"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the begining of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation or love and trust."
Suzanne Arms

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Banana Bread

(no pictures this time. I need a new battery charger)

I know there are lots of Banana Bread recipes out there. I have 1 or 2 that I usually make but the other day I thought I would try my Zucchini Bread recipe (because I love it so) and just make it banana instead. It turned out really well, VERY moist. Of course I didn't make it identical, I didn't make it chocolate or add chocolate chips (though you can if you want) and it has a really nice brown sugar/cinnamon crunch in the middle!! Oh and I like to add walnuts! But the bulk of the recipe was the same.

So here it is . . .

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 6-8 bananas (I used 7)
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flower (I use pastry)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (or less) of sugar
  • a hand full (or 2) of chopped walnuts
For the crunchy middle
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl beat softened cream cheese and butter.
Add sugar and beat till fluffy (though with the type of sugar I use it doesn't get fluffy).
Add vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in mashed banana.
In a separate bowl add all other dry ingredients and mix well.
Add the dry bowl to the wet, mixing them together well. Stir in walnuts.

If you wanted to really make it like the zucchini bread you could also add the 1/2 cup of cocoa and chips. I have never tried it though.
Grease 2 loaf pans. Use only 1/2 of the batter, filling each only 1/2 way. Mix the Cinnamon/brown sugar together and
sprinkle over the top, then fill the rest of the way with the remaining batter.
Cooks on 350 for an hour!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mastitis and raw garlic

Mastitis sucks! I mean really it does!! (and those of you who have had it know what I am talking about). It comes on quickly and knocks you off your feet!

The first time I had it was when Piper was like 6mo. I have had plugged ducts before but I knew this was different, I was feverish, achy, in the bed. I sent Charlie out for some garlic (as we were out), took it, and was almost 100% by the next morning. I have gotten it many times since then (that was 7 yrs ago) but I can usually stop it with raw garlic at the first signs of symptoms . . . of course I have to be paying attention to notice the symptoms (and with more kids I find I am more distracted, LOL).

Fast forward to when Thrace was like 3 wks old. I knew I was coming down with mastitis but we were out of town and my mother in law didn't have any raw garlic. By the time I got some I was pretty bad off. I took my garlic, popped some Ibuprofen (really the only OTC med I use, I have to be able to function to take care of the kids) and hopped into the bath (my place of choice when I am achy and shaking and feeling bad). By the next morning I was probably 90% just a little tired.

Fast forward to the night before last. I was not feeling well and was achy. I figured it was because it was late and I was tired. I had a thought "maybe I should take some garlic in case" but I don't like taking garlic unless I have to (not the best tasting) so I thought "naw, I am just tired". Well I woke up yesterday feeling the same way. I was on the phone with Charlie saying "I am just not feeling well, I am achy and my breast is sore" then it hit me . . . duh, mastitis (didn't I say I am more distracted with more kids?). So immediately I took some garlic, then ibuprofen and I felt fine so we headed to a friends house. Well it got worse after that, it came on slowly and the ibuprofen wasn't helping. I ended up lying on her sofa and then she fixed my kids dinner (with Thrace on her back in the Kozy) while I lay in her bath for an hour or 2, delirious and nauseated and waiting for myself to stop shaking and feel better so I could drive home. I call these 'episodes'. I had another one after coming home and getting the kids to bed (Charlie is out of town so I am alone here). I was in the bath and so nauseated and praying "please God don't let me throw up all that raw garlic, that would be horrible". Thankfully I didn't. But I didn't sleep well either.

This morning I was not "better" like I normally am. Garlic usually knocks this out for me but apparently this was a pretty bad case and is going to take longer. I am better than yesterday though (maybe at like 50%), just weak and a little achy (no more 'episodes' so far). But I don't need 4 ibuprofen at a time (which is prescription strength) in order to function. I am trying to rest though since that is the best thing (It is just so hard because I have a ton to do before Thanksgiving). I am still taking the raw garlic, and doing other things (like nursing a lot, using heat, massaging the area etc.). I did also mega dose A and D along with the garlic to help things along. You have to be careful about not overdosing on those 2 but if you take it for a short period it is fine and it does some amazing things. I used it with the kids once (when they had a 102 fever for 5 days) and it took all of an hour for them to show improvement. I have never had to give more than a dose or 2 so no worries about toxicity (which would be mega dosing for days on end). There is some great information from Dom (the Kefir king) here. It is nice to have it as a back-up to try for more acute issues . . . going to a dr is our absolute last resort.

Anyway, I am sure I will be fine tomorrow!

Raw Garlic

I wanted to give a bit of information about using raw garlic for ailments. It really is an amazing plant!! We have been using it for years. Maybe I'll do a whole post on it later. There are other things you can use, like GSE or colloidal silver but garlic is the first one we look to.
Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal! So it works for pretty much everything. Charlie went a whole 18mo without getting sick when he used raw garlic at the sign of any illness. It can cause upset stomach for some people but we have never had issues. The only real caution I know of is that it is a blood thinner (which is why some use it for heart problems or high blood pressure or high cholesterol) so if you have some type of surgery or procedure coming up then it is best not to take mega doses of raw garlic. Apparently it can help with heartburn in some people, but taking it daily (even just a couple cloves a day) for long periods can cause problems like indigestion for some people too (Charlie discovered that after taking 2+ cloves a day for several months). You have to see how your body reacts. I have met a few people for whom raw garlic is too irritating, but most do just fine with it.
Garlic can also cure yeast infections (maybe I can tell you how later) and warts (have heard of taping a piece to a wart to make them go away). I cured a nasty ear infection in one of my dogs with a homemade garlic oil like 8 yrs ago. Add the herb mullein to the garlic oil is even better for ear 'issues'.
There are many more uses for garlic, and some studies done to prove it's effectiveness, you can check out the links below.

How to take garlic
What we do is at the sign of illness, we take 2-4 cloves of garlic. You can take more if you feel you need it. I took 6 yesterday. It is imperative that it is raw, that is the most potent. Pills or cooked garlic in food may be OK for daily maintenance, but it won't stop an illness. And crushing it helps it to work better, so you want to chop it up or chew it. I can't handle chewing it so what I do is chop it in little pieces and throw them on the back of my mouth and chase it down with some full strength grape juice. I hardly taste it. I have heard of others who do take it other ways. Here are some ideas
  • Chop and swallow like I do, with a strong drink like grape juice
  • Chop and swallow with a spoon of honey and water (honey is also beneficial)
  • Chew cloves with a piece of bread (helps with the burn, my friend does this)
  • Chew cloves with apple slices (supposedly it hides the taste and burn)
  • Crush and mix with butter or oil and spread on bread or toast (remember to keep it raw)
The way I take it, it usually takes about 3-4 swallows per clove. I prefer to do it at night, so I am not burping up garlic, but if you are really sick, it is best to take it throughout the day. Yesterday I did 2 cloves in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 2 at night. I took 2 this morning and will take 2 more tonight.

Garlic is our natural antibiotic. I have not been to a Dr for an illness in, geez, probably 15 yrs. The kids have never needed a Dr or had any abx either. Charlie hasn't in probably 15 yrs too. I haven't needed to use garlic for the kids. I usually do nothing first and let things take their course. You can make garlic lemonade. Make sure not to boil the garlic, just steep it in the hot water. My kids didn't like it when they were really little but I bet I could get the older ones to drink it now . . . especially if I added some ginger!

You can find more information on garlic used through history click HERE and for info on many other uses and studies go HERE

Friday, November 20, 2009

Honey Almond Face Scrub

(excuse the horrible pictures, my good camera's battery charger died UGH).

I know I mentioned this scrub in my post about washing your face with oil.
I use it in the mornings. Actually I really love to put it on before taking a shower, then I leave it on my face and rinse at the end of the shower. It makes my skin feel really good and it tastes good too!!

Honey is SO good for you!! I am anxious to get bees some day so we can produce our own. Most people thing of honey as something they put on their chicken nuggets or use on a sandwich with peanut butter, or maybe as a healthy alternative to sugar. But it is good for far more than that. I could write a whole post about it, but for now just a few things . . . It's antibacterial/antiseptic/antimicrobial properties are good for a wide range of uses. Not only is raw local honey great for allergies, but you can even use it on cuts and burns to heal and prevent infections. Midwives have been using it on perineal tears and it is soothing for other illnesses like colds etc.

For skin, not only does it kill bacteria but it is a humectant and helps to hydrate the skin, it is also thought to be a great anti-aging treatment.

Anyway, go to Benefits Of Honey for info on it's many uses and even some recipes.

Honey Almond Face Scrub

This is so easy to make. I recycle little jars for my oils, homemade ointments and stuff like that. You can use old lotion jars or even baby food, pimento etc. jars.
All you need is . . . .
  • A little jar
  • honey
  • almonds
  • coffee grinder
First thing to do is grind your almonds in the coffee grinder. The amount of almonds you add to your jar is up to you. My jar held like 5 Tbsp of liquid. I filled it just under 1/2 way with ground almonds. Try to get them as small as possible and remove any big chunks that don't get ground up well. You know the baking aisle of most stores has those small packets of nuts for like $1, that is usually a good size to buy.

Then I filled the jar to the top with honey and mixed it all up.

That is it!!

I don't want to add water because water adds moisture and I know that added moisture to homemade items can increase the likelihood of it going bad. Not sure if this would, but it just isn't needed anyway.
Honey IS really sticky but if you put it on a wet face it rubs in really well. So start by wetting your face. It is a nice gentle scrub and feels really good, not harsh at all.

You may find that your scrub needs to be mixed before each use. With natural stuff like this there are not artificial ingredients added to suspend your solids in your liquid. It is no biggie though. I just stick a finger in, mix it up, and then use what is left on my finger on my face.

Finished scrub


Friday, November 13, 2009

Wash your face with . . . OIL!!!

Ewwww, that was my first thought when I heard about people washing their face with oil!! Ewww, that just sounds downright gross! I mean who would want to smear oil all over their face?? And why on earth would someone with oily skin, or who wants to keep their skin from breaking out use pure oil on it? I mean aren't we told that oil clogs pores? And of course someone like me, who usually has oily skin and often breaks out has been told to look for cleansing products that don't have any oil at all.

Well let me tell ya . . . it WORKS!!! I have been washing my face with oil for . . . oh . . . let me see . . . 2-3 yrs. And the Oil Cleansing Method, as it has come to be called, has been used by many, with great success!!

Just a little background on me. I have had skin 'issues' since I hit puberty at 12 yrs old. Yes, I have been struggling with my skin for 22 yrs . . . that is just sad! I have always done everything 'right' too to no avail. You know, you are supposed to clean your face daily, never sleep in your make-up, use oil free cleaner, toner, moisturizer (morning and evening) exfoliate but don't scrub etc. I have tried everything, from natural stuff to prescription meds (that tore up my stomach, that was before I knew better) to Proactive and nothing really helped. Though I will say that the last few years it has been better and thankfully, since Thrace was born my skin is the clearest it has been since I was 12. Not sure if it is age, hormones or just how I am cleaning it now but I suspect it may be a combination. For the last 10 yrs or so I have been using mostly natural products on my face (at least part of the time as I could afford them). But the way I wash my skin now, with oil and honey is by far the cheapest, easiest and actually the most natural of anything I have used before. And my skin has never looked better!!

I'll explain the oil part now and save the honey for a different post.

Why Oil?

Oil dissolves oil! I know that sounds weird but it is true. Your body naturally produces oil, and that in and of itself doesn't cause blemishes. It is the dead skin, hormones, bacteria, dirt etc. that can cause you to break out. When you rub oil into your skin, and open your pores, it allows the oil to get deep down and work out the existing oil and impurities. I have also found that it removes my make-up really well.

What type of oil?

Well that is going to depend on you and your skin type. Some oils that are most often used are Olive, Castor and Coconut. But some people prefer Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Grapeseed, Sunflower seed, flax seed etc. There are many oils with many different properties. Each oil has it's benefits. Olive Oil (yes, the cooking oil) is a moisturizing oil, so good for those with drier skin. Castor oil (found in small bottles at the drug store or in the pharmacy section at places like WalMart) is great at drawing out impurities. Many people like to do a combination of olive and castor depending on their skin type, and this is something you can experiment with. I tried them both, and while they worked fine, I much prefer unrefined coconut oil and that is what I use exclusively now. I like how it is solid and melts with your skin, it is thinner than the other oils, and it has wonderful health benefits for your skin (as well as body). And I just like what it did for my skin.
Choosing your oil is very much a personal thing and you can experiment to find what oil you like best and more importantly what oils your skin likes best.

Here is a quick run down of some oils and their properties
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) - moisturizing, good for all skin types, but especially dry skin
  • Castor Oil - helps draw out impurities
  • Unrefined/virgin Coconut Oil - antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial
  • Grapeseed - good for acne and oily skin
  • Jojoba - good for all skin types, especially mature skin and wrinkles
  • Sunflower seed - versatile for all skin types
  • Sweet Almond - soothing and moisturizing, good for all skin types
And there are several more. You can find out more about oil properties at these sites HERE and HERE

If you are anxious to try it now, just start with what you have. Most people have olive oil around the house maybe sunflower oil. Start there and then you can add different oils to see what works best for you.

Another option is adding Essential Oils to your oil for added benefits. Essential oils, diluted in a carrier oil, are wonderfully healing for the mind and body. Depending on the oil you use they can be anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral, so something like, a few drops of Tea Tree in your carrier oil can help with problem skin. I often use Lavender as well or you can use them if you just want to make your oils smell "pretty".
You can find a list of Essential oils and their properties HERE

Washing your face with oil

First, I keep my oil in a separate container. Since I use coconut oil and it is solid (melts with body heat)I keep it in a glass jar (I reuse all my jars for ointments and stuff). Here is my oil jar below. If you are using any of the other oils though it is probably best to keep it in a bottle where you can squirt some out.
I actually keep a few jars of coconut oil around for not only my face, but dry hands, lips and other stuff.

What is involved? OK the short version . . .
  • Apply oil
  • rub
  • steam
  • wipe
  • moisturize
Simple right? OK I'll elaborate a bit (because I am so good at elaborating, LOL).

To start, you want to
use a generous amount of oil, don't skimp. You want to make sure you really coat your face well (ewww, I know sounds gross but stick with me, LOL).

Apply the oil all over your face! It is important to really rub it in and massage it everywhere. You don't want to be too vigorous though, just a gentle massage all over. And take your time to really work it into your pores. If you have on make up, make sure to gently get around your eyes and lashes (and I will often take some tissue to wipe off my eye area after working the oil in so I am not smearing that eye make up all over my face). Many people recommend massaging for 5min or more. I rarely have that amount of time (or patience) so I will only do it for a min or two. But I try to take time once a week or so to spend more time on it. I think taking more time allows the oil to really get deep in your pores better.

Next you will want to open up your pores. Once you have rubbed it in really well, run a washcloth under hot (or very warm) water, squeeze and place over your face. I usually only let it lie on my face maybe 10 sec for lack of time, but if you can sit and relax and just leave it on your face for a minute or so that would be ideal. The heat will help open your pores and let the oil get in and work out the dirt and oil and stuff.

After removing the washcloth continue to massage your face again, working the oil into your pores. I spend maybe another 30 sec on this before I finish up.

To finish, remove ALL the oil. Use your washcloth, rinsing and wiping as needed, to get all of the oil/make up/dirt/dead skin etc off of your face. Don't be too rough, you don't want to rub, just gently wipe. And the washcloth needs to be very warm. If you have ever worked with oil you know that oil and cold water don't do well together.

It is important to remove ALL of the oil from your face. Using the oil for cleaning won't clog your pores but if you leave copious amount of oil on your face it will!! Make sure you get into your hairline, as people have reported breaking out there because they didn't do a good enough job of removing the oil. But don't worry too much about it. It is super easy to get all the oil off, just a few wipes (takes me maybe 20 seconds), rinse, a few more wipes and that is usually all I need.

At this point, if I want to really do an extra deep clean, I will sometimes do a second wash with oil (since my make up is off now) but most of the time I don't.

You may find, shortly after washing your face with oil, that it has done such a good job removing oil from your skin that your skin feels dry and tight. I am a HUGE advocate for moisturizing. For some people they will finish up with putting a drop or 2 of oil on their hands, rubbing it in and then patting it on a moist face. The way I understand it, the oil doesn't moisturize in and of itself, what it does so well is lock existing moisture, so applying it to a moist face or with moist hands is needed.
But you know, I have found that that isn't enough for me, and my skin was getting very dry, so I use a natural moisturizer (which I use after washing my face at night, and in the morning before putting on make up). Your health food store will have plenty of brands to choose from and Burts Bees makes fairly good and fairly natural (always read the labels) moisturizers and they are now found in many regular stores. Again, play around with it and see what works for you. And keep in mind that sometimes it is possible for your face to break out a bit as the impurities leave the skin (didn't happen to me, but I know it can) but it should get better quickly, if it doesn't, try a different oil.

And now, without further delay, here are my before/after pictures!!
I actually put on extra make-up for the first one, though the flash still washes me out so you can't tell so much. But alas . . . here they are.

Me with a face full of make up

Immediately after cleaning my face with oil

I do this every night, and though I am long winded and have typed out a lot of stuff here, it really only takes a few minutes . . . certainly not much longer than washing my face with any other cleanser.
In the mornings I will either just wipe my face down with a washcloth before applying moisturizer, or I will wash it with my homemade honey scrub (honey is amazing for so many thing).

Anyway, I encourage you to try it. I don't think you will find anything more simple or cheap. I love that if I am away from home and forget my oil, I can just hop on over to the kitchen and there is all I need to wash my face, LOL!

For more information, you can google Oil Cleansing Method
Here are some websites.

Oil Cleansing Method

Essential Oils

Coconut Oil

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ah, a wedding in the park!

Wait a second . . . hmmm, something seems wrong here . . .
(That is Charlie, my dh, right and my Bro-in-law Rod being goofy)

OK THIS is much better!!
This is Karla (my little sister) and her new hubby James

OK so finally, I feel like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders. After all of the babies being born, the showers, birthdays etc. we have been so busy (and out of town a ton) since, well, since Thrace was born in May. But Karla's wedding was the last big 'event' and now I have some down time. Well, not that much down time, I mean we do have Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up so this time of year is pretty crazy, but I have a few weeks at least (though we do have an overnight party to go to one weekend, but at least it is IN town!!!).

Karla, is my little sister (and the one responsible for some of our cool new Kozy prints and pictures and video etc.) I joke that she is the famous one because she works for Turner (Cartoon network) used to do commercials on GameTap (think that is what it is called), makes independent movies, worked on the set of the new Ben 10 movie on cartoon network and was on a reality TV show (among other things, LOL). Hey, she is even on IMDB. Anyway, she was the last of us 5 girls to get married. She married Mr James Abercrombie (whom we all love, and knew he was perfect for her years before she realized it herself!! Well, we just wanted him in the family because he is that great!).

She had her wedding in GA (where she lives and we are originally from). So we had to all pack up and travel down there from VA . . . all 24 of us (my grandma wasn't up to the trip unfortunately). It was a 10 hr drive from our house (well, OK much longer with kids, LOL).

All the kids (minus new babies) were in the wedding and I am sorry but they stole the show if I do say so myself, they were SO cute!!

Despite the fact that it was a whirlwind trip (down on Fri, back on Sun) we had a lovely time! The wedding was very cool, the setting rocked and the outfits were fashionably retro. The coolest thing was that it was overcast all day but the sun came out as Karla started to walk down the 'aisle' and stayed out till immediately after they were named husband and wife (maybe a little Divine intervention there?).

Oh, and my favorite part of the whole thing . . . the reception . . . eggs, grits, bacon and biscuits . . . mmmmmm, so good!! Those grits were the best I have EVER tasted!

Anyway on to the pictures!

Karla arriving at the wedding . . . yes, she was ALREADY crying (and it hadn't even started yet). I think she is like Kristi in that way, crying when happy . . . I don't cry so much (though more so now since having kids . . . durn hormones!)

Karla and Dad

Now husband and wife

Piper was cold (it was pretty chilly when the wind was blowing)

The kids (minus Esther, don't know where she was). I told you they were cute!! Imagine them walking down the 'aisle' throwing leaves!

Charlie and Thrace, all decked out!

Me and Karla. I am wearing a silk velvet patchwork kozy that I made (no I am not making more, it was a huge PITA to sew)

Kristi and Karla

All 5 of us. Kathi (#4) Kim (#1) Karla (#5) Kristi (#2) and me (#3)

OK so now that things are settling down (well as much as they can in Nov and Dec) hopefully I can start posting more often


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