Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Mulled Cider!

The power of traditions and the memories they invoke is truly a wonder to behold.

One of the first traditions I tried to implement in our Christmas feasts was Mulled Cider on Christmas Eve for our Midnight feast.
Now while I quite liked it the children and our guests really really loved my Egg Nogg, which was the other beverage I made for the Feast.
In fact you could say they loved the Egg Nogg, especially as there was none left over but still lots of the Mulled Cider left.
I persisted with this for a couple more years until I realised our children, who were clearly much younger definitely preferred the milky Egg Nogg to the Mulled Cider.

So as the point of the Feast was to enjoy this tradition I eliminated it from our festivities.
However I have always loved the idea and recently I have reintroduced it into our Advent Season again.

On the first Sunday in Advent we now have this drink along with some special bought (shock horror) Christmas Cookies after we finish putting up the Christmas Tree and at least some of our home decorating.

So here is the recipe we use for Mulled Cider that we enjoy.

Mulled Cider Recipe-
In a saucepan place:
*1 liter of Orange juice (for a more expensive version, or for those who don’t like the more intense orange flavour use another 1 liter of Apple Cider and add an extra optional peel of an orange)
*2 1/2 liters of Apple Cider
*Next add spices. These can be added to a muslin bag or place directly in the liquid.
However if you place directly in you will need to strain the cider before serving J
*The spices we use are
4 sticks of cinnamon broken up
3 nutmegs crushed coarsely
1 tsp allspice crushed
1 tsp of cloves crushed
You could add 1 tsp of cardamom pods too
*In the pan bring to almost a boil. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 30 minutes
*Then serve into tea cups for a festive and elegant setting. For extra pizzazz add a cinnamon stick to the cup as you serve.

Blessings to you and your homes,
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gentle Homemade Deodorant- without Bicarb (Baking) soda

In August 2013 I started making my own Homemade Deodorant  which those in our family who were willing to make the switch have found highly effective.
Even my husband who was worried about the effectiveness of this, especially over the summer months here was more than completely happy with it.

For a couple of weeks he has been telling me that he is almost finished the last batch I made and really needs some more.

I kept putting it off because although it worked well for me it really did irritate my skin and make me itchy after a few months  (I have quite sensitive skin). Vellvin continued using it and only a couple of weeks ago said that it was starting to irritate her.

In the mean time I have been using another natural, homemade alternative that I have been happy with but Stephen didn't want to use.

So today before I got busy, I put together this deodorant I had planned on making last week, well actually months ago!

Vellvin used it and said it went on very smoothly and easily, in fact smoother than the old one and she has had no reaction to it at all.

It has only three ingredients (four if you want) although I have seen different variations and additions to this basic list.
1.  6 tablespoons of Coconut Oil 
2. 3/4 cup of Arrowroot powder
3. 1/4 cup of food grade Diatomaceous earth. 
This is the magic ingredient in my opinion it is  made from fossilized phytoplankton. It’s rich in silica and highly antimicrobial, which is why it works so well. 
It’s pH can vary depending on where it is sourced from, but it is typically lower than baking soda.
I get mine from northern Queensland
4. Essential oil - Tea Tree is good as it also is antibacterial

Method:
1. Combine the two dry ingredients together.
2. Add the coconut oil gradually and stir till you get the consistency you want. Ours is not too stiff, but it is summer here too so the coconut oil is slightly soft.
3. If it is too runny add more arrowroot and Diatomaceous earth in the quantities of 3/4 to 1/4.
4. Add your essential oil of choice. I just add and smell mine till I am happy usually :)
5.  Put into a jar and start to use 

Use:
Take a little on your fingers and rub in under arms.
Use as often as needed but I doubt it would be more than 2x day ( in the hottest summer heat that is how often Stephen used the old version) 



Blessings to you and your homes,
 

Monday, December 1, 2014

First Sunday in Advent 2014

Well it is that time of year again!!
That wonderful time of Advent.
It has always been a delightful time in our family with lots of preparing and  learning as we meander along our way to the blessed event of Christmas and the birth of our Saviour.

As usual I am up late trying to get all my plans together for our Unit Study for this time.
Of course all the plans I had for today were not accomplished due to outside influences.
However I would like to share a few scenes from today as we started our decorating and putting up the tree, and of course starting our St Andrew novena too.

 'Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires
(mention request here).
 Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.'
Said 15 times a day from Feast of St Andrew till Christmas Eve

I pray you all enjoy this blessed preparation season of Advent with your families as we journey together towards Christmas.
Blessings to you and your homes,
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Natural Muscle Pain Reliever

Recently I have had some pain in my hip joint.
I have had this periodically over the last couple of years.
I'm not a happy camper with this - starting to think of limited range of movement as I age and seriously that is not something I am happy with.

One of the ways I am dealing with the immediate pain is with this Muscle rub I created earlier in the year. I have some other long term strategies for relief/cure (if possible)
This is only for adults as it has a few ingredients that really are not for young children: namely the Black Pepper, and Wintergreen (but these are the best for me ingredients).
I would leave those out for the use on children

My Muscle Rub Recipe-
A generous squeeze of Oil of Emu into a small container
Then I add my home made Infused Oil’s:
13 drops of Comfrey
6 drops of Calendula
4 Drops of Chamomile
Next Essential oils:
18 drops of Wintergreen
6 drops of Lavender
5 drops of Arnica
3 drops of Eucalyptus
3 drops of Black Pepper

Mix together and rub on affected area.
I use as often as needed which generally is twice a day

Blessings to you and your homes,
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Fairy Day Party!!

Quite a few weeks ago I hosted a small 'Fairy Day' for Arwen and two of her special friends.
You may think this is not  a surprise if you know me well and may wonder how it came about :)
It was an off the cuff invitation to the other little girls as they were leaving after an afternoon of play, in tears at the thought of going, to come next week when the big girls were out and we could do our nails together like a real manicure etc.
So of course as I started to think about the day and what we might do I gradually had more and more ideas that the little girls could do together.
Needless to say my little boys who were still going to be home were not interested in the whole 'Fairy theme' unless it involved eating!!
However I prepared a few table time activities to do together-
1. cutting out fairies to put on sticks for puppets, 
2. letters for their names to colour in, I found about three for each girl from different books we had.
3. Glue and glitter to decorate a pre-cut fairy
One of the activities I wanted to do with the children was  a 'Scavenger Hunt.'
These are always a huge hit with our children no matter what the time or season.
I drew a up a small list for them to use and had it ready for latter in the day.
I planned on helping the girls make a small Spring Fairy and prepared one ready for the next day as well as get the supplies all together in a basket.
With the older girls (from both families) gone I knew that I would have to have everything prepared and with in easy reach.
In preparation for the day I also bought each little girl a tiara, because you can't be a Fairy Princess (and what other kind of Fairy can you be except a princess) with out one
I also put a few books on the main table to interest the girls and of course their was the basket of 'nail spa' requirements.
Here is the table all ready for the girls to start their 'Fairy Day'
I also got out a large proportion of our fairy books for the girls to look at through out the day
I think we have quite a collection of these :)
Naturally the first thing the girls have to do is dress up in 'Princess costumes' ready for the day! See those two potential pirates in there too.
I did get the little boys a pirate sword and hat to have to play with.
Although I think swords in the hands of my little guy is sometimes a little two much.
I also prepared a little 'fairy bag' for each girl.
In each little organza bag was a small jar of 'fairy dust' and a necklace.
The fairy dust was a huge hit and we ha fairy dust in our house for days afterwards :)
Love my Fairy Princess!!
So the Fairy Princesses and Pirates played a while on their own
Never too old to be a Fairy Princess!!
These two are so cute!!
Next on the list of items to do  was to make Fairy Houses!
Our children make these quite often and they are always new ways of making them.
Running wild!!
So after we made the fairy houses the little girls were very keen to have their manicure.
Where were the boys at this stage? I have no idea now!
Perhaps off making someone walk the plank or off looking for someone to sword fight. In fact now I remember having to stop the smaller one from getting to aggressive with this older brother.
For the manicure - first we soaked their little hands in some warm water with Epsom salts and their choice of essential oils. I think the Jasmine was the most popular choice.
Next they cleaned their nails from dirt and residue and used the emery boards to tidy up the nails themselves.
Choose their choice of nail polish  and painted them their selves.
Too cute
After all this  they went off and played while I put the finishing touches to the food that the children were anticipating.
We had Fairy Tea as our special drink and the recipe I used was from a lovely blogging friend Redbeet Mama, here is our version of her original:
Apple Blackcurrant Fairy Tea-
6 cups of just boiled water
6  chamomile tea bags
Honey
6 cups of Apple-Blackcurrant  juice 

Add the teabags and honey to the just boiled water
Cover and let steep overnight but can be as little as 2 hours
In the morning we added the  apple-blackcurrant juice

Stir, serve and enjoy
I did want to get little white tea cups and saucers for each girl and paint flowers on them but could not find any that were cheap enough. So by chance I saw these what we now call 'minion' cups and painted each child's name on it.
These are a real favourite in our house now and are used daily.
Naturally when you are talking 'fairy tea party' we have to have these little 'fairy tea cups.
These have been a part of our lives forever. We first made them for our first Tasha Tudor Dolls Fair, way before my blogging days even.
Fairy Bread was also a must have to eat as well.
In Fancy Nancy tradition little umbrellas DO make everything taste better
Not much left after the 'Fairy Princess's and Pirates have dinned really
The craft time was really fun for the children and again the clean up of glitter took days to get rid of.
I had also planned to have Sourdough Chocolate Chip Chocolate Fairy Buns as part of the first round of food.
Sadly these had not risen enough by the time we were ready so we had them after our scavenger hunt.
It was mid afternoon by this stage and a good time to do the Scavenger hunt.
We divided into teams and went off with our lists to gather the items.
Everyone was very enthusiastic
Mums had to join in too.
We checked off the list for everyone and  then went inside  for those delicious buns........
Can I just say these went very fast again.
Would you like the recipe?
Sourdough Chocolate Chocolate Chip Buns
250g sourdough starter
1 tsp dried yeast
100g sugar
250mls milk
100g softened butter
600g flour
200g dark chocolate drops
100mls water
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 tbs of cocoa
2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together, except for the salt. Autolyse period 20-45 minutes. Add the salt and mix again, then turn out on to a lightly floured bench to knead until you get a lovely smooth ball of dough. Pop the dough back into the bowl, plastic bag over the top and leave to prove.  A couple of proves and folds over the next few hours. Then out onto lightly floured surface again and divide into 16 or so portions. Roll into balls, or simply divide to get a more square shape. Pop them on a lined baking tray, cover and leave for another prove. The dough is ready to be baked, when you press it in and it lightly springs back.

Then bake at 210C for approximately 15-25 minutes, (until golden.)
After this it was pretty much time for our visiting Fairy Princesses to go home and own little ones were  extremely tied and I am pretty sure they had an early night.

Writing this up I am remembering how much joy I have giving little ones special opportunities to build memories that later in life they can look back on and see these times as part and parcel of what makes it special to be in our family circle!!

Blessings to you and your homes,
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