Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Before we get to the holiday baking, I thought I would take full advantage of all the pumpkins and make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I bake cookies every week for my husband’s lunch, usually, I bake Martha Stewart’s Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies is from Delish.com and they are/were delish. At the present time, they are almost gone—just two left for the hubby’s lunch through Friday! Hence why no picture, but I do have a lovely photo of my Martha Stewart Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on my IG feed.

The last few weeks of autumn have been busy as usual. There is always a lot of planning of my time. Thankfully my health has been great though I cannot say the same for my husband. Every year he gets allergies from ragweed–which is what we thought he had six weeks ago. Turns out he had something like a bad allergy, but not quite the flu, and it has really held on. It really is impossible not to get sick when your co-workers come to work full of sick. He has now been given a large bottle of sanitizer and a can of Lysol because neither one of us want him sick for his vacation–he takes 10 days every November and a week in December and that’s all the time he takes off from work–no sick or personal days in over 20 years. We’ve got a lot planned for his vacation time. This year we are going to be having an old-fashioned Christmas which I will be blogging about soon. I will also be blogging what products I use to stay healthy and keep a strong immune system going. Until then enjoy your family, Thanksgiving week and weekend if you celebrate it, and be well.

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What I wish I could have told my younger self—and other birthday ramblings

The day has come– I’m turning 54 and I know it’s cliche to say it, but I sure don’t feel like 54 is supposed to feel. Though how do I know what 54 is supposed to feel like? Growing up 54 was close to your grandparent’s age, edging up on social security. Gosh at 55 I’ll be able to get free coffee at certain restaurants and 10% discounts on other retail stuff. I think at fifty-four I should feel accomplished. I think I should feel comfortable in my life, perhaps at ease with all the decisions I’ve made. No doubt I should have a regret or two and maybe aches and pains and pills on the nightstand. Thoughts should be toward retirement, travel, and life insurance policies.

I laugh sometimes at the sheer craziness of being in my fifties. The other day my husband and I traveled to Madison Wisconsin to start my birthday week with a nice meal and some light shopping. We visited a beautiful neighborhood in Madison that I could definitely see us retiring in. A couple of times I pointed toward people I thought were interesting and suddenly I thought–OMG, those people are my age. One was having a hard time with their walker and so my husband stepped up and lent quick assistance and all was well. Another person was having a hard time with an elevator and so we stepped up and held the elevator door open until she could wheel into the elevator. We are often handy like that having both worked, side by side, in a nursing home. It didn’t hit me at the time, but seconds later I said out loud “I’m the new old” and my husband nodded. Which of course to me meant that the people I was helping were in my age range. Either one of them could have been me. Now I know 54 isn’t that old, but consider this–out of all the people I’ve known in my life—friends, boyfriends, co-workers, and acquaintances, over 1/2 of them have passed away. My childhood/teen/young adult friend passed away over a decade ago, and several friends of mine who were younger than me have passed away, along with many co-workers I’ve had over the years. I’ve lost three “best friends” over the past thirty years. All gone way too soon. There isn’t a year that goes by that I don’t wonder what any one of them would look like or how their life would look had they been given more time on this earth.

So, what would I have told my younger self if I could? Here’s what I would have told her– stop worrying because in one week or one month everything is going to change again. Listen when someone tells you everything will look better in the morning because, perhaps it’s magic, but it does. Don’t give all of yourself to people who are just in your life for a minute–when they walk away seemingly without a care they leave a great big void in your heart and soul. If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Respond don’t react and don’t let emotions control important decisions. Use your head not your heart sometimes. Don’t believe for one-minute material possessions can fill a void. Unconditional love fills you up not things you buy or think you need.  Be frugal. Moderation in all things no matter what things we’re talking about. Stay away from people who don’t want the best for you. Stay away from people who hold grudges, or don’t appreciate you, or judge you without knowing you.  Accept you will be rejected by people simply to be rejected but it’s not the end of the world. Be yourself and when people walk away from you because of who you really are–consider that a blessing because you wouldn’t want people in your life who don’t want to be a part of the real you anyway, right? Take better care of yourself and try as hard as you can to see a future for yourself. Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. Believe in yourself even when no one else does. Take risks. Travel everywhere you can afford to travel. Choose jobs or a career that makes you happy and that you enjoy doing every day. Thrive vs. survive.  Surround yourself with good people and walk away from bad.  Don’t leave the door open even a slight crack for toxic people to crawl back into your life. Sometimes you have to walk away from someone in your life in order to protect them from the truth. Learn how to say no. Learn when to walk away. Learn when to stay.

Some things I’ve learned over the years that I often share with those at the shelters I volunteer at are–don’t fear failure rather fear never making an attempt to try something. Throughout my life, I kind of sat around waiting for the right time, the right place, the right this or that. There is no right time -there’s now.  Do it now. Try it now. Even if you fall flat on your face you will have tried which is so much better than waiting because you’re afraid. I let emotions control me just about my whole life. I had a lot of issues growing up that I kept quiet about. I grew up in a household where you didn’t talk about personal stuff. My step-father often said “children should be seen and not heard.” And he lived by it–no giggling, or laughing, or roughhousing allowed. My mother didn’t believe anyone ever had any problems as bad as the problems she had.

I have learned so much in the last fifteen years–way more than I could ever put into words. One thing that I definitely want to express to anyone reading is–be careful about what you do to your body, the people you surround yourself with, the jobs you take just for the money, and the things in your life that stress you out. All of this has a direct effect on your health. My body is full of scars and wounds of a not so well lived life. Thankfully twenty-five years of smoking haven’t given me any surprises -yet, but I’m so glad I quit 15 years ago. Choosing to work in healthcare and stay working in facilities that always worked short destroyed my back. Working in group homes where I was often thrown around or hit trying to restrain/keep patients safe has caused me years of pain from broken fingers, toes, and a neck injury. Not knowing that there was always something wrong with me due to childhood trauma caused me to live a life of bad decisions, choices, and mistakes most of which were made from a place of fear rather than a place of love. I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to heal my body and mind after discovering that I’ve been living with PTSD for most of my life.

So as I approach the wonderful day of my birth I must say–I am glad I made it here. I am sad that those I was close to as a young adult are no longer here to share old age with. We spoke often of how we would all look in our fifties and what we’d be up to. The things that make me the happiest are the simplest things in life. Ironically as a teen, I wanted nothing more than to get away from country/farm life and travel the world. Yet for most of the last twenty years I have lived in or near farmland. It’s impossible for me to think I could ever live anywhere else except a place where there are fields of hay and cows a mooing. Have I ever mentioned on this blog how much I love cows? I do. Being humble is a good thing and every now and again eating humble pie is also a good thing. Saying no works. I fully admit at 54 that there are a few things I should have done better. I regret that when I made choices I didn’t consider myself in the choice. So many things in my life would have been different. I regret that throughout my life I may have helped and been far to generous to people that wouldn’t have even given me a glass of water if I was dying of thirst. I regret spending so much time listening to family members lie and allowing them to use me. Thankfully that chapter has come to a close. I regret not being good at the things that should have come naturally to me like motherhood. It took me until I was in my forties to see that what I’d needed most in my twenties was love, support, and maturity. Becoming a mom wasn’t my magic pill or fix. Everyone wants you to believe being a mom is a natural thing you get once you deliver your baby. It’s just not true for every mom. Well, it just wasn’t true for me. I wish that my parents would have believed I could be a better person almost twenty nine years ago now–but they didn’t and honestly neither did I. They simply believed I was acting up and behaving immaturely and not responsible enough to do the right thing. I was some of those things, but I was also an addict and had recently been diagnosed with depression, and was suffering from heartbreak and abandonment. I wish they could have seen my need for their love and support.

Most of all what I’ve learned and would tell my younger self is that you ultimately as an adult make your own bed–so you need to be careful how you go about doing that. Your parents are responsible only up to a certain point for how things turn out in your life. There comes a point where you must figure out who you are and what you want in life. Sometimes you make mistakes but then you know you’ve got to own those mistakes. Last but never least in all things have a plan b because life is unpredictable.

Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!!

Perfect Pumpkin

Now while pumpkins are plentiful is the time to start buying and baking–because pumpkin has so many health benefits not known to the general public.

About 10 years ago now my husband and I were in the middle of trying to adopt a greyhound. Our love and desire to have a greyhound become part of our family was huge. After most tracks in this country stopped racing greyhounds, local agencies formed to help people/families adopt the retired greyhounds. The one we were trying to get had really bad teeth (potential of hundreds of dollars of care) and she also had problems with her stomach also due to the poor diet given to racing dogs. Time and again at meetings we heard stories of how the foster families and forever families were always using pumpkin with their greyhounds. Pumpkin will bulk up their stool, settle their tummies, and boost nutrition. Unfortunately, because of where we were living at the time, which lacked the appropriate space for this particular greyhound, we did not adopt her.

I’ve never forgotten how much I learned about pumpkin–here’s what I know:

  • It’s rich in vitamin A
  • One cup of cooked pumpkin is 49 calories
  • High in antioxidants that may reduce your risk of chronic disease
  • It’s high in beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C–boosts immunity
  • The nutrients in pumpkin are good for your eyesight
  • Nutrient dense, low calorie, may produce weight loss
  • Antioxidants lower risk of cancer
  • Is packed with fiber
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Versatile foodstuff that you can add to anything–wraps, salads(cooked) veggies, stews, soups and more

Some people may not know this but pumpkins are a type of squash. Pumpkins and squash belong to the same family called Cucurbitaceae.  Every year I bake up two dozen squash and pumpkin, then let cool, place in freezer bags and freeze. We then are able to eat squash every single month, almost, until the next year’s season. If one or both of us is feeling ill I will make up a pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin risotto does the trick every time. Here is the recipe–Pumpkin Risotto

I also roast all my pumpkin seeds for snacks and to add to bird food.

When you’re done with your pumpkins instead of throwing them into the garbage, where they’ll just clutter up a landfill, choose to break them up and set them out in a place where the birds and other small animals can get to them.

As we head into the season of sickness I would also like to add this article that has natural health remedies such as pumpkin, ginger, rice, and sweet potatoes that help manage diarrhea, nausea, and flu-like symptoms.

Until next time– stay healthy and happy!

Putting the container garden to bed & more!

Some of my container garden is going to try to overwinter in our apartment again–

My evergreen will be kept on our deck and wrapped in a wool blanket to protect its root ball. This has proved to be a very successful way for me to keep my evergreen tree alive. I’m hoping the ornamental grass, which I think is Variegated Japanese Sedge ( unfortunately I threw away the care instructions/plant ID), will survive too. Most of the birds I’ve been feeding have migrated south for the winter. The last time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder was the first week of October. The Orioles left first and then the finches followed. I set out peanuts and other assorted nuts for about a month and the nuthatches, several chickadees, and some tufted titmouse were able to get their winter stores set up. Now they too are gone and I’ve stopped feeding until sometime early spring when a few early birds will arrive back in this area.

What’s next in gardening?

Well, I planted a packet of tulips and narcissus and those along with my hens and chicks will be overwintering in the garage–insulated with newspaper and burlap. I’ve also got three boxes of paperwhites to start sometime around the holidays.

I lost the battle with my first fiddle leaf fig because it wasn’t properly draining. Truthfully I think it was dead when I bought it as the leaves were quite pale green. This past Saturday I was in a local greenhouse discussing my luck or lack of with a local gardener concerning fiddle leaf figs. She had one that isn’t doing great but isn’t dead yet either and she gave it to me to see what I could do with it. I’m hoping to nurse this one back to full health. I’m learning every day new things about plants and flowers that I will gladly share as time goes by.

The cute blue, orange and green solar lights are something my husband picked up at Shopko when they went on sale for $5.00 and we love them. They definitely brightened up our deck all summer long.

Here is what my container garden looks like today–

Until next spring this post concludes container gardening 2018. Happy fall and winter everyone.

Looking forward to future posts, I will be posting about taking care of fiddle leaf figs, fall food storing, fall/winter food recipes, and at least one post soon on supplements I’ve been using for low-iron, seasonal depression, and also chewable vitamins and are they doing anything for me?

Top Five Essential Oils –what are they and how do they work?

What are essential oils?

A-essential oils are compounds extracted/obtained from plants via distillation.

What is distillation?

A- distillation is the action of purifying something through heating and cooling or the extraction of the essential meaning or most important aspects of something.

I’ve been using essential oils for a very long time. I bought my first essential oil a long time before essential oils became a billion-dollar business. My first essential oil was rose oil and I used to use it diluted partially with water as a face mist. My second essential oil was orange blossom oil and I used to steam it and/or put it and a bit of water in a pot on the stove and call it aromatherapy. The year was 1985 and I was experimenting with plants and oils and aromatherapy. Both of these oils worked wonders. To this day I still use them the same way I used them 33 years ago only now instead of steaming them or boiling them in water,  I use them in diffusers.

Time and money constraints keep me from buying every single oil I hear someone rave about. I don’t have the time to look into every recommendation or use, and I don’t have the money to waste trying every single oil to see if it works for me like it worked for someone else. That said there are five essential oils that I have used for a long time and would never be without. They are–

  1. Lavender essential oil- my husband uses this to fall into a deeper sleep at night and by using it and falling into a deeper sleep he is better rested and snores way less.
  2. Copaiba- I use this for pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
  3. Frankincense- Frank loves skin and I use Frank for all skin issues.
  4. Lemon Balm- I use Lemon balm for pms, inflammation, and upset stomach.
  5. Bergamot- this oil is so good–smells wonderful and mixed with mandarin orange is the perfect cologne.

Recipes for my five favorite oil

I put 10-15 drops of lavender in a roller bottle and fill with coconut carrier oil. I roll this oil on my husband’s big toe (underside) every night and roll a bit on his pillow an hour before bed.

I mix bergamot with orange oil and use as a cologne. I put 10 drops of bergamot with 10 drops of mandarin orange oil in a roller ball and fill the rest of roller ball with coconut carrier oil.

I use copaiba straight out of the bottle on my feet when I massage them with coconut oil. So for each foot I drop 2 drops in palm, add coconut, mix and rub. I have arthritis in my feet and this helps with the pain and inflammation. I have used ibuprofen for years but grew tired of worrying about the adverse effects of using nsaids.

I use frankincense on my skin. I put 10 drops of frankincense in a roller ball and fill the rest with coconut oil and use on my face, neck, and hands. I also use frank on cuts and burns. Lavender is good for burns as well.

Recently I purchased a Lemon Balm hydrosol online from someone I follow and buy tomato seeds from (yougrowgirl on Instagram). I use lemon balm to help me manage pms, tummy issues, and inflammation. With the hydrosol (yougrowgirl handcrafts her herb waters herself) I can add to water, or spray on the area of skin that has issues. So as far as Lemon Balm goes I am going to continue to buy it in hydrosol form vs. oil from here on out. I love that the hydrosol I purchased is user-friendly and so pure smelling that it’s unreal. The benefits I get from using it seem to come faster using the hydrosol vs. the essential oil.

Disclaimer- everyone that uses and sells oils or knows someone that does has a different opinion about them and may or may not use them differently than I do. In the section prior to the recipes I listed what my five favorite oils are used for in my family. You may or may not have the same experience as I do. I’ve been using these five oils and the rose and orange oil for a long time.  Aside from these oils I do not use any other essential oils. I purchase my oils from a couple of companies online finding good quality oils at both companies.  Please consult your physician before trying anything new.

2018 Container Gardening–Week 16

Well, this week will be almost the final week I will share this year’s garden pictures. I will put up one last photo when our deck gets cleaned and everything is put away for winter. I started feeding the birds last summer and continued through until this summer without any breaks.  We’ve been feeding birds or occasionally squirrels for many, many years. Feeding them from a second-floor apartment with neighbors directly below has been a challenge.  Birds drop seed, feeders leak, and my favorite thing–birds poop. A LOT.   My life of late has been cleaning everything up out on the deck before work, and feeding–then returning home 8,10, sometimes 12 hours later and doing it all over again. Year after year for many years especially since we moved into this apartment. So, I’m taking a break and the birds are just fine with it. We cut off the syrup early for the Orioles and Finches so they were able to find other sources of food very easily before the Orioles migrate. We feed finches all winter long along with many other little birds that stick around these parts during the cold weather.  As far as gardening goes, I started seedlings late last winter/early spring, so I’ve been at it several months now. My container garden has been growing and producing a total of 16 weeks, but my seed starters for several plants started almost seven months ago. Again, busy because I water prior to work, then water and deadhead as soon as I get home. Because of the type of plants I choose to grow, I don’t get to take days off without having plant issues (mostly wilting).  So, it is nice that things are winding down. Fall is coming fast I’m afraid. I picked up a container of Henry Blue Asters and a mum plant the other day when I was out.

Without further ado–

2018 Container Gardening– Week 15

This week my container garden is winding down. Some plants have been removed because they are done for the season while others seem to just be getting started. Lo and behold my pepper plant is beginning to produce fruit/veggies. I have one pepper that will be ready by the end of this week and possibly three more before seasons end. This week one of my patio tomato plants was removed–it’s done producing and my petunias were done as well as one of my new guinea impatiens. It’s a hot and humid week so far so my heirloom pear tomatoes should ripen up well and then that will be the end of that plant too. Still thriving are plants I bought almost four months ago–a new guinea impatien, a fuschia, a prairie grass plant, lavender, rosemary, hen and chicks, and the lime coleus plant. This week I purchased a fall plant that I have never seen before– a purple aster. So, we’ll see how that goes. I have horrible luck with mums on my deck. In my photos, you can see in one week my peppers progression. Also, my pumpkins plants are thriving, but will they do anything before the first frost? The last photo has the last of my homegrown tomatoes on the right and an heirloom–for size comparison– on the left that I purchased at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend.

 

2018 Container Gardening–Week 14

My garden is blooming this week–the petunias are going crazy and my pepper plant has grown another foot. The big question is, will it produce fruit? At week 14 I’ve made a very big decision regarding my container garden. I’ve been growing patio tomatoes on my deck for a decade now. Each year I drive to my favorite garden and plant nursery and I spend anywhere from $10.00-20.00 on each patio tomato plant, and then go buy dirt ($20.00), and fertilizer (12.00), and then end up with an average of 5 tomatoes from each plant all season. Some years have been more and others way less. Truthfully they don’t even have much of a taste to them. I spend about 30 minutes getting them planted and then for around four months I water them and care for them every day for an average of 5 tomatoes the size of golf balls, sometimes a tad bigger, every year. So, if we are still living in this apartment next spring I will be ordering two Pink Brandywine Heirloom plants and caring for them all season. Because life is way too short to spend the amount of time I do on growing tomatoes and then they’re not even my favorite kind of tomatoes. Pictured is one I had today because ya–my plants are done producing this year–I paid $3.99# for this beauty. My yield for my patio tomato plants this year was– 5 grape-sized heirloom pear-shaped tomatoes and 3 patio tomatoes the size of golf balls. Total cost for less than 1# of fruit–$65.00 (my time not included). You’ll notice in the photo of my pepper plants some plants popping up–those are my pumpkins. This year instead of planting pumpkins in their own pot and spending countless hours for nothing (seems like a resounding theme at times when container gardening) I decided to throw a few seeds in dirt and see what comes up. Also, you may notice my New Guinea Impatiens and Fuschia are still in their nursery containers vs. being replanted in pots of mine. This is the first year I’ve done that and been able to keep New Guinea Impatiens and Fuschia’s alive. I bought a pretty container to put them in and voila! They’ve done great. Until next time–Happy August!

P.S. my patio tomato plants must have heard I was blogging about them and that what I was typing wasn’t very nice. Yesterday, out of the blue,  a softball-sized tomato on one of the plants began to ripen after being green for nearly a month. In defense of these plants, I never really looked into what kind of tomatoes I would be getting growing them. They were suggested to me for their hardiness (which they are) disease resistance (which they are) and most importantly they are perfect for container gardens (which I have). One of the biggest reasons my yield is so low is that I don’t get a lot of bees on my deck. Some years I have had a lot of sweat bees, which usually pollinate both my tomatoes and my plants. But this year–almost none. I highly recommend patio tomato plants for patios, but would think twice about recommending them to people like me who are living in upper apartments and container gardening on their deck.