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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Christmas Shopping Already?

Some people think I'm crazy, some envy me and some do the same thing I do. Granted, everyone has those hard to buy for people. They change their mind like the changing of the wind. Those people I purchase things for last. However, for kids, some adults and parents, if you have an idea of what you want to do, why not buy ahead? Why?

1. $20-$30 spent here or there doesn't seem like a big deal. Hundreds of dollars in one month does. It causes many people to put things on credit cards or not hold up their end of a gift bargain if they have drawn names. Totally not fair for anyone.

2. It gives you time to bargain shop. I love finding special goodies in clearance sections, especially for my nieces and nephews. Then, I can get them more than I normally would have if I would have purchased everything at retail price.

3. It makes the season itself much less stressful because you've already done most of your shopping.

Here are a couple tips:

1. Keep totes or bins labeled "Christmas gifts".

2. Make a list on your computer or on paper (something you won't lose), of who you have to buy or make things for and what you have gotten already. This is very important so you know exactly what you still need.

3. If you're thinking of making homemade jam, now is the time. Start making up that homemade freezer strawberry jam before the season is over!

So, really, anyone can do this if they want to. It's super easy. Have fun shopping. We have 6 1/2 months till Christmas. Let the countdown begin!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Children + Money Management = Life Lesson

Years ago, my cousin Nathan Burkholder told us something his parents was doing with him. They gave him a certain amount of money on a regular basis and told him it was to cover his necessities. You know, things like clothing, toothpaste, etc... The past few years I wanted to do this with my daughter but felt she was not responsible enough at the time. My husband and I talked about this again just a week ago. Allysha is now 11 years old and is much more responsible. So, we wrote down everything we spend on her per year from what we could remember, divided that up monthly and started giving her the money to use on her own.

One person said "Wow, that's a lot of responsibility for one little girl". I politely let them know that she is very mature for her age and we feel like she's ready. When I mentioned this to my husband he said "What are we supposed to do? Wait till she's 16, has a car and a job and let her figure it out on her own?" I totally agree.

Now, while some kids need to wait a couple more years or some can start even earlier, we feel this is a good age for our daughter. She is already showing herself very responsible with her money. She shops just like her mama does. Goodwill, Dollar Tree, free clothing closets and more are her fun places to shop. One thing that excited me to no end was that she said she needed more shampoo. She asked if we could stop at the local health food store. Another score! While shopping in Goodwill, she ran all over the place on her own and was so excited about it! She even tried on clothing while the boys and I were shopping. She said it felt very good to be able to shop all on her own. I think this is the bit of freedom she needs at this time.

So, there you have it. Below I'll post the things we know she regularly needs. We put a price next to them of what we usually spend. I encourage you to do the same when your child is mature enough. I can't thank Denny and Becky Burkholder enough for this idea. I bet they have no idea while doing this with their son that years later, I'd be doing this with my children. Thanks guys!

8 pairs pants per year
5 pairs shorts per year
5 skirts per year
10 shirts per year
10 panties per year
12 socks per year
5 bras per year
shampoo - 3 bottles per year
toothpaste - 3 per year
soap - 4 per year
toothbrushes - 6 per year
shoes per year - 1 pair tennis shoes
sandals per year
dress shoes per year - spring and winter pair
bathing suit per year
winter coat

I do need to add, I will be purchasing her Easter and Christmas dresses still. That's something this mama doesn't want to give up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Making Yogurt Cheese and Collecting Whey

I've seen people doing this on and off and always thought it'd be neat but never took the time. Well, I decided to take the time last night/this morning. The directions are simple!

Step 1: Get some yogurt. Of course raw milk whole yogurt would be best. I didn't have the luxury so I went to the store and bought some plain Stoneyfield yogurt. I've read you can use really any plain yogurt that has living cultures in it as long as it's plain and doesn't have gelatin in it. The gelatin would keep it from separating.

Step 2: Get a bowl, a colander that will fit on the top of the bowl, some cheese cloth, a rubber band and something to tie it all up with. Of course you'll also need your yogurt and a spatula or spoon.

Step 3: Put enough cheese cloth over the colander (double layered) so that it hangs a bit off the sides as you'll need to gather this up in a bit.

Step 4: Pour your yogurt into the cheese cloth. Bring up edges and twist up till the liquid starts separating and dripping out the bottom. This is your whey. Secure your top with a rubber band.

Step 5: Next, find a place to hang up your yogurt cheese. Let it hang at least 12 hours.

Step 6: Open up the cheese cloth and take out your cheese. You should have about 1/2 the amount of each cheese and whey as the total amount of yogurt you started with.

Step 7: Taste your cheese. How do you like it? Ours has a very mild taste. We're going to add in fresh herbs, garlic and sea salt. Mmm!

Step 8: Put the rest of your yogurt cheese in the fridge. Make sure to cover it. I've read it lasts up to a week.

Step 9: Put your whey in a jar and store in the fridge. You can use this to make all kinds of foods. Check out the book Nourishing Traditions on what you can use your whey for. We're going to make lacto fermented salsa and lacto fermented cabbage (later this week). I've read online that the whey can last in the fridge for up to 6 months.

If what I did didn't quite make sense, watch this video. I find I always learn better watching a video. This husband and wife makes great videos!

Last but not least, when my youngest son Joshua saw I was finished taking pictures of the cream cheese and whey, he wanted his picture taken. He sure is getting funny and developing quite the character. lol

**Just a note, if you're uncomfortable letting it sit out on the counter overnight, I've read some people sit there's in a colander over top a bowl in the fridge and cover it**

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cooking with Kids!

I can hear it already. Did your thoughts go something like this?

"I'd love to cook with my kids but it's so much easier if I just do it myself"

"Are you kidding? My kids aren't interested in spending time with me in the kitchen!"

"Oh the mess. That's the only time I have alone during the day. I'd like to keep it that way."

I'm sure there are other hindrances out there. All the points above I admit are somewhat valid. Think on this; as a parent, you are responsible for raising a healthy, productive adult. That includes an adult that can find their way around the kitchen. Here's some things we've learned while letting our kids pull up a chair and help us in the kitchen.

1. When allowed to make up one meal per week or every two weeks, the kids really get excited about not only cooking but shopping for the food as well.

2. Kids tend to eat more since they helped prepare the food. I don't know what it is, but it works.

3. Your kids are learning a valuable skill they will take with them all their lives.

4. Your kids can get creative! Lyshie loves making up her own recipes!

5. You get some good quality time with your children along with some super memories. Make sure to take pictures!

6. Good, healthy eating really does begin at home. While offering a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and free range meats, etc... you're teaching your child to make good decisions for their health and their taste buds.

Now that you've seen some benefits of cooking with your kids in the kitchen, here are some helpful hints.
1. Use a lettuce knife or butter knife for cutting. We have found these two knives to be invaluable.

2. Purchase or make chef's hats and aprons. It kind of makes it official in their minds and they look so cute!

3. Even very young children can help in the kitchen by pouring measured ingredients in a bowl, sprinkling on herbs and mixing.

4. Mistakes will happen and things may not turn out well. COntinue to let your child know they did a great job!

5. Make them a cooking star! We made a video years ago called Cooking WIth Ally. She was about 6 years old and made egg salad. It was so cute! We have to do that again.

Some of our favorite cookbooks for kids are:
The Children's Step by Step Cookbook by Angela Wilkes (Lyshies Favorite)
New Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Garden
Marmee's Kitchen Primer

Better yet, start gathering all your family favorite recipes and make them into a cookbook for your daughter or son. Take pictures of them working on those specific recipes and put that in your cookbook.

Have fun cooking!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve

I found this picture online and just had to share it. Because of odd and unexpected recent circumstances that have truly left me befuddled, I am reminded of what true friendship is. I am also reminded that we have a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. What a comfort when in this world there is loss, sadness, confusion and so much more, we can take heart in knowing we serve an amazing God!

Here's the verses I was led to today.

Proverbs 18

1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire,
He quarrels against all sound wisdom.

2 A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind.

3 When a wicked man comes, contempt also comes,
And with dishonor comes scorn.

4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

5 To show partiality to the wicked is not good,
Nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgment.

6 A fool’s lips bring strife,
And his mouth calls for blows.

7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.

8 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.

9 He also who is slack in his work
Is brother to him who destroys.

10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.

11 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own imagination.

12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty,
But humility goes before honor.

13 He who gives an answer before he hears,
It is folly and shame to him.

14 The spirit of a man can endure his sickness,
But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?

15 The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

16 A man’s gift makes room for him
And brings him before great men.

17 The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him.

18 The cast lot puts an end to strife
And decides between the mighty ones.

19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.

20 With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied;
He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.

23 The poor man utters supplications,
But the rich man answers roughly.

24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Friday, June 4, 2010

First Aid Kit

Here is a great article on making your own first aid kit. You can find this article in it's entirety by visiting this link.

Make a Natural First Aid Kit: Meet Healing Head-On with Herbs

by Susan Belsinger

When I was in seventh grade, I made a first-aid kit for a science project. It wasn’t very big, and it was rather basic, consisting mainly of adhesive bandages, first-aid cream, gauze, sticky white tape, scissors and iodine. Over the years, my idea of first aid has changed considerably. Some of the basic items still have a place in my kit today, but many of my remedies have changed with experience and with my continuing herbal education. I have learned to make poultices, salves, teas, tinctures and synergistic blends of herbs and essential oils. I also took an herbal apprentice class with Rosemary Gladstar, which was an amazing learning experience on the uses of medicinal herbs.

I used to keep my homemade herbal products in different parts of the house, depending on their uses, but I soon realized it would be much easier to find things when I needed them if they were stored together in one place. Once I had gathered the ingredients and supplies, I began searching for the perfect storage container. I considered art-supply boxes, tackle boxes, cosmetic boxes and sewing boxes, but finally settled on a heavy-duty, three-tiered plastic toolbox. I also have a smaller version of the kit containing my most essential items that I carry when I travel.

It is important that everything in your remedy kit be clearly labeled, and I find it helpful to include an instruction sheet on the proper use of each item.

My kit is extensive and contains many items, as I’ve found this is what works best for my family. Perhaps my kit will inspire you to create your own herbal remedy kit suitable for your family’s needs.

Basic Items

These are important items to have in any first-aid kit:

Sterile, nonstick bandages, assorted sizes
Adhesive bandages, such as Band-Aids, assorted sizes
Magnifying glass
Needles/safety pins, assorted sizes
Hot water bottle
Ice pack
Alcohol swabs
Toothpicks or natural floss
Additional Supplies and Ingredients

The following are items in my herbal home remedy kit:

Clean, washed muslin or cotton cheesecloth to use as a compress or for wrapping wounds and poultices.
Wool socks with the toes cut open or sweater sleeves are perfect for holding poultices or bandages in place without using tape — just slide them over the arm, elbow, ankle, or leg. They also help retain heat on the affected area.
Vetrap — this stretchy and flexible wrap sticks to itself, and it is perfect for wrapping wounds or holding poultices. It’s available at pet stores, feed stores and veterinary supply stores. I’ve found similar products at the drugstore sold as sports wrap.
Moleskin — a soft fabric with an adhesive backing, ideal for covering tender spots, such as blisters and other rubbed areas.
Eyecup — an indispensable tool for washing or rinsing the eye.
Tea strainer or tea ball for making teas or decoctions.
Rescue Remedy — a Bach flower remedy and one of the world’s best-known natural stress-relief remedies.
Spritzers made with distilled water and essential oils can be used for their aromatherapeutic properties as well as their antibacterial qualities.
Aloe vera gel — good for soothing sunburns, rashes and minor kitchen burns. Note: Aloe should never be used on a staph infection as it will seal in the bacteria, allowing it to multiply.
Powdered clay works well for drawing out splinters and thorns. Mix a little clay with water and put it on the affected area, and as the clay dries, it draws out the splinter.
Witch hazel — this astringent can be used as a disinfectant to clean skin, relieve itching and as a liniment for sore muscles.
Lip balm for chapped lips.
Green salve — There are many variations of green salves for insect bites, skin irritations, scrapes, minor cuts and chafing. I make my own using different herbs for specific conditions, but you also can find it in health-food stores.
External liniment — I use a diluted version of Jethro Kloss’ recipe using alcohol, myrrh, goldenseal and cayenne. The recipe can be found in Back to Eden (Benedict Lust Publications, 1971). Use the liniment as a sore muscle rub and to dry poison ivy. Before use, perform a skin test on the inside of the elbow. Use caution, particularly if using it on a child, elder or someone with sensitive skin.
Slippery elm lozenges — Slippery elm’s demulcent properties coat the throat, so these lozenges soothe a sore mouth or throat and come in a variety of flavors. They have a laxative effect if taken in excess, so use caution.
Wild cherry syrup for coughs and sore throat.
Candied ginger — Soothes upset stomachs and motion sickness.
Emer’gen-C — These little packets are in my pantry, remedy kit, glove compartment, and my carry-on because they are a super energy booster and a quick source of vitamin C and 32 mineral complexes.
Arnica gel for bruises and muscle aches and pains.
Jewelweed vinegar — I learned this remedy from my friend Tina Marie Wilcox who uses it to repel biting insects in the Ozarks. Infuse jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) in organic apple cider vinegar and add insect-repellent essential oils, if desired. I spray it on poison ivy and bug bites and apply it before going into the woods.
Rub raw garlic cloves on small scrapes and cuts for its antiseptic properties.
Chocolate — Whether your injury is physical or emotional, the natural serotonin in dark chocolate will help make you feel better and take your mind off the injury for a moment.
Dried Herbs to Have on Hand

I keep these to make herbal infusions. Use them regularly, and replace with fresh herbs every year.

Chamomile soothes, relieves stress and aids digestion.
Comfrey — use ground root and/or leaves externally as a poultice for bruises, sprains or strains and bone injuries.
Lemon balm soothes the digestive tract and helps aid relaxation and sleep.
Milky oats — the seeds of this plant increase vitality and make a good-tasting tea to relieve stress and anxiety.
Peppermint and spearmint soothe the stomach and freshen breath.
Sage makes a good mouth and throat gargle.
Comfort and Soothe with Tea Blends

Prepackaged teas are available for a variety of specific conditions (names in italic are formulas available in stores), or you can blend your own teas at home. Unused teas should be replaced yearly.

Colds and lung ailments — Gypsy Cold Care, elder, mullein, yarrow
Digestion — mint, fennel
Nerve sedatives — chamomile, hops, lemon balm, passionflower, valerian
Sore throats — Throat Coat, slippery elm, ginger, cherry bark, licorice
Constipation — Smooth Move, slippery elm, senna, ground flaxseed
Pack Powdered Herbs

Powdered herbs can be packed in capsules, used in poultices or dissolved in tea. Use mixtures within a year.

Echinacea boosts the immune system and helps speed recovery from colds and flu.
Slippery elm soothes sore throats, scalded tongues or mouth, digestive complaints or constipation.
Powdered Goldenseal root is prepared in poultices for infections and abscesses; do not use for more than 2 to 3 weeks at a time as it can irritates mucous membranes.
Cayenne is a warming, stimulating powder that is good for the circulation and the heart, as well as digestion and congestion. Use sparingly because of its potent heat.
Use powdered, dried Yarrow leaves on cuts to stop bleeding and to disinfect wounds. Rosemary Gladstar recommends placing a pinch in the nose to stop a nosebleed.
Take these Tinctures

In my experience, tinctures act much more quickly than powdered herbs in capsules. Most are made with alcohol and should not be given to children, but you can purchase alcohol-free tinctures or prepare them at home.

Echinacea and goldenseal bolster the immune system and fight infection.
Ashwaganda promotes well being; good for low energy.
Kava-kava in coconut milk is good for calming stress and anxiety. It allows the body to relax while the mind stays alert. The coconut milk makes it taste delicious and the fat in the coconut milk helps the body to more readily absorb the kava.
Crampbark alleviates menstrual cramps.
Valerian promotes relaxation; reduces insomnia, stress and tension; and relieves aches and pains. Note: Valerian may have the opposite reaction in some individuals — do not use if you feel agitated or uneasy after trying it.
Really Essential Oils

Don’t use essential oils directly on the skin. Dilute them in a carrier oil, such as jojoba or olive oil. Be sure your essential oils are pure oils and not synthetically made.

Lavender relieves pain, burns and bee stings and is superb in the bath and in aromatherapy treatments for relaxation.
Tea tree has antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal properties. It is well-suited for wounds, insect bites, rashes and for cleansing purposes. A skin test is recommended before using.
Add eucalyptus to baths to relieve achy muscles or cold and flulike symptoms; use it for a steam inhalation to alleviate coughs and congestion; mix into insect repellents.
Thyme has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties and is good for cleaning bites and stings. Add it to bathwater to soothe muscle aches and those associated with colds and flu. It also treats bad breath and infections of the mouth.
Other Healing Oils

The following are carrier oils, or oils blended with herbs or essential oils that are used for specific ailments.

Arnica oil is for bruises and muscle aches.
Castor oil is used for swelling and contusions, to pull out toxins; it will stain clothing and skin.
Mullein flower oil is for earaches.
Calendula oil soothes most minor skin irritations. It also regenerates cell growth.
The information here is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Contact your health-care practitioner if you have questions, if you are on prescription drugs, or if you are pregnant or nursing.

Susan Belsinger is a frequent Herb Companion contributor and a long-time user of natural medicine. Contact her at