Being a Light to the World Through All Walks of Life

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16 

I am at that age now where my friends are all finding where the Lord is leading them in this new stage of their lives, and it’s amazing to see! Some are using the talents and passion the Lord has given them to go through college to become nurses, some are getting married and having kids, and some are busy with their part time jobs and volunteering in the community.  Sometimes it can be difficult for me, being too sick to hardly get out of bed for months on end. I can feel as if I am missing out on life.

Thankfully I don’t have to feel this way, and He has brought me to a place where I don’t often anymore. The Lord has numbered our days, while He has me in this place I’m not missing something else, I’m right where He has me. The Lord has a path for all of us, and they are all different, but what they all have in common is that we can be a light to the world through them and glorify Him.

Whether you are a student, nurse, stay-at-home mom, librarian, barista, or a professionally sick person, there are ways we can serve and glorify our Creator. This will look different for everyone. For me I feel as if my writing is one of the ways I can glorify Him. Through my blog I can share what’s been placed on my heart and the lessons He’s taught me. I have a far way to go, but He is always working on helping His children grow, and my blog can reflect that. Maybe because of my sickness I will be able to encourage someone else who is having a hard time accepting where they’ve been placed in life, maybe I can better serve those who are also chronically ill, or maybe someone will come across this blog post who’s going through a difficult trial and it will help them. 

Life isn’t easy, but we weren’t called to an easy life. We were called to pick up our cross and follow Him. If through that I can bring Him glory I will strive to do it joyfully and look forward to the day when I will see Him in heaven. 

 

How to Make Proper Sweet Iced Tea

 photo IMG_5610wm_zps9f82fdad.jpg
Growing up in the south I grew up drinking iced tea year round, but in exceptional quantities during the extremely long summers.  You would think this would also mean that it’s easy to find good iced tea, but that is a compltely different matter. The sad fact is that most people don’t know how to properly make iced tea. Oftentimes you will find people adding too many tea bags and over brewing, which causes bitterness. Trying to offset the bitterness people will add large quantities of sugar. What you end up with is overly bitter and overly sweet tea. Thankfully with my family being tea obsessed, both iced and hot, I’ve learned to make it just right. I can show you how to easily make perfect iced sweet tea in minutes, which will hopefully brighten up your summer as much as it does mine. 
 photo IMG_5597wm_zpsce47b368.jpgYou don’t need as much tea as you might think. All you need is one or two family sized black tea bag, or two to four regular, for two liters of tea. You can optionally add herbal tea as well. I always add two bags of Celestial Seasonings “Country Peach Passion” to mine, and we often  have people asking how we made it and complimenting the flavor. Due to the health benefits of oolong tea I will sometimes replace the black tea with equal parts oolong, for those who can have the caffeine. 
 photo IMG_5603wm_zpsda50365b.jpgAnother option that I like to do for special occasions, or to just treat myself, is to add a thinly sliced orange and some mint leaves. You want to slice the orange as thinly as possible, about 1/8 inch. You would also want to take the mint leaves off of the stem. This is a wonderful flavor, and you can use only a single orange and handful of mint just as easily for 4 liters as two, or reuse it for another liter the next day if you remove the orange and mint from the pitcher to refrigerate once the tea is gone. 
 photo IMG_5611wm_zpsaba63906.jpgWe will often make two separate pitchers of tea; one with 1/2 cup of sugar and one unsweetened. For the sweet throw the sugar in with the tea bags while brewing. The unsweetened tea we will sweeten with stevia drops for individual glasses. You should experiment and see how many drops you like in your’s. I tend to prefer about 7 for a regular sized glass and 12-14 for a really large glass.
 photo IMG_5600wm_zps4093579b.jpgThe brewing time is extremely important to avoid bitterness. You may think that you need to brew it for fifteen minutes or–heaven forbid–an hour, however this is just not true. The perfect brewing time we discovered is three minutes. That’s it. No more, please. Just trust me and try it, you will thank me later. 
 photo IMG_5601wm_zps0ed57da6.jpgYou want to make sure to add plenty of ice, you don’t want the tea melting the ice in an individual’s glass. I prefer to add two ice trays per two liter pitcher, that’s about twenty-four ice cubes. Much of this ice will melt after a short period of time, but only after making the tea really cold.
 photo IMG_5604wm_zpsdee3a046.jpg
 photo IMG_5605wm_zps0029a8a5.jpgIf using the orange and mint leaves throw those in now and then fill up the pitcher until it reaches two liters. 
 photo IMG_5608wm_zps1d4db3dd.jpgThat doesn’t look too hard, now does it? My family loves to have pitchers of this or Arnold Palmer around daily, and always have gallons of it when getting together with family.

This tea always brings back memories of being with family in Louisiana. Sitting around my grandmother’s house with camping chairs pulled around the living room to make room for everyone, glasses of iced tea everywhere, and lots of good cooking and amusing stories. This is especially true when I add oranges and mint. When my parents first got married my mom would go to a little Italian restaurant, Notini’s, once every week for dinner, but she mainly went for the iced tea which had oranges and mint in it. While I’ve never been to Notini’s myself, I have grown up hearing my mom reminiscing about it while making our own iced tea.

How to Make Proper Sweet Iced Tea
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Proper (non-bitter, not overly sweet) iced tea is not as easy to find as you might think, even in the south. Here is a simple recipe to make your own!
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1-2 Family sized bag(s) of black or oolong tea or 2-4 regular sized bags
  • 2 Herbal tea bags -my favorite being Celestial Seasonings "Country Peach Passion" (optional)
  • ½ Cup sugar OR sweeten individual glasses with stevia drops
  • 3 Cups boiling water
  • 2 Ice trays, about 24 cubes
  • Water
  • 1 Thinly sliced orange (optional)
  • Mint leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place tea bags and sugar (if using) in a two liter pitcher.
  2. Pour boiling water gently over tea bags and brew for three minutes. Remove tea bags.
  3. Add ice, along with orange and mint if using. Stir. Add cool water to the 2 liter line.

What’s your favorite way to keep cool in the summer?

Learn from My Mistakes: Potting Succulents

Succulents
A few months back I was exceedingly happy to bring home my newest plants, Matt and Jenna. Matt was my succulent whom I named after the actor Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor. Maybe it was a mistake to name my dear succulent for a character who had recently passed away, because sadly my succulent Matt is no longer with us.

Despite my best efforts of trying to water Matt and Jenna only a couple ounces every one or two weeks, depending on how dry the soil was, Matt soon showed signs of sickness and by then it was too late to save him. One day I noticed his leaves started looking partially transparent and he seemed a little wilted. Trying to care for Matt to the best of my abilities I moved his pot outdoors when it wasn’t raining so that he could get some more sunlight. Sadly two days later when it looked like he wasn’t going to end up surviving I decided to try to propagate some of the leaves, so that if he did die I could grow some more succulents. As my fingers touched his leaves he disintegrated in my hands. All of the leaves started falling off in piles and there was nothing I could do. As all the leaves fell I noticed that he had rotted from the roots up, and the stem was black with rot. After dear Matt died fighting for his last breath I did some research to see what I did wrong. After all, I did make sure he got plenty of sun and watered only when needed. Please, learn from my mistakes.

1. Sand and Perlite or Wood Chips:

When I purchased Matt and Jenna I also bought a pot and some regular potting soil. This was my first mistake. The thing is that Succulents and Cacti need the ability to drain water much more than regular plants need, or they will rot. The sand and perlite/wood chips help with this. You can purchase potting soils specifically for cacti and succulent, or easily find a recipe online and mix up your own.

2. River Rocks in the Bottom of the Pot:

The river rocks help the water that successfully drains away from your cacti and succulent soil to have a place to go, so that the roots don’t sit in it.

Thankfully these are two easy problems to fix, and neither costs much. Please learn from my mistakes and don’t plant cacti or succulents like you would a regular plant and assume that just not over watering them or making sure they get the correct amount of sun will keep them alive and healthy.

What are some gardening mistakes you’ve learned your lesson from?

My Natural Headache Pain Reliever

 photo IMG_9982wmpin_zpse0e8b8b7.jpg

   

Most of us have those times when we just can’t get rid of a headache, no matter what we do. Those times tend to come around rather regularly in my family, with four of us having both bad allergies and chronic Lyme disease, so I came up with this lovely oil blend back when I had a sinus infection. 

What I love about this blend is that it takes only a couple minutes to whip up, and after applying it helps relieve pain within a few minutes as well.  That makes this a great option if I can’t wait for allergy and pain medicine to take effect, or if I want to forgo them all-together. The blend also smells wonderful and the lemongrass in it can help relieve swollen and sore lymph nodes. 

Recipe:

6 drops each: peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemongrass, camphor, lavender, and frankincense
4 Tbsp of coconut or sweet almond oil

Combine oils thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Apply over whole face massaging into the most painful areas.  If lymph nodes are swollen massage into neck to reduce pain and swelling.

Do you have any tricks to relieve a pesky headache? I would love to hear from you!

Caution: Rosemary and eucalyptus can trigger seizures with those prone to have them. I leave the rosemary out of the blend when for personal use, but use eucalyptus because I’ve used it without noticing any added seizure activity in myself. I am not giving out medical advice. You should consult your doctor about any treatments you take.

Sweet & Salty Dark Chocoalte Peanut Butter Tart -Gluten and Dairy Free

 photo IMG_0048pin_zpsfdb8786c.jpg My sister Sarah is on an extremely strict diet to help with her autism, sadly just as it’s very hard on children it is for her as well. She doesn’t understand why she can’t have certain foods. Thankfully the diet helps her, but she has been losing too much weight from it, so we’ve been attempting to get more calories in her. This tart a solution for both problems.

Sarah has always loved Reese’s Cups, absolutely obsessed with them. I wanted to make her something that could replace those, and decided on a peanut and chocolate tart. This is a dark chocolate tart, because when you add a lot of agave to chocolate it can be an odd consistency. Due to it being dark chocolate you might want to cut the tart into sixteen pieces, a little goes a long way. Well, for anyone but Sarah that is. She loved this pie so much that she would pull it out of the fridge, stick her lip out, bounce up and down, and plead for her third slice that day. That tactic of her’s isn’t usually effective on us, but this time it was.

 photo IMG_0020wm_zps01f9fc43.jpg

 photo IMG_0021wm_zps84ffd485.jpg

Note: unsalted peanut are not nearly as yummy as salted ones, which is one reason why I add the salt.

 photo IMG_0033wm_zpsa9424598.jpg

 photo IMG_0036wm_zps0ea040e4.jpg

Thick and yummy dark chocolate ganache. Yum. ^_^

 photo IMG_0037wm_zps48790c4a.jpg

 photo IMG_0038wm_zps0d09b0b8.jpg

I don’t actually have a tart tin, so instead I lined my much loved vintage Pyrex pan with parchment paper and used that.

 photo IMG_0042wm_zps74288df1.jpg

I didn’t eat more than a bite of this tart, because I was saving it for Sarah, but I’m pleased with the way it came out. It reminded me of a decadent sweet and salty chocolate bar. It was a wonderful replacement for Sarah, and I’ll have to make it again soon because she ate the whole thing so quickly.

If you’ve ever had to go on a diet what food did you miss the most? I would love to hear below! Who knows, maybe I’ll make an adaption and share it here. 

Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Tart -Gluten and Dairy Free
 
Prep time
Total time
 
An allergy friendly (aside from nuts) dark chocolate peanut butter tart. A wonderful replacement for all those candy bars.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8-16
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cup peanuts
  • 3 TBSP coconut oil
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 oz Unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 4 TBSP coconut butter (I use coconut cream concentrate from Tropical Traditions)
  • ¾ cup agave
  • 1½ TBSP peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Grind the peanuts down in a blender or food processor until it reaches a fine meal. Add coconut oil and salt, combine completely. Press into the bottom of a tart tin.
  2. Over medium heat melt baking chocolate, coconut cream concentrate, and agave in a medium sauce pan. Stir constantly until all of the chocolate is melted then immediately take off of heat.
  3. Pour chocolate over crust mixture. Add the peanut butter in three separate portions on top of the chocolate mixture. With a table knife swirl peanut butter into chocolate to give it a marble effect. Cover tin with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or until compltely chilled through. Slice and serve.