Mama Merrill's Memoirs result Valentine's Day
Hello elderberry lover!
You've made your purchase of one of our Elderberry Tonic DIY Kits, and look at you go! This is truly a simple recipe to follow and we will walk you through step-by-step!
The herbs in your kit are the same high quality we use for all of our products, and we just know you are going to love the result!
Ok, are you ready?
You will need:
Fine Mesh Strainer (if you are not using the included muslin bag)
Sturdy Wooden Spoon
Funnel (optional, just makes it easier)
STEP 1- DUMP & SIMMER
You can dump the entire contents of the KIT into the included muslin bag, OR you can pour them directly into your medium-size pot on the stove if you have a fine-mesh strainer to use instead.
Make sure to cinch down the string on your muslin bag tightly and tie it to keep any contents from escaping while simmering.
Place the bag (or the contents if using the strainer method) into a pot along with 4 cups (32 oz) of water.
You will lose a bit of water during the simmering process due to evaporation, and you will end up with 24 oz. or so of delicious, healthy, concentrated tonic!
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 30-40 minutes (depending on how strong you want your tonic).
Please note: some people think elderberries smell a bit like stinky feet while they are cooking. It's ok. The taste will not resemble the smell so don't panic!
Step 2- COOL & SQUEEZE
Remove pot from heat, remove the bag with a slotted spoon, place inside a glass bowl, and allow both the tonic and the bag to cool for 10-15 minutes.
If using the bag, once it is cooled enough to touch, you will need to make sure to use clean hands to squeeze out the remaining good stuff from the berries & herbs.
(Kids love this messy fun of course. Warning: it can stain your hands a bit.)
If straining, pour your tonic through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl, remove cinnamon sticks, and press down berries with a spoon into strainer so no goodness gets forgotten!
Discard elderberry mush.
Save your reusable bag for other herbal concoctions or loose leaf tea!
Step 3- SWEETEN IT UP, BUTTERCUP
Once your elderberry tonic concentrate is cooled, whisk in honey to taste.
We recommend 1/2 cup of local honey, but you can also use maple syrup, agave, or any other sweetener of choice.
It is important to sweeten your tonic not only to improve the taste, but to help preserve it. If you do not sweeten it, we recommend immediately freezing your elderberry concentrate in an ice cube tray and pull your cubes from the freezer as needed.
Step 4- BOTTLE IT, BABY!
You did it! Do you feel like an herbalist mixing up amazingness in their apothecary? You should!
Using a funnel, pour into a mason jar (24 or 32 oz) and use a tightly-sealing lid.
Refrigerate and use within 2 months. Always be aware of any major changes in smell/appearance just like any other fresh food product and discard if needed.
We recommend 1 tsp a day for children 6 and under and 1 Tbsp a day for ages 7+ during cold and flu season and/or during allergy season.
Want to know our favorite ways to simplify Valentine’s Day but not skimp on the memories?
It truly does not have to cost a fortune to make it a special day and make sure your loved ones know they are treasured. In fact, some of the best memories often come from those unconventional and creative moments!
In this blog post, we are going to give you 10 unique, sweet, and fun ideas to celebrate Valentine's Day with your spouse, significant other, family, or friends on a budget!!!
[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
“In the Vaughn household it’s just TK, myself, and our cat. Our perspective comes from being a young married couple ballin’ on a budget and understanding what our love languages are. (If you don’t know what the 5 love languages are, check it out here). We value anniversaries and birthdays more highly, so on Valentine’s Day we keep it simple!” ~Juliana
“We love to make memories in creative ways for Valentine’s Day, too! With four children, we usually celebrate in a special way at home as a family. Some of their favorite Valentine’s Day memories are when I made a fancy Italian dinner, played music in the background, decorated the table, and got out the china! Now that they are teens, it might look more like an appetizer feast and watching a Marvel movie!” ~Ashley
There is so much beauty to be found in simplicity, and no reason to break the budget for a special occasion that is fleeting. You can even make homemade gifts!
Our TOP 10 fun and creative Valentine’s Day on a Budget ideas:
- Find a new recipe and cook a yummy dinner together!
- Make homemade pizzas and talk about your dreams.
- Make your own chocolate covered strawberries!
- Play a romantic music playlist, dress in your nicest clothes, and slow dance.
- Have a themed potluck with friends and watch a favorite movie or play games!
- Go to Target and pick outfits for each other and try them on!
- Write a handwritten love letter to your spouse.
- Each of you write a rap about the other, turn on a beat, and perform it for each other!
- Get dressed up and go find somewhere to take pictures! You will treasure the memory.
- Depending on the weather where you are, go on a bike ride and grab ice cream.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun, make it special, laugh, and enjoy each other!
Ashley (Mama Merrill)
& Juliana (Mama Merrill’s Virtual Assistant)
If someone looked at our life, they would see our priorities by how my husband and I spend our time and money. What would we see if we looked at your life? Are there things you would like to change?
Currently, my husband and I are in a season of life where we’ve really had to get serious about our priorities. For us, it’s time with God, our marriage, work and financial responsibilities, our health, and serving the Lord in our local church/friend time.
If any of these things get out of balance, it takes time and commitment away from something else.
Something that our very wise counsel has taught us is that when we say yes to something, we are always saying no to something else. Our priorities are very important! My husband and I are the kind of people who had to learn this the hard way. One of us would always say “Yes” to everything we got asked to do and the other one would always want to say “No” to everything. Both of us needed to re-evaluate!
The most important thing in our lives is first and foremost our relationships with God. If my husband and I don’t prioritize that, we’re giving from an empty cup to each other and every other priority we have. Secondly, if we don’t prioritize and take care of our marriage then everything else around it seemingly can fall apart. We choose as a married couple to talk about everything! When we get asked to volunteer or do something, we pray about it together and listen to one another. Are we perfect? Far from it, but this is what we always strive to do!
When it comes to work and financial responsibilities, my husband and I have desires to save and be debt free someday! Our Pastor has taught us that, “It’s not about how much you make, but what you do with what you make.” Diligence is also doing little things for a long time, until it makes a big difference! Currently we’ve paid off my car, our credit cards, our phones, and we put 10% of every paycheck into our savings. You notice how you can look back and see a track record of priority?
What are your priorities? What’s important to you? If we looked at how you spent your time and money, would we see those priorities in your life? What changes can you make in your daily life to create a healthier lifestyle of priorities?
Here we are friends. We are at the end of this series!
If you missed the first four, make sure you scroll back down through the blog archives and get caught up! I don't want you to miss it!
I talk to people all.the.time. who want to know how to start a business, what it takes, and what is is really like in real life.
Those conversations inspired me to write this series for you. My husband Jeremey and I are serial business owners, and we have been self employed business owners now for over a decade. Needless to say, we have learned some things along the way and I am happy to share it with you in hopes it will help someone out there!
Alright, without further adieu, the final thing I am here to tell you that you do not need in order to start a successful business is this....the approval and support of all of your family and friends!
It is true! Hear me out.
You absolutely should get wise counsel before you move forward with a life-changing decision. But, you may find the supportive, encouraging, and truth-filled advice you need most will not always come from the people you would expect to be your biggest cheerleaders. In fact, it is often the opposite situation, and the harshest criticism tends to come from close friends and family.
Why? I wish I could answer this but I actually have no idea!
Familiarity? Jealousy? Envy? Skepticism? Wanting to keep someone where they are because it is more comfortable and safe?
Whatever the reasons, it is a thing, a very real and potentially discouraging thing.
This is my best advice to you:
Protect your dream. Hold it close. And share it slowly and carefully.
This may stun you, but you do not actually have to share it with anyone and everyone, or even on social media at all.
When we do that, in our excitement and emotion, we often open the door wide open for unwanted advice, criticism, and comments. That can make it very difficult to continue to hear clear directions from God when all of a sudden dozens of other voices are invited to contribute to the conversation.
DO share it with your spouse, your Pastor, and the friend who is genuinely happy for you when things go well in your life but will also love you enough to tell you when you are off base. Those friends are rare, but they do exist.
These are the people in your life you should listen to, seek their approval, and care about what they have to say. They are safeguards.
Would it be nice to have everyone's support? Of course it would, but rarely does that actually happen. If you have a God-given dream for a business idea and you know it, do not waste a moment worrying about the haters. They might just be wishing they had thought of it or done it first.
I hope this encourages you to know you do not NEED anything from them in order to succeed! I would venture to say many many great thinkers, successful people, and leaders have been some of the most harshly criticized and unsupported people there are.
In the words of my Pastor (one of the wisest men I know), "The tallest trees experience the harshest winds." I do not know about you but wind does not scare me when I know God is with me!
Will you send me a message if this encouraged you? I love to hear from you!