Chamomile flowers for tea

This year I decided to put more effort in my part of the garden and sowed a few different easy to grow plants in a mini greenhouse in early March. One of the plants that survived is the chamomile. I am pleased that I was able to harvest these beautiful and fragrant small flowers. I pick the flowers before the full heat of the noon sun. Since I only have one pot, I harvested several times allowing more blooms to grow. I used a 2-step drying process since I don’t have much room, a small harvest and pick the flowers at different times.

Step 1: Paper napkins secured on both ends to hold the fresh chamomile blooms.

Step 2: I transfer the dried flowers after a couple of weeks to a paper bag.This will allow the blooms to dry more. I reuse the paper napkin for the next batch of blooms to dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may only have enough for a cup or two of chamomile tea but it is nice to know that it came from my garden, and that is good in my books!

 

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4 areas in your home to declutter

decluttering

One does not need to wait for the new year to simplify and streamline things in your home. Here’s a simple list to start decluttering your home and your digital information.

Digital de-cluttering

  1. Update your email subscriptions. Review your subscriptions once a year and unsubscribe to the ones that no longer serve its purpose.
  2. Review and update your digital address/phone book – on your phone and computer.
  3. De-clutter your bookmarks or favourites from your browser(s).
  4. Donate or recycle older electronic devices such as smart phones, printers, scanners, monitors you no longer use. I drop-off unwanted electronics at a depot like Return-it,. they also take recyclable beverage containers and paint containers.
  5. If you have time post on craigslist, kijiji, freecycle  or other similar websites.

Files and Paperwork

  1. Donate things that you no longer use or have not used in a while that don’t have real sentimental value.
    • art and craft supplies
    • unused stationery – donate to a daycare or school
    • board games and toys
  2. Review bank and investment statements that can be shredded. Consider receiving your statements and bills digitally.
  3. Give away, donate, exchange barter books you won’t use a a reference for future or have no plans to read
  4. Recipe clippings, business cards and receipts – scan or discard

Bathroom

  1. Review and discard old cosmetics and brushes
    • Tip: the cosmetics such as lipstick, eyeshadows, lip liner, or eye liners may also be used as art medium. You might be surprised at how much pigmentation you can get using cosmetics on paper or canvas (or whatever substrate you have-time to experiment!)
  2. Properly discard expired medications (OTC or prescriptions). Check this website on how to dispose of medication properly. Ask your local pharmacy if you can bring your expired medication if they. Do not flush it down the toilet or the drain, it has environmental and health repercussions.
  3. Repurpose any “tired looking” towels as rags.
  4. Spruce up colour in the bathroom with newer colour scheme.

Kitchen

  1. Seldom used or unused glassware, plates and bowls – donate to Salvation Army thrift store or if you have time to post in Freecycle in your area or free section on Craigslist
  2. Unexpired foods – donate to your local food bank
  3. Small usable appliances – donate to Habitat for Humanity Restore

Remember you don’t have to do it all at once. Decide on which are you are going to target and do it in one weekend, several weeknights or once a week. The important thing is to just do it. Good luck and keep doing.

Tip: Choose one area per season to make it less daunting.

Waffle Birthday Cake

wafflecake

Here’s a different twist on a traditional layered birthday cake, I made it using 4 round Belgian waffles. It’s kid-friendly to assemble! For this one, I chose a special Belgian Waffle recipe that is tasty just on its own. I added maple syrup in-between layers to keep the waffles moist. To finish off I iced the “cake” with chocolate ganache and decorated with mini candy-coated chocolate bits.

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Here’s all the layers of waffles after brushing  maple syrup in between layers and adding ganache on the cake sides.

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Here’s a picture of the waffle cake of what was left from a birthday party.

Tips

  1. The trick to making light waffles is to add whipped egg whites to incorporate air into the batter.
  2. Freeze the waffles ahead to save time. Adding the maple syrup to a thawed waffle will help keep the moistness of the waffles.
  3. Use a serrated knife or bread knife to slice the cake.

Ganache Recipe

  • ½ cups heavy cream
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chopped chocolate (or 50-60% cocoa)
  1. Scald the cream.
  2. Take off heat.
  3. Add chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes.
  4. Mix. until well blended.

For frosting cake: Leave at room temperature overnight

For truffle: Leave in refrigerator overnight.

Ice cake: Use in liquid form.

Spaghetti Squash Quick Meal

Another savoury dish that is quick, easy, and healthy based on this recipe. I changed it according to what freshest ingredients I had on hand and to taste. It is almost like a salad best served at room temperature. You can keep the leftovers in the fridge and heat up later but I find that it was not as well-received in the family as when it was first served.

spaghetti-squash2
Ingredients:

  • Spaghetti squash – roasted cut side down with a bit of oil (bake at approx. 30 minutes of until done)
  • bacon bits (to add some crunch and savoury taste)
  • sliced olives
  • tomato wedges – cherry or grape tomatoes
  • grated cheese (I used French Gruyère)
  • olive oil – the good kind you would use in salads
  1. Roast the spaghetti squash in the oven, cut side down.
  2. Scoop out the spaghetti squash flesh using a big spoon but keeping the long strands to resemble “spaghetti noodles”.
  3. Add the bacon bits, sliced black olive, fresh tomatoes and grated cheese.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.

Best served at room temperature.

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