I didn’t get to prepare a full post this weekend because all last week I was down in South Texas for work in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Because I was busy I didn’t have time to get on Facebook and see all the posts complaining about politics or the state of our country, or our world, et cetera, and instead of the bickering news stories that vary in opinion from channel to channel, all I saw on television was hurricane coverage.

The fact is you never know the honest-to-God truth about a situation until you’re actually there; until you’re actually a part of it.  So l will tell you what I saw.

I saw communities joining together to help out their neighbors.  I saw the roadways full of vehicles stocked with supplies, headed to give comfort to strangers.  I saw lines of trucks pulling boats driven by people willing to put themselves in danger to help people they’ve never met.  I saw people of all walks of life volunteering to help one another.

I did not see anyone complaining or blaming someone for their current situation.  I saw people crying, hugging and even some sharing a much needed laugh.  I saw people praying and being thankful for what they still had.

Other than the destruction of property and grievous loss of human life, the only bad thing I saw was in relation to animals who were intentionally left behind, or worse.  And there was worse, but it’s not something I want to get into here other than to say that some of the things I saw and heard from other animal rescuers were hard to take and left me feeling hopeless.  I left feeling like I didn’t do enough.  I wish I could have done more.

Bad things happen.  Yes, there are bad people in the world.   But the good I saw, so outweighed the bad.  It reminded me of the 80/20 rule I often use with nutrition; if you have 80% good, you can handle 20% of the bad.  Of course we all want 100% good, but that’s not how life is.

I will continue to help where I can, for me personally that’s helping the helpless animals who have no choice about where they are and what someone has done to them.

What lifts me up from this experience, is the memory of the overwhelming spirit of hope and love that I witnessed in the people I met and saw in the wake of this devastating storm.

So this week I’m simply sharing a recipe I’ve had waiting in the wings – Vanilla-Orangecello.  This sweet little cordial is a nice sipper this time of year; whether on a late autumn afternoon or after dinner.  Deeper and a bit more complex than traditional Limoncello, its creamsicle-like flavor is reminiscent of summer, yet somehow indicative of what’s to come with the changing season.

And, it’s a nice reminder that we could all use a little more sweetness in our lives.

Vanilla-Orangecello

5 medium to large oranges
1 750 ml bottle of Vodka
1 vanilla bean
3 cups water
2 cups sugar

Peel the oranges with a very sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife, you just want to get the peel and not the white rind.  Place the peels in a 2-quart jar or pitcher and add the vodka.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds and the beans to the jar, swirling the knife in the vodka to get off all the seeds if needed.  Cover and let sit for one week in a cool, dark place like a pantry.

After one week make the simple syrup:
Bring the water to a low boil and add the sugar.   Let the mixture simmer and continue to stir until all the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear.  Let the syrup cool, then add it to the vodka and orange peels.  Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. Strain and discard the peels and vanilla bean.  Transfer the liquor to clean bottles and seal.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or better yet place in the freezer.  I always keep mine in the freezer as it is best served icy cold.  Make sure to shake the bottle well before  serving.

As one of my Uncle’s always says when he’s saying goodbye… “Be Sweet”.

7 thoughts on “The Bitter and the Sweet”

  1. Yum, that looks delicious and refreshing!
    Thank you for sharing your experience helping with the Harvey aftermath. It is encouraging when good comes from bad. What a blessing to be able to see the love and kindness in the midst of the devestation. It is so refreshing to hear the truth; that people truly care about each other and are willing to be selfless and help others when they most need it. More of us need to “blow up the TV, throw away the paper (internet), move to the country, build you a home.” And most importantly, “try and find Jesus on your own. ” Phillipians 2:14-15

    1. Hi, Annette!
      “The Bitter and Sweet” liquor looks so delicious, I’m going to try making some!
      A question: could one use some other alcoholic drink beside vodka?
      Also, just wanted to say, all your photos of your creations are so beautiful

      1. Thank you for the sweet compliment! As for the alcohol, you can use a stronger alcohol such as Everclear, I’ve heard some people make their limoncello that way, but I’m guessing you don’t want to make it stronger. Vodka is really your best bet as any other alcohol will impart extra flavor. Vodka is the perfect “carrier” alcohol because it does not have a distinct flavor.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience and reminding us about what matters most.; caring and taking care of each other during difficult times. Harvey, as horrible as it is, has brought out the best in people. This should not be turned into a political issue; as I saw so many write about on FB. Complaining and doing nothing, does not provide the victims with water, food, clothing, hope, or love. God bless your service to help .

  3. Nett, thank you for what you have written! You are truly an inspirational person. Our hearts go out to you both for taking time out of your daily lives to help the people and animals that really need it right now!
    Thank you for sharing your experience and for the love that you give ALL!
    Can’t wait to hear more and cannot wait to try the drink.

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