Friday, January 30, 2015

How to Identify Calendula {Pot Marigold vs. Common Marigold}

"With those bright, yellow orange flowers, you might mistake calendula flowers for any other marigold. But calendula is actually an entirely different plant. It's native to northern Africa and the south-central portion of Europe, but it can be grown elsewhere, including indoors. If you can't visually distinguish calendula flowers from marigold, you'll probably be more successful using your nose: regular garden marigolds give off a strong, unpleasant aroma (although some people like it); calendula flowers are comparatively milder."

If uncertain whether you have a common marigold or the medicinal pot marigold (aka Calendula officials) growing, pluck off a deadhead of the flower and examine the seeds. The common marigold will be straight and stick-like while the calendula will have curved seeds with a toothed exterior (as shown in photo above).

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) verses Common Marigold (Tagetes Marigold)

One is a medicinal masterpiece, the other is simply a fragrant flower...

Calendula officinalis {Pot Marigold} ~ Medicinal Uses

According to herbalist James Wong, calendula, "having antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties" boasts a "wealth of potential uses" when prepared into lotions, creams, ointments, teas and tinctures. Using the proper preparations, calendula can help to heal minor burns, sunburn, insect bites, stings, sores, pustular blemishes, acne, cuts, abrasions, inflamed rashes, diaper rash, hemorrhoids, varicose veins while internally it can aid stomach disorders, ulcers and painful periods.

The part of the calendula plant that is used medicinally are the flowers. When the weather allows, take a walk outside, breath in the fresh air and really examine your surroundings. I found our calendula plant in the corner of our hay field. I didn't even know it was there until a few years ago when I began opening my eyes to God's healing pharmacy! In our climate, they introduce themselves in very, very early spring and have self-seeded each year. And you needn't be afraid to harvest the blooms as it will only encourage more budding!

In order to preserve calendula for future projects, you can dehydrate them in a dehydrator or lay them out on a screen or paper towel in a cool, dark area with plenty of air circulation. Flip them every few days until they are dry and brittle (which should take about two weeks depending on your climate).  For quicker results, dry only the petals. Store the dried flowers in an airtight jar (canning jars are great) and out of direct sunlight (like in your pantry).

If you can not find them in your backyard between early spring and summer, you can purchase them here. Calendula will be our next highlighted herb in our Home Pharmacy Series {see Calendula Collection of Recipes here} and we hope you will enjoy making some natural medicine with these pretty but powerful flowers! We are also hosting a link up of calendula exclusive posts so that you can share your information with us!
The following posts have been shared thus far in our series:

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridayShabbilicious FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post contains affiliate links. Web source.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified herbalist but a homemaker interested in the arts of natural healing. The information I have learned has been gleaned through study of some of the following favorite books; Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's GuideGrow Your Own Drugs by James Wong, and The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs by Reader's Digest and websites of herbalists (such as the Bulk Herb Store Blog).

I am not a doctor. While I do seek scientific confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of the herbs and remedies I use, remember that using remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is approved by the FDA or intended to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. All things on this blog are my opinion or the opinion of others. Also, if you have a medical condition, are taking pharmaceutical drugs, or are pregnant, please consult your physician prior to taking herbs.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fast and Festive Taco Casserole {GF} ~ Printable Recipe

I don't know about your family but mine loves anything which remotely imitates a taco. The best part about this recipe is that you don't have to fry up all those tortillas to get that taco-ey taste!

Cook together in a large pan (I used a 5.5 quart pan like this) :
  • 2 lbs. ground beef 
  • 1 c. onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. bell-pepper, diced

When beef is cooked through (and no longer pink), add the following ingredients to your pan (and do not drain the liquid, that is a key player in the taco-taste):
  • 2 c. cooked beans, undrained (pinto, black or kidney) (We use and love black for this.)
  • 2 c. tomatoes, diced 
  • 1 c. corn, frozen or canned
  • 1 package of chili seasoning
  • 1/2 c. water 

Let this mixture simmer together for 5 minutes and begin preheating your oven for 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, grease a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish and sprinkle about 2 cups of coarsely crushed tortilla chips at the bottom (very flexible, I even threw in some leftover random corn chip crumbs that my husband brought home from a road trip).

Once the beef and bean mixture is finished simmering, layer and spread evenly over the chips, the following ingredients in order: 
  • beef/bean mixture from above
  • 2 c. shredded cheese (I used mozzarella but you can use your favorite.)
  • 1 c. coarsely crushed tortilla chips 
  • 1 c. (more) shredded cheese
  • 1 small can of sliced or chopped olives (Black is prettier and preferred but I used green because it is all we had at the time.)
  • optional: fresh chopped parsley or cilantro

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (uncovered) until bubbly on edges and cheese on top begins to brown (like photo shown below).

Serve with a green salad or a platter of ranch dip and veggie sticks.

Optional: Garnish each serving with a dollop of guacamole, sour cream, fresh parsley, cilantro and/or chives (or just enjoy as is!).

Suggestions and Variations:

Divide recipe into (2) 8 by 8 pans and freeze the extra casserole prior to baking for a future meal if you have a smaller family. 

As this is a very flexible recipe, you could use less cheese, more cheese, less chips, more chips, etc. according to your family tastes or dietary needs. Here are some other suggestions to prepare this recipe using some of the ingredients you may have on hand:
  • Use ground turkey or ground chicken instead of beef.
  • Use a can of diced tomatoes (with juice) instead of the fresh tomatoes (and omit the water in the recipe).
  • If you like really spicy food, try replacing two cups of salsa for the fresh tomatoes.
  • Try one packet of taco seasoning instead of the chili seasoning packet.
  • Use 1/3 cup of homemade chili/taco seasoning in lieu of the purchased seasoning packet.
  • Use corn chips to replace tortilla chips (just make sure it is a corn-based chip to get good results).

Simply click on the link HERE to download your recipe (then save and/or print out the recipe from there). Also, if your family enjoys these types of meals, you may also like to try our Chili Cheese Fries!

"A good dinner sharpens wit, while it softens the heart."
~ Daran.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Art of Home-Making Mondays ~ Please Join Us ~ Link Up #37

“Human feelings are queer things -- I am much happier -- black-leading the stove's -- making the beds and sweeping the floors at home, than I should be living like a fine lady anywhere else.”
~ Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
There are so many wonderful features in the making of a home. This is a place where I would love for you to share your love for anything home-related. Homemaking, homeschooling and homesteading are all a part of the lovely art of home-making!

~~Please link up posts in the spirit of Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 (such as recipes, godly encouragement, DIY's, frugal living, child-raising, medicine making, preparedness, gardening, home decoration, school lessons, crafts, etc).~~ You are welcome to share as many posts as you like!

* Today we are featuring our favorite "Sweet Six" posts from Last Week *

{I would love for you to choose at least one of these hand-picked posts and leave some comment love!}

1. My Dutch Inspired Kitchen by Lilacs and Springtime ~ Sarah takes us on a sweet and sentimental tour of her cheerful blue and white kitchen. I was delighted and encourage you to take a visit over. She is a lovely hostess!

2. 16 Ways We Save Money by Homesteading by A Return to Simplicity ~ Angi shares some wonderful ways they are able to save money by homesteading. Many of these ideas can be done in a normal back yard too. It just requires some old fashioned work. Are you up for the challenge?

3. Morning Stirring... Coffee Date with My Lord by Blogger Loves the King ~ This author shares her morning cup of coffee with the best of company. I love the way she looks at her special time!

4. 20 Ways to Serve Oatmeal {Breakfast Reinvented} by Joy in My Kitchen ~ Sometimes we can get into a rut in our breakfast routine. Abi shares the different ways that we can doctor up oatmeal to make it special every day!

5. DIY Lavender Salve by God's Grace Overflows ~ If you have read this blog for some time then you know that I love anything lavender related. Amy shares a simple recipe for making your own lavender salve. What a great gift idea!

6. How to Make Your Own Vintage Style Gift Wrap by Beautiful Girlhood ~ The lovely and creative Kelly Anne shares a beautiful and frugal way to wrap a package with old fashioned charm. I was smitten by this sweet project. She also shares some wonderful homemaking encouragement with A Beautiful Act. I know you will be blessed by a visit to her blog!


On to this week! For the sake of our readers, please link up appropriate and wholesome home-related articles and leave out any giveaways, advertisements, etc. Thank you for understanding! I can't wait to see what you all have to share! 

Please copy the button below (html code is in box below it) and share on your blog post or side-bar so others can come and join in the link up as well!

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Friday, January 23, 2015

What To Make and Do with Lemons ~ Citrus Series

"The Lemon.—This fruit is supposed to be a native of the North of India, although it is grown in nearly all sub-tropical climates. In general, the fruit is very acid, but in a variety known as the sweet lemon, or bergamot (said to be a hybrid of the orange and lemon), the juice is sweet. The sour lemon is highly valued for its antiscorbutic properties, and is largely employed as a flavoring ingredient in culinary preparations, and in making a popular refreshing beverage."
~ Mrs. E.E. Kellogg, Science in the Kitchen, 1893

If you enjoyed these ideas, you may also be interested in What to Make and Do with Oranges.

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