Saturday, April 5, 2014

Simple Laundry Tip for Grease Stains

 I do a lot of laundry.  And I don't mind doing it.  It is not a hated chore for me.  But every once in a while something happens that makes it a bit unpleasant.  Tony is very good about emptying his pockets before putting his pants in the wash.  And rarely do things go through the wash that shouldn't.  But sometimes (usually when I grab a pair off the floor that he was planning to wear again...) stuff happens.  Last week a tube of lip balm went through the washer and the dryer, leaving some pretty good grease spots on a couple of Tony's shirts (and work pants, but it doesn't matter on those).  Here is a picture of the worst spots:
Grease Stains: BEFORE
Thankfully, I have discovered a quick and easy way to remove grease spots, even after a tumble through the dryer: Dawn Dish Soap.  Just pre-treat the grease spots with Dawn Dish Soap, wait a while (I usually wait at least over night) and wash again.  Here is the after pic:
Grease Stains: AFTER
If you look closely, you can still faintly see the spots...but they are so much lighter!  The best part can keep treating the spots and rewashing until the spots are completely gone!

Dawn Dish Soap works especially well for grease-y stains and also works just as well as any other laundry pre-treat for all other stains -- it is the only thing I keep around to treat stains with.
One word of caution: be careful when treating white clothing...if you leave it too long before washing, you can end up with a blue spot from the blue dish soap.  You might want to keep a bleach pen around for treating stains on white and the Dawn for all other stains!

What's your best kept stain-treating secret?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Simple Kitchen Tip: Manage Your Recipes

With the invention of the internet has come an overwhelming assortment of new recipes...for everything!  Good ol' home cookin', gluten free, sugar free, GAPS friendly; all this is great if you have special dietary need or if you are looking for a new recipe for, say squash.  But it can also be a bit overwhelming...too many choices...will my family like it? 

I have found something that works for me and I'd like to share it with you: manage your recipes, simply!

I need a recipe for almost everything I make; I have very few recipes memorized and even those I usually double check to make sure I haven't forgotten something because with little people around I often get interrupted and can easily forget where I am in a recipe or what I've added.

So for recipes that I make often (like weekly), I write down the basics on a piece of paper and tape it inside my cupboard door.  That way it is always easy to look at double check, without having to get out the cookbook.

 Speaking of cookbooks...I keep two.  My Better Homes and Gardens one I love because it has basic recipes for pretty much to roast a turkey, how to hard boil and egg, a few basic frostings and cakes.  Yep, when I need a basic recipe, it is my go-to.  It also has some handy charts that I refer to much rice/millet/barley to how much water, and what to sub for what if I'm out of something, how to cook any veggie, how to can/freeze/preserve fruit and how long to process it in the canner.

My other cookbook is one I have made.  It only contains recipes that I love and that I reuse.  A new recipe does not get permanently put into this cookbook until it has proven itself in our daily life.  I made this cookbook out of a photo album for 4x6 pictures and 4x6 note cards...super easy and super cheap.  When I find a new recipe that I want to try, I write it on a sticky note, then I make the recipe and if it is one that we like, the sticky note goes in to my cookbook.  After I have made the recipe a few times and we still like it, then it gets written on a note card and permanently placed in my cookbook.  I really love knowing that I have a cookbook full of recipes I love and I don't have to wonder if it will work or if we will like it.
 My final recipe tip is useful for herbal remedies, bath and body care item and the like...stuff that you remake occasionally and requires special ingredients that you don't usually use in your kitchen.  I use this method for my herbal vitamin and for elderberry syrup.  Just write the recipe on a piece of paper and tape it to a container that holds all the herbs/supplies.  Always ready when you need it!

I also have a Pinterest board for recipes I see online that I'd like to try.  I am careful to only pin recipes that I think I will actually use...ones that everyone will eat and ones that use ingredients that I usually have on hand.

That is how I manage my recipes and keep my mind and my kitchen free of recipe clutter!
What do you do to manage your recipes...any new ideas for me?

Linking to Modest Monday at The Modest Mom.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What We've Been Up To

Oh, it has been a long and COLD Minnesota winter.  We've been trying not to go too crazy with cabin fever and to get a few things done, such as cleaning, purging and organizing.

Tony decided to cut a hole in the wall one evening:

 I love how it turned out!  Now we have a place close too but not ON the table to keep the napkins and the salt and pepper shakers...also the Spot It! games!
 Making an herbal tincture with Fast Asleep Tea using the "crockpot method" on our wood stove.  Hopefully this will help Hannah sleep...16 months and still up three or four times a night!
 Buying few shatter-proof Christmas ornaments on super clearance for next year.
 Keeping close to the wood stove and trying to stay warm!  I love our wood stove!  We started the winter with our propane tank at is now at 50%!  Yeah for the wood stove!  And that is even with many, MANY days of below zero weather!
 And here is a cute kid picture...just because:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Minnesota Winters...

Just enjoying the warm weather (above freezing!) before another deep freeze (high of 11 BELOW ZERO for three days!   Sometimes I wonder why I love Minnesota so much!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Elderberry, Our Flu "Shot"

It's that time of year...Christmas, celebrations, sugar, crowds, family, coughs, snotty noses, colds, flu...sounds fun, doesn't it!?

I shared HERE about our first line of defense when illness hits.  But prevention is better still!  Two years ago I learned about the benefits of elderberry syrup -- it is very high in antioxidants, its antiviral properties are effective against many strains of flu (including avian and swine), it's also a great general immune system booster.

image source
 That winter we mixed a spoonful of elderberry syrup into our daily yogurt.  We had only minor illnesses that winter and no bouts of flu! 

Last winter I read some cautions about using elderberry syrup daily and we cut back on our usage greatly.  We struggled with our health more last winter and all came down with the flu.  We did start taking elderberry syrup quickly once we were ill, and I think it did lessen the symptoms and duration of the illness.

This winter we have decided to take elderberry syrup quite regularly (five or so days a week).  We take a small dose (1 tsp for kids and 2 tsp for adults, once a day) as a preventative for illness.  If we come down with something resembling influenza, I will increase the dosage to four or more times a day.  This is what we have decided to do for our family.  You must do your own research and consider your health history and make the decision you think is best for your family.

You can buy elderberry syrup from many retailers, but it is very easy and much less expensive to make your own!  Here is the recipe we use; it is adapted from the ebook, Herbal Nurturing by Michelle Augar:

1 cup dried elderberries
6 Tbsp dried rose hips (very high in Vitamin C)
3 tsp ground ginger
4 cups filtered water
Mix together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2-3 minutes and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20 minutes. Stain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing the berries gently to remove more juice.  Add 1 cup raw honey once cool or 1/4 - 1/2 c. sucanat to sweeten.

I usually repeat this using the same berries and then mix the two batches together.
Store in a glass jar in the fridge or freeze for later use.

Here's to a healthier winter!

Disclaimer: Even though I am an RN turned Naturally Minded Mom, this is not to be taken as professional medical advice.  I am just sharing what I learned and what we use for our family.  You are responsible to do your own research and make educated decisions for your family.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Garlic, Nature's Antibiotic

image source
 "Garlic is one of the most valuable foods on this planet.  It has been used since biblical times and is mentioned in the literature of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, Babylonians, Romans and Egyptians."
                  ~ Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 5th edition, by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

Ah, I love garlic!  It is easy to get and easy to use.  It is my go-to antibiotic, antifugal, antiviral.

The active ingredient of garlic is the amino acid allicin.  When the cells of a garlic bulb are crushed (such as when you use a garlic press) the amino acid comes into contact with the enzyme allinase and sulfenic acid is formed.  Sulfenic acid is very unstable and breaks down quickly into a compound called allicin, which is a strong antibiotic!  Because allicin takes some time to form, it is best to finely chop, grate or press garlic and leave it to sit for at least 15 minutes before eating it so more allicin has a chance to form.

Eating a clove of raw garlic four times a day has quickly cleared up many illness and infections in my husband and I.  Whenever we feel something "coming on" we begin our garlic protocol.  I cleared up a major sinus infection and influenza in myself in about 48 hours last winter.  I would have cleared it faster had I started my garlic protocol when I first felt the sniffles coming.  I didn't start until my fever was 102 and it still cleared within two days!

Eating raw garlic my seem impossible but here is how we do it:
1. Use the garlic press to mince 1 medium to large clove of garlic onto a plate.
2. Make a piece (or two) of toast.
3. Spread toast liberally with butter and garlic.
4. Eat and enjoy!

Another way that garlic may be taken raw is to press one clove of garlic onto a spoon.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Drizzle raw honey over the garlic.  Swallow the spoonful without chewing.  Tony cannot stand this method but enjoys the toast.  I find this method works quite well for me.

Garlic is a very strong flavor and often children will not want to eat it raw.  Here is what I do for Hannah and she loves it:
1. Press one clove of raw garlic and let sit 15 minutes.
2. Spread a piece of bread liberally with butter.
3. Spread the garlic on top of the butter.
4. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
5. Cook in the toaster oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.  
6. Cool and cut into bite sized pieces.
7. Serve with Northwoods Dressing for dipping.

I can sneak garlic into a few recipes but even the garlic cheese bread is too much for Ruthie and Asher, so I make a garlic salve for use on them:
1. In a small (4 oz) glass jar, press three to five cloves raw garlic.  Let sit 15 minutes.
2. Drizzle oil over garlic (melted coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, etc) until garlic is just covered.
3. You can strain the pieces of garlic out of the oil with cheese cloth or a find mesh strainer but I usually just dip my fingers in the oil and rub it onto their skin making sure to remove any pieces of garlic as I go.
4. Spread garlic salve over chest and back, up neck, around outside of the ears and on the soles of the feet.  Or anywhere else there is an infection.

Use garlic salve four or more times a day.  If the skin is reacting to the garlic salve, dilute with more oil or use only on the bottoms of the feet.

I like simple and easy...and you can't get much easier or more simple than garlic!  
For more ways to use garlic check out the book Be Your Own "Doctor" by Rachel Weaver, M.H.

What is your favorite simple natural remedy?

Disclaimer: Even though I am an RN turned Naturally Minded Mom, this is not to be taken as professional medical advice.  I am just sharing what I learned and what we use for our family.  You are responsible to do your own research and make educated decisions for your family.

linking to Modest Monday at the Modest Mom Blog.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

RN to Naturally Minded Mom -- Part 2

To catch the beginning of the story, read part 1!

As we began to change what we bought and how we ate, we also discovered (thanks to “Dr.” Google) that Tony reacts badly to foods from the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, paprika). He reacts with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms. Thankfully, he noticed huge improvements within a week of removing these foods! This discovery made our transition to “whole foods” a lifestyle change (paprika hides in everything!). During this time we also discovered that I was pregnant with our second child.

This pregnancy was much like the first...I saw a doctor that supported my desires for a natural childbirth but still did all the usual tests and vaccinations. Asher was born on July 25, home (yeah, he came quickly!) We still went into the hospital and Asher received all of the “routine” newborn medications as well as vaccinations. He received his two month vaccinations as “scheduled” but I noticed that he was very uncomfortable and wanted to nurse often throughout the night. Beginning at one week old, Asher only got up once during the night to this was unusual. I had also begun reading about people who choose not to vaccinate and their reasoning behind these decisions...and I was beginning to feel the same way. Asher received one vaccine at his four month check-up and has had none since then.

Asher, 6 weeks

Asher was about six months old, when one Friday night Ruthie awake coughing...a tight “coupy” cough. I remembered our trip with her to the ER and trip back to Urgent Care the next day and I did not want to go through that again! Saturday morning I spent on the computer looking for natural remedies for croup and Saturday afternoon, while Ruthie and Daddy took naps, Asher and I braved the cold Minnesota winter to drive the 30 mintues to town and the nearest health food store to pick up a couple homeopathic remedies. When the “croupy” cough surfaced again that night, I was ready...and it worked! We all slept! And no more tight “croupy” cough!

Ruthie got her first tooth at 9 months old and it kind of surprised us...she just popped teeth through without much discomfort it seemed. Asher, on the other hand, was another story! Asher got his first two teeth at 7 months. He got the common runny nose and I didn't think much of it at first...then it began to settle a bit and he began running a low-grade fever...then he began not sleeping well...the his breathing started sounding “wheeze-y”. I finally took him into the doctor and found out that he had ear infections in both ears! Poor Baby! One round of antibiotics later and he was back to normal...until the next teeth started coming through...oh no, not again!

I discovered some homeopathic ear ache tabs/drops that we then used for 48 hours and for 48 hours each time this occurred and no more problems with ear infections! Interestingly enough, this past winter (Feb. 2013, Asher was 2 ½). He had been fighting a snotty nose and cough but acting pretty normal. Then the “wheeze-y” breathing started...I still didn't relate it to his ears until we were on a walk and Asher said that his ears hurt...then it clicked! I immediately started the homeopathic drops and the garlic oil and within 2 days...he was all better! No more “wheeze-y” breathing and no more ear ache! With each successful treatment I was gaining more experience and confidence in natural remedies.

Hannah Grace was born on September 10, 2012 through a very uneventful labor and delivery at home (on purpose this time!). Our midwifes were wonderful and Hannah never left my side during the whole postpartum experience. She received no medications or vaccinations only a gentle weighing and assessment (after we had snuggled and nursed for a good long time). Hannah has only been seen for well-baby check-ups and has received no vaccinations. I pray that we can continue this record for a good long while.

Hannah, 2 weeks

Now, more than six years after we were married, our kitchen and our medicine cabinet look quite different. As with all of life, it remains a process. So join me in this process of learning to be healthier...and stay tuned for my favorite natural remedy, garlic!