DIY Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Sugar Extract

vanilla extract prep

vanilla extract prep

I am prepping for Christmas today. I prefer to use homemade vanilla extract and vanilla infused sugar for all of my baked goodies and treats. These only take minutes to prepare but months to reach perfection! The first week of June is my personal deadline for prepping vanilla goodies for the Christmas season. Other cooks may say you need less time for extracts and infused sugars but six months suit my preferences.

My vanilla devotion may be on the extreme side…

Vanilla Extract

finished bottle of vanilla extract

finished bottle of vanilla extract

One bottle of vodka at least 70 proof (or 35% alcohol) and five vanilla beans or so. I prefer to use 100 proof vodka. You can also use rum, bourbon, brandy or sherry. I plan to get a bottle of rum or bourbon ready soon for making Christmas candy.

Carefully split the vanilla bean (I use grade A Madagascar) down the middle. I try to only cut one side of the bean but nothing bad will happen if you cut all the way through. Then drop the bean into the bottle of alcohol. About five beans per bottle is plenty for a six month wait time. If you want the extract ready sooner then add more beans. Keep the bottle in

new bottle ready to marinate for six months

new bottle ready to marinate for six months

a cool dark spot and give it a shake once in a while. I consider the extract ready to use once it smells like warm wonderful vanilla instead of alcohol.

After six months the extract can be poured into another bottle or into several little bottles for easy Christmas gifts. I then pour another bottle of alcohol into the bottle with the beans because it is so much easier than fishing the beans out! Cut and add one more bean and store for another six months. I’ve only used the beans twice for making extract. Rebottle the new extract and shake the old beans out this time around.

Wrap the used beans in a paper towel and leave out on the counter to dry. Once they are dry I will store some of them in the refrigerator and use them to make chai. Another wonderful use for the used pods is in making vanilla infused sugar.

Vanilla Infused Sugar

vanilla sugar prep

vanilla sugar prep

Vanilla sugar is another easy trick that will make your homemade treats even tastier. If I have a used vanilla bean (or three) then I will simply bury it in about three cups of sugar in an airtight container. After about a month the sugar will have a nice hint of vanilla that is wonderful in teas and makes the best snickerdoodles.

If I am using a fresh vanilla bean then I carefully split the bean and scrape out the teeny tiny seeds. The seeds are mixed with the sugar in an airtight container. Then just bury the open bean pod in the sugar too. This sugar will be ready to use in a couple of weeks and will begin to turn a lovely shade of light brown.

Cute containers of vanilla sugar also make nice and easy Christmas gifts.

Medieval Study: Eleanor to Robin Hood

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some of the books we read for weeks 7-12

By the title you can see that we haven’t covered a long period in history. We hit a little snag in our schedule…my husband was offered a wonderful job and we are in the process of moving. My homeschool schedule took a major hit! Normally, I would have carried on this section of our study on through to the Magna Charta, medieval architecture, and castle life. We should be finishing up week sixteen of the study instead we are in the midst of week twelve.

The study of Queen Eleanor and her times begins in week seven of the study. We chose to start this section with one of the recommended books A Proud Taste of Scarlet and Miniver  by E. L. Konigsburg. Oldest loved this book and even the younger children listened to the story. We couldn’t put the book down and I finished reading it aloud in about four sittings. Oldest became enthralled with Queen Eleanor. Everything about her and her times fascinated him. He checked out several extra books at the library on the time period and enjoyed a couple of books on Saint George the Dragon Slayer. After reading the next chapter in our spine book (The European World) we started on Queen Eleanor: Independent Spirit of the Medieval World.

Lego feudalism model

Lego feudalism model

In his first couple of weeks with this section of the guide Oldest explored feudalism. He chose to make a Lego representation of the feudal system. He then explored several websites on Gothic architecture, Vikings, and the early Crusades. He also worked on his map marking cities and Queen Eleanor’s route on the Second Crusade. We read about the struggle between church and state through the tragic story of King Henry II and Thomas Becket. Oldest found Becket’s betrayal of his friend and king shocking and just could not understand the Church’s stance on a nation’s laws. Oldest still sees the world in very black and white terms. He was rather upset at the lack of true justice in medieval law. He struggled with the idea that people who called themselves Christians did not “walk the talk”. I had to remind him at this point that many people during this time in history could not read. Most people did not have access to a Bible and simply believed whatever they were told. We had some good discussions that we will likely revisit when we study the Protestant Reformation. I felt a little sad for my son…sensing his faith in humanity took a hit. A little gray is starting to penetrate his black and white world.

the crossbow worked

the crossbow worked

Oldest designed a tapestry with a battle scene from the Second Crusade. I then assigned him a five paragraph paper on Eleanor of Aquitaine. I simply hoped to get one page. He does not enjoy writing. He loved to write when he was younger but something happened during his public school years to choke that early spark from him. The past few months I have backed off from too many writing assignments and started slowly implementing techniques I’ve learned from Brave Writer. Once he started writing about her he couldn’t stop! I took a very hands off approach with this assignment. As he continued to write I allowed him to put off his other work. He wrote 1144 words! I was beyond thrilled and chose to accept his paper without a proper editing session. I didn’t want to end his enthusiasm for writing or history. He also wrote a poem about her that I will have to add a picture of later. It is currently boxed for the move (along with both of the Eleanor books).

We then started The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades by G. A. Henty and Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam by Diane Stanley, Saladin: The Warrior Who Defended His People by Flora Geyer and Richard the Lion Heart and the Third Crusade: The English King confronts Saladin by David Hilliam. All of these books are only recommended and are not a part of the guide. We enjoyed reading The Boy Knight and the rest of the books above helped to flesh out the history in the novel. Oldest made a mini crossbow and then spent some time tinkering with it to make the design better. The Boy Knight segued quite nicely into The Adventures of Robin Hood. We’ve watch a few Robin Hood movies over the years so he knows the basic story. Due to our crazy moving schedule we only

playing from The Song of Robin Hood

playing from The Song of Robin Hood

got through three or four chapters a week. We had already chosen our projects and bought parts but will have to wait until after the move. We were going to make a PVC pipe long bow and Robin Hood style hats for everyone and host an archery competition followed up with a proper medieval feast. We’ll actually do those projects at the end of our study.

We did watch the Doctor Who episode: Robots of Sherwood. Oldest enjoyed pointing out scenes that were inspired from the book. He thought the actor and writers did a good job of bringing Robin Hood to life…other than the robots and time traveling of course. We discussed heroes in literature, forest law and justice. I was surprised when he pointed out the similarities in literary style between Doctor Who, King Arthur, 1001 Arabian Knights, and Robin Hood! They are all framed narratives. Just as each chapter of the books is part of an overall narrative telling a single story so is an entire season (sometimes several) of Doctor Who. I was impressed he caught that. I also never considered using literary devices to describe visual media. We also read a few article on the Battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion of England. Learning about the conquest helped us to understand the animosity between the Saxons and the Normans in The Boy Knight.

fig tarts

fig tarts

Oldest did have to write a food review for another course and chose to make medieval fig tarts. He finds a way to merge most assignments into his medieval studies these days. The tarts were tasty but really heavy on the spices. I had to make a slight modification to the recipe above since fresh figs are hard to come by in Kentucky! I found dry whole figs at the local Mennonite shop and soaked them in grape juice overnight. I also skipped the saffron and used turmeric…

We are looking forward to getting settled in our new home so we can continue our medieval history studies. We are about to start the story of the Magna Charta and the origins of representative government. For now, Oldest is learning to play one of the ballads in The Song of Robin Hood by Anne Malcolmson, Grace Castagnetta and Virginia Burton. The book is a must have for any true fan of Robin Hood. The book contains early original ballads of Robin Hood with music adapted for modern times. Once he is comfortable I’ll record his version and upload it to YouTube and post a link here. Also, last month one of my favorite blogs: As He Leads Is Joy posted a picture of Little John’s grave she found while out on a walk. Just something of a neat coincidence…

Journal: Road Trip with Bill, Homeschooling Regrets and Chocolate Gravy

working on scrapbooks

working on scrapbooks

This past week was our only week of summer break from school…after two days I remembered quite well why we do not take an extended vacation from formal schooling. They get into a fair amount of trouble with too much free time. They did have fun spending a few hours each day working on their own photo albums from our Disney trip last year. I’ve never allowed them to use my scrapbooking supplies in the past so they were really excited to touch all the forbidden paper, stickers, and sharp cutting tools! My husband and I just loved how their scrapbooks turned out. I enjoyed learning about the trip from each of their view points. I plan to let them make more scrapbooks in the future.

friends

friends

I think Littlest has struggled the most with the break from school. Nearly every day he begged to do his school work. He is very proud to be a Kindergartener. He really wants to learn to read and loves math. I just want him to enjoy being a little boy. He is only four and there is plenty of time to learn to read. In the past, I was so excited that Middle Boy was such a quick study that I pushed him too early to learn to read (and he is doing just fine now). Four years later I feel guilty about pushing Middle Boy into academics too soon…even though he was and still is perfectly capable. I think I felt the pressure to prove that we were not crazy to homeschool and I pushed all of my children too

schoolhouse in Bardstown

schoolhouse in Bardstown

hard. I regret that now. A few years ago I felt I had to prove to family that we were making the right decision. Today…well…it does not matter so much how others view us.

I used to have romantic notions of what it meant to be a part of an extended family. I used to dream of having nieces and nephews. I wanted to make biscuits and chocolate gravy like my Aunt Opal used to make and tell bedtime stories like my Aunt Pauline (but not about ghosts…why did she tell us scary ghost stories?!).  I’ll never be an aunt…an awesome auntie like the ones I had. And that is okay…it is now anyway. I’ve cried my tears and let it all fade. During my years of dreaming I never dreamed about being a mother. I desperately wanted

Littlest and host taking a nap

Littlest and host taking a nap

to be a mother but never thought God would allow me to possess such reality. I always believed that I did not deserve my deepest desire and never allowed myself to openly acknowledge such yearnings.

Right now…the dreams I feared to acknowledge are my daily life…

I’ve never made my Aunt Opal’s chocolate gravy (she taught me how to make it). I guess I’ve been waiting for those nieces and nephews that will never be. I think I will surprise my own children one morning and make it for them…yes…I will do that soon.

competitive game of Apples to Apples

competitive game of Apples to Apples

We went on a little road trip this week to Lexington and stayed with friends. Our travel time ended up coinciding with Tropical Storm Bill. It rained everywhere we went! On the way to Lexington we stopped in Bardstown and went to the Civil War Museum. The museum is fabulous and if you are nearby sometime you should consider visiting. They also have several buildings on the grounds from the colonial time period. I think it was once a living museum but has not been active for the past few years. There is also a Women’s Civil War Museum nearby and a Mid-America War Memorial. Bardstown is a really beautiful town and I hope to explore it a little more someday. My two favorite items on display were General Robert E Lee’s amnesty oath signature and a Colt

Sparkles and Sisters

Sparkles and Sisters

42 belonging to Sargent York.

In Lexington we had a blast staying with dear friends. (Thank you for hosting us!!!)

On our way home we stopped to visit my former home at the monastery. I had the most wonderful visit with the sisters. I love then so much and I am the mother and wife I am meant to be because of my time with them. They gave Sparkles a lovely sewing machine! Tomorrow she will write the best thank you note of her life!!! I am blessed to call them my sisters and doubly blessed they are still a part of my life today.

Sparkles learning her new machine

Sparkles learning her new machine

My sweet friend Mama Quilts came over and spent the morning teaching Sparkles how to use her new sewing machine. Afterward, I took my sparkly girl to the store to pick out some fabric for a small quilt. She is so excited!

Tomorrow we will begin our summer session of school…

My Aunt Opal’s Chocolate Gravy

Sift 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of flour into a bowl with one cup of sugar. Add I&1/2 cups of milk, just a bit at a time until the mixture is smooth. Pour it into a cast iron skillet on a hot stove. Cook and stir until the mixture is smooth adding some water to keep it from getting too thick if necessary. Serve over hot biscuits. Yum!!! Kids will love you…guaranteed!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

 

 

 

Sophrosyne: Ginger for Mum

My sweet bloggy sister across the grand pond wanted to know how I take enough ginger to keep the arthritis pains at bay but not get heartburn from ginger tablets. I do not take any vitamins or pill form supplements. I’m not really opposed to vitamins and such…I just don’t like how much they cost and all the research involved to know which brands are actually useful to the body. I looked into it a few years ago and just got overwhelmed by all the conflicting information. I’ve chosen to avoid all that confusion by learning which foods contain the nutrients I need.

Learn how to process ginger here.

Ginger is an amazing little plant and for me it does wonders in battling the effects of inflammation. It takes about three weeks before I really noticed the effects. At first I added ginger to my smoothies but you need a much better machine than mine to get it blended properly. I would like to experiment juicing with it but I have to save for a juicing machine first. My family does not like the taste of ginger so I cannot cook with it. But I have found a few ways to enjoy ginger without assaulting my family’s taste buds.

Everyday I enjoy a cup of masala chai. I make a big concentrated batch on Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a nice warm cup after a hectic and busy homeschool day. I collected several recipes from online and played around with them until I found the combination I like best.

My Chai

6 cups water, four inches of ginger (peeled and sliced), 1 cinnamon stick, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds, ! tablespoon of peppercorns I give them a few whacks to bust them up), I/2 tablespoon ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, I sliced orange (peels and all).

I bring all of this to a boil and then simmer for about thirty minutes (I love how my kitchen smells when this is simmering) before removing from heat. One time I had a used vanilla bean pod that I had used to make extract and put it in the pot to simmer with the other spices. That was my very favorite pot of chai!

I then add 10 tea bags to the pot and just two tablespoons of sugar. Sometimes I add a bit of vanilla extract. I let the tea steep about thirty minutes or so. I then squeeze out the orange and strained the liquid. This is my tea concentrate and I keep it in the refrigerator. I plan to experiment with different teas like green or rooibos in the future.

When I want a cup of chai I bring 3/4 cup of the concentrate to boil in a small saucepan. I remove it from heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of half and half. I like to get it a little frothy. I pour it into my favorite cup and enjoy.

The last time I made it I forgot to add the sugar. I loved it without the sugar so I won’t be adding it to any future pots. I have tried some of the spice mixes available on the market but they are always too sweet for my taste or have way too much cinnamon.

Easy Ginger Salad Dressing

I’ve been trying to have a salad everyday for lunch and this is my favorite dressing.

1/2 cup olive oil, I/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of grated ginger, I clove diced garlic, a pinch of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Keep it in the refrigerator and give it a good shake before using. If you like your salad dressing a bit on the sweet side then add a tablespoon or two of honey.

Crystalized Ginger Salad Dressing

One time I was out of ginger but I had some candied (or crystalized) ginger on hand. It is the same recipe as above except I diced up about a tablespoon of crystalized ginger slices. My kids thought I had lost my mind but it is tasty.

I have never made crystalized ginger since I can get it fresh for a good price from the Mennonite shop. If I decide to make it myself sometime I would use this recipe from Alton Brown.

Beef and Ginger Broth

I usually buy beef broth for this but I plan to start using steak bones to make my own beef bone broth in the crockpot.

4 cups beef broth, 2 cloves diced garlic, 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt (check to see if it even needs salt first!) Bring this to a boil and then simmer about fifteen minutes or so. I like the broth by itself but it is also good with rice noodles and any vegetables you want to throw in. If you cook the vegetables in the broth you may have to simmer it longer until the veggies are the way you like. I prepare any noodles separately and ladle the broth over top.

Those are all of my current ginger recipes. I found two more beverages on-line that look interesting: Golden Milk and Turmeric and Ginger Iced Tea. I haven’t tried them yet. I plan to make a ginger syrup next for making a ginger fizz.

 

 

 

 

Becoming a New Creation

Ellie's book!!!

Ellie’s book!!!

Welcome to the start of my new blogging series on adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. In June I embarked on a journey with some fellow bloggers to lose weight and learn about making healthier choices in food and exercise. Since then I have lost 11 pounds and gone from a size eighteen to a fourteen. I hope to continue to gradually lose more weight and learn to take better care of myself and my family. I’ll be using the book “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese…Nutritional and Life Lessons God Teaches Us” by Ellie Marrandette. Ellie writes over at New Creation Ministries and I encourage you to click on over and get to know her a little. (She is one of my very favorite bloggers and I am blessed to call her friend.)

At this point in my weight-loss journey I need help keeping focused on my goal. The newness of the endeavor has completely worn off. I believe committing myself to a weekly post and working through Ellie’s book will not only help me stay focused but also motivated. I’ll work and pray through a chapter each week and then come back here to share my thoughts. I also plan to share any helpful recipes, goals, weight, progress and even when I fail.

The book suggested I choose a verse from Scripture to motivate me. A verse I could turn to when I feel discouraged, tempted or worthless. I grew up feeling like garbage…as disposable…worthless. Every rejected desire for love and security from my parents drove those feelings deeper until they became a part of me. I think these feeling will always be somewhat permanent. This rejection is the root of my emotional eating. A void I have tried to fill with many things over the years including food. I’ve referred to it as the black hole in my soul. So, I wanted to choose a verse to confront this worthlessness. Ellie says that “God doesn’t make JUNK!”

My verse…well four verses actually is Psalm 139:13-16

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

I will meditate on these verses this week. While my kids practice their penmanship I will write these words. I will write them until they are seared on my heart.

027 (464x640)I promised to share my smoothie recipe with you. I specifically chose anti inflammatory foods for my smoothie to combat arthritis in my hands and other effects of inflammation in my body. First I soak a teaspoon of chia seeds in water for about five minutes in the bottom of my blender’s one serving cup. Once those have gelled I add two apple juice and ginger ice cubes. (My smoothie machine is terrible and cannot blend the ginger root well. It left ginger threads in my smoothie…yuck. I borrowed my friends juicer and juiced the entire ginger root with just enough apples to fill two ice cube trays.) I then add half a frozen banana, handful of frozen blueberries, handful of pineapple chunks, and stuff the top with as much spinach as I can get into the cup. I then fill the it about half way with almond, soy, coconut or cashew milk…which ever one happened to be on sale. Once blended it is a very dark purple-black color. My kids call it the “Black Death” which I think is really funny…in a warped sort of way. This smoothie is usually my breakfast and I noticed after drinking it for about two weeks the swelling in my knuckles decreased and I do not take ibuprofen nearly as much for pain. It’s not just food it’s medicine.

Wibbly-Wobbly Weightloss: Another Blah Week

Middle boy loved the fish tacos

Middle boy loved the fish tacos

Sadly, I didn’t lose any weight this week but on the bright side I didn’t gain either. My emotions ran crazy this week. For the past three years I go through a crisis of self-doubt over the kids curriculum and wonder if I am doing more harm than good. Last year I thought we should switch to Trail Guides and this year it was Sonlight. Littlest added to my stress for the week by being very clingy. A clingy toddler equals very little exercise…and sometimes little sleep. I’m coming out of the doldrums now and next week (three hours from now!) I’ll get back to awesome (my kind of awesome anyway…)! A new hairdo and color helped to brighten my mood today too. I went from red to blonde.

Anyway, I made a new and healthier meal for my family this week. I did fry the fish so I am not sure it completely qualifies as healthy. Maybe the fish could have been baked…I’m not really sure. Fish that isn’t premade from the freezer section is a whole new experience for me. The fish tacos (still sounds gross to me) were a hit with my crew. Littlest wouldn’t eat a taco but he did enjoy the fish.

Recipe from Keepers for Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

1/2 cup sour cream, grated zest of 1/2 lime, and juice

1 1/2 pounds skinless thick white, flaky fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, or mahimahi, cut into pieces about 4 inches long and patted dry (I used enough halibut for 10 servings), salt and pepper, 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra, if needed, 10 small flour tortillas

In a little serving bowl, stir together the sour cream and juice from one lime. The book said to also add 1/2 the lime zest and a tablespoon of water (I’ve never liked zest from any citrus so I omitted it). Set the sour cream sauce aside. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the cumin and chili powder and rub all over. I’m not sure that rubbing the seasoning in with my fingers made a difference…really messy. I also didn’t have any cumin and just used taco seasoning.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-highish heat. Add the fish and cook until golden brown for 3 minutes on each side. I cooked it about five minutes on each side…possibly more. I wanted to make sure the fish was really done.

Serve the fish with soft tortillas and favorite taco toppings: lime sour cream, shredded cheddar, shredded lettuce (the book suggested cabbage), onions, tomato salsa, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, whatever you like!

The book also suggested this amazing salsa!

Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa

PINEAPPLE SALSA (I bought a real-not from a can-pineapple y’all!)

1 cup finely diced pineapple, 1/2 jalapeno finely chopped. I used a whole jalapeno and I think two peppers would have been better, 1/2 small finely chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used apple-cider vinegar), salt and pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the pineapple, jalapenos, onions, and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

I loved the pineapple salsa on the tacos but the rest of my family refused to try it. Their loss…not sure I would have been willing to share it anyway.

Wednesday night will be out new healthier recipe supper from now on. I have a couple more fish recipes to try out from the book. Hopefully this week’s fish recipe will be as big a hit too. I’m still trying to decide between tilapia or salmon…

I also found this neat blog called Organize Yourself Skinny. I’m hoping to learn a few tips and recipes from the writer. She lost and has successfully kept off 40 pounds!

Claire’s new post is up and I encourage you to go read. I always feel uplifted after reading her posts…especially after a not-so-fulfilling week. I feel better about this coming week. I’ve got ingredients for green smoothies, homemade yogurt, granola, and salads for lunch. It is gonna be a good week.

I learned so much from Phyllis at On The Mend. I’m going to start including some of her suggestions this week.

 

Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss: Really Slow and Steady

My thoughts while exercising

My thoughts while exercising

We started our new school year so this week flew by in a flash. I’ve spent most of my time working with my crew and getting our school year off to a positive start. In other words…we enjoyed some good, delicious terribly unhealthy food last weekend. I dreaded getting on the scale this evening but it reported that I had lost another pound. I do not feel like I’ve lost any weight. I cannot fit into my smaller (not smallest) jeans yet. The one pair I can wear comfortably now has a whole in the seams. I really do not want to buy any new clothes since I have some clothes just one size down. Frustrating! Other than our Promotion Party day I managed to eat decently and tried out a new healthy recipe. You can find the recipe at the end of the post. My daughter was the only one willing to try it. She said it was ok.

I’m really excited to let you know that my husband has joined us in our efforts to get healthier! I’m really happy! He walks for about thirty minutes every night after we get the kids tucked into bed. While he’s walking I hop on the…er…not sure what the contraption is called…basically a bicycle that doesn’t go anywhere…stationary bike? Anyway, I’ve used it five times this week and danced with the kids on the Wii two or three times. Tonight he showed me the bike thing will even monitor my heart rate! Of course, now I have to find another place to pile my clothes.

My husband also asked me to look into a diabetic diet. Two of his older siblings have developed diabetes recently. He wants to get ahead of this family trend. He even talked to the kids about eating healthier today. I’ll be looking into this over the next few weeks and working it into our family meals. I did just a tiny amount of reading on managing arthritis with diet. For the most part stick to lots of vegetables and fruit and stay far, far away from processed and deep-fried foods. Every article I’ve read says the best way to manage arthritis pain/discomfort is to exercise. Basically, I need to get off my butt and move.

Today was the first day I realized my knuckles and knees haven’t bothered me as much. I did not take any medicine this week for my knuckles!!! They still ache a little and my grip still isn’t as strong as it used to be but I am thrilled. I tested my wedding band this morning and it still doesn’t quite fit. However, it does fit further down my finger!

I spent most of my day in the kitchen turning blackberries and blueberries into syrup, muffins, juice and cakes. I forgot all about writing up a Wibbly Wobbly post until my husband reminded me before his walk. I thought about letting it slide until tomorrow but chose to follow through on my commitment to each of you. This team, across the miles and oceans matters to me. You are all in my prayers and thoughts every day.

Tuna Cucumber Salad: Chop up two cucumbers (half-moon shape) and three stalks of celery and place in bowl. Add a can (10 ounce) of water packed tuna (drained) to the bowl.  Add two tablespoons of vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir and refrigerate. Eat within a day or so. I piled about a cup over a piece of toast. My boys refused to try it because it was “too green”. Next time I am going to use Italian dressing to add a bit more flavor and color.