I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Monday, July 15, 2013

By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea...

Today I am thinking about the ocean. Why? Because I am in the middle of a large family "fest" that I organized....by the sea. Why here? Because the ocean calms me. When life troubles me, it is where I want to be. So I started to wonder just what it is about the coast that soothes. This is what I have read:

From  http://karen-a-ledoux.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com:

Beyond the physical healing powers of the ocean, can it also heal our souls?  If you’ve ever listened to meditation CDs you’ll notice that they are often accompanied by the sound of waves crashing into the shore.  It is a rhythmic and relaxing sound that helps to slow down your energy level and become more receptive to a relaxed state of mind.  Some believe that, like a tuning fork, it sets your internal system back to its natural peaceful state.  Our psyche is hijacked by caffeine, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies), fast music, rushed schedules and other external stimuli.  This is why it’s common for people to take vacations by the ocean because we crave that feeling of peace we so often lack in our daily lives.  - See more at: http://karen-a-ledoux.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/blog/2011/07/the-healing-powers-of-the-ocean#sthash.snnpCXha.dpuf

Uh huh. What else?

From DrVolpe.com:

...Research dates back to the early 1900s and was conducted by French biologist and self-taught physician Rene Quinton. In analyzing the composition of human plasma and that of ocean water, and superimposing the two, Quinton observed that they are virtually identical – the only real difference between the two being that ocean water is three times more concentrated than plasma.
Quinton attributed this difference to the fact that, since life originated in the ocean millions of years ago, seawater has become more concentrated. His conclusion was that we all still carry original ocean water in our blood. Human (and animal) plasma, in his view, is a “marine environment.”
Hm! Interesting! 
From True North by Tom North:
The ocean has therapeutic effects. From just being on the shore listening to the waves, feeling the sea breeze, smelling the salt air and becoming exhilarated by the negative ions created there, to utilizing the healing qualities of sea salts, seaweed, algae and minerals, the ocean has healing power. It even affects our brains, emotions and mood.
Yup, yes and uh-huh. 
Whatever it is, however deep or shallow (so to speak). it works for me. When life overwhelms me, the ocean calms me down. The water heals my skin. The air fills my lungs and makes me feel as if I am getting closer to whole again. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Onion Juice or Garlic Oil For Earaches - Trial

My daughter (8) is telling me that her ear hurts. She has had earaches twice before, and we have treated it traditionally, by heading to the doc, spending $30.00 on the visit, then heading to the pharmacy for antibiotics.

I am not against this plan, of course. Medications are important when we need them. But first I'm trying this:

Onion Juice!

I have read online that garlic infused in olive oil and the juice of an onion (not together) can quickly and effectively take away the pain and irritation of an ear infection while the body heals. I'm gonna give it a try.

I have found, from online research, that people have different ways of cooking and preparing the onion. I chose to keep an onion whole and in the skin, and bake it for 35 minutes at 350*. I would say that it could have cooked longer to get softer, or at a higher temp. But we made do with this. I cut the onion into pieces and squashed them to release the juice. I collected the onion juice in a small bowl, and let it cool. I then (after doing so to myself to show my daughter she wouldn't turn green and start foaming) used a spoon to gently drip some onion juice into the hurting ear. I have read that it's good to let the juice sit in there for several minutes, and I got about 2 or 2 1/2 out of my daughter before she insisted that she needed to get up and drain it. (She wasn't crazy about the experiment, so I was willing to take what I could get)

I had planned to ask her once an hour about her level of discomfort. Less than half an hour after putting the onion drops in, she informed me that her ear was not hurting anymore. What? Regardless of this report, it always takes time to kill an infection, and we have agreed together to repeat the process three more times today (so that would be morning, noonish, 4ish, then before bed.) Then maybe once in the morning for good measure.

I would be very pleased if this works! If you have any experience with this process, positive or otherwise, I'd love to hear about it.

Update: We treated dear daughter's ear with onion juice four times yesterday. This morning, she said that her ear was hurting. So I decided to abandon the onion juice and go for the garlic in olive oil treatment, as I have used garlic to treat other infections in the past with great success. This time, I looked online, and followed this preparation:

Put 1/2 cup of olive oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Peel and smash two cloves of garlic. Put it into the olive oil and microwave on high for 15 seconds, or until hot. (The directions I read said 30-60 seconds, but mine was plenty hot after 15 seconds. Use your judgement on that.) Mix and wait until the oil cools down. Drip 1/4 teaspoon or so into the ear. (While the person lies on his/her side with the infected ear up.) Use a rice bag or rice in a sock that is gently dampened and heated in the microwave - or a warm damp cloth to cover the ear, and wait. The directions I read said to "put on a 30-minute movie" but I wasn't going to get 30 minutes out of my daughter. After 10-15 minutes she drained the ear. I asked her about 2 hours later how her ear felts, and she said it felt great. I will give her this treatment again one more time today if she'll let me, and assess tonight and in the morning.

Update: It is two days later. Yesterday, I asked my daughter a couple of times throughout the day how her ear felt. Each time, she told me that her ear felt fine. After a day out and about, she took a bath, submerging the ear several times, and continued to feel fine after that. I will ask her again this morning when she gets up.

Second Update: I asked her several times yesterday how her ear felt, and she has continued to give positive reports. So garlic in olive oil it is! By the way, I did give her a second dose of this that day. So four doses of onion juice, no change. Two doses of garlic oil, no more pain or discomfort. Was it the combination of the two? Hard to say. But if this comes about again, my plan is to try the garlic oil only.

I hope this works for you! Let me know!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Health Benefits of Asparagus

I have been craving asparagus, my favorite veggie, for days. Today I am eating it for lunch. While munching away, I decided to do a little research on the health benefits of asparagus. Here is what I've found!

*It is full of fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, E and K, and chromium, a trace mineral.
*It is rich in glutathione, a compound that helps to break down carcinogens and free radicals.
*Asparagus is packed with antioxidants. (Again, good against free radicals)
*It delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12 to help fight cognitive impairment.
*It contains the amino acid asparagine, which acts as a natural diuretic to help reduce excess fluid and salt in the body. (Good for those with edema and high blood pressure)

Info. source www.EatingWell.com

Here's a fun benefits list from another website:

1 - can detoxify our system
2 - has anti-aging functions
3 - is considered an aphrodisiac
4 - can protect against cancer
5 - reduces pain and inflammation
6 - can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
7 - reduces the risk of heart disease
8 - can help prevent birth defects

An added benefit is that asparagus is on the "safe to eat non-organic" list because it is low in pesticide levels. Ideally, all foods should be organic when possible, but when they are not, asparagus still makes the shopping list. =)
And.. I love the taste. While asparagus can make urine smell very strange, there is no ill effect of this. So eat up! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent. Easy!

I have been using this home made dishwasher detergent for a couple of weeks now, with excellent results.* No more running out of detergent and having to make a special trip to the store. Just keep a few simple ingredients in stock, and you can whip up a batch whenever you need it. So simple and inexpensive.

I found this recipe here. I am spending more and more time on that website! Lots of good info.


Mix into an empty coffee container or similar

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Citric Acid
1/2 Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon per load does the trick. I have not yet come across citric acid in a grocery store, and have been using Kool-Aid lemonade flavor (sugar-free) instead. *Without the addition of phosphates, it is common to see a film on dishes after the cycle is complete. Adding more citric acid, or vinegar as a rinse aid, should help remove the film. The film is especially evident with hard water.

Look in the canning section of your local market to see if they carry citric acid. If not, it can be found online. Do an internet search for substitutes if necessary.

Monday, April 1, 2013

How To Get Rid of Poison Ivy Naturally - Trial

We have poison ivy growing in our woods, and this year it has started to grow out into the lawn. I have two little ones, one of whom loves to commune with nature, so the poison ivy has to go. I just did a quick online search, and the first website offered this advice: Mix one third each of soap-water, salt and vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray the poison ivy plants. When the plant has died, dig the root system up from under ground. If you don't, it may eventually grow back.

I wrote this post ages ago. I did try this and it worked wonderfully. I did not end up digging up the roots, and yes, the poison ivy grew back. But yes to the formula!

Recycling: Container Gardening

With spring trying really hard to arrive around here, my thoughts have turned to the yard and garden. I want very much to grow some of our food this year, but with little garden space, I am thinking of how to arrange planters around the deck. With a big private school tuition bill coming due at the end of the summer, I am always trying to think of ways to cut costs. What can I do instead of spending a fortune on new planters? I took a look around the kitchen, and the first thing I found was a recently emptied plastic popcorn bottle.  What can  I do with this?

First I took a serrated knife and cut the top off. Then I used my corkscrew to make four holes on the bottom of the bottle, and four on the sides close to the bottom. (It worked great for this!!)

 I filled the container with potting soil, leaving a little room at the top.

We use a lot of fresh herbs in our cooking, so I planted some basil. Basil makes a great container plant. I taped the top flap of the seed packet to the side of the container with the date.

Voila! We should see some sprouts in about a week! No expensive containers, I've reused something that was headed for the trash, and my children can see how easy it is to grow your own (organic!) food and one way to reuse, rethink and recycle! Now... what else can I use...?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Juicing! A "Fruit Punch" Recipe

I have been using my juicer lately, after a long hiatus. I stopped due to the cost of juicing, but have restarted after watching a documentary on healthy eating.

Rather than using the book of juicing recipes I have, this time I've been winging it. Sometimes the results are fair, sometimes they're good. Today I made one that instantly shot to the top of my list. My new favorite. Here it is:

3 apples (mine were on the small side)
1 pear (mine was green, use your favorite)
1 small carrot
1 piece of cucumber* (mine was about 3" long)
a handful of strawberries

*All of my ingredients were organic with the exception of the cucumber. If using organic fruits and veggies, you can keep the peel on (added benefits!) if not, remove before juicing.

Juice them all together, and voila! I added ice to mine. Delicious!

An added bonus to juicing is that if you're into composting or vermicomposting (composting with worms) the pulp that is left over after juicing is wonderful for the garden! For the worm composters out there, the food is already chopped up nice and small for them!

I'd love to hear about your favorite juicing recipes. =)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oregano Essential Oil For Colds/Flu Trial

More than half a year ago, I purchased a bottle of Young Living oregano essential oil. I had read about the benefits online somewhere. It arrived, I smelled it, and put it with the others. Where it sat. For a long time. Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to trying a new oil. Why, I don't know. I guess I'm comfortable with what works.

Recently, our family was hit with the flu. And when I say hit, I mean hit. Hard. We were all sick for more than a week. I like to try to use natural remedies, and was feeling discouraged at the amount of Tylenol, Motrin and eventually antibiotics I ended up giving to my children. In the moment you use what works. But I would like to do better.

So I ended up online again. And read about oregano essential oil...again. And the reviews got me wanting to do more than just smell the bottle.

So..... I started to feel... I don't know. Tired. Tense. Worried that something wicked was coming my way. So I started to add oregano oil to my water bottle. Well, the reviewers are not kidding when they say that this oil can be hard to palate! It is incredibly strong. One drop in my 5-cup water bottle, and the flavor is almost overwhelming. Wow. But it's for a good cause, so I ponied on. I drank it, and even added more. Now many days later, no illness has descended. Good enough? Of course not. I don't know that I was fighting anything to begin with. But I have learned that I can palate the stuff if need be. But it's very easy to add too much, so when online reviews of the stuff say to take 2-3 drops 2-3 times a day, I say... not likely. 2-3 drops throughout one day, yeah, I can handle that.

So yesterday my 5-year-old started to complain of cold symptoms. Oh boy, thought I. A chance to test this for real. Hm. How to get this stuff, that I can barely get past my lips, into a child? Not easy! I mixed one drop of oregano essential oil into a mug of water. He took one sip and retreated with shock in his eyes. I tasted it, and had the same reaction. Yuk! So I attempted to make it manageable by pouring out half of the mixture, refilling it with water, and adding a bunch of honey. That made it ok. Pretty weak, but ok. Then this morning I remembered something.

I had also read online that for kids you can mix this oil in a carrier oil (sweet almond, olive, etc.) and rub it on the soles of the feet. So that is what I did this morning. I put ONE drop of oregano e.o. into a dime-sized pool of sweet almond oil, and rubbed it on my child's feet. And on my own.

The problem with this study is that it is really impossible to know whether the duration of the cold would be longer without this treatment. But I will report on my findings! And I will attempt to treat the others in the family as well, and report whether they get sick as well, and if so, for how long.

So. Day 1:

My child's symptoms today are: crunchy cough, good energy, scratchy throat.

Everyone else: Healthy

Those treated with Oregano: Me (internally in water over last few days and on soles of feet today,) two kids (one internally yesterday, both soles of feet today) Did this early in the day.

The sick child seemed to feel good for most of the day. Just an occasional crusty cough. No fever, good energy. Symptoms got a bit worse in the evening. His throat got scratchy again (which could be heard in his voice) and the cough got a bit worse. I applied oregano again to the soles of the feet of both kids and myself. Hubby politely declined, so he becomes my "control." =)

Day 2:

Now it's the next morning, and the sick child slept very well. No breathing problems. He has a productive cough this morning. Very lungy sounding. No fever. Good energy. I again applied oregano oil to the soles of our feet.

Evening: Sick child had cough throughout the day. His energy was good. No fever. Once again evening came, and he started to feel more symptomatic. Very tired. Everyone else continues to be well. Another application tonight.

Days 3 and 4:

Basically the same report. Sick child continues to have a cough which sounds uncomfortable, but doesn't seem to get worse. Overnight on day two he had a very restless night, as he was unable to breathe through his nose. He tossed and turned all night. Regardless, he was in very good spirits on the morning of day 3. Days 3 and 4 he remained about the same... not worse, not better. He felt warm, but no high fever. On day 4 his energy was a bit lower than it has been, and his appetite was down a bit. Everyone else remains healthy. I'm applying oregano each morning and evening, and will continue to do so for a couple of days.

Days 5 and 6: Same report, though now sick child is starting to get better. Gross nose, which frequently needs blowing, but the cough is slowing down. Everyone else remains healthy!

This morning, day 6, I stopped the oregano application. Little boy is getting gradually better, and none of the rest of us have gotten sick. (yet?)

Has the oregano helped? It's impossible to say. But it is compelling that the rest of us stayed healthy, though that incudes hubby, who did not use oregano oil.

Soo..... if any of the rest of us do get ill, I'll update it here. Otherwise, I plan to try this again, out of curiosity, just to see what happens. Why not?

Update: Earlier this month, the same child experienced a stomach bug. It was crazy. He was sick, then better, then sick again, then better, then sick AGAIN, all over a period of about 2.5 weeks. The doctor, in typical fashion, said it could be this or this or this, and keep an eye on it. I read about the Norovirus, and am convinced that is what he had. It was awful, he was very sick to his stomach and on the other end, too, and I am very glad for him and for us that it has passed. All throughout this time period, I treated the kids and myself with oregano oil on the feet (and I drank some, too) The rest of us managed to avoid the bug. Now to be fair, hubby did not get sick, either, and he did not get treated with the oil. I can't explain it, I can't show a definite cause and effect here, but he got sick, really sick, and we didn't. So there's that. ? I am hoping this little guy gets a good break from illness now. Geez.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sesame For Healthier Skin

Having dealt with eczema all of my life, I am always looking to test new (or new to me) theories on how to get rid of it. (I would happily accept cutting down its severity!)

The other day I was poking around the gigantic Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, and I came across a section where he discusses skin issues, and foods that are supposed to help. One of them was sesame. It caught my eye, because I happen to be very fond of tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds.

So I am eager to test this theory. Until I have some results of my own, here is a link to some information I found online:

Sesame oil benefits skin

Testimonials are welcome! Also, please share ways you love to cook with sesame!