the initiative to change them.

So a friend and I went to Wal-Mart and I bought some fabric to match with a large scrap I already had. I ended up blindly picking out a blue Waverly Inspirations print that I loved and it matched beautifully.

To make the pillows, I…

  • Planned the project.
  • Calculated the measurements of all the pieces.
  • Cut the pieces.
  • Sewed.
  • Ironed.
  • Then sewed some more.

Plan

I wanted to make 2 envalope pillow cases for the two large couch pillows. They needed to be easy to get on and off but not easy for the kids to remove.

I had fabric for the front and back and also large fabric pieces to line the inside to make them extra sturdy.

Measurements

Front

Ok. So the pillows were 21″ square. From that I knew that the front pieces would be 22×22″ for a 1/2″ seam allowance.

I cut 2 pieces of the chai print fabric and 2 peices for the lining.

Back

Then I had the pieces for the back which I am not 100% on the size, since I needed 2 pieces, factoring in seam allowance, overlap on the back and the hem on the one open side.

I cut 8 pieces total of this size. 4 from the blue waverly script fabric and 4 from my large piece of scrap fabric.

Cutting the Fabric

To cut out large patterns like this I use a very red neck method. (But it works well!) I get out leftover Christmas wrapping paper, measure and draw my pattern, then cut.

I lay the pattern over top the fabric and draw a straight line, then cut it out.

This method works really well with the wrapping paper that has the grid on the back to help you.

Sewing

Pinning and sewing is the fun part. I pinned the fabric pieces with their linings, wrong sides together and sewed all the way around with all 6 pieces.

Then I did the hem on the back pieces, (ironing first) where the edge envelope opening would be.

Then I put wrong sides together and sewed front pieces to the back pieces, taking care to triple stitch the parts where the edge of the back flap was. Then I turned it rightside out and stuffed in the pillows. I loooove the way they look.

And that’s that!

In the end this was what I had:

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Cost:

It cost me about $10.40 to make these two pillow cases, or $5.20 per pillow case. That’s because the lining fabric I used was gifted to me from a friend. So I really only paid for roughly 2 yards, since the chai print I purchased as a scrap.

If I did buy that fabric, it would have added about $6 to the cost of the project.

Have you made any interesting home decor projects lately? Or have any plans to do one?

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Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

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Introduction

Hello and welcome back to the Global Eats series! This is country #2 in my new series.

 

Previously in the series on Morocco I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Check it out if you wish! Post #1 will give you a bit of background if you are not familiar with the food/culture of the country.

Goals for the Series

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1.  How do people in other countries save money on food?
  2.  What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

In my intro post, I covered question #2. I learned a lot about the common foods eaten and grown in Morocco.

And then in my last post, I shared my experience with preserving lemons. Why did I bother? Well because preserved lemons are awesome, obviously (nevermind the fact that I had no idea what they were for until I started reading about Morocco).

But mainly because I wanted to make tagine, and all Moroccan tagines call for preserved lemon.

 

The Main Dish: Moroccan Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine

The photos I’m sharing today are guided by the recipe for tagine which was created by The Daring Gormet.

Check out the site {via the link above} for the recipe 😊

And you may be wondering…ok so what is a tagine? Glad you asked!

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See the pots in the front that look like flower vases with a wide base? Those are tagines. They are cooking pots, for cooking..you guessed it. Tagines. How do they work?

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A tagine has 2 pieces. The bottom part is a bowl and the top part is the lid. The food is cooked on the stove and then served as is.

The cool part about a tagine pot is that the shape is created so that the moisture rises and drips down back to the food, keeping it moist and tender. Much like a crockpot or a dutch oven. (I used the latter.)

You may be wondering where the tagine pot originally came from and who invented it. I’m not 100% sure on this one. Most sources said that nomads in North Africa used them, although no specific country or person was credited.

It’s a really cool invention huh? Kinda like the predecessor to the modern day crock pot. Super cool.

Cooking it Up

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First of all, this was really good. Second of all there are 3 ingredients here that I want to spend a bit of time talking about.

Preserved Lemon

I talked about this in my previous post. I wasn’t 100% sure on why this was a necessary ingredient in tagine until I actually tried the dish.

I don’t know what the 4-week preserved lemons are supposed to taste like but I think the quick preserved lemons I used turned out well.

The recipe just called for 1/2 of a preserved lemon so I just added 2 pieces of it to the pot. I didn’t cut it up, just left it whole because I wasn’t so sure about eating it, to be honest.

Harissa

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I purchased this harissa hot sauce from Amazon. I thought about making my own, but ended up not doing so because I couldn’t find the right kind of peppers.

The ingredients in the picture are tiny but it says “Rehydrated chilli 52%, water, modified starch corn, salt, garlic, coriander, caraway, acidity regulator: citric acid”.

And yep it is hot. I tried a very small amount and it tasted chock full of cayenne pepper. The recipe called for 1 Tablespoon of it which I thought might be too much…but it ended up being perfect and wonderfully balanced.

Couscous

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I used this kind of couscous instead of following the directions in the recipe because I couldn’t find plain couscous at the store.

It ended up being really good and it went with the recipe pretty well. Garlic couscous is the way to go 😉

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Alright back to the food.

Flavors

What did this dish taste like?

There were a lot, and I mean A LOT of flavors going on here. Let me break it down.

  • Spices. right away I could taste cinnamon, followed by turmeric. Cumin slightly.
  • Spicy. The harissa I could taste, but it wasn’t overly powerful. The spiciness was pleasant & lingered.
  • Sweet. there was definitely a sweet element with the raisins and butternut squash. I couldn’t taste or find the apricot but I’m sure it added to the sweetness as well.
  • Sour. I could taste the preserved lemon in places. I didn’t eat the actual pieces but the lemon flavor was definitely more mellow but still had that bright citrus taste.

Overall this was very good. I loved the complex flavor. The sweet and spicy was balanced. There was great texture with the chickpeas, butternut squash and dried fruit.

The slivered almonds added an unfamiliar crunch that I didn’t especially care for, and yet it didn’t make me want to stop eating 😋😋

Saving Money

The last element I want to briefly mention are the frugal aspects of this dish. Looking at this meal, you wouldn’t think it is frugal at first because it has 25 ingredients. I used 22 and 6 of those are seasonings.

Also, just want to mention that this makes a lot of food. Like 4 generous servings, at least.

Another thing I see here is that the ingredients with the larger amounts are pretty cheap. Butternut squash, couscous and garbanzo beans are all pretty inexpensive. 

Also, there was only 1 pound of chicken in the whole recipe. Adding chickpeas and almonds adds more protein and keeps the cost down.

Basically:

  • Lots of spices & seasonings
  • Small amounts of pricier food.
  • Keep expensive meats at minimum.
  • Add alternate sources of protein.
  • Bulk up on produce.

 

Conclusion

What I love about this series is that I (sometimes) think that people around the world are so different but I am everytime so pleasantly suprised that we are so similar and have so much in common.

There are differences in our surroundings, in our countries. But in the end we all just want good, delicious and frugal food.

Stay tuned for more Moroccan food! The next post will be either a side dish or dessert. Haven’t decided yet 😃

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Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2,Condiment)

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On Wednesday (2 days ago) I mentioned that my next post on Moroccan food would be a condiment.

And so here we have…

Preserved Lemons!

I was really super intrigued by this idea of preserving citrus. I had read about the process in a preserving book last summer but didn’t attempt it, due to the fact that I had no real use for or ambition to use preserved lemons.

However, in reading through a lot of recipes for Moroccan tagine (slow cooked stew), almost all of them call for a bit of preserved lemon.

I was thinking, “What’s the big deal? Why does it need to be preserved lemon? Can’t I just use lemon juice or something..you know…easier?”.

But what I’m going for is that authentic Morroccan flavor. And as I learned last time with oyster sauce in the recipe for Philippine Ginisang Togue, flavor and authenticity is key.

And so I set out to find a recipe.

And ran into a problem.

Preserved lemons take 4 weeks to make. What?? Yeah. Regarding my time frame I had for the series, I did not have time to make it that way.

The Recipe

And luckily, I found a recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons, from myrecipes.com which has been a lifesaver.

And so I made the preserved lemons, because I was so wanting to make a tagine.

(Bear with me…my picture settings are being glitchy and not allowing me to write captions.)

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I got 2 organic lemons from the store, cut them into quarters and added 2 Tablespoons sea salt (subbed for Kosher salt) and about 1 cup of water.

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Afterwards. Looked kinda gross but smelled heavenly.

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Right after I made it. I imagined the peels would soften as they sat in the salt and juices. (And they did.)

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After sitting in the fridge for a few days. It looks oily but I think that’s just the mix of lemon pulp and saturated salty lemon juice.

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All that remains here is the peel…the actual fruit part is super soft, almost like a cooked onion.

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Lemony Thoughts

I didn’t actually try the lemons themselves but I did try a bit of the..(sauce?) they were preserved in. And I made a face. Because it was super-salty. And super-sour. Big suprise, right?

But it smelled heavenly. The most amazing, sunny and beautiful lemon fragrance.

And now I think I’m beginning to understand why preserved lemon had value. It’s just a way to prolong the harvest of a plentiful seasonal fruit. Much like we make applesauce or strawberry jam here in the U.S.

And I can also see how these lemons will add a bit of the sour in the sweet & sour cooking that is common in Morocco.

Stay tuned for my main dish post next week! It will hopefully be up on Tuesday.

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Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

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Introduction

Welcome back to the Global Eats series! This is a series I’ve been doing to help myself (and hopefully others) learn more about the value of food from other countries.

This is a…

  • cultural appreciation,
  • history lesson
  • and culinary education all rolled into one.

My last 4 posts were all about the Philippines. I shared my inspiration for the series in my first post Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro).

Long story short, I read a post by another blogger and it inspired me to seek out the unique history, ingredients and flavors that are common in other cultures.

And let’s face it. It’s been a great way to distract from the winter blahs.

My intent in this series is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

Question #2 will be answered in this post. The others I hope to answer by the end of this series on Morocco.

I am very excited to begin learning as much as I can about the foods that are popular and loved in different countries around the globe.

Disclaimer: I am not Moroccan but I will try my best to share what I have learned. To anyone who is Moroccan or is more knowledgeable on the topic, please feel free to share info or correct me if I am in error at any point in my posts.

 

History of Food & Melding of Cultures

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Question: what is the history that shaped present day food dishes in Morocco?

Morocco is located in Northern Africa and borders the nations of Western Sahara and Algeria. Spain and Portugal lie quite close to it’s northern shores.

It has the Atlantic ocean on it’s western coast and a small part of the Mediterranean Sea on it’s northeastern side.

The food history of the country is a complex blend of the Berber people with Arabic, Moorish and French influences.

 

Berbers

As far as we know, the Berber people were the first to make their home in present-day Morocco. However, most peoples in the country today are a mix of Berber and Arabic ethnicities. The origin of the Berber people is difficult to trace. But we do know they ate things like olives, figs, dates, couscous and chickpeas (or garbanzo beans). All of these things are still staples today.

 

Arabs

The Arabs arrived next and their prominence lasted a little over 1,000 years, from about the 600’s A.D. to the 1700s. Morocco is still largely Berber/Arabic but influence-wise there was a break in political power.

From the Arabs, foods like spices from India and Asia were introduced (cinnamon, ginger, cumin, etc.). Also nuts and dried fruits along with a sweet and sour flavor common in Persian cooking.

 

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Moores

The Moores came from Spain around 700 A.D. and were largely responsible for upping the consumption of olives, plus introducing olive oil and citrus trees and fruit.

 

The French

This part was new to me. In the early 1900s, the country of Morocco declared bankruptcy. This led to The Treaty of Fes, under which Morocco became a French colony until it’s independence in 1956. Oddly there wasn’t a lot of French culinary influence aside from the dessert and the whole café experience. Who doesn’t love French pastries? 😋😋

That covers the food history. So if you were to walk through Morocco today, what are some foods and ingredients that would stand out?

 

Common & Unique Ingredients

In my reading, there were 4 foods (plus a beverage) that I thought were rather unique. They were:

  • Argan oil
  • preserved lemons
  • harissa
  • and Ras El Hanout.
  • (Plus the very popular mint tea.)

What are these things and how are they eaten in Morocco?

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Argan oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree. Argan trees are common in Morocco. So common that people will use the oil as a dip for bread.

I find this interesting because I use Argan oil as a facial moisturizer and it is neither easy to find nor cheap to buy in my particular area of the U.S.

 

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Another common ingredient in Moroccan cooking is preserved lemons. I first heard of this from a canning and preserving book last summer. Now I know what it can be used in and where in the globe it is a common ingredient.

Preserved lemons are in various recipes but I think especially so in tagine, which is a special slow cooked stew.

 

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Harissa and Ras El Hanout are two ingredients that add a bit of a spicy kick. Although they are popular in Morocco, they are also used overall in North African cusine.

Harissa is a thick, spicy sauce made from fresh and dried hot chili peppers and spices like caraway and cumin, among other ingredients.

Ras El Hanout translated means “top of shop”. It is a blend of as few as 10 and as many as 100 spices. I found a few recipes online but none that had more than 22 ingredients. I wouldn’t have thought to combine spices like cinnamon and allspice with coriander and turmeric but that is exactly what this recipe does.

 

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Mint tea is also a big deal in this country. It is served daily and  always served sweetened.

 

Tying it All Together

How to explain Moroccan food? From reading and research only I can see that this food as a whole is rich and complex.

I see sweet mixed with savory and lots of seasonings. Spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are combined with hot spices like cayenne and spices used in Indian cooking like turmeric and cumin. I think that this will make for some interesting flavors.

Besides spices, other common ingredients that I observed were things like chicken, almonds, carrots, chickpeas, raisins, lentils and onions.

 

Plans for the Moroccan Series

So what’s next? Next I am planning on writing 4 posts based on recipes for authentic Moroccan dishes. As of now, one will be a condiment, then a main dish, a side dish and finally a dessert with a beverage.

I am excited to begin this series and I look forward to the new recipes and flavors I will encounter.

The condiment dish I am planning on having up on the blog later this week. See you then!

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Photo credit: All photos from pixabay and Unsplash.


 

Sources:

The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb

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www.fescooking.com

The Art of Moroccan Cuisine: A Culture of Eating, Drinking, and Being Hospitable

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www.foodbycountry.com

Food in Every Country/Kazakhstan to South Africa/Morocco

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www.bbc.com

Africa-Morocco country profile

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www.infoplease.com

Morocco

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www.foodal.com

The Magic of Moroccan Cuisine

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http://www.thespruce.com

Collection of Authentic Moroccan Comfort Food Recipes

10 Famous Moroccan Dishes You Should Try

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www.mymoroccanfood.com

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