Slow Cook Tea Warmer Recipes


Tea warmer + Ramekin + nice smelly ingredients = Long lasting air freshener

A strange post I know but about two years ago I looked up “Slow Cooker Air Freshener”. I love the smell of slow cooker food and I had an idea for an essential oils blend version. This was where I first saw the Ramekin slow cooker recipes for air fresheners but it seems not as many people get adventurous with it. Everyone kind of sticks to the standard, cinnamon stick, cloves and orange slice with peel recipe. It’s nice and all but there’s so many others you can try.

Here are a few of my favourite recipes. Though you can kind of do this in a regular oil burner, a Ramikin is best. I use my teapot warmer and find it can freshen up to a quarter of my house which is quite impressive given the size and design of my home.

A quick note, always use cold water.

Lemony Lavender

1 whole cutting of lavender, leaves, flowers, stems and all. (You could also use half this, depending on the size of your lavender bush. The leaves tend to shrink a bit.)

5 Lemon Myrtle Leaves (if no lemon myrtle, lemon peel is a good substitute or lemon essential oil 3-5 drops)

Water (I prefer to use distilled water)

This blend is refreshingly relaxing. It’s a very positive smell and bound to earn compliments.

Lemony Rosemary

1 Sprig of Rosemary

5 Lemon Myrtle leaves or lemon peel or lemon essential oil. 3-5 drops.

Water

This blend I find makes my family hungry. Everyone loves the Rosemary smell mixed with lemon. It’s a bright and uplifting smell. Some have commented that it gives them a bit of a boost of energy.

Lavender Rosemary and Myrtle

1 Lavender stalk. Use only the lavender leaves. Basically all the green parts plus stems.

1 Sprig of Rosemary

3-5 Lemon Myrtle leaves (Best to use Myrtle)

Water

This is lemony with a stronger rosemary undertone. For whatever reason the green leaves of lavender can smell very similar to rosemary. It’s not quite the same but it sort of is. This recipe appears to be the most popular. It’s warm, citrusy and gentle.

Rose

Fresh, first thing in the morning rose. Dark red gives the best scent.

Water

Try to use the whole rose. If you don’t have access, regular old rose tea will do. This is a slow and gentle freshener. It takes a while to heat up, the smell slowly disperses throughout the room and gently fades after a while. Can be reheated but may not produce the same amount of smell.

Lavender

Lavender flowers, fresh or dried

Water

Much the same as the rose recipe. Goes will in bathrooms. I recommend bruising the flowers for a quicker smell.

Full Lavender

Whole lavender. Leaves, flowers, stem.

Water

Produces a lovely lavender smell with a rosemary like hint. Very nice, very gentle and relaxing. Of course you might nit to chop it up a fair bit. For best results, bruise the flowers.

Not Quite Lemon

Lemon Leaves (as much as you can fit, chopped up)

Water

This is a very delicate and gentle lemon smell. It lasts longer than the lemon peels and travels far throughout the home. I’ve had many compliments for this blend because it’s pleasant but not overpowering. It’s good for those times where you want a hint of smell to make your home seem a little fresher even though it’s already clean.

Not Quite Lime

Lime Leaves (as much as you can fit, chopped up)

Water

Pretty much the same results. Can be reused up to about 3 times.

Plain Rosemary

1-2 Rosemary sprigs

Rosemary flowers (if in bloom)

Water

Slow cooking this is very nice. I do find it tends to make my family hungry and I start getting requests to cook more roast lamb.

Cinnamon

1-3 Sticks of cinnamon

Water

I think this goes under appreciated. It’s spicy, warm and just smells delicious. Very nice and strong smelling and disperses slowly through the air. It takes a long time to extract from the wood but it can be reused multiple times before it wears off.

Cinnamon Star

1-2 Cinnamon sticks

4-6 Star Anise seed pods

4 Cardamon pods (Optional)

Warm and slightly licorice scented. Refreshing and pleasant.

Clary Sage

Leaves and Flowers (enough to fit half way in the ramekin)

Water

I love clary sage. I love the smell. It’s definitely an underappreciated herb. I’d describe it as strong, pleasant and very herbal smelling. Being slow cook style, it progressively gets stronger as you let it do it’s thing. Best used in a large room. I prefer the kitchen or dining room.

Patchouli

Use the leaves, fresh or dried

Water (cold)

Beautiful and musky, it’s a very pleasant scent to slow cook just for the smell of it.

 

So far, these are all my favourites. They’re all quick and easy and most of these I’m either growing or can find in the pantry. I started using these because I’m sick of chemicals and sick from using stuff in cans and bottles from the shop. That and I am a very allergic person.

I love smells and perfumes but I’m horrendously allergic to so many. Using these I get all the benefits of it being safe to use, organic without the harmful chemicals or allergic reactions. With commercial stuff I get either asthma, heyfever or a combination of both.

Even though this isn’t a new or original idea, it does seem to me that a lot of people are unaware of just how much they can do with a simple tealight candle and a few items from their garden or cupboard and get hours of refreshing smells without harming anyone.

Air fresheners don’t have to be complicated and they certainly don’t have to be expensive. I love making them and I absolutely recommend giving it a try. Especially if you love a particular herb. Slow cook it in some cold water in a ramekin and see what happens. You might be surprised!

 

Simple Homemade Tea


So a comment on a previous post got me thinking. How many of us go to the store for a new flavoured tea instead of using what’s in the cupboard or growing in our garden? *Raises hand*

I do but mostly because I haven’t gotten my herb garden to where I want it just yet. So here are some single or simple herb tea recipes. Most of these only need to be steeped for 7 minutes or simmered for 15 minutes. It’s a bit of try and find out type of thing.

Single Herb Recipe:

  • Rosemary fresh or dried
  • Lavender Flowers (Lavender tea can lower your blood pressure so be wary of this if you suffer from low blood pressure)
  • Carraway seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Dried fruit peel such as lemon or orange
  • Dried/dehydrated fruit
  • Mint leaves fresh or dried (I add the stems too)
  • Basil leaves fresh or dried (I add the stems too)
  • Rose petals
  • Lime or lemon leaves
  • Raw fruit of your choice. Berries work best.
  • Pomegranate seeds as well but not the rind or pith
  • Watermelon seeds (this one surprised me)
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Rosemary Flowers
  • Basil flowers
  • Mint Flowers
  • Dandelion leaves (Be sure it’s not catspaw)
  • Dandelion Flowers (Not as good as the leaves)
  • Dandelion roots roasted (tastes like coffee but I’m adding it anyway)
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Myrtle
  • Lemon Balm
  • Ginger root. I don’t recommend the powder but you can.

That’s just a few and what I often use. I use them for various reasons. Stress, headaches or just because it tastes good.

So with combinations, what’s good, where can I start? Well you can add all of those single ingredient teas to White Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea or even Red Tea. A lot of homemade tea is a matter of a lot of trial and error. So for consideration on multi ingredient homemade teas here’s a few other ingredients to consider putting in that a lot of people don’t seem to consider. Hope it gives you some ideas:

  • Whole cloves (gives a lovely taste and aroma and can be re-brewed multiple times after the tea is finished)
  • Whole pepper corns. Putting them in whole lets the pepper disperse slowly through it’s skin. It’s very good for you if you’re sick
  • Cinnamon sticks or ground
  • Cardamon pods
  • Star anise (goes best with oranges and can be nice in Chai tea, depending on what you blend it with)
  • Coriander seeds. Sometimes I use this in my Chai tea especially when I have no pepper corns.
  • Slices of ginger. Sometimes I like to add this to my Chai tea.
  • Brown sugar instead of white or raw. (For my American readers I am talking about the sugar that’s sticky and dark brown)
  • Nutmeg (I don’t use it, I’m allergic)
  • Grated rind if you don’t want a strong flavour.
  • Whole nuts. It can add a natural oils or a delightful aroma.
  • Organic milks such as nut milks, soy, coconut or rice. (homemade is better).
  • Goats milk instead of cows milk. Surprising how it changes the taste
  • A bit of whipped cream with cocoa on top (yes just like coffee)
  • Marshmallows
  • Other sweeteners besides sugar and honey. Such as Agave nectar, date syrup, golden syrup even maple. Maple is better on straight teas (by that I mean no milk).
  • A drop of vanilla or a small cut of vanilla bean in the bottom of your teapot. The vanilla bean can often be nicer since it’s reusable. Also very nice added to Chai tea.

With that in mind, all I can say is get adventurous. But I won’t leave you guys hanging. Here’s a few tasty tea blend recipes. I must admit I make up the Tea names as I go.

Rose Garden Tea:

  • Matcha Green Tea or your preferred green tea
  • Rose petals or dried buds
  • (Optional) sweetener. Recommended- Honey

Steep together and serve warm. Remove rose petals at desired level of flavour. Sweeten to taste.

Refreshing Rose Tea:

Recipe 1:

  • White or black tea. If using black make it weak.
  • Rose Petals
  • Lemon rind. Fresh or dried. If not then lemon juice is fine but not quite the same.
  • (Optional) Sweetener. Recommended- Honey

Steep all together, sweeten in your cup not your tea pot. Lemon rind takes a long time to disperse it’s flavour but the longer it steeps the stronger it gets. It can also be re-brewed with a fresh pot of tea.

Recipe 2:

  • White or black tea. If using black make it weak.
  • Rose Petals
  • Mint or Peppermint leaves. Peppermint essence would also work well but a drop. Don’t go crazy on the mint.
  • (optional) Sweetener- Sugar

Rosemary Breath Freshener:

This is more of a personal taste tea. The ratio for me is 3:1 Mint to Rosemary.

  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • (optional) White tea

Steep and if necessary, sweeten to taste. Very refreshing and interesting. Reminds me of when I cook lamb and make mint jelly.

Spicy Orange Tiger Tea

  • 3 large Navel Orange slices, whole. Must have rind
  • 3 or more whole cloves depending on your taste for it
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick. If you break it up, use half.
  • 6 whole pepper corns. I use 4 season pepper corns.
  • Star Anise (Optional)
  • 2 Cardamon pods (optional but nice, gives a menthol like touch)

Add all together and you can either steep or simmer this recipe. If you simmer it, the flavour is much stronger. If you steep it you only have to do so for about 7 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick in whole. If you break it up into many pieces only use half or less because, when it’s whole the taste disperses slower but if you break it into shards the cinnamon flavour can become overpowering very quickly. You want this to be a slow spice.

Spicy White Tiger Tea

  • White tea
  • 1 to 2 whole Rosemary sprigs.
  • Ginger slices, thin. About 1 slice a cup. So if your teapot serves 4 then put in 4 slices.
  • 6 pepper corns
  • (Optional) Lemon juice
  • (Optional) Sweeten with Honey.

This is a detox tea. This will likely make you go to the toilet. It can also help relieve annoying headaches and calm your nerves. In the past this for me has had the strength of taking Panadol. This tea is best made by steeping and enjoying it slowly. It’s very healthy but not if you add sugar. Keep it healthy and helpful and try to only sweeten with honey.

Lemon Dragon Tea

  • 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice in your tea cup (easier than measuring it in the teapot. It’s perfect every time this way)
  • Oolong Tea (Black Dragon Tea)
  • Honey to taste if you need it

This is really good if you’re feeling sick and need a gentle energy boost. Oolong tea has caffeine similar to Matcha Green tea. It disperses slowly over a few hours. Steep your Oolong tea for 7 mintues then serve.

Orange Dragon Tea

  • 1 to 3 whole orange slice, rind and all.
  • Oolong Tea (Black Dragon Tea)
  • (Optional) Sweetener

Spicy Spicy Lemon Tea (With extra spicy ^_~)

Variation 1:

  • Several lemon slices in the teapot plus 1 per slice per cup in the cup
  • 4 to 6 whole cloves in the teapot
  • 6 pepper corns
  • 3 or more ginger slices
  • Raw Honey or Sugar to taste
  • (Optional) White tea but not necesary.

Variation 2:

  • 1 to 2 whole juiced lemons in a medium to large teapot
  • 1 teaspoon of whole black pepper corns
  • A sprinkle of ground black pepper
  • Honey to taste or without.

Variation 3:

  • Lemon juice of 3 lemons
  • Lemon slice in each cup
  • Ginger slices, about 6 or 8
  • 4 season whole pepper corns (so black, white, green and red.) About half a teaspoon
  • Honey

These are really nice. This will also clear your chest if you’re sick and definitely speed up recovery. This too can have Panadol like effects because of the ginger or pepper. If you feel the need to add tea, use Green Tea or White or it can ruin the overall flavour and experience.

Vanilla Chai Tea

Variation 1

  • Black Tea
  • 3 Whole bay leaves
  • 6 Whole pepper corns
  • 3 Whole cardamon pods
  • 4 Whole cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 2cm cut of vanilla bean sliced open like a book. Think a book open in to the middle page
  • Brown sugar (the sticky mostly raw one)
  • Milk or coconut milk

Variation 2:

  • Black Tea
  • 3 Whole bay leaves
  • 6 Whole pepper corns or a half a teaspoon of Coriander seeds, whole
  • 4 Ginger slices
  • 3 Whole cardamon pods
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 2cm cut of vanilla bean sliced open like a book. Think a book open in to the middle page.
  • Brown sugar (the sticky mostly raw one)
  • Milk or coconut milk

Steep or simmer for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy! If you don’t have any then a quarter to a half a teaspoon of thick vanilla essence will do. I haven’t tried the more raw vanilla paste but I plan to.

Cold Killer Green Tea

Variation 1

  • Teaspoon or more of lemon juice in your teacup
  • Greentea
  • 1 teaspoon of Honey

Variation 2

  • Teaspoon or more of lemon juice in your teacup
  • Several ginger slices. To your taste. I recommend 6 for a whole pot
  • Greentea
  • 1 teaspoon of Honey

There are a lot of health benefits to green tea. One of which is boosting your immune system. Adding lemon juice can help break down congestion and let the tea and ginger get to work quicker. Ginger can be strong and have the effects of Panadol and settle the tummy. Honey is gentle and antibacterial. Combine them all and you’ve got one powerful cold and flu remember.

Refreshing Chamomile

  • Spearmint leaves or Peppermint leaves (or mint. Spearmint is best)
  • Chamomile (dried flowers or teabag just make sure it’s pure and not a blend)

Steep for about 7 minutes and enjoy. Try not to sweeten it. This is calming and tummy settling. The spearmint counteracts the drowsy effects of Chamomile but not completely. This tea can leave you feeling very relaxed. It’s also a pretty good “after yoga” tea. Don’t drink this tea before bed. Just about anything in the mint family is a natural diuretic. So in simple terms, it makes you pee, a LOT. If you drink it before bed you will be up and down all night and if you’re diabetic you will be up and down all night frequently.

If you suffer fluid retention this tea can help reduce it, but drinking just the spearmint, mint or peppermint on it’s own will reduce fluid best. Try to have it unsweetened. It’s not a guarantee though so don’t rely on it.

 

These are some of my favourites. Not in my top 5’s but perhaps my top 20. But I’m not going to stop here I have just one more tea to add. These aren’t really tea’s but they could pass as iced tea or lemonade.

Basil Lemonade

Mix up a batch of classic homemade lemonade. I won’t make a recipe since there’s a million out there. But before you put it in the fridge while it’s still hot to warm throw in a few chopped up basil leaves. Basil and lemon go great together. But if you’re not a fan of it’s strong flavour, add it in when the lemonade is cold and it will disperse slowly.

Mint Lemonade

Same instructions as above only you really should add the mint in while it’s still warm.

Mint Limeade

Same instructions as above only add the mint in the lime juice while it’s warm and lots of it. Adding some white tea can really kick it up a notch. Limeade is excellent for a fever.

All of these though they seem like a lot of work are all really very simple. The time it takes is however long it takes you to throw it inside a teapot and steep. With the exception of a few that really need to be simmered.

All of these teas are healthy and excellent for your health unless you go overboard with sweeteners and sugar or start adding cream. The rose petal and limeade recipe in particular are good for a vitamin C boost.

I was talking to my love just the other day about tea. Honestly if I had a job at T2 or The Tea Centre I would be in heaven. I could spend all day around tea and talk about it all day. Honestly if I could find a local course I’d take up becoming a herbalist.

But enough rambling. Here’s just a few more tea blends and recipes, and yes I do mean a few. There is so much more you can do. I hope some of you might try these out! Though I must warn you, if you don’t like the herb then you might not like the single herb on it’s own in the simple tea version.

One thing I would like to leave you with is for each ingredient (if you have the time) look up “[herb name] health benefits” and you will find an incredible range of information.

Most of these herbs are excellent for headaches, stress, feeling under the weather and joint pain. So please do look it up. It might help you out in ways you never expected.

5 Favourite Homemade Teas


Just curious since I know at least one of my readers is a tea lover like myself, but what are some of your favourite teas?

I have 5 favourite homemade brews. Everything else I’m just so so about. Here’s what I love and how to make it or spice it up a bit.

  1. Chai tea
  2. Orange tea
  3. Rose tea
  4. Lime/Lemon leaf tea or using dehydrated fruit slices
  5. Lemon Slice in black tea or green tea with honey

Some of my other favourite combinations are just variations of these. I like how simple they are. Recently I tried lemon myrtle tea. I wasn’t a fan but I am willing to try it again. I think I’d rather just regular lemons. They’re always tasty and quick and easy to use and make a great tea.

Here’s the recipes for my homemade versions of these teas:

Chai Tea

Ingredients for a standard teapot:

  • Black tea, I recommend Bushells Australian Breakfast
  • 3 or 4 dried Bay leaves
  • 4 to 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole pepper corns (not as spicy as it sounds, it disperses slowly)
  • 3 to 4 cardamon pods (crushing them a bit first is optional)
  • half or a whole cinnamon stick
  • (optional) A few thin slices of ginger root.
  • (optional) Sugar (raw or brown) or honey.
  • (optional) Milk

Method:

Place all of the herbs in the teapot and the normal amount of black tea you would use for a plain pot of tea. I use whole leaf and have a strainer which suits me just fine. Fill the pot with freshly boiled tea and allow to steep for 7 to 10 minutes. Take the tea bags out after it’s reached the desired flavour of tea. If you let it sit, more tannin can release and it can ruin the flavour.

Give a quick stir and use a fine mesh strainer before pouring a cup. If you don’t have one just give it a minute or 2 for it to settle to the bottom and then pour.

After pouring your serve, sweeten and add some milk but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. It’s quite nice black. I personally recommend adding a teaspoon of brown sugar, it really sets of the flavours of the cinnamon and cardamon. You could also leave out the cinnamon and just sprinkle the powder in your cup. I don’t recommend adding cinnamon powder to your tea pot it can sometimes mingle and turn gooey. I have no idea why.

Afterwards if or when you finish your pot, you can leave the herbs in and brew another 3 or so pots before it looses it’s flavour.

Orange Tea

Usually this is made with either fresh whole slices of oranges or just the peel. I however, make mine with dehydrated orange slices and sometimes put it in black tea. The flavour for all three ways will make the teas taste vary. Here’s a few methods. This is also really nice as a slow cooked air freshener.

I also forgot to mention you can spice it up a bit with some clove, star anise and cinnamon. It’s quite nice with just cloves.

Method 1:

Fill your tea pot with cold water. Then pour it into a saucepan. It’s just an easier way to measure it out. Then put several whole slices of an orange in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer on medium to low heat for 15minutes. Take off heat and put it aside.

Take your teapot to the sink and warm up your teapot under the tap. I just run mine under straight hot water since my taps take a while to heat. Pour out the hot water (I use mine for a quick clean up). While your teapot is still warm, pour the tea in. If you do this in a cold teapot you could smash it from the sudden temperature change.

Now it’s ready to serve. The skins can sometimes add a slight bitterness so I do recommend having some kind of sweetener. Honey goes well and is a healthy option.

Method 2:

Peel a whole orange. Preferably a navel orange. If using just skins 1 navel orange should be enough for one pot of tea. Use the same method as above. Measure out the amount of water you need by filling your teapot with cold water and pouring it into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer on medium to low heat for 15minutes.

Method 3:

This one is easy. You can do this with just hot water or with some black tea of your preferred strength.

Break up and add several dehydrated slices to your teapot. Add hot water to your teapot and allow to steep for 10 minutes. This creates a warm orange flavoured tea. You can really taste the oils from the peel. If you add black tea remember to remove it once you reach the desired flavour level.

You can leave the peel in but it will keep dispersing oils until it’s re-hydrated and it could add an undesired flavour strength. When it comes to black tea it often tastes better to make the black tea and add a few broken chunks to your hot cup and let it do it’s own thing.

 

Rose Tea

This one is always interesting. Tastes like turkish delight. Here’s 2 plain recipes:

Recipe 1:

Gather some roses for your tea. Aim for colourful roses. White ones seem to have no flavour. And of course red or pink taste best.

If you’re unsure about it you can buy them as whole buds from T2 or most organic health food stores. Since roses contain more vitmain C than oranges, this is a great tea to have before or during a cold or the flu.

Gently remove your rose petals and place in a strainer. Using a gentle stream of water, rinse and wash your petals. Be careful not to bruise them. I use about one full sized rose per 1cup of water but that’s how I like it. This is a recipe that you might have to alter as you go.

So using these measurements, 4cups of roses to 1 litre of water. Place in an appropriate sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes and then bring to a simmer until the petals turn white. You can actually over boil them. The water will start turning pink so you might need a fork (yes a fork) to pick up and view the petals. They will also become a little transparent so if you use a spoon, it is hard to tell how well cooked they are.

When they petals are white remove from heat and allow to sit to cool. Put it in a tea pot or allow to fully cool and place in a jug and put it in the fridge. Sweeten to your desired taste but use sugar. White sugar will yield the best flavour.

If you don’t like it as a tea then the unsweetened rose water is extremely good for the skin. You can use it as is or put a cup in your next bath.

Method 2:

When you make your next pot of black tea add a few clean rose petals and some sugar. It tastes good black or with milk. This has to be my favourite tea is Spring and Autumn. It’s very floral and easy to make.=.

Here’s a few other ways I like to have mine.

  • A few petals in black tea
  • A few petals in white tea
  • Added as an extra ingredient in herbal teas
  • Plain
  • As an iced tea
  • Added to vanilla ice cream

Lime/Lemon Leaf Tea

I LOVE this tea! I was looking up cooking uses for lime leaves since I was making dinner with Basa and discovered this tea. It’s so easy. You can do this either by stove top or let it steep. Here’s the two ways I prepare mine:

Method 1:

This has to be the easiest way. I make mine in a small tea pot. It makes approximately 2 tea cups of tea.

Gather 4 or 5 lime or lemon tree leaves, but you can always use the fresh leaves from Woolies or Coles. Break it up into little bits. You don’t have to go crazy. Just small 1cm segments will do. I split mine down the middle and start ripping it into bits.

Pour in freshly boiled water and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. It will be warm and ready to drink right away. You might need a strainer and I recommend giving it a quick stir before serving. Add honey if you like. It taste like lemon without any of the bitterness.

This tea is good for settling an upset tummy and calming the nerves. It’s also an excellent drink to give to someone that’s sick. Other than easing the tummy it’s still very rich in vitamins and can help speed up recovery.

Method 2:

Measure out what you will be making. So say 2 whole leaves per tea cup. When I make it in a sauce pan I make it for each person. Usually I serve 4 people so 8 leaves and 4 tea cups of water. Not cups, tea cups. Lime/Lemon leaf tea is a very gentle and mild flavoured tea.

You can cut up the leaves or put them in whole. I cut the leaves up a bit. I feel like it helps to extract the flavour better. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. The leaves are thick and can take quite some time to extract.

Serve with a half to 1 teaspoon of honey. Honey is option but it’s so mild you really only need half that.

 

Black Tea With Lemon

This one is the simplest and never gets old. Honey is optional but recommended. All you need is a fresh brew of black tea and either a fresh slice of lemon or a slice of dehydrated lemon. I prefer the dehydrated lemon. And you can reuse the same slice more than once. Just drop it in, let it steep for a moment and enjoy!

Lemon Tea

I added this one separately. This one you can prepare exactly like the orange tea only you will want to add a lot of sugar to sweeten it. However being lemon and smaller, you only need to simmer it for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of your rind.

This tea is really good for you, especially if you’ve got a cold. Though it’s nice with honey it’s also a very bitter tea so sweetening is essential. Also this tea is much better served as an iced tea so after making it and sweetening, let it cool and stick it in the fridge. If you were going to have this as an iced tea, adding a little white tea wouldn’t hurt and would likely improve the flavour.

Like I said, it’s a nice tea but it can be very bitter.

 

Most of these teas are very healthy with a lot of health benefits. The only thing that can make it unhealthy is what you sweeten it with and how much.

So what’s your favourite tea? I really love Oolong tea from time to time as well but these are my absolute favourites.

Let’s Talk About Aloe Vera


To start off I have to start this out with something depressing. Over the last few months my Aunty has been getting increasingly sick. First kidney stones and now she’s tested positive for bowel cancer.

Her sister (My mother) rang up and asked me first for a home remedy for kidney stones until she can get some surgery to remove it because apparently it’s quite large. She needed it to shrink. This lead me to looking up two things:

  1. Me researching Aloe Vera more thoroughly, because my prior knowledge was limited. But I knew it had an awful lot of vitamins.
  2. Me researching Apple Cider Vinegar again. Again previous knowledge, I knew it could help break the stone up, which apparently it did indeed do just that.

Within a week of store bought aloe vera inner gel juice and the cider vinegar (taken separately) her stones were breaking up and passing yet she’d been dealing with it for at least 2yrs.

In the mean time I’ve been looking up other uses for Aloe Vera and I’ve discovered so much it’s just incredible. I’m simply amazed with it’s various uses.

One thing I want to mention straight off the bat about the “negative research results”. Those results were from experiments done with a concentrated extract, not the inner gel. This means all of it, the whole leaf. The sap wasn’t removed and most people that use it, wash it off and so you should, it is after all a well known irritant. I just wanted to mention this because I know someone might comment with concerns and don’t worry I looked thoroughly. I’m only talking about inner leaf uses in this post.

My mum for her own health, after all the stuff I looked up and researched about Aloe Vera, among many other things, implanted the idea in my had that I should follow this up and see about doing herbal medicine. And I just might because I enjoy it and remember it.

Also she now wants to try some fresh aloe vera for herself. But there is only one problem. The large aloe we have, I have yet to accurately identify it and as far as online help goes, everywhere and every professionals advise one key identifier and that is the check it’s flowers. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a local professional to look at it in person but I’m confident that if I can get it to flower, I’ll know exactly what it is.

So, I thought back. It’s never flowered. But it’s also never been this healthy in over 10yrs since we have had it. The current large aloe vera I have appears to me to be an Aloe Vera Barbandensis but there’s a slight chance it’s something else. So far it’s grown at an incredible speed. I thought I couldn’t rescue this one and previous reviews and advice didn’t help much. So this time I winged it and I’m glad I did.

First of all I repotted it to a better healthier pot and regular well draining potting mix. It went well. Very surprising. Then I repotted it again in a good quality Cactus mix from Bunnings and in a much larger and wider pot.

I am surprised at the depth of this one’s roots. Then I pulled off each and every pup that surfaced. It’s leaves were brownish, reddish, orange from sunburn. There was shrivelling dead leaves. I cut off all dead leaves and leaves with holes but I did this slowly. Not in one hit. I cut off one and waited for a new one to show then cut off another so on and so forth. In about two months for the FIRST time I had straight aloe vera leaves. Fresh new ones grew in and they were beautiful and healthy.

It was this very reason that I never thought it was an aloe vera. I had never, not once ever seen it grow straight leaves. They always curled. Even if the odd green one came, it curled.

Previously it was my Nan’s, then my mothers and now it’s mine. It has always been orange or curly. I’ve learned on my own that it was too dry. Too dry in summer, too wet in winter and not in a wide or deep enough pot. All the wrong things you can do to an aloe vera apparently.

By the time I got to it after the 5months of being homeless until they removed the tree from our house and we waited for it to be fixed, there was 5 of them smooshed together in the one pot by the time I got to it. And I didn’t touch it for the first few months of being home. It was a sad sight indeed. There was roughly one whole aloe vera for each month we were gone.

I had, before the storm hit, recently moved it under the Mulberry tree for shade and started caring for it and getting it green. When I came home I found it not only moved but the painters had WASHED their brushes over my aloe vera. I was raging! I mean honestly, how dare they!!

Anyway, I took the healthiest and started from there. This is where a mixture of fun and not so fun came into play.

At first after repotting it twice, the second time in the healthier potting mix, it started dying. I added a bit of compost and soy milk refuse and home made soy milk with a bit of water and it shot up several inches in a week. That’s how I discovered that aloe vera, despite popular belief, loves a bit of food.

But I didn’t want to over do it. Then for a while it was looking unhappy again so I moved it to just outside my front door. I like it there, it’s quite attractive. So now it gets a mix of full sun and passing shade.

I’ve been tending to it for a few months now. Around January this year so close to 5months of care. It’s no longer got holes. No longer has brown anything. It’s healthy all the way to the tips and it’s sprouting healthy pups.

Sometimes if I feel it needs it I feed it with a mix of Seasol and Power Feed diluted below the minimum recommended ration. I have it so the water just looks like filthy water, not dark like it can look and I serve it up in a regular empty water bottle. Roughly 600ml and pour it around the roots but not on the leaves. I read both of these feeders can burn leaves so yeah. I like to keep my water bottles for my yard since watering cans (can never find a tin one) always go brittle from sun damage. I am always leaving them outside. I can’t trust myself.

Right now, I am doing whatever it takes to get this thing to flower. My Aunty told me they flower in the summer which was a bit disappointing for me because well, it’s the end of Autumn right now. I’m hoping it might sprout a flower in spring.

This was the most difficult thing to find an answer too as well since all the Answers were for Americans whom asked this question. You would think with all the gardening groups and forums, at least one person in Australia grows them and can tell you. So far from what I can tell, a happy Aloe Vera will flower, a sad one won’t and it will flower when it wants to, not when you want it to.

So basically now all I have to do is keep an eye on it and feed it when it’s not looking as dark and green and lush. I think since reviving it, at first I feed it about 4 times in the first two months. I haven’t feed it in 3 months and it’s doing great. I don’t plan to feed it until it shows signs of need it.

Each feeding I gave it, I made it weaker and weaker. Almost like a nutritive weaning for a plant. The thing about aloe vera is it stores up so much of it’s own nutrients almost like it’s own personal reserves, which is what makes it so easy to over feed it just as it’s easy to over water it. Whatever you plan to feed your aloe vera, make sure it’s fairly week and doesn’t cause or increase moisture. For example, don’t put lots of tea leaves. They tend to keep your pot moist increasing chances of root rot.

I’ve learned a lot over the last 5months. I bought another Aloe from Bunning but it wasn’t labelled properly and turned out to be a hybrid that we can’t identify and though it says medicinal, it doesn’t mention if it’s topical only. I think it’s a hybrid of a Haworthia but I’m not totally sure because like I said, not labelled well. Being a hybrid, I think that’s an important peice of info to put on the tag.

Mine died though. I had it inside and the damned cat knocked it down 4 times. By the fourth time it died of plant shock. But now my big aloe is sprouting pups, I’ve found myself replanting those instead. Because even if it’s not the Aloe Vera Barbadensis that I want, it’s still a very attractive plant and I’ve enjoyed taking care of it. I like too that it’s safe to forget about it and it won’t be dead. I mean 10+ yrs of neglect has proven that.

Looking back I feel bad for not caring for it but I was a teenager and not interested. That and for some reason I only enjoyed growing tomatoes and chilli bushes. The latter being the strangest since I use to hate chillies and anything spicy. Loved growing the plant though. For me it was a great beginner plant. Mine grew as tall as me, 5ft. My cat, a ginger tabby, loved eating them fresh off the bush. He was so weird. If we brought them inside mum loved it when I left her chillies near the kettle. The damned cat would play with and then eat them by the time I turned my back.

But enough about that. When it comes to handling aloe vera, I’m serious about the lack of plant care. I not once with the exception of like a few rare times of watering it, when it was mums, none of us used to take care of it. We had no use for it and it was frequently forgotten about and my father didn’t know how to care for it so we did nothing with it.

We received it in around 2004 or 2005. And though it’s not the original, but a pup that grew and was replaced by another pup when the mature one died, it’s still alive. And I think that’s incredible.

I am fairly certain of what type it is now that it’s healthy. It’s white spots had me confused. I later found out that mature aloe has no spots but fresh or young aloe vera has white spots.

It’s the first time I ever saw it’s spots as well. But now as it matures the spots are fading which is making me relax a little. It’s also the thickest and the widest it’s ever been with healthy thorns and healthy tips. Previously the tips would be dead by a good inch or two.

Standing in the shallow pot, the Aloe now reaches my hips (which isn’t impressive considering I’m only 5ft tall). It’s never been so tall. This is also important to me to find out because it’s max height also tells me which spices of Aloe it might be.

Another thing I noticed that use to make me question if it was aloe vera, when it was healthy-ish and still a bit curly it’s leaves were always under 30cm no matter what was done to it. Opening it up it smelled strongly of onions. I looked this up and not one answer was given as to why or if it was not an aloe. Then I looked it up again this year. More and more people are saying theirs smells like onion as well. This information made me relax because these people had a proper aloe vera with their tag and experienced growers confirmed the type of aloe but everyone was baffled about it’s smell. Someone suggested it was root rot. So I kept that in mind.

Since repotting it in healthier soil and making it healthy it no longer smells strongly of onions and basically smelling disgusting. It does still have a similar smell but I’ve come to find it’s the natural smell of the green skin. Now that my aloe is healthy, it’s not so oniony but similar to onions if that makes sense. Before you cut it off and you’re like “Whooooa yuck”, you could smell it almost instantly. It was pungent and sickening and definitely not what you would want to put on your skin. Now if I cut a piece off, you have to hold it to your nose to smell it’s somewhat oniony smell. It’s very mild.

My only conclusion is, change the soil, your aloe is probably unhappy. And I doubt it’s the sap. I have actually gotten more sap, even from same sized leaves as from when it was small and it still smells better than my old sad aloe. And a healthy aloe is a dark to medium green. I’ve come to find if it’s going pale and feels mushy it’s over watered and under fed. A healthy aloe should also be firm and thick with no marks.

I’ve also come to find that “bitter” aloe is smelly. In some way or another it’s smelly in a “fresh greens” kind of way, but it shouldn’t be pungent. If it’s pungent, it’s not very healthy. And to clarify that I mean your plant is unhealthy, I don’t mean it’s going off or going bad, it just needs some treatment if it’s smelling funky after you cut it up.

I also found out that although it’s self healing, you can still put your plant in shock. Though difficult to do with aloe vera, it’s still very possible. So, with that in mind don’t thrash your aloe if you repot it. Whilst researching and watching a few (hundred) videos on Youtube, I came across some very rough gardeners. So… handle with care. It is a living thing after all.

All that rambling aside, I’ve had an interesting year with aloe vera and learning all about it. I’m also going to continue growing it. From past experiences, I’ve noticed aloe vera tends to choke itself with it’s pups so if anyone that knows me, wants some free aloe vera, mine seems to be making 1-4 a week right now😉 But seriously, if you see pups, take them and move them because it gets big fast and eventually chokes the mother plant.

Lately just because of the flowers and how tall it gets I’ve been considering getting Aloe Vera Ferox. I really like those red flowers and some of the photo’s I’ve seen of it looking like a small tree makes me think it might be a good plant to grow along side one of my fences for a bit of extra privacy and to attract some more birds.

But there’s a few things about it that puts me off. I read somewhere about someone having red sap or dark sap coming out of theirs and causing irritation and I do so very much like to get into my garden without gloves on (very bad of me I know). And if I’m going to dive in and get grazes I really don’t want any irritation to go with it. Buuuut knowing me I’ll likely get a baby one and try and grow it. But again, my front yard might not be best unless it’s in a pot considering how soggy our soil can get. Only one way to find out though right?

That’s the funniest thing with aloe vera, it’s inner clear gel heals and treats itching and scrapes yet it’s thorns and yellow saps grazes and causes itching and in some people inflammation on the skin which I later found out to be a latex allergy. Me personally, no irritation to the aloe I have, or it’s natural latex. But I frequently graze myself on it’s thorns. I’m clumsy that way. Just with what I’ve heard about it being more potent, it just worries me a little. I don’t like handling things that can cause itching or effect sensitive skin.

After all I wrote and rambled about, I think it’s time to end this post or it will go on even longer. Because honestly I could keep talking about it and my new found experiences. What I would like to end this with is, I have found a website of an Australian herbal nursery and they happen to supply medicinal aloe vera. Tomorrow I plan to buy two pots of it. One for myself and one for my Aunty. Wish me luck guys and when I get it, I’ll make a post and with photo’s this time. I might update this with some photo’s but no promises.

 

3D Troubles


I hate IK in Blender. All the tutorials are out of date and it never works like the tutorial even if you find a tutorial that makes sense and follow it 100%. It’s a real shame too because I need inverse kinematics to create decent walk cycles. Other artists might be fine without it but not me. I personally dislike doing natural movements without IK.

To view videos of these WIP’s and issues please consider visiting my tumblr http://www.miwasketch.tumblr.com/

 

Pencil2D Exporting Video Tutorial


I have never been able to do this, despite using it for years. This frequently made me more or less refuse to use the program. But I figured it out. Everyone else, it worked fine but not me. So try this if everything else suggested has failed.

  1. Download ffmpeg
  2. Create a folder in your Pencil2D directory called “plugins”. I think on Windows it’s case sensitive so use all lowercase.
  3. Unzip all of ffmpeg into the plugins directory.
  4. Find a file called ff-prompt. Run it!! If you don’t Pencil won’t find it.
  5. Find the ffmpeg exe file in the Bin folder. Copy it. Go back to the plugins folder.
  6. Paste the ffmpeg exe there. I’ve tried it other ways.
  7. Now you should be able to export and Pencil2D should be able to find and use ffmpeg now.
  8. Enjoy!

I tried EVERYTHING suggested. Followed every tutorial meticulously! I even ran prompt. This is the only thing that has worked currently for me and I’m not the only user having video export issues.

As of writting this, this method has worked on the current stable release 0.5.4. Beta and the previous version