Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Quitting Sugar


We're having extremely horrid humid weather at the moment...the sort of clammy heat that causes sweat to run down your back..gross I know. Today my daughter and I were lamenting about our lack of air conditioning...and we both decided that we don't care how much extra it would cost in power bills, we're just so desperate to be cool.
January normally sees me preserving food like a crazy woman, but this year it's just too jolly hot and so I'm just enjoying the gardens bounty fresh and giving any extra away. Last year I think I canned about 50 jars of relish or various kinds, and we did get through it. But this year I think I'm only going to bottle a few jars of plums, make some Tomato relish later in the season and stew any extra tomatoes for freezing,  to use these in soups and casseroles.
~ ~ ~

Other News (ground breaking) : I've jumped off the white sugar wagon !!!. yikes...For those who don't really know me, this may not be a surprise, but for anyone who does, they will know a large part of this blog has comprised baking recipes, sweet sugary decadent things. So I thought I better let you know that things will look a little different around here from now on..still delicious, but healthier :)

And why? The quick answer: it's time for a change. Over the last few years I've added on a few pounds here and there and I just don't like it. Most of my life I've been reasonably slim (apart from during and after pregnancies. I've prayed many many times over the last year asking God to help me to stick to something and strengthen my resolve to get back into exercising. And He is helping me. I have started walking again (treadmill) and I've also started the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle eating plan, after much loving encouragement from my sweet daughter.

For anyone who doesn't know what Trim Healthy Mama is, its basically a low carb (not no carb), low glycemic style of eating.  I initially found it a bit confusing. I looked at the book last year and it all seemed too different and i didn't have the motivation or the head space to truly give it a chance. This time when my daughter suggested I try it, I thought why not? and I  can honestly say I'm not feeling deprived at all following this plan and am even enjoying Stevia as a natural sweetener. In fact, I will go as far as saying I love THM and have become somewhat of a devotee.
Here's a good video that gives a good introduction to what it's about.



Here's a link to the main website for anyone interested. They also have facebook pages which are very helpful to new people like me.
https://trimhealthymama.com/
and another great THM low glycemic sort of blog:
https://www.briana-thomas.com/
Here's what I've been eating...
B L U E B E R R Y  S M O O T H E E   with almond milk
Bacon and eggs and tomato/garlic/courgette
(I have this once or twice a week for breakfast
(normally without the additional smoothee)

Most mornings I eat pancakes, with fresh berries - these are from the THM cookbook with lite cottage cheese, oats, natural sweetner and egg whites. I love them :) For luch I normally have salads with some sort of protein and various different yummy dinners. I also have great snacks. If anyone else out there needs to lose some extra weight and is looking for something that really works, I hope you'll give this a try. THM was started by two lovely Christian mums who have a real heart to help people achieve their goals, whether that be to simply eat healthier, gain weight or lose it..and best of all 'maintain it'..yeh!! :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Other things...

- I N   T H E  G A R D E N -

I've been harvesting and infusing St Johns Wort flowers which have no end of medicinal qualities.
I've made a tincture and also infused flowers in Olive Oil. I'll leave both of these infusions for about 6 weeks and then strain and bottle.

Here's a little info:
 St. John’s Wort is useful for reducing stress, anxiety and mild depression when used consistently overtime. It also has a reputation for being a 'Trauma Herb' ,beneficial to the skin and soul. Its blood red anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory medicine is wonderful for treating bruises, burns, sprains, reducing pain and infections.


Here's a good link to some helpful info about St Johns Wort : https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/st-johns-wort-oil-salve-for-tired-muscles/  I purchased this ladies book and enjoy it very much.
Please let me know if you also use St Johns Wort and what you make with it or use it for. :)

~ ~ ~ ~
Well that's about all from me. Blessings to anyone who stops by. I hope what I have shared tonight is helpful to someone in some way ~ Linda :)







Sunday, 17 December 2017

December & Old Prayers


Oh how I love this Christmas season :)
even though its a busy time, and hot and humid here in New Zealand. There's just something about Christmas..the whole month of December really, that is magical to me. It's always been a joyful time. Maybe it's because my mum always put so much effort into making it special for my brother and sisters when we were young?
This time last year I was recovering from an illness, which was mostly self-induced burnout. It helped me to re-prioritize and make more time in my days for people and making our home and garden a much more pleasant place to be.
But what I really wanted to write about today wasn't Christmas, but  'Old Prayers'.
I'm sure every christian knows about old prayers. They represent pieces of our heart, our dreams, hopes, longings, either for something in our own life or somebody else we care about. They're prayers we've  possibly prayed over and over again and can't seem to let go of, or their prayers we may have prayed once and stand strong in faith that God heard us the first time and will answer the prayer in His own way and in His own time.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourages us to rejoice always and to pray without ceasing.

There are many examples in the bible of persistence in prayer. I believe whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us, no matter how frequently, we are to pray for a person or situation.

1 John 5:14-15: Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we asked of Him.

I know and believe that God knows what is best for us. No matter how long it takes, all prayers will be answered eventually. Sometimes we forget we even prayed them, and then see a resolution to a situation and a memory comes to mind that we petitioned God about that.

I just wanted to write this to encourage anyone who may feel their prayers are simply 'OLD' and that it's time to give up !!!  I say no, continue on, until you get a response. :) Maybe write different prayer requests /situations in a journal and then at the end of the month or year, read back through those old prayers and see if any of them have been answered. I bet you'll be surprised.

So I will close this with saying I wish you all a beautiful, joy filled Merry Christmas :)
I'm truly thankful and encouraged  by all who stopped by my little spot and read or commented on what I wrote. It always makes me smile. I'm going to finish with pictures from our Christmas thus far..baking cakes, garden, decorating our home etc.

Blessings to you all ~ Linda xo






 

 Christmas Lilly's..always so beautifully fragrant.


 Tidied up BBQ area :)

 We just harvested all the peaches, the biggest yield yet !!

 Tiny wee figs on the tree !!
 Flowering Feijoa tree


 Orchids
 Pretty Hydrangeas

 Pea pods :)
 Lemon Verbena flowering






Monday, 13 November 2017

Elderflower Cordial

Hi everyone,
I'm feeling very happy with myself :)
About 3 - 4 years ago a friend gifted us with some Elderberry plants...which mostly looked like sticks with a few straggly roots hanging off them. However I was very excited and dreamed of great arm fulls of elderberries that I would freeze or dry to use for cold/flu remedies. Up until this year we haven't ever had many flowers on them and last year the birds got all the berries that managed to form on the few that did flower..sigh.... but not to be discouraged, this year voila !!! masses of flowers !!! :)

So I started googling 'Elderberry Cordial' and ended up one evening watching endless videos on you tube about how to make it (which was fun). I'll attach a couple of them at the end of this post, that I concocted a recipe from, using a bit of both of their recipes. The end result was fantastic and very unlike anything I have had before. A man on one video described this cordial as the taste of an English Summer in a glass :)
Well I have never experienced an English summer, but it may well sum up a New Zealand summer too. I like to serve it with Soda Water, mint or lemon balm leaves and ice. Note: Tonic Water is nicer, it has a little bite to it.
Here is a link to the medicinal benefits of Elder flowers :
https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-elderflower.html

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Here's some pictures from the delicious Elder flower Cordial making day..and my two guinea pig grandies (Lily and Kora) who tested it for me). They also squeezed some blood oranges into theirs, which turned the water a pale pink. I think they had more fun being messy, than actually trying the cordial :)

E L D E R  F L O W E R   C O R D I A L

*Pick a bucket full of open Elder flower blooms  (I had about x15)
1 - 1.5 Kilos of Sugar
3 large oranges
3 Lemons
60 grams Citric Acid
2.5 Litres of Water

1. Grate the zest off one orange and one lemon. Set aside.
2. Wash and slice the oranges and lemons, and place them in a large bowl with the flowers, which have been pulled from the stems. Sprinkle over the zest. 
3. Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar. Stir to dissolve, then bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes.
4. Pour this syrup slowly over the flowers, citrus slices & zest in the bowl, and leave to soak for 1 - 2 days, stirring occasionally (I only left it for a few hours, as the flavour was strong enough for my liking).
5. Strain through a sieve/muslin lined and repeat if necessary. Pour the warm cordial into bottles, which have been sterilized in the oven at 100 C for 30 minutes. Remember warm cordial into warm bottles. If the bottles have cooled off they may crack.
*This recipe makes 2.5 litres of delicious cordial, which is quite potent. I only use about 2 T at the bottom of a glass and top up with ice, soda/tonic water and mint leaves.














Bye for now xox 


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Octobers Close & Gardening


Hello and welcome to anyone who stops by,
Another month has flown by here at the Little Homestead and Christmas is closer than ever...(one of my favorite times of the year)... !
I wanted to take the time to write a little about my days right now. This month has seen my husband and I very busy and spending a lot of time outdoors tidying up our BBQ area and tending to the garden which had become sadly neglected over the last few years.  I took some photos the other day to show our progress in the garden, partly because I like to keep a record of what we do around the property and it's enjoyable to read back over my blogs from previous years.  




The garden for me is a place of immense Joy where any worries are quickly washed away.. It's a Joy that I find hard to even explain, but when my hands are in the soil, or I just sit back and gaze with wonder at it all..my thoughts 'always' quickly turn to the Lord...and I thank Him for creation, for seasons, for the sound of birds chirping, for the busy insect life, for continuity, for variation in flower and leaf, for hope, for inner peace and joy. I know there's a quote that says "One is never closer to their creator than when they're in a garden" and for me this is so true. 

At the moment I'm trying to garden every day (weather permitting) and making the most of it before the very hot weather arrives. When I finally come in after an hour or two of planting and weeding, I like to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and read a book. My husband always asks me about my day when he gets home and if I say I've been gardening, he says "Well I hope you took some time to rest"?  In the past I wasn't so good at taking breaks, but now that I'm older my energy levels arn't quite the same and I do better if I have little breaks. 

One of the books I've just finished during these garden 'rest' times is 'A Quilt for Christmas' ~ by Sandra Dallas. 

In Sandra Dallas' novel A Quilt for Christmas, it is 1864 and Eliza Spooner's husband Will has joined the Kansas volunteers to fight the Confederates, leaving her with their two children and in charge of their home and land. Eliza is confident that he will return home, and she helps pass the months making a special quilt to keep Will warm during his winter in the army. When the unthinkable happens, she takes in a woman and child who have been left alone and made vulnerable by the war, and she finds solace and camaraderie among the women of her quilting group. And when she is asked to help hide an escaped slave, she must decide for herself what is right, and who can she can count on to help her.~




I thoroughly enjoyed  this book, the research that went into it and also her style of writing. If you enjoy period dramas, you may enjoy her books too :)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 I'll close this post with pictures of the garden and little bits and pieces from around home.

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Photos of the garden October 2017
~ GOD'S Beautiful BLESSINGS ~
 - the vegetable patch, new fruit trees, berries and flowers that are blooming.
~ Roses ~



I bought this pretty very pale pink rose with darker pink on the edge of it's petals
from the supermarket last year..such beauty in an every day place. I'm sure it was happy to come home to this garden :) 
~ My ever faithful Iceberg Rose ~
always returns, no matter if there's drought or neglect

~ Majestic Gladioli ~


~ Black currants ~
so many memories of childhood are wrapped up in the scent of
the leaves of this plant. Aromatherapy ? :)
~Elder flower and busy bee ~

~ Sweet scented Jasmine ~
~ Plum Promises ~
~ Pom Pom Tree ~
 ~ A carpet of pretty white petals ~
Up Close ~ so delicate and pretty 
~ Lavender ~


~The Vegetable Garden 2017 ~
Planted:
Green Beans, Silverbeet, Lettuce
Kumera (Sweet Potato)
Potatoes
Courgettes
Tomatoes, Peppers
Seeds: Beetroot, Carrot, Radish
Yet to be planted: (possibly tomorrow): 

Chilies, Eggplant, Cabbage, Spinach
Herbs: Lemongrass, Coriander more Thyme
~

~ 2 of our apple trees - Granny Smith & Cox's Orange Pippin
and we just purchased another apple tree:  'Golden Delicious'
I look forward to its fruit over the next few years

A new garden bed I started down the back of the property based on 
the 3 Sisters (Native American style Garden) Corn, Beans, Squash..newly sown)
I'll update with pictures of it's progress over the summer.






 ~ New Fig Tree ~


Kumera plants I ordered online...happy to be out of the box
 Cherry Tomato plants


and around home...
I baked Whoopie Pies :) I hadn't made them for a few years, but we needed a little treat on the weekend and I'm so glad I made the effort, they are delicious !


A sweet friend gave me a new Kombucha scobie, as she knew I had yet another head cold and Kombucha is supposed to be good for the immune system. I've made it up according to the directions she gave me, and even after a week there doesn't seem to be even the slightest bit of fizz to it. Last time I made Kombucha (a few years ago), it was a tiny bit effervescent. Does anyone else make Kombucha and is yours fizzy ?



Well that's about all from me at the moment. We have our little granddaughter Kora's 4th birthday this weekend, so that will be a lovely day to look forward to (She was the star of my previous post.)

Bye for now I'll leave you all with these lovely visual gardening quotes
- God's Blessings  xo









xo Linda






Quitting Sugar

We're having extremely horrid humid weather at the moment...the sort of clammy heat that causes sweat to run down your back..gross I...