Friday, September 21, 2012

Elderberry Syrup

My kids have all had colds in some form for the last couple of weeks. Nothing bad, just enough for it to be bothersome to them with icky noses. Then I found out we had been exposed to Whooping Cough. bleh. So I started doing research on Whooping Cough, what it is, how to prevent and treat it. We tried a couple of different antibiotic/cough syrup recipes involving garlic....and not one single member of my family could take it. :-/ I had complaints of headaches, upset tummy, and just general not liking it. So we moved on to plan B. =) Making homemade Black Elderberry Syrup. I was buying it from my local health food store, but its not cheap, so I was thrilled to discover I could make it for myself for a whole lots I knew exactly what was going into it. I found a wonderful new blog to follow ( and she told and showed me how to make Elderberrry Sryup!! I found another site ( with a slightly different recipe. I didn't have cinnamon sticks or cloves, so I did a combination of the recipes. =)

1.) Add 1 cup fresh or 1/2 dried elderberries to your saucepan.

2.) Add in 3.5 cups of water and 1 tsp of powdered cinnamon

3.) Bring to a boil, then turn down and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about half. Next you pour your liquid through a strainer and smash the berries to get as much juice out of the berries as you can. Discard or compost your berries.

4.) Let your liquid cool completely before adding in 1 cup of honey. I used deeprootsathome note that she only used 3/4 cup of honey and I did the same. Mix the honey in well then pour into your jar of choice. It will keep in the fridge 2-3 weeks....although I've seen other sites that say it keeps a lot longer, so maybe its just best at the 2-3 week mark...I need to do more research. =)

Just for fun I thought I'd throw in this picture. =) This is what my 7 month old was doing while I was making this. I teach my kids to love vinegar starting at a very young age. :-P

Friday, September 14, 2012

5 easy ways to live simpler, cheaper and healthier

Here are 5 ways that our family lives cheaper, simpler and healthier. What are some things your family does?

1.) Use Cloth Napkins
We have been using cloth napkins for several months now and the only time it was an issue was towards the beginning....when I didn't have a good stock of them. =) I buy a pack of rags from Walmart that has different colors in it. I don't particularly like using the white ones as napkins and now that I'm building up my stock of them, I am starting to use the white ones for cleaning purposes and keeping the colored as napkins. I just bought a new pack and they have some beautiful fall colors!! I'm going to have to get some more of those. =) Its so nice to walk past the napkins and know I'm saving close to $4 on something that will just get thrown away. Now, if we are having a big dinner party, I will gladly go out buy some for that. =)

2.) Re-grow your Green Onions
Instead of throwing out the ends (roots) of your green onions, put them in a pretty jar, add some water and they will start to grow again! Attempt to remember to change the water every 2-3 days. =) Not only do you save money, but its fun and decorates your kitchen counter.

3.) Make Your Own Cleaning Solution
Vinegar is my best friend when it comes to cleaning! I bought a spray bottle for about or less than (can't remember exactly) $2. I fill it about half full with vinegar, finish filling it with water, shake to mix it up and get to cleanin'! You can add your favorite essential oil if you'd like. I love to add 10-15 drops of cinnamon or lemon. Lemon is wonderful to use as its a natural disinfectant. I think my favorite place to use lemon is in my fridge. mmmmm!! You could get a second spray bottle, fill it with water, add 20-25 drops of your favorite essential oil and spritz about the room for a natural air freshener. My kids have a blast doing that job. =)

4.) Make Your Own Scrubbing Powder
I found this simple recipe here -
Simply add 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Baking Soda, 1/4 Salt, 1/4 cup Citric Acid to a jar, shake/mix up and you're ready to go! This can also be used as dishwasher detergent. I didn't want to spend the money on citric acid, so I used the suggestion she gives of getting Lemonade flavored Koolaid. Worked great! My dishwasher died, so I only use it for cleaning purposes right now. I use it for cleaning sinks, toilets, and tubs. Smells super yummy! When I was pregnant with my fourth, I actually wanted to eat it. :-/ Don't worry! I didn't! My husband bought me a steak to ensure I wouldn't try it. (I'll have to remember that for the next one hehehehehe)

5.) Herbs!!
We rarely use medicine - prescription or over the counter meds. I think the only kind of medicine I have in the house is Tylenol. Our family LOVES to use home remedies! And we've had great success with them. This is my herb basket that I keep stocked with some handy herbs. Some of the "staple" herbs I keep in my house are Garlic Tablets (odorless :-P), Echinacea, Vitamin C, Black Elderberry (I just found a recipe to make my own, so I'll let ya know how it turns out), Magnesium, Papaya, Arnica (tablets and cream) and Calcium/Magnesium. These are the herbs we use the most for everyday things. I've recently done some research on Red Raspberry and I'm thinking its going to become a staple too. =)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Did that just strike fear into your heart?! It did mine!!

When I was little, we had a small run-in with lice and I can remember sitting for a long time while my mom picked through my hair. I'm the oldest of six, so my poor mother had to do all six of us. Well, I have four little ones and had to do everyone, so I really felt grateful for all that time my mother put into ridding our hair of lice.

I had taken my kids thrifting and Lissy was the only one to try on a dress. She was the worst one, so we can only assume we got it from the thrift store. Now I'm at the point where I never want to go thrifting again. :-/ I'm really hoping I get over that soon since I can't afford to not go thrifting. :)

I had gone to get my hair cut and was told by the stylist cutting my hair that I should probably go to a dermatologist to get my head seen. I had several flea bites on my head and thought she was crazy if she thought I was going to see a doctor for flea bites. She made some other comments and I finally put the pieces together - she thought I had lice but wasn't allowed to outright say so. When I got home I started checking heads and sure enough! There they were. The nasty things.

I was horrified that I didn't realize sooner. I had been itching, but knew for a fact I had several bites, so that was that for me. Lissy had been itching a lot so I had checked her head a number of times to see if there was a flea crawling around in her hair. But I never saw anything. I never even considered lice! And until someone told me that I had them, I didn't know what to look for. That was a very rough evening for me - both emotionally and physically.

I felt like a horrible mother for not realizing sooner and that because I didn't know, my daughter was having to go though this. My back and neck hurt soooo bad after going through four kids. But we survived to tell about it! :)

We decided to get the chemical lice treatment to use on Abby and Lissy and go natural for the rest of us. I wasn't comfortable putting those chemicals on the babies and I couldn't use it because I'm nursing. After doing the chemical treatments and going through the process of combing lice and eggs out of their hair, we slathered everyones hair with coconut oil. I did some research on natural ways to get rid of lice and found that coconut oil was a good way to go. We had just bought a huge, five gallon bucket of it, so I went with that. Not only am I rid of lice, but my hair is now very healthy after several treatments of coconut oil. :)

I set up what I called "my laboratory" (I'd sometimes have to accompany that with an evil laugh. Bwa ha ha!!) and every morning and evening I'd check everyones hair. That really cut into my day, let me tell ya! :) I set it up in the living room, right in front of my computer. We would either have a movie going on my computer, or have an ipad set up with a movie or playing on a DS, like Abby is in the picture. Micah's hair is all crazy as I had just slathered oil all over him and hadn't combed it down yet. :)

My husband was sooo sweet and helpful! He jumped right in and started on dishes, laundry, picking up around the house a bit, changing my lice water and helping keep up with the other kids while I just focused on combing through hair. I couldn't have done it without him.

That was such a very long week, but its all done now.....I think. I saw some white bits in Lissy's hair earlier, but I'm pretty sure it was just dandruff...but I'm paranoid. So I'll check her in the morning. :)