Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

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After finding my family’s old ice cream maker in my dad’s basement a few weeks back, I decided it was time to test it out again after over 25 years.  The ice cream maker still worked great, and I was so happy to be able to find an excuse to make homemade ice cream in the middle of winter 🙂

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

3 cups organic half and half

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream

1 cup organic sugar

8 organic egg yolks

2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

Place the half & half and whipping cream in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Mix the sugar into the egg yolks.  Once the half & half and whipping cream have reached a simmer, temper the eggs with the mixture.  Continue to stir the custard mixture over medium heat for 5-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate until cool.  Pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s instructions.  Enjoy!

Variations:

Chocolate Ice Cream:  Add 1 1/2 cups organic cocoa powder to the cream mixture and then simmer.

Pistachio Ice Cream:  Replace the organic vanilla extract with organic almond extract.  Then add 1 1/2 cups chopped pistachios once the mixture is cooled.

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Social

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My girls and I have found a new love:  ceramics.  We happened upon a class that had some open seats and immediately we knew it was a match made in Heaven.

A common misconception of homeschooled-children is that they lack socialization.  My experience (be it only a brief one and a half years so far) has illustrated to me that the exact opposite is actually true.  Not only do my girls interact with children their own age while at homeschool co-op, through sports and camps, and during their involvement in scouts, homeschooling allows time for my girls to interact with those much younger and older than them.  My girls love helping out with the little bitty ones when they are at the YMCA or at co-op, and they also cherish the moments they get to spend with residents of their great grandmother’s retirement community.

Our new-found ceramics class has also offered my girls a wonderful opportunity to, not only learn a wide array of artistic techniques, but also interact with a lovely group of ladies of an older generation.  My girls love listening to their stories, and watching their experienced hands craft the most beautiful pieces of art.  Our time spent in the studio on Tuesdays with these women is definitely a life experience for which I am so very grateful.

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Old Becomes New

A few years back I shared with you my love of all things old:  books, clothes, music and furniture.  I love that in nourishing vintage items, we can breath life into them and make the old become new.

My husband’s grandmother recently got some new digs, and she was unable to fit all of her furniture in her new place.  I was thrilled when she asked if I could use them for something.  Yes, please.

It’s amazing what a bit of paint and some clearance fabric can do!  The only downside of this project is that now I have the itch…and I want to do oh so much more 🙂

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I Stand at the Ready

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Thoughts from yesterday:

I am sitting outside of my northern Illinois home, in a tank top and shorts. Sweat trickles down my back and my hands ache from the garden work I have done. It is just 11:30 am. In February.

While working in my garden, many thoughts swirl through my mind. Why am I able to work in my garden right now? Why is the sun so warm upon my skin as I sit here on my deck, less than one week post-Valentine’s day? Why are there already green lilies breaking the surface of the soil in my garden beds? Why are their insects crawling and flying about? Am I terrified by this extreme weather streak in February?

The answer to that last question is, yes. There was record-breaking snow on the East coast this week, torrential rain in the West, and balmy weather in the northern Midwest. A definite climate shift is upon us.

Now, the way I see it, I have two choices: Option one is that I can allow myself to become paralyzed with the fear of what is to come. I can fear for the future of my children, and allow that anxiety to cripple me into inaction. Option two:  I can use the gifts God has given me and leap into action. I can strap on my garden boots and stand at the ready to teacher my own children, and others, the skills they need to grow their own food in a world of changing environmental factors. I can help them to see these changes with optimistic eyes, not ones clouded with fear. I can equip them in the ways they can help themselves in times of trouble, and also how to reach out and use their talents to help others in need.

Recently, I have found myself looking to St. Francis of Assisi for wisdom and motivation to help guide me on my journey. Today I came upon this passage, and I believe it will become motto in days to come:

Lord, help me live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.

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The Apothecary

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About a year ago, my husband bought me this fabulous piece of furniture for a late birthday present.  I had been eyeing it for a couple years at a great local shop, and I knew exactly what I would use it for if ever I was lucky enough to take it home with me.  So, when it finally made its way across the threshold and in the confines of my house, I immediately went to work at crafting my vision: my very own apothecary cabinet.

Since establishing my apothecary cabinet in my kitchen, I have experimented with a slew of tonics, tinctures, and the like.  One of my most recent favorites is my “Homemade Refreshing Face Mask.”  This mask is made with bentonite clay, known for its healing and detoxifying properties.  To this clay, I add some invigorating organic non-alcohol witch hazel with aloe vera, and frankincense essential oil, which in my option is one of the best oils you can use on the regular.

So this weekend, pamper yourself with this treat 🙂

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Homemade Refreshing Face Mask

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons bentonite clay, 1 drop Frankincense, and enough witch hazel to form a paste.  Mix slowly until a paste forms.  With your fingers, smooth the clay over your face, being sure to avoid your eyes.  Allow the mask to rest on your face for 5-8 minutes.  Wash off with warm water.

 

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Herbal Energy Balls

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A few years ago, while attending the Mother Earth News Fair, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar led by herbal guru Rosemary Gladstar (I chronicaled our trip here.)  She was such a wonderful speaker:  so brilliant in her knowledge of adaptogenic herbs, but also incredibly entertaining and funny.  My favorite part of her presentation was when she was speaking of the incredible health benefits of ashwagandha root and hawthorne berry.  She said, “If you love your spouse and want to share many, many years with him/her, be sure you both consume ashwagandha and hawthorne berry daily.  If you don’t, save it all for yourself.” (!)

Ms. Gladstar discussed many different ways of consuming adaptogentic herbs, but I was particularly drawn to her idea of “energy balls.”  I played around for some time with what combination, and which ratios of those ingredients, work best for our family.  Below is the recipe we have used in my family for about a year and a half now.

These herbal energy balls are great to have as a daily snack, or if you need to grab a quick bite on your way out the door in the morning.  I hope you enjoy!

Herbal Energy Balls

32 oz. organic peanut butter

32 oz. local honey

2 cups organic unsweetened coconut

2 cups organic chocolate chips (We like to use mini chocolate chips.)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon gotu kola powder

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon rhodiola root powder

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ashwagandha root powder

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon hawthorne berry powder

Mix the peanut butter and honey in a large bowl.  Then add the herbs and mix to the best of your ability.  (The mixture will grow very hard to stir.  Don’t worry, this will be resolved when you add the warm coconut.)  Then toast the coconut in the oven until it is golden brown.  Add the warm coconut to the peanut butter/honey/herb mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the chocolate chips and stir until combined.  Roll into one inch diameter balls and store in the refrigerator until consumption.  These will last in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Enjoy!

*Note:  I order all my herbs through Mountain Rose Herbs.

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From Dawn to Dusk

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One of my favorite times of the year arrived this week!  In the wee hours of Monday morning, we began pouring over our 2017 seed catalog (We order our seeds and transplants from The Seed Savers Exchange, based in Iowa.) and envisioning what it is we want our garden to look like this year.  Now that the girls are older, they too have taken on an added interest in this task and our day was filled with talk of which herbs would grow best inside their cinder block garden boarder, and whether or not we want to skip growing cucumbers again this summer.  (My girls no longer eat pickles.  Say what?!?)

We normally peruse the seed catalogs in February because this seems to be an especially difficult month to get through for us.  So dark.  So very cold.  This year, however, proved to be a bit strange in that this particular February day was unseasonably balmy.  So, we packed up our seed-browsing-paraphenalia and headed to the backyard.  There we started a nice fire and continued our quest for garden goodness outdoors, well into the evening.  Such an incredibly nice treat.

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