Thursday, February 23, 2017

OILS: Two Success Stories

I am really getting into these essential oils! I have tried several ideas I found on Pinterest, and I am having a lot of success!
As I said in a previous post, I don't want to come across as "oooh, essential oils,,,cures need for pills anymore, ever," but I also want to share what, for me and my family at least, has been a positive experience.

Success #1:
Natalie has been having some problems with anxiety, especially when it comes to tests at school and also being away from me. She gets a lot of tummy aches and even throws up sometimes. So I searched online and found this blend called Peaceful Child. A mom made this blend up for her son who had some behavioral issues, I believe. It evidently helps with anxiety, ADD, and even some with autism and other disorders. She now sells her blend, but there are recipes out there to make your own as well. I read up on this blend, looking for anyone who had problems with it. The only problems I found were people for whom the blend didn't help. So I ordered the necessary oils and mixed up the master blend. (Recipe can be found here.) 
The blog I was reading warned that this blend was very strong and should be diluted appropriately for the age and size of the child using it. So I added a few drops of the blend to a roller bottle and filled it the rest of the way with sweet almond oil. 
One of Natalie's biggest triggers is timed tests in math. She knows all the problems, but being in a testing environment really freezes her up. She had one such test this past Tuesday; she completed the 90 problems in 13 minutes. (The goal is 4.) She was really upset about this and about the fact that she was having another test on Wednesday. So we had a chat about relaxing, and knowing she already knows all the answers, and imagining it was just me asking her the questions. Wednesday morning I oiled her up with the blend. We applied it to the back of her neck and wrists, with a dab between her collarbones and tip of her nose. I sent the rollerbottle to school with instructions to apply it again just before her test. 
After school on Wednesday while we were on our way to dance class, I asked how the test went. SHE CUT OFF OVER HALF OF HER TIME! She did the same 90 problem test in 6 minutes! She had reapplied the oil right before the test and felt really good about it. 
Now, I don't know if a lot of this was in her mind or if the oils did all the work. Personally, I think it was a bit of both. I am really glad I spent the money on getting all the oils for the blend and getting it for her.

Success #2:
In the past year, I have had some problems with heartburn and bloating. I haven't been able to pinpoint specific foods that cause it, so I generally try to eat somewhat bland foods until a particular episode goes away. Last night I was feeling bloated and really uncomfortable, so I went on Pinterest (how did we learn anything before Google and Pinterest?) looking for ideas using oils I already have. Bingo! I added two drops of Peppermint and 2 drops of Di-Gize (and yuck, I hate the smell of licorice and Di-Gize has anise and fennel) to about a teaspoon of sweet almond oil and rubbed it in clockwise circles on my abdomen. Well, I hated the smell, but loved the results. Within 10 minutes, I could feel the bloatedness (is that a word?) easing and I felt almost normal after about an hour. This morning I still felt pretty good, although I ate just a small breakfast. 

Now I feel obliged to remind anyone reading this that not all oils and not all blends will work on all people. Also, some oils are not safe for pregnant women and infants, and some may have drug interactions. So before you would try these remedies, do some checking and if you have concerns about interactions with medications you have been prescribed, you should probably discuss it with your doctor. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

COOK: My Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

My pastor's wife is a fabulous cook, and one thing everyone knows she makes well is cinnamon rolls. A couple of months ago I asked for her recipe, and she told me it was one she had contributed to our church cookbook several years ago. It was in the cookbook as a dinner roll recipe, and she had modified it to cinnamon rolls. (It's Beth's Buns for anyone who has the cookbook).
This is the recipe as it is in the cookbook:

Scald 1 3/4 cups milk until it has a thin, milky scum on top. While milk is scalding, mix 1/4 cup warm water and 2 packages of yeast and a pinch of sugar. While this is foaming up, mix together in a big mixing bowl 1 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt. Add hot milk. Add 2 cups flour and 2 eggs; mix. Add yeast (which has foamed up to around 1 cup). Add 4 more cups of flour (sticky consistency). Place dough on well-floured counter top and knead more flour in until it forms a smooth ball, about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, grease top and cover with lid. Let double in size, 1 hour or so. Punch down. Pull off pieces and stretch dough around itself to make a ball. Place 12 in greased 9x13-inch pan 1-2 inches apart. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and tops are golden brown. Yield: around 2 dozen rolls.

The modifications for cinnamon rolls:
After the first rise, punch down and divide dough into 2 parts. Roll one part out to a large rectangle. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle generously with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up, starting with the long edge. Cut into 12 rolls and place in a greased 9x13-inch pan. Repeat with second half of dough. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Spread with frosting or powdered sugar glaze if desired. Yield: 24 cinnamon rolls

This dough is just wonderful to work with. I like to mix up the dough, let it rise, cut into rolls, and then put the pans in the fridge overnight. Then I take the pans out in the morning and let them come to room temperature, then bake.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

OILS: Good Sleep, Good Skin

Crista, the wife of the owner of the screenprinting/embroidery shop where I work recently became a Young Living Oils distributor, and for my Christmas present (I have an awesome boss, gives great Christmas presents) they ordered me the premium starter kit from Young Living. Since this kit came with lots of different oils, samples, and a diffuser, I started learning about what the oils can do. And while I won't be actively selling them, having parties, and so on, I'm starting to incorporate the oils into our daily life.

I'm also trying to NOT turn into ooooh, essential oils...voodoo magic...cure all ills of man and beast. I won't be recommending something I haven't tried myself or on my kids and had success.

So one of the first things that I would call a rousing success is the blend I made of lavender and cedarwood essential oils in sweet almond oil. I mixed up this blend because Claire was having some difficulties in staying asleep at night, and lavender and cedarwood can be used to help with relaxing and sleep. I rubbed the mixture on the soles of her feet, and dabbed a bit on her nose and forehead. And voila! She has had pretty good sleep for the past couple of weeks, sleeping all night long for the past few nights!

But, this mixture has other benefits. Crista had told me that cedarwood is good for your hair, and I had read that lavender is good for just about anything (skin, healing, repelling mosquitoes). Last week when Natalie was recovering from yet another upper respiratory virus, her nose was dripping and making the skin between her nose and mouth really red and irritated. I had her wash her face and dry it thoroughly, and then I took a Q-tip, dipped it in the sleepytime oil, and dabbed it over the irritated skin. By the next morning, the skin was no longer red and irritated-looking.

Good Sleep, Good Skin Blend
1/3 cup carrier oil (I used sweet almond oil that I bought at Hobby Lobby)
12 drops lavender essential oil
12 drops cedarwood essential oil
Mix together in a glass jar or bottle and massage onto feet or face as needed.

COOK: Making Breakfast

In early January, I read a blog post from a friend about her adventures in meal planning and while I'm not using her plan, it really got me thinking about meal planning and trying to save money on groceries. So I dug through all my recipes and made a list of the meals most-liked by the family, including main dishes, sides, and breakfast-for-supper, printed out a 2017 calendar from Google, and filled in 9 weeks (!) of meals.

Then I ended up taking it another step further. Claire and Natalie really like when I make breakfast during the school year. Oatmeal, Malt-O-Meal, toad-in-a-hole, any of it is really enjoyed. So after planning suppers, I started planning breakfasts. We kept the oatmeal and Malt-O-Meal and such, and I added cinnamon rolls, scones, and a bunch of other things. I'm of the opinion that a hot breakfast is better than a bowl of cereal, nutritionally speaking, and it starts the morning out better. We've been doing this for a few weeks now and the girls love it.

This morning's breakfast was berry-yogurt parfaits and English Royalty Chocolate Chip Scones. Natalie didn't care so much for the scones, but the parfaits were a hit.

For the parfaits:
Layer vanilla (or the flavor of your choice; we like Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt) with blueberries and raspberries in a glass.

1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter
3-6 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with nonstick foil.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in enough juice to get the dough to hold together. Add mini chocolate chips.

Turn out onto a floured surface. Pat into a 9-inch circle. Cut into 12 scones using a biscuit cutter.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy warm.

Monday, December 19, 2016

HOOK: Providence Scarf

Isn't my friend Michele beautiful? She's wearing the Providence Scarf I made her this fall using Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball in the Healing Teal colorway. I found the pattern for the scarf here: Providence Scarf
I omitted the fringe in the pattern (fringe drives me nuts) but I think the scarf is lovely without it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

BOOK: My Sister's Gonna Be an Author Someday, and I Get to Help

My sister Allison is an artist. Paint, pencil, clay, they've all been used to showcase her talents. For the past year(ish), words have been her medium of choice. She has notebooks and notebooks of plot points, character studies, random ideas that hit her brain when she's out grocery shopping. She attempted NaNoWriMo this past November. And last night she published a story on NookPress and asked me to read it over.
I've offered some random suggestions for her novel in the past. She calls me her "Cloud" because my thoughts are "more organized than hers." And I flatter myself that I've added some details to the story that might prove important. So I'm really excited to be able to help her with this short story too.
I'll be reading it tonight and hopefully soon, she will be a real, published author!

Friday, December 9, 2016

HOOK: Thread Crochet

Crocheting with thread was something that kind of daunted me when I first started crocheting. I was concerned for my tension, my grip, my eyes. But one day my mother-in-law gave me a set of old steel crochet hooks and I tried using one of them with some embroidery floss to make a granny square.

I found it wasn't really too hard to work with. And as long as I have good lighting over my chair, I could work for long-ish periods of time without the small work being hard on my eyes. 

Later in the summer, I was looking for ideas to make Barbie dresses for two of my nieces' birthdays. Since Barbies are small, a lot of clothes for them are made with thread. This is what I made:

Those were really fun! And as long as the ends were woven in really, really well, I didn't have to worry about little hands unraveling the dresses as they pulled them on and off their Barbies.

I found the pattern for this doily in a crochet magazine, and made it for a college girlfriend's wedding gift. The picture in the magazine showed it done in pink and white, but this friend isn't really a "pink" sort of person, so I did it in a lovely dark red and white.

I am of the opinion that one can never have too many bookmarks. And, of course, lots of them are crocheted out of thread as well. This leaf bookmark was made for my pastor.

As I've been exploring the sheer variety of doilies available online, I've found a lot of "crinoline girls" and other doilies that are different motifs that are then stitched together to make the final piece. My mom fell in love when I showed her a picture of this crinoline girl doily, and I made it for her for Mother's Day this past spring. It won Grand Champion in the crochet category at the 2016 Le Sueur County Fair, too.

My pastor's oldest daughter got married in early October. As long as I've known her, she has loved strawberries. In addition to strawberry-themed washcloths and dish towels I made for her shower gift, I made this beautiful strawberries-and-cream doily for her wedding present, with 3D strawberries all around the edge.
Blocking this was rather tricky, and the edge was a little ruffly, but I like to imagine her using it as a table top decoration.
At the wedding reception, I spied a large wall hanging of the Lord's Prayer. When I looked closer, it was done in thread and was incredibly beautiful. Filet crochet is something I've been planning on teaching myself at some point, and I decided that point was now. I found a perfect pattern at Free Vintage, and started learning. This is one of those crafts where the final effect is far greater than the work involved. There are only two stitches in filet crochet: chain and double crochet. I took this picture when I was 3 rows in, and it's going to be huge! I'm on row 12 now, and it's looking fantastic! My goal is to finish it by Easter, have it framed, and give it to my church.
I also made some Christmas ornaments for Claire's classroom Christmas tree this past week. They were a little small, but really cute.
I'm assuming I'll be doing a lot more thread crochet as time goes by. I have built up a huge stash and don't want to see it go to waste! Plus it's fun :)