3 Tried-and-True Home Remedies

A friend of mine recently shared a post about home remedies that she loves, which got me thinking about some of my favorite remedies. I can attest to the salt water gargle she mentioned. I hate it. It tastes bad and it never really makes the soreness go away, as she states. My usual treatment plan is to gargle once in the morning and before bed — the times when my throat seems to be at peak soreness. While it may not remedy your sore throat entirely, it does help clear chest congestion, phlegm, or mucus that built up. This is particularly useful as your head cold sometimes turns to chest cold before you know it!

If you’re looking for a few more natural remedies to try out, these are a few of my frequently used.

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Photo by Liz West/Flickr.

Jewelweed

Use: Poison Ivy

I’m very allergic to poison ivy. I’ve tried calamine lotion, in all varieties, and oatmeal baths to end the misery. Nothing ever seems to work well, except, jewelweed (aka, Touch-Me-Not).

Jewelweed, of the impatiens family, is a natural remedy for poison ivy. It prefers to grow in humid woodlands often near poison ivy.  It is by far the most effective treatment I’ve ever used! Simply ask someone to venture into the wood to retrieve some, cut open the stems, and rub the juice directly on the affected area. Viola!

We would collect a bunch, juice it, and store in a mason jar in the fridge. The liquid can remain potent for up to a year! I highly recommend washing the area thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after contact — the oil takes about 8 hours to take effect.

In more recent years, I’ve opted for jewelweed soap from the local natural health food store. It works wonders and smells nice!

extract-bottles
Photo via The Hostess Diary.

Small Glass Bottles

Use: Splinter removal

Vanilla and peppermint extract can usually be found in small, amber bottles in the baking section at most grocery stores. Once you’ve used it up baking, wash the empty bottle for later. Place it in your medicine cabinet for those pesky splinters that are too difficult to get with tweezers.

I clearly recall being held down on a counter by my Dad, Mom, Uncle, and Grandpa as my Grandma tried to remove a splinter I had gotten in my toe. I screamed and cried as if they were amputating without anesthesia. No parent wants a repeat of that experience. This little trick will keep crying to a minimum and painlessly remove splinters of all kinds!

Nearly fill the bottle with hot water and place the opening over the splinter. Let it sit to creating steam and a vacuum that will extract the splinter. Easy, painless splinter removal!

Alternative method: Light a match, drop it in. The flame will use up the oxygen thus creating a vacuum.

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Photo by Pixabay/stevepb.

Honey

Use: Sore Throat/Colds

Lemon and vinegar are staples in any home apothecary. Another recommendation: honey. Oftentimes “natural” honey isn’t really much better than the commercial brands, and I’ve found that they’re usually equal in price. Honey can be added to tea for soothing sore throats or concocted into a tincture of sorts.

My grandmother always drank a small glass of vinegar, lemon, and honey (diluted with water, of course) in the mornings if she felt a cold coming on. She swore by this remedy! As my dad got older, he adopted it too. I’ve read that cayenne pepper can be added to the lemon/vinegar mix — or used like salt water gargle.

Originally written for the WordPress blog Taste for Two.
Featured image by kerdkanno/Pixabay.
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What Do We Want? Feminism!

When do we want it? Now!

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme for the beginning of this post, but maybe not. Feminism, as a movement, has a vital history and it’s something we’re still working toward in 2017.

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A year or two ago, you would have never heard me call myself a feminist. I didn’t consider myself educated enough to place that label on myself, yet I found myself constantly reading blogs and articles and magazines that were filled with feminist ideas or blatantly feminist publications. Eventually, I found Bitch Media.

I subscribed to the magazine, then renewed. I gave the gift of Bitch to a friend and renewed my subscription, once again. I joined the b-hive and made small, monthly donations.

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After moving, I missed several issues. Once I got my address change verified, they kindly extended my subscription to make up for the missing issues. Once I received the Chaos Issue, after a few short articles, I realized how much I had missed, not only the magazine itself but any similar content.

Why I had stopped trolling feminist blogs and websites? I’m not sure. Life probably got busy with moving, then job hunting and, by that point, I didn’t even realize I was missing feminist media.

Was it possible my various feeds were devoid of such content? It seems unlikely given my group of friends. Then again, I don’t religiously my check social networks.

The fact of the matter was that, in a matter of months, I had forgotten how positive, motivated, and alive the ideas and information in Bitch — and other sources — make me feel. Although I still wouldn’t consider myself super-well-educated on such topics, I do know that I love feminism and need more of it in my life!

Featured image by dimitrisvetsikas1969/Pixabay.

 

Creating a Self-Care Routine

I recently wrote a blog for Mother Earth Living on the importance of self-care and it is something I sincerely believe in. I know the value of taking the time to care for myself, yet I’m not great at keeping up with it.

Over the years, I’ve created a number of self-care routines, if you will. Each routine seems easy enough to maintain and is at first, but eventually, I get off track. For a time, I was keeping track of my daily acts of self-care — it could be something as simple as taking a shower to working out or meditating — which worked as a way of staying accountable to myself. I also made a point to create a gratitude list, every day.

During these times, my mood and attitude were consistently more positive. I felt happier, more motivated and creative. Even though I know these facts, I still fall short, time and time again, at maintaining the plan.

Why Even Bother with Self-Care & Gratitude?

Regular acts and practices of self-care help reduce stress and maintain overall well-being. By taking care of ourselves, we’re better able to keep up with various personal and professional obligations. Research has also shown that a daily gratitude practice can improve mood, sleep, and immunity.

If you’re anything like me, when you think of “gratitude” or “self-care” you think of big things. We’re grateful for our families, comfortable living, etc. We think of self-care as healthy eating or exercise. But there are plenty of simple things, like a sunny day or your favorite meal, to be grateful for. And just as many that are acts of self-care, from wearing your favorite outfit to exercising. It’s not the size of the act, but the intention!

My Ideal Self-Care Routine

  • Daily journaling
  • Weekly baths
  • Eating well + drinking plenty of water
  • 5+ minutes of meditation, daily
  • Yoga + aerial/circus arts
  • 20+ minutes of reading, daily
  • Writing every day (a poem, blog, short story, anything)

Do you practice regular self-care or gratitude? If so, share some of your favorite acts of self-care or simple things you’re grateful for!

Feature image via Pixabay/gefrorene_wand.

 

Minimizing: The Kitchen

Since one of the goals I set myself for the coming year included eating better, decluttering the kitchen seemed like a good idea. Plus, this was an area I had pondered downsizing, along with our photo collection, while watching Minimalism.

But we need dishes and silverware. And Tupperware to store leftovers. And baking dishes and skillets and sauce pans. But we definitely didn’t need two full sets of silverware; six plates, salad plates, and bowls; or the pint glass and coffee mug collection we had acquired.

We are a household of two. Our dining table seats four, max. There was no need for so many place settings, and there never will be. Yet, we had them. Just in case.

In case of what exactly? Well, in case something breaks or we mangle a fork beyond usability, which seems silly, now. Dishes and silverware are easy to replace. In most cases, you can buy them individually to replace that one broken or missing item.

So, out went plates, bowls, cups and coffee mugs. Goodbye, second set of silverware. Adios, empty Mason jars shoved to the back of cabinets.

Post-Minimizing Kitchen “Must-Haves”

  • 4 plates and 4 bowls
  • 2 wine glasses, 1 tumbler, 6 coffee mugs (I know, we have a problem!), 5-pint glasses
  • 2 cast iron skillets
  • 1 cast iron Dutch oven
  • 3 stainless steel, nesting saucepans
  • 1 large stock pot
  • 1 set of silverware (service for 4 + serving utensils)
  • 1 whistling tea kettle
  • 1 cast iron teapot with warmer
  • 3 nesting mixing bowls
  • 4 12-ounce “casserole” dishes (used as prep bowls)
  • 4 baking dishes (varying sizes)
  • 1 pie pan
  • 1 casserole dish
  • 9-piece glass food storage containers + 10 larger plastic ones
  • 1 set of measuring cups and spoons
  • Set of 4 canisters
  • 3 stainless steel knives (chef’s, utility and paring)
  • 1 strainer
  • 1 rolling pin and dough mat
  • 2 cutting boards (one for meats and one for everything else)
  • French press and coffee grinder
  • 2 cookie sheets and 2 muffin tins
  • Misc. appliances:
    • Crock-Pot
    • Coffee pot
    • Microwave
    • Toaster
    • Blender
    • Food processor
    • Hand mixer

Sure, we got rid of quite a few extraneous dishes. Our cabinets certainly look more organized and less cluttered. But after looking through all of them to compile this list, it still seems like an awful lot!

Now, here I am, questioning the utility of some remaining items.

Do I really need two teapots? Probably not. Do we need a French press and a coffee pot? Maybe not, but I’m not sure everyone will be up for losing either. Is a microwave necessary? I’m not sure. We could reheat/cook things in the oven or on the stove.

Perhaps minimizing kitchenware is a gradual process, like clothing.

Feature image by atravellingmom/Flickr.