Lemon Balm and Strawberry Iced Tea

On this very warm 4th of July, I’ve enjoyed a stay at home day. I can hear fireworks exploding in the neighborhood, with greater frequency as the sun sets. The City of Joplin is hosting a large display at Missouri Southern State University. I’m content to sit this one out.

In keeping with a very relaxed day, free from work of any kind, I’m sharing an easy blog post. This one falls under the creativity category.

Lemon Balm and Strawberry Iced Tea

I am loving the simple pleasure of gathering herbs from my garden, for cooking and for teas. I can choose from the aromatic herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, basil and oregano. Or there are the fun herbs such as bee balm, mint, lemon balm, lemon grass, lavender and chamomile, which is new to my garden this year. It feels so earthy, so grounding, to snip a few herbs to steep for tea, and the health benefits are phenomenal.

Lemon Balm and Strawberry Iced Tea

This easy iced tea recipe was inspired by a similar one that Anthony William shared on social media.

Lemon Balm & Strawberry Iced Tea

3 sprigs of fresh lemon balm or 3 teaspoons of dried

Juice of half a lemon

1 cup strawberries, quartered

1 cup ice

1 teaspoon honey, if desired

Steep lemon balm in 4 cups of very hot water, for at least 30 minutes. Remove leaves and let tea chill in refrigerator for half an hour or longer. In a large glass, combine lemon juice, strawberries, ice, lemon balm tea and honey, if desired. Makes two servings.

Lemon Balm and Strawberry Iced Tea

Lemon balm is a remarkable herb that eases all types of digestive disorders, calms stress and reduces inflammation. It is antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic, cleanses and detoxes the liver, spleen and kidneys, and fights against the Epstein Barr, shingles and herpetic viruses.

Strawberries are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. They protect against brain disorders and diseases of all kinds and ease neurological symptoms.

And lemons contain highly absorbable vitamin C. They create alkalinity in the body and ease the symptoms of colds, flu and bronchitis, while also cleansing the liver, spleen, kidneys, gallbladder and thyroid.

Lemon Balm and Strawberry Iced Tea

This tea is a powerful tonic that boosts my health and it tastes so good.

Dried lemon balm can be found in health food stores and health conscious grocery stores such as Natural Grocers. It’s a very easy perennial herb to grow, and does well in containers. It can be invasive in the garden, so pull up any stray plants that appear where they shouldn’t. It has a delightful lemon scent and flavor.

I chose not to add honey to my tea, as I don’t like sweet teas. The lemon juice gives a nice bit of tartness and the strawberries add subtle flavor and they are fun to eat after the tea is gone.

On this muggy evening, filled with booms and whistles and pop-pop-pops, I savored my big 32 ounce glass of lemon balm and strawberry iced tea. I drank the whole thing!

Lemon Balm and Strawberry Iced Tea

You can order dried lemon balm by clicking the link below.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

Appreciating Freedoms

Today, July 4, is our nation’s birthday. For those intending to celebrate outside with cookouts, pool parties, and fireworks, the weather has been an issue. We’ve had thunderstorms and a steady rain for most of the day, casting a quieting effect over the day. 

I don’t mind the rain. It has been ideal for relaxing at home with a stack of books and perfect for catching up on a webinar I missed yesterday. Instead of barbecue and homemade ice cream, I’ve enjoyed simple plant based meals at home. When the downpour slowed to a light rain, Greg suggested a walk at Mercy Park, to appreciate the day, just as it was. 

Appreciating Freedoms
Normally the city’s parks would be full of people on July 4. But the rain kept people home or drove them to shelters. Only one other walker was braving Mercy park when we arrived, and she carried an umbrella. I opted for a light weight hoodie over a long sleeved shirt and black leggings…definitely not a typical summer outfit but perfect for a brisk walk on this cool day. 

As we circled the small lake at the heart of the park, I thought about the freedoms that I am so grateful for. 

Appreciating Freedoms
Appreciating Freedoms

I love my country. Everyone, from the highest elected government official to the kids using technology to create their own You Tube channels, has the freedom to share their thoughts, views and perspectives. I am mindful on this day that celebrates independence that our freedom has been hard won and it is precious. 

I love my community as well. Walking in this  space where St John’s Hospital once stood reminds me that after the 2011 tornado, people were free to leave Joplin…or stay and rebuild. I am so grateful for those who chose to roll up their sleeves and stay, and for those who recognized the spirit of this city and came to help or chose to become one of us.  

Appreciating Freedoms
Appreciating Freedoms
As I walked I felt deep appreciation and gratitude for my health. Freedom of movement is not something I take for granted. Freedom from pain, and freedom from illness and dis-ease are important freedoms to me as well today. My heart goes out to those who are suffering, as a result of accidents, injuries or illness. My desire is to walk alongside others and offer fresh hope for increased health and wellbeing. 

I appreciated the freedom to not only walk physically, but also the freedom to walk as my genuine authentic self. While I hesitate to take the comparison too far, my freedom has been hard won as well. It has taken years of increasing awareness and deep inner work to live in the freedom, peace and joy that I currently do. I am thankful for all who have walked beside me, offering into my life with love, or with their criticisms, mirroring to me aspects of myself that I needed to explore.  

Appreciating Freedoms
Appreciating Freedoms
As we completed our walk, we paused near the butterfly mural at the eastern edge of the park. The butterfly reminds me that freedom often requires great change. Transformation isn’t easy. And yet I am grateful for every challenge and time of rest that occured, resulting in the strength to face my fears and come out the other side, free to fully be myself, free to embrace my whole heart. 

And freed as well was my creative nature. The little painted rock that we found at the base of the mural is symbolic of the new freedom I have to create and write and explore the areas of art that interest me. Painted rocks are a nationwide activity right now. Joplin has a club. People paint rocks  and hide them in public places. This is the first painted rock I have found! I hid it in another location at Mercy Park. 

As we drove away from the park, the rain began again in earnest. The timing of our “freedom” walk was perfect. 

Franklin D Roosevelt said, “In the truest sense freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”

I get that, on all levels. Freedom is achieved, through our thoughts and ideas, our actions and our unity, and through our willingness to learn and grow. 

I am grateful for all of my freedoms. 

Appreciating Freedoms

Journey 185: S’Mores on the 4th of July

This evening I got to enjoy the brickio, and use the fire pit for the first time this summer. As neighbors lit up the skies with their own fireworks displays, Greg built a beautiful little fire that crackled merrily within the ring of stones. 

Daughter Adriel and her boyfriend Nate stopped by first. We enjoyed visiting and sipping on cold drinks. I had graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows near by. The first s’mores of the year were created and enjoyed amid the whistles and explosions and pops of a variety of fireworks. 

As darkness fell, and the noise escalated, these two lovely people left to go comfort their dogs. While fireworks are fun for humans, our pets don’t care for them and are often frightened by the commotion. Two of my cats have been in hiding all day. Adriel and Nate are wonderful and conscientious  pet owners who wanted to be there with their furry babies. 

Shortly after they left, Linda, Roy and London stopped by. The fire was stoked and more s’mores made and devoured. London celebrated the night with a silver sparkler. 

I love sitting around the fire pit on a summer evening. It doesn’t normally sound like a battle is raging nearby, but the flashes of color exploding in the night sky were pretty to watch and we lost count of the number of lanterns that drifted by overhead. 

I felt gratitude for the freedoms I have in this country and for the love and companionship of family and friends. I was grateful that the explosions were sounds of freedom and not war. I was especially glad that when we discussed that fact, London asked what war was. 

Another 4th of July is winding down. The pops and crackles are more sporadic. The fire has faded to glowing embers. Puffs of smoke scurry along, carried by cool breezes. The garden surrounds me, soothes me, puts on its own little display as a few brave fireflies twinkle among the flowers and ornamental grasses. 

I am reminded of my Aunt Annie, whose birthday is today. Her metal container is overflowing with red, white and blue flowers, a perfect tribute to her. And I think of Uncle Dale. The Fireworks Flowers that I planted in honor of him are gorgeous, the blooms bright pink with yellow tips. 

I associate the 4th of July with both of these precious family members. Ironically, they passed within a couple of days of each other. As I watch the beautiful lanterns floating overhead, I am reminded that Aunt Annie and Uncle Dale are set free, their souls at peace. I miss them. I love them. I’ll never celebrate another 4th of July without thinking of them and honoring them. 


Journey 184: Joplin Fireworks

Tonight as the last of the day’s light faded from the sky, I joined several family members at the Joplin Sports Complex. We hauled out our lawn chairs and planted ourselves in a grassy area, ready to enjoy the city’s 4th of July celebration. 

This is the first year that the city fireworks display has been held at the sports complex. We easily found a place to park and walked a short distance to our grassy knoll. To avoid conflict with the Blasters baseball fireworks celebration tomorrow evening, Joplin held their event on the 3rd. 

I enjoyed the evening, and chatting and laughing with my mom, sister Linda, great-niece London, Greg and Roy. The rain moved through our area this afternoon and the evening was perfect…clear, breezy, mild. 

Although technically I passed the year’s halfway mark a couple of days ago, July 4 always reminds me that the year is half gone. In my mind, the 4th of July is the apex of the year, and the journey begins the downward descent now toward December 31. 

As a child, this mid-year date was tinged with sadness. I’ve always been keenly aware of the relentless passage of time, and this festive holiday not only signaled the halfway mark in the year, but also reminded me that summer was well underway and the new school year loomed ahead. 

Now July 4 is a gentle, joyful reminder that I’m at the halfway mark. I paused to reflect on where the path has led, and to relax deeply into the moment and the journey. I trust the flow of life to carry me throughout the rest of the year and I’m excited to see where the trail goes from here. 

Tonight, I expressed gratitude for my country, my family, and my freedoms. And for the incredible joy that accompanies me on the journey. 


Day 185: Cornhole Lawn Game

It was another beautiful day on Lake Dabinawa. We are experiencing unusually cool  temperatures for July. The recent days have been mild, breezy and low in humidity. Which meant, it was a perfect day for being outside near the lake. I spent the entire day outside, beginning with some peaceful time on the dock early in the morning. When the cousins returned from a fishing trip, Tim gave Greg and me a tour of the lake. I enjoyed cruising the perimeter of Lake Dabinawa in the boat. It truly is a beautiful and friendly community. Neighbors waved from their boats or docks as we motored by. I see the advantages of having a private lake to play on.

cornhole game on the boat e

After a hearty brunch, presided over by our gracious hostess Lisa, we all returned outdoors, where we remained for the day. The youngsters gathered on the boat dock, ready for swimming and tubing, and launching water balloons at passing boats, which is a tradition here on the 4th of July. There was some confusion over whether the parade of boats was today or tomorrow. After filling many balloons with water, the Moore Clan Generation 2 discovered it was officially being held tomorrow. However, several boats launched today, decked out in appropriate party décor, and the kids enjoyed pelting them with balloons, and dodging the return volleys.

cornhole game younger cousins 2e

I enjoyed observing all their antics from the nearby shade of a large tree as I relaxed in a lounger. Today was one of those days where there was absolutely no need to hurry doing anything or being anywhere. When a game of cornholes started, I moved my chair to a better spot so as to watch this new game. Cornholes is a lawn game, played with two people or two teams. It is also known as bag toss, tailgate toss or corn toss and is played by throwing bags of corn (or beans or chalk dust) at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag that goes through the hole scores 3 points while a bag landing, and sticking, on the platform scores 1 point.

The matches are played with two sets of platforms and two sets of 4 bags. Different colors are used to distinguish the team’s bags. The platforms are 30 feet apart. When teams play, each member of the team stands at opposite platforms. All four players take turns tossing the bags, alternating between the two teams, and the points are tallied for each round. The scoring is interesting. If both players land on the board, or get a bag through the hole, the points cancel each other out. For example, if one player lands a bag on the board and gets one through the hole, that’s 4 points. But if the second player gets identical placement on and through the board, the points cancel each other out. There is no score. If the second player gets a bag through the hole and 2 bags on the board, he ends up with a score of 1, after the other points are cancelled out. The first team to reach 21 points, or for a shorter game, 15 points, wins.

cornhole game 6e y

I watched the teams play and thought it looked like a fun game. As a teen, I was the pitcher for a girls slow pitch softball team. I wanted to give it a try. When teams reformed for another tournament, I paired up with Tim Moore and entered into the competition. Although it is not as easy as it looks to hit the board and even more difficult to get a bag through the hole, the game is very fun and challenging. Tim and I made a great team! We advanced through the tournament, taking on new challengers, and defeating them. Each team played best 2 out of 3 rounds, and Tim and I never lost a round. This was primarily because of Tim’s skill! I did okay though, placing a good number of bags through the hole and landing even more on the board. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, the competition and learning something new. Cornholes, and winning the competition with my team mate, Tim, was my first for today.

It was wonderful to spend time with this generous and loving group of people. We all agreed we would not let so much time pass before meeting again. I am grateful for their hospitality, kindness and fun loving spirits. Until next time, Moore Clan, God bless our journeys and bring us back together once more.

cornhole game cousins close up e

Day 184: Lake Dabinawa

lake house e

It’s a holiday week. Many people head out of town, to play, to celebrate the 4th of July, to gather with family. In a little community tucked around Lake Dabinawa, just north of Lawrence, KS, a group of people joined together to do all of the above. Mark, Linda, Pam and Tim are Greg’s cousins. Bringing most of the members of their families with them, they’ve traveled from four different states to be here for this annual event. This year, Greg and I joined in the fun. For my first, I am enjoying the beauty of Lake Dabinawa and being with the Moore Clan for the 4th.

I have not seen most of Greg’s cousins for years. As teenagers, though, we spent many summer days together, playing in the creek, picking strawberries, and sharing family meals, when the cousins and their parents, Uncle Bill and Aunt Maxine, would visit Grandma and Grandpa Moore in the tiny town of Noel, MO. Fun loving and close knit, this family was always a joy to be around. Greg and I were dating at the time, yet to me, they were my cousins too.

We all grew into adulthood, married, had children of our own. We lost Grandma Moore first and then Grandpa. The cousins scattered to different cities, different states. Sadly, Greg’s mother and brother passed as did Uncle Bill and Aunt Maxine. Our children grew up. Life shifted and we all journeyed on. The last time I saw most of the cousins was at their dad’s funeral.

With Facebook, however, connections have reformed, pictures  are posted and shared, and although still scattered, it has been much easier to stay in touch. I met up with Pam recently in NW Arkansas and met her husband Jay. And I was thrilled to be invited to the lake house to join the whole family for their gathering.

The lake is small but gorgeous and peaceful. The house has plenty of space for this sprawling family. It has been good to meet Tim’s wife, Lisa and their daughters. The lake house belongs to Tim and Lisa and they have been marvelous hosts, freely sharing their home and providing ample amounts of delicious food. Mark and his wife Kristy made the long trip from Colorado with two of their young adult children. Pam and her daughter and grandson came from Arkansas. And Linda arrived from Illinois with three of her six children.

lake house Moore clan e

Although we are all older, the gathering reminds me of our youth. We’ve laughed and played games and shared a meal together. As we lingered around the table after dinner, enjoying cool breezes on the screened in porch, the story telling began. What fun to hear the cousins tell humorous stories on each other. The siblings, although separated by miles and busy lives, are still a close knit family and it shows. Greg and I added a few tales of our own. We all remembered the grandparents and the parents who are with us now in memory and spirit.

It is hard to believe that we are now the parents and grandparents in the group and there is a new youthful generation making its mark on the world. We all have children and grandchildren to be proud of and much to be grateful for. Not the least of which, are the enduring relationships among this joyful clan. I look forward to future gatherings.

lake house Tim and Mark e