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    Seven Quick Takes on Iced Tea, Books Finished, Sugar Free Whipped Cream, and MORE!

    June 24, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    Is it hot enough for you yet? We’re triple digits right now, and the future looks pretty much the same. We’ve got an outdoor even on Wednesday, and right now the forecast for that day says 109! Good thing our bodies seem to be acclimating! Obviously this means that it’s officially ice tea season. For some of us, I know that starts in about March, but I didn’t get my iced tea pot out until last week because procrastination.

    Today, I thought I’d share my herbal iced tea recipe that my children use. They make nettle tea most of the year, and that tastes pretty good cold as well, but sometimes they like a mixed blend. This can be made in an infuser pot, but honestly, I just use a quart jar or quart glass measuring cup with my stainless steel infuser.

    This recipe makes one quart. Making it in the evening is best because it can chill in the fridge overnight and be ready in the morning.

    Herbal Iced Tea Blend Recipe

    1.5 tsp shavegrass
    1 tsp oatstraw
    1 tsp stinging nettle
    0.5 tsp lobelia

    I actually use this recipe in my own iced tea as well. I make a 2-quart pitcher, so the first quart is my favorite oolong tea {I use five bags for a quart}. The second quart is the recipe above, which I pour in, stir, add ice, and then put in the fridge. I don’t like my children having lots of caffeine, which is why I have them stick to the herbal recipe alone.


    :: 2 ::

    Swimming lessons are over as of today. Everyone passed their levels, which impressed me because that means some people even learned the butterfly, a stroke I was never able to master. And while I won’t miss driving somewhere every day, I will miss sitting in the sun reading for so long every morning. My final list is in, and I’m quite please with it. Here are the books I finished:

    And here are the books I made a lot of headway in:

    It was glorious!


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2014:


    This post contains some of my favorite thoughts.


    :: 5 ::

    So AfterCast was a failed experiment again yesterday. Or, at least, it mostly was. My solution was to go ahead and record and then post it later, even though it wasn’t live, which wasn’t nearly as much fun because the live part is sort of the point of doing the whole Facebook Live thing, you know? Anyhow, I did go ahead and talk chores, and you can watch it here. I’m open to any ideas you all have on my technical problems, which includes, but is not limited to, in and out internet service for months on end. So far we’ve gotten a new modem, a new router, a new internet plan and and and.

    I’m running out of ideas.


    :: 6 ::

    Since one recipe is never enough, I thought I’d share another. This one is super simple, and in honor of my littlest guy, who requires sugar-free foods. Poor baby. Anyhow, last night I whipped up {pun intended} some strawberries and cream, and I thought I’d share the whipped cream recipe, since I’ve yet to see a simple and easy sugar-free whipped cream recipe.

    Xylitol Whipped Cream

    2.5 cups whipping cream
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1/4 cup xylitol


    1. Using a coffee grinder, turn the xylitol granules into powder — you’re looking for the same texture as powdered sugar.
    2. In a mixer, place whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered xylitol and mix on high until it becomes the texture of whipped cream.

    Tastes great with strawberries!


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: Were the AO Conference talks recorded?
      • Answer: Yes, mostly. In fact, it is partly my fault that they aren’t available yet. My internet problems have been numerous and time consuming and frustrating and have also kept me from uploading everything so that we can further edit them. Some of them are uploaded; others are not. I feel weird asking people to pray for my internet problems, but seriously … we could use it.


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  • Reply Stephanie June 28, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Hi Brandy,
    I’m excited to hear that there are recordings of the AO conference. Were they done for the whole conference? Where will they be available?

    I’ll have to try your ice tea recipe. My kids are always stealing sips of my caffeinated tea.

    Stay cool!

  • Reply Mary Frances Pickett June 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Our internet has been an issue in doing Live Streaming too – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Since it is for business, I finally bit the bullet and upped the data plan on my phone because it has a better connection for livestreaming.

    We’ve decided that the problem is that our internet provider needs new servers and doesn’t have the money to put them in until October…..which pretty much stinks. We have large video file to upload every week and we often upload them overnight.

  • Reply Catie June 27, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for the whipped cream recipe!

    And I loved your chores talk. 🙂

  • Reply rahime ting June 24, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    Interesting. I have never made whipped cream with sugar…always just whipping cream and vanilla…but maybe that’s b/c it always goes on top of something decadently sweet?

  • Reply Jen Snow June 24, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Don’t feel bad asking prayer for your internet problems! We’ve gotcha covered. <3

  • Reply Mama Rachael June 24, 2016 at 11:41 am

    You might think about what is going on with your computer. Are you connected to your network wirelessly or wired? Might it be that the connection issue is from your computer unable to maintain the connection? Its more likely with a wireless connection. If you are wired in, you might try a new cable. Of it you are connected wirelessly, you might try wiring in and see what happens. Or, really, it could be an issue outside of the house, as in the wire from the house to the connection at the street. Get on the phone with your current internet provider and don’t get off until you and the tech person figure it out. It could take a while, and being a bit of a bully. If you can, ask your neighbors if they have issues, that will shed a bit of light on the situation (as in, if they are, it might be an issue out beyond the street, and then everyone should start calling the internet company about it…)

    Interesting links, esp about the problem not being ‘screen time’. I know anything in excess is a problem. But I’ve also seen that with my son, lots of screen time and early in the day screen time produce an overstimulated, grouchy, short tempered and short attention span capable little boy. I’m sure it varies child to child though…

    • Reply Rachel June 25, 2016 at 8:08 am

      To tag onto your comment about internet connection,we had sketchy connections and did some of the same solutions. Our problem was in the wall where the wires wrapped around the metal screw thingys. My husband was sawsalling in the house near it and may have jolted the wires loose. Solved all our problems. Apparently, the wires would touch sometimes and at other times not, leading to the sketchiness.

  • Reply Melissa June 24, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Does Xylitol taste the same as sugar? Do you use it cup for cup or would the measure/ratio be different? I’m wondering if it would helpful for some of my kiddos.

    Looking forward to AO Conference talks!

    I watched the Aftercast video and it kept stopping/starting. I tried refreshing on my end, but it didn’t help. Normally, I don’t have buffering issues so I’m wondering if it kept pausing or was choppy for anyone else?

    Thanks for all you do Brandy 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 24, 2016 at 9:39 am

      I think xylitol might not be quite as sweet of sugar, but it’s close, and it doesn’t have the aftertaste that some of the other options, such as stevia, tend to have. I use stevia a lot but in whipped cream, this just seemed like a way better option! With that said, I don’t know if it measures cup for cup, but if I think it’s pretty close.

      That is interesting that you had trouble with the video — one of the things I have been wondering is if the problem is Facebook or ME. I know that I’ve had problems, but at one point last week, I changed houses, and it still didn’t work … which made me wonder: is the problem my device? Is it Facebook? I don’t know, which is why it is so hard to troubleshoot!

      • Reply Melissa June 24, 2016 at 12:22 pm

        I actually didn’t get to finish the Aftercast because it was just stopping/starting so much that I wasn’t getting anything out of it….sorry 🙁 I’ll really be curious to see if anyone else has this problem. I’m not registered on FB, but can still access public sites so I have no idea how their system works. Maybe regular FB users will have better luck? I wonder if it’s some kind of streaming issue because on my end, it acts like it’s buffering, but it never gets fully buffered. We’re rural, have DSL, with no wireless, but we typically don’t have problems watching other videos on various blogs or YouTube. Hopefully, it all works out for you!

        • Reply Brandy Vencel June 24, 2016 at 4:25 pm

          I am really starting to wonder if part of the problem, at least, is Facebook — I had the exact same buffering issue today when trying to watch something completely unrelated to my page. So…I don’t know for sure, but it seems possible.

          • Melissa June 24, 2016 at 4:50 pm

            Hmmm…that definitely does sound suspicious!

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