Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Make Marinated Vegetables! ~ Our Favorite Sliced Summer Salad

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”
~ Claude Monet

Although Monet may disagree, to me a garden is a masterpiece when finally served on your seasonal menu! Easy to assemble and very versatile, this is our favorite way to prepare our summer harvest. 

Begin by washing, peeling (if necessary) and slicing all your fresh produce. Some ideas are cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers (the more colors the better!), carrots and onions (even if you don't like to eat raw onions, do include them for flavor). Some other fun additions to this salad would be whole olives or sliced Ortega chilies if your family likes them.

Next, place a layer of vegetables in your container and drizzle each layer with a bit of oil, vinegar and a sprinkling of seasoning salt.  We like to use olive oil and grape-seed oil (or a mix of both). For vinegars, we prefer red wine and balsamic but please use your favorite. Continue to layer and season your veggies until your container is nice and full. Then, place the lid on your sliced salad and give it a nice shake (or two) to infuse the oil, vinegar and seasonings (or toss with tongs if you don't have a lid).

Let your sliced salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. The more time the merrier! I also give it a gentle shake or toss every hour or so (when I remember) to infuse the flavors even more. We like to make a batch in the morning and serve it in the evening. You can even prepare this the day before. It will last all week so feel free to prepare a large batch (or make a few containers worth and take where-ever you go). Prior to serving, test a few pieces to make sure there is enough seasoning, if not, add a bit more seasoning salt and give it one last toss.

I hope your family enjoys these marinated vegetables as much as ours! It is wonderful for all your summertime festivities! It is our go-to food for picnics and BBQ's and anywhere else our travels take us! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Blessings of Old Fashioned Work ~ Part Four

“If this country is ever demoralized,
it will come from trying to live without work.” 
~ Abraham Lincoln

Besides the brilliant sense of accomplishment, healthy lifestyle of physical activity and the sweetness of $avings, there is something morally and spiritually strengthening when involving oneself in old fashioned labor. It is the blessed business that keeps you out of everyone else's business.

"A life of full and constant employment is the only safe and happy one. If we suffer the mind and body to be unemployed, our enjoyments, as well as our labors, will be terminated. One of the minor uses of steady employment is, that it keeps one out of mischief; for truly an idle brain is the devil's workshop, and a lazy many the devil's bolster. To be occupied is to be possessed as by a tenant, whereas to be idle is to be empty; and when the doors of the imagination are opened, temptation finds a ready access, and evil thoughts come trooping in. It is observed at sea that men are never so much disposed to grumble and mutiny as when least employed. Hence an old captain, when there was nothing else to do, would issue the order to "scour the anchor."'

As the saying goes, "idle hands are the devil's workshop". How many busybodies would be unemployed the minute they were introduced to some old fashioned work and its blessed cousin called "industry"? At the end of day, they (or we) would be too exhausted to cause any mischief! 

"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."
~2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

Perhaps one reason that God created work for Adam and Eve, was to simply keep them out of trouble. Many of us may say we are very busy, too busy, in fact. But I do suggest that though we may be "busy", we are not being "industrious". Perhaps we are busy checking our emails, updating our social media accounts and chit-chatting on the phone. Although there is nothing wrong with any of these, when it is not mixed in with a goodly dose of work, one can slip and fall into the world of gossip, idleness and meddling.

The wholesome lifestyle of old fashioned labor keeps you productive, a blessing to your family and is even a testimony to your faith.

"And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully."
~ 1 Timothy 5:13-14

Ladies, let us keep ourselves "busy" with the good things in life, real "old fashioned labor" that produces tangible and blessed, beautiful fruit! Raising our children, feeding our minds with useful information, stocking our pantries, maintaining gardens, serving those in need, creative handiwork and so forth. These are the things which God smiles upon! It will transform you into a Titus-2 testimony. Old fashioned work, combined with a healthy dose of the "fear of the Lord", is what made the Proverbs 31 woman shine. And it will make you radiate, like a precious gem, to all who exist in your little world too!

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
She looketh well to the ways of her household,
and eateth not the bread of idleness."
~ Proverbs 31:10, 27

{See part one part twopart threepart four and part five of this series.}

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to Make a Sleepy-Time Tincture

"A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky -
I've thought of all by turns, and still I lie
~William Wordsworth

Oh, the importance of sleep! It gives refreshment to the overtaxed mind and gives rest to the weary body. Yet, as tired as one can be, sometimes sleep is hard to find! Using God's pharmacy, we can seek relief in a few well chosen herbs that can be transformed into a medicinal tincture

To begin, place 1 cup of chamomile flowers inside of a clean, quart sized, glass jar. Chamomile is excellent for relieving nervous stress and helps to aid digestion, both of which will support a beautiful bedtime! 

Next, add 1/3 cup of passionflower. A gentle but effective herb, passionflower is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, stress and depression. It is also useful as a pain reliever for headaches and menstrual pain, making it a very useful addition to a restful sleep blend!

Finally, add 1/3 cup of valerian root. I will not lie. This smells horrendous! However, it is one of the best herbs for those who suffer from stress, nervous systems disorders, restlessness and insomnia. For a stronger tincture, you can even double the amount of valerian. 

Other herbs that you can add into the tincture mix (or to replace with some of the herbs mentioned that you don't have) would include hops, lemon balm, catnip and oatstraw. 

Finally, finish your tincture by filling up the remaining jar space (leaving 1 inch from the top), with either 80-100 proof vodka or apple cider vinegarMake sure the contents are completely covered with the liquid (if using vinegar, you may choose to warm it first for better results).

Note: Though alcohol will make the strongest tincture (please read this post if you have any concerns about the use of it in your medicine cabinet), you will find the pros and cons of both in our how to make a tincture postYou could also use food-grade glycerine, but will need to follow different instructions for the tincture which will be found in our how to make a tincture post.
  • If using a metal lidded jar, cover jar with plastic prior to screwing on lid as you don't want the metal to be in contact with the tincture to corrode it.
  • Label your jar with the name of herb, date and the medium used (i.e., alcohol or cider vinegar). 
  • Store in a cool, dark area like your pantry. Let the mixture sit for 4 - 6 weeks for a nice, strong blend. Shake every few days to infuse the herbs into the liquid.
  • When the time is completed, place a fine strainer over a glass bowl. Line the strainer with a piece of clean lightweight cotton or thin cheesecloth. Pour the contents through and strain. Your tincture is ready to use!
  • If you have a clean dropper bottle, then pour some of your tincture inside and add it into your medicine cabinet. The remaining jar of tincture can safely be stored in your pantry for up to 5 years if using vodka (or longer) while the apple cider vinegar tincture will last up to a year.
  • Make sure to label your final product with the name of tincture, date made and medium used (such as vodka, vinegar or glycerin).

Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The suggested dosage for adults would be to start off with one dropperful (aka 1/4 tsp.) before bedtime (if necessary, you may increase to 2-3 dropperfuls which is 1/2 - ¾ tsp.). If you notice any adverse affects, try making the tincture without the valerian (as a very small part of the population doesn't agree with it). 

"O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head."
~Thomas Hood

It is wonderful to have a variety of these long lasting and all natural medicines in your pantry! When a need arises, we simply administer the proper mixture. Sending some sweet dreams your way and some pleasant preparations! This post is a part of our Make Your Own Apothecary ~ Home Pharmacy Series.
Disclaimers: 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 GuideHerbal Recipes for Vibrant HealthGrow Your Own Drugs by James Wong, The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs by Reader's Digest and websites of herbalists (such as the Bulk Herb Store Blog). As with all medicine, if problems still persist, discontinue the use of this remedy.

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, June 3, 2015

Share Your Seasoning & Spice Mix Recipes ~ Pantry Link Up

"Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor."
~ William Cowper

{Please note that this is a special edition link up we are running which is separate from our weekly link up, The Art of Home-Making Mondays.}

When we had shared our Make Your Own Seasoning Mixes with Printable DIY Recipe Kit, many of you mentioned that you prepare special seasoning and spice mix recipes that your family loves. Here is the place where I would love to gather all such recipes for the beauty of convenience, the loveliness of learning and the delightfulness of variety! Not only does making your own mixes save money, it is also more healthier as you omit MSG's, GMO soy additives, anti-caking agents, weird chemicals, etc. from your pantry! Some ideas would be taco seasoning, seasoning salts, cajun seasoning, herbal sprinkles, BBQ rubs, grilling salts, pumpkin pie mix, pickling spice mix, dressing mixes, etc.

This link up will last for 3 MONTHS in order to grow a nice collection and give you time to prepare a post in case you don't have any in your archives (past posts are fine). If you don't have a blog, pretty please share your recipes with us in the comment section! Also, please link back so others know where to share their recipes! :)

****Please share only appropriate posts that correspond with this topic so that we can create a helpful and resourceful index of do-it-yourself recipes for our pantries. We will be doing other pantry related link ups in the future so stay tuned!****