Plantcare (or: confidence)

I’ve been browsing around on “plantstagram” and, like with most social media, I have a love-hate relationship with it. It is inspring to see other people working with plants and loving plants as much as I do. I find it relaxing to see them watering or repotting their plants. But I also have to be mindful not to get too involved with all the millenials that think they are experts because they’ve been “collecting plants since the pandemic”. It seems I’ve been doing it wrong all those years (about 40 – I got my first plants when I was 12) that I’ve been dealing with house plants. I’m using the wrong soil, the wrong pots, I water them the wrong way, I stress them out by repotting them too early and who knows what else I’ve messed up all these years.

The most silly part of this is that I actually am intimidated by these girls (and a few boys).Or at least, I was.first.

(I do that often, being intimidated by 20- or 30-year olds and their infinite confidence in their limited knowledge. That’s stupid, I know… I am working on my own confidence – it’s part of the healing I need to do.)

But then I looked around and saw all those thriving greens around me. Even after being away from home for almost five months last summer, I only lost a few. Some were suffering, but I safed them. Maybe I am doing something right?

Yesterday I bought myself two new plants, at the supermarket. not to “add a special item to my collection”, but because I felt like it (we just expanded our porch and I need more plants to dress it up) and because they were cheap . I have this “rule” not to pay more than ANG 20 (about $ 12). These were even less.
I didn’t clean them, let alone quarantine them. I repotted them despite the fact that they weren’t rootbound yet, used standard potting soil and pots without holes. I did it all wrong again.
So what? I’m pretty sure they’ll survive. Or at least the croton (the reddish one) will. The other one was kind of suffering when I bought it, but I like a challenge, so we’ll see what happens next.

A simple truth

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” — Dolly Parton
(quote found here)

I was looking for a quote that would sound more beautiful, poetic, literary, magical, spiritual, I don’t know.
But this one resonated with me. Because it’s the simple truth.


I’m having one of those I’m-not-feeling-so-well-weeks (actually it’s week two already) and I’m running out of blogposts. I usually have some prepared, or at least a list of ideas of what I can write, but I’m coming up empty today. I browsed last week photo’s and saw I took pictures of the clocks in our house, but I can’t even remember why I did that. Was I going to talk about time? I do think a lot about time, so I probably was.

But what was the POV for that post? That you might want to stop time, stop aging, but you can’t? That I suddenly find myself to have moved up a generation? It’s true. Since my mom died I am (at 51) the oldest woman in our immediate family and now that we have a grandson, I feel that shift even clearer. I’m “oma” now (people have been asking what I’m calling myself. “Oma” is the usual word for grandmother in Dutch, so I’m sticking with that). Lots of thoughts and feelings about that, but was that really what I wanted to share? I don’t know.

Or was I going to say the opposite? That no matter how much time passes, I find that I actually didn’t change all that much, even though I have so much more life experience? I can cope with things better now, at least on the outside, but on the inside? Still that shy, insecure little dreamer I was 40 years ago.

Maybe I was just going to muse about how time seems to fly some days, while other days just won’t end. But we all know that, don’t we? Time flies when you’re having fun.

Or was I going to write about my poor time management? About the fact that I’m just not capable of keeping a schedule and fitting everything in? I wrote about priorities a few weeks ago, but well… eating my own words now. I’m having a really hard time deciding what is most important. All the things I want to do seem equally important and I really want to fit them all in, but I could use an extra hour (or five) every day.

Anyway, to be honest I don’t even have time to write elaborate blogposts today. I have a long list of other things to do. And a headache. Oh well, I’ll manage. And at least this ended up being a blogpost of sorts.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Aloe Vera

We have an abundance of Aloe Vera growing on our property (this is only part of one of three patches). Which is very fortunate for what’s been going on with my skin these days. Yes, I’m aging and there’s not much what I can do about it, but being sick so often has kind of edged some lines that I hope are not permanent. Also, I’m losing weight and while that is not going as fast as I’d like, I can see some sagging skin happening and I want to at least try to help my skin to tighten up.

Aloe is so wonderful in itself, you don’t really need to do much to use it. I always have pieces of it (taking only half of the skin off) in the freezer for burns, insect bites and other incidents that might need aloe.

This time I took the skin off completely, after letting it drip out. The brownish stuff is very laxative and can be used medicinally, but I usually just rinse it out of the container it leaked into. I cut off the spikes, used a knife to slice off the flat part of the skin and a spoon to scoop the gel out of the curved part.

The first time, I used a food processor to make it more liquid. I read that you shouldn’t proces it too long – the more air you get into it, the faster it goes bad. I was too careful though, there were quite a lot of lumps left. It lasted over a week. I used it up before it went bad.

The second time I used my juicer and that worked even better. No lumps at all and it also lasted over a week.
I kind of fell of the bandwagon using it when we went to the Netherlands, but I did notice some improvement before we left, so I made a new batch this weekend. Let’s see if we can get that skin a little bit tighter…

It’s done (so now what?)

Remember my “palate cleanser“? Wel,, it’s done.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to use it for, but I’m sure I’ll find something. It turned out 21″ by 15″ (not stretched out), so it’s a decent size for a towel. It’s just a simple basket weave, K10, P10 5 times and repeated that for 16 rows and then switched to P10, K10. I did that for a total of 12 repeats. I added a little crochet border, but it’s hardly visible.

Oh well, good enough.

But what do I do now? I think I need a palate cleanser to be able to start a new palate cleanser 😉

In my garden

It’s funny (or I try to convince myself it’s funny – it’s also a bit frustrating); everytime I write a gardenpost I am so, so sure, that the next one will be a more cohesive and structured one, one with “see how much this grew”, and “look, I planted this”. But gardening here just isn’t structured, especially not when I sometimes leave for weeks (or months) and also sometimes just don’t have the energy to do all the work. Things get out of control pretty fast here.

So, I’m back to the chaos of digging out our driveway and the paths to my garden. I don’t really mind (it’s good exercise), but it doesn’t make for beautiful pictures and informative blogposts.

But wait! There is still beauty in the chaos. Flowers, buds, beautiful leaves. So let’s focus on that.

Ah, that’s better. My next gardenpost will be…
Ha, let’s not fool ourselves. It will probably be much like this one, and that’s okay. It’s real life. And isn’t it great that my life is full of beauty if I just look beyond the chaos?

Freezing eggs

I have been hesitating to post this, because maybe this is just common knowledge. But then again, I didn’t know it and it was kind of lifechanging (in a small, domestic way) for me. So here it is: did you know you can freeze eggs?

You just have to beat them and they will stay perfectly fine. I tried this for the first time in April, when we had to fly to the Netherlands suddenly and I still had eggs for a whole week in the fridge. For us, that means 35 eggs. We knew we wouldn’t return for four weeks, so it would have been such a waste.

We do leave the fridge and freezer on when we’re away. We’re on solar power, so it doesn’t cost us anything. That alone has been wonderful. I usually make sure I have some food in there to get us through the first day(s) after arriving back. We’re usually so tired and jetlagged that driving to town for groceries (a 45 minute drive) is just not an option. But we always had to make do for breakfast, because of the eggs. I tried making omelets and freezing those, but we weren’t to keen on how dry those came out. So when I heard it’s possible to freeze eggs raw, I jumped right in.

I was kind of worried when we thawed out the first batch. The color is off and the consistency is a bit lumpy. But I just beat them a bit again and make an omelet like Í’d do with fresh eggs (I don’t add milk though – just eggs fried in hot butter) and the endresult looks and tastes perfectly normal. I’m pretty sure you could easily use these for baking too.

Disclaimer: I don’t know how long these are supposed to last, but we ate the last of the April batch in August and those were fine.

So, there you have it. Just a little tip from my kitchen. Did you know this?

Another cat

I think I’m getting the hang of it. This one looks a lot more like the one in my head, though there are still some things I’d like to do different next time.

The face gave me a really hard time . I feel like it’s the face of a rabbit, not a cat, but I’m not sure what to change. And I don’t think I can change it anymore without damaging the head.

Oh well. I guess it’s close enough. it’s just a toy after all.

One word

I have a love/hate relationship with the “One Word” tradition. I usually don’t chose the words, they just “come to me”. I know that sounds weird. But I usually think of a word and dismiss it for various reasons, only to find out that it actually was a really good word for that year. Like “relax” for 2018, which was such a stressful year, “home” for 2019, when we moved to Curaçao and struggled to settle down. In 2020 my word was “accept” and I knew from the start that there would be a lot accepting to do, because my mom was dying from cancer. But little did I know there would be so much more to accept that year.

The word I can’t shake off this time is “heal”. And yes, that is very fitting. I have a lot of healing to do. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

I know the next step is to come up with a complete list of tangible goals related to the word, but I have a really hard time doing that. Is it even possible to really grasp what it means to be healed? And how do I turn that vague idea into actions and steps I can take to reach that state? Also, I don’t think that’s how the One Word thing works for me. It’s just a reminder of something I need to focus on.
So, I tossed the list I started (that is an ongoing theme in my life – I love making lists, but sometimes it’s way better to toss them) and just try to stop and wonder if something I’m doing or want to do is actually helping me to heal or the opposite.

So, here we are. I wanted to share my word, but I don’t really have anything to say about it. Yet. Maybe I’ll share more later in the year.

Do you have a word for 2023?

Syrup making

Oh, my. I had such grand plans for herbal crafting. Well, I had grand plans for everything. But then I got sick and then my mental health needed a bit of attention and then traveling happened… Needless to say I’m way behind on my list of things I wanted to do and (and document for the blog). But I did one of the things on my list. I made a syrup. A herbal syrup.

I’ve been meaning to try to make syrups for a long time. And I guess I actually already do make them, since I make cough syrup every year. But I wanted to experiment a bit and expand my uses for it. Herbal syrups are great ways to take herbs that don’t taste so well on their own. The added sugar (or honey) also extends the shelve life of the infusions or decoctions you add to it. Opinions tend to differ a bit, but I think it’s safe to say that a 1:1 water/sugar ratio can be kept in a refridgerator for 6 months (ofcourse always discard if it looks or tastes wrong).

One of the herbs that grows best in my garden is Oregano di Korsou. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not oregano at all. Its scientific name is Lippia Alba and it’s also known as juanilama, bushy matgrass, and poleo (among many other names). It helps with digestive problems and is also mildly calming (those two uses go together a lot, actually). It is used culinary too: it has a really nice lemony taste.

And because I have a lot of it (it grows like crazy in the part of the garden that is watered daily), I thought this would be a good herb to experiment with. Well, I already have – I’ve made teas, oils, tinctures and cleaning solutions with it. But never a syrup.

So that’s what I did.

(disclaimer: the following is not a tutorial, just what I did and boy, did I mess things up… But I thought it would be fun to document and share it anyway. So, you’re welcome to feel inspired, but please do your own research)

The recipe I found online said I needed 50 grams of dried herb to add to 600 ml water. Yeah, well, that didn’t work for me. I ended up using 30 grams of dried herb in a whole liter of water, becasue 600 ml barely made it wet.

Lesson for next time: don’t go blindly on instructions. Think for yourself (I usually do that, but this was the first day of being sick and I thought I just needed to stop whining and get on with it – I was wrong, I needed rest and plenty of it.)

Anyway… I brought the water to a boil and let it cook on high for 10 minutes. Oops. I meant to turn it down to low, but somehow forgot to do that. It think it’s more common to let it simmer. But I did reduce the water to half of what I started with and that’s what they say you need to do.

So at that point I had 500 ml decoction and that calls for 500 grams of sugar. I wanted to make this with monk fruit sugar, but 500 grams of that stuff is very expensive. So I opted for normal sugar. Technically monk fruit is bad for me too, so maybe I just shouldn’t even bother buying it. But that’s besides the point.

I ended up with two bottles of syrup. I love how it looks. Such a beautiful color. I had a tiny taste and oh wow. That’s so good. I think it will be really nice on ice cream or in sodawater. Or on cake? Endless possibilities.