Monday, January 26, 2009

sewing apron project, serving coffee and tea

Just a thought: When things do not have a specific place, you become a slave to them. You are never in control of your house; your house is in control of you. Deniece Schofield.

I had a few minutes to work on our apron project tonight. Here's what I did. I made a sandwich of the upper part of the apron. First, I placed one layer of the bib. Then, I put in the straps where I wanted them, making sure that they pointed downward. Then, I put the second layer of the bib face down, so that the right sides of the bib face together. I pinned the layers together and sewed around them. Then, I turned the layer inside out. I haven't pressed yet, so the bib still looks a little bit rough.

As you can see, I'm not an expert seamstress. But, I'm having fun and am getting in lots of practice! I hope you are, too.

I tried another new recipe today. This one is an ultra-easy way to make cookies. You start with one box of cake mix -- any flavor except for the kind that has pudding in it. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup oil and stir well. This is your basic cookie dough. If you like, you can roll each cookie in nuts for an added touch. Pat out little cookie shapes and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 71/2 to 10 minutes. I used chocolate fudge cake mix for chocolate cookies. The person who shared this recipe with me used a white cake mix to make little goodies for a Christmas gathering. I hope I remember this recipe next Christmas, when it's cookie time!!

Serving Coffee and tea/Part I: Coffee and tea have become an important part of modern family life. They are also essential to hospitality. These beverages provide an aroma, a taste, and a sensation of hot or cold is very soothing to the body and mind. They also take the edge off of the appetite and help us to feel satisfied. Today, we are finding out that tea and coffee also have certain healthy elements in them, such as bioflavinoids. These drinks are so important to our culture that even if you avoid them for religious reasons, you probably have found some sort of substitute for them.

Coffee and tea both contain caffeine, which is stimulating to the body. Studies seem to indicate that a moderate amount of caffeine is ok and possibly even beneficial. However, too much definitely brings on jittery feelings and sleeplessness. People with certain health conditions may be advised by their doctors to avoid caffeine. Also, while doctors swing back and forth on this issue, it's probably best to avoid it while pregnant. Moreover, if one ingests caffeine every day, the body does become used to it. Mild withdrawal symptoms can occur when stopping caffiene. Older people may be more sensitive to caffeine than younger people; some studies indicate that thier bodies retain coffee longer. Keep in mind that a little bit of coffee with a lot of milk and a little bit of sweetener in it could potentially have less caffiene and sugar than a Coca-Cola.

I myself limit the amount of caffeine that I drink. I do so mainly because of health issues and also because I don't want to become dependent on caffeine for energy. I find that I can't handle caffeine in cofffee, as I used to. However, I do enjoy some caffeine in sweet iced tea and in chocolate.

Today, we have so many decaffeinated products, herbal teas, and other options available to us. If one seeks to avoid caffeine, there are plenty of other options available. (If you do avoid caffeine, you may want to slip a baggie with some herbal tea bags in them into your purse. That way, you can make your own caffeine free drink wherever you can obtain hot water.)

Even decaffeinated products contain a little caffeine. However, you're not likely to feel any effects unless you were to consume copious amounts of decaf tea or coffee. If you are highly sensitive to caffeine, though, you might need to avoid even decaffinated products. For you, herbal teas or other drinks might be better.

Coffee generally has more caffeine than tea. A 6 ounce cup of coffee may range from 60 to 180 mg. Tea averages about 40 mg, but may range from 20 to 90. Some people who are sensitive to the caffiene in coffee are able to handle tea without any problems.

Since many people avoid caffeine for health reasons, it's wise to have some alternatives on hand for family members or guests who cannot drink fully caffeinated coffee or tea. On the other hand, real lovers of coffee and tea complain that the taste of decaf tea or coffee is not as good as "the real deal". If all you have on hand is decaf coffee and you are serving it to a real coffee drinker, you can add a little bit of flavoring to overcome the taste difference. For example, you could add a bit of cinnamon or offer a flavored coffee cream.

Tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis. We'll talk more about the forms of tea later. Herbal "teas" do not come from the tea plant, but from certain other aromatic or fragrant plants. Usually, these do not have caffiene. Some are said to cure certain ailments or ease certain symptoms. However, in consuming herbal teas, you should use caution. Contrary to popular belief, these teas can have side effects, and some can also react harmfully with prescription medications. Additionally, some people are allergic to some herbal teas. For example, some hay fever sufferers are allergic to my favorite herbal tea: chamomile, which is a cousin to the plants that make people sneeze in the late summer and fall. Also, not all herbal teas are processed exactly alike, so you can't be sure how much of the herb you are getting in one cup.

Do your research, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, stick to known brands, and know how your body reacts to the various herbal teas. If you do these things, you can probably get great enjoyment out of your favorite herbal teas. An herbal tea might become the drink you turn to when you want to enjoy a soothing hot beverage, but you don't want to consume tea or coffee.

(Much of the information in this article on coffee and tea is taken from Cheryl Mendelson's book, Home Comforts.)

Happy homemaking!

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