Spring Cleaning in Summer: Day Five

In my spring cleaning in summer series, I am sharing my progress of ridding my cabinets of all products that:
  • Are chemical filled
  • Have ingredients I can not pronounce
  • Do not promote self sufficiency
  • Have no value to me whatsoever
  • Just take up space  

For me, one of the things taking up the most space is vitamins. I have lots of them. Multi-vitamins, Calcium, and superfood supplements. All stuff I made money on at Walgreens during my coupon days and are just sitting in my medicine cabinet taking up space. I will never remember to take them and from the reading I have done, am not sure they would do any good anyhow. Have you ever spent $80 on a multivitamin only to have it turn your urine bright orange? A sure sign that your body did nothing with it at all!

There are some who defy multivitamins at all. If I am eating an organic diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting raw dairy, and taking cod liver oil, why would I need an extra source of vitamins? Why take vitamins at all? Some days, I just don't want to. As with all real food investigation, there are so many differing sides to the issue. It leaves me so perplexed I just don't want to put anything in my mouth. There are some vitamin sources that I feel very good about, however. I will share those here.

Few if any of us really eats perfectly healthy all the time. I know I don't. It is hard to get all the vitamins and minerals we need to have a healthy, disease free body. I am convinced, that good health is 100% linked to good nutrition. It is not linked to medicine. Medicine is sick care. Nutrition is health care. Starting with a good multivitamin that our body recognizes is key.

Cod liver oil is a good source of Vitamin A as it is coupled with Vitamin D. Did you know they should go together? Many people swear by this stuff for improved and optimum health. We find it also seems to help memory around here. Like essential oil, it can absorb through the skin, so you can put on baby during a diaper change or on toddler's feet. Although my toddler takes it mixed with yogurt just fine. As for me, the key to not gagging on my daily dose is that I do not breathe until I have swallowed my cod liver oil, then perhaps a spoonful of coconut oil, then a glass of water. I have tried lemon and cinnamon and neither taste "fishy."

The sun is the best source of Vitamin D. You can get some from seafood... well you can, but I won't as I HATE any food that came out of water. So, that brings us back to cod liver oil. A good natural source of Vitamin D.

Vitamin K2 is an important vitamin that most of us lack since we became a nation obsessed with pasteurizing instead of "pasturizing" our milk. Natural sources include grass-fed dairy and egg yolks from free range chicken eggs. The livers of grass fed animals are perhaps the best source, but I am not there yet... not sure I ever will be.

Do some research to find the best multi-vitamin you can trust. I would love to share with you my favorites. You can email me for more information.  I encourage you to do your own research and make sure the vitamin you do choose is food based so your body recognizes it. Too many vitamins are synthetic and our natural systems do not recognize them and can not utilize them.

I am not a scientist, so it is hard for me to tell which form is plant based and which is grown in the lab. I just do the best I can. I am not above calling the company for assurances that the vitamins are all natural. Of course, the best way to get vitamins is to eat those that can be grown in your own back yard. So, eat your veggies, fruits, and grass fed beef and dairy. Cut down on the sugar, and do your best to eliminate processed garbage that are devoid of all vitamins and will only serve to make us sick! Good luck in your search for a perfect supplement. It is not easy to find a quality one at a good price. 

Check out the other posts in this series!
Spring Cleaning in Summer
Day one
Day two
Day three
Day four

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Don't You Want to be a Hippie Too?

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Not if I have to dress like one.  I will never understand the attraction to tie dye. Too over stimulating for me. I have said before that I prefer to be called a creationist. But the underlying tenants are no so far removed from the hippie movement.  I don't do drugs or believe in free love and am not a vegetarian! But until 2 years ago, I slept in a water bed. We also have a lava lamp! So that is close right?

According to some, if you question modern sick care or debate the merits of immunization, or milk your own goat, you are labeled with that word!  I read a lot of articles on alternate ways of thinking. You know, homeschooling, old fashioned living, homeopathy, and the like. If you read the comments, there is always an irritated, lofty, "normal" person who yells,

"What a bunch of Prius driving Hippies!"
As if anyone who questions the way things have been done for decades is just that. The "non-hippie" tends to think that just because something has been done for their whole lifetime makes it right. But let's reach back to our great grand parent's lifetime.  I just keep thinking maybe it was they who had it right...mostly.

The hippie culture from the 60s and 70s fascinates me. Good music came out of that. But so did a stigma that anyone who thinks outside the box is a lunatic. 

That stigma has not changed today.

(Borrowed from Facebook)

I have friend who, trying to help, tried to apply melaleuca oil to her Nephew's hurt finger. When grandma saw what horrible thing was about to happen, she forbid it! That is not what the doctor ordered, so therefore must be evil. Oh please! This is 2013, are we still so closed minded that we can't see the benefits of a new point of view?

I have another, more mature friend who came by for a visit. I showed her my box of essential oils and she started telling me what she would use each one for and which reflex points to apply them to. I was shocked! How on earth did she know this stuff? Former Hippie, that's how. She learned all about it when she was a young mom like me, but back then, if you told anyone about it, they would think you crazy. Looks like perhaps we have not really come that far in anti-melaluca Grandma's eyes.

I guess my rant today is to question. Ask questions, do research, and pray if you like to discover what is best for you. It may be just what the doctor ordered. It may be the complete opposite. This country needs more people who think for themselves and dare to question conventional wisdom which is usually no more than conventional tradition. Let's all get our hippie on.

No,  I may not be into psychedelic colors, I am sure as heck not a proponent in free love, and drugs are horrible destructive monsters. But if being a hippie means I question conventional wisdom, distrust the powers that be when it comes to food and education, and drink from a glass water bottle, then Hippie I will be. Oh, and a conservative too.. is that possible?

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake (Gluten Free)

For Father's day, I created a cheesecake for my husband that I hoped to write rave reviews about. But, in the end, it was just...eh.... that is all. Nothing to write home about. Back to the drawing board from my friend's birthday party. It had to be gluten free or it would not be a great birthday for her. And I had to redeem myself with the peanut butter cheesecake idea. So, I reinvented and this time, I got it right. I have been experimenting with a new granola bar recipe and it turns out, it makes a fantastic gluten free crust for this cheesecake. It was easy and delicious. Certainly full of sugar and yum. Not in the least healthy, therefore reserved for birthdays only! Hey, someone has a birthday everyday right? Right? And, if you are a Plain Jane, a purist, or the unfortunate victim of a peanut allergy, omit all peanut products and it will still be heavenly.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake (Gluten Free)

2 cups Organic oats
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
1 t baking soda
Mix ingredients for crust together. Press into spring form pan. Bake for 10-12 min at 350.

24 oz cream cheese (three blocks)
1 1/4 cups evaporated cane sugar
3 eggs
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 t vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Let the cream cheese come to room temperature. Then beat it with the sugar. Add the peanut butter and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time. Finally, add the sour cream and fold in the chocolate chips. Pour onto prepared crust.
Cover the bottom of the spring form pan with foil. Place in a large roasting pan. Add water to the roaster until it reaches halfway up the pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour 35 minutes. Let cool completely. Overnight is best.

Topping (Optional): Make this just before you are ready to pop the cheesecake out.
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 T heavy cream
Melt together until smooth and creamy.

Take outside of the pan off. Add the chocolate topping to a plastic baggie. Cut off one tip and pipe the chocolate over the cheesecake.

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I Get by With a Little Help From my Friends

This year, the local middle school sent us all a letter informing us the great news that all 7th and 8th grade students were being given a laptop to love, honor and cherish and really contribute to their education. Oh, and I get to be financially responsible for it. My immediate reaction was, skip the computer, give every kid a goat, chicken and a tomato plant! That is an idea I can get behind. Instead of giving them access to be lazier and spend more time in front of a screen than they already do, instead of further hindering physical social interaction, let's teach kids to spend their free time working! We are going to find that we turn high school graduates out with great texting skills and even better googling skills, and no idea at all how to function without means of electronic gadget.

I am so old fashioned, I guess, I just don't see the point. Paper, pencil, goat. That is an education (as well as an exaggeration).  We are raising our kids to be contributing members of society and have skills necessary to be self sufficient. Kids need chores and a part in feeling like a contributing member of the family. And kids need to play!  Away from the screen, outside in the dirt and sunshine, and bugs. When we raise kids with no responsibility, we get irresponsible adults...like the roommate I had in college who had never held a broom.

It is never to young to start. In fact, the little ones like it the most.

I find that my elementary kids think chores are just not fair. But they do them cheerfully (usually) all the same.

My middle school aged kids know better than to whine about it. Plus they are old enough to see how it makes them a contributing member of the family.  

Plus, they make it as fun as they can:

 I love the quote I read on Facebook yesterday:
All I want is a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. And wifi.
I love our modern age. I love computers and Internet at the ease of access to learning. I love  that a machine washes and dries my clothes and dishes. A knob turns on the heat for the oven or stove. Leftovers can be preserved and rewarmed. A faucet brings water strait to my kitchen sink. My hope is that amidst all the trappings of modern technology, we do not lose interpersonal relationships. We do not downplay the importance of cottage skills. And that we work harder than ever to pass down to the next generation the importance of being a contributing member of  a social society. If they can milk a goat and skin a rabbit, well, all the better.

How do you help your kids find the value of work? I would love to hear your ideas.

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Cool off with Peppermint!

In some parts of the country, summer is drawing to a close. Before we know it school supplies will be out of stock and Christmas ornaments will be adorning store shelves. But in Oklahoma, summer will stick around for another 6-8 weeks and the heat is on.

Finding ways to stay cool is a challenge! We had a wonderful visit to Utah this summer and could escape the summer heat in the mountains. It felt so crisp and wonderful. No such luck for us Okies where the highest point is the top of a windmill and I doubt that climbing one would amount to much more than a good workout and even more sweat!

I find myself cooling down often with my trusty peppermint spray. I simply add a few drops of peppermint oil and a tiny bit of Epson Salt to a spray bottle of water. The Epson Salt keeps the oil evenly distributed in the water so it doesn't just stick to the sides of the bottle. When I start to overheat, I spray the back of my neck...Okay, I drench my whole body...and feel an instant cooling sensation.

(You can purchase these beautiful bottles at Etched Essentials)

You can cool down from the inside out by drinking a drop of peppermint in a cup of water.  One drop on the tongue is effective as well.

Here's to the final weeks of summer which will include canning tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and other tomato based products. I will be keeping my peppermint spray close by for that hot job! If only could find a magic spray to make all that work sound more appealing! I will see what I can come up with.


Spring Cleaning in Summer: Day Four

In this series, I am sharing my progress of ridding my cabinets of all products that:
  • Are chemical filled
  • Have ingredients I can not pronounce
  • Do not promote self sufficiency
  • Have no value to me whatsoever
  • Just take up space  
It's day four and I am tackling one of my least favorite jobs of all time: Laundry! 

Here, not only do I seek solutions that take up less space and are free of chemicals, but also take up less time and stress. I do laundry for seven people in my house. I have a good system of two loads a day and the older kids really do their own for the most part. But still, it seems there is always a basket to fold and put away. As much as I love the idea of the simple times in the early 19th century, I can not imagine doing laundry by hand. It is actually what nightmares are made of. But I can keep it simple in a few ways.

1. Get rid of those giant jugs of laundry soap! Not only are they filled with toxic chemicals that leach into your ground and your skin, they take up so much space in the laundry room. I make my own and keep it in two mason jars. It is enough to last for months and takes up only a little space. My big jugs of vinegar do take up space, but they are used for so many things that they are worth it!

2. Get rid of some clothes! Yes, you can have too many clothes. When I grew up, I remember getting 5 pairs of jeans...all exactly the same and 4 to 5 shirts to wear. I had a dress for Sunday, socks, underwear and two pairs of shoes. Admittedly, my kid's closets are not so simple. But the point is, my husband, my kids, and myself, have more than we need. So does most everyone I know. Remember, we don't need bigger homes, just less stuff.

2. Some folks have a laundry day. To me, that sounds about as fun as having a weekly day to get a root canal. I will not be stuck all day washing, drying, folding, putting away. I personally prefer to concentrate on one bedroom per day. Everyone who lives in that room gets their laundry done one day. This is especially great where my oldest kids are concerned because I totally get a whole day off. I do not clean sheets every week. Call me crazy, but my kids don't usually sleep in the sheets anyhow. They plop down on top and use a blanket. For my sanity, unless a kid wets the bed, or we have company, honestly, once a month is plenty for us.

3. We wear clothes everyday. I hope you do to. So, it is important to me to keep our clothes free of toxins and junk that can end up on my skin. Plus, it is so easy to make your own, and more cost effective as well. I have a septic system, so need liquid soap. I have tried a few, but found that I like laundry sauce best. You can see a tutorial and recipe here. It only takes three ingredients:

This tutorial is great, but I was hot and didn't want to spend 15 min slowly stirring soap over a hot pot after a morning of sweating in the garden. So, I tried an idea. A wonderfully fast bright idea. I brought the water to a boil, grated the Fels- Naptha bar and just added it to the boiling water bit by bit and it melted as I did so. Took all of 1 minute! Brilliant, if I do say so myself. It smells good and the first batch I ever made lasted 6 months! A do it yourself dream!

Editor's note: One reader suggested using Molly's Suds. I ordered them right away. Wow. I love them. I am working on my own recipe with the same ingredients as one bag was $20! I will post when I have accomplished this.

For fabric softener, I use plain old white vinegar. Just 1/4 cup in your rinse cycle works great. I also add a few drops of essential oils, either lime, lemon, or orange for some wonderfully clean scent.

Stain remover: I am not an expert at this. In fact, in the area of talents this one falls right in there with plumbing and sewing. In other words, I can not get stains out to save my life. Especially out of white or yellow shirts. Any all natural ideas for red Oklahoma dirt and chocolate milk? I would love to hear some!

How do you simplify laundry day and how do you get stains out of your clothes...without turning to bleach! Blech!

Check out the other posts in this series!
Spring Cleaning in Summer
Day one
Day two
Day three

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Cooking out of the Box: Jell-O

We once went to a party where there was a Jell-O contest. My husband decided since he can't cook, he would go for the worst Jell-O ever! I am pretty sure he succeeded. His invention was Tuna Salad Jello. Plain gelatin, swimming with tuna in it's own juices and topped with mayo, served delicately on a bed of lettuce. I have not eaten Jell-O since! But in doing some research, I have found just how nutritionally packed grass fed beef gelatin is and decided it is time to revisit the subject. Let's not confuse Jell-O gelatin as a nutrition packed treat. It is actually pure garbage.

Ingredients in boxed Jell-O:

 100 percent junk food! And sugar free Jell-O is even worse.

Ingredients in my Watermelon Jell-O:

Ah, Jell-O, an excuse to have whipped cream for dinner!

100 percent nutritious! Best of all, no Red #40! And it is sugar free without garbage like artificial sweeteners.

I juiced half of a big watermelon. I got about 4 cups of juice. Heat 2 cups of the juice. Whisk in 1-2 T of gelatin depending on how firm you like it. It seems that one Tablespoon for every two cups of liquid works nicely.  Once that is dissolved completely, add the rest of the juice. Chill overnight. Top with generous amounts of whipping cream. Next time, I am throwing in diced kiwi fruit as well! Strawberries would also be perfect. Tuna, I can do without...forever. What is the funkiest Jell-O salad you have ever tried?

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A Lamp Full: Promises

You can find some of the greatest inspiration on the marquees outside of churches. I was particularly inspired by this one.
Our problems are never greater than God's promises.

It really caused me to reflect on all that God has promised me. His promises are found in the scriptures. They are found in quiet moments of reflection after prayer. They are found in places of worship, given through God's servants on the earth. When I consider the problems that I have, His promises bring me comfort.
What does He promise? Some promises are universal for all who come unto Him. Some promises are tied to certain commandments. Some promises are as individual as snowflakes and are conditional upon us asking for them. The Lord loves to bless us and for those who love Him and keep His commandments, His promises are sure.
They are not always immediate.
In this age of one- hour dry cleaning and one-minute fast-food franchises, it may at times seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold or filed them under the wrong name...When heaven's promises sometimes seem afar off (Hebrews 11:13), I pray that each of us will embrace these exceeding great and precious promises and never let go. Spencer J. Condie
Enduring hardships is not something any of us relish. But with the Lord's help, we can do hard things. When we hold fast to the hope of His promises and remember that with Him, nothing is impossible, our problems seem easier to bear.
One of my favorite promises is found in John 14:26.
 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
I am ever so grateful that although our Savior departed this earth, He never really leaves us. When I am alone or hurting or afraid, I can call upon the comforter, also called the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit to bring me peace. Through the Holy Ghost, we can feel comfort, but also get impressions, and also know truth when it is presented to us. The promise that he will be sent to teach me and comfort me is one of my favorite in all of scripture. I draw upon it daily and try to live worthily to have Him with me always.  
We can not borrow knowledge from another. Search the scriptures daily and fill your lamp with the promises of the Lord to bring you comfort in times of trouble, and hope when all hope seems lost.
What has He promised you? Will you share?

If you enjoyed this post, please read the others in my series here

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Spring Cleaning in Summer: Day Three

In this series, I am sharing my progress of ridding my cabinets of all products that:
  • Are chemical filled
  • Have ingredients I can not pronounce
  • Do not promote self sufficiency
  • Have no value to me whatsoever
  • Just take up space
I also find it necessary to replace those that make us want to cough up a lung when used. I have been really, really, really busy lately. I decided it worth my time to hire a little help on occasion to do some cleaning for me. The first time she came, I remembered to show her my home made cleaners so that we didn't have to inhale toxins long after she left. The second time she came with the express purpose to clean my bathrooms. She disappeared and I forgot to pull out my handy bathroom cleaner. Well, she did a fantastic job. The bathrooms looked amazing after and were worth every penny. Only problem was, we couldn't go in them for 2 days (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration) for the fumes that hung in the air. Whoa Nelly! Is that stuff really necessary for a good clean?  Do yourself and your family a favor and toss them out!
Thanks to Martha Stewart, I found a recipe for a soft scrub cleanser a year or so ago that I have loved. It works on showers, on sinks and on tubs. Best part is, the ingredients are all natural and emit no unpleasant nose burning fumes.
I know her picture looks much prettier than mine, but my sub par photo skills by no means diminish the awesomeness of this scrub. 

I put a bit on a scotch bright pad and go over the whole bathroom with it. From sink, to tub to shower tiles and glass door. A little goes a long way. Be sure to keep a lid on it, however, or it will turn into a brick.
No bathroom is clean until the toilets sparkle. Check out my replacement for toilet bowl cleaner here! It makes toilets smile! Because a chemical free toilet is a happy toilet.
I have put off getting rid of the blue bottle of glass cleaner for some time. After all, according to Michael Constantine, a character on My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it heals everything from psoriasis to poison ivy. Popular culture aside, Windex will probably melt your hand, so out it goes. 
You can clean your mirrors with ingredients you pour on your salad. Simply mix equal parts vinegar and water, add a few droops of citrus oil (I prefer doTERRA grapefruit oil) and voila! Glass cleaner you can drink. I wouldn't, but you could and the worst it could do is cause you to crave lettuce. Can Windex do that? I think not! Oh, and I know my pic doesn't show it, but if you add citrus oils, be sure to use a glass bottle as over time, they degrade plastic. Ah, life's little lessons.
The best key to a great clean was pointed out to me by one of my readers. It is good old fashioned elbow grease. Home made products may not melt off the grime, but they don't melt the lining off the lungs either! It may take more work, but the benefits are good health and maybe a few extra burned calories. Who doesn't need that?
There is still more to come next week on the spring cleaning in summer series, including laundry soap, all purpose cleaner, a medicine cabinet makeover, and more!
See past issues of this series here:
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