Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos)

SOURCE: https://kisselpaso.com/files/2016/10/dia-de-los-muertos-altar.jpg

https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/day-of-the-dead

The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31- November 2. While October 31 is Halloween, November 1 is “el Dia de los Inocentes,” or the day of the children, and All Saints Day. November 2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of children can rejoin their families for 24 hours. The spirits of adults can do the same on November 2.

Origins of Day of the Dead

The roots of the Day of the Dead, celebrated in contemporary Mexico and among those of Mexican heritage in the United States and around the world, go back some 3,000 years, to the rituals honoring the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Aztecs and other Nahua people living in what is now central Mexico held a cyclical view of the universe, and saw death as an integral, ever-present part of life.

Upon dying, a person was believed to travel to Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead. Only after getting through nine challenging levels, a journey of several years, could the person’s soul finally reach Mictlán, the final resting place. In Nahua rituals honoring the dead, traditionally held in August, family members provided food, water and tools to aid the deceased in this difficult journey. This inspired the contemporary Day of the Dead practice in which people leave food or other offerings on their loved ones’ graves, or set them out on makeshift altars called ofrendasin their homes.

Day of the Dead vs. All Souls Day

In ancient Europe, pagan celebrations of the dead also took place in the fall, and consisted of bonfires, dancing and feasting. Some of these customs survived even after the rise of the Roman Catholic Church, which (unofficially) adopted them into their celebrations of two minor Catholic holidays, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, celebrated on the first two days of November.

In medieval Spain, people would bring bring wine and pan de ánimas (spirit bread) to the graves of their loved ones on All Souls Day; they would also cover graves with flowers and light candles to illuminate the dead souls’ way back to their homes on Earth. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadores brought such traditions with them to the New World, along with a darker view of death influenced by the devastation of the bubonic plague.

How Is the Day of the Dead Celebrated?

El Día de los Muertos is not, as is commonly thought, a Mexican version of Halloween, though the two holidays do share some traditions, including costumes and parades. On the Day of the Dead, it’s believed that the border between the spirit world and the real world dissolve. During this brief period, the souls of the dead awaken and return to the living world to feast, drink, dance and play music with their loved ones. In turn, the living family members treat the deceased as honored guests in their celebrations, and leave the deceased’s favorite foods and other offerings at gravesites or on the ofrendas built in their homes. Ofrendas can be decorated with candles, bright marigolds called cempasuchil and red cock’s combs alongside food like stacks of tortillas and fruit.

The most prominent symbols related to the Day of the Dead are calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). In the early 19th century, the printer and cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada reenvisioned Mictecacíhuatl, the Aztec goddess of the underworld, as a female skeleton known as La Calavera Catrina, now the most recognizable Day of the Dead icon.

During contemporary Day of the Dead festivities, people commonly wear skull masks and eat sugar candy molded into the shape of skulls. The pan de ánimas of All Souls Day rituals in Spain is reflected in pan de muerto, the traditional sweet baked good of Day of the Dead celebrations today. Other food and drink associated with the holiday, but consumed year-round as well, include spicy dark chocolate and the corn-based liquor called atole. You can wish someone a happy Day of the Dead by saying, “Feliz día de los Muertos.”

Sources

Día de los Muertos: A Brief History, National Hispanic Cultural Center

Giardina, Carolyn, “‘Coco’: How Pixar Brought its ‘Day of the Dead’ Story to Life,” Hollywood Reporter, December 12, 2017

Dobrin, Isabel, “Día de los Muertos Comes to Life Across the Mexican Diaspora,” NPR, November 2, 2017

Scott, Chris. “Day of the Dead parade – Life imitates art,” CNN, October 28, 2016

The Most Haunted Places in All of California

SOURCE: https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/los-angeles/most-haunted-places-in-california

It’s almost Halloween Day so who doesn’t love a good scary story but a truly scary place!!! Check out a few of the most haunted places in California:

los coches adobe

JORGE LORTE/FLICKR

Los Coches Adobe

Soledad
This old waypoint is the subject of more ghost rumors than you could shake a bundle of sage at. Soledad’s Los Coches Adobe was a frequent stop for stagecoach travelers in the mid-1800s, but now sits abandoned; many consider the vacant building to be haunted, including Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma, who told KION he’s heard several tales from city workers and his father about ghost sightings and mysterious noises, including the sounds of raucous parties.

One popular rumor is that a group of some 30 miners were trapped underground where they ultimately perished, and the screams of their spirits are still audible to those who venture near after dark. Other supposed ghosts include a spectral couple who wander the grounds holding hands, an inmate who escaped the nearby Soledad Correctional Training Facility, and a woman in black who would murder miners looking for a good time, robbing them and dumping their bodies in a well.

turnbull canyon

STEVE BOLAND/FLICKR

Turnbull Canyon

Whittier
Hikers mostly enjoy Turnbull Canyon, a 4-mile loop trail in the Puente Hills Preserve, for its scenic views. It’s also home to so many ghost stories and urban legends that Ryan Murphy could make an entire season of American Horror Story about it.

Largely uncorroborated legends surround clandestine meetings of occultists, one of them rumored to have kidnapped several local children from an orphanage for ritual sacrifice. Others claim UFO sightings, KKK gatherings, and disappearing specters. Even more surround an old asylum that burned down decades ago. One tale speaks of a teen who came upon an electroshock therapy contraption that fried him to a crisp when he strapped it on his head, despite the fact that the power should have been long cut off.

While many of these more lurid tales have little, if any, evidence to support them, Turnbull Canyon has been the site of at least a few well-documented horrors. In 1952, Flight 416 left New York City only to crash into the hills here. All 26 passengers and the plane’s three crew members were killed. In 2009, a young woman was attacked by a group of men who slit her throat, threw her down the canyon edge, and left her for dead. The woman was able to make her way to a nearby residence, where she received help and, despite serious wounds, survived. In 2011, the body of 41-year-old woman was found in the area; her boyfriend was convicted of her murder six years later.

winchester mystery house

CAITLIN CHILDS/FLICKR

Winchester Mystery House

San Jose
The Winchester Mystery House is so named for Sarah Winchester, the widow of Winchester Repeating Arms Company treasurer William Wirth Winchester. After Mr. Winchester succumbed to tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah Winchester took her massive inheritance from Connecticut to California, where she purchased an unfinished farmhouse and hired several employees to complete it. The mansion grew to seven mismatched stories, with rooms and additions tacked on without rhyme or reason, and yet it was never fully completed; famously, doors and stairs were built that bafflingly led nowhere.

What fed Winchester’s appetite for construction? The pervasive legend is that Winchester was haunted by the ghosts of those who fell victim to Winchester rifles. The only way to evade the vengeful spirits was to keep building, the twists and turns a means to confuse the ghosts’ relentless pursuit. In some variations of the story, Winchester’s instructions came from a medium she visited after her husband’s death who informed her of her curse.

For skeptics, though, the more likely story is that Winchester was just an exceedingly wealthy woman who could afford her endless renovations. Writer Katie Dowd suggests in a 2018 SF Gate article that Winchester kept building because, without a dedicated architect to help her with her designs, she kept screwing up. Others have posited the noted philanthropist kept workers fairly busy because she was rich enough to provide them with continuous employment.

Regardless, construction finally halted with Winchester’s death in 1922 and lore took over for decades to come. The house itself has been partially restored and is open for public tours; docents stoke the spooky tales and, around Halloween, ghost tours by candlelight are offered.

hotel del coronado

ANAND ACHARYA/FLICKR

Hotel del Coronado

Coronado
When the magnificent, seaside Hotel del Coronado opened in 1888, it was the biggest resort in the world, attracting a host of notable guests — and (purportedly) at least one ghost, widely believed to be that of Kate Morgan.

Morgan, née Farmer, was the daughter of an Iowa postmaster. She married Thomas Morgan in 1885, with whom she had one son who died at just two days old; five years later, Morgan left with another man and eventually made her way to Los Angeles, where she worked as a housekeeper. On Thanksgiving Day, 1892, Morgan checked into the palatial resort using the name Lottie Bernard. Five days later, she was found dead on a stairway leading to the beach by the hotel’s assistant electrician. She had been shot once in the head.

A coroner determined the wound to be self-inflicted, and a housekeeper told reporters that Morgan had indicated she was suffering from a terminal illness. Other rumors speculate she’d been abandoned at the hotel by a male companion, leaving her distraught; still others believe she was murdered by said male companion.

Though Morgan was laid to rest at Mount Hope Cemetery, not far from the hotel, rumors have long persisted that her ghost roams the property. The hotel itself has published a book, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, in which Morgan’s spirit is described as playful, but harmless. Those who stay in Morgan’s old room (number 3327) have reported mysterious breezes, the TV and faucets turning on and off by themselves, and sightings of a woman in a black Victorian dress. One couple, according to San Diego Magazine, claimed the spirit pulled the covers off the bed at night.

Some claim Room 3519 is also haunted by a housekeeper who hanged herself many years ago. That particular case, however, is far less documented than the death of Kate Morgan.

greystone mansion

ANDREW HITCHCOCK

Greystone Mansion

Beverly Hills
A stroll among Greystone Mansion’s verdant grounds may give you a sense of peace, but the history of this sprawling, Gordon Kaufmann-designed, Tudor estate is particularly grim.

In 1928, oil tycoon Edward Doheny bought the mansion for his son, Ned Doheny Jr., who moved in with his wife, Lucy, and their five children. Just four months later, Doheny’s secretary and close friend, Hugh Plunkett, showed up and let himself in with his own key; the official account states that Plunkett fatally shot Doheny before turning the gun on himself, though it’s not entirely clear why.

Plunkett had gotten mixed up in the infamous Teapot Dome scandal, having accompanied his friend on a 1921 trip to deliver a $100,000 loan to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall. This was at the request of Doheny’s father, who would later be accused of bribing Fall to gain exclusive oil drilling rights on federal land. Plunkett was called to testify in the case, but the Dohenys allegedly wanted the increasingly unhinged Plunkett committed; the murder-suicide occurred before either could happen.

Some have speculated that the official story is not the truth. Theories attempt to connect the pair to a Teapot Dome-related assassination, or assert that Lucy killed them both after finding out they were romantically involved. What really happened in the Greystone Mansion that night will likely never be known. The mystery has only bolstered ghost stories, claiming that the spirits of Plunkett and Doheny still wander the 55-room estate.

Lucy Doheny remarried and lived at the mansion for the next several years, selling it in 1955. It is now a park owned by Beverly Hills, and the grounds are usually free to visit, barring a private event. To actually get inside the house, you’ll have to attend an event or the occasional tour.

 alcatraz federal penitentiary

DIGITAL ARCHAEOLOGY/FLICKR

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

San Francisco
This infamous maximum security men’s prison on Alcatraz Island operated between 1934 and 1963. Sometimes known as “The Rock,” it had a reputation for housing the worst of the worst, with notable inmates including Al Capone, Whitey Bulger, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

A number of ghost stories surround the popular tourist attraction, but spooky lore precedes the prison; according to legend, the Miwok Indians never liked the island, considering it a gathering place for evil spirits. Alcatraz’s most famous ghost story revolves around cell 14D, in which it is said a prisoner once spent the night screaming about a hostile creature with glowing eyes, only to be found dead the next day. Another tale says that you can still hear the twang of Capone’s banjo, a respite for the notorious mobster during his sentence there. Still another ghost story suggests strange noises can be heard echoing from Block C, where, in 1946, three inmates and two correctional officers were killed in a violent escape attempt known as The Battle of Alcatraz.

Whether or not the hauntings are legit, Alcatraz Island is now maintained by the National Park Service, while the prison serves as a museum — which means visitors can get there via ferry for a variety of exhibits and activities.

the whaley house

MISS SHARI/FLICKR

The Whaley House

San Diego
The Whaley House is a history museum in Old Town San Diego, open to the public for tours and events. Rumor persists that the museum is haunted by both the spirits of the Whaley family and a boat thief who was executed on the property.

Thomas Whaley was an East Coaster who moved to California for the Gold Rush and ended up operating a store in San Diego in the 1850s. He built himself the two-story brick home in 1857, fixing it to an existing granary that would later serve as a courtroom. He lived there with his wife, Anna, with whom he had six children.

According to legend, the property is haunted by multiple spirits; James “Yankee Jim” Robinson is perhaps the oldest among them. A convicted thief, he was hanged in 1852 on the property before a group of onlookers, one of whom was Whaley himself. Whaley still purchased the property and built his family home there, but would later claim to hear disembodied footsteps, which he attributed to Robinson’s ghost.

Others claim that the museum is haunted by the Whaley’s daughter, Violet, who in 1885 fatally shot herself in the heart at just 22 years old. Violet was despondent after her husband, George Bertolacci, wedded her only for the sizable dowry her father had offered then abandoned her shortly thereafter. According to the Save Our Heritage Organisation, who manages the Whaley House, the humiliated divorcee left behind a note reading:

Mad from life’s history
Swift to death’s mystery;
Glad to be hurled,
Anywhere, anywhere, out of this world

The Cecil Hotel

Los Angeles
The Cecil is not the only old hotel in downtown Los Angeles to harbor a ghost story, but it’s definitely the creepiest among them. It’s had so many tragedies, there’s a whole Wikipedia page for “list of deaths and violence at the Cecil Hotel.”

Like most of its contemporaries, the Cecil was a nice hotel when it opened in the ’20s, but then fell into disrepair in the wake of the Great Depression. Its earliest issue was the oddly high number of suicides that occurred on the property: so many, in fact, that people began to refer to it as The Suicide. The first is believed to have occurred in 1931, when a traveler from Chicago checked in under a fake name and took poison in his room.

In 1962, Pauline Otton, 27, leapt from the ninth story after getting into an argument with her estranged husband. She landed on top of a passing pedestrian, 65-year-old George Gianinni, and killed them both. In 1964, Goldie Osgood was found murdered in her room at the Cecil. She was known as “Pigeon,” as she frequently fed the birds gathered in Pershing Square, just a short walk from the hotel. Though it was determined that Osgood had been beaten to death, her assailant was never caught.

In 2013, 21-year-old Canadian tourist Elisa Lam went missing shortly after checking in to the Cecil. She was found dead several days later in one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks; guests, who had been bathing with and drinking the tainted water, had begun to complain about low water pressure, leading a maintenance man to the horrifying discovery. The shocking case received considerable media attention, in part due to surveillance footage of Lam behaving bizarrely in an elevator; police had released the footage while Lam was still missing, hoping it would lead them to her safe return.

The hotel’s got some history with serial killers as well: Los Angeles serial killer Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez stayed here in the mid-’80s, and Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger spent time here in 1991 while he worked as a journalist covering crime in LA (and subsequently murdered three women during his stay).

With so many horrific and tragic events occurring in a single hotel — and the above are just a handful of them — it’s no wonder that the superstitious believe some sort of dark presence has taken hold.

bodie california

ROBERT SHEA/FLICKR

Bodie

Bodie
California is home to several ghost towns, but Bodie is the one that’s got its very own curse. Located in the Bodie Hills south of Lake Tahoe, it was a former mining and Gold Rush boom town containing a bank, numerous rowdy saloons, a Chinatown area, and a Red Light District. The population steadily declined until, by the 1940s, fewer than 10 residents remained. In 1961, Bodie was named a National Historic Landmark, now known as Bodie State Historic Park. Just over 100 structures remain in a state of “arrested decay,” giving tourists a glimmer of its Wild West past.

As for the so-called Bodie Curse, it’s easily avoided: Just don’t take anything from the park, and you’ll be fine. If you pocket a single item, however, you’ll be plagued with misfortune, and according to a KQED segment, many past thieves have returned their ill-gotten goods — ranging from rocks and nails to an upright piano — complete with letters of contrition. Ultimately, the source of the curse seems to have been a park ranger desperate to stop sticky-fingered tourists from taking old artifacts, but those who have tested it still seem to swear by it.

When it comes to ghosts, Bodie could perhaps point to its rough past replete with bar brawls and gun fights, but its most interesting character may have been Eleanor Dumont, a card dealer better known as “Madame Mustache” (due to a dark swath of hair on her upper lip). She came to Bodie where her luck ran out and, funds depleted, fatally injected herself with morphine. Maybe it’s Dumont’s restless spirit who gives the fictional curse its long legs.

cabin california

DON BARRETT/FLICKR

The Char Man of Ojai

Ojai
The Char Man is a Central Coast urban legend dating back to the 1940s. According to local lore, the Char Man was a guy who lived in a cabin just outside the city of Ojai before he was forever altered by the flames of a raging wildfire. From there, the tale spins off into multiple popular variations. In one, the Char Man lived with his father, who was killed in the blaze; the Char Man survived, but was badly injured and driven mad by the traumatic experience. He was last seen flaying his father’s ruined flesh before fleeing into the woods near Old Creek Road. In other versions of the story, it’s a lover or sister who is killed in the fire; in yet others, he’s a solitary older man so horribly disfigured by the fire that he became a recluse who emerges only to chase away intruders.

In a 1967 article in the Ventura County Star-Free Press, a teenage boy claimed that the Char Man chased him and stole his jacket. Charlie Seemann, who researched the legend extensively, made contact with an anonymous source who claimed he was the one who stole the boy’s jacket. The source said he’d heard the Char Man stories and decided to stage an elaborate hoax to further terrify the local youth. Seemann also spoke with a law enforcement officer who claimed the real Char Man was an older gentleman with a skin deformity who lived alone near Signal Street. Children who saw him were frightened by his appearance, and the legend grew from there.

Regardless of how the whole thing started, the Char Man continues to lend his likeness to nightmares — and a local hot sauce brand.

USING WHEY IN YOUR GARDEN

SOURCE: http://blog.cheesemaking.com/using-whey-in-your-garden/

Trying to figure out what to do with left over whey when I make cheese, it’s usually about a gallon or so. If you don’t want to use it in protein shakes the garden is your best place! http://www.blog.cheesemaking.com gives us the full breakdown how to use:

SALT

We use unsalted whey because salt is not useful in the garden.  Fortunately, most of the time, when we make cheese, we salt the curds after we drain off the whey, so this is usually not an issue.

ACID WHEY VS SWEET WHEY

We need to bear in mind that there is a difference between acid whey and sweet whey:  Sweet whey comes from cheese we make with rennet.  Acid whey is a byproduct when we make dairy products that don’t involve the use of rennet – yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, etc.  (There is sub-category of acid whey called “cooked whey” which is the whey leftover from making panir, queso fresco and ricotta.  It has less protein and less vitamins and minerals than the other wheys but it can still be used in the garden.)

Acid whey is more acidic than sweet whey.  This is because some of the lactose in it has been converted to lactic acid.  Sweet whey has a pH greater than or equal to 5.6, whereas acid whey has a pH less than or equal to 5.1 (from Wikipedia).  Another difference is that acid whey has slightly more vitamins and minerals in it than sweet whey.

Many articles erroneously recommend using only sweet whey in gardening and not acid whey.  That is based on the idea that you might go out and throw a gallon of acid whey onto your tomato plant with no regard for the acid content.  That would not be good for your plants.  In fact, some people pour acid whey on their weeds to kill them!  (We’re assuming here that you understand the difference between the two kinds of whey and that you will follow the directions below when using it.)

Both kinds of whey can damage the environment when large quantities of it are dumped into bodies of water because changing the pH of the water effects the fish, etc.

CHANGING THE PH OF THE SOIL

For those of you who don’t generally consider this aspect of gardening, the pH of the soil is the level of acidity.  The lower the pH, the more acidic the soil is and the higher the pH, the more alkaline it is.

This is important because plants can’t get the nutrients they need from the soil unless the soil has the right amount of acidity.  Different plants prefer different levels, so, soil that is good for one type of plant, is not good for another.  There are many good charts online showing optimal pH ranges for plants; here’s one from the Farmer’s Almanac – click here.

How do you know the pH of your soil?  Most universities have soil testing labs and you can send samples to them for a small fee.  The information you receive is absolutely invaluable.  Or, if you already have the type of pH meter we sell (click here) to use when making cheese, you can use the same pH meter to test your garden’s soil.

If you don’t know the pH of your soil, you don’t really know whether whey will be good for it.  Odds are it will be for the acid-loving plants, but if your soil is already very acidic (5 – 5.5), whey would not be a good choice.

Generally speaking, it’s a fool’s errand to try to change the acidity of your soil; it’s preferable to simply plant the right plants in the right place.  However, that isn’t always possible (because we just have to have that gorgeous hydrangea in our alkaline soil).  So, most of us make amendments of one kind or another.

We use various products for this – whey, vinegar, sphagnum peat, sulfur or any acidifying fertilizer.  In any case, it is not wise to change the pH too rapidly.

FERTILIZING VALUE

As stated, you would usually use whey on your acid-loving plants to change the pH.  However, whey has some value as a fertilizer in itself.

It actually has small quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (as well as calcium and magnesium).  The N-P-K ratio is typically 0.15-0.05-0.17.  (Acid whey has less protein than sweet whey, but it still contains many of the same vitamins and minerals in sweet whey.)

This is low enough for you to use it regularly without fear of over-fertilizing.

Directions for use:

Strain your whey in cheesecloth or butter muslin so there are not big pieces of curd floating in it.

Dilute it before adding it to your soil.  This is an inexact science, but we suggest you dilute it in the same amount of water to start, so you have a 50:50 split.

Pour it around the base of your plants and not on the plants themselves.

Try not to give your plants a total of more than 1″ of diluted whey per week.  (You will need a rain gauge for this.)  A common recommendation is to use 1 gallon of diluted whey per 10 square feet of garden space every seven to 14 days.*

CONTROLLING POWDERY MILDEW

Some folks spray whey onto their plants to prevent the spread of fungal diseases like powdery mildew.

Directions:  Strain your whey, dilute it (50 parts water:50 parts sweet whey or 70 parts water:30 parts acid whey) and spray it on your plants bi-weekly.  You can also use it as a deterrent in advance if you feel that your plants are highly susceptible to powdery mildew.

ADDING TO YOUR COMPOST

Whey is a great supplement to your compost because the carbon:nitrogen ratio averages 20:1.  (UMN.edu)

Strain it and, after you add it to your compost, turn the pile so the whey doesn’t heat it up too much.

If you are worm composting, add only a few diluted tablespoons per week – the worms don’t like too much acidity.

*This is from Hunker:  An all-purpose fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 24-8-16 is diluted at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water. This supplies 0.1 ounces of nitrogen, 0.03 ounces of phosphorus and 0.06 ounces of potassium per application. To apply the same amount of nitrogen using whey, mix the whey half-and-half with water. This will supply 0.1 ounces of nitrogen, 0.04 ounces of phosphorus and 0.12 ounces of potassium per gallon. Use the mixture in place of regular fertilizer every other time you fertilize. Use 1 gallon of diluted fertilizer or whey per 10 square feet of garden space every seven to 14 days.

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

SOURCE: https://veganhuggs.com/vegan-lemon-cupcakes/

Came across this lovely recipe and definitely need to try it out looks amazing! Thank you veganhuggs.com for this and all the lovely notes that are added:

LEMON CUPCAKES

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (*see notes)
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup soy milk or preferred milk or preferred milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (*zest lemon before juicing)
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil or any neutral-flavored oil (avocado, sunflower, vegetable, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (sub applesauce)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract

LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • 1 cup vegan stick butter , slightly softened at room temp (about 10-15 minutes)
  • 3.5 cups powdered sugar , sifted
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (*zest lemon before juicing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

LEMON CUPCAKES

  • Preheat oven to 350 ° F (177 ° C). Place 12 muffin liners in a standard muffin pan.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the soy milk and lemon juice together. Set aside about 5 minutes.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine well.
  • To the medium bowl with the buttermilk, add the oil, yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and sugar. Whisk to combine well.
  • Now add the wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk gently until just combined (some small lumps are fine). Don’t overwork the batter or it can cause dense and chewy cupcakes that won’t rise well.
  • Pour mixture into each liner evenly about 2/3 the way full (an ice cream scoop works great for this). Don’t overfill.
  • Place in the oven on the middle rack for 18-22 minutes until lightly golden. To check for doneness, lightly press the surface – It should spring back. Don’t over bake or they will be dry.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool for 5-10 minutes before touching. Now gently remove the cupcakes and transfer them to a cooling rack. Let completely cool before decorating with frosting.

LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • Add the softened vegan butter to the bowl of a Stand Mixer (or use a large bowl with a Hand Mixer). Cream the butter on medium for 3-5 minutes until pale, airy, and fluffy (turn to med-high for 10-second intervals if needed). Scrape down sides as needed.
  • Over low speed, add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Mix until the sugar is almost combined. Scrape down sides as needed. Now beat for 60 seconds on Medium-High until fully incorporated.
  • Repeat the process with 1/2 cup of sugar at a time until it’s gone and the frosting is thick, smooth, and fluffy. Add more sugar if you want a sweeter taste or thicker consistency. If the buttercream is too thick or stiff, add a few teaspoons of non-dairy milk and mix until fully incorporated.

Notes

Measuring Flour: don’t scoop it with a measuring cup directly from the flour container. Instead, Aerate it first, then scoop it out of your container with a large spoon and then into a measuring cup. Don’t tap or pack the cup, just lightly sweep a butter knife across the top to remove the excess flour.

For a successful baking experience, measure all of the ingredients accurately, and follow the instructions closely. Making any changes can yield undesired results. Also, make sure that the baking soda and baking powder aren’t expired. If your oven runs too hot/cool, it can yield different results. I highly recommend an oven thermometer to ensure the temp is accurate.

Soy Milk: I prefer soy because it curdles the best and creates the perfect vegan buttermilk. However, feel free to use any plant-based milk you prefer.

Vegan Butter: I prefer to use stick butter because it yields consistent results. Some tub varieties contain more moisture and can cause the frosting to become runny. If you use tub butter, you won’t have to soften it first. You may need to add more sugar to keep it firm. Don’t overbeat it or add any additional moisture. 

Powdered Sugar: Using organic powder sugar will ensure that it is vegan.

Frosting: It can stay out at room temperature for a few hours without melting, so you can leave decorated cakes/cupcakes out. However, if it’s too hot, the frosting will start to soften. I prefer to store decorated cupcakes in the fridge (in a container) and take them out an hour before serving. This helps set the buttercream and keeps the cupcakes moist.

Storing: Without frosting, they will stay fresh covered at room temperature for a couple of days. You can also store them frosted or unfrosted in the fridge for up 3-5 days. You can freeze them with or without. frosting for 2-3 months. To thaw, leave them out at room temp. for 15-20 minutes. 

Gnocchi baked not boiled?

SOURCE: https://www.lastingredient.com/sheet-pan-mushroom-asparagus-gnocchi/

I came across this recipe and I must admit I thought it was roasted potatoes, what a surprise to find it’s gnocchi! I am used to having it boiled all the time this was a nice and delicious change.

Ingredients

1 pound shelf-stable or fresh gnocchi
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces sliced white mushrooms
3 garlic cloves in their skins
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon, halved
Shaved Parmesan for serving

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a sheet pan, toss the gnocchi, asparagus, mushrooms and garlic with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer. Place the lemon halves cut-side down on the sheet pan.

Bake for 22-25 minutes until the mushrooms are browned and the gnocchi is cooked through.

Carefully squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a large bowl. Use tongs to squeeze in the juice from the lemons. Whisk in 1 tablespoon olive oil and mash everything together with a fork. Spoon the gnocchi, asparagus and mushrooms into the bowl, gently stirring to combine.

Top with shaved Parmesan before serving.

Check out more recipes when you go on to this link: https://www.lastingredient.com/sheet-pan-mushroom-asparagus-gnocchi/

3 DIY Face Masks You Can Make at Home

SOURCE: https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/save-money/diy-face-masks/

Pennyhoarder.com is helping everyone who needs a mask, make it at home!

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended the use of face masks in public in the coming days.

But with masks on short supply nationwide, however, you may have to get crafty to comply.

DIY Face Masks and Coronavirus: Do They Work?

Before you bust out the fabric glue, don’t forget: A mask is no replacement for social distancing. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is spread via droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Researchers and experts are still debating whether widespread mask use will be effective in slowing the spread of the disease. 

Those against DIY masks say they may give people a false sense of security, which in turn may motivate them to stop social distancing or touch their face more often. What’s more, most common types of cloth don’t necessarily filter out the virus. 

Still, others say there is no perfect protection against COVID-19. If more people wear masks, asymptomatic carriers may be less likely to spread the disease, because respiratory droplets will be caught in the mask when they sneeze or cough.

Guidelines for Effective Face Mask Usage

For the masks to be effective, experts say wearers shouldn’t touch the mask often. The World Health Organization has detailed instructions for how to properly put on and take off masks. It says wearers should thoroughly wash their hands before putting on the masks and refrain from frequently adjusting the masks.

The organization also emphasizes that masks are only effective when worn in addition to frequent handwashing. 

Although cloth masks have not been shown to be effective at filtering out viruses, they can limit the spread of larger respiratory particles. A 2010 study found that masks made from multiple layers of thick cloth are more effective at trapping droplets. It’s also important that a mask has a tight seal and covers the wearer’s mouth and nose. 

Ideally, no mask should be worn twice, which includes cloth masks. Richard Peltier, an assistant professor for environmental sciences at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told Politifact cloth masks should be washed often with warm, soapy water.  

3 Handmade Face Masks You Can Easily Make

If you’ve done your research and you decide you’d feel safer wearing a mask during your next grocery store visit, then let’s go ahead and bust out the fabric glue.

Here are three options you can try:

1. No-Sew Face Mask

Supplies: cotton craft fabric, fabric glue or hot glue, two rubber bands, scissors, an iron

This YouTube video from Belinda’s DIYs shows you how to make a face mask without sewing. 

To make this mask, fold the fabric into pleats, glue the extra fabric over the rubber bands, and you’re done. You may need to adjust the width of the mask to fit your own face.

If you substitute an old t-shirt and some hair elastics instead of craft fabric and rubber bands, you may not even have to go on a supply hunt to make this mask. 

If you don’t have fabric glue or a hot glue gun, Michaels and Joann Fabric and Craft Store are now offering curbside pickup.

2. No-Sew Knotted Face Mask

Supplies: cotton t-shirt, ruler, scissors

Here’s another inventive, no-sew option, this time from sustainable fashion designer Runa Ray. You need an old t-shirt and almost nothing else. 

Cut a cotton t-shirt into two rectangles. Cut a fringe on each side of the fabric, tie the sides together and use the hems of the shirt for ear straps – done. 

This one also leaves a slot at the top to slide a reusable filter between the two layers of fabric, which can be handy.

3. Fabric Face Mask (Some Sewing Required)

Supplies: cotton fabric, lightweight fabric for internal filter, elastic ties, basic sewing supplies

If you do have sewing skills and want to show them off, this is your moment. Joann Fabric and Craft Store has created an online tutorial for those of you who want to make surgical masks for hospital staff, or even just yourself and your family. 

The tutorial says this pattern requires intermediate sewing skills. If that’s you but you need some supplies, remember that Joann Fabric and other craft retailers are now offering curbside pickup for online orders. 

There are many other ideas online whichever you feel you can do will help. Here is another link with a pattern design also:

https://freesewing.org/

COVID-19: Facemask pattern

If you’re here looking for a facemask pattern, this is the link you’re looking for:

PS: You can support us by becoming a patron ❤️

Stay safe!

Pistachio Butter made at home

So for all the nut lovers out there peanut and almond not the only nut to make butter out of!!! I found this recipe and the kids love it.

Ingredients

  • 2 cup shelled raw pistachio
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spread pistachio in one layer on a baking sheet and roast in the middle of the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Take baking sheet out of the oven, stir the nuts and flip them over, roast for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the roasted nuts to the food processor and process for 10 minutes.
  • Add salt, honey and coconut oil and process for another 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth.
  • Store in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Roasting the nuts is optional, the nut butter can be made with raw pistachio nuts.
  • This recipe yields 1 1/4 cup total.

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kefir grains
  • 1 quart fresh cream

Instructions

  • Use 2 quart mason jar.
  • Pour cream in jar and add kefir grains, cover.
  • Allow to ferment for 24 hours.
  • Remove kefir grains with a wooden or plastic spoon to strain out.
  • Shake the jar for 5-10 mins until you see butter clumps and buttermilk separating.
  • Strain out clumps of butter and submerge in ice water bath.
  • Squeeze the butter clump to get the excess buttermilk out, put back in the ice bath.
  • Put in a crock, unsalted butter can be in refrigerator for 3 weeks.

Make Crème Fraiche at home

A few years ago I took a cheesemaking class and loved it, not only did I learn how to make cheese but a few other treats! Kefir is a cultured dairy drink with a sour and creamy taste, and it contains a range of beneficial bacteria. Kefir grains can also be used to make many other things like cheese, butter, and crème fraiche!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kefir grains
  • 1 pint fresh cream

Instructions

  • Use 1 pint mason jar, add cream and kefir grains cover.
  • Allow to ferment for 24 hours or until it thickens.
  • Remove kefir grains with a wooden spoon strain out..
  • Store in an air tight container for 1 week in the refrigerator.

Get Your In Home Yoga Studio Set Up

Home Yoga Studio

If you don’t have time to make it to the yoga studio and you decide to sign up for The Yoga Collective the online studio on (groupon.com). Set up your own yoga studio at home check out these goodies. Every year Target brings out in the bulleye’s section at the entrance of the store, fitness goodies at a great prices! See below all items are between $3 – $10:

  • Weighted Jump rope yes the handles are hand weights
  • 5 LB Kettle ball
  • Bluetooth Speaker with clip on handle
  • Drink Shaker
  • Foam Yoga Block
  • Foam Yoga Roller
  • Yoga Mat
  • Waist Pouch (not pictured)
  • 8 LB Toning Ball (not pictured)
  • Stretch Bands (not pictured)

I got my gear don’t wait too long to get yours this stuff sells fast! Namaste