Sunday, November 8, 2015

Winter herbal prep

About two weeks ago, I started preparing the herbal remedies I want to have in the house, ready to go when winter hits. The fire cider, in particular, takes at least a month to properly infuse in the vinegar. Elderberry syrup is a lot easier, and I can make it in an afternoon. I have a couple of good tea mixes ready, and I've lined up my ingredients for some salves and bath preparations for winter chapped skin.

Why bother, when I know I can buy off the shelf preparations for all of this? Love, for one. When I make things for my family, to preserve their health, it is one way to show my love for them. I, as the "mom" in the house, am the one who cares for all of us when we're sick. I put the intention of that love in everything I make for them. It is soul-satisfying.

Next, although commercial preparations may be effective, I've found that my natural ingredients may be gentler on the system. As well, there is scientific study, especially with the elderberry syrup, that they are effective. Elderberries are a specific for flu. ( My Healthy Heart tea is filled with vitamin C from the hibiscus flowers, and hawthorn leaf, flower and berry which are wonderful for your heart and blood pressure (

I want to spend more time on my herbal studies this winter, and perhaps finish the course of instruction I am studying with Rosemary Gladstar, to be certified. It's so satisfying to do this and share it with my family and friends. As well, I want to make sure that the food we eat, especially in the winter months, is wholesome, healthy, and healing. The recipe search is on!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Comfort foods and dieting.

Today, I made kimchi fried rice for lunch. It's one of my son's favorites, and actually, it's quite healthy, especially when I make it with brown rice. Rice, a little leftover meat, and chopped kimchi. Most of my son's comfort foods are Asian, either Korean, Japanese or Chinese for the most part. I suppose having been raised in a dojang (dojo), and having spent a lot of time at various martial arts functions contributed to this. But fried rice was something we made a lot at home when he was young, especially on days when it was getting close to payday. We would talk while I chopped up every vegetable in the crisper, and the end result was always tasty. So, to him it's comfort food.

My comfort foods are much less healthy, and usually carb laden. My absolute favorite is bread that is just out of the oven. The smell and taste both remind me of my father, who was a baker. He smelled of flour and yeast and sugar all the time. When I would visit him at work, he would pull a French roll out of the oven, slather it with butter, and give it to me as a snack. I could have gotten a cookie, or a danish pastry if I had wanted it, but bread was my favorite. Since one of my other comfort foods is soup, it's a marriage made in heaven! Give me a good soup, and some good, fresh bread, and I'm happy.

One of my husband's favorites is macaroni and cheese. And, he will eat any version of it, from the cheap powdered cheese version to my version of Patti LaBelle's incredibly rich recipe that has about 5 different kinds of cheese. Again, carb laden, plus all that rich fatty cheese. None of us have comfort foods that are conducive to dieting.

Winter is a tough time to diet. All my comfort foods are calorie-laden, full of carbs and fats. It's funny though, none of us like sweet foods for comfort. They may be laden in carbs, but not sugar. So, what shall I do? Winter is nearly upon us, and I can't afford to put on any more weight. I'm at the fat end of the closet already! I know the bread really has to go, or at least be a rare treat. I'm searching for healthier alternatives for my soups. Do you think I could make cauliflower and cheese for my husband? I'm fairly sure he'll notice...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Smallest Change: NaBloPoMo #2: Morning routines

The Smallest Change: NaBloPoMo #2: Morning routines: A lot of the blog prompts from this month have to do with your childhood, or things you do today that are based in your past. Today is, &quo...

NaBloPoMo #2: Morning routines

A lot of the blog prompts from this month have to do with your childhood, or things you do today that are based in your past. Today is, "What is the first thing you do every single day (I mean, after you hit the snooze button)? When did that step in your routine begin?" I had to really think, because since I retired from teaching, my mornings are very different.
When I was working, every morning had the same routine. Get up, head to the kitchen and start the coffee. That was the routine for decades. Mornings do not begin until caffeine is available. Then, while the coffee brewed, I showered, did my hair and makeup and dressed for work. By then, my coffee was ready, and I could sit for a few minutes and savor the taste.
Coffee didn't enter my life until I joined the Army. I was a tea drinker until then. I enjoyed Constant Comment, or just plain old Lipton's every morning. My parents drank coffee, but I thought the bitter taste was really nasty. But, during basic training, there was no time to allow tea to steep, and cool off enough to drink. You know, the drill sergeant yells, "You've got 10 minutes to eat and 5 of them are gone!!!". So, I switched to coffee, with plenty of milk.
When I was stationed in Germany, I started to really appreciate good coffee. I would go to the little German coffee bars, and sip my coffee with just a bit of condensed milk, and sugar. In the afternoons, I would sit outside, and sip a cappucino. I kept tea in my barracks room, for after work, but I really started to enjoy coffee more each day.
After the Army, I came home to my new husband, who was a serious coffee drinker, and that's when the morning pot became a ritual. My Mr. Coffee was filled and ready to go before I went to bed, and the sound of the hissing, gurgling last few drops became my alarm clock. Of course, I hit the snooze button, but when the coffee was ready, I could get up. Tea was an afternoon treat.
All of this was obviously pre-Starbucks, and all the other coffee bars we have today. Fancy coffee drinks were far in my future, but now, I have a very hard time imagining morning without this bitter, sweet, caffeinated drink. So now, my morning routine is; wake up, use the rest room, and head for the Keurig. Coffee in hand, I sit down to see what happened overnight, first the news, then Facebook. So, good morning, all!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Seasonal rant

When I was young, there were only two seasons in California. Dry and warm, or rainy and chilly. That was it. Sports were divided into seasons as well. Of course, back then, there were only three sports that every boy played. In fall, football. In winter, basketball. And in spring/summer, baseball. Yes, there was the occasional wrestler, at least in high school and college. Girls had field hockey in the fall and softball in spring. For them, the outliers were the gymnasts.

Now, every sport bleeds over into the next. It's November, and we're in the middle of the World Series, football is in full swing, and I just saw an ad for basketball. Soccer, which was way too European to be played when I was a kid, is year round.

Now, why should I care? I don't play any of them, and I'm really not much of a fan, either. Well, it's the fact that that muddled way of thinking is bleeding over into everything else. We just finished Halloween, which used to be one of my favorites. So, I walked into the grocery store today, 1st of November, and the clerks were wearing Christmas hats already. Not something for Veteran's Day. Not for Thanksgiving. Just Christmas. The calendar, from October to January has all been compressed together. Yes, I know that Christmas is the big moneymaker for them all. But, I am old enough that I want to take my time and savor each holiday separately. I don’t want to rush anymore.

I know that it’s not going to happen. Advertisers just won’t allow it. But at my house, the Christmas decorations aren’t going up until after Thanksgiving. Think about it. Don’t rush through your life without savoring each day, each holiday. Remember when you were a child, and kept talking about how great things were going to be when you grew up? Now, you look back and wish you were young. Seize the current day, don’t try to live in dreams for the future!