Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making Something Beautiful with Your Hands

by H. Jackson Browne Jr.
In my travels, I picked up a little book titled Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Browne Jr.  There are 511 one-sentence observations in that little book.  The author wrote it as a gift to his son as he was leaving for college, providing sort of a parental road map.  Observation  # 71 in his little book caught my eye. Learn to make something beautiful with your hands.  I immediately thought of my husband.

My husband is a craftsman who makes beautiful wooden screen doors with his hands. He built a wooden one for us with a lattice bottom after our first child was born.  That was the beginning of a wooden screen door business.

After a newspaper ran an article about his business, a woman requesting a brochure wrote a note expressing how nice it was to read about a person using his hands to make a living. That has stuck with me all these years.

Carolie Screen Door
I went with him recently to the city. We happened to turn on a street that just happened to have one of his doors on their entry.  My husband stopped, on a whim, to inquire the year it was manufactured.  1986.  That door was 24 years old!  The householder was the one who had purchased it, and had enjoyed coming in and out of that door for 24 years!  My husband beamed with delight!

Which brings me back to observation #71 – Learn to make something beautiful with your hands.  Being a vendor at a farmer’s market gives me an opportunity to see people who, on a regular basis, use their hands to create beautiful things. It is rewarding indeed.  Perhaps that is why I enjoy the Farmer’s Market so.  There are many craftsmen, artists and farmers working with their hands, and many making a living doing so! 

Check out your local Farmer’s markets to see what I’m talking about.  To see beautiful wooden screen doors check out

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Time Each Year

About this time every year, I begin making a mental note, and later a written list, of what I’d like to accomplish the following year.

 I’m not very computer literate, so I thought I’d like, actually I need, to take a computer course for dummies.  Although I’ve signed up on facebook, I don’t know much at all about how to maneuver the site.   It seems every time I want to change up my web site, I’m constantly reverting back to the backup copy (I have learned you always have a backup copy in the event you screw up). I’d like not to have to call my son to bail me out of my computer messes.

My Corporate Headquarters (my work studio) needs painting.  I will show you the before and after photos as I go along.

I have a loveseat I bought for $4 from a thrift store that needs reupholstering.  I’d like to get that done this year.  I am hoping for my husbands help on it.  Last year we reupholstered a Lazy Boy recliner.  It turned out really nice!

There are many more projects on my list for next year as well.  I will share many on this blog.

“Stand them up and knock them down,” is my husband’s motto.  It’s a good one to have.  Pick one project, and focus on it until it is achieved, or accomplished.  On my calendar (for dummies) is a quote from a man named Hugh Prather, which reads “There is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen.”
My motto for next year will be my husband’s words of wisdom, and Hugh Prather’s words of wisdom.

So keep posted. If you see me on facebook, and  you check out my website regularly and it's updated,,  you will know that I am making things happen!  .

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cleaning With Anita Baker

This past weekend I participated in a 3 day Arts and Crafts Show.  I was tired after all was said and done, so Monday I did nothing at all.  Getting ready for a large show kinda leaves things undone at home.  Today I had to clean.  My daughter had piano students coming in the afternoon, and boxes and stuff were where they are not usually.

Fortunately I awoke feeling in the mood to clean. When in that mode,  I put on a CD or two.  The Best of Anita Baker is my CD of choice.  That CD is 80 minutes long.  When she's done so am I.  I put her on and start singing and cleaning. I get a lot done.

  My family hears Anita and they disperse.  I think it's because they think I'll put them to work.  Or, I guess, they could disperse because of my singing.  Either way they stay out of my way!

What motivates you to clean?  Do you clean to music?  Let me know!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turkey Leftovers

The best part of cooking a turkey is the leftovers!  For the last 15 years, I always had a craft show the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday.  I would always cook a turkey, a large one so there would be plenty of leftovers for the next 4 days. After my family picked over the carcass like a vulture might pick over road kill, I would make Posole  Soup.  Now that's what I'm talking about!  My favorite part of cooking a turkey!

Posole is a traditional Mexican dish from the pacific coast region of Jalisco. A  soup that's usually made with pork, hominy, garlic, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, and broth.   In my version, I make a broth of the turkey carcass, smoked ham hocks, celery, and onions.  The key is getting the broth right.  Here's my recipe for Posole.
Download recipe card

Posole Soup

1 turkey carcass
2 smoked ham hocks  (with meat on them)
1 med onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
Salt to taste

Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for about an hour.  Strain broth into another pot.  Pick off the turkey and pork meat and set aside.  Discard the rest.  Be sure to get the broth right!

To the broth in the pot add:
The reserved meat
2 shredded carrots
1 sm onion diced
1 can hominy (without the liquid)

Cook just until carrots are tender.  It shouldn't be long at all.

Serve the pot on the table.  Garnish soup with thinly sliced cabbage, chopped cilantro, sliced radishes, lime slices and tortillas.  You'll be in heaven!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Soup Anyone?

My husband Barry dislikes yams or is it sweet potatoes?  Why, I can't figure out.  How could anyone not like yams or sweet potatoes?  Whenever presented on the table, he will pass them by.
Yam and Sweet Potato

Though interchanged, the yam is  unrelated to the sweet potato.  The yam is a tuber from the lily family, whereas the sweet potato is of the morning glory family.  Both are very tasty, the yam being sweeter with a deeper orange flesh, or is it the other way around?  Both are loaded with nutrients, with the sweet potato outshining the yam only slightly.

I was telling this to a  friend who, like my husband was not fond of yams.  She told me whenever she disliked a vegetable, she would search for a recipe using that particular vegetable, hoping that it would appeal to her.
Great idea!  She told me about a yam soup recipe that she made and liked very much.  I thought I'd try it.  Lo and behold,  my husband ate and enjoyed it.

Download Recipe Card
This recipe for yam soup came from the magazine "Something Extra"  put out by Raley's and Bel Air Supermarkets.  It's easy.  Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Yam Soup

4 strips bacon, cooked and cut into bits
2/3 cup onions, chopped
2/3 cup celery, chopped
2/3 cup carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups chopped fresh yams
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Saute vegetables in bacon drippings about 10 minutes.  Add stock, yams, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.  Puree soup in a blender.  Add bacon bits and simmer 10 minutes more.

If you dislike yams or sweet potatoes, and you decide to try this recipe, let me know what you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Karita Loua

Coffee Liqueur is a nice addition to afternoon coffee on a chilly day.  It's even really good over ice cream.  I’ve made this in bulk for years, giving bottles away as gifts.  I recycle pretty bottles I find at the dollar store. 

This recipe does not need to age.  So try it.  You’ll be surprised how much it tastes like the name brand!

Coffee Liqueur

1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 qt. Brandy (I use 750 ml, the rest vodka)
1 cup vodka
4 cups water
6 ½ cups sugar
4 oz. Instant coffee
2 TBSP. Cocoa

Bring to just a boil (do not let it boil over) everything except brandy, vodka and vanilla.  Remove from heat.  Cool to warm.  Add brandy, vodka and vanilla. Pour into bottles.

If using a vanilla bean, cut it into equal portions and place in bottle.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How I Got Into Soapmaking

I remember distinctly the day I read you could make soap from scratch.  I have always been the kind of person who enjoys doing things from scratch.  I enjoy canning, baking, sewing, crafting, anything from its raw material base.  So when I read in the newspaper an article on making soap from scratch, 25 years ago, I began collecting the ingredients.  Beef fat from the butcher at the grocery store.  Coconut oil from the health food store.  Lye from the grocery store.  The first batch was a success.  I knew I’d be making soap again!

I went to the local bookstore and bought the one and only book they had on soapmaking.  To this day it is my favorite book on the subject.  I then began making soap every 6 months or so, adding fragrances and herbs for variety.  I found a bar of handmade soap made an excellent gift. 

When my husbands business slowed during the recession of the early nineties, I was looking for someway to supplement our family’s income.  But the problem for me was I had 5 children.  Can you imagine what childcare for 5 children would be?  I had to find a job I could do partially at home and take my children with me to work.  My friend Cindy, who had been a recipient of my soap, solved my dilemma.  I was telling her my plight one day.  She responded “Karita, you ought to try selling your soaps”.  She had traveled extensively doing flea markets with her husband, and she observed people would buy cleaning supplies and food.

I thought about it and decided to give it a try.  That was 15 years ago.  It was a wonderful solution to my dilemma.  I made soap at home, and on the weekends my children and I would go to the farmers’ market to sell them.  I tell my customers I am one of those rare people who work at what they love.  I am at home during the week, which I love.  I leave home once or twice a week to sell my soaps, which I love. Can it get any better than that? 

Check out Karita's soaps at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Put Yer Hoes Down

I grew up in almond country.  Not all-mond country, but am-mond country.

Each year during the almond harvest, my mother and my cousin’s mother would work on the almond huller for about 6 weeks.  Once school began, we would ride the bus to the farm and dairy and wait the 2 hours until she was off work.  This farm happened to be where Indians had lived centuries before.
  Waiting for mom was not boring at all.  We would hunt for arrowheads and obsidian.  Occasionally we would find Indian grinding bowls.
Grinding Whole Grains
  A creek ran through the farm where we could look under the rocks for hellgrammites, which were used for fishing bait.  Mr. Perez would sometimes let us milk a cow.
No, we were never bored!

That was 45 years ago.  The farm and dairy have been transformed into an organic farm called Full Belly.
For 23 years this farm has opened its gates for a farm festival extraordinaire.
The Hoes Down!  I’ve been a vendor at this festival for some 12 years or so.
When my children were small, I’d take them with me to the festival.  There were activities galore, not only for children but for adults as well.
Bobbing for Apples

We all looked forward to October. 
Carding Wool

Each year I attend I relate to my customers what this farm was like 45 years ago.  I point out where the huller was, where the milking barn was, where Mr. Perez lived with his family.
Circus Bella
I relate to them what we as children did and where we would go on the farm.  I relate how the walk from the highway almost killed me the first year I did the festival.  We unloaded the car and parked near the highway, and walked the same walk I did as a child.  I hadn’t realized how far it was from the huller. 
Hay Fort

Everything changes, but the Hoes Down Festival brings those pleasant childhood memories back to mind. Those were the days!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cinnamon Mulling Spices

This time of year naturally we want hot refreshments.  The days start to get shorter and the temperatures are more temperate and cooler.  Apples are readily available this time of year and fresh apple juice and cider is very good.   I have always wondered what the difference is between apple juice and apple cider?  So what is the difference?  According to
Apple juice and apple cider are both fruit beverages made from apples, but there is a difference between the two. Fresh cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment. It takes about one third of a bushel to make a gallon of cider. 
 apple cider jugs
To make cider, apples are washed, cut and ground into a mash that is the consistency of applesauce. Layers of mash are wrapped in cloth, and put into wooded racks. A hydraulic press squeezes the layers, and the juice flows into refrigerated tanks. This juice is bottled as apple cider.

Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. Vacuum sealing and additional filtering extend the shelf life of the juice.

The flavor of cider depends on the blending of juice from different apple varieties. The term "flavor" refers to the palatability of a distinct apple juice flavor and the aroma that is typical of properly processed apple juice. Cider makers are most particular about concocting a blend that will create the desired flavor and produce the perfect balance between sweetness and tartness.

Cider needs constant refrigeration because it is perishable. It will stay sweet and unfermented for up to two weeks. Cider can also be frozen, but be sure to pour off an inch or two from the container for expansion during freezing.

A Nutritious Alternative: Although a glass of cider a day cannot guarantee good health, the sweet juice is a good source of potassium and iron. Apple cider is pure and natural with no sugar added. A 6 ounce glass has only 87 calories. Apple cider, like other juices, fruits and vegetables contains no cholesterol. Pectin, contained in apple cider, has been shown to keep serum cholesterol levels down.

To spice apple juice or cider try mulling it. This recipe for mulling spices I got out of Sunset Magazine about 20 years ago.  Each year I make a batch or two to use to mull cider or red wine.  It is easy to prepare and has a very nice flavor.  I seal in large tea bags (available on line or at kitchen stores) or you could use muslin and package in pretty tins or cellophane. 

Cinnamon Mulling Spices

1 lemon, peeled
15 cinnamon sticks (3”)
1-1/2 TBSP whole cloves
1-1/2 TBSP whole allspice
1 tsp. anise seeds, crushed

Heat oven to 225 degrees, dry lemon peels (1 hr.).  Crush cinnamon sticks into 1” slivers.  Mix rest of ingredients in bowl.  Add cinnamon and lemon rind.  Divide into 2 TBSP portions.  Seal in large tea bags or Sm muslin bags.  Makes 5 bags.  Serving is 1 bag to 1 to 2 quarts liquid.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Healthy Skin Care

I am an alchemist.  I concoct.  I make skin care products.  When the spirit moves me in a creative direction I get excited.  When I branched out from soaps and began making skin care products, I wanted them to be beneficial.  So I had to do my homework.  I read about the skin, what factors cause dry skin and wrinkles.  My research led me to this conclusion.  Skin problems inevitably begin inside our bodies, with poor eating habits, not enough fluids consumed, not enough fats in the diet, immoderate habits and too much sun.  Wrinkled skin is a lack of either oil or water in the body’s system.
So what makes beautiful healthy skin?  Our lifestyle, stress, even our attitude can affect our skin. Lack of water, (dehydration) vitamin deficiencies, improper nutrition, alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can all affect the skin's health.

Protecting your skin from within is the first line of defense. 
A glowing, youthful complexion begins with good nutrition. When your diet contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, legumes, and omega-3 fatty acids, the skin is nourished. Preventive measures for skin care include wearing sunscreen, maintaining a good skin care regimen, following a good diet; eat healthily (plenty of fruits and vegetables), drink plenty of water,  take vitamins,  and exercise regularly.  All  will have a positive effect on the health of the body and the skin.  You'll be rewarded with younger looking, more radiant healthy skin!

Exercising regularly invigorates circulation to the skin.  Get plenty of sleep (natures repair systems of the skin need rest so cells can regenerate properly.)
Sun damage is the main external factor of aging.  Daily sunscreen is imperative for healthy skin. Sunscreen helps protect the skin from the sun, prevents "age spots" and helps prevent collagen loss.

Quality skin care products used regularly to cleanse, moisturize, and protect the skin are part of a well-planned skin care program. Remember what you put on your skin your body absorbs or drinks.  The fewer the ingredients the better.  Water, oil and beeswax (as a binder) are really all that is necessary in a skin care product.

Remember too being happy and thinking positively can also have positive effects on the skin! 

Check out Karita’s Skin Care Products at

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gold Paint Makes a Buffet (or Filing Cabinet) Look Good

It has been said that paint makes an old barn look good, or paint covers a multitude of sins, whichever.  I know there is truth to that rumor!

My sister has a thing for gold spray paint.  A thrift queen she is with a fetish for buffets painted gold. She believes all things can look good with a couple coats of gold spray paint.  I, at one point asked, “How many buffets does a person need?” Her buffets come and go, but the gold spray paint is a constant.

I have come to appreciate her penchant.  I happened across an old filing cabinet that needed some TLC.  You know what I did?  I got 2 cans of gold spray paint, and painted my filing cabinet.  When my family saw it, they said “Okay Shandra!” But you know what – that gold paint made that filing cabinet look good! And what’s more, most things can look good with a couple of coats of (gold) paint.

Thanks Shandra for turning me on to gold spray paint!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Almond Roca Cookies

I am a chocolate and nut lover.  Always have been and always will be.  My dad would not come home from work without a treat for us.  Something sweet of course!  My husband tells me he should have looked at my teeth before he married me, he could have saved a fortune!

Cookies are my favorite.  Chocolate chip with nuts, especially.  I did acquire a recipe from one of my mother’s co-workers years ago that fit my obsession.  Almond Roca Cookies.  I accompanied my mother to a Head Start seminar (she was a teacher) perhaps when I was 18 or so, where refreshments were brought by different ones.  Pat Williams of Davis, CA brought these cookies to the seminar.  Now I am really shy by nature, but I had to ask for that recipe.  It has all the ingredients to fully satisfy my sweet tooth: butter, sugar, chocolate and nuts.  I still have her recipe card written in her own hand, which reads, “Good cooks never lack friends.” For a different kind of cookie try this recipe.

Almond Roca Cookies
Download the recipe on a 3x5 card.

1 cup butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour
9 ounces milk chocolate
1 cup sliced raw almonds

Cream butter and sugars.  Beat in egg yolk and vanilla.  Add flour and mix well.  Spread batter evenly in an ungreased 10 X 15” rimmed cookie pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Meanwhile melt chocolate in double broiler or microwave and spread over warm shortbread.  Sprinkle almonds on top.  Cut into squares while still warm.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Lavender has been called a breath of fresh air.  And indeed it is!  Lavender is used extensively in herbalism and aromatherapy. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications. Lavandin, (Lavandula intermedia) yields a similar essential oil, but with higher levels of terpenes including camphor, which add a sharper overtone to the fragrance. Mexican lavender, (Lavandula stoechas) is not used medicinally, but mainly for landscaping.
According to folk wisdom, and Wikipedia, lavender has many uses. Essential oil of lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Infusions of lavender soothes, heal insect bites and burns. Bunches of lavender repel insects. If applied to the temples, (lavender is one of only a few essential oils that can be applied undiluted on the skin) lavender oil soothes headaches. In pillows, lavender seeds and flowers aid sleep and relaxation. An infusion of three flowerheads added to a cup of boiling water soothes and relaxes at bedtime. Lavender essential oil heals acne when used diluted 1:10 with water, rosewater, or witch hazel; it also treats skin burns and inflammatory conditions.
Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. Lavender is also used extensively as herbal filler inside sachets used to freshen linens. Dried and sealed in pouches, lavender flowers are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and to deter moths. Lavender is also popular in scented waters and sachets.

How to use it:
10 – 12 drops lavender essential oil to 1 oz either water or carrier oil is sufficient.  Leftovers should be stored in a dark bottle, in a cool place.

Karita’s Handmade uses lavender extensively in many products.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Shoes & Mattresses

There are few things in life that a person really needs to splurge on.  Good comfortable shoes, and a good comfortable mattress.

Our feet have to carry us through life.  If our feet hurt, we’re in big trouble.  Misfitting shoes are responsible for many health ailments, including deformities such as bunions, calluses or corns, hammertoes or pinched nerves between your toes.  It is important to make healthy choices in footwear.  How do you choose well fitting shoes?  Check out  for tips on a good shoe fit.

Because we spend a third of our lives in bed, it is very important to get a good night’s sleep.  During sleep time our bodies do its healing work. Sleep is necessary to refresh, invigorate and rejuvenate us.  According to  a good mattress can make a noticeable difference in your health, attitude, and well being. A comfortable mattress is of utmost importance.  How can you choose a good mattress?  Check out the above link.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alice’s Prune Cake

Years ago I worked for Greyhound as a ticket agent and, as my father called me, a baggage mistress.  As a ticket agent I’d help people plan their itineraries, from going to the next town or across country.  As a baggage mistress I would ship and receive freight for local businesses.

One time in particular there was a shipment of prunes, several boxes of them.  It seems they were sent to no one in particular.  No one claimed them.  There was no phone number to call.  They sat in the depot for weeks.  Finally, I asked what to do with them.  “Throw them away”, was the response. 

Enter Alice.  Alice was a partner in a fish wholesale business.  The bank, I believe.  She stopped by the depot dropping off freight, and I told her about the prunes.  “I’ll take them", she said.  We loaded the boxes in her car and off she went.

A few weeks later she brought me a prune cake.  It was delicious!  She shared her recipe. Every time I make this cake, I get compliments.  This cake freezes well, so make a double batch to have on hand.

Alice’s Prune Cake

1 cup oil                            
1 ½ cups sugar                 
3 eggs beaten                 
2 cups flour                    
1/8 tsp. salt                      
1 tsp. baking soda        
1 tsp. cinnamon 
1 tsp. allspice 
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk 
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts
1 cup cooked mashed prunes                

Blend sugar and oil together.  Add beaten eggs and beat mixture for 1 minute.  Mix in sifted dry ingredients, alternating with buttermilk.  Add vanilla, prunes and nuts.  Put into greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees, 45 – 60 minutes

Monday, September 27, 2010

Virtues of Hand Washing

We’re moving into flu season.  How can we protect ourselves?  By washing our hands!

Hand washing is the best, easiest, and cheapest way of preventing the spread of many infection.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hand washing offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness. Adopting this simple habit can play a major role in protecting your health, and that of your family. Scientists estimate that people are not washing their hands often or well enough and may transmit up to 80% of all infections by their hands. From doorknobs, to animals, to food, harmful germs can live on almost everything. Hand washing may be the single most important thing you do to help stop the spread of infection and stay healthy.

Karita recommends using Karita’s Handmade Soap because of its superior cleaning properties.  Thoroughly wash hands using warm water and soap, rubbing them together for 15 to 30 seconds.

Friday, September 24, 2010


My husband told me the other day that I was getting quieter.  When I get up in the morning, I’m making less noise.  I no longer tromp down the hall, bumping into things.  When putting on the coffee, or water for tea, I no longer bang the cabinet doors, etc.

I’m quieter because I cherish the solitude I receive first thing in the morning, before others start to stir.  I sit in my window seat and watch the day come alive. I watch as the sun casts its red glow against the trees in my front yard. I watch people running, walking their dogs, and heading off to work. I meditate, read, and study. I think about what needs to be done that day, about stuff in general.

This is my favorite time of day.  To get that solitude, I’ve had to learn to move stealthily  through the house.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese would have to be my hands down favorite food of all time.  Not the box kind, but the genuine homemade kind.

I grew up in a small country town in Northern California, which had a one-room schoolhouse. My siblings and I attended there. After I finished first grade, we were bussed to school in the next town.  . 

Every Friday was macaroni and cheese for lunch day. Different Mothers would bring macaroni and cheese to school.  Many would bring it made from the box.  My mother didn’t do boxes.  Everything she made was from scratch.  Her macaroni and cheese was the best!

Fast-forward 50 years.  I still love macaroni and cheese.  Guess what?  My husband hates it!  It was the first dinner I prepared for him when we were first married.  He graciously ate it, but it came out later – please don’t fix that for me again!  So now I rarely fix macaroni and cheese except when he’s gone, and when he is gone there is no question about what’s for dinner, no question at all.

My mother's recipe is still the bomb!

Bamma Lou’s Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 pound macaroni
(I like using penne rigate, or mostaccioli)
2 cups shredded cheese or more (Colby works fine)
1 egg
 1 ½ to 2 cups milk
Salt and pepper

1.  Cook macaroni to package directions
2.  Preheat oven to 350-degrees
3.  Layer in baking dish half of macaroni.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle half the cheese on top.  Repeat. 
4.  Mix egg with milk (you may want to add a little salt to milk mixture) and pour over macaroni just until milk reaches top of macaroni (not cheese)
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in 350-degree oven.  Remove foil last 5  minutes to brown.

P.S.  Macaroni and cheese is not a dish I would prepare for someone with cancer.  It isn’t easily digested.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Benefits of African Shea Butter

From Nuts to Butter
Shea Butter is the oil from the nuts of wild Shea trees  scattered throughout the wooded savanna of West and Central Africa.
Women Gathering Shea Nuts
Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, healing salve, lotion for hair and skin care, and cooking oil.  

African Shea or Karite butter contains an abundance of healing ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, proteins and unique fatty acids, and is a superior active moisturizer. Unlike petroleum based moisturizers, Shea butter actually restores the skin's natural elasticity, promoting cell renewal.  Shea butter enables your skin to absorb moisture from the air, and as a result, it becomes softer and stays moisturized for longer. In addition, Shea butter has natural sunscreen properties (SPF 2-6) and anti-inflammatory agents. Because of its amazing properties, Shea butter is an excellent ingredient for soaps, lotions and creams. Regular users of  Shea butter notice softer, smoother, healthier skin. Shea butter has also been shown to help with skin conditions and ailments such as extreme dryness, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, skin allergies, fungal infections, blemishes, wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, scrapes, and more.

Check out Karita’s Exquisite Skin Creme and lip balms with African Shea butter at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fiesta Ware

Fiesta Dishes
When I was a child, perhaps 8 or so, my family would pile into the car and visit my Aunt Ruth.  My aunt had the entire collection of Fiesta Ware as her everyday dishes.   I remember so clearly seeing them in her glass dish cabinet.  I fell in love with her dishes.  The bright vibrant colors just made me feel happy.  I have never forgotten them.

 As a young adult, I started collecting them. First with Betty Crocker coupons, the newer ones, then at flea markets, the older ones.  I never did collect the entire set.  The other month, I happened to be in Kohl’s browsing, and they had Fiesta ware.  I decided right then and there, I was going to get my Fiesta ware.  I bought the 9” plates in almost every color. I am going to purchase the bowls next.  I will get the serving pieces after that.  The rich vibrant colors still make me happy. They look just as good in my dish cabinet,  as they did in my aunt’s.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Salad Dressings

My husband was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago.  What a stressful situation that was and is!  What were we going to do, and how were we going to fight this disease?  We immediately switched to a raw food diet, consisting mainly of fruit and vegetable salads.  My husband called it rabbit food.  I called it a necessity.  But I’d have to admit, eating the same thing day in and day out was tiring.  To change it up, I began experimenting with salad dressings.  I wanted one easy to prepare and healthy.  In my search I found one simple dressing with many variations.  Here are seven.

½ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
1 tsp. Sea salt
1 clove garlic, crushed

Combine all ingredients in covered jar.  Shake well.  Shake each time before using.

Variations – Add to vinaigrette:

Feta Cheese          3 TBSP crumbled, or crumble over salad

Herbal                    1 TBSP Minced parsley
                                1 tsp. thyme
                                3/4tsp. Italian seasoning

French                    1 tsp. Minced onion
                                1 tomato, pureed
                                1 tsp. Agave nectar or honey

Wasabi                  1 tsp. wasabi powder or paste

Horseradish          1 TBSP horseradish

Italian                     1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
                                ¼ tsp. Garlic powder

Fruit                        ¼ cup orange marmalade
                                1 tsp. Paprika
                                ½ tsp. celery seeds or poppy seeds
Omit garlic in vinaigrette
Use lemon juice instead of vinegar


Monday, September 13, 2010


Pogostemon  Cablin
Ah patchouli – means different things to different people.  A love hate thing, there are generally no in betweens.

Two women in their mid fifties stopped by my booth one Saturday at the Farmers’ market.  One loved patchouli, while the other hated it!  The one hating it said she always thought it was the smell of marijuana.  The one loving it said it was what they wore to cover up the smell of marijuana.  They both laughed, and went their separate ways.  So it goes with the scent of patchouli!

Patchouli oil is steam distilled from the dried leaves and stems of the Pogostemon patchouli plant.  Indonesia is the leading producer of it's oil. 

Patchouli is an important essential oil in perfumery.   In aromatherapy, there are top, middle and base notes, like in music.  Top notes don’t hold very well and are fleeting.  Middle notes keep the scent together, while base notes or fixatives hold the overall scent together for a long time    giving it greater intensity.

For instance, I make a lemongrass soap.  The dominant essential oil is lemon, which is a top note.  I add to the lemon, lemongrass, geranium (which are middle notes) and patchouli.  Using patchouli in the blend keeps the lemon scent in the bar, so it doesn’t fade.

Externally patchouli is used in skin care products to promote healing, to rejuvenate old, wrinkled and tired skin. It is considered antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

Internally inhaled it is calming, and some say it has aphrodisiac properties.

Karita’s Handmade uses patchouli in some soaps, skin cremes, and bath salts. Check them out at:

Friday, September 10, 2010

They Keep Coming Back

Dirty Dishes

Years ago I worked as a counselor in a home for developmentally disabled adults.  Repetition in everyday chores was the key in helping them to function to the best of their ability.

There was one resident in particular I will never forget.  His name was Jerry.  Jerry loved big band music and big buses.  He could listen to John Phillips Sousa all day long.  Every Saturday he would ride the Greyhound to the next town for lunch.

Jerry on the other hand, hated doing laundry and washing dishes.  He hated them because as he said “They just keep coming back!”  That phrase has stuck with me for 30 years.  I agree with Jerry 100 percent.  No matter how often I do laundry and dishes – they just keep coming back!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Can Get Married Now

The Mexicans have a saying when a woman can prepare a delicious meal; she can get married now.

I was on a Chicken Mole kick a while back, after having tasted a wonderful dish of it.  I asked for the hostess’s recipe, but never followed through.

Thus began my quest for a dynamite mole recipe.  I found it on the Internet and it was easy to prepare, and delicious.

 I prepared it and the consensus was - I could get married now!  Try it.  You’ll be able to get married too!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shampoo In A Bar?

Karita's Shampoo Bars
A Typical Commercial Shampoo

Ingredients:  Water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, cocamidoprophl, betaine, glycol distearate, parfum/fragrance, disodium prosphate, glycol stearate, ricinoleamidopropyl ethyldimonium ethosulfate, stearic acid, aminomethyl propanol, cocamide mea, linoleamidoprophyl PG-Dimonium chloride prosphate, glycerin, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, propylene glycol, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, tetrasodium EDTA, methylparaben, citric acid, methylchloroisothazolinone, methylisothazolinone, ext. violet 2, violet 2.

Whew!  Can you believe that?  Try reading that fast! You should have seen my spell checker!  Those were the ingredients on my shampoo/conditioner hair rinse to brighten my gray hair.  Thank goodness I only use it about once a month.

On the other hand: Karita’s Handmade Shampoo/Conditioner Bar

Ingredients:  Olive oil, water, coconut oil, castor oil, and sodium hydroxide (lye). Plus pure essential oils.

This handmade bar through its rich penetrating lather has superior cleaning and conditioning properties, to soften and add body to your hair.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Hen and Her Chicks

Bessie and Chicks

I love our chickens.  Recently one of our hens, Bessie, decided to set.  We live within the city limits where roosters are poultry non grata, so we had to search for fertilized eggs.  Usually we try to get some from country folk with roosters, or the local farmers’ market.  Well anyway, we got a dozen eggs and sneakily and carefully put them under Bess.  Sadly only 2 chicks hatched, but we were excited nonetheless.  So much time is spent (some folks would say wasted) observing the newest editions to our menagerie. 

Our hen is an excellent mother.  One who is fiercely protective of her brood, an example many human mothers would do well to emulate.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

When tomatoes are plentiful and it is HOT, I know I will not be cooking dinner that night.   I will fix a tub of salsa.  We eat chips and salsa – ALL DAY LONG.

Karita’s Tomato Salsa

4 cups chopped tomatoes in separate bowl

1 cup cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 med. red onion, chopped
1 to 3 Chilies, to heat level desired

Using a food processor, process all ingredients, except tomatoes.  Add tomatoes, a few at a time, using the pulse mode to desired chunkiness.  Pour salsa back in tomato bowl and add:

1 tsp. Seasoning salt or to taste
Juice of ½ lime, more or less to taste.

Refrigerate to allow flavors to meld.  For extra spunk, add ½ to 1 tsp. Ground chipolte pepper.
Um um good!

For an attractive summer dinner try Ceviche Tostados

2 cups salsa
½ pound of salad shrimp meat
½ pound fake crab meat

Refrigerate 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.

Spread mayonnaise on a tostado shell.  Sprinkle with cayenne pepper (optional).  Spoon ceviche  on top.
Garnish with avocado slices, a cilantro sprig and lime wedge.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Welcome to Karita Lou’s Blog.

I’m excited and nervous about my first blogging experience.  I know little about how this works, so this is a learning experience for me.  - Be Kind Please –

My family, on the other hand, will be pleased.  What I muse about in this blog, will be less I repeat to them.  If you become family to my musings, and I repeat myself, let me know.  Okay?

I want to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Please check out Karita Lou each week

Let me know what you think!

Karita Lou