Lovey Dovey Greeting Card and Envelope

I couldn’t post this before yesterday, but this is the lovey dovey card I made for David, wrapped up in a custom-made pink envelope.

First, I made the snowflake from red coloured paper which I had in my stash left over from my school teaching days (I have kept soo much stuff). This measured 9cm x 9cm. I got the idea for the front of this card from the snowflake greeting card from allfreecrafts.com I carefully glued that with craft glue onto the front of a 10cm x 10cm card cut from white cardboard. I then made a paper insert with pink paper which was 9cm x 9cm. I attached it by handsewing with red embroidery thread a few stitches down the spine and ended that with a soppy bow on the inside of the card.

I finished off the greeting card with love hearts hole punched into the top right hand corner of the pink paper insert, before adding some lovey dovey words for my sweetheart! Then using some more pink paper, I folded it around the card to form an envelope, trimming it to be neat. I secured it with a small dot of glue on the inside, which I concealed on the outside with a lovey dovey sticker I bought as an impulse. Not very thrifty of me I know, but those lovey dovey stickers were very cute!

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Feast for a Day – Valentine's (part two)

After much planning and a full day of preparation yesterday, this is what we actually ended up having for our special day-long celebration today for both Valentine’s and Chinese New Year.

breakfast
Love Heart Fried Eggs with Smoked Salmon, generous dollops of hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of fresh chives
Homemade Tomato, Capsicum, Chilli and Garlic Pull-apart Bread
Peppermint & Lemon Balm Tea with honey
Chocolate Coffee with cream & sugar

mid-morning snack
Mint & Ginger Fruit Punch
Poorman’s Caviar with Corn Chips
Lemon Myrtle & Pistacio Biscotti dipped in cinnamon honey

lunch
Smoked Salmon & Carrot Sushi
more Mint & Ginger Fruit Punch

afternoon desert
Love Heart Icecream Cake with strawberries, chocolate sauce, and crumbled pink merringue

dinner
Lemon Myrtle & White Fish Cakes with Sweet Chill Sauce and Basil Fried Rice

How to make

Icecream Cake
6 scoops of strawberry shortcake icecream mixed with 6 cut up caramel chocolates, a handful of crushed cashews, 3 crumbled chocolate biscuits, press into a cling-wrap lined heart-shaped small cake tin and freeze overnight

Mint & Ginger Fruit Punch
1 can of fizzy soft drink (we used Lemon Squash), a tablespoon of fresh ginger juice (grate and mix with a little tonic water then strain), add cut up 2 nectarines, 1 orange, a handful of strawberries and love-heart shaped ice cubes, a handful of fresh mint leaves, top up with Mango Juice as required

Out with the Old

Tomorrow, being Valentine’s Day, is an extra special day this year. Not only does it fall on a weekend, which only happens once or twice every 6 years or so, it also falls on the start of festivities for the Chinese New Year!

So today, in preparation for the special day tomorrow, we are baking as much as we can in advance, then we will be cleaning the house together! /awww isn’t that romantic? Yes, I could have cleaned the house yesterday when David was at work, but that would not have swept away any bad luck from this year that came into our house today (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!).

It’s a Chinese tradition to clean the house the day before the New Year starts, to sweep away any bad luck from the previous year. This helps the new year start with a fresh clean beginning, allowing any good luck to flow into the house during the festivities. In the very least, the floors should be swept and mopped, perhaps cleaning a window and the loungeroom ceiling fan may also take my fancy. Lucky charms, like this coin I hang facing my front door, help bring happiness and wealth into the home, as do round golden coloured fruits like oranges, favoured for their resemblence to gold coins.

Tomorrow, we will be celebrating all day, with romantic themed foods, some with an Asian flavour like fried rice and fish cakes for our evening meal. Reminding ourselves of the importance of our romantic relationship is sure to attract much good luck into our home for the new year ahead!

Love Sprinkles and herbal Love Tea

I’m working on some herbal combinations, one is a herbal tea and another is some herbs to add to pasta sauce. I’m also working on a mix of herbs to add to a relaxing hot rice pack. All the herbs I’m using come from my garden and, according to tradition, are good for love and weddings!

Marjoram is thought to be the herb for ‘marital bliss’ and should be added to food to strengthen love! It has a very subtle flavour, so it will be the main ingredient of my Love Sprinkles. I’ve read marjoram is best dried, then elsewhere I read it’s best fresh, so who knows? I’ve dried a bunch already by hanging them up in a paper bag. I’ve started to remove some of the leaves to test how it holds its flavour. To that I’ll add a little rosemary, which is a strong flavour, and some flecks of chilli flakes for a bit of spicy passion! These herbs would be good added to pasta sauce or maybe vegetables. I hope to try it out very soon.

For a herbal Love Tea, I use peppermint, lemon balm and pineapple sage. This makes a subtly flavoured relaxing tea. As I used fresh herbs for this, it needed to be steeped quite long, about 10 minutes. Lemon balm is well known as a good herbal tea.

Here are three ideas I’m working on for herbal combinations which are good for love and weddings.

good for herbal tea (Love Tea)
pineapple sage – weddings, wisdom
lemon balm – love
peppermint – love & sleep

good for food (Love Sprinkles)
rosemary – weddings, memory
marjoram – weddings
chilli – passion

good for rest (Hot Love Rice Pack)
lavendar – love & sleep
lemon myrtle – love & sleep
oregano – weddings & sleep


Feast for a Day – Valentine's

It’s important for strong mental health to mark the passage of time with friends and loved ones by celebrating special occasions together. This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday so this will be the last weekend day for a couple of years. Next year, David will be at work. So David and I have decided we shall celebrate with a day long feast!

To design the menu, we came up with three words to describe our greatest hopes for our relationship, this being the time to celebrate “love”. We then assigned colours and foods to these themes, then created a menu with each dish containing at least one thing from each theme. Another way to describe this “spell” we made up is to describe it as a “positve affirmation”, because after you eat each dish, you could think or whisper the three romantic words together! The only hocus-pocus here is to remind ourselves of our goals for our life together, and to consolidate it in a yummy but meaningful way.

Passion – Longevity – Faith

Passion – heat, red, sweet, blood
(eg. chillies, pepper, honey, mint, tomatoes, red wine, red kidney beans, red capsicum, rosewater, strawberries, passionfruit, lamb, ham, salmon, wasabi, coffee etc.)
Longevity – life, health, trees, green
(eg. rosemary, basil, oregano, marjoram, lemon myrtle, lemon balm, olive oil, eggs, eggplant, apples, linseed, tree nuts, nutmeg, peas, dairy, flour, rice, citrus etc.)
Faith – earth, strong, white, reliability
(eg. potatoes, water, onions, carrots, chives, chocolate, garlic, ginger, groundnuts (peanuts), cinnamon, mayonaise, etc.)

DRAFT Feast for a Day menu (will post fotos of what we actually did later)
(if you use this idea on your website, please link back to my blog, thanks!)

breakfast
Peppermint, Lemon Balm and Ginger Tea (passion, longevity, faith)
Hot Chocolate Coffee with Cream (passion, longevity, faith)
Heart-shaped Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Chives (passion, longevity, faith)
Garlic and Tomato Homebaked Bread (passion, longevity, faith)

morning tea
Heart-shaped Rosewater and Peanut Cookies (passion, longevity, faith)
Spice Milk Chai, incl. caffiene, ginger, nutmeg etc. (passion, longevity, faith)

lunch
Salmon and Carrot Sushi Rolls with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Wasabi (passion, longevity, faith)
Mango Juice with sprigs of mint and ginger (passion, longevity, faith)
Apple Juice with floating strawberries and a dusting of cinnamon sugar (passion, longevity, faith)

dinner
Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic (passion, longevity, faith)
Basil Fried Rice with Peas, Onion, Red Capsicum and Chilli (passion, longevity, faith)
red wine (passion) to be served in green glasses with white ribbon (longevity & faith)
Garlic and Tomato Homebaked Bread (passion, longevity, faith)

snack and drink ideas
Pistacio and Lemon Myrtle Biscotti with Honey and Cinnamon dip (passion, longevity, faith)
Hot Apple Tea with Cinnamon and Honey (passion, longevity, faith)
pappadoms with carrot and margoram dip (passion, longevity, faith)
corn chips with tomato and onion salsa (passion, longevity, faith)
Poorman’s CaviarĀ  – red capsicum, eggplant, garlic (passion, longevity, faith)

desert
Love-heart Shaped Pavlovas with Strawberries, Cream and a drizzling of chocolate sauce (passion, longevity, faith)
Strawberry Shortcake Icecream with a dusting of sweetened cocoa powder (passion, longevity, faith)

make before the day
garlic and tomato bread
rosewater and peanut cookies
peppermint and lemon balm tea
hollandaise sauce and pavlova shells (or merringues)
pistacio and lemon myrtle biscotti

Love Heart Rag Rug

This is my first completed rag rug and it was hard work so I don’t think I’ll be making these very often!

Using crochet to make a rag rug like this uses a lot of material, so I want this to be the only one that uses material that’s not recycled. Really, rag rugs should be made from strips of material salvaged from discarded clothes and sheets. But I had a small collection of cotton material squares that I’d been carrying around for ages, so I decided to put it to good use. It’s all the same type of matterial and I think the colours kind of go together. Luckily I have a heap of that blue otherwise this would have turned out a lot smaller.

I needed some new mats for the kitchen and knew I could make some from strips of material. After hunting around on the net for ways to turn recycled material into rugs, I found the best one at The Sunroom. My first attempt didn’t work out because the biggest hook I had was a size 6, so I went and got myself a size 10, the biggest one they had at the shops, and started again.

Using my new pinking shears, I cut strips of ribbon from the material to reduce any fraying. I cut up one square of material at a time to give my hands a break, but my wrists hurt a little from all the hard work! lol. I spent at least two whole days on this, plus several hours here and there spread out over two weeks. I think this is a great way to reuse material that can be cut into long strips, but only if you’re time-rich like me. If you don’t have the time, I think paying $10-20 for a small rug from the shops might be worth it! But this is a good way for me to make things for my home without spending any money (other than getting a new hook which I’ll reuse) and using up things that I might otherwise throw away. From what I’ve read, this rag rug will flatten out and I can wash it in the machine. This one is about 60cm wide and it’s my Valentine’s gift this year for the home I share with my true love.
/awww

The Herbs in Our Garden

One of my greatest simple joys at the moment is our cute little herb garden. Although it was a challenge to get established, it’s finally starting to become productive.That might be because our companion plants like basil and lavendar are growing nicely and their smelliness is discouraging pesky pests. Taking care of these herbs is a sure-fire tonic for keeping the blues at bay.

Growing your own herbs is a very simple and satisfying way to save money too. If you love good food, you would know having fresh herbs at hand is always best. Buying a bunch of herbs from the supermarket is wasteful, expensive and just not as good as growing them in a pot at your back door and taking a sprig or two as you need it. The absolute essential herb as far as I’m concerned, which is the first one we were able to successfully grow and harvest, is parsley. It’s very healthy, versatile and hardy. But now we have a bunch of other herbs that are turning out to be real joys, for example, having three types of basil and mint on hand is just wonderful!

Here is a quick break down of the herbs currently in our potted garden and what they are good for. Many also have traditional ‘magic’ properties too, which I think is nice to just keep in mind, even if you don’t fully believe in that kind of thing. After cross referencing several websites I found common themes amongst them using various words meaning basically the same thing. So I came up with three practical catergories that are meaningful to me.

aloe vera – skin (burns and rashes), “health”
basil (thai, all-year-round, sweet) – relative to peppermint, antioxidant and antibacterial, add last to hot food, “health & passion”
chamomille – flowers make a relaxing tea, also good for the skin “health & sleep”
chilli – antibacterial, good for nasal congestion, migraine relief, high blood pressure, good in winter, increases metobolism, “passion”
chives (garlic, onion) – like garlic and onions, antibacterial and antioxidant, but milder, fresh is best “health”
coriander – wonderful fresh herb for salads, “health & passion” (weddings)
lavendar – relaxing tea, migraines, insect repellant “health, passion & sleep”
lemon balm (a type of mint) – relaxing tea, stomach aches, pre-menstrual cramps, headaches, overuse can cause insomnia “health & passion”
lemon myrtle (eucalyptus, part of the myrtle family) – a relaxing tea, good for headaches, used in cooking for a mild lemon flavour, antioxidant “health, passion & sleep”
marjoram – food preservative, relaxing tea, good in cooking, upset tummy, headaches, mild antioxidant and antifugal, dried is best, “health & passion” (weddings) “add to food to share with your object of affection to strengthen love”
mint – good with peas, juices, punch, tea, icecream “health & passion”
oregano – antioxidant rich, antibacterial, close relative to marjoram, makes a good tea for nasal congestion, dried is best “health & sleep” (weddings)
parsley – high in iron, good for high blood pressure, tummy upsets and uti, breath freshener, toothache, constipation, detox, salads “health & passion”
peppermint – tea, indigestion, tummy upsets, IBS, cough suppressant, morning sickness, relaxing herbal bath, “health, passion & sleep”
pineapple sage – tea (with lemon balm), anti-anxiety, “health, passion & sleep” (weddings & wisdom)
rosella hibiscus – native bush fruit for making jam “passion”
rosemary – food preservative, cook with lamb, good for upset tummy, relaxing baths, may protect against cancer, use liberally in food, “health & passion” (weddings & memory)

resources
http://www.global-garden.com.au/gardenherbs.htm
http://www.scribd.com/Herbs-and-Their-Magickal-Properties
windspirit57.tripod.com/id4.html
http://www.earthwitchery.com/herbsa-g.html
http://www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk/pagan/articles_magass.htm
http://www.gardensablaze.com/HerbMarjoramMag.htm
http://www.herballegacy.com/Branca_History.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_4436311_oregano-tea-rid-sinus-problems.html
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrtaceae

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