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Playing For You From Our Scented Cottage

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Where you have a plot of land, however small, plant a garden. Staying close to the soil is good for the soul.
-Spencer W. Kimball

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Grasshoppers...


Has your garden become a haven for wayward grasshoppers? Are grasshoppers moving in and devouring everything in your garden that you work so hard to make beautiful?

I recently planted some lovely pansies and primroses and overnight they disappeared. Not the whole flower mind you, there is still a small stub left of each plant. At first I thought it to be the snails as they have been known to wreak havoc in my spring garden. Then I spotted him, Jimeny, our grasshopper in residence for the past few years now. I'm not sure of the life span of grasshoppers, but Jimeny has not only stayed in my garden for the past years, but he has grown to a very interesting size. I admit, he is attractive for a grasshopper, green being my favorite color and all, but enough is enough. I made an attempt to capture his likeness on film for you but alas, he has a phobia of having his photo taken, and he leapt off to devour yet another of my precious flowers. (Although the photo I have attached to this post looks eerily like him!) You'd think I had them swarming en masse by the amounts he can eat in one night, so now his antics have prompted me to plan his demise since it appears he has no natural predators dropping by and searching him out.

I have researched and it appears that one of the best ways to rid your garden of insects and grasshoppers is poultry. As much as I'd love to set up a chicken house, I'm certain not only my neighbors, but our homeowner's association would frown upon me.

Did you know that some grasshopper facts are that:

They can shed their skin four or five times
There are 18,000 different types of grasshoppers in the world
All Grasshoppers are Herbivores
They have five eyes (all of Jimeny's are eyeballing my new plantings!)
They do not have ears (no wonder my shrieks go unnoticed by him)
They can leap 20 times the length of their own bodies
When picked up they spit out a liquid which is commonly called tobacco juice (UGH I won't be testing this)
They can survive almost anywhere (we'll see about that!)

I have yet to use pesticides in my garden but it appears I am going to have to resort to this if I can not capture Jimeny on my own. Does anyone have any great tips or tricks on dealing with the likes of these creatures? HELP!

Happy Birthday Gemini..Here's Your Flower


Happy Birthday Geminis May 22 - June 21

Surprise a Gemini with a flower bouquet filled with roses – a flower that symbolizes the essence of their zodiac sign: love and companionship. With the ability to convey a wide range of messages and sentiments depending on their color, roses are a perfect match for this birth sign’s multi-dimensional (twin) sides, from friendship to passion, quiet sophistication to a bright burst of fun.

Easily adaptable and versatile – with a lively (sometimes bordering on the mischievous) imagination – Geminis are one of the most creative of all the zodiac signs. With the heavenly twins as their birth sign symbol, and a lightheartedness often associated with air signs, it’s no surprise that Geminis have highly sociable and playful personalities. Their expressive (downright talkative), clever qualities make them fun-loving friends and treasured companions.

It's Monday And...



If you believe in magical days of the week, as I do, you may find the following interesting. Here are the associations of the day, make it a magical one!


Today's:
Planet is Moon
Element is Water
Sign is Cancer
Color is Silver, White, Gray, Pearl
Stones are Moonstone, Pearl, Aquamarine, Flourite, Quartz Crystal, Geodes, Azurite
Trees are Birch, Willow
Flowers/Herbs are Orris Root, Motherwort, Vervain, Night Flowers, White Flowers, White Rose, Iris, Moonwort
Oils are Poppy, Rose
Incense is Myrtle
Deities are Hecate, Moon Dieties
Angel is Gabriel

Influences of the day are:
Psychic Ability, Psychology, Dreams, Astral Travel, Imagination, Reincarnation, Women's Mysteries, Intuition, Fertility, Psychic Powers, Psychic Sensitivity, Tides, Water, Emotional Issues, Clairvoyance, Home, Family, Medicine, Cooking, Personality, Merchandising, Theft, Reconciliations, Receptivity, Love, Voyages, Messages, Women, Children, the Public, Magic, Spirituality, Nursing, Antiques, Initiation, Astrology, New Age Pursuits, Totem Animals, Shapeshifting, Religious Experience, Visions

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Are You...


Vacuuming today? To add a nice scent to your cottage, add a cottonball soaked with a few drops of aromatherapy oil, such as geranium or lavender, into your vacuum cleaner bag. You will add a beautiful scent as you go through your rooms.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Crackers...

When I have sourdough starter going I have to get creative on ways to use it because I can't bear the thought of discarding any! This cracker recipe is easy and tasty! If you don't have sourdough starter, check my archives for an easy recipe that you can use for breads and crackers. Let's get started!


Ingredients:
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus extra for rolling
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
olive oil and salt for topping 

Mix the starter, butter, and honey in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the flour with the salt and baking soda. Add to the large bowl and mix until smooth.

Add the remaining 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until a smooth, stiff dough forms. You may need to add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.





Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and divide into three portions. Roll out one portion, keeping the remaining dough covered, until quite thin (1/8″ or thinner). Use plenty of flour to keep from sticking.



Use a pizza wheel (or knife) and cut dough into strips. Place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet. The crackers don’t expand so place them close together without touching. Using the pizza wheel (my tool of choice) or knife, cut the crackers into squares. It's much easier doing it this way than to try to cut squares and then put them on the cookie sheet. Believe me, I've tried it!


Spray (or brush) the crackers with olive oil making sure all the crackers get just a bit of oil. This will help the salt adhere. Sprinkle very lightly with a fine salt. 


Bake for 8 minutes, turn the crackers over, and bake for another 2 or 3 minutes or until your crackers are a toasty brown color. I rotated the pan a few times too but I don't think you have to. Oven temps vary so you may have to take yours out sooner or leave them in longer.

Repeat with remaining dough while the first batch is baking. This recipe filled 3 full cookie sheets for me. 
I stored mine in a glass jar but any airtight container would be fine.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Magical Little Thyme Plant...



Do you enjoy growing your own herbs? When you think of thyme, perhaps you only think of it as a cooking ingredient. It is a little plant of wonder and I would like to share some of it's history with you.

If you are lucky enough to be able to grow your own, keep in mind that thyme leaves are sweetest if picked just as the flowers appear. When cooking with thyme, be aware that as with all herbs, using fresh is a little different than using dried. One fresh sprig equals the flavoring power of one-half teaspoon of dried thyme.

Thyme's best use medicinally is as an antiseptic, but it also has expectorant, antispasmodic, and deodorant properties.

Herbal medicinists use thyme in infusions, extracts, teas, compresses, bath preparations and gargles. Did you realize distilled thyme oils are used commercially in the production of antiseptics, toothpaste, mouthwash, gargle, hair conditioner, dandruff shampoo, skin cleanser, various toiletry items, potpourri, and insect repellent? It is also an ingredient in commercial expectorants and antispasmodics prescribed for whooping cough and bronchitis.

Did you know there are more than 100 varieties of thyme or that the ancient Egyptians used it in the mummification process?

Thyme has been associated with courage since ancient times. The Greeks, the Romans, the Scottish Highlanders, and the knights of the Middle Ages all thought thyme brought one strength and courage.

The ancient Greeks sprinkled thyme in their baths.

When the Greeks said that someone "smelled of thyme" it meant that the person was elegant, refined, and stylish.

The Greeks burnt it as incense in sacred temples.

The Romans used thyme in the treatment of depression.

Thyme was placed in coffins to ensure passage to the next world.

Thyme was sacred to the Druids, who used it to treat depression and ward off negativity.

In the Middle Ages, people placed it under their pillows to prevent nightmares and aid sleep.

Fairies are said to love thyme. In France and England, people often created a bed of thyme to attract fairies and make them feel at home in the garden. A nice reason to plant it in your spring garden this year. Oberon, the king of the fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, says, "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows," referring to the bed of thyme in which Titania, the fairy queen, sleeps.

A 17th century recipe with thyme as one of the main ingredients claims to enable people to see fairies.

Hymettus honey from Greece is made from bees who gather pollen from wild thyme on Mount Hymettus.

Thyme was once used on bandages to prevent infection.

The essential oil of thyme is called thymol. It was isolated in 1725 by the German apothecary Neuiuiann. The active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash is thymol.

I hope you are inspired to incorporate thyme into your herb garden this year. Here's a great spring and summer recipe using your little herb...

Zucchini with Thyme
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound fresh zucchini, cut into 3-by-1/2-inch sticks
1 beef bouillon cube, crumbled (use vegetarian bouillon for vegetarian option)
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the onion and parsley and cook until soft, but not browned.

Add the zucchini sticks, crumbled bouillon cube or vegetarian cube, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently stir to coat the zucchini. Cover and cook until tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how tender the the raw zucchini is, and how small you have sliced the pieces. Check and stir every few minutes. Be careful not to overcook.

Serves 4.

Fairies And The Wind...


It is believed that when fairies leave for their home, they travel in eddies of wind. On calm summer days, if one sees a kind of cloud of dust that moves in the sky without any breath of air, it should be assumed that a pack of fairies with their takings is going back to Fairyland.

People that have been "lifted", and embarked in these eddies usually do not remember any detail about their journey. Some have been carried to some inaccessible place to which they could never have made their way alone, on the top of a distant hill or from one island to another.

Have you ever spied that cloud of dust carrying the fairies off to their homes?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Breakfast Peanut Butter Muffins..

Dinner may be pleasant,
So may social tea;
But yet, me thinks the breakfast
is good enough for me.

I've always believed that starting the day with breakfast was important. Some have a hard time with the thought of eating in the mornings but truth be told, I don't have a problem with eating any time of the day! I recently purchased a Depression Era recipe book. I love recipes from that era as they have simple ingredients and are easy and quick to prepare. Love peanut butter or have a little one who does? Try these for breakfast (or anytime of day!).

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Sift together flour, baking powder salt and sugar. Beat eggs and add peanut butter, milk, water and butter. Mix well. Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture and mix just until blended. Grease muffin tins (or use muffin cup papers) and fill to 2/3 full.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve with jelly or jam if you desire!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Love Handmade Soap?

Do you have issues with artificial colors? You won't find any in my soap so no need for worry! At this time I have a light orange scent or rosemary scent. I also make other scents so stay tuned... These soaps also include goats milk, glycerin, honey and vitamin e, all wonderful for your skin. I even use them on my face! (Yes, I know...true beauty product mavens would cringe at the thought but I prefer natural ingredients :) Even if you choose not to use them they are lovely just sitting pretty in a nice dish on the bath counter. Stop in and take a peek to see what's new in the shop when you have a moment. Have you used my soaps? Leave a comment and let others know what you think!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/OurScentedCottage?ref=shop_sugg

Lovely Cherry Quartz...


Cherry Quartz is a stone of relationship and focus. It enhances ones intention and clarity between people, ones self, and the divine.

Despite its name, cherry quartz is not a natural stone or even quartz. A form of glass with translucent or opaque inclusions within a transparent colorless matrix, it has to be cast into large blocks, which are then physically carved into smaller shapes. There are only two genuine "fruit" quartz: strawberry quartz, which is accentuated by small seed like inclusions of lepidocrocite and hematite, and pineapple quartz, which is a form of citrine with an unusual growth pattern of crystals around its sides similar to pineapple fruit.

This stone brings new hope, acts as an anti-depressant, brings relief from anxiety, sexual problems related to tension, and helps develop vision for the bigger picture.

Cherry quartz is also an energy stone and a powerful healing stone. The healing properties are used to aid respiratory difficulties,regeneration of cells, and flow of energy throughout the body, and is an excellent balancing stone for a sad or weak heart.

Stop by again soon!