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.

About plans, ambitions and prioritizing

(totally unrelated picture , though you probably could find a deeper meaning in sprouting seeds that are still in the pod. I just think this is a really cool thing mother nature does – a lot of trees on Curacao have seeds in pods and this how she gives them a headstart in that harsh climate)

I guess the Januaryis the time we do that, isn’t it? Making plans, listing ambitions? I usually am way too positive about what I can actually achieve. And, weird enough, especially after a year that didn’t work out the way I hoped at all.

2022 is a very good example of a year like that, but I do notice that I’ve been on this planet for over half a century now (ouch, that sounds so much older than “I’m 51”). I let myself get carried away for a little while, because that’s just fun, but then I got more practical.

Prioritizing is a skill that I had to learn over the years (don’t we all?) and I’m finally getting the hang of it. I have a big garden and a very messy house (we’ve come far from the state we bought it in, but there’s still a lot to do), I have to do the taxes and all other administrative tasks for my husband’s company, work on my books, and I have family members to talk on the phone with (for hours, literally). Also, I live on a beautiful island, in a house with the best view one can get, so I really want to take time and fully enjoy all that. Not to mention the crafting, cooking and reading I love doing so much.

Don’t worry, I am going to continue blogging here and I do hope my audience will grow a bit, but the rest of my online ambitions will have to stay on the backburner for a little while longer. I will work on it in the background when I can, but I’m not going to dive into it fully, or commit to a schedule unless I feel that I have the time, mental space and energy to do that.

Starting a blog focused on herbalism for instance. I’d love to delve much deeper into that subject than I’ve been doing here and I feel it will also hold me accountable to make more time to study herbs, keep doing research and collect my notes and knowledge into something more tangible than “I am pretty sure I read that…” But that takes time and dedication and I’m not feeling up to it yet.

Another thing on my list of things I’d like to do is experimenting with Youtube. I go back and forth between loving and hating the idea of filming bits of my life. But I already found that editing is a whole lot of work, so maybe now is not the right time to start doing that.

I did start posting on Instagram a bit more and I even created a seperate account for my plants (plantstagram is a thing – who knew? But I have to admit I kind of regret it already. I may keep posting for fun, but I won’t go full on social media not even to promote my blog. It’s never really been my thing and it would take up too much of my time. I’d rather take my chances on people finding my blog another way.

That said, I did purchase a domain name for my blog and the not-operational-yet herbal blog too. I had a .com for this blog a few years ago, through another provider, but when they quit and we had to transfer our domain names, I wasn’t blogging anymore, so I told T. to let it go. And regretted that ever since. When I started blogging here again in July, that same name was available through WordPress, but I didn’t want to commit to it too much. Sadly, the .com is gone now (why? who would use that name?), so I settled for I also got rid of the WordPress adds. I may decide to monetize this blog on the long run, but with my current pageviews it won’t earn me any money and it would cost me extra to upgrade to a plan that allows advertising. Also, I would like to be able to chose the adds that appear here, instead of hoping nothing weird will show up. I’ll look into that when I feel I’m ready.

So I guess I wrote a whole long-winding post to tell you that I’m going to keep blogging the way I’ve been doing these past months? That’s a bit of a non post, isn’t it? Oh well, it did feel good to process my thoughts and try to make sense of it all, so thanks for listening.

Do you have big ambitions for the new year? And how good are you at prioritizing?

Right now

Right now I am…

:: so, so happy to be home. Each time we come back after a visit to The Netherlands I feel more like this really is my home.

:: tired. Very tired. I hardly slept last night, even though my body loves this bed more than the one in the cabin, and I didn’t get any sleep on the plane, since it was a day flight. We left at 2 PM Dutch time and arrived at 7:30 PM Curaçao time (5 hour time difference – it’s a 9-10 hour flight and they took a longer route).

:: admitting I was rather pleased with the new content on their entertainment system though. I watched four episodes of Supernatural, and two movies; Mary Poppins returns, and Pan. Loved both movies very much. Mary Poppins and Peter Pan are two of my favorite story characters (both books and movies).

:: looking back at three wonderful weeks. I’m so happy we got to see our grandson quite often (and the rest of our family too of course!).

:: trying to ignore the garden just a little bit longer. I didn’t do much in it before we left (I was focusing on the house those last two weeks- and sick most of the month before that) and it has exploded. So much new growth!

:: excited to get back into gardening. I really missed it.

:: still planning to write a post about my plans and goals for the year. I like how that keeps me accountable and it also helps to try and put things into words.

:: also hoping to write a to-do list and maybe schedule some of my to-dos. I feel a little bit overwhelmed, but that may also be the lack of sleep.

:: struggling to write something more interesting today. I think I’ll leave it at this and go drink some tea, read a book and maybe even take a nap. I’m going to take it slowly and give myself time to rest.

:: wishing you all a great day!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all!

I was going to write a lengthy post about my goals and hopes for this year, but these last days of our visit to the Netherlands are extremely busy, so I’ll cut myself some slack and postpone that post till later. That is one of my most important resolutions; to give myself a break if I need it. So I guess I’m off to a good start.