Archive for January, 2010

postheadericon Happy My Blogiversary to You

I can’t believe it’s been a year!  MoonCat Farms meanderings is 1 year old today.  I’ve had so much fun and met so many wonderful people through this blog that I decided to give presents because I’ve received so much love and support from all of you!
So, here’s the deal.  Email subscribers and followers can leave a comment on this post only and be entered for my blogiversary giveaway.  One entry per person please.  Even though you are all winners in my eyes, I will only have a few prizes to share.  Details later on what they are (yes, I like mystery drawings.)  So, you have until Friday, February 5th at 6pm PST to enter.  Tell me how much you love me, what your favorite pet is, or whatever you feel like saying! 
Good luck & Happy Blogiversary to Me!(us)

postheadericon Howling at the Moon

Tonight is the first full moon of 2010 – also known as the Wolf Moon.  It can best be viewed about 10:18pm PST.  At 1:04am PST, the full moon will be at it’s closest point to the Earth this year. 

This occurrance is called perigee,  when the moon is actually a bit over 31,000 miles closer to the Earth than at any other time of the twenty-nine and a half days of it’s orbit.  The reason for this is that the orbit of the moon isn’t an actual circle but an eliptical shape.  The opposite of perigee is apogee – when the moon is the farthest from the Earth. 

When the perigee occurs during a full moon such as the one tonight, the moon appears to be just under 15% larger than during the rest of the year.  It will also be approximately 30% brighter tonight as well.  While perigee happens every month, it will only happen once or possibly twice a year during a full moon.  Great photo ops to be had for those with clear skies…

The name Wolf Moon was given to the first full moon of the year by Native Americans in the North-Eastern parts of the United States.  Because the hungry wolves howled about the tribes’ villages in cold, wet January the name Wolf Moon stuck.  They had various other names for the full moons during the rest of the year. 

Hope you get a chance to gaze at the moon tonight, wherever you are. 

postheadericon OWOH One World One Heart Starts Today!

Photo

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! 
Winners will be announced shortly.

I can’t believe it’s finally here!  This was the event that started it all for me last year.  It kicked my rear into gear and got me blogging.  One World One Heart starts TODAY!
You too can be a ticket holder!  If you’re new to this event, you’re in for a real treat.  If you choose to take the magic carpet ride that is One World One Heart, you will be meeting lots of fabulous bloggers for the first time and possibly reconnecting with some you’ve met on previous occasions.  This ride will take you to far flung places that are only reachable for most of us via our magic carpet ticket. 

I have very warm feelings for this event as it did allow me to form some very lovely friendships with bloggers I met during the 2009 OWOH.  They have become important people to me, even though I have yet to meet them in person.  THIS is why the event was started.  To connect with bloggers that you might not have had the chance to at random.  I would love to know how many friendships hae been made because of one woman’s desire and dream of a peaceful way for us to get to know others in our small little world.

By clicking on the picture at the top of the page or by clicking on this link: OWOH,  you will be taken to the site of The Whimisical Bohemian aka Lisa Swifka who started this event in 2007.  Her site tells more about the event and includes a running list of all the bloggers who are participating.

Before leaving here for the OWOH site and continuing on the ride to blogs in faraway places, I hope you’ll take a minute to learn about us here at MoonCat Farms and then check out the giveaway below.  While this isn’t why OWOH was created, each blog will be offering up a prize for their guests.  It’s a way of saying thanks for stopping in & saying hi to me!

My Giveaway
Well, I will be once again giving away A SURPRISE!  I know of a couple of things that will be in the box – something one might wear while on a magic carpet ride and something jangly that has one of the elements from the title of the post in it.  There will be several other goodies added as I go, but who knows what they may be?

If you’re up for the suspense of not knowing what you’ll win, all you need to do is leave a comment.  You don’t have to do anything extraordinary or acrobatic – just say Hi! or tell me something I’d like to hear!  It would be fun to know what part of the world you’re visiting from.  You DO have to make sure that I have a way of contacting you if you are the winner. 

This giveaway is open to anywhere the magic carpet tour could possibly stop so all are welcome to enter.  Please…just one entry per person.  The drawing will close at midnight PST on February 14th and the winner will be announced here on February 15th. 

Just for fun:  I will have a second little drawing for those who can correctly tell me WHAT they think the first two goodies in the box of treasure might be!  Just leave your guess in your comment.  

(Please note:  I have comment moderation turned on.  One reason is to stop some of the spam comments that show up, but the MAIN reason is that I want to read each and every comment and not miss any!  I enjoy hearing what visitors have to say..)

Also…if you check back on January 31st….It’s my 1 year Blogiversary ….presents …..followers ….presents
Thank you so much for stopping in to visit with us at MoonCat Farms today.  I hope you’ll come back often, with or without a magic carpet!
Webfetti.com

postheadericon Sunday Selections

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.”

-Charles Dickens

postheadericon Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil Review and Free Book Offer

Since Mom’s health problems have escalated, we’ve been trying to find ways to eat even healthier but maintain good taste in our meals.  I had read a bit about Coconut Oil, but hadn’t had a chance to try it until I was sent a jar by Tropical Traditions. One of the most interesting things I discovered is that it is a whole food, not just a cooking oil as I had previously thought. This was a major point for me as I am working on getting healthy ingredients into Mom’s diet that she will actually eat and enjoy.

Upon doing further research, I’ve found that there are other brands out there, but Tropical Traditions was the first and original – and at the top for the right reasons. Founded by a couple – Brian and Marianita Shilhavy, this is truly a family business. Marianita is from the Philippines and was very familiar with the old ways of traditional hand-processing coconut oil versus the mechanical processes being used. When they returned to the area, Brian wanted to create a 100% natural and organic product for use in their own family. It evolved quickly from there into friends and family requesting it and then into a company they can be proud of.  Tropical Traditions has not only provided the public with outstanding products, but has also revitalized the rural area in the country as the ingredients are grown and processed by local residents. Know where your food comes from!

When I first received the jar of  Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, I was surprised by the appearance. It was solid, it was very pretty in the jar, and I wasn’t completely sure how easy this was going to be to use it.

Test 1:  Chimichangas. I substituted the coconut for olive oil when I made chimichangas. I don’t deep fry them anyway, but I do like to crisp up the tortilla a bit once it is stuffed. I spooned a bit of the solid coconut oil from the jar & plopped it into the frying pan.  As it heated up it smelled heavenly and melted almost immediately. They were quite tasty and I noticed a lighter texture and just a touch of sweetness to the shell.  He said he couldn’t put his finger on what was different, but he liked it better than the last time I’d made them (a few weeks ago). A check in the win column for the Virgin Coconut Oil from us both.

Test 2:  This was a take on a recipe I found on their site:  http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/coconut_oil_recipes.htm.  I’ve tweaked it a bit to fit Mr. MoonCat and I’s palates, but another A+ experiment – Yummy!

Coconut Baked Potatoes
1 large baking potato
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Virgin Coconut Oil
Sea salt
Pepper
1 tsp fat-free sour cream
1 tsp chopped chives

In a 250 degree oven, melt the oil in a baking dish. Chop up the garlic. Cut the potato into thick slices and mix with the garlic in the baking dish. Stir well, covering the mixture with the melted coconut oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for approximately 15 minutes and stir. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until potatoes are crispy. Remove from oven & top with fat-free sour cream and chives. YUMMMM  (This recipe is per person, multiply all ingredients by number of diners.)

Test 3:  The last example I’ll share for now is one getting back to improving Mom’s diet. She has a very poor appetite now and getting her to eat anything at all is very difficult. I have been making her a type of smoothie/shake from her diabetic protein drink that the doctor recommended. They are strawberry, chocolate, & vanilla flavors. I add different things to try to build up her strength. I freeze the protein drinks in  ice cube trays. I place the frozen cubes in the blender and then add a couple teaspoons of Virgin Coconut Oil along with a mashed banana and a teaspoon of flax seed. I blend it all together and voila! A healthy “treat” that the doctor approves of.

I’m looking forward to trying this oil next in my oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I continually tweak it as I find new ways to make it healthier. Once I complete that test, I’ll let you know how it turns out. (Judging from my above experiments, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a good result..)

This oil seems to be beneficial on the outside as well as the inside. I have tried some coconut oil as a deep conditioner on my hair.  It left it soft and smelling fabulously tropical.  I also rubbed some on my elbows and found it to be very moisturizing. Many people have reported results such as shinier hair, more energy, dry skin reduction, and others including losing weight when adding coconut oil to a healthy diet and exercise regimen. There is a lot of research out there showing exactly how good this stuff is for you!

Free Book Offer
Tropical Traditions has a site full of natural and organic products. It is also packed with information, recipes, testimonials, and much more. A must-have resource and just plain useful information is “Virgin Coconut Oil” by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy. It is a valuable resource that shows how healthy coconut oil is and includes over 85 tasty recipes making it easy to incorporate coconut into your diet. You can receive a FREE copy with your first order if you are a new customer and you put my sponsor ID#5629275 in the “Referred by a Friend” field under the “How did you hear of us?” section when you make your first purchase. This is a $15.00 value, but worth far more in the loads of recipes and info! Those with additional questions about taking advantage of the referral program when creating their new account may email their question to the company using this link: http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/customerservice.cfm

I hope you will take the time to learn some more about this all-around beneficial oil and Tropical Traditions. I’m really excited to have been able to introduce this company and product to my readers while also adding something so important to our household.  I am looking forward to checking out many of the other products they have to offer.

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Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

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postheadericon Herbs – A is for Agrimony

This will be the first post on herbs that I will be attempting to grow this year. I am putting them in alphabetical order from A-Z to make it easier. Some of them I am familiar with and have grown in the past while others are new to me and I am sharing my discovery of them with you. I hope you’ll enjoy my little learning adventure as much as I am.
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‘If it be leyd under man’s heed,
He shal sleepyn as he were deed;
He shal never drede ne wakyn
Til fro under his heed it be takyn.’

Agrimony

Latin Name: Agrimonia eupatoria of the family Rosaceae (Rose)

Alternate Name(s): Church Steeples, Cockeburr, Sticklewort, Philanthropos, Cockburr, Liverwort, Stickwort, Agrimonia, Harvest Lice, White Tansy, Rat’s Tail

Description: Perennial herb that grows to about 3 or 4 feet high. The paired leaves are pretty with green topsides and silvery tones underneath. It has terminal spikes of small yellow star-shaped flowers. It is generally in bloom from early June until late September. Many have compared the pleasant scent to apricots while some liken it to lemons or citrus with the leaves retaining the scent even after being dried. The plant has seedpods that have little hooked ends that will grab onto anything that passes by (thus many of it’s alternate names).

Habitat: Agrimony grows wild in Europe, Canada, and the United States. It prefers part to full sun, average soil, and regular watering. Will survive drier weather once established. It is shown to be hardy in Zones 5-9. Can be found in the wild.

Growing: Reported to be Moderately Easy to grow, Agrimony can be propagated from seed or from root cuttings. Root cuttings do well in the fall or spring, but if starting from seed Agrimony must be chilled for 4 to 6 weeks before germination. Seeds can then be sown once the ground temperature remains above 55 degrees. Organic blood or bone meal can be added to help the young plants start strong. The soil should be kept moist (not soggy) until the new seedlings emerge. To keep the roots moist and retain water, add mulch early in the growing stage. Once the plants have taken hold and are full-size, they can survive short dry spells.

Harvesting: Depends upon which part you’re using and for what purpose. Gather the leaves and blossoms early on a dry, sunny day after the dew has evaporated. You will process and use the fresh material immediately. To dry Agrimony, harvest as above and then tie with string or use a rubber band to contain a small bunch. (It sometimes helps to strip the leaves near the base of the stem before tying the bunch together.) Hang the bunch upside-down, to dry in a dark, well-ventilated area. If using the root for dye, dig some (leave some if you wish to have a plant next year) up, wash off all soil and debris, then cut into small pieces and use immediately.

Uses: To stop bleeding/coagulent, for diarrhea, easing bed-wetting, clearing up infections – fungal and bacterial, skin astringent/toner, diuretic, jaundice and liver function ailments, wound dressing, yellow dye

Notes: Agrimony is a very astringent plant. Many use it for pimples and other facial complaints. While it is used for stopping diarrhea, it can go to the opposite extreme and intensify constipation – be warned. It is still used in modern Chinese medicine for heavy bleeding (menstrual or other) as it is a very effective coagulant. It is known there as Xian He Cao. Agrimony is also used in sleep pillows to aid in obtaining a deep rest (hence the little ditty at the start of the post which they believed in Medieval times). In Medieval times, Agrimony was used extensively by healers on the battlefields.

I am planning on growing it to experiment with it as a dye plant as it is reported to make a beautiful yellow gold color.  I understand that the deepness of the color varies with when you harvest the plant; the later in the growing season – the darker the dye.  This will be the first time I’ve tried to grow this plant.  We shall see how this plays out for my projects.

Agrimony Tea
Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tsp dried Agrimony (you can use any or all parts of the plant for infusing). Brew for about 10-15 minutes and then strain. Can be flavored with honey as the Agrimony by itself can be a little bitter. Not to be taken more than once a day.

Photos courtesy of:  freeherbpictures.com

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Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational, informational, and recreational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. It is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider before taking any supplements, herbs, or other substances.

postheadericon Haiti Earthquake Relief

My heart breaks every time I see the devastation that these poor people have suffered.  I can just imagine the fear and pain they’re feeling, especially not knowing the status of their familes and loved ones.  I know how scary it can be to be in the middle of a huge earthquake.  I was in San Francisco on Pier 39 when the Loma Prieta quake hit in 1989.  It was sheer terror as pieces of buildings were coming down and people were panicking.  Even though most of us recognized what was happening and had an idea of what we could do to save ourselves, there is sometimes just nothing you can do.

What we can do at this point is to help the survivors of this horrendous disaster.  The two organizations below are ones that I have donated to in the past as well as now.  They seem to be able to get the most relief directly to the people who need it – quickly.

To make it beyond easy to give, the American Red Cross has a program in place where all you need to do is send a text message and you will have given a $10.00 donation (that will appear on your next cell bill).  It’s that simple.  As of now, these are the carriers that are participating:  Alltel, AT&T, Cellular South, Cellcom, Cincinnati Bell, Cricket, nTelos, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Virgin Mobile. 

Simply text the word HAITI to 90999 and you’re done! 

Doctors Without Borders has also engineered a massive effort in support of the victims of this quake.  But, as noted on their site, “Needs continue to outstrip available resources” and “Patients who were not critical three days ago are now in critical phases“.  They are in desperate need of more funds.

There is also a great group of caring crafters on Etsy that have a shop up right now with items donated by a lot of creative Etsy sellers. 100% of the proceeds are going to Doctors Without Borders.   Go to Craft Hope and see what lovely items are available now.

Please click on either or ALL of the icons below to go to their sites and do what you can in this time of great need.

International Response Fund
Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Craft Hope for Haiti Shop Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time

postheadericon Sunday Selections

“Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.”

-Voltaire

postheadericon Golden Moon Tea Review

 
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been enjoying, savoring, and yes – reviewing some teas from Golden Moon Tea.  It has been a lovely experience trying some new-to-me teas and revisiting some of my favorite types.  Below I’ve listed the five teas that I reviewed along with their description from the site.  My comments follow each in italics. And no, I am not a wine expert as my oh so lofty remarks might suggest… I just think of teas as one of those affordable luxuries that I can actually enjoy immensely.  If any of you have sampled these particular teas or some of the others from Golden Moon, I’d love to hear what you think as well.  I’m always on the hunt for a perfect cup of tea (or as my English Gramma called it “a cup of swipes”).

Darjeeling – The land of the dancing mists gives birth to this most precious Indian loose leaf tea. The exquisite balance of fruit, nut and floral notes, with a unique muscatel bouquet make this truly one of the world’s finest. Makes me think of it as a wine among teas.  I like to try to pick out the contributing factors in the taste, just like when sampling wines.  Very enjoyable drink with distinct but complimentary tastes involved.

Sinharaja – a special Ceylon tea offering from Golden Moon Tea. The flavor of the Ceylon tea leaf offers a rich, toasty caramel and molasses flavor with subtle notes of ripe berries. This popular black Ceylon tea is great as a breakfast tea or throughout the day for a rich mellow state. This one makes me not miss my coffee so much any more (caramel macchiatos…).  I definitely think it suits me for one of my breakfast teas.

Irish Breakfast Special Reserve – Combining ultra-premium estate teas, this blend far exceeds the typical Irish Breakfast. Beautiful golden tips highlighted against deep black leaves. The robust flavor is equally elegant and complex. Rich and malty character, with subtle notes of ripe cherries, dark prunes, and hints of hazelnuts and honey. Full bodied, dark in the cup, and further enhanced with a touch of milk or cream. A connoisseur’s breakfast tea. Another tea that makes me forget why I had to have coffee in the first place.  I really enjoyed this with a splash of milk and dollop of honey.  Very satisfying cup o’ swipes.

Pu-erh Chai – An exotic blend of rich, earthy notes enlivened by aromatic cinnamon bark and elegant green cardamom pods, highlighted with a smooth citrus bouquet. Sweet and full bodied. I liked this tea well enough, but I think the cinnamon was just a little overpowering for me.  I tried it straight first and then added some milk and honey for the second cup.  It was good, but it was my least favorite of the five.   I really like chai teas usually and this one is rated highly on the website, but I couldn’t warm up to it.

Tippy Earl Grey – For the free spirit living in a proper society.  Traditionally taken in the morning or afternoon, but break free and enjoy anytime. Delightful with toast and strawberry preserves. An excellent afternoon tea to serve to guests with cream cheese sandwiches, scones, and fresh or dried fruit. The bergamot isn’t too overpowering in this tea like it is in some and the lavender really adds to the total flavor.  Definitely right up there as one of my favorite Earl Greys. 

If you get a chance, be sure to go by and check out Golden Moon Tea.  They have many, many varieties of lovely teas to check out.  One of the really nice features is that they have samplers for 99 Cents!  It’s a great way to sample several different teas before deciding on one or ten new favorites.  Their flat rate shipping is a good deal too.

Samples for this review were provided to me by Golden Moon Tea.  I was under no obligation to do a review in exchange for the product.  The opinions offered here are 100% my own.

Any typographical errors in this post are solely the responsibility of Porkchop as he is attacking my hands and the keys while I try to type this.  He enjoys putting his paw on the touchpad.  He takes full blame…

postheadericon My Mama is Home!

FINALLY!   After about a 6 hour ordeal yesterday, I was finally allowed to bring Mom home.  She was so exhausted by the time we made it home that we just took her straight to her room so she could go to bed.

She’s feeling a bit better today and much more settled.  She was pretty disoriented waking up in yet another strange room in the span of a month and a half.  She does like that we changed her to this room – sunnier and warmer.  We had a home health care nurse come in who was really sweet and very informative.  So we’re going to try to move forward from here and do what we can to make Mom comfy and get her what she needs.

Thank you for all the heartfelt prayers, support, and well wishes.  We all appreciate it very, very much.  (Especially ME when you put up with my ranting and make me feel better with your lovely comments.)


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