Wednesday, November 7, 2012

3 Ingredient NATURAL Cleaning Solution - All Ingredients From the grocery Store!

Here is a recipe for a natural cleaning solution you can start making TODAY. It uses only three ingredients. Here they are:

Water (If you have hard tap water, it might be wise to buy distilled water)
White Vinegar
Rosemary Herb

 You can find fresh rosemary with the herbs in the produce section of your grocery store. It should only cost a few dollars and you should be able to get a bunch of it. I love to take a nice deep whiff of it - it smells so good. To learn about the benefits of Rosemary, you can read the entry at Mountain Rose. There are a few health cautions, too.

Take a bunch of rosemary and put it into a sterilized jar with a lid. Pour the white vinegar over the rosemary and put the (sterile) lid over it. Put the vinegar in a dark place and let it sit for a few days, giving the jar a good shake each day.

If you don't feel like waiting, boil the vinegar before adding it to the herbs, just please take care when pouring. Nobody feels like cleaning with burnt fingers.

After the herbs are infused into the vinegar, you will need to strain them. I use a coffee filter tucked into a colander. Make sure you get all the little pieces out because they will get stuck in your sprayer and you will have to toss it (unless someone knows a great way to unclog a stuck sprayer - learned this the hard way with glitter, don't ask).

About spray bottles - I know some people don't like plastic. I'm looking for a good source for nice metal bottles with spray attachments. Right now I just get my plastic spray bottles at Walmart - they are BPA free and they are made in the USA. If anyone can recommend a good source for the metal bottles, let me know.

Funnel the vinegar into a spray bottle. I like to use equal parts vinegar and distilled water. That's it, you have a fantastic, strong, all natural cleaning solution for your house. The smell of the vinegar will dissipate and the sunshiney smell of the Rosemary will charm your house. So much better than chemical smells and no worries about the kids getting into poison.

Don't forget to sign up for my email list using the form to the left - I'll be releasing my e-book, Herbal First Aid Kit, early in December and the subscribers of my newsletter will be getting it exclusively for FREE!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Visit to the Police Station

"Mom, the cop's handcuffs were silver and very clean. And his car was dirty and we got to sit in it." -Julius.
"Don't say 'cop', Jules." -Elijah

The boys got to visit a police station last night with cub scouts - our police station, conveniently enough. I gather that they had a wonderful time. My wise husband pulled the police officer aside afterwards and asked him to have a few words with Elijah. He told him how it is in the park - with kids trying to get each other in trouble, and always threatening to call the police on each other.

"Next time," the officer said, "Just tell them to do it." He introduced himself by name to the boys and told them they can always wave to him. He gave them badges with the township's name on it, so now if the other kids threaten to "call the cops" - the boys can say, "Hey, that's cool - call them. We know Officer Albert and he's awesome."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How I Feel About Facebook, Addendum

Today my mother left sleepy central PA to visit her friends in Bangladesh. If you don't know where that is, don't worry, you're not the only one. But they make a lot of our clothing. Now that I told you that, you will start to notice more and more of your clothing labels ... "Made in Bangladesh." I apologize in advance for that.

I can never remember things like dates and times so I was puzzling over whether she left today or next Saturday. In other words, we didn't say goodbye. But it was cool, because she sent me a Facebook message from Chicago O'Hare telling me about the people around her and about how she got bumped up to first class for the 13 hour portion of her flight, which is pretty awesome. And I know, it's not the same as being in the same room, so people say we are becoming disconnected as a society. But I know what O'Hare looks like, I've been there a few times myself, and I know what it feels like to fly, and I know what my Mom looks like, from her smile and the texture of her skin, and if I hear her coughing in a restaurant I already know that it's her even if I didn't know she was there, because, you know, she's my mother. So, really, it's not that big of a deal that she's not here, because I got to peer into the things that I don't know, like what she's thinking and how she's feeling right this second. And if it weren't for the bizarre interconnectedness that Facebook brought us, it wouldn't be there at all, it would just be, oh, I guess Mom did leave yesterday, because there aren't any posts on her wall and my siblings are a bit more wild than usual.

And, really, that's just magic.

How I Use Lavender to Care for my Children

I love lavender because it is a gentle herb, and because I have had a baby or toddler in the house for nearly ten years. I love using herbs but I don't always feel good about using them with babies. For example, I like to use strong White Camphor oil when I make my vapor rub, but it is considered to be much too strong to use with little ones. So that's my first use of lavender.

1) Vapor Rub - my regular recipe for vapor rub calls for a mixture of eucalytps oil, camphor oil, and lavender. When I make the rub for my dear hubby, I make it heavy on the camphor. But when I make it for the little children I omit the camphor and double the lavender. Next time I am going to add rosemary, too. Don't believe it works? Guess what Vick's uses in their baby vapor rub? Go ahead and Google it - I'll wait!

2) Go to sleep baths - have a fussy little one that doesn't like to sleep? Me, too. I add a few drops of lavender to a very warm baths to make a soothing, restful atmosphere that help calm baby down. It really only takes a few drops. Make sure you keep a very close eye on baby because they will fall asleep in the tub - I have had this happen. Guess what herb Johnson and Johnson advertises as being enriched in their popular bedtime lotion?

3) Baby Powder - I use ground lavender flowers as a soothing agent to help fight diaper rash in my homemade baby powder. The base I use is a combination of  arrowroot powder and kaolin clay. I sometimes add finely ground ground calendula flowers, too, for strong diaper rash, because calendula is reputed to be antibiotic and would help prevent infections. You can see my recipe for making baby powder here.

4) Keeping clothes fresh - A sachet of lavender is a wonderful way to keep baby's clothes smelling sweet and fresh. Try lavender as a safer, gentler alternative to moth balls (which smell nasty and are potent).

5) Safe Cleaning - I add about 20 drops of lavender oil to a small bottle of vinegar to make an excellent, safe cleaning solution for counters, high chairs, sinks, and the like. The smell of the vinegar will fade but the lavender will linger and you won't feel bad spraying this around the little ones.

6) Headache Care - A little lavender on the temples is a gentle and effective headache relief solution. I use this myself - sometimes even just a little whiff out of the bottle makes me feel better right away. Your children will appreciate the gentle care of the combination of touch and aromatherapy.

7) Gentle insect repellent - lavender is one of the very few essential oils that is considered safe enough to dab right on skin, but when I use it with my child I still like to use a carrier oil. You can add the lavender oil to plain old vegetable oil, a carrier oil that you love, or you can buy witch hazel (which is a wonderfully mild antiseptic to have on hand) from the first aid section of a local store.

One more I almost forgot is  Wound healing - Lavender is one of the main ingredients in my healing salve, which is one of my favorite recipes and for some reason I have not posted it yet. I will be posting the recipe soon.

If you don't have lavender on hand or a local source, try Mountain Rose Herbs! This is where I usually buy mine.

Lavender Essential Oil - a one ounce bottle will last you a LONG time, but buy a small bottle if you just want to try it

Lavender Flowers - buy them whole to use in sachets or buy them powered to use in baby powder. I buy them whole so that I can use them for both, and powder them myself. I usually only buy a 4 oz bag but I don't make very many sachets. If you have a lot of clothes to sweeten, you might buy more.

Witch Hazel - only $5 a 16 ounce bottle at the time of this writing - great deal for a simple, versatile carrier. You may be able to find a better deal locally.

Please remember - I am not giving medical advice or telling you to do anything to your family. I am sharing recipes and ideas that work with my family. Always test essential oils in very small amounts before using them with your family, as there may be individual sensitivities or allergies.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hunger for Righteousness

I woke up an hour and a half before the alarm this morning, suddenly hungry for God. I know a lot of my friends won't know what that means, and I know a lot of them think it's something fake. I don't care about that, because what I mean is something real. It's like you've been eating candy and chocolate cake and drinking soda for every meal for a week and suddenly you realize how bad it all taste and you want to sit down to a tall glass of water or maybe two glasses because the first one will taste so good and a plate of salad and a nice reasonably sized steak.

And the words that impressed on my mind were words that ached in my soul when I was younger, but had forgotten for a little whiel, but now they came back and they were "Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:4). And I thought of them over and over and then I thought of many other things, like how good it would to go to Confession this weekend and how loved I am and how good it is to know the Lord and many other things, and even though I couldn't sleep, I was happy. And when the alarm went off, I bounded out of bed and got to work, because there was a lot to do.

And I have all these hard drives to harvest my old information from, because Lee bought me a part that lets me attach my old hard drives to my newer computer. So I found the folder of old sermons by my favorite preacher in all of the world, Father Larry Richards. Father Larry is just a regular guy from Pittsburgh who loves Jesus and is a priest and gives his life telling other people how great it is that Jesus loves a jerk like him. I love him a lot, and his preaching helped lead me back to the Lord when I was lost. And I thought, hey I'll listen to one of his sermons from today, but an old year, because today is a feast day, The Feast of All Saints (All Hallows Day, where All Hallow's Eve, of Halloween, gets its name.) And so I pulled up his sermon from November 1, 2000. It was the very first one I picked, I'm not making this up. And across my tired computer speakers, the first words out of Father Larry's lips were these, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after holiness, for they have their fill." (Matthew 5:4).

Yes, Lord. I am so hungry. Fill me up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life is Sweet

One thing we love about homeschooling, is empty parks. If you are wondering why I let my baby wear jammies to the park (and the grocery store, and church), it's because when they are young I like them to be comfortable enough to be able to run around and then fall asleep when they are ready. I do dress them up when it's an Occasion but mostly I let them be comfortable, much like I do for myself.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Simple Herbal Lozenges you can make in your kitchen

A few years ago, my husband and I started making our own simple herbal remedies to be more involved in our family's health. We like to provide for ourselves, and we like to know exactly what is going into our children's bodies - who doesn't??

Apparently we are not the only ones, as in the last few months we have started getting a lots of interest in our herbal recipes, so I'm sharing a new recipe that my husband and I developed this month to get ready for the flu and cold seasons - herbal cough drops, or herbal lozenges. Call them what you like, these are a family friendly, budget-friendly, do it yourself alternative to the little drops you can buy at the store.

My husband LOVES those Ricola brand cough drops, so he wanted to make a recipe that was chock full of herbs like these reputable herbal lozenges.  I, on the other hand, HATE that brand of cough drops. But I love mixing up new recipes.

To the instructions, Batman!

We're going to make this very simple.


Herbal Tea
Something to grease your candy mold with

Stock pot (soup pot, basically anything you can boil in)
Candy Molds (somewhat optional)
Candy thermometer (somewhat optional)

Can it really be that simple? Well, yes, this is the basic recipe. Of course to get the benefits of the herbs, you need to customize a recipe, adding specific herbs for your situation, other additives with positive healing properties

First Step - Tea

First, take a quantity of water that will be about twice as much as you want to use for your lozenges. In the processing of steepig the tea, you will want to boil off about half of the water. Hubby and I wanted to make a large batch, so we started with 4 cups of water.

If you already have herbal tea on hand that matches what kind of lozenge you want to make - great! You can use regular herbal tea bag to great effect. We used a combination of tea bags from the grocery store and loose leaf herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. If you want to use loose leaf herbs, you can use a strainer like this one. For some leaves that don't have sharp pieces, you could just leave the leaves in with the tea - that is what hubby and I did.

One important herb that we added, because we wanted ours to be a throat soothing tea, was Slippery Elm Bark. Slippery Elm Bark is mucilagenous, which is a big word that means goopy (slippery, you know?). When I use Slippery Elm Bark, it makes my throat feel very soothed and takes away itchy dryness. So I use it anytime I am making a mixture for my throat. I've heard that it can always be used to soothe the digestive tract in the same way for the same reason - I haven't tried that yet. I get mine in powdered form here. It's not very expensive and one bag lasts me for quite a few batches. I do not strain it out, I leave the powder right in my tea.

Another thing that you can add to your tea, which my hubby added to the first recipe is lemon zest or orange zest. I have been told that these are high in vitamin C. Be careful to wash your peels carefully before zesting them (we used the small side of a cheese grater).

After you have boiled down your tea, remove the bags or the strainer, pressing on the leaves to get all the juice out.


Measure out the liquid that you have left. Pour it back into your pan and add an equal amount of sugar. My husband likes to use Raw Sugar and that will work fine. We also added honey. Usually I prefer raw honey for its health benefits, but since we are about to boil the crap out of it, you will lose the health benefits that come from using raw honey. Where we live, raw honey is much more expensive, so for this recipe I just use regular honey.

I know what you're thinking. A bunch of sugar, really? But a substitute for sugar will not make a lozenge, and you will find that the store bought lozenges are full of sugar and corn syrup. They are essential a hard candy acting as a delivery system for menthol. Yours will be a hard candy acting as a delivery system for healing teas, and you will be controlling everything that goes into them. That feels much better, right? If you dont feel comfortable with sugar, then I would recommend making hot tea instead and add the sweetener you love or none at all.

So bring the sugar-tea  mixture to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Then stop stirring - no more stirring - and put in your candy thermometer. Let the sweet-smelling mixture boil away until it reaches 300 degrees farenheit. It's going to take awhile. Our burner s pretty weak and it took about 40 minutes. The first time we made the recipe, it felt like it was going to take FOREVER. Just keep your eye on it, and keep in mind that once it gets past a certain point it will start to move fast, so don't leave it alone.

While its boiling, grease your candy mold. The first time we made them we used a cheap plastic mold we got at A.C. Moore for $1.99. The one we got was shaped like candy bars (as you can see from the picture of the final product.) We stored them as large bars and broke off a piece at a time as we needed it - we actually broke a bar off, then broke the bar in half for a perfect sized lozenge. These have held up OK for now, but the extreme heat of the lozenge mixture is slowly melting the mold and the next batch we do with them will probably be the last - we are going to order one of several small silicone ice cube trays from Amazon and see how that goes. I will update this entry after we've actually tried it.  I put a picture here of the tray that had really intrigued me and seems to be perfect for this purpose,

Once it hits 300 degrees, you can begin to spoon it into the greased molds. Once they are cooled (we cooled ours in the fridge) it is advisable to roll them in powdered sugar or something similar - this will keep them from sticking together. I'm sure you can find some very creative ways to package them - Mountain Rose has really gorgeous tins and if you use them, get the largest size, the small ones are very, very small and nice for things like homemade salve or lip balm (I'll be blogging those recipes VERY soon, my salve is HEAVENLY)  - but we  used small ziploc bags. and kept them cool in the fridge.


I will be blogging a few of our favorite recipes soon, but for now I wanted to share the basic recipe that we used for our first few batches.

We used -
3 bags of Lemon-Ginger tea from the grocery store Lemon has always been recommended to me for sore throats, and when I was a girl and used to sing in church, I would always have HOT lemon tea to get my throat ready.
4 Tablespoons of honey - honey is wonderful for soothing a rough throat
3 bag of pure chamomile tea  - chamomile is reputed to have immune boosting benefits and is very calming
Zest and juice from one lemon
Slippery Elm Bark from Mountain Rose Herbs (as explained above)

But remember - you can use any herbal teas you are interested in - browse the tea section at your grocery store or your favorite herb shop online - what benefits would you like to put into your lozenges? What herbs intrigue you? We will post more recipes in the days to come, but I would love to hear about your recipes - drop me a line at (that's the email for my web design business). If you create a recipe of your own, I would love to link to it from this post!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Baby Budgies (Baby Parakeets)

Our budgie birds have successful made two babies. It is absolute magic watching the mated pair working together to feed their babies. I never knew that the male budgies are helpful. They gather the food, pre-digest it and bring it to the female, who digests it some more before popping it into the babies' mouths. When I peek into their cage, I feel like I am looking at little people who are bustling around trying to take care of their newborns. Super anthropomorphism, sure, but it's touching. As the babies get bigger, the fathers actually take over almost all of the feeding.

Here is the Dad giving the food to the Mom. While the babies are crying, Mom and Dad are bot sitting right over them, feeding them together. It's precious.
Here you can see their little covered up eyes.


I wrote some songs for my kids. I don't actually need anybody to listen to them. I'm putting them here in case I die and for some reason my children read my blog to remember me. I don't care if that's morbid. That being said, if I could ever learn how to record music to put with them, they'd probably be nice to share with other photographers for slideshows of children.

Let's Go

Dinosaur Spikes

Between Us