Simplicity's Blessings

Rosemary Hand Balm

The simple life. Some pursue it out of a sense of duty towards the earth. Others down-size for economic reasons. We simplicity-lovers have our different motivations.

Some of my best motivations regarding simplicity are found in the picture above. The picture shows raw materials for my hand and face "cream". And here are the blessings inherent in the process of making it...

1. To store it, I re-use a glass container, rather than buying a product in a plastic bottle that will have to be thrown away. Also, there are many questions regarding the safety of using/consuming things that come in plastic bottles.

2. The ingredients are, with the exception of olive oil and vitamin E oil, all things that come from a local economy. Rosemary, jewelweed, and roses come from my garden. Beeswax and raw honey are available from the honey-seller at the farmer's market.

3. I melt the ingredients together by putting them into the oven after I cook, thus using the remainder of the oven's heat energy for a new task (these ingredients are best combined at a low temperature anyway).

4. The process of supplying my own cream is a creative process, which enhances my sense of volition and purpose.

5. Using about 2 cups of olive oil and 4 little sticks of beeswax, 2 tablespoons of Vitamin-E oil, and 1 tablespoon of raw honey, plus free herbs from my garden, amounts to an abundance of cream at a rock-bottom price. I'm embarrassed to tell you how much I used to spend on face and hand creams for just a few months' quantity, but let's just say it was often more than the price of a nice dinner out.

6. It's the best product I've ever used. Not always for its consistency (it can sometimes have little bits of solid beeswax left that I have to "melt" between my fingers when I apply the cream), but definitely for its outcome. My skin is always smooth and keeps its moisture, and the cream gives a slight iridescent look which is lovely. I can also use it on lips, hands and face, which means I don't have to go for multiple products.

In a sense, these blessings are inherent in many aspects of the simple life. Blessings of quality, creativity, economy, health, stewardship and bounty. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Instructions, Sort of, to Make Cream (balm, really):

1. gather herbs and flower petals, leave whole and put in about 1 cup olive oil

2. put all in glass dish and put in very low oven, crock pot, or dehydrator, under 200 degrees; you don't want to boil the oil

3. leave for a few hours until oil is fragrant; remove herbs

4. add 4 small sticks (about 1 x 3 inches or so) of beeswax to oil along with honey and vitamin E oil and return to low oven

5. stir beeswax and oil occasionally with fork to try to blend; it will be a little stubborn and not necessarily want to mix. Add more oil, up to another cup, to get desired consistency. The whole process can take a few hours (especially if you use the "leftover heat" from another oven usage). Be patient and don't hesitate to experiment.

Face and hand cream raw materials photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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7 Weird Things About Being Vegetarian

Spinach & Black Bean Burrito

Thanks to Rudy for tagging me with the "7 Weird Facts about Me" tag. To keep with L.L. tradition, I'll modify the tag a little.

So here it is. 7 Weird Things About Being Vegetarian.

1. You have to eat your veggies, thus creating a reconciliation with your mama. (Remember how she was always telling you to eat your veggies?)

2. You don't eat meat. (According to some people, that's weird. Maybe even according to your mama.)

3. You get healthier (okay, that's only weird in a fast-food culture)

4. You begin to stare openly at the beautiful vegetables in the produce section

5. You bring things like hummus and carrots to your church's morning coffee hour

6. You may start to like animals more, even the squirrels who stole your daughter's bird feeder and hid it in the prickly pines

7. You may begin to eat the flowers off of trees (Forsythia Sunshine Breakfast photo below).

8. Oh, and number 8 (which is weird in a "7 Things" tag) is that you don't have as many people to tag in your meme. So I'll leave it at this. The meme ends here I guess. On the bright side, you can spend the extra time sharing a recipe like the one below for Black Beans & Spinach Burritos. Enjoy!

Sunshine breakfast

Black Bean & Spinach Burritos...

I generally use leftovers for this recipe. If I've made a black bean dish the night before and have some rice on hand, here's what I do:

Put a bit of each of the following in a whole wheat wrap. Wrap it up and saute lightly for about 3 minutes on each side or until cheese seems melted:

• cooked black beans, sauteed with a little onion and minced garlic and 1/2 tsp cumin (not necessary if taken from leftover recipe)
• rice
• salsa to taste
• spinach, chopped
• cheddar cheese, grated

Food photos by L.L. Barkat.

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Wordy Wednesday: The New High Tea

Japanese tea cup

Virtually every day, at about 4:00 pm, I take a cup of tea outside and settle myself under the pine tree. It is a variation on high tea I guess, to move outdoors where there are no linens and silver... just the ivy and the fragrance of moldering earth.

Sometimes I drink teas from my winter stores. And other times I indulge in store-bought green tea.

Today I was reading this little magazine/flyer from my health food store and was pleasantly surprised to be reminded that green tea is a real gift from God (I also wondered if my homemade teas might have some of the same properties.)

Anyway, I wanted to share these great green tea benefits, in case you were considering high tea under your pine or maple tree today:

• can inhibit flu viruses in cell cultures
• may improve glucose problems and slow development of Type 1 diabetes
• may prevent HIV from binding to human T-cells
• can protect against liver problems
• may work against autoimmune disease by suppressing autoantigens
• impressive cancer-fighting qualities for bladder, breast, lung, colorectal, esophageal and cervical types
• may reduce inflammation, affecting cartilage destruction, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
• lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol
• may prevent ventricular arrhythmias

Tea photo by L.L. Barkat. Green tea info found in Taste for Life.

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