Friday, September 25, 2009

Potpourri Gel Jars

Recipe By : Real Food for Real People
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Holiday Non-Food

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 cups Distilled Water
4 packages Unflavored Gelatin
50 drops Essential Oil -- (for fragrance)
Food Coloring -- as desired

Heat one cup water in medium sized saucepan. Add gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat and add remaining 1 cup of liquid as well as food coloring, and stir until dissolved. Put drops of essential oil into jars then add gelatin mixture. Place in fridge for approximately 2 hours. Remove, cover with plastic wrap or lid if you have one, and store at room temperature. To release the scent simply remove the lid... and when you are finished make sure you re-cover the jar so all the scent doesn't evaporate.

This recipe makes four gel jars/ approximately 4 oz each.

To decorate for gifts, tie ribbon or lace around the neck of the jar or add silk/dried flowers to the bow. It works very well to cut a circle of lace which can be reapplied after removing lid, by screwing the band on over the lace. This will allow the scent to be enjoyed as well as keeping the jar decorative while it is being used.

Note: Some folks in humid areas had trouble with their gel accumulating a thin layer of mold when stored for a long time. If you are in an area like this, or plan to store your jars for an extended period of time, you may want to store them in your refrigerator or a cool, dark place, such as a cellar.

Additional note: Since I first published this recipe in my ezine, Real Food for Real People, folks have sent in ideas to add to it. One of these, was to use the `Easter Egg Coloring' kit dye tablets to color the gel- another, to use recycled candle jars or potted cheese jars. Another reader sent in the following additional recipes & ideas:

"Kaylin, Here's another method of making these cute little jars. They really make nice gifts. You will need:

Clear glycerin soap
Essential Oil
Coloring if desired-to compliment the fragrance you choose.

Grate or chop soap and place in glass measuring cup. Heat in microwave until thoroughly melted. Stir in your essential oil and coloring. Pour into jars and decorate as desired. This will also be a thick enough mixture
that you can suspend things like lemon slices or orange slices in them.

I have also made these gel jars this way. You will need:

4 envelopes Plain Gelatin
16 ounce bottle *Potpourri Oil

In heat proof 4 cup glass cup, place 8 oz. of potpourri oil. Heat in microwave until really hot. This will give off a VERY STRONG fragrance so you may want to open a window. Stir in gelatin until completely dissolved. Add the remaining 8 oz. potpourri oil. Pour into jars and decorate.

*The potpourri oil is available in most Wal-Mart stores and craft stores. It has coloring added to it so you don't need to add any additional coloring. Linda G."

Note from Lucy: With Christmas a few short months away, this is a wonderful way to give some homemade gifts... I don't know about you, but shopping for gifts this year is going to be creative...and this looks like a great way to give a homemade gift and stretch your budget at the same time... I got these recipes from the Real Food for Real People website and Katlin has lots of ideas for gift giving... Check out her website... Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Natural Tonic for flu and colds......

Here is what the lady with the recipe wrote in her book:
This version of what I consider the single best natural tonic for colds, flu, and other acute illnesses comes courtesy of Jamie, a woman who shared it with me in early 2004 when the Asian Bird Flu scare first started keeping a lot of people awake at night. Near as I can tell, the original recipe for this Natural Tonic is based on a plague tonic that's over a hundred years old. Apparently this traditional formulation - which perhaps has its roots in the famous Four Thieves Vinegar from medieval times - was later refined and updated by herbalists John Christopher and Richard Schulze, among others....

Regardless of its derivation, I know you'll consider the Natural Tonic a fine addition to your health arsenal and I encourage you to share its formula with friends and loved ones. In these scary times, it just plain makes good sense to have a powerful and traditional home remedy in your kitchen cabinet - even if you believe in flu shots.

Here's the recipe:
1 white onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 entire head of garlic, peeled
4 red hot chile peppers, stems removed, chopped (handle with care).
4" horseradish root, peeled and chopped
4" ginger root, peeled and chopped
Approximately 1 quart un-pasteurized apple cider vinegar (Braggs is good)

Put all ingredients in a blender, cover with un-pasteurized apple cider vinegar. Puree. ( Keep the blender going for a while to make sure it is pureed really good.) I keep adding vinegar till the blender won't take any more. Bottle in a glass container and store in a cupboard at room temperature. Adults should take two tablespoons morning and night at the first sign of a cold or flu.

Note from Lucy: I have more information about this tonic and others if you will email me, I will send it to you...I have to tell you that this tonic is hard to stomach, but it works! Try not to take it on an empty stomach and as you use the tonic, add some more vinegar to the bottle and gently shake. This tonic is extremely powerful because all the ingredients are fresh. It's power should not be underestimated. The tonic stimulates maximum blood circulation, while putting the best detoxifying natural ingredients into the blood. This formula is not just for the sniffles, it may even help turn around deadly infections like some of the new mutated killer viruses that defy conventional antibiotics. Dose: 1 to 2 tablespoons two or more times daily. Swish in mouth and do not dilute with water.... Because it's composed entirely of natural foods, the tonic , unlike prescription drugs, is not toxic... Make up plenty as it does not need refrigeration and lasts indefinitely without and special storage conditions.

Ingredient properties:
Garlic cloves (anti bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-parasitical).
White onion or hottest onions available (similar properties to garlic).
Ginger root ( increases circulatin to the extremities).
Horseradish root (increases blood flow to the head).
Cayenne Peppers or the hottest peppers available, i.e. Habanero, African Bird, or Scotch Bonnets, etc. (a great blood stimulant).

How Far Can a Germ Fly?

Given the presence of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, chances are this year’s flu season will be fraught with more worry than usual, including continuing debate on how it is spread. Many people know that the virus travels via contact with germ-laden mucus that has been sneezed or coughed out. However, in speaking with Mark Nicas, PhD, MPH, CIH, adjunct professor of industrial hygiene in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, who has made a specialty of studying this particular form of transmission, I was surprised to discover how far those little particles can travel.


Dr. Nicas’s research primarily centers on building mathematical models of what he calls "the exposure intensity of contaminants in air," which -- when it comes to microbes including the H1N1 virus as well as other viruses, bacteria, molds, and fungal spores -- means studying things like "droplet spray," a nicely euphemistic term for the particles that get coughed or sneezed into the air.

The basics of this research make sense: Larger particles settle out quickly and in limited space, says Dr. Nicas, typically within three feet of origination. In contrast, the smaller particles disperse throughout the room and can be inhaled deeply into the lungs -- and the viruses in these small airborne particles can survive for hours and are able to travel from room to room. If you aren’t blessed with a particularly robust immune system, this can and does lead to increased likelihood of exposure and infection. In Dr. Nicas’s educated opinion, many public health messages have under-stated the risk of infection via the inhalation route.

"If you’re dealing with a new influenza strain such as swine flu," Dr. Nicas told me, "you have to treat all types of exposure pathways as important. There’s no reason to believe that direct droplet spray exposure [meaning you’re at relatively close contact and a particle hits you in the eye or mouth] and hand contact are the only pathways -- inhalation is another and probably even more powerful one."


I asked Dr. Nicas what measures he personally takes to protect himself and his family during flu season. He washes his hands frequently and avoids touching his nose, mouth and eyes until he’s had an opportunity to wash his hands first. His knowledge of the power of airborne particles has prompted him to minimize the time he spends in crowded venues during the height of flu season, although he says that urban living makes it impractical to always avoid crowded places. Thus far, he is not wearing a respirator mask -- but, he says, if the novel H1N1 virus or any other infectious agent proves to have a high mortality rate, he would consider taking that step as well.

Note from Lucy: I thought this was a good article about how germs get around...With flu season upon us it is important to make sure you build your immune system so that you can fight off these germs.... If anyone is interested, I have a recipe for a flu tonic that would help fight off the flu and build your immune system...


Mark Nicas, PhD, MPH, CIH, adjunct professor of industrial hygiene, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A few more ideas from Dollar Stretcher

Eyeglass Cleaners

There is no need to buy expensive eyeglass cleaners from the store. Just mix a solution of 1/3 rubbing alcohol, 1/3 white vinegar and 1/3 water and put it in a spray bottle. Use a clean cotton handkerchief or cloth to dry. It works just as
well and costs a lot less. Les L. in Tempe, AZ

Ready to Throw Out the Throw Rug?

We have an oatmeal-color area rug under our dining room set (don't ask me why I chose that color with two teens). It was spotted all over and had ground in "shoe dirt" in front of the seating positions. There was even a large stain where a plate
of spaghetti had been dropped. The carpet had been cleaned many times and spot cleaned monthly, but in a word, it looked horrible.

I was just ready to have my husband haul it to the dump when he suggested using his new "toy," which was a power washer. It worked like a charm! We couldn't believe the amount of soap residue that came out from the previous attempts at shampooing
it. Now he periodically power washes it, using just warm water. It comes out looking almost new every time. Check the fiber content on your carpet before trying this.

We have a slanted driveway, which helps it dry, but I'm sure moving a carpet around on a flat, clean driveway or deck on a couple of hot days should do the trick. I had nothing to lose and gained many more years from this carpet. Conni

Too Many Peppers

When you have an abundance of peppers, wash them thoroughly, julienne them like you would use in a stir fry, lay them on a cookie sheet (do not let them touch), and put them in your freezer. They will freeze nicely. When frozen, place in plastic bags and put back in the freezer until you want to use them. They will not stick together. Just take out what you need and put the rest back in freezer. Janice H. in Somerset, KY
Note from Lucy: This method is called IQF (Individually Quick Frozen). When we do our frozen berry order, I buy blackberries by the 30 lb. case. I take them home and just scoop out berries and put them into quart sized freezer bags and put them on the bottom shelf of the freezer... We use these berries for smoothies, on top of ice cream or just for snacking on... I do this with other veggies too. Give it a try.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Excerpt from: The Heart of a Teacher, by Paula Fox

He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minnesota. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, he had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful.

Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving. "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!" It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister."

At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend." That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone! I didn't know others liked me so much." No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.

That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip, the weather, my experiences in general. There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply said, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important. "The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend." To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.

I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, "Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me." The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said.

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. I keep it in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists." That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

Note from Lucy: I've read this story before, several time, and each time I read it, I cry..... We all want to feel loved and know that other people like us.... Maybe we just want to be needed.... Beautiful story, I hope you enjoyed it. Have a great week, everyone!