Lent, Seasonal, Uncategorized

An Awakening

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of Lent, which is the 40 day period before Easter. When I think of Lent these words come to my mind: awakening , reflection, gratitude, repentance.

Lent is more than an ancient tradition observed by some. To me it is a time of “setting apart” for the next forty days. I find that I am more focused, more attentive to the where I am spiritually in my life. I allow myself to take extra time for this reflection. It is no coincidence that as this awakening begins in me; the earth is awakening from the cold, long winter. The earth is in the process of its own rebirth. I tell myself no matter how hard and long the winter may be, Spring always comes. Each day there are more and more signs of it.

  The birds are louder and their songs sounds more joyous because the sun is coming up sooner, warming the ground, making it easier to find food.

Spring reminds us that God made a promise after Noah made a sacrifice “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22.

Lent can allow us to make a sacrifice in thankfulness to this promise of the new season.

Perhaps by observing Lent, it gives me the opportunity to be more aware of God’s goodness and his beauty. I can reflect on his sacrifice, to repent of anything I’ve allowed to come between us and to love God with an undivided heart.

How do you observe Lent? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions .

-Nancy

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Seasonal, Uncategorized, winter blahs

Keeping the Wintertime Blahs Away and a Springtime Lemon Scone Recipe (GF and Low-Carb) yes

 

Post by Nancy Gordon

Forgive me for complaining, but winter seems to last forever,and I get tired of the overcast skies. I know I shouldn’t complain, especially since I am a Southerner. Ive heard how harsh the winters are in the North.  I am glad to live where I do for that reason.   But are you feeling this way too?    I am over always being cold and going out into the frosty air.  My once cute sweaters and boots that looked so inviting way back in the Fall, now look tired, boring and dull. But instead of wallowing in self-pity I have decided to do a few simple things to change up my routine and scenery.  I’ve written down a few of the things I do to keep my wintertime blahs away. 

Below I share them with you.  

*For starters, fresh flowers are a must. Nothing says springtime like flowers.  They brighten any room.   Aldis had half a dozen lovely roses for just 3.99.  I bought a some pretty white and pink ones.  I stuck them in a vintage blue mason jar, set it on my kitchen table, and every time I look at them, I smile. 

*I also keep Christmas lights up until day light savings time.  Yes, I have a nice long strand of white lights strung in my bay window.   We eat breakfast and dinner when its dark outside, this bring cheeriness to our breakfast nook.

*I’ve discovered it’s a good time of year to look for house plants at your local hardware store.  I found tropical plants on sale there for only five dollars!  I bought a cool spider plant and a tall cane tree.  The greenery is just what these empty spaces in my home needed.  Tropical plants are easy to care for as they don’t require a lot of watering.  They like dry soil and bright light, so I have mine near windows and they seem to be doing just fine. And they remind me of warm, island days!

*I wear pink.  It reminds me of spring flowers such as pink hyacinths and peonies.  Get out of your everyday black.  Maybe pink isn’t your color of choice, but it’s one of my favorite colors.   I wear lots of it, especially this time of year.  And I’m so glad it’s a popular color this year.  I bought a really warm, pink chenille sweater back in December and have worn it so many times.  It never fails to make me happy.  What’s your favorite pastel color?  Baby blue or pale green, there are so many choices out there. Buy one and wear it on those dreary cold days and it will be sure to make you happy.

*This is the time of year for short day trips, such as a visit to the nearby art museum.  There you can bask in the Impressionist paintings of lakes, blue skies and green trees.  The still life paintings of flowers and the landscapes of oceans and fields remind us that warmer days are coming. We are fortunate to have the coast nearby.   My husband and I were recently invited to go to the beach and to stay with friends.  While the weather was still cold and overcast, it was the beach.  There’s something about walking on sand and listening to the ocean that soothes the soul.

*Bake something citrusy and light.  I love lemon scones with crème fraiche or lemony chicken breasts.  If you don’t enjoy baking buy a nice loaf of homemade bread and a jar of marmalade.  Feast on that goodness and think warm thoughts.

*My daughter and I are going to sign up for a yoga class.  Classes are a great way to keep fit in the wintertime, if you don’t like to brave the cold outdoors.  Or maybe you do, then bundle up and try a new hiking trail.  Once I get moving, even I start to warm up and it’s fun to look for signs of spring.  Maybe some bushes are beginning to bud in late February, at least they are in the mid-south.

There are so many other things you can do to brighten your day and your outlook in the midst of these short days and bare trees.  I know for some people seasonal blues is a more serious issue and I’m not trying to trivialize it.  Hopefully theses ideas will foster even more ways to bring springtime inside your home.

And the good news is that Spring always comes.  Solomon, a very wise King in the Bible, once said, “See, the winter is past;the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance” (Song of Songs 2:11-13a).

I look forward to those days of new life when the earth awakens from its long nap.  The daffodils and forsythia will bloom and brighten my yard with their sunny yellow blossoms.  And I can pack away the sweaters and boots until the chill in the air forces me to bring them out again.  But today I will patiently wait for springtime.

Here is my lemon scone recipe.

 

 

 

Low Carb Gluten Free Lemon Scones

1 cup blanched almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

3 TB granular sweetener, I use Pyure

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp Himalayan salt

2 TB melted coconut oil

1 egg

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

2 TB fresh lemon juice

Glaze

1 TB melted refined coconut oil

1 TB granulated sweetener, I used Pyure

2 TB fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In one bowl, combine dry ingredients together, almond flour through salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry until a dough forms.  

Place dough on lined baking sheet and form a circle about 1 inch thick.  Cut into 8 wedges and move apart about 1 inch.  Bake for about 18- 20 minutes until golden brown.  Scones firm up as they cool.  Do not overcook.

To prepare the glaze combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.  Let scones cool before drizzling the glaze on them.

 

 

Health-Giving Cloves
essential oils, In the Kitchen: Recipes and More, Seasonal, Superfoods

Health-Giving Cloves

When I was young my family had this tradition during the holidays of making pomander balls. We used oranges and studded them with cloves. We’d often create beautiful designs or smiley faces and then the oranges were piled on top of each other in a bowl and put on display. After the process was done I loved to smell my hands. The spicy scent of cloves will always remind me of a sentimental christmas memory.

But did you know that cloves are a spice that you may want to include all year round? 

Cloves are surprisingly an amazing aid in keeping you well and keeping the flu at bay. They can also help reduce symptoms of a cold.

Health-Giving Cloves

Why are cloves amazing at warding off a virus?

Cloves contain antioxidants and one of these is a compound called eugenol.

Eugenol not only fights oxidative stress caused by a virus but studies showed that in concentrated amounts (such as an oil extract) it caused cell death in 80% of esophageal cancer cells. 

One test-tube study found that clove extract helped stop the growth of tumors.

It is important to note that eugenol is toxic in high amounts and overdosing on clove oil may cause liver damage, especially in children. Further research is needed to determine how lower amounts may affect humans.None the less, it is very amazing that cloves can have such a powerfully healing effect on the body.

Health-Giving Cloves

So cloves are important for fighting viruses as well as cancer cells. Are they good for anything else? Well, cloves have been shown to be a great ingredient to add to your cleaner used to clean up around your house, or spray down grocery cart handles. Cloves have antimicrobial properties meaning they can help stop the growth of microorganisms like bacteria. One test-tube study showed that clove essential oil was effective at killing off three common types of bacteria, including E. coli,

Health-Giving Cloves

Along these lines it’s also a cool thing that cloves promote oral health! In one test-tube study, the compounds extracted from cloves were found to stop the growth of two types of bacteria that contribute to gum disease.

So, if the sweet and spicy aroma of cloves doesn’t woo you than maybe some of these health benefits will entice you to toss in some ground cloves or a drop of clove essential oil into your next stir fry or batch of healthy cookies! 

(information on studies obtained from healthline.com)

Family Life, Seasonal, Thanksgiving

11 Topics for your Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving meals can be both fun, joyeous and somewhat predictable. We all come prepared to answer the lovable questions of “what are you up to now? How is school? What are your plans?” These questions are sweet and asked out of politeness and curiosity and while some of us may jump at the opportunity to talk about our plans, some of us may not feel as enthusiastic about providing boring answers. I love family and the wonderful occasion of gathering together and catching up on life. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We are reminded of what life is all about. What really matters. We get to eat and eat and eat wonderful delicious homemade food! And while Thanksgiving may look different for everybody, I think we all long for that sense of community and fellowship.

We’ve put together some table topics for you to enjoy using at your own Thanksgiving gathering this year. Table topics can be a fun way to encourage everyone to share and to share about things that everyone can be interested in. They help us to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Simply copy and paste these on note cards that you can tuck under everyone’s plate at the table. When everyone has eaten enough to start carrying on conversation, interrupt to explain you’ve hidden a card under each plate and you’d like each person to take a turn answering the question. Then allow everyone else to briefly chime in and share their own answer to your question.

1. What has happened to you this year that makes you thankful?

2. What makes Thanksgiving special to you?

3. If you had to eat one Thanksgiving dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

5. What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten on Thanksgiving?

6. Name any movie where they celebrate Thanksgiving.

7. Describe your perfect Thanksgiving.

8. Who are you most thankful for? Who has had the greatest impact on your life?

9. What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? And why?

10. What hard thing that has happened to you this year, that you have learned and grown from , are you thankful for?

11. What are some of God’s promises that make you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving from Iris+Hart, in particular Cate, Nancy and Lauren. We hope each of you have a fun and memorable time with family and friends. We are thankful for each of you.

Enjoy your conversations with each other and let’s us know how it went. We love hearing from each of you.

**Possible answers for number 6: The Blind Side, Home for the Holidays, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving etc.

Iris and Hart Yummiest Creamy Chicken Soup
In the Kitchen: Recipes and More, Seasonal, The Creative Home

Yummiest Creamy Chicken Soup

Soup is a staple in our house as the cool weather is upon us.  For some reason I like to eat warm, comforting food in the fall and winter.  Even smoothies don’t appeal to me as much.  Maybe its because I am cold natured and I like my insides to be warm too!  So here’s another soup recipe for you.

This is an old favorite soup recipe that my sister, Kellie, made for us years ago.  It’s so simple, yet so filling and nourishing. And a bit rich because of the cream cheese, which makes it the perfect soup for company or for pot lucks or to take to a family in need of a good homecooked meal.

Here’s the way I make it.  I cook a whole chicken either by boiling it in a pot full of water or roasting it in the oven.  I know Cate does the latter.  Either way you cook the chicken the soup tastes the same.

While the chicken is cooking, begin to cook the rice.  Then gather soy sauce, 2 or 3 garlic cloves, Jane’s Crazy Salt (found in the spice section at the grocery store), and 8 ounces of cream cheese.  These ingredients you will blend together before adding to the soup.  I use a stick blender and a deep bowl to accomplish this task.

Once you have a pile of cut up chicken, cooked rice and blended cream cheese mixture add all to 3 quarts of chicken broth. Let simmer, do not let it boil.  Sprinkle with chopped chives and enjoy a bowl of upscaled chicken and rice soup!

Jane’s Krazy Salt on Amazon!

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THM Version (E)

My Version: I like to separate my carbs and fats when I eat (most of the time), which keeps it in the E mode if you are a THM!

So I made this same soup for myself but I did not add cream cheese to the blending part. I added a bag of cooked cauliflower rice instead and then I thickened the soup with glucomannan . So follow the same steps as above but substitute cauliflower rice for the cream cheese, adding the seasonings and blending it together. Then add ½ ts of gluccie to the soup in pot. It was just as delicious, I thought, not quite as rich, but very flavorful. Cate said she preferred my way best! Try it and let me know what you think.

P.S. Glucomanan is a water -soluble dietary fiber that is derived from the Konjac root.  It has so many health benefits.  Here are a couple we like.    The high fiber content helps one feel full longer, thus can help with weight loss.  Since it is a water-soluble fiber it also has a beneficial effect on cholesterol.  Gluccie, as THMers call it,   helps relieve constipation and improves the health of your skin. The Japanese and Chinese have used konjac traditionally in their cuisine (ex. jellies) and medicine.  We love it for all  of these reasons. Give it a try! Click image below to be taken to amazon.