Author: Erin

Getting Oily

From the desk of: Erin

 

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Regarding “natural” living, I’d like to think of myself as “practically and skeptically crunchy”. For instance, I see the benefit of whole, unprocessed foods, but I’m not entirely sure that pumping supplements in addition to eating real food is the way to go. We diaper(ed) our babies in cloth diapers, but for bedtime they wear/wore  disposable because they stay drier. And I’m not anti-medicine, but if there is an alternative that might be cheaper, safer, and has been used successfully for centuries, I’ll give it a try.

I recently took up an interest in essential oils and aromatherapy. I follow a number of blogs about clean/green/natural living and those that use essential oils are kind of evangelical about it. Eventually, their sermons wiggled into my brain and I decided to try some out for myself. If it doesn’t do harm, why not?

I didn’t want to drop a boatload of money on this venture, so I limited myself to four oils and a diffuser (bought for a discount on Groupon). After doing some reading and inquiring on an essential oil forum, I decided on lavender, lemon, tea tree, and a “Germ Fighter” blend that includes clove, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus. I also happened to have rosemary, lemongrass, eucalyptus, sweet orange and peppermint on hand from some attempts at cold remedies, homemade cleaning recipes, and bug spray.

So it has been two weeks and a whole lot of learning and reading. Here is what I have tried and the results.

  • FOR CONGESTION – BigKid has allergies and the congestion is back. I diffused eucalyptus and tea tree oil.  A few hours after each diffusion, his congestion decreased noticeably. After 24-hours (4 diffusion sessions), he could breathe easily through his nose, though he wasn’t entirely cleared up. I can probably couple this with something topical, but I am hesitant to use topical treatments often.  FINAL VERDICT: I think that he would still be stuffy otherwise. I say yes, this worked.
  • FOR RUNNY NOSE – Babe is teething hard and drippy, drippy, drippy. I mixed 1 drop each of lemon, lavender, and tea tree oil into 3 Tbs. coconut oil and have been rubbing it on his back twice a day. I would say the drips go away within an hour, but come back a few hours later. Maybe the snot-volume is less? In 24-hours, he is not nearly as runny as before. FINAL VERDICT: Maybe. I’ll definitely keep trying this.
  • FOR TEETHING – Teething!!! ARGH!! This guy suffers big time. I can’t find the recipe for a homemade teething balm that I used, but this is similar. Instead of clove oil, I used “Germ Fighter”. When he gets extra chewy on his hands, I rub some of this on his gums. I try to do it only once a day. It really seems to bring him relief, until the next day, that is. FINAL VERDICT: Works.
  • ACNE – I was blessed with two lovely zits on my forehead, just millimeters away from each other. Though I would have preferred to not have any zits, these couldn’t have been better placed for a more scientific approach to experimentation. They were so close that they would be treated the same way and they showed up on the same day. I rubbed one drop of undiluted tea tree oil on one and left the other alone. A week later, they were both diminished and still matched each other. FINAL VERDICT: This did not work.
  • BEDTIME CALM – I diffused lavender in BigKid’s bedroom during our bedtime routine to help calm him. He seemed to be staying up later and playing more actively than before. I went to an essential oil forum and asked about kids having an opposite reaction to lavender and a handful of people said that they had a kid who was energized by the scent (while a second kid in the same family was not). Interesting. So I stopped diffusing lavender and suddenly he was going to sleep an hour earlier. I was running the diffuser in our room at night, too. I’m not sure we slept better, but I haven’t done it consistently enough to know for sure.  FINAL VERDICT: NOT FOR THE KID. Maybe try again for the adults.
  • MOSQUITO BITES – We recently went camping and came back home with a healthy dose of mosquito bites. I rubbed lavender on them instead of suffering through the itch. Usually, for all of us, the itch seemed to go away within minutes and seemed to last fewer days. FINAL VERDICT: Do it again.
  • FOCUS – Currently, I am diffusing orange and lemon in the office for some focus and maybe a little energy. I have finished this post without too much mental effort, but I am still looking forward to a nap. FINAL VERDICT: Maybe try again? Maybe try a different oil?

It has only been two weeks, but I”m kind of liking the experimentation. So far, many things have worked. I’ll continue to learn and read and maybe report back.

Have you ever used EOs? What for? Did they work?

Yuck!

From the desk of: Erin

 

Regarding that 30-day “ab challenge“?

1. I’m six days in and I am learning I really dislike sit-ups. Bring on more planks, please.

2. I seriously doubt my abs will look all sweaty and rock hard like the photo on the website. They should use photos of people who started the challenge from scratch. Talk about unrealistic expectations.

That is all.

Vacuums

From the desk of: Erin

It turns out that my brain must need a specific quantity of goop to mull over. Now that my super huge work project is done and I have have outsourced a percentage of my childcare, I have a continuous stream of thoughts about experiments and projects that immediately filled the void and took residence in my brain.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to writing about or exploring the rest of the year:

1. Essential oils- beneficial or bogus?
2. 30-day “ab challenge” – Will I keep up with it? Will I see results? Are 30-day challenges really a good idea?
3. How possible would it be to truly cut out processed foods? Explorations in cheese, bread, and pasta making…
4. I started working on my 7 “art” projects requested by others. This is also turning out to be a way of reading/ re-reading classic books.
5. Poetry – reading various genres/ authors, responding, contemplating…
6. Anything else that excites me along the way.

What new or old projects are you excited about? If you ever feel like sharing, join us in writing or just comment below!

Hello Again and the The Great Illness Battle

by Erin

Hi. It’s been a while. The baby is finally in day care and after a year of complaining that I haven’t had any time to do work, here I am not doing work. But considering my last post was in January, I think that’s okay.

It is the end of May. It is feeling like summer around here after a pretty extended winter chill, BigKid had his last day of preschool, and Babe turned one-year old. What do all these things have to do with each other? Illness (or the lack of) has been on my mind. Back in January, I mentioned that I was on a rampage against viruses. I am happy to report that we survived the winter and school year with Babe and BigKid remaining infection-free. Husband also managed to escape illness. I, however, was not so lucky in the wellness department. Given the way I was treating myself  while (unsuccessfully) balancing full-time baby care, part-time preschooler care, and part-time small business owner, it is not surprising.

We are no strangers to viruses in this house. BigKid and Husband both constantly suffer from sinus/allergy issues. When BigKid was a baby there was a period of three months when he was on antibiotics before eventually getting tubes in his ears – we did not want to repeat this with Babe. So, my whole goal this year was to prevent illness instead of just treat symptoms. This list is a little prevention/ a little treatment. While I can’t say exactly which of the list below worked (very unscientific, I know), I know that (a combination of) SOMETHING worked.

1. SLEEP – This one was my big failure in regard to my health, but I have always been protective about my kids’ sleep. Here are recommendations about children and sleeping via the National Sleep Foundation.

2. ELDERBERRY SYRUP – Next to sleep, I think the addition of this into our daily routine had the greatest effect. BigKid took it every day. We gave him extra doses when we started to hear sniffling. We took it when we felt run down or felt like something was coming on. It is best known as an immunity booster.

3. MIRACLE THROAT CONCOCTION – This one was for the adults of the family. The moment we got a tickle in our throat, I whipped up a batch of this. It was nasty, nasty, nasty, but it burned so good. Every single time we put it to use it seemed to work. At most, I think one of us used up to four doses – two days of one spoonful in the morning and one at night. (Side note: for kiddos, raw honey plus any ingredient in this concoction that they will tolerate can help with sore throats.)

4. RUNNY NOSE ROUTINE – We are learning that Babe has a hellish time with teething. He suffers from all of the symptoms websites list for teething. So, there was a lot of snot coming out of his nose this winter. Snot has the potential to lead to congestion, then infection. Snot was not allowed in my house. My plan of attack included raising his mattress on an incline and giving him Hyland’s cold tablets. The mattress would usually stay inclined for about two weeks. Then it would go down for three days. Then it would have to go back up. This lasted for about three months. The cold tablets were usually used for half a day before the faucet-like dripping would stop. Given that this is homeopathic remedy, it may not work the same for all kids. (Their teething tablets, for instance, do not work on my kids).

5. HUMIDIFIERS – This is pretty standard in our house all winter long. Every bedroom has one. They are especially good for preventing sore throats and runny noses. They are work intensive because of all the cleaning, but they are well worth it.

6. LAVENDER- So, I do have to admit, BigKid wasn’t entirely infection-free. On his LAST DAY of school, he came down with strep throat…something that had been going around his class for two weeks. He didn’t eat anything, he had a fever of 102, and his throat hurt. He was miserable and I didn’t help much because I didn’t treat the fever until late in the day. I wanted to make sure a) the fever was doing its job burning out the infection, and b) he had fever at the doctor’s office so there was no doubt he was sick. About an hour before leaving for the doctor, I rubbed lavender oil on his feet.

I have been doing a lot of reading about essential oils lately, and I finally decided to take the plunge and experiment. The day the oils arrived in the mail was the day BigKid was sick. So I quickly looked up fever treatment and went to rubbing. Whether it was the oil or the nap he took, about three hours later (prior to taking the first dose of antibiotic), the fever was gone, BigKid was eating, and happily playing (vs. sitting like a giant, hot, miserable lump on the couch).

 

Overall, I feel pretty good about our health so far. Not counting myself, we have only had one non-checkup visit to the doctor. Hopefully, with both kids in daycare now, I can finish the year strong as I build my immunity back up.

What about you? How do you prevent illness? What is your go-to “nip it in the bid” treatment?

Energy through Food

OR How I Learned to Start Hydrating and Love Water

by Erin

(Note: I started working on this post and found it was getting very long. To avoid reading fatigue, this will come to you in two posts. First, my personal results. Second, a little research behind the strategies. Stay tuned.)

So, I have been working on my five “get energized” strategies for less than a week and I have already felt a HUGE difference. I’m still tired; my eyes usually have that fuzzy, heavy feeling behind them. That probably won’t go away entirely until these work projects are done…but, my body! My body feels better. Less heavy. And you know that feeling when your brain just kind of buzzes and you know you should be concentrating and doing work, but you just. Can’t? That’s gone, too. Here are some other observations:

Strategy: Eat protein and/or whole grains within thirty minutes of wake up

For me, it wasn’t so much changing the types of food I eat for breakfast, or adding breakfast to my routine. I was in pretty good shape there. My biggest problem was not delaying breakfast, which is easy to do with two young kids around. Before, I would nibble here and there as I fed the both kids and got Big Guy ready for preschool. I probably wouldn’t get a full breakfast in until about three hours after wake-up and well after some energy stores had been used.

I have found that I still don’t quite eat a meal within that thirty minute time frame, but definitely within the first hour. I can’t say that I notice much physical difference with this change, but my mood is better. Some protein + whole grain examples: a hard boiled egg on a whole wheat English muffin and cream cheese, sprouted wheat toast and sunflower seed butter, oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas.

Strategy: Fill up my water bottle and drink it throughout the day

My relationship with water before was casual. A little here, a little there. I didn’t really pay attention to intake. But, oh, the magic of water. This is what I attribute most of my good feelings to. General wisdom says to drink about eight cups a day. Nursing moms should drink about thirteen. While I am not checking off each and every cup I consume, I am pretty sure I am getting close to thirteen by consciously drinking water at breakfast and dinner, finishing my water bottle, and having my daily tea. While I have made a few other changes to my routine these past few days, I am pretty sure hydration is the reason I feel light and focused. An added benefit is that those circles under my eyes seem diminished and I know it’s not due to extra sleep. There is one downside, though:

Capture

Courtesy of xkcd.com

Strategy: Take my multivitamins at lunch instead of breakfast

I am probably taking vitamins (multi, fish oil, and turmeric) more regularly now, but I can’t say I notice any difference with this one.

Strategy: Make an effort to have a protein + fiber snack during that afternoon drag from about 2-4 p.m.

I think I pretty much did this before, but now I am making an effort to focus on the type of food. Some easy choices are apple/banana + peanut butter, yogurt + granola, or a fruit + nut trail mix. While I don’t think this was much of a change for me, I can say that I am pretty sure I am in a better mood near the dinner hour if I have had a snack. I don’t know if it really boosts my energy… I still prefer to take a 20 minute nap in the afternoon.

Strategy: Drink a glass of milk before bed

The theory behind this one is to give your body a little nourishment before the night time fast, which should improve your sleep. Unfortunately, I think I lose the benefit by working late on the computer and sometimes waking up to feed the babe. Still, it’s a good habit to form. Hopefully I can reap the rewards in the near future.

Do you have any success with any of these? What other ways do you use food to increase energy?

More Energy: Part 1

by Erin

I’m tired.

There are many reasons why this is the case but the two biggest are 1) I have a 9 month old who is just now (more often than not) sleeping (almost) all the way through the night, and 2) in an attempt to grow my business, I have been blessed with more work than I should really be taking on right now, with only about nine good daytime hours in a typical work week to actually work. That means some late nights. So there is some context (whining) for you.

What to do about it?

Get more sleep. But that is just not possible right now.

After some extensive research (about 20 minutes of internet searching), I have compiled a list of strategies that may help boost my energy and don’t include increasing caffeine intake. Rather than take on all items from my list at the same time, which is sure to fail, I will be gradually adding them into my daily routine. First up: food. (Those who know me would not find this surprising.)

So over the next few weeks, I plan to:

1. Eat protein or whole grains within thirty minutes of wake up

2. Fill up my water bottle and drink it throughout the day

3. Take my multivitamins at lunch instead of breakfast

4. Make an effort to have a protein + fiber snack during that afternoon drag from about 2-4 p.m.

5. Drink a glass of milk before bed

Most of this should be pretty easy; a lot of food  I need should already be on hand. It really comes down to being mindful about eating at certain times of the day. I’ll check in later with some whys (because that fulfills another resolution) and observations.

How about you? Can you add one or all of these into your routine? Tell me how it works for you.

Now, I am off to bed.

New Year and New Experiments

01 January 14

Now that it is the end of January…welcome to the new year!

Last year I made some huge goals. Then life slowly crept in and ate up some of the time I would have used to accomplish them. All in all, I feel pretty good about what I achieved last year. And given that my philosophy with “resolutions” is to be forgiving, I view what I did do as a success and what I didn’t do as something to look forward to this year.

So, The New Year. Given the intensity of last year’s “list”, I decided to just use the blog this year as a place to reflect on and keep track of projects and experiments that arise throughout the year. That, of course, didn’t stop early January inquiries from friends, acquaintances, and my hair stylist: “Any resolutions this year?” Why do I feel like I need to explain when I say “no”? Maybe because it doesn’t always make for interesting small talk. Anyway, it got me thinking… As usual, I really did have some goals that I have set for myself. They just didn’t happen to time themselves with the turn of the new year.

So for now, here are some places I am already headed this year:

  • The Great Illness Battle: When the cold weather arrived and the first (and hopefully last) case of bronchitis weaseled its way into our house I pledged war on all viruses and bacteria. I HATE when my kid gets sick. I DREAD the baby getting sick because a) it sucks for him, b) it has the potential to totally ruin some really good sleep schedules that we’ve been working on together, and c) with our first guy, the first runny nose turned into three months of antibiotics and tubes in the ears. And, with two young kids, when one parent is stuck in bed (or SHOULD be in bed, but just can’t quite manage it) no one is happy.
  • Waking Up: HOW IN THE WORLD CAN I GET MORE ENERGY? I AM SO TIRED.
  • Art times 10: Did that whole “I’ll make art for you” post travel around your Facebook feed? Basically, it was a pledge to the first ten respondents that you would make some art for them in the coming year. What? An excuse to get arty? I was sold. But wait, that means I have to follow through.
  • Anti-hypocrite: Basically, I roll my eyes at people blindly following trends because some social media guru told them to, but I’m just as guilty. I want to start looking into WHY “you shouldn’t have aluminum in your deodorant” or “elderberry syrup will help boost immunity”. Can I back up some of my choices with real science? Most of this research will involve health and wellness claims with a healthy dose of eco-friendliness on the side.

With 12 months in the year, I am sure many more projects will present themselves. More posts about all of the above to come.

So, what is your “resolution” plan this year?Interested in writing about it again/for the first time? Let me know.

Three-Quarters

So posting has been slow with new baby in the house and a work project in full-swing. For the sake of getting something down, here are my standings for the year. I’m feeling pretty good about the outcome so far. I’d like to post specifically about some of the projects, but that will have to wait until there is more time. Is there ever enough time?

 

Capture

red=done; yellow=in progress

A few words:

  • I’m working on a three-day getaway idea for the fall, but I have to get certain other member of my family on board.
  • I have been inspired in many ways this year, just not in the original intention of the resolution.
  • I have officially read more than four classics in the year, but still have to read the last book chosen by vote – Walden.
  • I have tried out way more than six new recipes, but haven’t really come up with a sixth ‘theme”.
  • I’m am making an effort to spend more quality time with the husband and the oldest child. Those are on going and I will be posting soon. I may fall short of 12 here, but I think I feel pretty good about my efforts so far.
  • I forgot knitting required two hands – I’ve had half a hat since May. Six word stories are ongoing as I think of them. I am writing and editing a poem about my crazy neighbor. I am in the middle of a drawing project. I have a few more ideas for the rest of the year – maybe sewing, a one-night pottery session, a series of haikus. Open to more ideas as inspiration hits!

How are you doing on your resolutions this year?

Damn! That’s Seven.

by Erin

  • Explore
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (4 of 12)

Capture

 

 

Okay, so I haven’t really been consistently writing my six word stories since I proposed the project last month. It is always in the back of my mind, but it is harder than I thought. Six words is nothing. Nothing. I have come up with some great haikus while contemplating my six word stories. Of course, I’m never anywhere where I can write those down. That would help me fulfill my poetry resolution that is still pending. Ah, well.

Anyway, here is the last month of six word stories.

          She no longer rejects opened doors.

          She doesn’t mind being the pacifier.

          His laugh was hesitant but genuine.

          Three-year-old games are point-less.

          Work meeting: more ughs than ahas.

Perhaps if I had others joining me, I would be more inspired to write more frequently.  Just saying.

Lotsa Veggies

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe (theme 5 of 6)
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative

Every year for the past four years we have taken part in a CSA farm share. Not only does it help local farmers and cut down on energy consumption, but it satisfies my need to try new foods. Four years ago, I had no idea what to do with kale or boy choy or salad turnips. Four years ago, I did not voluntarily bring beets or okra into the house. Today our family has a very large repertoire of veggies we eat, an appreciation for recipe experimentation, and at least two of the three of us can tolerate beets.

Every farm season, I continue to be on the lookout for new ways to use our produce. Here are some of the new recipes that we have tried so far this season.

Carrot chips

I think that I cut these too thick to make them truly enjoyable. They were a little hard but still maintained their carrot flavor. If you do this yourself, use a mandolin like the recipe recommends.

carrot

Juices

Out of the blue I received a juicer for Christmas. It has proven a great way to blast through some of those leafy greens. In order of tastiness we’ve enjoyed juices made from:

  • 1 apple, 2 kale leaves, 2 carrots
  • 1 pear, 1 orange, 3 Swiss chard leaves, 1/2 inch of fresh ginger
  • 2 apples, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery (pictured)

juice

Kale Chips

Lately kale chips have been all the rage. After making these, I get it. Pretty good. Even Husband will munch on these and he vehemently dislikes kale.

kale

Cheesy Orzo with Broccoli and Carrots

I made this with quinoa instead of orzo and everyone enjoyed it.

quinoa

Spinach Cheddar Chive Scones

I would add more spinach to these just up the nutrient ante a bit. Otherwise, these were great for both dinner and breakfast.scones

In a CSA yourself? Want more veggie recipes? Here is my collection on Pinterest.

Please feel free to comment below with your favorite ways to eat seasonally.