Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bringing up the House :)

While Strolling Through Reality will be offline for a couple of weeks- I am in the process of getting the big house ready to come alive.... :) 

We are not quite out of the winter-snow season just yet; actually next week promises some wintry weather. But, it is close enough to spring that I have started the efforts of Bringing up the House- my new Monday postings. Still have one more closing thoughts of Wintering in Aspen Willow. 

meanwhile: I was taking a break out on the deck, playing the baby harp and looked out to the meadow to see our resident heard of deer standing calmly listening to my music- that was fun. they never come around in the afternoon- this was new. 

the woods look different in this pre-Spring time
I had thought it would be like the Fall, but is has
a lot less color now. Wait until everything blooms!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wintering in Aspen Willow ~ happy Ostara

Happy Ostara ~ the first day of Spring

The grass is turning green, the birds are sweetly singing, 
and tiny buds are peeking through the soil- it's Springtime! 
Goodbye winter boots and snow, Spring is here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

thursday's crafts ~ march wreaths

here is my March Nature's arrangement- not my usual 'only things from Nature' setup but St. Patrick's day is tomorrow and my little bear leprechaun wanted to join in the fun. The second one, I did after when I needed to use the cast-iron fireplace, which this one was sitting on and quite large, I decided to make a small one for the mantel instead. it is all things from Nature made. 

Also, Ostara- Spring Equinox is March 20th
 so I will do a special one for that day of celebration. :)


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

meal ideas ~ St Patrick's Day tummy yummies

this Friday have a 'traditional' or a 'not so traditional' St. Patrick's Day are my two favorites!

St. Patrick's Corned Beef and Cabbage-  
Traditional taste.... but slow cooker style

I love corned beef and cabbage; I have it several times a year. This recipe is not only wonderful, has a tasty sauce, but is super easy.  You leave it cooking for 10 to 12 hours, perfect for that working Mom or Pop.

4 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into halves or quarters – your choice.
16 to 20 baby carrots whole OR 4 medium carrots, cut into 1 to 1 ½  inch pieces
1 med onion- cut into 6 wedges – preferably a sweet  type: Whalla or Vidala
 2 to 3 pound corned beef brisket with seasoning packet.
12 oz beer – I like to use an Irish ale
1 small cabbage cut into 8 thin wedges

Sauce:  optional – but very yummie- combine and store in refrigerator until needed.
¼ cup applesauce
2 Tbs Dijon mustard

In 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine potatoes, carrots, and onion. Top with corned beef brisket; sprinkle with seasoning packet. Add beer and enough water to just barely cover brisket.

Cover; cook low setting for 10 to 12 hours. ½ hour before you are ready to eat, remove corned beef and keep warm. Add cabbage wedges to vegetables and broth. Cover and cook on high setting for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until cabbage is crisp tender. (note: if you like your carrots crisp tender, omit adding them at the start and add them at this time as well.) 

To serve: cut corned beef across grain into thin slices or chunks, Removes vegetables from slow cooker with slotted spoon. If desired, skim fat from juices n slow cooker ; serve with vegetables.

Beer Braised Irish Stew and *Colcannon
not so Traditional but so tasty that it could easily become your St. Pactrick's Day celebration meal. 

Irish Stew:
 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 1 (3 pound) beef chuck roast, trimmed 
      of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
 1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
 2 bay leaves
 1 teaspoon dried thyme
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
 2 cloves garlic, minced
 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

 3 slices bacon
 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
 2 cups thinly sliced kale or cabbage
 1/4 cup milk, warmed
 2 tablespoons butter
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot, and brown the meat in 2 batches, stirring to brown the cubes on all sides. Return all the meat to the Dutch oven, sprinkle with flour, and stir lightly to coat the meat with flour. Stir in onion, carrots, dark beer, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cover.

Place the Dutch oven into the preheated oven, and cook for 45 minutes; uncover, stir the stew, and cook until the beef is very tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 45 more minutes.
Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

About 30 minutes before the stew is ready, make the colcannon: Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.
Place the cabbage into a microwave-safe bowl, and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on High for about 2 1/2 minutes; uncover (watch out for steam) and stir the cabbage. Cover and microwave for about 2 1/2 more minutes, until the cabbage is slightly tender but not mushy. Drain excess liquid, and set the cabbage aside, covered.

Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Beat the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the cabbage, crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.

To serve, place a scoop of colcannon onto a plate, make a hollow, and fill with braised beef stew.

From Wikipedia
Colcannon (Irish: cál ceannann, meaning "white-headed cabbage") is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It is also the name of a song about the dish.
 Also, and this is very important!
~have some nice cold Irish Beer handy~

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

healthy living ~ let's talk Coconut Oil -part two

Coconut Oil~ I haven’t used coconut oil much in my homemade beauty products- not really sure why, just have always reached for the shea butter instead. I was talking to a friend who is an avid user of coconut oil and decided to look into some of it uses. Here are twenty excellent ideas- plus four easy homemade this-n-that ideas that I am going to try.

First the benefits- wow! The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism. It also provides relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and cancer, while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength.

These benefits of the oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities.

Here are 20 terrific ways to use coconut oil: 
  1. Deep conditioning hair treatment.  Rub a small amount of oil into hair (mostly at the ends), comb through and place hair in a loose bun or in a shower cap.  Let sit overnight and wash out in the morning.
  2. Body moisturizer.  Rub coconut oil directly into skin directly after showering.
  3. Eye makeup remover.  Rub a small amount of coconut oil on eyelashes or waterproof makeup and rinse off.
  4. Cheekbone highlighter.  Rub a very small amount of coconut oil on the tops of cheekbones to highlight over makeup.
  5. Vegetable oil alternative.  Replace coconut oil for vegetable oil in your favorite recipes.
  6. Wound care.  Replace Neosporin for coconut oil to protect and help wounds heal.  Can also be applied to small cuts and scrapes to stop bleeding.
  7. Dry feet treatment.  Combine coconut oil with sea salt to create a foot scrub.
  8. Sunburn care.  Rub coconut oil on burned skin to help soothe and repair sunburned skin.
  9. Stretch mark prevention.  Apply coconut oil to stretching skin multiple times a day.
  10. Body scrub.  Combine coconut oil and sugar to create a sugar scrub to exfoliate and soften your skin.
  11. Healthy smoothies.  Add a spoonful of coconut oil to your smoothie to help increase your energy.
  12. Cooking at high heat.  Some oils can't be heated to high temperatures, but coconut oil is a safe alternative.
  13. Popcorn topping.  Add a spoonful of coconut oil to popcorn and top with sea salt for a sweet and salty treat.
  14. Shaving lotion.  Rub coconut oil on area to be shaved to replace shaving cream and post shave moisturizer.
  15. Lip balm.  Rub a small amount of coconut oil on lips for a natural lip balm.
  16. Facial moisturizer.  Apply a small amount of coconut oil on clean skin in place of usual moisturizer.
  17. Moisturizing soak.  Add some coconut oil to a warm bath to soften skin.
  18. Frizzy hair fighter.  Rub a little coconut oil between your palms and rub through hair to tame frizziness and fly aways.
  19. Hydrating night cream.  Replace your night cream with coconut oil.  Apply coconut oil to the areas that tend to wrinkle and crease lock in moisture and hydrate skin.
  20. Cuticle softener.  Rub coconut oil on ragged cuticles to hydrate and strengthen nails.
and a couple great recipes that will be sure to keep you healthy:

Coconut Toothpaste 
this one they say really whitens the teeth- I am going to give it a try- For the coconut oil toothpaste you will need:

2 tablespoons of coconut oil – it should be warm
6 tablespoons baking soda
10 drops mint oil
½ teaspoons fine sea salt

Mix all the above ingredient in a bowl, until you obtain a creamy paste. Then place it in any appropriate container.

Homemade lavender coconut oil salt scrub 
This is a great scrub to use all over your body.

You only need 2 cups of coconut oil, 1 cup Epsom salt and 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix, place in a container, if you have any left over, keep it in your shower or bath area.

Hand scrub made from brown sugar and coconut oil 
This hand scrub is based on brown sugar and coconut oil and you will need:
¼ cup brown sugar
½ lemon
1 tablespoon jojoba or olive oil
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Mix all the above ingredients until the coconut oil is fully mixed. Then apply the creamy mixture on your hands and massage for 2-3 minutes. Rinse with warm water. The oils will make your hands softer, while the brown sugar will eliminate the dead cells.

Natural hair mask for very dry or color-treated hair
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons fat yogurt

Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl and then apply the resulted mask on your hair. Leave it on for about 40 minutes then rinse and shampoo your hair. One time use, do not store any extra because of the egg and yogurt.

Here is great website that answers some questions about coconut oil- such as how long does it stay fresh, do you need to refrigerate...