Tuesday, March 13

Garlic, how I love you!

I am totally in love with garlic. This stuff is one of those miracle plants that I fully intend to learn to grow (providing I can get past my total lack of a green thumb). I wrote in a previous post about how I use garlic to help cure ear infections, but that's not the only use we have for garlic around here!

This next remedy couldn't be simpler. Whenever we get respiratory illnesses, all we do is take a clove of garlic, peel it, and cut off a little slice. Then we take the cut clove and rub the juice over the soles of our feet. Apparently, the things we rub into the soles of our feet are very quickly absorbed into the blood stream, so when we use things like garlic or essential oils, this is one of the first places we use them. When we try the garlic trick early in an illness (within the first day or so of showing symptoms), the duration and severity of the illness goes way down--a 7-10 day cold is totally gone in 2-3 days, at least for us.

One of the best experiences I've had with this was shortly after we brought our new baby home from the NICU. She was born with double pneumonia, and her doctor told us that because she'd had such a serious respiratory illness so early in life, she was likely to have a lot more trouble with such illnesses throughout her childhood. Well, we have 3 other kids (all under age 7), and with that many little kids, it's hard to avoid getting sick for very long. Sure enough, within a few weeks of bringing her home, one of us caught a cold and started sharing it. I was so worried that she'd get it and we'd wind up having to take her in that I preemptively started rubbing garlic on her feet at night. I know she came down with it because she started sounding congested; over the next 3 days I had to suction her nose 4 or 5 times, but on the fourth day, her breathing went totally back to normal. No screaming fits, no fever, no serious difficulty breathing--just a couple more boogers than usual.

Ah garlic, how I love you!

Wednesday, June 29

Homemade natural window and surface cleaner!

I get excited about little things! It's silly, but also fun. :) My excitement today came in the form of an improvement to my favorite natural window cleaner. It's based on vinegar, so it smells pretty strongly of vinegar... which is not good for my pregnant nose. In an effort to improve the smell, I opened my essential oil cabinet and grabbed some lemon and orange essential oils, and voila! Lovely citrus-y cleaning goodness, with the added benefit of cutting through scum (at least the shaving cream residue at the bottom of my husband's sink) wonderfully! Still streak-free and everything. You'll love it!

Here's what you'll need:
2-3 Tbsp. vinegar (ammonia works too, but you only need one or the other)
1/2 c. Rubbing alcohol
1 squirt dish soap
20 drops lemon e.o. (or more to smell)
20 drops orange e.o. (or more to smell)
a 24 oz. (or so) spray bottle

Just pour your liquid ingredients into your spray bottle and give it a good shake. Easy as can be!

And now you may actually enjoy cleaning. :)

Sunday, June 12

All-natural Ear Infection Remedy

This blog is being re-purposed! Up until now, it's been a (mostly ignored) cooking blog. I still love cooking, so there will still be cooking-related posts, but I'm also going to be using this as a place where I can share a lot of the natural remedies that my family and I are coming to love more and more. 

I should say at the start that I am not against modern medicine. I feel like many of our modern medical abilities are true miracles and I am so grateful for many of the doctors and nurses that have helped us when we've needed it. However, I also believe that for thousands of years God has provided His children with the plants and herbs, etc., that we need to heal our bodies. I believe that by being open to both sides, we truly get the best of both worlds. 

And now for the good stuff! How many of you have children who get ear infections? Any time we have a serious cold that runs through our family, at least one of our three children (and often I) will wind up with a secondary ear infection. Usually on a Saturday night, of course. So what to do? Run to the doctor for a standard antibiotic prescription? At $100 for an off-hours office visit (with no co-pay) and another $15 for the prescription, that adds up--especially when I'm taking myself and two kids. No thanks. I've used this natural ear infection remedy on myself and two of our kids (L, the lucky girl, never gets ear infections) and it has worked EVERY TIME. So if you want to cure an ear infection fast, with only ingredients you already have in your kitchen, read on.

All you'll need is fresh garlic, olive oil, and a dropper.

Step 1: Peel a few cloves of garlic. I did 7 cloves this time. 

Step 2: Place your peeled (but still whole) garlic cloves in a small saucepan and add about 1-1/2 cups olive oil. You can do a much smaller batch if you're just using this for medical purposes, but it tastes good too, so I make extra to use in cooking.

Step 3: Turn the heat on medium low until the garlic looks like it's simmering. Then turn the heat as low as it will go and let the garlic infuse for about an hour. After that, turn the heat off and let the garlic and olive oil cool down all the way. The olive oil should smell very strongly of garlic.

And you're done! Wasn't that easy? The last thing you need to do is pour the oil into a bottle with a dropper. I used an old medicine bottle that I cleaned out well. I leave the garlic cloves in the oil so that it gets stronger with time. 

Now, to treat an ear infection.

For an adult, use 5 to 7 drops in the infected ear 3 or 4 times a day. When I treat myself, I grab a book and lie down on my side for about 10 minutes per side (and let's be honest, when I'm sick with an ear infection, it's nice to take a few extra minutes of quiet time). The pain is gone within 2 or 3 treatments, but I do an extra day's worth just to be sure. I have never had an ear infection that lasted more than a day or so when I used this stuff.

For children, it's much the same. I use 3 drops for my 6 yr. old, and whatever I can with my almost-2-yr.-old.  The older kid knows this stuff is amazing and so he happily does everything I ask him to do. My almost-2-yr.-old is definitely not so cooperative. I wind up having to hold her head still while I add the stuff (which of course she hates, but there's nothing else for it), and then I snuggle her up on my lap and either read her stories or sing her songs. She soon forgets the trauma of the strange drops in her ear and enjoys the closeness.

Sure beats a 9-day course of expensive antibiotics!

Tuesday, November 4

What have I done with my life?

I saw this on Brittany Rodgers' blog, and I thought it was pretty cool. So I'm going to post it here; the things I've done are bolded. 

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band 
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford
7. Been to Disneyland (& World)
8. Climbed a mountain 
9. Held a praying mantis 
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you are not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors 
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (sign language, but not very fluently)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michaelangelo's David
41. Sang Karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful in person
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (as long as Burger King counts!)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported by ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. visited the Great Wall of China
57. Taken a martial arts class
58. Started a business
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies
62. Gone Whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London
77. Broken a bone (just a toe though)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (I have helped edit several though)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper 
85. Swam in the ocean
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating 
88. Had Chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life (does giving it count? I've done that twice... :))
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Fallen madly in love (I added that one on my own.) :)

Pretty cool list, huh? Life is good.

Tuesday, October 14

Earthquake Cake--Natural Disasters Never Tasted So Good!

This recipe is for a really fun cake called "Earthquake Cake." I think it's named that for the super-bumpy texture it has once it's baked. I baked it for a book club meeting and served it again at a church function, and everyone loved it! So without further ado, here's the REALLY SIMPLE recipe. 

Earthquake Cake

1 c. flaked coconut

1 c. chocolate chips

1 c. nuts (I used pecans, the recipe calls for walnuts)

1 box German chocolate cake mix (and whatever the mix calls for)

1 8-oz. package cream

 cheese (room temperature)

2-1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 stick butter or margarine (also room temperature)

1 tsp. vanilla

Sprinkle coconut, chocolate chips, and nuts on the bottom of a greased 9x13" pan. Follow direction

s on box of cake mix to prepare batter. Pour batter over the chocolate chipmixture. For cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Add powdered sugar about 1/2 c. at a time and beat until creamy. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly. Drop 

cream cheese mixture by heaping spoonfulls over cake batter. Swirl the cream cheese through the cake using a knife. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until cake is set and cream cheese isn't too gooey. (I actually baked mine f

or more than 40 minutes, but the recipe said 30-40, so maybe my oven is just slow.)

Thursday, October 9

Super Easy Cookie Idea

Hey all! Just so you know, I'm probably the worst blogger ever. I really don't post often enough, and it's never even regular. So sorry! 

Anyhow, today's post is for all of you who love fresh hot cookies, hate premade grocery-store dough, have trouble not eating the whole batch at once when you do make them, have cookies go stale because you don't eat them fast enough, or who don't have enough time to make a batch from scratch every time the craving hits. So: want delicious, oven-fresh cookies any time you want them without all the work of a brand new batch? 

Try this. Make a batch of cookie dough (or two, or however much you want to store). Form the dough into one-inch balls and flatten into circles (on average they're about 1/2 inch thick). Spread the dough discs on a cookie sheet (It doesn't matter how close together they are. You're not cooking them yet.) and place the pan in your freezer. Once the dough is frozen solid, take the
cookies and place them in a resealable freezer bag. 

Now, all you have to do to get those fresh, hot cookies you've been craving is to place them on a cookie sheet and stick 'em in the oven. No thawing, no mixing, no mess. 

I'm including a recipe for some amazing chocolate chip cookies:

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 c. butter 
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. unbleached flour
2 1/2 c. oat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
12 oz. milk chocolate chips
1-1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and combine well. Add chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes if fresh, about 12 if frozen.

Sunday, August 17

The Plan of Salvation

I think today I'm going to do a personal post. This weekend Mike and I went to a funeral for a little boy only 2 months younger than our darling Lucy, and it was one of those opportunities to think about what it is we truly believe.

I've been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my whole life. From the time I was 3 I've been taught the Plan of Salvation. This is what we call God's plan for us. We believe that before we came to Earth, we existed as spirits with our Father in Heaven. He told us of His plan for us to come to earth, receive bodies, and be tested. He told us that He would send us a Savior, even Jesus Christ, who would pay the price of our sins; thus if we lived righteously and repented of our sins, we could be forgiven and return to our Father's presence to live for eternity with our families. Because there must be opposition in all things, there was another plan brought forth by our brother Lucifer. He had a plan that would ensure that everyone would return, but it required us to forfeit our agency. At that point in our premortal existence, God the Father allowed us to choose: agency with the possibility of not being able to return to our Father's presence, or no agency. We know what happened--those who chose Lucifer's plan were cast out, Lucifer became Satan, and the hosts that followed him became devils to persuade men to be miserable as they are. Those who chose the Father's plan were sent to Earth, to receive bodies and be tested.

We believe that this mortal existence is a time for us to be tested. We believe that there are certain things we must accomplish in this life in order for us to return to God's presence: we must be baptized and make certain covenants (or promises) in the temple. When we die, we are sent to a spirit world, which is divided into two sections: spirit paradise, where dwell those who led righteous lives, and spirit prison, where dwell those who were wicked. We believe that those in the spirit world are continuously striving to teach the true gospel, watch over the living, and rest from mortal cares as we prepare for the next step, which is resurrection and judgment. At this point, following judgment, we believe we are sent to one of four places: the celestial kingdom, which is where God the Father dwells, the terrestial kingdom, which is where good people who have not accepted the true gospel or temple covenants go, and the telestial kingdom, which is where those who refused to repent or lived wicked lives go. The fourth place is called outer darkness, and is reserved for only the vilest of sinners.

I know this is a lot to take in, and it's only a basic summary of this truly glorious plan, but as I've pondered on life and death this week, it's been on my mind a lot. It's tragic when children die. It doesn't seem right that someone so innocent and pure would have to leave this earth so early, and leaving us with broken hearts as we lose so many opportunities and miss the lost person so terribly. What a comfort it is to know, though, that there IS life after this! Not only that, but if we are sealed together as families in the temple, those lost children, mothers, fathers, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. will be ours again! In the Kingdom of God, we WILL be families again. So even though we still have to live out the rest of our mortal lives without the beloved lost member, we have all of eternity to celebrate a joyful reunion. And I KNOW that eternity will be a lot longer than we're here on earth. To me it's comforting to know that death is not the end--merely the beginning of a much grander existence, free from hurt, pain, tiredness, sin... and what could be better than that?

If there were one thing I could tell everyone I know, it would be that our Savior lives. I know that Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of everyone who has ever lived on this earth, and that if we will but accept his atonement, live righteously, and repent of the inevitable mistakes, we will be blessed beyond any mortal imagination. I am so thankful that I have been sealed to my family. I know that when we leave this mortal stage, we will still be a family.

And that is good news.

For more information on the LDS (or Mormon) church, visit www.mormon.org, or www.lds.org