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Playing For You From Our Scented Cottage

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Kindness is like snow-it beautifies everything it covers.
Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Did You Know...


That the herb Rosemary is known as the herb of rememberance and Sage the herb of domestic happiness? Honor those you have lost and the joy of those who remain by cutting rosemary and sage and using ribbon tied bundles of both herbs intertwined as napkin decorations at the Christmas and New Years table this year. The fragrance touches your soul and the thought will touch your heart. Don't have an herb garden? No worries..simply purchase the fresh herbs in the produce aisle of your local market!

The Mystical Jet Stone


Do you tend towards wearing stones with meaning? Do you love onyx? If so, you may want to consider the jet stone as one of your future purchases.

How do you tell the difference between jet and onyx? True onyx is black with white (or tan) bands. Pure black onyx has been dyed. When mined, black onyx is actually a deep gray colored chalcedony (a type of quartz). The stone is then heat treated to achieve the desired jet color.

Jet is the crystalline form of coal. It's black, relatively soft, and takes a high polish. It's not as cool to the touch as black onyx.

Jet has historically been used as a protection stone and is said to have very powerful protection energies to ward off evil and negativity, as well as psychic attacks. It is considered one of the most powerful absorbers of "negative energy, i.e., depression. Because it absorbs so much negative energy, it is very beneficial if you are prone to depression or it's ailments.

Jet helps the wearer to be alert to all things and quickly come up with constructive solutions to any problems. It is said to control all demons and thus prevent demonic possession. It draws out negative energy from the aura, and can initiate psychic experiences. It uncovers past negative energies a person still carried in their subconscious mind, and will help in understanding and working with life and karmic cycles.

The women of the 19th century wore jet jewelry during their mourning periods. During the reign of Queen Victoria, protocol dictated that only jet jewelry could be worn at court during periods of official mourning. This royal endorsement confirmed the status of jet as the material of choice for mourning jewelry and fueled the expansion of the jet industry in the late 1800's. Never was this more so than in the period following the death of Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, from typhoid fever in December 1861.

When Life Hands You Lemons..


The lemon. It is my favorite item to have on hand in the larder of Our Scented Cottage. I know what you're thinking... a citrus product is your favorite item when there are so many others? Let me tell you the many ways you can use your lemons, or my favorite product, Real Lemon juice in the bottle. It lasts much longer than having the actual fruit, although I would be the first to admit it is much less attractive than a display of lovely yellow fruits nestled in a beautiful wicker basket.

Lemons are very rich in vitamin C, and many other valuable nutrients, and this gives lemons a unique position in beauty applications. Because of their versatility, they have been used since ancient times for beauty products. They originally come from Asia but it is believed by many that India is their birthplace.

I love making as many of my own products as possible. That includes not only foods and cleaners but beauty products as well. The lemon is one item I can count on for any occasion. It exfoliates my skin, lightens my freckles, bleaches my nails when the need arises (the lovely vintage red crimson nail color presents issues on the occasions when I wish to be free of polish), it removes product residue from your hair and more.

It also cleans like nothing else (well maybe vinegar but lemon works wonders too). Put lemon on your sponge and apply to your glass shower doors. Let it sit a minute or two and then wipe with your sponge and rinse. If there is any soap residue left you can apply a little baking soda with some more lemon and scrub and then rinse again. It will sparkle with the likes of a new one and make your powder room smell fresh and clean. Lemon and baking soda remove soap scum from tubs, showers, sinks etc as well.

Now, on to the kitchen where you can fill your scented cottage with the aroma of lemon cakes or cookies, or gingerbread with a wonderful lemon sauce, cream or frosting. Yes! All from the mighty bottle of lemon juice tucked inconspicuously away in your refrigerator.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for you..

For Beauty..
Hand and feet exfoliant

Mix lemon and brown sugar or salt and apply with a rubbing effect over hands and/or feet especially in rough areas.
Rinse with water, dry and apply lotion. Notice how fresh and soft the skin feels. You may want to do this once a week if your hands and feet are in need of tender care. Remember the saying, "A lady has soft hands".

To Consume..
Homemade Lemon Sugar

Great to use for teas or to sprinkle over cookies and use in baking instead of regular white sugar. Also try as toppings for fancy breads. Store the lemon sugar in an airtight container and refrigerate. This can be used for several months.
For Gifts place lemon sugar in decorative glass jars. Include a tag with ideas for use as well as the recipe itself if you like.

Recipe #1
3 Lemons
2 Cups Sugar

Remove the zest from the lemons using a citrus zester. Roughly chop lemon zest.
In a food processor, add 1 cup of the sugar and all the lemon zest. Pulse for a few minutes until the zest has been finely ground.
Add the rest of the sugar and toss until well mixed.
Spread the lemon sugar in a large pan and let sit until dry, approximately 1 hour.
Store in a sealed, airtight container and use as needed. Refrigerate until used.

Recipe #2
3 TBS sugar
3 TBS confectioners sugar
6 drops fresh lemon juice

Blend well and use. Can be stored in an airtight container. Refrigerate until used.

Recipe #3
2 1/2 TBS coarsely snipped lemon rind, pith removed (white part)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

In a blender add 1/2 cup of the sugar and all the lemon rind. Blend for a few seconds until the peel is finely blended.
Add the rest of the sugar and mix well.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until needed.

For Cleaning..
All Purpose Cleaner
2 tablespoons borax, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 cups hot water. Combine the borax and lemon juice with the water in a spray bottle. Use as you would any commercial all-purpose cleaner.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cinnamon...


Although available throughout the year, the fragrant, sweet and warm taste of cinnamon is a perfect spice to use during the winter months. Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine. It is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which is available in its dried tubular form known as a quill or as ground powder. The two varieties of cinnamon, Chinese and Ceylon, have similar flavor, however the cinnamon from Ceylon is slightly sweeter, more refined and more difficult to find in local markets.

Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol. There are various ways to incorporate this into your diet. You can add it to your tea, put it on your morning oatmeal, even take cinnamon capsules.

Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes and in some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication resistant yeast infections. Always check with your Dr. before adding any herbals to your daily routine. Even though they are "natural" they can have interactions with any medications you are taking or irritate allergies you may have.

Did you know that cinnamon was one of the first known spices? The Romans believed cinnamon's fragrance sacred and burned it at funerals. Because cinnamon was one of the first spices sought in the 15th century European explorations, some say it indirectly led to the discovery of America.

The essential oil and its fragrance help relax tight muscles, ease painful joints, and relieve menstrual cramps. In addition, it increases circulation and sweating when used as a liniment. Use 2 to 4 drops per ounce of vegetable oil for a warming oil or 8 drops per ounce to make a hot liniment.

Cinnamon also has magical properties including: Purifying, healing, empowering, protective. Stimulates visions, strengthens focus, attracts wealth, love and harmony. It opens the root chakra, and aids in connecting with guides. Associated with the Element of Fire.

Cinnamon can also be an irritant so be careful if you are using the oil.

Homemade Cinnamon Tea
Ingredients:
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup of boiling water
1 regular or decaffeinated black teabag (or use loose tea if you have it)

1. Place the cinnamon stick in a cup.

2. Add the boiling water and steep covered for 10 minutes.

3. Add the teabag. Steep for one to three minutes.

4. Sweeten to taste, if desired.

Gingerbread Delight Scrub Recipe


Are you contemplating making homemade gifts this holiday season? If you have bath lovers on your gift list, why pay for a wonderful body scrub when you can easily make your own? Purchase a pretty jar for the scrub and place in a basket with some Gingerbread Tea, some Gingerbread Cookies and perhaps a candle scented with cinnamon, cloves or ginger.


Ingredients:
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey granules

Mix all the ingredients and place in a jar. To use, add enough water to make into a thick paste. Scrub on to your skin gently. Rinse.

No Cook Food Gifts From The Kitchen


Nothing makes a gift more personal than taking the time to choose something suited specifically for the recipient. What could be more pleasing to show your sentiment than a gift from the kitchen? Your kitchen gift doesn't have to be a big investment. Small touches will make all the difference. Read on for quick gifts and packaging ideas. These ideas are suitable not just for the holidays, but for year-long gift-giving on any special occasion.

Quick kitchen food gift ideas
Gather up treasured family recipes and copy them into a colorful purchased journal. Or, print them on pretty recipe cards fitted into a categorized recipe box.

Purchase candy canes or any interesting-flavored candy sticks. Dip them in melted semi-sweet chocolate and let harden. Wrap in cellophane with bows to be used as coffee or tea stirrers. These are nice tucked into a pretty coffee mug.

Purchase several small herb plants and nestle them together in a pretty basket with a favorite recipe card for using each herb.

A bottle of wine with an IOU for a home-cooked meal makes a terrific gift for that person constantly on the go.

Purchase a salt mill or pepper grinder and package with gourmet salt or peppercorns. Or how about some herb and spice blends? Great for the cook on your gift list!

Line a large, heavy oven mitt with colored cellophane, fill with gourmet jellybeans or nuts, and tie with a bright ribbon.

For families with children, fill a cookie jar with cookie decorating accessories such as small bottles of neon food coloring, colored sugars, candy sprinkles, and jimmies. Don't forget to include your favorite cookie recipe.

Purchase a bundt cake with the hole in the center. Put some small silk flowers in an inexpensive miniature bud vase and place in the center. Wrap with colored cellophane and a bow.

Purchase a decorative ceramic loaf pan and fill with quick bread mixes. They have these out at craft stores now for the holidays in a lot of cute designs.

No cook can ever have too many measuring spoons, silicone spatulas and wooden spoons. Real cooks aren't spoon snobs so head to the dollar store and stock up! Take the time to wrap them in a creative way.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Citrine Quartz...



I've been searching for a new stone to add to my collection for awhile now and have finally decided on a yellow citrine quartz. It takes me awhile to decide on my stones unless I happen on one randomly that I can't leave behind. They are a way for me to focus my intent and I use them as well as candles for that purpose. I also like to use them along with my Tarot cards.

Citrine is an energizing stone that encourages self expression and imparts joy and enthusiasm. Just what I'm looking for! You could liken this stone to carrying around the power of the sun. Warm and comforting, it awakens creativity, fullness of life and new pursuits. For me, it's my perfect New Year stone!

Did you realize that citrine crystals are a variety of quartz and closely related to amethyst? Many of the stones on the market are actually created from the amethyst crystal by heat treatment. If you've been shopping around for one you may have noticed some advertised as not heat treated. That is what I'm in the market for since the heat treated stones have a different quality than the natural, genuine citrine crystal.

If you like to associate your stones with the Tarot, citrine is the stone for Strength and The Magician.

Are you a stone lover as well? Are you in the market to add one to your collection in the New Year? Tell me about it! I'd love to know what your collection consists of!

Christmas Weather Forecast


According to old Irish folklore, if Christmas falls
On Sunday: it means a warm winter and a hot dry summer.
On Monday: a foggy winter and a windy summer.
On Tuesday: a snowy winter and a wet summer.
On Wednesday: a hard winter and a very good summer.
On Thursday: a soft winter and a very good summer.
On Friday: a moderate winter and a moderate Autumn.
And on Saturday: a windy snowy winter and a good summer.

Are you curious about what your weather holds for you in your corner of the world? Check out the Farmer's Almanac here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Deck the halls with boughs of Holly, fa la la la...



Did you know that holly is one herb that Celts felt too sacred to have a Celtic name? In ancient Celtic tradition, the Holly King fought, and won, a battle with the Oak King for supremacy over half the year from the summer to the winter solstice. Holly and mistletoe are traditional to the season through commemoration of the battle. The holly was hung in honor of the Holly King; the mistletoe (which grows high in the branches of oak trees) in honor of the Oak King. Dressed in red and adorned with holly sprigs, the Holly King is considered by many to be the forerunner of our present day Santa Claus.

Holly was brought into Celtic homes to protect the occupants from ill-meaning faeries or to shelter spirits that the druids believed inhabited the tree’s sacred branches. Whether the prickly-leaved or smoothed leaved variety was brought in determined whether the husband or the wife would rule the house through the coming year.

There are special spirits that dwell within Holly trees: the Holly Man lives in the tree that bears prickly Holly, and the Holly Woman dwells within that which give forth smooth and variegated leaves.

Do not burn Holly branches unless they are well and truly dead, for this is unlucky. It is said that if you gather nine Holly leaves in complete silence on a Friday after midnight, wrap them up in a white cloth, use nine knots to bind the cloth, and then place them under your pillow, your dreams will come true.

Hot Spiced Tea To Warm You


There are some times, especially during the holidays, when you'd like a warm beverage to serve your guests and not everyone likes coffee. This is also a drink that your children can enjoy.

This recipe is made with orange, cranberry, apple juice, and flavored with cinnamon candies, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and sugar. Just imagine simmering this and scenting your whole cottage while you settle back and enjoy a nice warm cup with a bit of shortbread or tea cake. The perfect drink for cold weather months ahead.

You'll find the amount in this recipe is enough for a large party sized percolator coffee pot or coffee urn that holds at least 24 cups but if you need less just reduce the recipe.

Spiced Tea

Ingredient List:
1-12 ounce Cranberry frozen concentrate juice, with correct amount of water
1-12 ounce Orange frozen concentrate juice, with correct amount of water
1-12 ounce Apple frozen concentrate juice, with correct amount of water
1 8 ounce package red hot cinnamon candies
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup sugar
5 whole cloves

Kitchen Equipment Needed

24-cup or larger coffee maker or coffee urn (party size)

Instructions:

Step 1: Put concentrates with the correct amount of water as stated on each can of frozen concentrate in a large party percolator coffee pot.

Step 2: In the basket of coffee maker, put the package of cinnamon candies, cinnamon sticks (broken), sugar and cloves.

Step 3: Brew like coffee and serve hot with cinnamon sticks.

Stop by again soon!