Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer Sniffles

My daughter has been in school all of five days and early Friday morning, I awoke to the grating melody of two young children, hacking in harmony. Not only did she pick up a case of the sniffles, she brought it home and shared it with her little brother. I was expecting her to catch more colds since she now spends a great deal of time in a classroom with other children, but I didn't think it would happen so quickly.

Luckily, I acted fast and took a proactive approach to help stop the sniffles in their tracks....or at the very least, shorten the bug's stay in my children's little bodies. I'm happy to report that their colds have not worsened and have, dare I say, improved. And better yet, there was no running to the pharmacy, no hours wasted in a waiting room. I had everything I needed right here at home. Save your time, your money, and your sanity. Natural medicines work, and I feel, are the best line of defense when it comes to children. They are so small and so delicate...no need to bombard them with chemical medicines unless something is really wrong! Here's my general "protocol" when it comes to colds in our house:

  • Elder Flower- Black elder flowers are wonderful for boosting the immune system. If taken at the first sign of the sniffles, it can significantly shorten the duration and severity of the cold. Really. My kids have been taking an elder berry syrup with echinacea and astragulus, twice a day, since symptoms started to appear. The cold seems to have stalled and they are on the up!

  • Peppermint-To soothe a cough, I make a little mug of peppermint tea with honey and offer it before bed. Peppermint tastes yummy and helps to clear up any congestion. The honey coats the throat and eases scratchiness. Mullein is also excellent for colds. If you have some, toss in a handful with your peppermint for an added boost.

  • Eucalyptus Oil-If the cold does manage to hit your child head on, eucalyptus oil does wonders for a stuffy head. Mix a drop or two of eucalyptus oil with any carrier (we use almond oil) and rub it on your child's chest. My kids love this treatment and ask for a "sick rub" even when they're well!

  • Garlic- Garlic is truly a wonder drug. It has been used medicinally for over 5,000 years! It's antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and so much more. When I have a house full of sickies, I cook with lots of garlic. I usually do anyway but I really step it up if someone has a cold. You can smell us coming from a mile away!

  • Rest and Hydrate- This can be difficult with children, especially if they aren't really feeling all that bad. Most kids power through a cough and a runny nose but if you can get them to slow down, the problem will resolve itself much more quickly. I try to encourage "slow" activities like reading, coloring or painting to keep them from running, wrestling and engaging in other mayhem that will aggravate symptoms.

How do you take care of a case of the sniffles?


Sunday, August 28, 2011


Happy Birthday!

To my rough and tumble, loves to snuggle, always dirty, perfect, precious, boy.
I love you. Always, always.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I'll keep this short, sweet and to the point. I made dough rise. That's right. Me. Hold your applause...

If you've been reading for any length of time, you have most certainly read about the ongoing drama called, "Stephanie sucks at making bread." If you missed it, you can catch up here and here. But oh...happy day my friends. Happy day. After nearly a year of tough, flat, bricklike loaves, I have made dough rise. And not just rise. Oh no. It was nearly spilling out of its bowl. I literally danced in the kitchen.

I've acutally done it twice now. I didn't want to say anything the first time....I thought I might scare the yeast. And besides, one time could be a fluke, right? But two times? Two times means I might actually be able to make bread for family and cross one more thing off the grocery list every week! Perhaps my yeast killing days are over! 

I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch though. The two things I got to actually rise were whole wheat pizza dough and wheat dinner rolls. I haven't actually tried to make a loaf of bread. But the pizza and the rolls were so incredibly yummy that I simply must try, try again. If I didn't kill pizza dough and dinner roll yeast, I should be able to keep loaf yeast alive and kickin'. Cloudy reasoning perhaps, but I'll take what I can get.

Onward! There is bread to made! Wish me luck!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Blog Love

Woop woop! Blog love is going around. Taryn over at Mama Gone Green has so kindly bestowed a blog award upon me.  Starting a blog was one of the best decisions I could have made. I have made so many meaningful connections and learned more than I ever imagined.
This award is given to bloggers with under 200 followers. In order to participate, you've gotta follow the rules. Here goes...
1. Thank the giver and link back to them.
Thank you Taryn! You made my day!
2. Reveal your 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
Okay. This was hard for me. The majority of the blogs I read have more than 200 readers. This means that a) I need to find some new blog friends and b) I'm going to have to cheat a little. Three of my choices have less than 200 readers. Two do not. But all five are fab. Here are my current must reads:

3. Copy and paste award to your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will pass the love to other bloggers.

Pass it on, folks!

5. And most of all have Bloggity-blog fun.

Done and Done!

What blogs are YOU loving these days?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School Time Snacks

K starts kindergarten in five days. Eek! Each day, she is responsible for bringing a water bottle and healthy snack to keep her little brain sharp and focused. Being the planner that I am, I thought we might take some time this week and prepare some healthy munchies in advance to take some of the stress out of our school week. If I have something ready to throw in her backpack, I am much less likely to reach for prepackaged options that a) cost more, b)are full of unidentifiable chemicals and preservatives, and c)won't give K the energy she needs to be the best kindergartner she can be!

Here's what we're making for K's snack time arsenal:

  • Trail Mix a la K-I let her go crazy at the bulk bins. Her special mix has almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, dried cherries and mini whole wheat pretzels.
  • Fruit Leather-She wanted strawberries because she likes them. I wanted peaches because they were on sale. We made both!
  • Whole Wheat Banana Mini Muffins-Easy to freeze and always yummy!

I've also whipped out a reusable snack bag using the tutorial found here. This isn't the fanciest tutorial out there, and will only work for "dry snacks" since it's all cotton. But, it will certainly get the job done and save me about a million plastic sandwich bags. I'm hoping no one looks too closely at my first attempt. It was my first go round with velcro...we aren't on speaking terms right now. I added a ribbon on top for prettiness but the stitches went right through my velcro on the other side. Who really looks at the inside of a reusable snack bag anyway, right? My next one will be better and trust me, there will be more!

What are some easy, healthy, packable snacks that you and your family love? I need more ideas...hit me up in the comments!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blood Suckers

Though I strive to use products on my children that are free from unpronounceable chemicals, dangerous disruptors and other man made nasties, I try not to be too uptight about. If we run out of SLS free shampoo, we'll use what we have. If goat milk soap isn't in the budget, I take from my stash of grocery store soap I was able to acquire free with a coupon. But there are some things I simply cannot compromise on. I try to be prepared when we travel so that I've got a natural remedy for whatever comes up. But this weekend, I dropped the ball....and I'm still twitching.

The kids and I are home in NM this weekend for one last hurrah before K starts school. My home town has been blessed with several weeks of good, much needed rain. The country is green, the creeks are running and the wilflowers are in bloom. But all the rain has also given life to the biggest, meanest, blood sucking mosquitos I have ever seen. Ever. And since these rabid little pests aren't usually an issue when we visit, I had absolutely nothing to repel the little buggers and stop them from eating us alive.

Wildflowers for Momma :)
With nothing but OFF spray in my Mom's medicine cabinet to combat them, I decided I'd rather have my kids suffer a few itchy bites than be coated in toxic chemicals. But when K's bites started to really swell and redden, I realized she may be allergic to mosquitos. If she was going to enjoy the last bit of these perfect mountain summer days before returning to the heat of the desert, I was going to have to suck it up and spray her down. And I did. And I've been feeling horrible about it since I applied it this morning.

To appease the "natural" side in me, my Mom taped pennies to K's worst bites. The copper is supposed to help with the itching. I'd never heard of this remedy and  K wasn't too keen on having pennies taped on her but it did keep her from scratching!
She's been outside all day and not one new bite to show. DEET is effective it nothing else. But once we return home, I think I'll be repacking my remedy kit to include something for repelling the creepie crawlies. Lemon eucalyptus oil has been proven more effective than DEET for up to 120 minutes. Lavender and citronella oils work too. I messed up this weekend but I promise I'll be better prepared next time. Hopefully my daughter won't grow a third eye...


Monday, August 8, 2011

A Case of the Crazies

I really admire serious quilters. All that cutting, measuring....blech. I'm a lazy seamstress if ever there was one. That, coupled with my extreme perfectionism and my utter distaste for my rotary cutter make quilting a near impossible endeavor for me. That doesn't mean I haven't tried. It just means I didn't get very far. The first wonky square, the first slip of the cutter and I'm done. My patience for tedious tasks (like cutting 200 tiny squares) is limited!

Despite my lack of patience and skill, I would love to make a quilt of my own, something for my children to have when they're older. But I think I may have found a solution to my quilting quandry. Crazy quilts. Why have I never heard of these before? Crazy quilts started as a fad for rich Victorian ladies who were eager to show off their stitching skills. Traditionally, they were made with silks and velvets but as the trend trickled down, women used whatever fabrics they had. I love scrap quilts and crazy quilts are the epitome of scrappy goodness. Of course it is perfectly okay to buy new fabric for a quilt but I just love the whole idea of using what you've got. Less waste, more sentiment.

Gorgeous crazy with ric-rac.
In addition to their scraptacular beginnings, there are a couple other reasons crazy quilts are easy for me to love. There is hardley ANY measuring. Really! You just slap down any old wrinkled scrap and sew it down, continuing with the slap and sew method until the square is covered. Then you flip that bad boy over, square if off, and you have gorgeous, crazy quilt square! Usually, each seam on the square is then embroidered, but depending on what you're making, it may not always be necessary.

I'm working on a little somethin' somethin' that uses the crazy quilt method. I can't divulge all the details quite yet...it's a Christmas present in the making. But I am pleased as punch with the progress so far. I can't wait to gift it. There are pieces of J's old onesie, a curtain that used to hang in my living room, a scrap from the first dress I made for K....so many memories in just these few squares. I like them all but am partial to red one....what do you think?


Wednesday, August 3, 2011


*Parts of this post have been recycled. Look at that....I'm green in every way! With 143 days until Christmas, I have been thinking about what needs making for this year's holiday season and last year's post on homemade gifts is just as true now as it was last year*

For all the times I rolled my eyes at your hand knit sweater, I am sorry. For hiding that atrociously fluffy hand crocheted shawl, I beg your forgiveness. For tossing unopened jars of chutneys, assorted pickled pleasantries and hard but homemade fruit cakes I am wrought with guilt. For burying the quilt of avocado green and pumpkin orange in the back of my linen closet, I am truly shamed.

Though it's only August, I've been thinking about Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Though I thoroughly enjoy the holiday and all that it entails, about this time of year I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. As much as I consider myself one to "fight the man" Christmas means presents, which means consumerism, which means money. Or lack thereof. I tend to be on the "lack thereof" side and it is around this time when I start to assess who gets what, how much it will cost and start squirreling money away to help soften the blow of the Christmas shopping frenzy I am forced to indulge in every year.

Last year, I did manage to make a few gifts from scratch and to my utter surprise and delight, they were a huge success. I'm looking to do more of the same. I've added some new tricks to my bag o' craft talents and while the bag is still somewhat empty, I'm confident I can whip up some pretty swoon worthy gifts. Homemade does not have to equal heinous.When I was younger, I received an assortment of homemade gifts that, well, quite honestly I thought were hideous and either hid them or promptly threw them out. A 16 year old does not wear crocheted shawls. And who pickles peaches? Yuck!

What my young and and inexperienced brain did not realize was that these gifts were worth more than any store bought item I received. Granted, 16 year olds do not wear shawls but the person who gave it to me thought I might need one. She thought the color of the yarn would look nice with my eyes and that I could wear it on the bus for my away basketball games to keep warm. She took the time to pick out a pattern, sit down and hook it. And I might not like pickled peaches but the person who gave them to me picked them from their own tree, sliced and pitted them and decorated the canning jar with fabric scraps and lace. They took time, a lot of time, from their day to produce something just for me. It's not so much the actual items that they gave to me. It was their time.

In an effort to live a more simple and fulfilling life, I have learned just how much time it takes to perform the necessary tasks to produce a homemade gift. By learning to sew and can and cook, I recognize the love that goes into something prepared by the giver's hands.I know how long it takes to can something. I know how long it takes to crochet an afghan or knit a sweater. I know how long it takes to make a quilt, even if that quilt is made with the most heinous shades of orange and green. Whether I like the item or not, I know that it was made with me and only me in mind. In the 12 or so years that have passed since I received that shawl, I've grown to understand just how treasured a homemade gift should be. As I begin my gift lists and determine who gets what, I just hope that the receiver knows that I was thinking of them while I made it. I picked out the colors/flavors/shapes just for them. I hope they know that I love them enough to give them some of my own precious time.

Go forth my friends. Create and give of your own precious time!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Citrus Wonder and a Glass Top Stove

Whoa! I certainly wasn't planning to be away from this space for so long. We've been busy bees here at the homestead. We've been getting ready for school, hosting a house full of family, celebrating a very special birthday and an anniversary, and have just been plum over scheduled. I don't anticipate it slowing down in the next couple of weeks, but I will post as inspiration strikes. Once K is in school and we fall into a steady and hopefully slower rhythm, I can dazzle you with my wit on a more regular basis!

But before I go, I have to share this green cleaning tidbit I discovered whilst cleaning before the arrival of all the aforementioned company. I have an electric, glass top stove. Glass tops aren't the easiest thing to clean. It's not like you can lift off the stove top to soak when you've got burned on spaghetti sauce or grease splatters. Embarrassed for anyone to see the sad state of my stove top, I attacked the burned on nastiness with a razor blade and splash of vinegar. With about 20 minutes of elbow grease, things were looking good.

But my stove to still lacked that "fresh from the showroom" gleam. My homemade all purpose spray makes it look okay but I wanted it to sparkle. When we moved in to this house, the previous owner had left a tiny bottle of a concoction called CeramaBryte. It's a gooey cream that you rub on to the stove top and buff off like car wax. The stuff was amazing. But I'm a green clean kind of girl now....that and I have no idea where I stuck that teeny bottle of CeramaBryte. Instead, I sprinkled the glass top with baking soda and rubbed it around with half a lemon, cut side down. The baking soda made a delightful bubbling noise and lemons smelled yummy and fresh. I buffed off the resulting lemony paste and ta-da!!! Showroom shiny. WITHOUT having to dig for that little bottle.

Pardon the photo quality. It was snapped on my phone. I do not, in fact, have man arms.

Green cleaning wonder I tell you!!