Monday, October 24, 2011

Cold & Flu Season Is Here.......

It's that time of year again and you know what I'm talking about. Once kids go back to school, they seem to bring home every germ floating around out there. This past week, our son RJ, was home for four days with a mild sore throat, sniffles, a low-grade fever the first day and then a cough. He went back to school today with not much of a cough and feeling much better.......of course when he gets all the work he missed last week he probably won't be feeling too good!
One thing I find that helps when the kids start getting the sniffles, is to make a batch of Elderberry syrup. You can find these recipes all over the internet and everyone has their own way of making it, but this is the one I make and I got it from HerbMentor, a wonderful website I joined a while back and highly recommend if you're interested in studying about herbal medicine and plants. If they're not accepting new members right now keep checking back, or send them an email asking when they'll have openings again. They have a video on YouTube on how to make this, as well as others you might really enjoy so check them out.

Elderberry Syrup

1/2 cup dried elderberries (I purchase mine at Mountain Rose Herbs), or if using fresh berries, 1 cup
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
2 cups water
1 cup honey (local, raw honey is best)

In a saucepan; pour in the water, elderberries, cinnamon stick, cloves, and grated ginger root. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer, partially covered, about 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.
Pour everything into a strainer over a bowl to drain, pressing the berries with the back of a spoon to get as much remaining juice from the berries as possible.

Next, add the honey once the liquid has cooled down to just warm (around 90 or so degrees). The reason for this is because raw honey contains beneficial enzymes that can be destroyed by higher temperatures and you want these goodies in your syrup! Stir the honey until completely dissolved.

I put my syrup in a pint canning jar and then store it in the fridge, where it should keep for 2 or 3 months. When you feel a cold coming on, take a teaspoon or two of this every 2-3 hours while you're sick, or 1 tablespoon every day to help ward off illness. Elderberries are a wonderful medicine that can help cut the duration of a nasty cold or flu bug considerably. These small berries are a powerhouse of antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin C.  They have been a long-standing remedy in Europe for generations, and here in the U.S.A. are finally getting the attention they deserve.
One note of caution.......DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF ONE YEAR. The reason is that honey can sometimes contain the spores of, Clostridium botulinum, which may cause infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning. If you want to make this same syrup for your little ones, I read that you can use agave syrup in place of the honey.
If you already know the benefits of elderberries or maybe you've never tried using them, this is a great recipe to keep on hand and I hope you'll try it.

The contents and information on this blog are for your informational use only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Journey To A New & Healthier ME!

We are often our own worst enemy, either by judging ourselves too harshly or not taking care of ourselves like we ought to. I'm guilty of BOTH.
I've struggled with my weight since I was in my late teens and always hated the fact that I couldn't eat whatever I wanted without seeing a gain on the bathroom scale. I've gone from being "chunky" to overweight, then losing weight, then gaining it back plus some. Then I started having kids and in my mind eating more was ok because I was "eating for two", meaning I could indulge and no one would really say anything and even though I lost a bit of weight after having a baby, I never really dropped down to my ideal or healthy weight.
I had my last child almost 13 years ago and since then I've probably gained another 130 pounds. I know the last time I stepped on a scale I weighed right at 300 pounds and when I saw that number I wanted to crawl in a hole and cry. I knew I was fat, but somehow when you look at the actual number it's something you can't hide from any more and it's a huge slap of reality. We live in a society where fat people are made fun of and teased, passed over for jobs, and shunned to a certain extent because we're conditioned into believing that we all need to be skinny and fit into a size 2 pair of jeans, or that men won't look at you if you're fat and aren't built like Angelina Jolie or one of the Victoria's Secret models. It's no wonder women have such horrible self-esteem issues and doubts.
In reading about obesity and the various causes, I've learned that I'm what they call an "emotional" eater. When I'm upset, sad, stressed, depressed.......I eat. It's a vicious cycle, but when you don't really like yourself, or you're disgusted with yourself, you find other things to make yourself feel good or happy. At least for the moment.......until you look in the mirror again. Ugh.
But as I've eaten my way into this mess I've noticed something else that I deal with every day and it's pain. I'm in pain when I go to bed, I wake throughout the night because I'm uncomfortable and often have to get out of bed and stay up, even if it's 3am. Mornings are generally the best time for me to do things around the house, but then by noon or so I need to take a few Ibuprofen and lay down. It does help, and I feel a bit better when I get up, but I'm still exhausted all the time. My mother-in-law swears I have Fibromyalgia and while I match up with the symptoms I've never been officially diagnosed, but I did have some blood work done to rule out other causes and the doctor said she felt that's what I have but that's as far as I've gone with it. But even so, I know in my head that my weight has put a huge strain on my body and I'm sure that's partially why I feel the way I do.
Irregardless, I'm finally in the right frame of mind and determination, to lose this weight and do it the right way.  I just got my Richard Simmons' Food Mover in the mail today and set my start date for Tuesday, November 1st. My goal is to lose 5 pounds a month until I lose my overall goal of 135 pounds. I may need to lose a bit more but for now, this is my goal and this is my first blog entry about my weight loss. So, here the journey begins!
I plan on including pictures at least once a month, so that I can share the changes I'm going through with you, friends and family. One day, I'll be able to look at those first pictures and it'll be fun to compare them to the new, and healthier me. Boy, won't that be a shock?!
Thanks for letting me share such a personal thing with you. It's not something I would normally do, but I'm trying very hard to not be so inwardly shy about some things, and maybe be afraid of what someone 'might' say. Hope that doesn't sound too silly!
In any rate, I hope you all have a great weekend.
Take care.   :)

This post is part of the "On My Mind" feature over at Down To Earth.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tree Removal Day & Homemade Hamburger Buns

Today we're having a tree removed from our back yard that has grown up against the fence and causing a lot of damage. When we rented the house six months ago we talked about this tree, but at the time it wasn't pushing against the fence and we didn't think anything more about it. But now if we don't get rid of the tree, it'll eventually push over or break the fence, and could possibly damage the neighbor's side since they're both connected. We had contacted the real estate agents who manage the property and they sent out a man to look at the tree last night. At first he wasn't sure if he wanted to take out the whole tree, but after my husband talked to him I think he decided it was best. Anyhow, I'll know for sure when he gets here later this afternoon.
 You can see the damage that's already happened to the fence.

 Another angle.......

The fence used to stand up straight!

Funny how this tree wasn't touching the fence six months ago!

A look from the other side.......

I'll be glad to see this get fixed!

Last night for dinner we had sloppy joes and since I've been making all our bread, I made some hamburger buns using the bread recipe I posted recently. My husband asked if I could make the buns a bit smaller this time, and he said these were the perfect size!

I ended up with 22 buns all together and might have gotten a few more, but since I hand roll these I know some of them were a bit smaller and didn't rise as much as the others but that's ok. Everyone loved them and in this house they definitely won't go to waste! The extras were put in bread bags, labeled, and put in the freezer until I need them for another meal, along with the loaves of bread I made a few days ago.
It's amazing how homemade bread can bring a smile to everyone's face, so it makes me feel good that I can do this for my family. They certainly deserve it!  

This post is part of the "On My Mind" feature over at Down To Earth.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cleaning The Fridge

There are so many little steps we can take as reorganize our homes and our lives, and eventually they all add up and goals start being met.
This past weekend I finally did something I've put off far too out the refrigerator. I don't know why I dislike this chore so much because when I got done, I felt really good about it and proud of the job I did. Also, and this may sound strange, but having a clean refrigerator made the kitchen seem cleaner! However, the one thing I'm not proud of is, that there was a whole lot LESS that I put back in compared to what I took out, and that made me feel bad because I don't like to waste things, especially food. Shame on me!

Looks so much better!

Lately I've been planning meals out a week at a time, saving money because I'm not impulse buying or buying things I don't need (that's been a hard habit to break for me), and less trips to the grocery store which means I'm not wasting gas by making multiple trips. Anywhere I can save money I'm all for it, and if I don't have to go out that means I can spend more time on chores and getting my home in order, making me very happy!
My intentions have always been good when it comes to cleaning and organizing, and in my head I see things the way I want them, but I can be very scattered or distracted and I don't finish what I started because I have too many things going at the same time. So this has been in a sense, a reorganization of ME, and if getting the fridge done by sticking to it from start to finish is where I begin, then so be it! Everyone has to start somewhere!
If you're like me, just pick something that needs to be done and finish it before moving on to something else. It may be a challenge at first but trust me, if I (at the age of 51) can change the way I do things and make life easier for me in the end, then anyone can do it! Make a list of things you want to get done and mark them off as you finish them. That's what I'm doing, and one day I'll get to check off the last item on my list and that will be a VERY happy day for me!