Friday, September 30, 2011

getting the message across

I see these signs when I'm out on the road driving.
Like when I'm going to Costco.
There's a silent, little chuckle inside me, if you know what I mean.
They've been around for a while now and I decided they are blog worthy.
I wonder what those other drivers thought of me when I pulled over and took a picture of a Stop sign.
They probably think I'm weird.
Or maybe they think I'm a person from some city department documenting vandalism or something.
But I don't care.
I like these signs.
Looks like someone had fun.
Like someone had something to say.
And wanted it noticed.
I wonder how many do.
I think these little roadside social statements say it all.
Don't you?

P.S. If you aren't quite clear on the definition of serendipity, it's when someone finds something they weren't expecting to find. Like a "happy accident".

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dr. Mom To The Rescue~ Part 3: Essential Oils In The Home (and some helpful resources)

In the last few years, I've discovered the marvelous uses of essential oils in our home and in my personal life. I was first introduced to them when I started making and using homemade soaps. I discovered how lovely, pure, and natural these plant fragrances could be. I began (and continue) to prefer these natural scents over anything manufactured and imitation. (In fact, I just can't tolerate artificial perfumes these days; they make me almost sick to my stomach!)

I began to see that there was more to them than just a pretty scent. As I became familiar with them and studied in depth, I began to see how beneficial they could be not just in perfuming my soap and making things smell nice, but also to aid in the health and well being of myself and family (With all of the things I've shared in this series, I started to become more and more open minded to new ideas and methods of healing. Can you tell?). I began to understand that these oils, used anciently as the first medicines and frequently mentioned in the Bible, are the "life blood" or essence of a plant. The volatile oils distilled and concentrated into a liquid so potent, each drop endowed with a myriad of constituents for therapeutic, health giving benefits, not to mention the gift of sensory pleasure for man.

There are whole books written on essential oils. I won't go into all the scientific mumbo-jumbo (you can do that on your own), but my purpose today is to share how I use them in my home; some of my own personal experiences with these oils.

There are many sources, brands, and companies that produce and market essential oils. I've just about tried everything out there. The biggest factor in helping me choose a brand was knowing that I would need, or try to obtain, oils that were certified pure and therapeutic grade. There are a lot of oils out there that don't meet this criteria or standard. I'm not here to market a certain oil, but I've been happy purchasing Do Terra essential oils and here's why:

The company is local to me and I can pick up the oils without paying shipping. They meet the high quality that I discussed. I like the fact that they offer so many blends, whereas I don't need to buy lots different bottles of individual oils. I've seen them work wonders. I respect the leadership and philosophy of the company; the president is an acquaintance of mine and lives in my neighborhood. And he's a good man. They are a multi level company, however, (I'm not a big fan of these. I'm not into marketing and making a profit from selling.), which allows me to pay wholesale (for a yearly fee) and earn free product at the same time. After all is said and done, I think whatever source you buy from should be one that works for you.

Now, let's talk about how we use them.


A while ago, I blogged a post on some of the Homemade Cleaners I make. (I see that it is posted on Pinterest and is getting to be pretty popular. Gee, whiz.)

The oils make a nice addition to a spray bottle filled with distilled water; whether it's at the ironing table or sprayed on clothing, or bed linens. If Lucy (our dog) has done her business on the rug, or if the car smells stinky, I might choose to spray or spritz on a blend called Purify (Lemon, Lime, Pine, Citronella, Melaleuca, Cilantro). It not only smells "clean and fresh", but is a great deodorizer and disinfectant.

I like to use a few drops in the dish water or sprinkled on the dish cloth. Lemon oil sprinkled in the dishwasher before starting it helps the dishes sparkle and does a fine job at cutting the soap and mineral buildup- a problem with my dishwasher.

Another idea is to sprinkle on a bit of the oils onto a damp rag and tossing it into a drier.

Personal Care

I love to add the oils when making soap (it's been a while since I've made a batch.) or adding some drops to massage oil, shampoo, or unscented lotion. I love to sprinkle and stir in a few drops into bathwater for a real treat when relaxation is the goal or those times we need relief  for sore and aching muscles from overexertion or sickness. Filling a small glass spray bottle (I love those basalt blue ones you can find at the health food store) with a favorite blend or single oil and using it as a perfume or body spray just after showering or leaving the house- delightful, lovely lingering- and alluring- scent!


It's easy to add a few drops (with care because of the concentrated nature of the oils) to flavor foods such as salad dressings, dips, frostings, candies, salsas. Citrus oils, especially lemon, are great to add to a jug of water, especially as an aid to clean up the liver first thing in the morning.


Having a diffuser is a wonderful way to allow the oils to infuse their wonderful aromatherapy and germ fighting properties into a fine mist, dispersing the oils in the bedrooms and main living areas. Sprinkling a few drops on a tissue or hankie to inhale is a good idea when you are stuck in a "stinky" situation.

Topical Applications

When we think of aromatherapy, most of us think of massage. I can't tell you how much it's meant to both the children and I to engage in a before bedtime talk and back rub. I know that my children seek and almost beg for this not only for the physical touch and emotional bonding they need from me, but I believe that their bodies and spirits are crying out for the unexplainable healing constituents that these plant oils provide. They instinctively seek for this. Having a small bottle of a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil helps to dilute and massage the oils in, especially on a large area like the back. I like to sprinkle a few drops of oils onto the spine  (gets right into the body's main nerve center) and work from there. Sometimes we talk and sometimes there's quiet silence. It's a healing time. Lavender or Serenity blend are used to relax and prepare for sleep. Isaac, especially, is knocked out by the time we're through. I'm not kidding. Citrus Bliss (a blend of six citrus oils with Vanilla and Bergamot) brings a sense of cheer, light, and joy. (When we mix it with Lavender, the kids can't get over how much it reminds them of "Fruity Pebbles".

Because of the number of nerve endings in the feet, I often spend time here. I especially like to use a blend called On-Guard (Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Eucalyptus) with its immune building and aid in fighting off harmful bacteria, mold, and viruses. This is a good one to diffuse in the sick room or use as a preventative.  Rubbing the oils behind and around the rim of the ears is another helpful and effective technique.

Since Jane broke her back last summer, she often seeks me for a massage on the days when her pain flairs up. I like to use a blend called Deep Blue (Wintergreen, Peppermint, Blue Tansy, Chamomile, Helichrysum, Osmanthus), Wintergreen or Birch oils on her, often with a bit of Dr. Christopher's Cayenne ointment  or Peppermint oil to drive it in. This therapy I've given for Jane has been a blessing in her healing recovery.

Other modalities of healing

When someone is suffering from congestion, sinus trouble, or coughing fits, we turn to single oils like Peppermint, Eucalyptus or another favorite one called Breathe (a combination of these plus Melaleuca, Laurel leaf, Ravensara, and Lemon oils). I like to dilute this with a carrier oil and rub it on the chest, back, nose and sinus areas. When Sam had swine flu a few years ago (yes, I took him to the doctor and he was diagnosed) we started this treatment- massage on spine, feet, chest, diffusing in the room. In two days he was back to school to the amazement of his teachers and classmates.

Melaleuca or tea tree oil (it's one in the same) is one of the most used oils in our house. It is the first thing I put on a wound to prevent infection. Whenever I feel a cold sore developing, I put a dab on and it stops it from progressing. It will kill Athlete's Foot. Gargling with a few drops in water helps heal mouth sores or sore throats. I've knocked out a brewing sore throat with this plus On-Guard and Oregano. It gets really hot, but it kills the germs. In fact combining a few drops of Melaleuca, Oregano, On-Guard, Peppermint, and Lemon in an empty veggie capsule is a sure fire "bomb" when a bad cold or the flu hits.

I don't know what I'd do without my friend Lavender. I've used this so much whenever there's a burn. Like when I've touched my arm to the iron or stove, or the times the kids have grabbed onto the hot dog/marshmallow roasters. The heat calms down, the red goes away, and the blisters don't form or either ease down. No need to dilute this one; it is the all time best skin healer. It takes the sting and itch out of insect bites, (I gave some to a friend and she and her husband couldn't believe the difference it made.), eases skin irritations and sores, helps relieve a headache (along with Peppermint), and is famous for relaxing tension and/or preparing the body for a restful, peaceful sleep.

Another one we can't do without is a blend called Digest-Zen (Ginger, Peppermint, Tarragon, Fennel, Caraway, Coriander, Anise). This is what we reach for in times of stomach crisis. I like to rub it on my stomach when I feel bloated or gassy. I remember the time Sam got really car sick when we were at Mount Rushmore this summer. I put a few drops under his tongue (drinking a bit in a glass of water is also a good way to get it in) and he rubbed some on his abdomen and to our amazement (mostly his), he felt as good as new. It has this same effect every time someone has a tummy ache, is feeling nauseous, or feeling a general yuck.

This comprehensive guide book has been extremely helpful in helping me understand all the possible ailments and situations each essential oil can be of use. I've never seen a book on essential oils that is so thorough and detailed. I can't recommend this book enough.

In Conclusion
In my quest to become educated in natural healing and in the caring for my family's health, I have read anything and everything I can get my hands on. In recent years, with the growing interest in alternative health care, resources abound on the Internet and in the bookstores. In spite of all the eternal influx of information, I think our most important resource boils down to our own common sense and good judgement, our intuition, and most importantly, I've found, the guidence and inspiration found through the quiet whisperings of a Higher Power. There's a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there with regards to health and wellness. There will be times when we need to call on this power of prayer and Divine guidance to know how to care for and which direction to take for ourselves and our loved ones. This is and has been key to me. From my own experience, I know I have been led to find answers. Answers from world of professional, allopathic physicians and from the world of natropathic, wholistic health care. Led to know, through things I read, people I'm led to learn from who have come into my life, and inspiration and thoughts (sometimes when I least expect it--often in the middle of the night or those early quiet morning hours between sleep and full wakefulness.) that come into my mind and heart. It's a journey. As parents to these precious ones, it's my belief that we are entitled to this gift from a loving and all knowing God.

With that said, here are just a few of the resources and materials I've found most helpful and informative:

On the web:
~ Christopher Websites  a variety of links to An Herbal Legacy (a treasure trove of helpful and interesting articles for those interested in natural healing and herbs), Herbal Legacy Newsletter, A Healthier You radio re-broadcasts, Dr. Christopher's Herb Shop

~ is another wonderful website full of free stuff, including an e-book, e-course, videos, virtual herb walk, resources, etc.

~Mountain Rose Herbs is a great place to get information, order teas and organic herbs, plus links to conferences and informative You Tube how-to videos.

~ an e-book that I recently downloaded and have found to be very exciting in taking on herbs in a hands -on fun, project-crafty kind of way is blogger Michele Augur's (of Frugal Granola)  Herbal Nurturing: A Family Healing and Learning Guide


Dr. Mom's Healthy Living by Sandra K. Livingston M.H.
How To Raise A Healthy Child In Spite Of Your Doctor by Robert S. Mendelsohn M.D.
Herbal Home Health Care by Dr. John R. Christopher
Every Woman's Herbal by Dr. John R. Christopher and Cathy Gileadi

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dr. Mom To The Rescue~ Part 2: The Tackle Box First Aid and Wellness Kit

Of course, everyone knows that it's important to have a first aid kit, supplies, and medications in the home. We should be prepared for any emergency, crisis, or illness that hits the family. Especially in those instances where we can't get professional medical attention right away (like in the middle of the night). There are some cases where we don't need to run to the doctor; simple common ailments that can be treated at home. These situations obviously call for sound judgment, wisdom, loving care, and knowledge.

I've tried different ways of organizing all the items I find useful in the care of my family in an emergency situation, the every day situations when someone needs help with an owie, or the times when someone is ill. For most my years as a mother, I've allocated a couple of shelves in a hall closet, with little organizers and small store-bought first aid kits. Band-Aids, medicines, and creams were often scattered in the kitchen and the bathrooms all over the house. No one ever put things back how I had organized them. I wanted a place to corral everything. I needed compartmentalization. I wanted customization. I searched the Internet for ideas. I wanted something I could take with us in the car, especially on vacations or camping trips. Going on our cross country trip was the main incentive to build a comprehenive, transportable kit. (And boy, was I grateful to have that on hand. We put it to use every day on our trip.)

Then it hit me.

A fishing tackle box! A big one. The biggest one Wal-Mart carried. That was the answer!

Opened up and ready to use. See how much I can fit in here? Let me remind you that it takes time and money to put something like this together. It's taken me more than a year to build up my supplies. "Let all things be done in wisdom and in order..."

(See the empty little slots on the left? That's where I put my essential oils when we go on trips or times away from home. I can't believe how helpful they were to me on our cross-country trip to Wisconsin this summer. When they aren't in here, they are kept in a kit in my nightstand. More on that tomorrow.)

All closed and ready to move from place to place where it's needed. Most of the time, it sits on a shelf in my bedroom closet.

For Wound Care:

Band-Aids (of all shapes and sizes), butterfly bandages, gauze rolls (thin and wide), flannel and muslin bandage rolls, woman's sanitary napkin, gauze pads, athletic tape, waterproof tape, scissors, moleskin (for blister prevention), disposable gloves, Q-Tips, cotton balls/pads, tweezers, disinfecting/antiseptic wipes, *Complete Bone & Tissue ointment and capsules, *Cayenne Heat ointment, cayenne powder (for bleeding wounds, bloody noses, and shock), Neosporin, Arnica homeopathic cream and tablets (for bruising and swelling), Toprican ointment (for inflammation and pain), olive oil, castor oil, wheat germ oil (in fridge)

For Skin Irritations/Rashes/Allergies:

100% Aloe Vera gel for burns and sunburns, over the counter allergy medication, *Sting and Bite Ointment (for relief from itchy and painful insect bites, other itchy irritations, cuts and scrapes), Benadryl itch cream, natural DEET free insect repellent, Visine (for irritated eyes), *Black Ointment (to draw out slivers, infection from abscesses, boils, toxins and impurities from skin tissues)


Slippery elm lozenges (for sore, irritated throats), Cherry Bark Blend Cough Syrup (Herbs for Kids), *Cough Formula, herbal throat spray (for sore, irritated throats), *Kid-E-Col (for colic, tummy ache, nausea, *Kid-E-Well (immune strengthener/infection fighter for kids and adults, as well), *Infection Formula (took this at the onset of a sinus infection on our trip to Wisconsin and it knocked it out), *Sinus Plus (helps clear the sinuses), *Stop-Ache (for pain), Bach Rescue Remedy flower essence (for times of stress, upset), cold and flu homeopathic remedy (Highlands), nausea and vomiting Ipecacuanha homeopathic remedy (Highlands), Ibuprofin, *Anti-Spasmodic Formula tincture (to stop coughing, muscle spasms- I rubbed this on my sister's chest and it was able to stop her coughing fits and allowed her to sleep for the first time in days. It works.), *Lung and Bronchial Formula (for respiratory support), herbal ear drops (contains mullein, St. John's Wort, Garlic, Goldenseal, Lobelia, Olive oil), *Glandular Massage Oil (to help drain and move congested lymph), *Quick Colon Formula (to aid in moving bowels, cleansing, constipation), Valerian and Chamomile spray (to alleviate insomnia), electrolyte powder mixes (for dehydration), 5HTP and St. John's Wort (to help relieve anxiety and depression)

*denotes Dr. Christopher brand

(note: I also use the items we talked about in the previous post. They are essential aids in our wellness program.)

Now, my next project along these lines (I'm not sure when that may be, hopefully soon.) is to update the little first aid kits we keep in the cars. I want to expand these to become more of a emergency situation kind of kit. (I put together one as a gift to my parents one Christmas and it was one of the best things they (and I) felt anyone could receive.

I'd like to create little ones for my college kids, (hey, that might make a good Christmas gift!) as well as mini ones for the kids backpacks.

I'm sure you all have great things to share here:

Am I forgetting something? What items can you not go without?
How do you like to organize your home medical supplies?
Are there any noteworthy experiences you'd like to share in the doctoring of your families?

I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dr. Mom To The Rescue~ Part 1: Health Care At Home The Natural Way Featuring The Home Apothecary

I'm so excited to share this with you today. This post, in a three part series, has been a work in progress. It comes to you after much study and personal experience.  It's my wish that the information will inspire as well as educate.

I believe that God has not only given us plants as nourishing foods to strengthen and feed our bodies, but I also believe that He has given us the gift of plants for our health and healing. As I've discovered, these plants are to be used with skill, thanksgiving, and respect.

The use of herbs in every day wellness and home health care is very appealing to me. For one thing, I love plants and all that gardening entails. I love having a role in helping people heal. To know and demonstrate through the loving care I give, this gift of "the Healer's Art" isn't something that comes naturally. I want this blessing, especially in my role as a mother; a role I take very seriously. I want to do all in my power to take care of myself and my loved ones. Being self sufficient, knowledgeable, and prepared is something in which I'm constantly engaging in and striving for. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong century!

Don't get me wrong. I do appreciate the blessing it is to have modern health care. I am grateful for the services that allopathic  medicine has and will provide for my family. However, I'm finding it a little disgruntling that most medicines seem to mask the symptoms, don't seem to really heal the cause, and leave questionable side effects. Why the focus on disease instead of prevention? That's why I find herbs and natural medicine so appealing. These things are so accessible and affordable for the common man. I'm looking for something that will strengthen, cleanse, nourish, and heal my body. And all that comes proactively, mostly by the things I do on a daily basis: what I feed myself and my family and the ways in which we honor and treat these bodies.

So, let's get down to the nitty gritty, shall we? May I present to you a little bit of what I do in my home to bring this about:

The Herbal Wellness Pantry or the Home Apothecary

This is my new shelf (the one that almost broke my foot ) that I've organized in the last few days. Can I tell you how much I love this new kitchen addition?

Top Shelf:

~small lidded basket for the essential oils I use in the diffuser, in homemade household cleaners, ones that are handier in the kitchen.
~mortar and pestle to grind herbs, flowers, spices.
~wooden bowl with muslin bags used in herbal baths.
~White clay for facial masks, bath salts.
~Poppy seeds: culinary use, facial scrub.
~Marshmallow Root: used in teas for sore throats, diarrhea, constipation, bronchial inflammation.
~Calendula flower petals: used in soap making, hair rinse, nourishing and soothing for skin.

Middle Shelves:

~Dried Elderberries: used in infection fighting/immune strengthening syrup.
~Catnip: used to help bring down a fever, calming and sedative/ digestive aid tea.
~Dried Rosehips: high in antioxidants, vitamin C, iron; used in infection fighting/immune strengthening syrup.
~Echinacea: used in infection fighting/immune strengthening syrup, tinctures, capsulated.
~Comfrey: amazing tissue and bone healer used in poultices, burn ointment and skin salves.
~Cinnamon sticks: warming to the body in hot drinks, used in infection fighting/immune strengthening syrup.
~Whole Cloves: warming to the body in hot drinks, used in infection fighting/immune strengthening syrup.
~BF&C (Dr. Christopher's Bone, Flesh, and Cartilage formula) used is fomentation or teas  (soaking) for injured or damaged tissue or bone.
~Calcium Tea: a blend of nettles, oatstraw, horsetail (a whole food based absorbable form of calcium and other minerals I drink as a tea to strengthen my bones)
~Lavender: used aromatically in pillows, sachets, in bath water. Aids in alleviating stress, tension, insomnia.
~Bay Leaf: culinary and aromatic uses.
~Chamomile: used as a tea for treating colic, nervousness, infections, digestion. Also nice addition to the bath. Can be used as an eye wash for conjunctivitis (pink eye).
~Peppermint: my favorite tea. Helpful herb for digestion, stomach cramps, nausea, stimulant herb.
~Yarrow: used in a hot tea or bath water to help induce sweating and lowering fevers. Can be applied to cuts or wounds to disinfect and stop bleeding.
~Red Raspberry leaf: wonderful tonic herb to aid and regulate women's reproductive system, high in iron; helpful in times of sickness and fever.
~Cayenne: powerful and stimulating to the circulatory system by equalizing the blood pressure. Will stop bleeding if sprinkled on a wound, as well as stop a bloody nose (take 1/4-1 t. in a glass of water, or capsule or tincture dropperful). also an aid in shock (same procedure as bloody nose) and head ache. Energy bringer (I take some before I go running; great endurance and speed help in my races). Used in ointment that we have in the first aid kit. You get used to the kick after time.    
~Slippery Elm: inner bark powder helpful for soothing inflammation, burn, sore throat or cough (used in homemade lozenges) diarrhea (mix a tablespoon with a bit of oatmeal in a gruel), constipation. 
~Mustard powder: used as poultice for respiratory issues or in bath water when there's a fever (sweat inducing).

Other things I store in my kitchen:
~fresh garlic cloves: super infection fighter and antiseptic, stimulating to the immune and circulatory systems. Used in poultices, infused in olive oil to rub on lymph nodes, chest, feet. Eaten raw.
~ginger root: very helpful made in a tea for stomach and digestion disorders; very warming to the body, helpful in inducing a sweat (fevers).
~fresh lemons: used in a tea with honey and ginger root when feeling ill. Cleansing to the body, especially the liver.
~apple cider vinegar: used in washing the body (diluted) after breaking a sweat when fevering.
~raw honey: taken (not those under 1 year old) by the spoonful (or simmered with onions in a natural cough syrup, used in immune strengthening/infection fighting syrups. Helpful for seasonal allergies.
~onions: will break up congestion when baked or sauteed and then placed as a poultice on chest.

Herb Drying Rack: (All grown and harvested from my garden!)

~Thyme: infection/fever tea
~Marjoram: culinary (Italian seasoning blend)
~Lavender: I can't seem to grow enough.
~Lemon Balm: sedative, calming, and anti- depressive herb used in teas or bath soaks.
~Oregano: infection fighter, culinary (Italian seasoning blend).

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Part 2: The Tackle Box First Aid and Wellness Kit and Thursday's Part 3: Essential Oils in the Home

Sunday, September 25, 2011

notes from "the witch doctor": treating my crushed foot

My family is starting to refer to me as a witch doctor.

I kind of like it.

As I've been studying and now implementing natural healing modalities on the willing "guinea pigs" in my family, including myself in the past few years or so, I'm becoming more and more convinced of their effectiveness.  It's been an empowering experience being able to be a little more self sufficient in providing care in situations of crisis or minor illness for my loved ones when it's been needed. 

(For the last few months, I've been excited to share with you my natural remedy/ first aid kit I've put together. Be watching this week for that post.)

Let me tell you about yesterday. It involves my not very attractive foot as you can see as is evidenced in this (not so flattering) picture.

I was carrying a shelf (for my medicinal herbs if you can believe it) that I just bought at the antique store over to Keith who was weeding a flower bed. I wanted to show it off to him. Well, I somehow lost control of the thing and the base of it landed hard on top of my foot and then bounced across the lawn. I was wearing shoes (with no socks) with my forefoot exposed. My first reaction was to see if the shelf was broken. (Thankfully, it survived.) As you can imagine, my foot immediately started to bruise and swell. It was really hurting, too. And that's a huge understatement.

I didn't take the time to do anything to treat it. I was too busy. I needed to head to the grocery store to pick up some ice cream for today's get together at my sister's house. While I was there, I bought a huge stack of food storage buckets (in which to store the wheat that's been sitting in stacks in the family room downstairs.) When I got home and opened the hatch of the van, out rolled the stack of buckets. Right on top of my same foot. I can't tell you how much agony I was in. I think I am a fairly tough person when it comes to pain, but it was so bad I started crying right then and there on the driveway.

As I could barely hobble into the house and lay moaning and groaning on the couch with the unbearable pain, I knew I needed to do something. And fast. I've already experienced a metatarsal fracture in the other foot, and I was dreading the idea of that possibility (And the 6 weeks of no running that it entailed.).

The first thing I did was have Eliza go up to my kit and bring me the Arnica- the topical cream and little tube of homeopathic tablets that dissolve in your mouth. I had used this in the middle of  my marathon when my knee was starting to hurt. It got me through it, I know. I also remember Gary's experience of taking it when he had his wisdom teeth out and he ended up not having any bruising or swelling whatsoever.  

From my study, I've learned about the amazing healing properties of the herb Comfrey. This herb is a very helpful friend to have when it comes to bone and tissue repair. It works wonders for any kind of wound, burn (I used it successfully in a poultice for Sam's blisters when he grabbed onto the hot dog roasters this summer), swellings, bruising, insect bites, etc.  I asked (more like demanded urgently) Eliza to go cut a couple of leaves from the plant I have out in my herb garden.

She brought it in and I instructed her to put it in the blender with a little water. It would be used as a poultice.

I took the gloppy green mash and packed it on top of my foot, wrapped some gauze around it, and placed on a sock to keep it in place. I needed to get it elevated and I hardly knew how I went up stairs as it was excruciating to put pressure on it.

I decided to take some herbs for the pain and inflammation- I used Dr. Christopher's Stop-Ache formula, and that plus Keith's blessing he prayed over me, allowed me to get through the pain.

This morning, I woke up before 5. I couldn't believe the difference. I took a big dose of the Complete Tissue and Bone Formula, more Arnica, and more herbs for inflammation (I didn't really need any for the pain, I could see know.) I can walk around without any glitch or limp at all now; even galloping down the stairs. I'm relieved to think I didn't fracture anything.

As you can see in the picture I took just a little while ago, there is hardly any sign of bruising or swelling. (You can see the noticeable tan mark from my sandals, though.) My family are all amazed today after seeing what I went through last night. It seems like a miracle. I think I just might be able to try running in a few days.

Boy, am I grateful for the things I am learning. I guess it's right when they say that experience is the best teacher. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

today, I...

Am loving this picture Gary took when he went on a canyon drive/hike the other day

:: woke up at 3:15 and couldn't go back to sleep so I fixed myself a bowl of leftover sticky brown rice (because I didn't eat dinner last night) and sat down at the computer to watch Tess of the D'Urbervilles (because I finished the book last night) movie clips on YouTube.

:: think I love and am attracted to beautifully depressing literature.

:: cried a lot. And not about the book.

:: realized that I've only ran one day this week.

:: enjoyed a cup of peppermint and red raspberry leaf tea instead.

:: ironed Isaac's clothes so he would look nice for his school picture.

:: heard a huge flock of geese honking outside my bedroom window. I wish I would have gotten off the bed to see them flying overhead. Happy Fall. (it's official today.)

:: will go to the airport in a little while with the kids to welcome my nephew home from his two year church mission.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

bread day at the blue house bakery

How to make bread for masses. And enough to last the family a week. (and hopefully, more) :

1. Put on your apron. It'll help get you in working mode and you know that you'll get covered with flour if you don't. Be sure to put on comfortable shoes. You'll be on your feet all day.

2. Turn on some Bach harpsichord music for some get-up-and-go.

 3. Grind your wheat. Your bread will taste fresher and will be so much more nutritious for you.  (Plus, you've got to use up all that wheat that's filling the basement, right?)

4. Pull out your Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook. Mix up the 100% Whole Wheat Bread, Plain and Simple recipe that you'll use for the Naan flatbread and the pita. Then, the 100% Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread dough that you'll use for the sandwich loaves and the cinnamon raisin bagels. Let them both rise for a couple of hours. Easy enough.

5. Make the tortillas. Adding more oil and letting the dough balls sit for a half an hour sure makes all the difference. 

6. Heck, they're good enough to eat, so why not? Pull out some hummus (that you made yesterday) from the fridge, schmear some on one that's still warm, and enjoy for your lunch.  

7. Talk to Jane on the phone.

8. Check Facebook. And other Internet stuff.

9. Fry up the Naan bread for tonight's dinner. This will be so good with the Portuguese soup that's planned.

10. Read Gary's email. Respond and snicker at your own wittiness.

11. Turn the oven on real high, like 500 degrees or so. Roll out the same dough for the pita. Most puffed, so that's good.

12.  Cut off hunks of the oatmeal dough and plop them in your greased bread pans. (Remember to save some for the bagels.)They'll go in the oven next after they rise. A tip: Brushing the loaves with a beaten egg and sprinkling on a topping always makes your bread prettier. And pretty is always good.

13. Form your bagels. Let them rise a bit and give them a bath in boiling water. Bake them longer than the recipe says. (They'll be pretty soggy.) Try not to not let it bother you that they come out a little flat looking. Isaac will still be happy you made them.

15. Attack most of the kitchen mess before you have to head out the door for carpool. You'll thank yourself when dinner time rolls around. Like in a couple of hours, don't you know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

season of the fruit stand

One of the things I look forward to the most in this season of late summer/early fall are the fruit stands scattered throughout the valley. This one seems to be my favorite, even though it's a little bit of a jaunt from where we live. I like this one mainly because of the glorious apple juice they sell. You just can't find it anywhere else.

We've about gone through the bag of apples I bought two weeks ago. (The peaches were devoured long ago.) Now, I think it's time to stock up on a box. Apple crisp, apple pies (Isaac is begging.), apple muffins, apple sauce, apple pancakes...

Yes, autumn is on its way. My favorite season of the year. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the big plan

Scenes from yesterday. Monday is an intense kitchen work day.

Now that my days aren't consumed with homeschooling and having kids home during the day, I've been trying to find my groove. Without any sort of routine or rhythm, I seem to flounder. (Not that watching foreign films in the middle of the day is a waste of time. wink, wink.) I need a focus, a direction to my days. There's a lot I want to get done in a week. I want a full life. I find that if I make some sort of plan- not just in my head, but actually written down, I seem to stay on task.

After a lot of thinking, prioritizing, and trial and error, this is the basic skeleton I came up with. I've already implemented a lot of this already, but there were some things that needed tweaking. Obviously, none of these tasks, meals, and focuses are set in stone. There might be things on the day's list that might not get done, and that's perfectly fine.  But I like having something to shoot for. There are also things I do that aren't on my list. Automatic things I don't need a prompting for. Even though I am a structured person, I allow for flexibility. Especially, if it involves other people and over riding circumstances. 

You'll see that I place a lot of emphasis in time spent in the kitchen. Feeding my family whole, nutritious, from scratch foods is a huge priority to me. And that takes time, energy, and sacrifice. My role as a homemaker is my life's work. And that takes staying home most of the time!


Breakfast: oats
Dinner: beans

cook beans/grains
rinse and drain sprouts
almond milk


Breakfast: toast and eggs/smoothies
Dinner: potatoes

study and read (or watch foreign films!)


Breakfast: muffins/yogurt/smoothies
Dinner: soup and bread

bread making (daily, rolls, breadsticks, pita, tortillas)


Breakfast: pancakes/French toast
Dinner: pasta



Breakfast: granola/other grain
Dinner: kids make

volunteer at school
date night


Breakfast: kids make
Dinner: Mom's choice/easy

house cleaning/change bedding/organizing
outing/library visit
movie night


Breakfast: Mom's choice
Dinner: chicken or fish

soak beans, grains, seeds, almonds

Monday, September 19, 2011

hospitality sunday: papa's 76th birthday and we welcome mariana from portugal

It's fun to have people over. Hospitality is something I enjoy and am striving for. Weekends, especially Sundays, seem to work best for this. I was so excited that Jane wanted to invite her new best friend from college over for dinner last night. She met Mariana, a young woman from Portugal, in her Chinese class and they instantly bonded. I remember her father from the time I lived there. Jane says she feels such a closeness to her. Because of our family ties and love of Portugal (I lived there as a girl with my family for three years, Keith served a church mission there, and we took the kids on a dream vacation 4 years ago...) I couldn't be happier to see this now second generation connection come into Jane's life. I know their meeting was not a coincidence.

I could see the happiness in Mariana's eyes as she was with us. To have people who understand and appreciate her country and culture; I know that means the world to her. I think she really felt at home with us. I told her she was welcome to come every Sunday. She told me how much she loved it when I kissed her on the cheeks, as is her custom. That made me happy.

I fixed bruschetta (always a hit) and a pasta with pesto from the garden tomatoes and basil. Mariana was glad we had fish, too, and a traditional Portuguese  salada mista.

I invited my mom and dad, brothers, and my sister Felicia and her family to join us for dessert later. It was my dad's birthday. (Do you see the tears in his eyes? He's a bawl baby and always gets emotional when we sing to him. I love that about him and I think I've taken after him in this aspect.) Oh, and we always sing the Happy Birthday song in both English and Portuguese. Always. Tonight, we'll celebrate again (there's a ton of family birthdays this month) at Brick Oven. It's a tradition.

Of course, there were lots of good desserts. Mom brought a sponge cake that we topped with fresh peaches. Felicia made Dad's favorite coconut cream pie, and I made a mixed berry and plum crumble.

My family is loud. We laugh a lot. We tell funny stories. We eat good food. Our sisters and their families are sure missed at times like these.

'Till we meet again....