It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like…Cold Season

“Listen, I’m sniffling, and I’m not really awake, and I’m taking echinacea and Vitamin C and sleeping practically 24 hours a day. I have a temperature! And uh, um, I think I’m contagious. So I would, I would really appreciate it if you would just go away.”—Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail

 

How is the cold weather treating all of you out there? We just had our first snowfall here in Virginia. I’m from New England, so my reaction to snow is a little less, “The sky is falling!” and a little more “Bring it on, snow gods! Give me a Nor Easter to plow my car through!” I’m a fair driver in the snow, but when push comes to shove, I’d rather be at home, wearing cozy sweats and curled up with a good book. Ice is another thing entirely. No one likes ice. Black ice, wintery mixes, sleet, melted snow that refroze into sheets of opaque slides of death—not a fan of that.

Another accompaniment to cold weather is germs. Everyone stays indoors longer during the colder seasons, and germs tend to like to gather and procreate and spread their delightful selves all around in such an environment. I just got over a cold myself, and I was interested to find that the homeopathic remedies I tried worked significantly better than the over-the-counter drugs I bought.

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I’ve almost completely stopped taking any kind of pain reliever or symptom alleviator. I’ve always been super-sensitive to most of them—give me one Benadryl and I’m out like a light! I took one Vicodin after having a tooth pulled several years ago, and I thought I was going to turn inside out. I also read recently that ibuprofen can have harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. I don’t know about you, but I love my heart, and I intend to take good care of it and the rest of my body for a very long time. It’s all natural for me from this day forward. I prefer to grow my pharmaceuticals. There are some things that humankind simply cannot duplicate in a lab. Science has a long way to go in that regard.

I will say this first and foremost: sleep—getting an ample amount of rem sleep—is paramount to a healthy immune system, and good health overall. Think about it. I know I usually get sick after a combination of high stress over a length of time and not getting enough sleep. Going to bed at a decent time and getting at least 8 hours helps improve one’s health overall, from strengthening memory to giving you a longer lifespan.

Whenever I get a cold, it always starts in my nose and throat and travels to my upper respiratory system through post nasal drip—ugh, disgusting. Phlegm is obnoxious. I like being able to breathe, as do most of us, so being clogged up is just a complete and utter nuisance. And I loathe having to take that putrid, nasty, gag-worthy cough syrup that makes me dizzy and groggy and only lasts for four hours. What use is that? I already feel miserable, so why make myself feel worse?

This time, I tried something different. Every night before I went to bed, I drank one to two mugs of tea with lemon and honey and brandy—my version of a hot toddy. I used a decaf chai since it contains all the powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories like cinnamon and cloves and cardamom—anything to bring down the swelling in my sinuses. Honey is a natural antibiotic, and lemon is a natural antiseptic. All of that combined with hot water and a little alcohol alleviated most of the symptoms, including bringing my slightly elevated temperature back down to normal. And best of all—I slept like a baby.

I also found a recipe for cough syrup in an edition of Mother Earth News. It combines honey, hot water, and fresh thyme. It works, it doesn’t make me groggy, and it tastes a hell of a lot better than the store-bought junk.

I’m also trying their recipe for skin cleanser. This is my first day trying it, so stay tuned if you want to know if it really does work. I can already see a difference, but I live with my face every day, so what I see not everyone else will. It was a little astringent, and I’m thinking of adding aloe vera to it as a moisturizer. Other than that, I am happy with the result so far.

I do like being able to pronounce the ingredients that go into making these products: thyme, water, honey, soap. Yes, the skin cleanser contains honey, which sounds weird. But think on this: archeologists discovered pots of honey in some of the tombs in the pyramids—it was still edible, even after 3,000 years! 3,000 years! I don’t know who was chosen to test its edibility, but apparently, it was still good. Honey is an amazing natural preservative, and it was used for many things in ancient Egypt including embalming. And if it was good enough to be offered as a gift to the Egyptian gods, then it’s good enough to go on my face.

Another great alleviator of chest congestion for me is coffee. Did you know that if someone is having an asthma attack, and their inhaler is missing, having them chew on coffee grounds can help open their airways? The caffeine in black coffee helps stimulate the bronchial tubes to expand. This should be used in emergency situations only. I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. I know for me it certainly helped keep my airways clear and working productively while I was sick. And again, coffee tastes much better than cough syrup. Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day can also lower one’s risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease.

I know so many people who will go straight to the doctor’s office for a prescription the moment they know they’re ill. I know people who take so many pills and supplements it makes my own head spin! I couldn’t justify it for myself. Given the research I have done independently on herbs, fruits, vegetables, proteins and holistic healing, I feel very strongly in choosing a more natural approach to sustain my life. I will keep my money in my pocket, listen to my body and what it needs, and use my knowledge of herbs and other foods to counteract the illnesses that seek to wreak havoc on my head and chest.

 

Sites I used:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/history/honey-in-the-pyramids.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0010864/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fda-strengthens-warning-that-nsaids-increase-heart-attack-and-stroke-risk-201507138138

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270202.php

 

 

 

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Making Grandma Proud and Making Things Fizz

Hello! It’s me again! Fall is on the horizon. I hope everyone has their apple cider or pumpkin spice latte at the ready. I prefer cider myself. Pumpkin spice was a novelty when it first became a fad. Now it’s too hyped up. Try chai tea and hot cider. The chai tastes like mulled spices (essentially, that’s what it actually is), and it’s delicious! A splash of whiskey wouldn’t hurt, either.

I decided to make homemade gnocchi last night! No, sorry, I don’t have any pictures. But click the Pinterest link below to find the method I used. I’m a visual person, so videos and such are super helpful for me. I was a little concerned about making this pasta–last time I tried making gnocchi a few years ago, the pasta turned out more like potato mush, and I ended up turning the clumps into pancakes instead. It turned out to be an ok compromise, but it made me shy to try again. But I did! And what a success!

I sauteed my gnocchi in butter with garlic, sage, fresh thyme, and threw in a diced tomato for color. Very tasty! My Italian grandmother would be extremely proud! Both of my grandmothers would be proud, truth be known, but since this pasta is Italian in origin, I thought it a tribute to mia famiglia.

If one were so inclined, gnocchi could probably be used as the dumpling part in chicken and dumplings, depending on the recipe. They’re about the same size. It is that time of year when all of the heartier foods like stews come out. Guiness stew will most certainly be gracing my stove sometime in the not-too-distant future. I will definitely be sharing that recipe.

In other news, I have decided to give home brewing a try! I got a mead brewing kit from a vendor on Etsy. So far, so good! But now I’ve got the bug! I want to try cider next! Yes, you heard me. Hard cider is wonderful this time of year. It will be a couple more weeks until the mead is finished, and I cannot wait to try it!

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Etsy kit I used.

Also, Christmas is coming. Giving people homemade gifts is always great, especially if it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

My herbs are beginning to turn themselves in for hibernation. It may also be because the weather has been so damp lately, but the mint especially is becoming limp and brown. So sad. I did take clippings of most of my plants to propagate in water so I can grow them indoors during the winter. There are some plants that will regrow roots after being cut if they are placed in water for 2-3 weeks: thyme, mint, lavender, rosemary, and sage are a few. So, fingers crossed. It’s only day two, but I really hope this works. If not, I will simply have to start over from seeds next year.

That is all that I have for you at the moment! Stay tuned for further adventures! Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Pepper Adventures and Shampoo Trials

Hi, everyone! Hope everything is going well with you all!

I decided to make stuffed peppers the other day. They’re super easy to make, and yes, they are healthy. Most importantly though, they’re delicious! What is the point of eating healthy if it doesn’t taste good, right? And excuse my lack of images of the finished product. I got too carried away with eating them that I forgot to take a picture first.

There are hundreds of variations of the recipe for stuffed peppers; I decided to go slightly TexMex on this one. I used ground turkey meat instead of ground beef, but either one works just fine.

You need:

6 Bell Peppers (color doesn’t matter, I just like red ones because they’re sweeter)      Note: make sure that the bottom of each pepper is level so it can stand on its own.

Note: make sure that the bottom of each pepper is level so it can stand on its own.

1-2 Pounds ground turkey or beef

2 Cups Brown Rice

1 8 oz Can Black Beans

1 6 oz Can Tomato Paste

Spices: Cumin, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder and Salt, all to taste

Cheddar, Pepperjack, or Monterey Jack Cheese for the topping

  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the tops of the peppers off and scoop out the seeds. Place the cleaned peppers upright in an oven-safe pan.
  3. Cook the rice according to the package directions.
  4. In a separate pot, cook the meat with the spices for about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Stir in the black beans. Add rice to the meat and mix together well.
  5. Portion out the meat and rice mixture into each hollowed-out pepper using a spoon. Fill each pepper to the top. Don’t put the cheese on yet.
  6. Place the pan of peppers in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Add cheese to the top of the peppers and place back in the oven for  more minutes, or until the cheese bubbles and turns slightly brown. Serve hot.

You probably won’t use all the meat and rice filling, so keep it as leftovers–or get more peppers and fill them.

I am not a huge fan of beans, I must confess. I’ve never really liked them–any of them. They have a gritty texture that I just don’t find appealing. But I have learned to tolerate them, because they are wonderfully good at assisting good health, as they help prevent against inflammation, diabetes, and certain cancers–colorectal cancer among them.

I do love sweet bell peppers! They are sweet and crunchy and refreshing! They are high in vitamin C and fiber, and like carrots, are very good for eye health.

In the news of DIY, I attempted to make my own shampoo. I used a little of the soap that I made the other day along with a few teaspoons of olive oil and some castile soap. I used it the other day and although my hair felt clean afterward, there was very little lather.  20170704_203734

It is an experiment in progress. I will be attempting to make my own conditioner next–my hair feels like it needs it. You would think that with all the humidity in the air lately, my hair would be soaking that moisture right up! Oh well.

Stay tuned for further adventures! Until next time!

 

Suds

Hi, Everyone! It’s been over a month since I started writing my blog, and I just wanted to say thank you to all my followers, and those who liked my posts! You’re all awesome!

I made handsoap! Once again, I sought out Pinterest for the recipe, and while there were a plethora to choose from, I used this: http://bbatemanmissions.blogspot.com/2011/11/homemade-liquid-handsoap.html. It is an excellent reference!

I followed the recipe almost to the letter, except I added a few leaves of aloe to my soapy mixture. There are recipes out there that use liquid castile soap as the base (which is probably more authentic), but I could only find the solid bars. I’ll have to try that at some other point.

I had to keep my soap waiting longer than ten hours since I had to work early (meh), but it was none the worse for the longer period of time. Once it was cooled and I had to stir it up again (I used a whisk to break it up), the soap took on a mucilaginous look and feel. It smells great, though! I used Tom’s brand soap, and it is scented with lavender and tea tree oil. Lavender is one of my favorite herbs!

I emptied out the remaining drips of my soap bottle from the bathroom and filled it about a quarter of the way up with my homemade soap, and then added more water to it, and gave it a mix. It works just as good thinned out. I’m also using it as my body wash! A little goes a long way. I’m pretty sure I will have soap for at least the next six months without breaking a sweat! What next? Shampoo?? Lotion?? Eek, I’m excited for this!

I would love to get more into the world of soaping. Right now, I don’t have the space for making a soap lab, and I have my roommates and my roommates’ pets to worry about. So strictly melt-and-pour recipes, or something along those lines. But if anyone has any recommendations as to what I should try next, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

Until next time!

DIY: Just Do it Yourself!

Top of the afternoon to you all! I hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day Weekend and also kept in mind the reason why we celebrate. There are men and women that gave their lives so that we may live our lives in peace. That being said, let’s talk DIY.

So I have a confession to make; I am hopelessly addicted to Pinterest, and there really isn’t a cure. I have boards on food, on gardening, on health and fitness, and yes, DIY. My DIY boards are broken down into sewing, crafts, knitting, gift ideas, etc. I am a DIY fanatic!

Today is my day off, and I decided to try something new from one of my boards. I have been wanting to recycle some wine bottles that I’ve had lying around; it’s Rose season, and this particular brand–Gerard Bertrand Cote Des Rose–designed their bottles to have a rose on the bottom.

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And I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool to turn these into drinking glasses? So that is what I set out to accomplish today.

I have three such bottles sitting at home, collected over a couple of weeks…empty ones, of course (Who would leave full wine bottles lying around? That would be alcohol abuse!). I researched glass cutting and tools. I chose a method that uses a glass cutter–a tool that looks almost like a bristle-less toothbrush. It doesn’t really cut the glass but scores it.

I set up my work station in the kitchen. The townhouse I’m renting has carpet in almost every room, so getting glass on the floor would be not so great if I did it anywhere but the kitchen. I covered the countertop with a plastic trash bag and got all my equipment together:

  • Glass Bottle
  • Tape Measure
  • Marker
  • Candle
  • Ice (in the freezer)
  • Glass Cutter
  • Vegetable Oil (you can use other oils; this one was just more readily available)
  • Safety Goggles
  • Gloves (they were too big, so I didn’t wear them. Don’t follow my example. Hands are important.)
  • Sandpaper

I used a tape measure and a marker to draw a line around the circumference of the bottle to indicate where I wanted to cut it. It was a process of scoring, heating the glass over the candle, and cooling it back down. It took longer than I thought it would, but eventually, the bottle came apart!

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I dipped the glass in water, then used the sandpaper to smooth away the rough edges. The water keeps the glass shards from flying everywhere. The end result is a little uneven, but hey! I am going to get an actual bottle cutter to finish the other two bottles. The disadvantage to this method is that it’s hard to keep a steady hand while you’re scoring the glass. My hand kept slipping due to the oil dripping from the glass cutter tool, and the water from the melting ice. But not bad for the first attempt! Now I just need a full set! The real question will be whiskey or brandy?

DIY is a great way to become self-sufficient, and put your own unique twist on something. It is a great way to refurbish old items sitting around the house that you may not have another purpose for. For example, these wine bottles would just be adding volume to the landfill. Instead, they’re going to be unique pieces added to my kitchenware. I have plans for the bottle tops as well, but that’s for another blog.

DIY is part of the reason why I am growing herbs as well. I mentioned in my first blog that I am interested in exploring the world of essential oils. There are actually multiple reasons for my interest.

  1. I did mention that I cook and bake, so it makes sense that I would grow some herbs for my own culinary use.
  2. Herbs have tons of health benefits. They span over various qualities that include inflammation reduction (cinnamon, turmeric), reducing muscle pain or cramps (star anise reduces the pains of menstrual cramps), increase brain function (rosemary), or alleviate an upset stomach (peppermint).
  3. Herbs can be used in food, soaps of all kinds and for most purposes, even medicinally
  4. Living a thriving lifestyle is really the end goal. I believe the closer you are to the source of your food, the less likely it is to have food that has been contaminated or otherwise corrupted into something unrecognizable. I love Oreos, but it’s best to balance that out with food that you can actually pronounce.

I mean to explore these avenues, especially with the oils and soaps. Of course, that means waiting for my herbs to be big enough to harvest and use. This is where patience is a virtue…kind of. *Takes a deep breath* Meanwhile, I will share with you all I know about herbs and which ones do what, how you can incorporate them into your life, how to cook with them, etc. I’m excited to be on this journey, and I’m excited to be sharing it with you.

That’s all I have for you today! Until next time!