Friday, April 20, 2012

Enter Morgan: Stage Left

Guess what?! I have a blog!

Yes, this is a fact that I am aware of, though some people might think that I have forgotten. But I haven't! Life has just been a little crazy for the past few weeks.

And the headlines for this craziness is... *drumroll* My sister, Morgan, moved home!!!

Yup that's right! Now I have a full-time babysitter (ha! not really). 
Actually it means a lot of things, and all of them are good. It means I have a best friend living right across the hall; it means that I don't have to be lonely when my parents go on date nights; it means I have a full-time model in my own house; it means that I have someone else to contribute to my Disney fund; it means there is aaaallllways music going; it means emotions are naturally high; it means I have two little toto-like dogs to play with; and lastly (but not leastly) it means that her business, Bashert Jewelry has moved with her here to Denver!


My sister started Bashert Jewelry a couple years ago out of her love for taking broken pieces and making something beautiful out of them (even if it's not the original piece). Currently she has four different styles at her Shop on Etsy. The links to each item can be found below the picture...


(She let me model for this)
(The black thread is elastic, so it slides on and off very easily)
(One of my favourites)

(I wear this one all of the time. It's a long necklace and works with most any outfit!)


I have personally tested each of these items and love them all! So go, shop, buy, and enjoy! 


So here she is, my beautiful, wonderful, epic, dramatic, genius, devoted sister... Morgan <3 (and her dog, Basil)

















Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Iced Lemon Poppy-Seed Biscuits

In honor of spring, I made these delicious little tea biscuits for our neighbors today...


Iced Lemon Poppy-Seed Tea Biscuits


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used half wheat and half white)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yogurt (I used plain Greek, but lemon, orange, or vanilla works well too!)
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
Icing:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • I lemon squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Colored sprinkles, colored sugar, or lemon zest (optional)



  • In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with yogurt. Stir in poppy seeds. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or until easy to handle.
  • On a heavily floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-in. cookie cutters. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  • Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a small bowl, beat the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and enough milk for a thick consistency. Lightly frost centers of cookies; sprinkle with colored sprinkles, colored sugar, or lemon zest if desired.
  • Yield: about 4 dozen.
Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The B.R.A.T. Diet

This morning my dear mother had a horrible stomach ache, and immediately my inner nurse-maid spirit kicked in. When she first came downstairs, she was nauseated, so heavy food wasn't an option. I got her some salt crackers and a glass of water, and kept a can of ginger beer on hand just in case it got extreme. 
By mid-morning, the nausea was a bit settled, so I brewed a cup of ginger peach tea for her, and provided more crackers. 
~Ginger is wonderful for an upset stomach! If feeling queasy just take some ginger ale, ginger tea, gingersnaps, or the like.

At lunch, she was feeling much better, so I could move to a bit more substantial food. I decided the B.R.A.T. diet would be the safest thing

B. bananas
R. rice
A. applesauce 
T. toast

Keeping to this diet as much as possible, I made toast with homemade peanut butter and a banana/apple smoothy. 
Here is what I did:

Banana and Apple Smoothy
1 Banana
1 Apple
1/2 c. Frozen Strawberries
1 c. Fruit Juice
1 TBS Honey
Mix all in a blender (stirring as needed) till smooth and creamy.

The toast was just my dad's homemade honey whole wheat bread that I stuck in the toaster till it was golden brown. 



We didn't have any peanut butter, so i grabbed the food processor and mixed 1/2 c. salted peanuts (I used Planter's) and about 1 Tbs+ of coconut oil. Any oil can be used, but I really like the flavor of the coconut. Pulse, scraping sides often, till creamy and 
'buttery'. Spread that on the toast and voilá!  


Monday, March 19, 2012

On the Trading of Tim Tebow

When I'm sad, I write poetry about the situation... So here is the fruit of a day of sadness... 
For Mr. Tebow

On the Trading of Tim Tebow

By A.F. Lowry           
March 19, 2012

I looked upon the frozen dawn,
I drank the city air.
Now the crowded masses thronged
Along the thoroughfare

A fresh metropolitan state
With fresh plans, great and small;
Fresh life, ground, society, and change
And fresh talent above all

But something was different now
A stale, warm, harsh wind blew,
And I knew that there upon the ground
My dreams would soon be strewn.

‘A fantastic opportunity’…
That is what they said.
But what is a championship to me?
Something more I dread.

How could we keep both of the stars
(The old and new talent)
With this new, small budget of ours?
For he is young, even if gallant.

But, I won’t fear his leaving us
For I know within my heart
That wherever he goes, he’ll trust
The will our Lord imparts


Now, I'm not saying that he will be traded, and I hope that he isn't, but I'm praying God's will for him right now... I want him wherever he can thrive and grow and be the greatest witness... I'm only partial to him staying here in Denver. 

For more of my poetry, check out my new book on Amazon... HERE

Drink Water... It's Vital!!!



It’s a common fact that our bodies are made of nearly 70% water, but why is it so important to take in 8 to 12 glasses a day? Perhaps, it is because over 75% of American’s are chronically dehydrated.  Every organ in the human body needs water to function properly, especially the brain, which is composed of 85% water. Consider that dehydration is the number one cause of daytime tiredness and that a loss of just 2% water in our bodies can cause fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and trouble focusing on a computer screen or a printed page. 
A loss of 4 to 5% water can diminish work performance by 20 to 30%. Dehydration can occur in any season and athletes and children are particularly susceptible to it because of how quickly they tend to lose water. So even though the average person consumes nearly three cups of water through food, it is very important to take in the extra 8 to 12 glasses in order to perform at the highest level. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

You have nothing better to do with your life than to spend every moment trying to improve. -Joyce Meyer 



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Café au Lait

I've always wanted to be a barista, but after applying to Starbucks and other coffee shops multiple times (and never even being asked to an interview) I'd almost given up hope. 
But, who says I can't be a barista right here in my own kitchen? I found this yummy book called 'Coffee; scrumptious drinks and treats' by Betty Rosbottom and now I'm experimenting with my own lattes and such on my own. It inspired me to say the least, and I've been running rampant with the coffee maker (and tea) latelyWho needs Starbucks with all their sugar and syrups? 

So this is my version of Café au Lait (French for 'coffee with milk'). It's ingredients - as you may have guessed - is simply coffee and milk! Strong hot coffee and scalded milk to be exact. This is a simple latte that is very popular in France and has become part of American coffee shops as well. 

Since I've started making this, I have fallen in love with scalded milk. It is so smooth and creamy and has an all around better texture than anything else I've ever had! I'm never heating my milk in the microwave again!

The ratio of coffee to milk varies by taste. I've tried two parts milk, one part coffee as well as vice versa, but personally, I prefer just half and half.

So here it is... My version of 

Café au Lait

1 cup milk
1 cup strongly brewed coffee*
Sweetener to taste

To scald the milk, pour into a saucepan and heat till steaming. Stir slowly and consistently on low heat till the milk reduces and small bubbles form around the edges (about 5-8 minutes). The trick to scalding is to get it almost to the point of scorching (burning on the bottom) and keep it there. Because of this, you'll want to keep the bottom scraped well. Add coffee and keep on heat for a few minutes more. Add sweetener. Pour into a mug and sprinkle top with your choice of spices or the like (I used raw cocoa powder). 

*For a Tea Latte, just brew 1 tea bag in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes (black teas work best!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Starting Seeds in Eggshells

As you can probably tell, I'm loooonging for spring/summer!!! I promised myself I would wait until at least march to start my herb garden, but as you can see, that didn't exactly happen. Ha! So here is my way to start seeds indoors with little to no cost (besides the seeds)... plant them in eggshells!

For years, farmers have started seeds in eggshells and had great success. My mom gave me the idea when I started buying seeds for my medicinal herb garden and so far it has worked wonderfully! I wanted to grow a little of several varieties and move all the matured plants to one large pot. Because of this, it didn’t quite make sense to buy several small pots just for the couple of months that I would be growing the seeds. That made eggshells the perfect solution for me.

Not only are eggshells inexpensive and easy to acquire, they also provide natural nutrients for the seeds as they grow. Also, later when transferring to a different pot, all you have to do is break the shell into the dirt you are transplanting it into!
My little baby basil starting to sprout

I used white eggs, because it isn’t always the easiest to get brown ones here in Denver, but I would definitely use the brown if they are available. Start by saving an empty egg container (I cut a one and one-half dozen carton in half and cut off the lid). Lay that by your sink or put it back in your fridge if you have space. Now anytime that you use eggs, try to crack it at the top and peel away the shell so that about three-fourths remains. Once you've removed the egg, rinse the eggshell out and lay it in the carton.
Chamomile is the in the front,
basil in the back

After you’ve collected as many as you need, take a tack or egg piercer if you have one and poke the bottom about four or five times to make holes for drainage. (It takes some practice to accomplish this without destroying the egg, so you might keep a few extra eggshells on hand just in case)

Fill the eggshells with dirt and sprinkle four to six seeds on top. The amount of dirt to be used to cover the seeds will vary on the size of the seed. Such tiny seeds as lavender take only a dusting of dirt, whereas cilantro with it’s almost pea sized seeds needs about a quarter inch of dirt.

The rule of thumb usually stands that you cover the seed with a layer of dirt no taller than the seed is tall.

Water the seeds with a spritz bottle only till the dirt is soaked, and then cover with plastic rap or a shower cap. Keep the dirt moist watering every morning or so. Put them in a sunny window where it’s warm, and voila! Expect seeds in about two weeks. 



Monday, February 6, 2012

Homemade Ocean Spray

~So, I know it's February, but I've been having major beach withdrawals lately. That might explain why a few of my subsequent posts will be about my years living near the ocean.. like this one~

I used to love going to the beach on the weekends and that feeling when my hair would get gritty with salt and sand and falls in the most gorgeous waves around my shoulders. 

Then I moved to Denver...

I'd heard about this Ocean Spray serum that you can buy that gives your hair that ocean shine and feel, but it was nearly as expensive as just flying myself back to the beach (well not quite, but you get the idea). 
I ran across this recipe, however, and had to try it! It worked amazingly well! I could hardly believe it. It's cheap, fast, and oh-so worth it <3 

Ingredients: 
1 Cup Warm Water
3 Tbs Salt
1 Tbs Gel or Spray Gel
1/2 Tbs Conditioner (or leave-in)
A couple of spritzes of your fav perfume

Directions
Mix water and salt till thoroughly combined then add the other ingredients (I halved the recipe the first time, and I suggest you try it first as well). Pour the liquid into a small squirt bottle (I got mine for 95 cents at Wal-Mart) and generously spray on clean dry hair till hair is damp. Scrunch your hair till dry. 
My hair was already kind of curly when I started, but this just helped bring out the wave. Also, if you have dry hands, you might want to use plastic gloves or make sure to lather with lotion first.... the salt sting horribly on dry skin!

It just took a spray and a scrunch and I felt like I was back in Leguna Beach sinking my toes in the sand, listening to the seagulls overhead, watching the waves crash on the shore....


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Amazing Healthy Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Hey y'all,
 Sorry I've been away for a while. In the past 48 hours we've been dumped on with over 20 inches of snow and my life consists of shoveling right now... (everyday I'm shoveling'... *dancing). Perks of living in Denver.
 Anywho... on this snowy morning, something fresh and yummy sounded good, and I happen to loooooooooove lemon poppyseed, so I decided to try some muffins. I added my own healthy twist (because I've been feeling fat lately -_-), but I added the regular fattening, sugar filled, calorie infested alterations beside it.. just in case you're interested ;) By the way, these DO NOT taste healthy. My parents didn't even know till I told them that it wasn't regular junk. 

Healthy Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

1 c. White Flour
1 c. Wheat Flour (or just 2 cups white flour)
3 TBS Poppy Seeds
1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

1 Stick Butter (8 TBS)
1/2 c. Sugar 
4 packets Stevia powder (or just 1 cup sugar)
2 large Eggs
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup Yogurt (I used orange, but you can use lemon, vanilla, or greek) 

Frosting
Juice of 1 lemon (just use the same lemon you zested!) 
1 1/2 c. Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin pan or use muffin liners. 

Combine first six dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a whisk. 
Combine butter, sugar, and stevia in a mixing bowl and mix on medium-high speed till light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add zest and vanilla and blend. Scrape the sides of your bowl well. With mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients then the yogurt, then the rest of the dry ingredients and blend just until mixed. 
Divide the batter between the cups filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minute or till toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 3-5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

While muffins are still warm, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar together to make a glaze. Drizzle evenly over the muffins and let set. Enjoy!

Makes 12 muffins.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Painting the leaves <3

Cherry-Ripe!

Cherry-Ripe 
    by Thomas Campion

There is a garden in her face
   Where roses and white lilies blow;
A heavenly paradise is that place,
   Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow:
      There cherries grow which none may buy
      Till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.

Those cherries fairly do enclose
   Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,
   They look like rose-buds filled with snow;
      Yet them no peer nor prince can buy
      Till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.

Her eyes like angels watch them still;
   Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threat'ning with piercing frowns to kill
   All that attempt with eye or hand
      Those sacred cherries to come nigh,
      Till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Iz too tired

My sweet Essie fell asleep by the phone today and I just had to get a picture :) Laughter is the best medicine <3

Best Ginger Beer

My family has always loved ginger beer... ever since we lived in Pennsylvania where it was popular and easily accessible. However, whenever we tried making it ourselves, it was always either too sweet, or too bitter, or else just took forever to make. When I ran across this recipe on Jamie Oliver's website, I just had to try it and it ended up being perfect! Sweet and tangy with a bit of a bite at the end ;) Enjoy!

Best Ginger Beer

4 oz Ginger Root (about 1 medium root)
4 TBS Brown Sugar or other sweetener
2 Lemons
1 25oz bottle Perrier or Pellegrino

Shred ginger with a course cheese grater (you can leave the skins on if you like). Place the ginger and it's juice into a bowl and add the sugar. Peel the lemons lightly and add the zest to the mix. Pound for about 30 seconds with a pestle or heavy object like a rolling pin to mix the flavors. Add the sparkling water and let sit for 10 minutes or so. Strain the liquid into a pitcher and refrigerate till cold or serve with ice. If it's too bitter, just add a touch more sugar till it's the way you want it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Soup!!!

Portobello Chili = Yummm-O!!! It's healthy and vegetarian too!
Happy Eating!

Have Faith for Your Healing!

"Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying 'Lord my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.' And Jesus said to him, 'I will come and heal him.'  The centurion answered and said, 'Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it.' When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those who followed, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" -Matt. 8:5-8 NKJV

How amazing is that? Can you imagine God saying that you have more faith than anybody else, including His own followers? That's a huuuuuge compliment! So why did this guy have more faith than anybody else? He was humble. He had faith that Jesus was who He said He was and that He had the power to speak a word and change the world.
So have faith! Never doubt God. He can do anything and He is VERY interested in your problems, no matter how small or how big they may be. Like it says in the chapter before,
'Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.' (Matt. 7:7-8 NKJV)
It's as simple as that. Pray and ask God to help you through your problems. Have faith that He will take care of you and He will! Sure things may not change for a while, but it may be immediate too. Remember, we are on God's clock, not the other way around. So have faith, believe, and victory over your difficulties will not be withheld from you!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Daniel Fast do's and don'ts

These are essentially the foods that you can and can't eat on this fast.

YES: Fruits, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, etc.), whole grains, all seeds and nuts, teas, juices, and spices.
SOMETIMES: Stevia (a natural sweetener from the leaves of the stevia herb), honey, and eggs (just like for baking or when we need protein, not your usual scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, etc.)
NOPE: All preservatives, dyes, processed foods (e.g. instant mashed potatoes, white flour), yeast, fried foods, meat, dairy, and sugar

Even if you aren't doing a fast, this is a good diet to get on and you might as well pray while you're at it!
I'll post some recipe ideas throughout the month as we make different meals.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Concerning the Daniel Fast

In January, my family sets aside 21 days for fasting and prayer to start the new year off right. Traditionally, we do what is called the Daniel fast. So exactly is it?

Do you remember the story in Daniel when he asked not to have to eat the King's delicacies but asked rather to eat only fruit, vegetables, and grains? (Daniel 1:11-16) That is the fast! It is simply going without sugar, dairy, meat, processed foods, and other 'delicacies' for 21 days. Over the years, our family has gotten pretty fancy with our recipes (I'll be sharing some of those throughout the month) but the simpler the better. It's a time to put aside the things that our body craves (mostly sugar) and focus our time on God instead of what's going in our mouths.
We replace traditional milk with rice and almond milk (the unsweetened kind). Our diet has a lot of lentils for iron and beans for protein as well as nut butters like peanut and almond (also unsweetened). We try to stay away from preservatives and anything fried is out of the question! Potatoes are good for starch, but not instant potatoes which hardly have any of the original spud left in it. Soups and all fruit smoothies are always good! And though it's expensive, coconut milk is good as well as good for you. Soy is fine for the fast, but after all the horrible health issues it can cause, we have cut it out of our diet completely in the past couple of years. It helps to look up vegan recipes which pack a lot of protein and nutrients without including meat and usually without dairy either.
However, going without the vitamins and minerals that meat and dairy provide can be hard on the body. If, at any time, one of us gets to feeling poorly or we are limited in our physical or mental abilities, we'll add something such as an egg or fish to a meal to keep us healthy. This isn't something to risk your health on!

Personally, this fast is something that I look forward to every year. It is rejuvenating and always a great time with the Lord. It's healthy for your spirit and your body!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is It Strep?

Problem: I have a really sore throat and I'm afraid that it's strep, but I don't want to go to the doctor if its just a cold. So how do I tell the difference?
Solution: Look for the symptoms. If you have strep, it's normally accompanied by extreme fatigue, swollen lymph nodes (I'll talk about those later), an earache, and a fever of over 101 degrees. It tends to feel a lot like the flu except that your throat is so raw that you can hardly speak or even swallow. Your hearing will be all wacky and things probably won't taste the same. To see if you have swollen lymph nodes, gently rub your neck all the way from your shoulders to up under your chin. They will feel like little peas under your skin, and will probably be pretty sore. An earache is a sign of drainage in your throat and nasal passages, but it can also be a sign of a serious infection. Also look for white spots to appear in the back of your throat.. I'm not sure what they are exactly, but I know they're bad! 
If you have any of these signs, I would highly suggest seeing the doctor! Letting strep set in uninhibited can be very dangerous. The worst (or best) thing that can happen is that he will tell you it's just a cold. 
So what if it's just a cold... what now? I still feel miserable! 
I would encourage rest, a hot cup of tea, and some soup. Get some sleep and your body will fight off the sickness itself. The best things to soothe a sore throat are lemon and honey (I'll post the recipe for my world-famous hot lemonade soon;) ) Take care of yourself!

Don't Look Back

Remember what it was like to be a kid? As I progressed through high school, I found myself missing the innocence and simplicity of being a child more and more. However, I know it had its pros and cons. When I tell people I miss my childhood, they usually say that age is just a number and you can act any age you want, but do I really want to be as immature as I was then?
I once heard a quote that said you can't finish your book if you keep re-reading the previous chapter, and I find that to be very true. Instead of looking back to what you don't have any more, look forward. Besides, I'd rather people say that I'm mature for my age instead of immature. Everyday I try to be kind, be gentle, be loving, to listen when someone needs to talk, to make a hurting person laugh, to give a smile to the hardest of people. I don't really care if I know what  joke means anymore, and if I'm the only one in the room who hasn't seen some dirty movie, I'm okay with that too.
Age is just a number... it doesn't define your maturity, and it certainly never limits you from doing something great :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let Your Light Shine

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house."
-Matthew 5:14



Here, Jesus is talking to a huge crowd on the top of a mountain. Most of these people were Jews, but whatever nationality they were, they were followers of Jesus, just like we are today (isn't it crazy how people can be connected over thousands of years?). The passage is pretty self-explanatory. When you witness, you are being a light to the world. When you are a light, people wake up and start listening. Sure there will be people who will try to 'put your light out', per say, but Jesus says in the verses right before that, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My name sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt. 5:11)
And being a witness doesn't always mean that you are running around telling everyone about Jesus (though, it is important to tell people why Christ came and died. Who would want their best friends to spend eternity in hell?!). It means that you are keeping yourself pure and just, and reading your bible and praying which produce a joy that unbelievers don't have. It means that you are optimistic, that you set your standards high; that you take care of the temple that the Lord has given to you (aka your body). When you do that, other people will notice.
So go let your light shine!