Germ-Be-Gone Drink

I am a teacher. I live with a teacher (my mom). My fiance is in ministry- aka, more public germs. We are surrounded every day by germs. But when back to school season is upon us, the germ exposure goes up dramatically in our house. My mom is in one school, and I sub so I’m in multiple schools a week, sometimes 2 in one day. My germ exposure is THROUGH THE ROOF! I also still have my tonsils (yuck). I also HATE getting sick. Most people hate getting sick, but I super hate it. So, I came up with this awesome germ-be-gone stuff and it’s 4 ingredients.

Why honey, lemon and ginger? Here are some fun health facts!

Ginger: Ginger has been used for thousands of years in homeopathic natural medicine. It is known as an immunity booster, to fight cancer, to reduce inflammation and pain, heart health, anti-biotic, and general gut health!

Lemon: Lemon is another great (delicious) natural immunity booster, antibacterial, antiviral, improves digestion, energy booster, reduces inflammation, is great for your skin, aids in alkalizing and cleansing your body, and bumps up your vitamin C!

Honey: The important thing about honey is trying to get it as raw and unprocessed as possible. Even better, is finding honey sourced in your area. This means that the pollens that the honey is made of is the same kind of stuff you breathe in everyday, which in turn helps will allergies! Honey also helps digestion, boost immunity, has antiviral properties, full of antioxidants, stabilizes blood pressure and blood sugars, antiseptic, and coats/sooth sore throats.

By mixing these 3 powerhouse ingredients, you make one yummy drink AND make your body very happy, all while killing germs and preventing sickness!

What you’ll need:

2-3 lemons

Small knob of ginger (dried stuff works too)

2-4 tablespoons of honey (depending on how sweet you like it)

Water

Large container that can handle hot water to put it all in.

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  1. Get water boiling on the stove.
  2. Rinse and slice your lemons. Pick out the seeds!
  3. Peel and chop your ginger. You can grate it, or leave it chopped.
  4. In your container, place your lemon slices and chopped ginger. Add in your honey. I think 3 tablespoons is usually pretty good.
  5. Let your mixture “steep” and cool. I usually let mine sit for at least 3 hours. You can leave all the stuff in, or you can strain it out. Totally your choice.

Drink at least a cup a day to help keep the icky germs away! You can make small batches in a mug, but I find making it in larger quantities is easier since I drink so much of it. I also enjoy drinking it warm verses drinking it cold. I feel like it is much more soothing and affective that way. Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 10.47.27 AM.png

 

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Lush Henna Caca Marron

Many of you know that I grow my hair just to donate it. When you do this you are not supposed to have treated your hair with any form of bleach or permanent dye. Between growing to donate and growing for the wedding I hit a decision point. Chop it. Get bangs. Dye it. The first two were out of the question. I look super cute with bangs but HATE having them 98% of the time. Chopping it was out for obvious reasons. I was left with dying it. I started doing some research. I’d been curious about henna for some time, but the moment had arrived to get serious.

Henna is a natural, semi-permanent dye. It is the same stuff Indian cultures use to dye their skin. If you haven’t ever seen it, it’s beautiful. Henna has a natural brown/red hue to it that Lush has enhanced with some of their bars, or used natural ingredients like indigo to lessen. They also add good stuff like coco butter, coffee, indigo herb, and other natural oils.

I spent hours watching videos and reading reviews of those who tread the henna path before me. Many of them made the experience sound like it was going to be a travesty. Thankfully, I was not swayed by their scary application horror stories. I also decided to go with the color Caca Marron. I LOVE red hair but didn’t have the guts to go all of the way. Caca Brun I thought might be a little too plain for what I was going for and didn’t want to go darker with Caca Noir, so Caca Marron was my happy medium.

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Before

The bars themselves are like over sized chocolate bars of 6 sections. I have pretty long hair, but I went with 4 of the blocks. I probably could have used 5, but 4 was sufficient. Once you start “melting” your bar, it does smell herbal, but I did not find that it was overwhelming. My picky dad didn’t comment on the smell either so I didn’t have that issue personally.

To prepare, I wore an old tank, got rubber gloves, a large metal bowl (the henna will dye plastic), made STRONG coffee, and used Ponds moisturizer as a protector along my forehead, ears and neck.

I cut the 4 blocks I was using off of the main block and did a rough chop. This helps them break down much easier. To the bowl of henna, I added my HOT, STRONG, coffee. The directions encourage you to use a double boiler to help break down the blocks. I found that the hot coffee and a spoon worked just fine. If they had not broken down I would have done that step, but I found it unnecessary.

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I DID NOT DO THIS PROCESS INSIDE! The weather was nice enough, I didn’t even attempt to tempt fate and do this process inside. My mother would have KILLED me.

After stirring the bowl of slop (it looks like other fun things, I’ll let you make that call) until it was smooth, it was time to apply. Make sure to make the mix pretty runny. People compared it to yogurt consistency, but I went even thinner than that. I didn’t want to have to stop and remix, reheat, etc…

Standing outside, with my rubber gloves on, I flipped my hair upside down and began the application process. My mom grabbed some gloves and helped out a bit as well. I definitely encourage you to find a friend to help with this part. Others bought dye application brushes, and frankly, the mixture is so thick and gritty, it would have taken years to do that to my hair. By applying it with my head upside down, I avoided a lot of issues like the henna falling on to my neck/shoulder and getting on my forehead and ears. Instead of it taking hours to apply like it did for some, it took my mother and I about 15 minutes to coat my hair. I twisted it into a bun on top of my head, and was ready to wait.

I applied it outside but wanted to walk around the house, so I wrapped up in saran wrap and then put a plastic bag on top of that. Something that did align with what I had read was that it gets heavy. As it starts to set and dry, you can feel the weight. I spent some time laying on the tile floor with the dogs to give my neck a break.

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The packaging and most of what I read encourages you to wear it as long as you can stand, 2 hours absolute minimum, but you can go as far as sleeping in it over night. The longer you wear it, the longer and brighter your results. I made it past the 3 hour mark and was ready to rinse it out.

For the initial rinse I went back outside and used the garden hose. This was one of the best decisions. The garden hose has a little more pressure than a regular shower head and my my mom was able to help me rinse the majority of it out right then and there. Again, I did this with my head upside down. An issue I read that people had had was specks of henna/coffee flaking out of their hair for a few days. Because I rinsed upside down, the henna came out instead of settling down into my scalp. When I did go to the shower, I did not use shampoo, just lots of conditioner to finish rinsing out until the water ran clear. Again, this was expedited by the fact that 95% of it was already out.

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The moisturizer worked great as a dye block. I didn’t get any weird spots. Because I worked so quickly, the bit of henna that got on my arms washed away that evening. I had NO weird henna spots anywhere. I would possibly suggest longer cleaning gloves if you’re worried about it getting on your arms.

Things I noticed right away. My hair was SO soft and smooth. I definitely need a hair trim, my ends are looking a little scary. After using the henna I noticed a visible difference in how they looked AND felt. There is a nice shine and a beautiful red hue. I have some natural red (thank goodness I’m Irish) that I wanted to brighten a bit, and this treatment did JUST that. I’ve got a bit more red without going all out, and it looks natural. I don’t feel like a Crayola crayon was used to dye my hair. I’m a few weeks out at this point and I still love the color. My hair still feels great, and because it’s a semi-perm dye, I don’t really have roots. I’ll probably re-apply towards the end of the summer before the school year starts.

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After

I would absolutely, 100% recommend this product. It’s a bit more labor intensive than box dye, but at about $30 (after tax) it’s cheaper than a salon and you can walk around your house and do things while it sets.

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Before and After side-by-side in birght sunlight

Here are some pics a few weeks after treatment. Please ignore the faces, I have a friend that I snap back and forth with, but we don’t use snapchat, we use messenger, so I have a plethora of goofy pics. Hopefully you can see that the color has settled, there’s just a nice red hue without being super in-your-face, and a healthy shine!

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*I was not asked or paid to write this review. I just really enjoyed this product and my experience with it.*

 

It’s Only Been A Week

It’s been just over a week since we planted our garden. We have had lots of growth and some death thus far.

IMG_5609Our strawberries are the only ones to have seen death. Out of all of the plants I put in, 2 have died. We specifically put so many in for this exact reason. It is still early, there may still be some loss, but as of now, the rest of them look like they are doing well. 

 

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IMG_5614Two of our 12 potatoes have busted through! There is evidence that at least 3 more will pop through in the coming days. This is the first year we are growing potatoes in this garden. I am excited to see how well they do.

IMG_5613Our mixed greens and leafy lettuce are flourishing. Fresh lettuce grows like weeds, and lasts FOREVER. We were giving it away last year because it lasts 3-4 weeks when stored properly. 

IMG_5612Our radish patch is doing quite well. We only planted in half of the area because we are going to rotate them out. So next week we will plant another 2 rows of radish, just in time for our first ones to be done in a few days time. They have a quick germination/maturity time. 
IMG_5611This is our singular bush cucumber plant. We planted 5 in the little plot. We’re hoping that by the end of the week we’ll have a few more. Mom wants to make pickles…even though she’s the only one that eats them.

IMG_5616I like to call this the “Mater Forest.” I feel like we have so much more than last year, and I know that once they really start growing up, it’s going to look like one as well. They haven’t had much vertical growth, but it’s still early. They’re more busy rooting that growing.

IMG_5610We planted about 8 sunflowers and 6 of them have already started popping! I took a shot of the two biggest ones. I will harvest the seeds in the fall and bake them! 

IMG_5608We are most excited for the green beans…ok….it might just be me. I LOVE green beans. I like them raw, I like them blanched, I like them sautéed in butter with garlic and onion, I like them fried. I haven’t met a green bean I didn’t like…except casserole. They are bursting forth in their little rows and I could not be more excited.

IMG_5618This little guy is not in our back garden, but I like it anyway. We planted 4 lavender plants in our front/side gardens this year. Lavender is not only pretty once it blooms, but it also smells good and is a natural bug repellent. It is also a perennial so we will not have to worry about having to replace it every year.

We are still waiting for the onion, peppers and carrots to pop. They should be showing up to the party in the very near future. The cosmos and zinnias that we planted around the vegetable garden are barely showing above the mulch. Our marigolds are thriving. Those 3 were planted as bee attractors and bug repellents.

From here out, I will post garden updates once the plants start producing or something super super exciting happens!

Happy planting!

Spring Gardening

In March, in the midst of a snow storm I spent the day planning our garden. This weekend, the snow has been gone for a few weeks, the sun has been shining and we were finally able to get stuff in the ground!

I had come up with beautiful plans and a beautiful layout, created with tons of research, love and care. screen-shot-2015-03-05-at-5-18-30-pmThen we got out there and my dad decided things needed more space. The really pretty garden layout that looked like the above, ended up looking like the below in reality. Which, is ok. It doesn’t look near as pretty in a chart like this, but it works. Sunflowers and cucumbers were added to the garden. The “walking path,” kinda disappeared for the most part, but there is plenty of space between plants so we’ll be just fine.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.26.29 AMWe also have an adorable little strawberry patch, I have claimed it as my own.10689423_10206003822511341_2734209453159910876_nAround the garden we planted marigolds, cosmos, and zinnias. Marigolds are natural (bad) bug-repellants, cosmos and zinnias are natural bee attractors. When you have a garden this big, with this much stuff in it, you want as many bees as you can get! 11206100_10206003822071330_2141622102369986064_n

11204480_10206003822311336_9176184884080786480_nWe have 24 tomato plants of 3 varieties, Roma, Celebrity and Brandywine. We planted red potatoes because we think they are better to cook/bake with. Mom wants to make pickles this fall so the cucumbers are small bush cucumbers. There are 15 strawberry plants in the box. I’m not sure that they’ll all make it, and if I do…well…if anybody would like some strawberry plants, hit me up. The rest of the garden is seeds, so I guess we will see in a few weeks how many of each we have!

Stay tuned for update posts and recipes throughout the summer!

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Apple Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Our house has lots of critters. 3 of them to be exact. They drive me crazy. Most of the time I question our sanity and why we even thought having 3 of them would be a good idea. Until they all cuddle up on the couch together to take an afternoon nap and they are adorable. Then I remember why we got them and decide to spoil them with homemade doggy treats. 🙂 This recipe is a bit different than the last dog treat recipe I posted; there is no egg, more apple sauce and much fluffier. Yes, that is Mo sleeping on the arm of the chair with her head on the side table…cuz ya know…manners right?

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Ingredients:

1 cup of flour

1/4 cup oats

1/2 tablepoon of baking powder

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup apple sauce (I used my Homemade)

1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Preheat oven to 350

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1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. If it seems too dry add a tablespoons of water until it is a cookie-dough like consistency. I started using a spoon and switched to mixing with my hand to really make sure everything was incorporated.

2. Sprinkle flour on a surface and roll out to about 1/2 of an inch thick. You can use a cookie cutter, knife or what ever you want to make the desired shape/size of your treats. I used a mini bell cookie cutter.

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3. Place baking paper or a baking mat on a cookie sheet. Place the treats on the sheet leaving a bit of room between them. They won’t expand too much.

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4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before tossing them to the dogs!

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They are completely edible and safe for human consumption….they look pretty close to a recipe for a healthy snack you might see on pinterest actually…. I doubled the recipe knowing that we will be giving them out for Christmas to some of our fury friend lovers. The doubled recipe made about 40. This is dependent on what cookie cutter you use and how thick you roll out the dough. 🙂

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They waited so nicely as I mixed the dough, placed them on the cookie sheets, baked them, and let them cool, of course they each got one…or three for waiting!

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We put some in pretzel baggies to give away for Christmas! They are the perfect size with the perfect amount! 🙂

Summer Tea

Having done mission trips through a southern based organization, to say I’ve grown up with southern sweet tea is an understatement. My mother’s recipe is a collaboration of an Alabama recipe and a North Carolina recipe. She made it during one of our mission trips and auctioned off two gallons to go towards our mission fund that week. Both gallons went for HUNDREDS of dollars. Poor Southern boys were a wreck up North here without their sweet iced tea.

MY tea, is not southern sweet tea. There is not 2 cups of sugar. No peaches were harmed in the making of this tea either. It’s fruity, fun and refreshing.

Ingredients:

2 Black Cherry Berry and 2 True Blueberry teabags

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1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup honey

Fresh Strawberries (optional)

Lots of water

1. Heat water in a pot until it starts boiling.

2. Add sugar, honey and the 4 tea bags

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3. Allow to boil about 30 seconds and remove from heat. Let the bags steep for about 10 minutes.

4. While the tea is steeping, slice up some strawberries! When I got to the house today Eric had been out in the patch and picked an entire bowl of the little red rubies! Talk about FRESH!

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5. I poured the tea into a pitcher to chill for about an hour.

6. Pour into a mason jar, add strawberries AND ENJOY!

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Check out that back porch view!

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And because I’m not spoiled enough, I spent my afternoon floating around the pool, drinking tea and reading “The Jane Austen Handbook.” I’d like to clarify, I spent my whole weekend working retail, I have EARNED this lazy day. 😉 That book review will be up tomorrow!

Perfect Weather For Gardens

Pennsylvania weather can be weird, especially in the summer. The only constant seems to be humidity. Some days we get 5-20 minute rain blurbs throughout the day. Other times we get hail the size of tennis balls like we did a few weeks ago. It hasn’t been to hot, overly rainy or dry the past few weeks and the plants have been loving it! Both the garden at Eric’s as well as my parent’s have been blossoming and blooming.

EVERYTHING is sprouting faster than we can keep up with them.

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Our sea of green bean plants! We’ll hopefully be getting beans a week or two from now.

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We might beat “Knee high by 4th of July” but the real mystery is whether or not we will get any ears from them this season.

Our potato plants that we planted with a prayer on a whim started budding mid-week last week. Fun fact- taters actually have really pretty purple and yellow flowers! I’d plant them even if I didn’t get food in the end. The white stuff is the natural pesticide Eric found.

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You are supposed to leave them go another week or so after that before digging them up to allow the taters time to finish really growing. Well, we’re little kids and couldn’t wait. We dug up one of the plants and got 2 itty bitty wittle red potatoes. We also planted generic yellows? Eric bought the other ones so I’m not quite sure what we’ll dig up along with the reds.

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I can’t wait to see how the rest of them turn out! They’re actually the perfect size to clean up and throw in a good stew or pot roast. Red potatoes have a thin, pretty skin that is usually left on so no worries about taking your finger tips off with a peeler!

We should start to get good strawberries coming in in the next few weeks and our green beans have buds all over!