Thursday, December 24, 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me.  What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? 

This is what I found out!

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.

It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember. 

  1.  The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
  2. Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  3. Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
  4. The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  5. The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  6. The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
  7. Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  8. The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  9. Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love,Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  10. The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
  11. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  12. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Monthly Bath Blend - Cinnful MIlk Bath

Salts can be drying in the winter, so I like to use blends that have no salt in the tub from time to time.  This blend is made with Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert Blend.

Milk, especially powdered milk, is great for soothing the skin and making it silky soft.  Coupled with cornstarch and you have a rich bath that will cool down the winter burn and aid skin healing.  Add to that the lovely seasonal scent of cinnamon and you have a real treat.

Cinnfull Milk Bath

1 cup powdered milk
1 cup baking soda
3 Tbls. cornstarch
2 Tbls. cream of tartar
1 1/2 Tbls. BYP Cinnfull Dessert Blend

Combine all the ingredients together in a tightly lidded jar and shake vigorously.  Once they are combined scoop a couple of tablespoons into a warm bath and enjoy the scent.  If you want to avoid a brown ring (cinnamon does not dissolve) place the mixture in a coffee filter and bind with a rubber band before placing in the tub.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Handmade gifts are great for these People

  • Delivery Person - Whether you have a regular pizza delivery person, or a grocery store delivery service, you'll be able to have a gift for them.
  • Neighbors - New people moving into your neighborhood, or moving out. Do you have a neighbor that's struggling financially, they'll never know your trying to help.  I have new neighbors so I will use it to introduce myself.
  • Parents - My parents get harder to buy for every year, so I make them gifts in a jar whenever I can't think of anything else.
  • Boss and Co-Workers -How about that office party or gift exchange with co-workers, instead of giving a gift within the set price range give a gift that can be used. We do an exchange at the Garden Club and I love to give a handmade edible as a gift.
  • Child's Teacher - Christmas can be an expensive month for most of us, and when your child throws in "mom I want to give my teacher a gift", it can sure add up especially if you have more than one child.
  • Landlord - If you have good landlords then why not give them a gift at Christmas time, gifts in a jar cost hardly anything to make except your time.
  • Mail Carrier - There are people that give money or gift cards to their postman/women, why not be a little different.
  • Grandparents - With today's economy it's hard for the elderly to make ends meet, give a little help and make them a gift that they'll be able to use and benefit from.
  • Sister - Maybe you’re not as close to your sister as you'd like or maybe you have no idea what to get her. I have made gifts in a jar not only for my sister but for my husband’s brothers and sisters-in-law as well.

So now that I have given you list of recipients you have several choices. You can give them one of the Backyard Patch Items in a Jar – all of which are available here:

Stacking Jar with seasonings
Stacking Jar with single Herbs

Or you can make one of these:

Spiral Pasta Soup in a Jar

2 Tbls. dried basil
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup dried onions
4 chicken bouillon cubes
3/4 cup dried tortellini
Fill the rest of the jar with the tri-colored spiral pasta.

Cover the top of the jar with a circle of fabric held in place with a rubber band. Cover the rubber band with a twist of raffia or a ribbon and small bow. Tie on the instructions.

1 jar spiral soup mix
8 cups water
2 cups crushed or diced tomatoes

Bring water and tomatoes to a boil in a large soup pot.  Add the spiral soup mix and simmer uncovered about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Icebox pickles

4 cups sugar
4 cups vinegar
1 ½ tsp. turmeric
1 ½ tsp. celery seed
1 ½ tsp. mustard seed
1 Tbls. pickling salt

Slice cucumbers to fill a gallon jar or 4 quart jars.  Combine remaining ingredients and add to jar(s).  Keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before eating.  Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 months.

Note: for a more interesting flare, try 2 Tbls. BackyardPatch pickling spice instead of turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed.

Spiced Lemon Tea Mix

½ cup lemon herbs (lemon thyme, lemon balm, lemon verbena)
1 Tbls. lemon peel
1 Tbls. ginger
2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. cloves

Blend all ingredients together. Store in a sealed jar.

To use: add 1 to 2 tsp. per cup of boiling water.

Citrus Bath Salts

2 Cups Epsom Salts
1 Cup Baking Soda
 Fresh Grated Zest from 1 Orange or Lemon
20 drops of citrus essential oil (you can use all lemon or lemon verbena, but a mixture with tangerine, orange and grapefruit with the lemon is more stimulating).

Combine Epsom Salts and Baking Soda in a bowl.  Grate zest of orange or lemon and add to bowl. Stir ingredients together. Slowly add in about 20 drops of essential oil one drop at a time and stir until well incorporated.  

Spoon the citrus bath salts into a clean empty jar and seal. Let your bath salts sit for a day or two to get infused with the scent of the oil. If giving as a gift, embellish with a ribbon, tag or whatever you like.

To use: add one to two Tablespoons to the bath while running.  You can also use the salts as a body scrub in the shower, but watch for slipper floors.

Simmer Jar Gifts

Directions: Use a pint (2 cup) jar, container, or pot to combine scent waters. Add ingredients to container, cover with water, and choose from these options:
  --simmer on stove top, topping off with more water as it evaporates
  --add heated mixture to a slow cooker, fondue pot, or something similar that will keep mixture heated. Preheat waters to a boil (in microwave or on stove top). As water evaporates, always top it off with HOT water to keep the temperature as high as possible. Higher heat = more fragrance.

1. Orange, Cinnamon & Spice. 1 orange, 2 cinnamon sticks (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon), 1/2 tablespoon whole cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves), 1/2 tablespoon whole allspice (or 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice), 1 anise star (optional)
2. Lemon, Rosemary & Vanilla. 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 2 lemons, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
3. Lime, Thyme, Mint & Vanilla. 3 limes, 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, 1 teaspoon vanilla.
4. Orange, Ginger, & Almond. 1 orange (or peel from 2 oranges), one 4" finger of ginger, sliced (or 1 tsp ground ginger), 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.
5. Pine, Bay Leaves, & Nutmeg. Handful of pine twigs or needles, 4 bay leaves, 1 whole nutmeg, outer layer grated into mixture.

Scented waters may be refrigerated between uses. Reuse for 2-3 days, or as long as they still have a pleasant fragrance.

To give as gift, pack ingredients into 1 pint Mason jar and place a tag on them with instructions for use.  Keep them in your refrigerator until ready to gift and remind receiver to do the same.

To USE: Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Simmer in pan on stove top, or heat and add to slow cooker set on low; add more water as it evaporates.
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