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Wellness

Home Remedies, Wellness

Elderberry Syrup

January 28, 2014
Elderberry-syrup

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Cold and flu season is upon us. Having a house full of sickies is not on my agenda this year. To combat nasty germs and viruses that we might pick up in the real world, we take a dose of elderberry syrup each day (lovingly referred to as “Purple Medicine” by my toddler).

Elderberries are long thought to be an extremely effective immune booster. In several “crunchy” spots on the internet, elderberry syrup is labeled “Nature’s Flu Shot”. Apparently, a shot of this stuff a day will prevent the flu. It is also supposed to help knock out viruses; when taken at the first sign of illness.

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Long story short, take elderberry syrup everyday and bypass illness this year.

Now, I’m not sure exactly how effective this stuff is BUT I do know that we are well in to cold and flu season and, after taking our daily dose of elderberry syrup, we are all in tip-top health. (It’s certainly not hurting our health)

The cloves and cinnamon add extra immunity boosting defense. The result is a spicy-sweet liquid that is great for you AND tastes delicious (try it as a syrup on pancakes or ice cream)!

 

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Here’s What You’ll Need:

-1 cup of dried elderberries

-3 cups of water

-1/2 cup raw honey

-1 tbsp whole dried cloves

-3 cinnamon sticks

In a saucepan, add elderberries, water, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit to cool completely.

Strain out elderberries (making sure to squeeze out the juice). I’ve found using a cheese cloth to be the easiest way to strain and drain.

Pour liquid into a wide mouth jar, add raw honey, stir, and seal on the lid.

Store in fridge for up to 1 month.

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Take 1 tablespoon a day (1 teaspoon for kids)

**Remember, I’m not a doctor. I cannot guarantee this remedy is truly effective BUT it seems to be working for us…thus far**

 

 

Drinks, Foodie, Home Remedies, Wellness

Spiced Wellness Tea (Four Thieves Tea)

September 24, 2013

spicedwellnesstea

This recipe is really exciting to me.

My main inspiration for this recipe is Thieves Blend essential oil. It combines clove oil, lemon oil, cinnamon bark oil, rosemary oil, and eucalyptus oil to create an immunity boosting blend like no other. Word on the street is, this blend is based on a story dating back to the Middle Ages. During the plague, a group of spice traders-turned-thieves went around robbing the sick (or dead), But they somehow managed to avoid contracting the disease themselves. When asked what their secret was, they shared that they combined these herbs and spices with oils and vinegars, and rubbed the concoction all over their bodies before robbing their gravely ill victims. (I’m guessing that everyone thought they were witches, since that was the “go-to” scapegoat reason at the time. They were probably still burned at the stake…just in case.) Isn’t history fun?!

We go through A LOT of these oils during fall and winter months, when cold and flu season are in full swing.

The other reason this recipe is so exciting to me? It is a new spin on my family’s festive seasonal drink, known as “Holiday Tea”. The original recipe uses fruit juice concentrates and is much sweeter than this tea, but the flavors are nearly identical (although this tea is significantly spicier). It’s my all time favorite holiday scent, and while it’s simmering, the house fills with an aroma that instantly takes me back to Christmastime in NY. Holiday Tea is only made AFTER Thanksgiving, and lasts through January.  I’m planning on making this tea all year long (although, probably not in summer).

Pair this tea with homemade soups, and you’ll be well on your way to a super healthy fall (and winter).

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What You’ll Need:
-4 quarts water (1 gallon)
-16 tea bags (I used black tea, but a combo of black and green would be nice too.)
-4-6 lemons; sliced into rounds
-3-4 oranges; sliced into rounds
-1 whole pineapple; ends removed, “peeled”, and cut into large chunks. (I added the core too)
-10 cinnamon sticks
-1/4 cup whole cloves
-several sprigs of fresh rosemary
-2 cups honey

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In a large stock pot, bring water to a low boil. Add in tea bags and simmer. Remove tea bags after 10 minutes (less if you want a weaker “tea”. Leave them in longer if you want a really strong tea. Too long can result in a bitter tea concentrate). **Want a caffeine free version, try using rooibos tea instead of the black tea. I like the kick the caffeine gives me (since I’m not a coffee drinker)**

Add the rest of your ingredients (except the honey), and cook on low for several hours.

Enjoy the amazing aroma.

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Add the honey at the end of your cooking process. This drink is supposed to be SPICY, so depending on your palate, you might need it a bit sweeter. I left mine on the not so sweet side and just add a teaspoon of honey when I heat up a cup.

Once cool, remove fruit pieces and cinnamon sticks. Scoop out rosemary and cloves. I leave my tea on the pulpy side, but if pulp isn’t your “cup of tea” (haha, see what I did there), then strain the tea through cheesecloth while pouring into your storage container.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (any gallon size jar or jug should do). It should keep for several months, but I doubt it’ll last longer than a week.

**For those of you familiar with Thieves Blend essential oil, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that this tea has the same flavors. It is spicy and slightly numbing (thanks to the cloves).**

DIY, Green Clean, Wellness

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

July 9, 2013

Hand Sanitizer

I try to avoid anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. They’re loaded with toxic chemicals and frankly I like some bacteria in my life. However, we’ve been frequenting zoos and other “animal petting” places lately. Which means, lots of hand washing. When our go-to all-natural spray hand sanitizer ran out, I didn’t feel like shelling out nearly $4 for a 2 ounce bottle; so I spent about $10 and bought the necessary ingredients to make enough hand sanitizer to last us a few years.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

-1/2 cup of Aloe Vera Gel (food-grade, not the green stuff you find in the sunblock aisle. That “aloe” is full of the toxins that you are trying to avoid by making your own hand sanitizer in the first place. I bought mine from my Frontier Bulk Buying Club but you can easily find it at health food stores or online).

-1/4 cup Witch Hazel

-2 Tbs 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (you can also use vodka…but why waste vodka on washing your hands. Make a martini instead).

-15 drops of essential oil (I used Young Living’s Purification blend. Seemed fitting. Lavender and Tea Tree oil are also popular)

-1 small (4 ounce) spray bottle (or other container…like an empty hand sanitizer bottle. Genius.)

-a Pyrex (or other brand) glass measuring cup (makes pouring into your smaller container a breeze).

In the measuring cup, add 1/2 cup of aloe. Next, add the witch hazel (until the liquid mixture reaches the 3/4 cup line….that’s math). Add the alcohol and essential oils. Stir everything together. Pour into a container of your choosing.

Store where ever you normally store your hand sanitizer (car, desk, purse….where ever!)

Super fast and super easy.

Everyday, Home Remedies, Wellness

The Healing Basket

June 13, 2013

DSC_0149As we embark on the journey to find more rhythm in our daily and weekly lives, I’ve decided to put together a healing basket for our home.
It’s just a thrift store basket filled with various all natural remedies and essential oils but I have a feeling it’ll end up being much more than that.
Before the healing basket, all these remedies were scattered in various places around the house. Some upstairs, some downstairs, some in random bags…or some in closets rarely put to use. By gathering all these essential first aid items together, it’ll make life a whole lot easier when the time comes for an ouchie to be tended to (instead of our current situation where a crying child sits on the sofa, getting more upset by the second, while a tired mama tries desperately to remember where on earth the lavender oil got to).
Also, the simple gesture of going together to get the basket when the child is hurt adds to the comfort of their healing process. It makes the parent acknowledge that the child is hurt (even if the injury *seems* insignificant or really nothing at all); a small and simple gesture that can make a child feel loved and heard.

Here is what can be found in our Healing Basket (Inspired by Seven Times the Sun):

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-Calendula Ointment: for cuts and scrapes
-Arnica Ointment: for bumps (especially goose eggs) and bruises
-Lavender essential oil: for burns, bug bites, and for calming moments
-Tea Tree essential oil: for cuts, scrapes, bug bites, blemishes, and anything that runs the risk of getting infected
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-Aromatherapy Rice Bag (filled with dried rice and dried lavender): used like a heating pad or hot water bottle to soothe sore tummies, achy bodies, and sore muscles.
-Thieves essential oil: used to treat colds and ward off viruses
-Homeopathy Reference Book
-Essential Oil Reference Guide
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-Heart Bag: to help with wounds that are more emotional than physical. Maybe someone is feeling sad or scared. Simply, heat up the heart bag and place over your heart to help warm the pain away (great for when Daddy is away on a long business trip and JBird is missing him). A simple gesture that can potentially make a world of difference.
-“Lion Spray”:So, this is similar to the Heart Bag (as it’s more for emotional feelings). Often, JBird tells me that there is a lion somewhere in the house and he is scaring her. “Lion Spray” is simply a small mister bottle filled with water and lavender oil to make the lion leave us alone. Can also be used for closet monsters, boogey men, and imaginary bugs that sometimes sneak into our beds.
-Calming Spray: Sometimes we all have moments where we feel overwhelmed and maybe a little angry (or a lot angry). Calming spray is just a blend of Peace & Calming essential oil and water. To be sprayed around the face or on oneself when we’re headed into the “Red Zone”. Again, not really for any physical ailment, but an effective remedy to help with meltdowns (I’m hoping).
-Bandages
-Rescue Remedy: to help calm an overly anxious or worried child (or adult….or dog).
-Tweezers: to remove splinters
-Aloe: for burns (or to soothe tender skin after an afternoon outside)
I’d like to add some rosewater to help relieve fevers and some homemade vapor rub to help ease congestion in winter months. It might also be nice to add a special stuffed animal that lives in the Healing Basket to squeeze or snuggle with as mama (or daddy) tends to the ouchies. I’d also like to add a small jar of dried clay to use on potential bee stings.
We keep several cold packs in the freezer to help ease the pain of skinned knees, pinched fingers, bee stings, and various head bumps too.
I’m looking forward to all the ways this healing basket will bring our home a touch more rhythm.
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Childhood is such an important stage that goes by at lightning speed. Why not look for moments to stop and connect?