Homemade All Natural Vapor Rub

Ack, I haven’t posted in AGES! Spring is kicking my butt. May always seems to be extra busy with the end of school year and other school-year activities (for us it’s Dance). Dance recital is over, and pre school is over now, so things are winding down a little bit. But throw on top of it, we’re MOVING in less than a month AND trying to sell our house, AND I still have to feed my kids and wash dishes and keep up with the laundry and the bills. Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat. But right now I’m at the computer scanning documents and uploading files, so while I’m waiting, here I am.

Cold and flu season is pretty much over, but now we have ALLERGIES. I actually wrote this post in FEBRUARY, just never got around to POSTING it.

My daughter has asthma*, and one of her triggers is seasonal allergies (among a few other things), so this stuff never really goes out of season at my house. In the last couple months at bed time she would periodically ask for a breathing treatment. Her asthma is not severe, but she knows when her chest is getting tight and she needs a little extra help. I decided to try this vapor rub first. I rubbed some on her chest and her back, and told her to just wait a few minutes and if it doesn’t get better I would give her a breathing treatment. Out of about 10 times (at least), she only needed the nebulizer once. After a while she started applying the rub herself whenever her chest started feeling tight.

*Asthma is a super serious life-threatening disease and I would NEVER NEVER recommend NOT using a medical device when necessary. I ALWAYS keep a current prescription of her breathing medicine on hand, even though I don’t use it much. I am NOT giving out medical advice, ONLY sharing my own experience. You should always consult your doctor.

Ok, onto the actual post:DIY 3-ingredient Vapor Rub

There are lots of recipes on the interwebs for homemade vapor rub. Some of them are rather complicated and have a lot of ingredients. I like to keep things simple, so I have pared my recipe down to a few basics. I used most of mine up this winter when we passed a coughing cold around the family. I personally found that it helped me stop coughing long enough to get to sleep, and it would last 3-4 hours – similar to an OTC cough suppressant. Eucalyptus oil is commonly used for respiratory problems. It actually smells just like a cough drop! And Peppermint… Peppermint oil is so amazing. I had previously made a vapor rub without it, and I ended up adding a drop to whatever I was using, and it seemed to make a HUGE difference. You can really feel it soaking into your skin and opening the airways (I could, anyway). So, here is my newly modified and simplified vapor rub recipe:

Ingredients (simple version):

1/2 c coconut oil

10 drops Eucalyptus essential oil

20 drops Peppermint essential oil

Directions:

Whip coconut oil with a mixer until it’s creamy and has a consistency similar to frosting. Scoop into a small container (I use old baby food jars or yeast jars). Add oils and stir thoroughly. Rub on chest and bottoms of feet to relieve coughing associated with cold and flu (see my disclaimer on the sidebar).

It’s a little difficult to whip such a small amount of coconut oil. I tripled the amount, and made three different things. You could do the same, or make a larger batch. 

Here is another version I made for this year, kind of a compilation of a bunch of different recipes I found on the internet. Rosemary is said to help with respiratory issues, and the Lemon/Lavender/Peppermint combo is often used for allergies. Since my daughter’s asthma is often induced by allergies, I decided to use those oils. Also lemon is detoxifying, lavender is calming, and they’re just overall good healing oils. And then of course the Eucalyptus is great for the cough (smells like a cough drop!) I like this blend a lot too. If it’s not quite enough, I dab a couple more drops of Peppermint and Eucalyptus right onto the chest for a little extra boost.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil

10 drops each of Lemon, Lavender, and Rosemary

20 drops each of Peppermint and Eucalyptus

Homemade All Natural Antiseptic Cream

Homemade Antiseptic CreamLavender and Tea Tree are two of my most favorite and most used oils. They both have antiseptic and disinfectant properties, so they’re great for scratches and scrapes. Having 5 kids, we have a lot of boo-boo’s around here, so I made this cream to keep in the medicine cabinet (see my disclaimer on the sidebar).

Ingredients:

1/2 c coconut oil

10 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca) essential oil

10 drops Lavender essential oil

Directions:

Whip coconut oil with a mixer until it’s creamy and has a consistency similar to frosting. Scoop into a small container (I use old baby food jars or yeast jars). Add oil and stir thoroughly. Use as needed on scratches, scrapes, cuts, etc.

*It’s a little difficult to whip such a small amount of coconut oil. I tripled the amount, and made three different things. You could do the same, or make a larger batch. 

I am now a doTERRA consultant. If you’re interested in learning more about oils or purchasing through doTERRA, contact me for more info.

Homemade All Natural Whipped Body Butter

DIY Whipped Body Butter

I have suffered from eczema on my hands since I was a child, and now my daughter is showing signs of it in the exact same place as mine. I originally bought Cedarwood essential oil to use in my husband’s deodorant, because I thought it sounded woodsy and manly. My first impression was that it smells exactly like CEDAR WOOD – like wood chips! Duh, right? I guess I didn’t expect it to smell exactly like a cedar tree, since it’s oil, but it does. I thought it was a little weird at first, but the more I use it, the more I love it. After I bought it and was reading about its uses and properties, I discovered that it’s good for skin difficulties such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. So I whipped up (literally) this Cedarwood hand cream, and it is delicious! I’m totally digging the smell. It IS woodsy, and it could definitely be manly, but wow, I just love it. I’ve been using a dab of this cream to moisturize my face too, and it feels wonderful. (For more information about Cedarwood essential oil, go here)

After using this for a week, my daughter’s eczema is clearing up, and my son’s ashy dry skin is looking so much better!

Ingredients:

1/2 c Coconut Oil (at room temperature, not melted)

20 drops Cedarwood essential oil (more or less, to your liking)

Directions:

Whip coconut oil with a mixer until it’s creamy and has a consistency similar to frosting. Scoop into a small container (I use old baby food jars or yeast jars). Add oil and stir thoroughly. Use as needed on hands, face, or anywhere your skin needs a little help.

*It’s a little difficult to whip such a small amount of coconut oil. I tripled the amount, and made three different things. You could do the same, or make a larger batch. It would be nice to have a small jar of this in several rooms of the house. Or just do the best you can with 1/2 a cup! 

From the Kitchen: Simple Homemade Mac & Cheese

I was inspired by my friend Sam. She made homemade mac & cheese for me and my boys when we were at her house last week, and then I felt like making it today for the kids. They’ve been off school more days than on this month because of this crazy weather we’re having, and I’m getting tired of being the restaurant chef making everyone their own separate lunch every day. I didn’t think anyone would argue with Mac & Cheese, and I was right. This is nothing fancy. No pre mixing, no baking, no bread crumbs. It’s not much different from what you get in the box, honestly. The only difference is I used real cheese instead of the powdered or saucy mixture.

Image

Ingredients:

9 oz-ish box of elbow pasta (I used the kind with hidden veggies)

4 oz cream cheese

4 T butter

1/4 cup milk

1 cup shredded colby jack cheese (or your favorite cheese)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is straining, melt butter and cream cheese in the warm pan (keep the burner on low). Once it’s creamy, pour in the milk, and then add the pasta, salt and pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly.

My kids gobbled it up, and most of us (yes, including me) went back for seconds. It was an easy and filling lunch!

From the Kitchen: Crock Pot Ham Hock Soup with Black Beans and Salsa

This soup was created out of necessity. It was two days before grocery day (read: payday), AND the meat bundle we got from the butcher two months ago was almost gone. The only meat I had in the freezer was ham hocks and pig neck bones, neither of which I’d ever cooked with before. It’s basically ham broth with black beans and salsa.I didn’t even think it was going to be good because it seemed like a weird combination. I fed it to the kids when we went out on date night. But the next night (still one day before grocery day, and nothing but neck bones in the freezer), the boys went out on a “boys night” with daddy, so the girls and I ate it again, and OHMYGOODNESS it was GOOOOOOD!!! SO so good. AND SO EASY! And I knew I had to share it with the world. So here’s the recipe. This made a lot – I used my 7-quart slow cooker (7 of us, remember). You could easily cut this in half.

Crock Pot Ham Hock Soup with Black Beans and Salsa

 

Ingredients:

~ 2 Ham Hocks (Mine were pretty meaty. I’m not sure if that’s normal or not)

~ 2 Quarts (or about 4 cans) Black Beans (made overnight in the crock pot)

~ 2 c Salsa

~ 1T Chili Powder

~ 1t Cumin

~1t Onion Powder

~1t Garlic Powder

~ Water to cover ham (about 2-3 quarts)

 

Directions:

Mix everything together in the crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove bones and shred ham. The ham slid off the bones easily for me. I hope it does for you too.

*I read that you’re not supposed to let your dogs have these bones because they get very soft and brittle, and they can choke on them. I usually give my dogs pork and beef bones, but I threw these away.

The Best Thing I Did For Myself This Year

The end of the year: A time for reflection, change, and goal setting.

sleep

In January I posted a list of goals or resolutions for 2013. I’m pretty happy with how this year has gone. My overall focus was my personal Mental Health, and I feel like I’ve come a long way. We have continued with our “Farm Diet” and added some new food items to our routine. I’m yelling at my kids MUCH MUCH less, which is awesome. I’ve learned to let go of too-high expectations for myself. And I can honestly say that the single most important decision I made for my own personal health – physical as well as mental and emotional – is getting enough sleep on a regular basis. 

 

 Sleepless nights are part of a mother’s job (and some fathers too!), sometimes dragging on for years and years. But there comes a point when the kids are old enough to sleep all night, and maybe even to sleep in on the weekends (we’re not quite there yet)! My early birds wake up somewhere in the 6am hour almost without fail. But they do sleep all night – mostly.  

It took a few weeks to get my body used to falling asleep by 10pm, but I was committed, and I did it. And then once I was getting 8-ish hours of sleep for about 2 or 3 months, I started waking up naturally about a half hour before my alarm. I think I finally got caught up, started getting enough sleep, and then my body adjusted itself to what it actually needs. So now I make sure that I have a minimum of 7.5 hours a night. 

I feel like ME again. I feel like the fog has lifted from my head (I do still have mommy brain – that ditzyness that starts as pregnancy brain and then never really goes away), but my mental clarity is so much better. I feel like I’m able to enjoy my kids instead of being frustrated with them all the time. I don’t feel exhausted all day every day. I feel more human, less zombie.

I have noticed that the rare nights when I don’t get enough sleep (sick kids, unavoidable late nights, or girls’ nights out), I feel like my “old self” the next day – the grumpy, angry, easily frustrated mom that I don’t want to be.

I also took the “Orange Rhino Challenge” over the summer. I haven’t written much about it recently, because there hasn’t been much to say. My mood is so much better most of the time. I still have moments of frustration and times of yelling, but I don’t feel like it’s constant, or the norm. And I definitely feel the struggle to not yell when I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

My point is : SLEEP is so important!!! Yes, there are seasons in life when you have to sacrifice sleep, and that’s why God invented coffee. But sometimes I think we just let the busyness of life rule us and we choose not to prioritize sleep. I have gone to bed many nights feeling like I still had things to do – unfolded laundry, dirty dishes, scattered toys. But I have chosen to make sleep a priority, and I (and my family) have really benefited from it.

Easy, All Natural, Pain Relieving Tea

Ginger Tea for Pain ReliefYou guys. I can’t believe it took me 35 years to figure this out. I recently learned that GINGER ROOT (a plant) is an anti-inflammatory. Do you know how much ibuprofen I’ve taken in my life? More than one doctor has told me to load up on ibuprofen to relieve menstrual cramps. I have probably taken an average of 20-30 pills per month (for over 20 years) JUST for cramps. Not to mention the chronic headaches I’ve had through adulthood, the back pain from a car accident, and the sciatic pain from child birth. These are my chronic conditions, and then there are the isolated aches and pain that life brings. I have probably single-handedly kept ibuprofen in business. And probably done some damage to my liver!

But since I’ve been learning of more natural approaches to health and body care, I have discovered the beauty of ginger. It is one of my favorite foods and I consume it almost daily. As I said, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory. Whenever I have a headache or any kind of body aches I make ginger tea with fresh ginger root. Here’s my method:

Buy a fresh ginger root at the store (organic if possible).

Bring it home and peel it. You can then store it in the freezer and grate it as needed – I use a fine cheese grater. Or you can chop it up in a food processor and freeze it that way. I usually put it in a small zip lock bag, flatten it, then freeze it. It’s fairly easy to break off a chunk when you need it. Peeling is not absolutely necessary, but the skin is kind of stringy and the texture is weird in tea. I have kept the skin on before, but I don’t like it. It’s your choice.

To make the tea:

Grate or chop about a teaspoon of ginger (more or less to taste – ginger is pretty spicy!), add to mug of hot water. Add honey to sweeten (optional), and any herbal tea you like (also optional – I use a Chamomile and Lavender tea, to promote relaxation).

You will not want to chew the ginger. It will burn you. Just swallow the chunks whole if you can. Or steep the ginger in a tea infuser so you don’t have to swallow it. I like to because I think the more ginger in my system, the better.

Sometimes in a pinch I’ll throw a chunk of grated ginger in a glass of water and chug it. It works too. You just want to get that ginger into your body.

I have personally found that ginger tea works about as quickly and as effectively as ibuprofen. I feel it kick in after about 10-20 minutes, and it sometimes wears off in about 3-4 hours.

 

 

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