March 31

2 Things You Need To Know About Peri-menopause That May Save Your Life.

Two- the number of the day.  Two posts coming today.  The first is the 2 things you need to know about peri-menopause that may save your life.

I’m writing this today because this happens to be one of the days where I’m experiencing both and every time this happens I say “I really should warn them… ”

So here I am.  Warning you.

There are lots of things about menopause and peri-menopause that you read about in books, magazines, blogs, and articles.  But two of the most life-threatening are seldom mentioned:

(1) Crazy, over-the-top anxiety/ panic attacks.  Often with full-blown heart gripping pressure and palpitations.  And

(2) Short, intense bouts of suicidal-level depression

Thankfully, for me, neither of these are long-lasting effects.  They come from out of the blue, last for a day or two, then go away until their next uninvited visit.  But while they are here, they shut down my life.   I can scarcely function at all.

But here’s the thing.   Doctors who do admit to anxiety and depression during “the change” like to say that women who were prone to anxiety and depression before menopause will likely be the ones to experience these attacks during the menopausal transition.  Not true.

I have always been the happiest person I’ve ever met.

Maybe nobody knows what it is or where it comes from or why, but they need to stop implying that it’s a personality quirk or female drama episodes or all in our heads.  It’s real.  It’s dangerous.  And it can happen to any of us, or all of us.  And sweeping it under the carpet isn’t helping.  We need to be warned so we can be ready.

For me, today is an anxiety day.   I can almost (sort of) deal with these now.  I’ve learned that when the chest tightness sets in and the worrying begins, and my brain screams to shut down, I need to meditate. and that helps me calm my body.   Some days, like today, I have to stop literally every ten or fifteen minutes to do some deep breathing and meditation.   It’s annoying, but I get through it.   It’ll be almost the only thing I do all day.  For me, journaling and blogging often helps too.  I can type through my worries.   It’s taken me almost a year to figure out how to work through these anxious days, but I’m finally doing it.

It’s the depression days that scare me most.

Again, happy person.  Me.  Chronically.  I have the most amazing life.  I have great dreams and lots of adventures.  But when those intense depression days hit, something very strange happens.   Out of nowhere comes thoughts that seem to be coaxing me to leave this world.     “All this could be over forever.  No more worries.”  or “Imagine just going to sleep and not waking up into this world.  Wouldn’t that be nice?”  or my favorite “We could do it together–Mr. C and me.”

Crazy right?  yeah.  It’s that kind of crazy.  And it’s so real, and it makes so much sense at the time.   I find myself starting to agree and think it’s a good idea.   Often times I find myself thinking of arguments to tell Mr. C to try to convince him to do it with me.  Once or twice, many month ago, I found myself debating how to do it and making preparations.   That’s the day I picked up the phone and called Mr. C and told him what my brain was doing.  Needless to say, he was alarmed.  He came home.

We talked.  A lot.  And by talking through it, I realized that this had been happening every 4-5 weeks for a while.  I’d suddenly wake up profoundly depressed one day, fight the urge to do something stupid and permanent all day, go to bed, and wake up feeling like my normal happy self the next day or at the very most two days later.  It must be hormonal, we reasoned. (I have since begun marking them on the calendar and discovered they are absolutely cyclic.)  So… we agreed then that whenever I wake up feeling like that I am to tell him immediately.  And I am to then pack up and go visit or go to the bookstore or shopping for the day.   No staying home alone.  All I need to do is get through the crazy hormonal day, so I am to find pleasant distractions and stay WITH people, even if they are people I don’t know.

So far, obviously, it’s worked.  But that’s because I know what’s going on and I have a support system and a plan in place.   How many women don’t have those two things?  How many women experience intense hormone-induced depression and never tell anyone?  How many act upon it like this woman did?  Why isn’t this a better known issue?

I think that every time a woman goes for a mammogram, this discussion should be happening with the tech.  Or at the very least, some literature on the subject should be stuffed in her hands, or displayed on the wall in the waiting room.   However they do it, every woman needs to hear that these things may happen and she is NOT crazy.  She is normal.  It is part of the change, and she just needs to kick into gear with the plan she should have in place BEFORE those days ever come.

So there.  That’s it.  I had to warn you.  So this doesn’t happen to you unexpectedly.   And you need to warn your daughters when they get old enough to understand what you are talking about.   We need to spread the word.   Tell them.

Tell them it’s temporary.  It’s not real depression.  They don’t really want to hurt themselves or leave this world.   Tell them.  Don’t do it.  Call a friend.  Visit.  Swim.  Read.  Do anything, but don’t stay home alone!

Okay.  I feel better.   God bless, and take care, Ladies.  We’ve got this.

March 2

Herbalism 101– Back to basics medicine

Until the 1950s, herbs were the basis of all pharmaceutical drugs.  But like everything else in our world since then, most of our medicines have now become synthetic.  Today only about 25% of our pharmaceuticals are derived from plants and herbs.  Not necessarily because the synthetic version is better.  It is often because the synthetic version is more profitable for the manufacturer.  It could also be argued that the synthetic version is usually more toxic.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman writes:

In the first pharmacology lecture that I head in medical school, the physician impressed on us that all drugs are toxic and we should never forget this. We were taught that medications work because of their pharmacologic properties—properties that enable the substance to interfere with, block, or stimulate an activity of the body. Drugs typically modify the way the body expresses the signs and symptoms of disease, but in chronic disease states, they do no undo the damage or remove the disease.

Listening to the list of side effects and warnings on most drug commercials makes most sane people wonder who, in their right mind, would put that pill in their mouths in the first place.  But when faced with illness and seemingly no other options, we do.  We all do.  And we pay high prices for them too.

Having said that, I readily admit that not all drugs are bad.  Some are life saving.  I will not suggest otherwise.   If any of my grandchildren gets sick, I’m glad there are antibiotics and doctors and nurses and hospitals to make them well again.   I’m glad there are vaccines and drugs that make lives longer and of better quality.  I’m not anti-Allopathic medicine.  Not even a little.   My only intention with this post–and this series, as it will be–is to reintroduce back-to-basics remedies that disappeared out daily lives, not because they don’t work but because something more convenient replaced them.  It’s become much faster and easier and therefore acceptable to take a puff of an inhaler than to brew a tea that will have the same effect, but should we always choose the inhaler?

I use that example because that’s how I began this day, by brewing of a cup of IMG_2220special tea. Bronchial Brew, Salli, my herbalist, call it. A mixture of nettles, mint, lemongrass, motherwort, mullein leaf, coltsfoot, comfrey leaf, hyssop, and stevia meant to calm my aching lungs. I have asthma and I’m in a flare. The very act of sitting to drink the tea (strained through an unbleached coffee filter for lack of anything else on hand) was relaxing. The tea ingredients are a combination of expectorants, antispasmodics, demulcents (soothing to mucous membranes), and other healing agents and an hour after having a cup I felt pleasantly relaxed with almost no coughing. I felt good enough to go without a hit from my prescription inhaler of steroids–something I’d much rather avoid.  This time it looks like I can avoid it.  Another time I may need to rely on that emergency inhaler or my little nebulizer friend.   But I’m glad to have more tools in my arsenal.  It’s good to have options, and that’s what this series is about.

This afternoon, as I sit here,  I have a carefully measured (to be sure it’s safe) lobelia tincture setting up in my apothecary cabinet as well.  It will be used when I have a more prominent (but still not immediately life-threatening) asthma flare.  Once it’s made and bottled, it’ll be good for many years, so I’m mixing up a good-sized batch.

And I must say that a part of me just likes the looks of it, the apothecary I mean.  I love the rows of gleaming jars of colorful herbs.  I love knowing exactly what I am putting in my body.  I love everything about it.  And I’m here to begin sharing my herbalism journey with you in hopes that I might spark a little of that back-to-basics attitude in your little corner of the world as well.

I feel qualified to know where to begin to introduce Herbalism to you because I, too, am a beginner.   I’ve recently enrolled in an herbal certification class and I’ll be passing on my lessons to you, in the same order that I receive them.  (So I can’t really mess it up.)  They say that the best way to learn and assimilate new information is to prepare to teach it to someone else.   I agree.  But first, a disclaimer:

I am not a doctor or a medical professional.   I am an amateur (read: beginner, newbie, #justgothereanddontknowanything) herbalist who is sharing some of the things I am learning with you here.   Please do not send me emails with descriptions of or, Lord help me, <gasp!> pictures of your rashes or boo boos.  I can’t help you.   I can’t prescribe or recommend anything for you.  You must proceed as is best for you, and as recommended by your healthcare professionals.   Don’t exclude them.  You still need them.   Use your head.  Everything we talk about here is with the intention of being used as complimentary to and not in full replacement of modern day medicine.

I will be giving basic information just as I am learning it.  If you want to learn more at a faster rate, there are many excellent books out there.  Here are some of my early favorites:

The Wholistic Herbal by David Hoffman

The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra

A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieves

and The How to Herb Book by Velma Keith and Mounted Gordon

But of course, the first rule for any beginner herbalist is to become familiar with the cautions associated with the practice.

Here are a few that are commonly accepted and adhered to by experienced herbalist all over the world:

(1) NEVER use a strong herbal remedy at the same time as strong allopathic drugs.  Never.   Choose one as your primary.  Use others to support your primary.  For example, if you are on antibiotics, do not take herbal antibiotics.  Instead take herbs that help ease your symptoms and/ or to help rebuild the flora that will be damaged by antibiotics.   Taking something that does the same thing is a problem.  The two are often not compatible and you could hurt yourself rather than help.

(2) Do not use aluminum or copper pots or utensils to prepare your herbs.  Use glass, stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, or enamel.

(3) Always research your herbs before use.  Just like modern medicine, there are warnings and cautionary statements for many of them.   For example, Valerian root should never be decocted.  It should always be infused.    How would you know that?  You must research.

(4) Don’t get in over your head.  Go slowly.  Do only what you have learned well.  Leave the rest to those who know better.  It is better to be safe, and a little knowledge goes a long way already without needing to push yourself into uncharted territory.

If you are okay with those, you are ready to move forward into the world of herbs.  Join me here tomorrow to learn all about the herbs themselves.  Where do they come from?  And where can you find them and buy them?  How do you know which is which?  And which are good to use?   Click HERE to continue.

NEXT ——–>

August 5

5 Steps to Meal Planning Made Easy

While keeping house is the most consuming of all housewife duties, cooking and meal planning is, for many, one of the most daunting tasks, especially for new brides with little or no cooking experience.   For many homes this can result in a food rut where the same meals are rotated each week.  This is a problem, not just because it can make for boring food choices, but because preparing the same foods week after week can create dangerous nutritional holes.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Read on for 5 steps to meal planning made easy.  I suppose we could even call this meal planning for beginners, although there are plenty of seasoned housewives and moms who might pick up a tidbit or two here.

So . . . meal planning.  It starts out as a simple concept.  Shop for food and cook it.  But with proverbs such as “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” weighing on our minds, and new science telling us how important it is to feed our kids highly nutritious foods in their early years, all topped off with jammed packed schedules and little time to cook, meal planning can be very stressful.  Today we’re going to try to take some of that stress away.

The process is actually fairly quick and painless if you have a system, and having and following a system will actually save you more than time.  The key is to force yourself to repeat it at regular intervals (weekly or bi-weekly) until it becomes a habit.  I promise that if you do, you will find that you save yourself stress, money and time!

No longer will you waste money on foods you bought but didn’t use.  There will be no more extra trips to the super market throughout the week. Never will you have to experience the frustration of missing ingredients when you are half way through a recipe, and you will achieve all of that while taking advantage of coupons, sales, and bulk food pricing.

Here is one system that works well for the majority of people who try it. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you.

The day BEFORE you need to grocery shop, gather the following items:  your calendar, the sale flyers for your grocery store, your family’s social schedule for the time period that you will be shopping for, a notebook, 3 colored pencils or markers and a pen.  Doing this the day before gives you time to remember items you would have forgotten.  Your brain will think on it all night while you sleep.  I swear. It works.  Alright, so step one:

IMG_0869(1) The very first step to getting organized for the week is to know what your week looks like.   I suggest grabbing your family’s social calendar and using your colored markers to highlight at a glance which nights you have ample time to prepare food, which ones have less time, and which have almost no time at all.    In the example to the right, you can see that I’ve marked the corners of some dates with colors.  You choose which color stands for each kind of night on your calendar, and do the same.   Choose a color for “plenty of time”, another for  “less time” and a third for “no time to cook!”

(2) OK.  So now you have a blueprint for what your week is going to look like.   The next step is to find recipes that will fit into those categories.   And where is the best place to start to look for those?  Ideally you have a file of all of your favorite go to recipes, but don’t look there first.  Always begin in your store sale flyer, of course. 🙂    Before you can know what to cook, you first want to know what’s on sale.   Check the flyers and note what the best deals are on meats and produce.    Why didn’t I say to look at the rest of the flyer?  Because you can take away almost all the worry about getting enough nutrition for your family if you try to stay with a wide variety of whole foods most of the time, so always start formulating your recipes with whole food products– meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains (Not Minute Rice.)  Stay away from boxed and canned foods.  There’s nothing good for your kids in there.  Nothing.  It’s pure evil.  Don’t even cut out the coupons anymore.  You don’t need the temptation.

IMG_0870(3) OK… so you’ve noted what the good sales are.  It’s time to choose recipes. Let me show you one example of a possible week.  Let’s say for example that pot roast, ground beef, rotisserie chicken, and lots of great summer produce are on sale this week.   And for my example, green days are days where I have plenty of time to cook, red means no time, and blue are less time days.

Here’s what I might do with that type of week.   You will note that on Sunday I am going to make a nice pot roast dinner with wonderful boiled veggies.  Monday I am going to make my famous chili recipe.  Now I don’t use ground beef in my chili.  I use chopped cauliflower instead, but you can use beef, turkey, or any other meat alternative.  Whichever you choose, you will need to prep some extra and put it aside for Tuesday’s tacos.   You won’t have time to cook on Tuesday, so this way you’ll have the “meat” prepared and seasoned and ready to go.   It is the same when you get to the chopped tomatoes in the chili recipe, chop some and put them aside for Tuesday.   Now all you will need to do on Tuesday is a quick re-heat of the meat, chop some lettuce and put everything out for your family to dig in.  Easy peasy and super fast!

Moving on to Wednesday we are going to use a ton of that amazing produce to make a great stir fry dinner.   You can get a great variety of nutrition into the family by including a weekly stir fry and rotating what vegetables you include.   We use combinations of onion, mushroom, peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, zucchini, squash, snap peas, snow peas, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, green beans, and anything else we have hanging around.   Sauté them all with just a little broth and a splash of soy sauce and viola.  Fabulous. If you prefer, you can include some chicken, beef, tofu, or seafood too.

Thursday is a no time to cook day, so we are going to pick up a rotisserie chicken for that day and we’ll cook some sweet potatoes or white potatoes wrapped in foil and tossed in the slow cooker to roast all day long.   By dinner time just slice some chicken, give everyone a potato and prep a small salad for all.  Bam.  5 minutes and done.

Friday is Chef’s choice.  We use this to use up leftovers or maybe make up something special.  And Saturday we will use more of that amazing summer produce to make up our favorite veggie lasagna.

Also note that throughout the week for hubby’s lunches, we will use leftover pot roast for sandwiches, leftover chili, leftover stir fry, chicken salad sandwhiches from leftover rotisserie chicken, and veggie lasagna for lunches as well.  If you plan lunches around your dinners, those will require no extra cash or time on your part.    Just plan to make a bit more of them than you need for dinner alone.

Step 4.  Gather your recipes and begin to create your shopping list. Do the same for breakfast and lunches.  Once you’ve written everything you will need on your list (including items for household items, and personal items), go through your current inventory and scratch off anything that you already have.  Don’t assume you have it.  Eyeball it first.  How many times have you gone for an ingredient only to find that there’s just a tiny bit left and you need a lot more?  Never again.

Step 5. Reorganize your shopping list by aisle.   And here’s the key.   You are going to shop a bit differently this time.   Most people enter a market and go aisle by aisle from one side of the store to the other.  The problems with this method are that (a) all the refrigerator and frozen foods are on the outsides of the store and will get warm in your basket as you gather them and (b) all the crap food is in the center aisles of the store and you won’t be aware of how much you are getting if it’s buried in with all the produce and meats, etc.  So, from now on, shop all the center aisles first.   Then take a look at your cart.  Is it full of crapola?   Yes?  Go put some back.  Again, it’s pure evil.

After you’ve done that, now go do the outskirts of the store ending with your frozen food/refrigerator section so those items will remain colder longer.  Check out.

Final Steps:  Put the food away according to your calendar and put the calendar on the front of the fridge.  If you aren’t cooking your steak until 5 days from now, throw it in the freezer and put a note on your calendar to take it out of the freezer 1-2 days before you need it.  Don’t need that baby spinach till Wednesday? Put it behind the lettuce.   Organize your fridge so you know where everything is and you’ll be more likely to use it!  And seeing the calendar reminds you what to plan for the next day.  It’s also rewarding for some to scratch off the items as you’ve made them. It helps reinforce those good feelings of knowing you did a great job of planning and implementing your new system.

Still not convinced it’s doable?  Well maybe you prefer an app.  There are some great meal planning apps.  Some even categorize and store your recipes.  Check out these top three:   Cook Smarts (voted #1 by Lifehacker), Plan to Eat (meal planner and grocery list maker), and Paprika ( a recipe manager and more!)

Or maybe you are a brand new bride and you need something that you can start with completely from scratch.   Cooking Light has a wonderful page where you chose what kind of meals you are looking for, such as “Quick and Easy” or “5 Ingredient”.  You then drag and drop recipes into the week night planner and click print.  It’ll even print the recipes for you.   Check it out.

No matter which method you choose, I promise you will feel better just for having a system.   Happy meal planning!  Remember to find joy in the process.

 

August 4

Why You Should Never be a 1950s Housewife in the Kitchen

Before I get into my posts on meal-planning and before I share some quick and easy, go-to meals that are perfect for those days when time is short, I had to first address one glaring problem.   Here’s the thing.  I will encourage you to live in your marriage like a 1950’s housewife.  I will encourage you to clean your home like a 1950’s housewife.  I will tell you to dress and maintain your femininity like a 1950’s housewife, but I will never ever tell you to cook like one.  Never.  Let me explain why you should never be a 1950s housewife in the kitchen.

“But why?!?!??!”

I know.

“They ate so well back then!  There were no fast food restaurants or packaged foods,” you insist.  But my dearies, that is just not true.  In fact, the 1950’s foods and menus boast some of the least healthy meal choices I have ever seen.  Anywhere.  And if you think about that timeframe it really makes sense.

Imagine yourself sitting in your very own Levittown home in 1953 ish (just to pick a year).  Life is bustling outside your window.  Everyone’s upbeat, as they should be post World War II.  The GI’s are home and life is returning back to normal.  Better than normal actually.  No more war rations.   No more fear.  There’s an all around feeling of celebration.  The war is over and life is better than ever.  So what changed?

Four things happened during that war that changed everything.   First, G.I. K-rations were invented as a way to prepare, package, and distribute food to the 16.1 million men who served during World War II.   Second, Birdseye frozen foods came onto the scene at a price affordable enough for neighborhood grocers to begin carrying them and the public to buy them.  (In 1944 Birdseye began leasing inexpensive freezers to them to make it possible.)  Third, soldiers from the Pacific and Europe brought home with them new tastes for foods such as chow mein, egg foo yung, enchiladas, and meats roasted with Polynesian sauces.  And lastly, televisions within the home became more common place.  In fact, The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book Inc., 2003: 119 says, “”In 1945, there were probably fewer than 10,000 sets in the country. This figure soared to about 6 million in 1950, and to almost 60 million by 1960.”

imagesThe food industry was quick to jump on board with all of these developments.   Using the K-ration technology, they first invented a portable meal for use in airplanes.  Add in the advancements with affordability of freezers by the early 1950s and other frozen food advances, they then brought TV dinners right to our front doors. Imagine the delight to the housewife who had grown tired of spending 6 hours a day cooking 3 meals for her family!  Now she could just pop a tray in the oven for 25 minutes and be done! Check out this 1955 Swanson TV dinner commercial.   MMMMmm Mmmmmm…  just a little butter with that?  Well, isn’t that swell!

But it didn’t stop there.

Powdered eggs and instant potatoes came home from the war too.  Prepared and canned ethnic foods, canned meat, soups, chips, crackers, Minute Rice, candy, cake mixes, Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, Cheese-Whiz, sugar-frosted breakfast cereals, Eggo waffles, and hundreds of other convenience items began to fill every pantry.  And with the addition of so many canned soups, packaged cheese and crackers came the popularity of the casserole.  Most casseroles back then (and still now) included several cans of creamy soup as well as cheese and lots and lots of butter.  In fact almost everything in the 1950s was drenched in melted butter or other fat.   You’d never find any of those steamed frozen peas on the table without cream or butter on top!  And an extra dash of salt too.

And then there were the barbecues.   The newest trend.  Dad cooking out on the grill became all the rage as a way for him to spend time with the kids who had missed him so much during the war.   Every weekend all around the world there were cookouts filled with grilled meat, mayonnaise-layden salads, sugary desserts, and lots of sweet tea and lemonade.

Beginning to get the picture?  Oh but we aren’t finished.

McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, Legal Seafoods, Taco Bell, Jack-in-the-Box, Denny’s, and a slew of other fast food restaurants popped up all over the country.  Yes, fast food is not a new invention.  Fast food made its appearance in the 40’s and grew exponentially in the 50s and it never left.

The era of the 1950’s were, in my opinion, a major backslide in the world of healthy eating.  Add this to the booming growth of the chemical industries — both in industry and on our food products, in the 1940’s and 1950s and no one need be surprised that In the 20 years from 1975 to 1995, childhood cancer rates rose 20 percent.

We now know that what we eat can effect our chances of getting cancer or other diseases decades later.  In his book *Disease-Proof Your Child, Dr. Joel Fuhrman writes:

“The most recent scientific evidence is both overwhelming and shocking–what we feed (or don’t feed) our children as they grow from birth to early adulthood has a greater total contributory effect on the dietary contribution to cancers than dietary intake over the next fifty years.”

How scary is that?  What we feed our children today will determine their health not just two weeks from now (ask any parent of a toddler who is experiencing his 8th ear infection in one year!) but also what health they will experience 25 years from now.   Our immune systems are strong, but they can’t fight a diet that is completely bombarded by prepared, boxed, canned, and fast food.  So, by the 1970s, along came the massive increases in cancer rates in both adults and children.

The fact is that we have to get back to a diet for our families that consists of far more whole foods, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.  Therefore, I will not promote a 1950’s menu plan.   I will occasionally share some wonderful 1950s recipes, but they will show “before” and “after” options for tweaking them to a more healthful Modern Day 50s Housewife standard.

Agreed?   Good.

Alrighty then…. moving on.  Watch for my next post on easy ways to plan, shop, and prepare nutritious foods for your family.

*link provided above is an affiliate link.

 

January 2

Old-Time Cold Remedies that work

Mr. C and I came down with nasty colds this week, so we’ve been combatting them best we can using every kind of old-time cold remedy we can find.   The results have been good.   At the very least, we held our ground and didn’t get worse.   And quite often we felt some great relief.   So what works? and what didn’t?  Old-Time Cold Remedies that work

elderberry

Here’s our findings.    First and foremost, grandma used to always say to stay hydrated.  Water.   Tons of it.  It helps in a few ways.  First, it thins mucus.   Second, it helps with fevers and with your body’s overall ability to act and fight the cold virus.

But don’t stop at drinking it.  Steam it and breathe it in (make a tent over your head with a towel for best results).      Add a little salt and gargle with it for that sore throat.  Take a nice hot, steamy bath to help with all over body aches.   Or just stand in a steamy shower.   It all works.  Water might just be our best medicine.

And if not, there’s always chicken soup.  I love soup, so any excuse to have it is fine with me.   I cooked up a pot (no canned stuff here) in no time using one of those pre-roasted chickens from the supermarket.   Within an hour we had hearty chicken goodness.    This also works in two ways.  First, that broth.  Hot liquids also help break up mucus, and they feel amazing on a scratchy throat.  The steam helps clear your sinuses.  If you put garlic in it, you get the antibiotic and anti-viral effects that garlic offers, but be advised that to get those effects, you’ll want to wait until just before serving to throw some fresh chopped garlic in.  You want it only lightly cooked when you consume it.   And if you throw some cayenne in there, you get added stuffy nose clearing effects.    Chicken soup is a definite keeper.

Put a humidifier in your bedroom.  (Make sure it’s super clean.)   It helps with that dry mouth/stuffy nose thing.

Honey.  We took a teaspoon of raw honey every few hours and just let it dissolve in our mouths.  It tastes great, but it also helps to soothe a sore throat and calm a cough.    Some say it even helps to fight the bacteria that could be building up and leading to a sinus or upper respiratory infection.

And then there was the freshly juiced pineapple.  We actually juice it and then add some cayenne to it.  1/4 cup every 4 hours.   This juice brings down swelling in your sinuses which then allows the mucus to escape more easily. Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 6.53.52 AM

Lastly, we took our Elderberry Elixir four times a day.    We love this stuff, and our kids and grandkids do too.

When taken daily during the winter season, it can even prevent colds and flu setting in at all.  Perhaps we need to get back on that routine.   I’ll be fixing up a new batch after we get back from our vacation to Mexico next week.  Until then, Happy New Year to you all.  We are looking forward to sharing all kinds of old-fashioned goodness with you this year!

October 23

Elderberry Elixir Recipe–keep colds and flu away naturally.

 

 

 

elderberry  The Elderberry is an amazing little berry full of immune system building goodness.   It has been used to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, and improve heart health.*(See referring article via that link).  It has also been used for centuries to treat and prevent coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis.  It’s even been used to treat flu epidemics, HIV patients, cancer patients, and other patients with compromised immune systems.

And if all that isn’t amazing enough, it’s super simple to make your own Elderberry Elixir to keep your family healthy this cold and flu season as well.   We recently mixed up a batch for the winter ahead.   I used dried berries that I purchased at my local apothecary, but in many areas, you may have them growing right in your own back yard.  BE CAREFUL to be sure you know what you are working with.   Some berries are poisonous and elderberries themselves are only safe when fully ripened and cooked.  (Which is why I purchase mine from someone who is sure of what I’m getting.)  But if you can find some and verify that’s indeed what they are, you’ll have a wonderful source of free berries for years to come.  I intend to plant my own elderberry bushes this coming spring for this very reason.  In the meantime…

This recipe (which also came from my herbalist– Alternatives for Health in Sturbridge, MA) cost less than $25, took less than an hour to prep, and will last my family the entire season.  You can order a pre-assembled kit of the dried herbs just like I did.  Click that link.  Call Salli.

 

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You will need the following.  Most of these can be found at your local herbalist or apothecary. Again, it cost me $18 for all of it.

7 cups of water (filtered, boiled…pure is best)
1 cup dried Elderberries

3 medium slices Astragalus Tongues
6 pieces of Fo-Ti (Ho shu wa)
1 ounce dried Rosehips
1/4 ounce dried nettles
2 cups honey (or less depending on your taste)

Directions:   bring water to a boil in an enamel or stainless steel pot.  Add Elderberries, Astragulus, Fo-Ti,  & Rosehips.  Stir and cover and simmer for 35 minutes on very low heat.  Add Nettles.   Simmer for another 7 minutes.  Turn off heat and mash the berries in the pan.  Strain a few times.  Then add honey while everything is still warm.

Bottle it up.  This batch made two full quarts.  Keep it in the fridge.  Take a daily supplement throughout the winter season.  Adults–2 tsp daily. Kids 1 tsp daily.

If you prefer, you can take only after getting sick.  For that, adults take 2 tsp 4 times  a day.  Kids 1 tsp 4 times a day.   Your cold or flu will be greatly lessened and will generally be gone in a day or two instead of a week or two.

 

 

 

October 20

Throw Away Your Scale to Save Your Marriage!

How often do we see it?  A bride (or groom!) frantically exercising in order to look amazing on the wedding day.  And then the day comes and goes, and also goes the diet and exercise plan.  Post-marriage weight gain is a popular target for comedians for a reason.  It happens.  All.The.Time.  Today we talk about why you need to throw away your scale to save your marriage!

And sadly, it’s that very weight gain that puts a strain on relationships.

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Many will deny it.  Some will tell me how awful I am for saying such a thing, but it doesn’t change the fact that couples are attracted to each other, they marry, and then post-marriage weight gain can cause that attraction to diminish.  For some it can be such a problem that it causes the end of a marriage all together.

So why am I telling you to throw your scale away?  Because it’s part of the problem.   What happens when we get busy with marriage and life and buying the house.  Maybe moving to a whole new area.   Suddenly you step on the scale and it’s up five pounds.   Stress has taken it’s toll.  You gasp.  You are horrified.  You go to work, sulking.  Someone asks what’s wrong and you tell them you’ve gained five pounds!  And they placate you.   It’s just five pounds, they say.  Get over it.

So you do.

A year later you’ve had your first baby.  You step on the scale.  It’s up fifteen pounds.   You’re mortified.   But everyone reminds you that you just grew a human.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.   Besides, you’re too tired to care.   So the days go by and you buy a bigger pair of jeans, and life goes on.   Until a year later, when it’s up another five.  And so on and so on.  I know.  I’ve lived it.  And I’ve watched the same happen to my husband.   And I can tell you that we’ve been honest about this to each other.

We weren’t attracted to each other anymore.  Not like we used to be.  Sure, we still had sex, but it was in the dark and not nearly as passionate as it had once been.

Had someone told me to throw my scale away twenty five years ago, I’d not be writing this.  But they didn’t.  So I will.   For your relationship’s sake, go right now.  Throw it away.   And from now on, judge your weight by how your clothes fit, but with a few stipulations.

First, you must continue to wear jeans.  You may not switch to sweat pants or yoga pants or spandex.   You must wear your jeans (or jean shorts) at least once per week.

Second, you must never buy bigger jeans.  Post maternity excepted… you may have a transitional pair of jeans for that, but they should be those God awful ugly ones with the elastic waist so that you can’t wait to get rid of them.  Otherwise, never ever.  Ever.

Had we all lived by this creed, we’d still all be within 10 pounds of our high school weight. Would we not?   Nothing would have ever gotten out of control.  We’d be feeling fabulous because we would have made minor adjustments as we went along in order to continue to fit into our clothes, instead of needing a major overhaul later.   And I can promise you that your spouse would still be passionate about your body.

Is it too late? No.  Never.  Just throw it away now and start making adjustments until the pair you are wearing is too big.   Then buy the next size down and repeat until you are back to your healthy weight.

And never be plagued by a number again.

September 18

The Middle Way

Epiphanies happen. I had one recently that came out of a look at my home/work life balance. You see, throughout the years I’ve learned that I am sure to feel out of sorts and off my path if I attempt either of two extremes: Attempting to be the perfect domestic goddess and stay-at-home housewife or attempting to get rich as an entrepreneur. I’ve only recently figured out that the mid way between both extremes– the Middle Way, if you will– is where I feel and perform my best. For that reason, I’ve recently cut back on the outside-of-the-home income opportunities I had been pursuing to help make ends meet, and I am now focusing on striking a balance between keeping my home and growing my art. I’m slowly filtering out everything else. The immediate outcome? I have dropped into a world of peace and bliss.

And as usual when I have such an epiphany, it starts me thinking about everything else, and I began to wonder about the other things in my life that plague me in cycles. Things like my weight, financial challenges, and spiritual questions. What if they are all because I am attempting an extreme rather than a happy medium

What if I am either being too restrictive or being too free in my food choices and that’s why I never maintain a healthy weight? What if I am either depriving myself of wants and needs or foolishly spending and never striking a happy medium? What if I am looking at my faith as an all or nothing deal?

And then I realized, I am.

I do all of those things.

And I’ve never, not once, walked the line down the middle with any of them. I don’t think I ever realized that it was an option. I thought I had to choose a side.

And then something else occurred to me.

If I take the middle road in these things, I may essentially eliminate “want” and a huge source of my personal suffering. Let me explain.

Let’s take diet for example. Historically, if I am in a phase where I am over indulging and have decided that I’m never going to diet again, I soon feel sluggish and frumpy and “want” to be thinner and healthier. I feel sad. I suffer with the agony of hating myself and my body. On the other hand, if I am in the midst of a major exercise program and restrictive diet, I feel fit and healthy but I “want” to indulge in wonderful foods and traditions and I feel very deprived and angry if I can’t. But what if I take the middle road? What if I settle in between. I exercise, but not to extreme. I eat healthy foods most of the time but enjoy treats a few times a week as well. Maybe my body settles somewhere in between. Maybe my mind settles too. There will be no “want” left. I will be healthier and fit and have my indulgences. I would never feel deprived. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be thinking about weight or food at all. I wouldn’t need to. I will have eliminated that suffering. Forever.

How would that work with spirituality? or finances? or even choosing the size of my gardens? How would it work in all of my decision-making? Upon analyzing each, I can see how it would resolve some long-standing issues. I’d have peace where I’ve had so much turmoil throughout the years.

So is “wanting” the source of all of our suffering? And is following the middle way the answer? “Moderation in all things”, they say. I just automatically thought that quote was directed at food choices. I never realized it went beyond.

How many things does the Middle Way apply to? The more I look around, the more I think it literally means everything. From food and drink to the size of my car. Moderation.

I suspect making all the adjustments will take a while, maybe even a lifetime, but I’m on a mission to see if I can do it. I will continue pursuit of the middle way in all things and I’ll keep you posted on how it works out. Maybe you can try it too and comment to me how you make out?

August 4

Is Facebook Shaping Your Life?

Living authentically and being true to yourself is really the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family while you are here on earth.  It’s also the most challenging thing you can do.  The world wants to push you and pull you into being what other people want you to be.

These past few weeks, while I have been silent here, have been a time of deep introspection.   I’ve analyzed myself and my life choices to be sure that the path I am on is one that I have chosen and designed for myself.   For the most part, it is.  But there are a few areas where I need to tweak.  There are a few areas I need to cut completely, and there are areas that I need to completely resurrect.

I had to ask myself how I’d gotten off course again.  Yes, I was raised in a world designed by my parents and taught their beliefs, but I’ve addressed those long ago. I rid myself of everything that didn’t fit with my soul already.   No.  It’s not from back then.  It’s this crazy, modern-day, plugged-in world of ours.   We are constantly bombarded with other people’s opinions on Facebook and other social networking sites.  It’s so easy to get pulled in to other people’s beliefs.   It’s so easy to get off track from what we know to be true for us.   How much of my life am I living because it’s what everyone else is doing?

Thankfully that uneasy feeling in my stomach alerts me to a course deviation. And it’s always, always right.   If I wake up and the idea of getting my day going makes me feel a little irritated or queasy, I’m off course.  If I encounter something during the day that strikes me as outright wrong, yet I say or do nothing to fix it, I’m off course.   If my daily to do list is filled with things that make me question why I am wasting my precious hours of my life, I’m off course.

What about you?  How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?  Are you happy and excited?  Or is it time for you to take a look at your own path?  At your own belief systems and ask where each one came from?

It’s fast and simple.  Make a list of what you know to be true.  Do it quickly.  Don’t over think it.  Let it come from your subconscious.   Then look at each thing on your list and ask is it really what you think?  Are they beliefs that come from a place deep within you, as a mature, clear-thinking adult? Do they resonate with who you are?   Or are they beliefs pushed upon you when you were a child who didn’t know better?   Or, maybe, are they beliefs pushed upon you by popular modern-day opinion–opinions that work for other people and not you?

If they are not working for you, stop living your life in a way that re-enforces them.  You are only hurting yourself.  Stop it.

Only when we all get to a place where we live authentically can we live from a place of non-judgement.  When we are all only concerned with following our own inner guide, we won’t have time or concern to look at what the other guy thinks and believes.  We won’t have an interest in that.   And only then can we have peace.

Today. . .  I wish you peace and happiness.

July 17

Part 2-–the 1950s Diet

 

Page_1Welcome Back to Part 2-–the 1950s Diet!  If you are here I am assuming you already read Part One of the 1950s diet.  And by now you are wondering if you have been subjected to a bait and switch.  No worries.  You haven’t. I am actually going to share my version of the Modern Day 1950s Housewife Diet with you today.  It’s the one and only way of eating that brought me from this:

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and from this

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in 3 months.   45 lbs shed.  Never hungry.

You ready?    It’ll be the last time you ever use the word diet because you’ll never need it again.  You’ll also likely improve many of your current health conditions to the point where you no longer have them–things like allergies, asthma, diabetes, and skin rashes.   I know this because it’s worked for tens of thousands of people.

I did not invent this diet.  I found it while desperately searching for an answer to my constant yo-yo dieting.   I needed something to help me get my weight and my life under control and it made sense.  I tried it and it worked so well that I was stunned.   And I had zero asthma symptoms.  And I had no more allergies.   And I had the best health of my life during a time when everyone around me was getting colds and flu. I also saved a ton of money on groceries and diet pills and potions and gym memberships.   And that’s why I call it the Modern Day 1950s diet.  Because it works amazingly well with no cigarettes and amphetamines required and it gave me a perfect hour-glass figure.  I went from a size 16/18 down to a size 7 in 3 months and all I did was eat the whole time.  I even ate ice cream four or five nights a week.  And brownies.  And cake.  And pizza.

So why did this one work?  And why did it catch my eye?  Let’s start with this.

Why in all of my years with hundreds of different diets did nobody ever mention stretch receptors? or chemoreceptors lining my digestive tract?   What are they and why do they matter, you ask?  Well they matter because they tell your brain when to tell you that you aren’t hungry anymore.   Here’s how they work (photo is by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  I’ll introduce you to his books in a moment.)

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When you eat, there are stretch receptors in your stomach that tell your brain when you have eaten enough bulk.   Then there are chemoreceptors in your intestines that tell your brain that you’ve gotten enough nutrition from what you ate.   But here’s the thing.  If either of those components are missing, your brain will continue to tell you to eat.

So let me put that into plain english.   If you eat a cheeseburger and fries and a Coke, for example, your stomach may stretch to capacity and you will feel full and the stretch receptors will send a message to your brain telling it to stop calling for food.   You will feel fine for a bit, but as soon as all that food hits your intestines and your chemoreceptors don’t find enough nutritional value in it, they send a message back to your brain to cause you to want to eat again so that it can hopefully get you to bring in more nutrition.   This keeps happening until your body gets enough vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytochemicals, etc. to run well and keep you healthy.  Sometimes that never happens.   Sometimes no matter how much you eat, you just keep feeling hungry an hour later.

Oh but it gets worse.  When you diet and restrict calories but continue to eat those same kinds of foods, you can imagine what happens.   Eating smaller quantities of nutritionally deficient foods just causes you to not even get the benefit of the stretch receptor break.   You are eating such small quantities that your body never tells your brain that you are satisfied.   If you tough it out, your stomach will eventually shrink and you may not feel hungry all the time, but those chemoreceptors are still not getting enough nutrition to turn off the hunger for long.  Usually within thirty minutes or so your belly will start growling again.   You can’t live like that forever.   And that’s why diets never work.

On the other hand if you have a big thick fruit smoothie for breakfast, or you eat a great big salad with all kinds of colorful and yummy veggies and maybe some nuts and seeds in it for lunch (just as one example.  It could be veggie lasagna, or something else too), your stretch receptors and your chemo receptors both tell your brain that it has enough for now.   It digests slowly, pulling all that good nutrition out.  All the while you feel satisfied and happy.

That little tidbit of info was the first thing that made me realize I was on to something new. Something that might actually work.  If this makes sense to you, you will also want to hear Dr. Fuhrman explain about insulin and how it reacts in your body and is making you fat.  Those food choices are truly killing you.

He talks about all that, diseases, and slow metabolisms in his book.  He talks about so much more than I could ever summarize here, that I have to simply recommend that you buy his book and read it cover to cover.   To make it easy, I’m including it in the “I recommend these products” widget to the right of this article.   Look for Eat To Live. (you may have to use the > button in the widget.)  Make sure you have the book and not the cookbook.  I am also including links to his cookbook and some of his other books, so be sure you have the right one.  They are all excellent.   They have saved my life.

But don’t worry.  I’m not going to leave you hanging.   I’m going to give you a basic outline of what my daily diet ended up morphing into.  And I’ll give you a plan that you can use to prepare yourself and start transitioning into an Eat To Live way of living until you can get the book and read it.

Dr. Fuhrman has a few different plans that you can follow.   He has a vegan plan.  A meat-eating plan.  I hear he even has a less aggressive plan, but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to lose weight and get healthy slower.  Why would they?

My husband follows a modified vegan plan where he includes some meat every week.   I seem to do best on the vegan plan.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it really wasn’t.   There are so many recipes for vegan foods and vegan food products like sour cream and cream cheese out there that it’s easy now, once you set your mind to it.   Plus I have discovered that my asthma goes completely away when I eat a vegan diet.  I must have some type of reaction to animal products.

I DO understand that changing to a largely non-animal product diet can be a lot at first so here’s what I recommend as a transition until you can read the book and incorporate the entire plan.    Start by focusing on ADDING to your current eating plan rather than taking away.   Add a bunch of fruit to breakfast.  Eat it first.  Wait 10 minutes then eat the rest of your meal.  You will find yourself not eating what you used to.    Then every day for lunch, start with a giant salad.  (No meat or cheese in it please!)  If you are still hungry after, then eat your normal lunch.  You most likely won’t.   Then add as many vegetables to your dinner as you can and eat them first.

Start with that for a week or two.  By then you should have gotten and read Eat to Live.  Follow the guidelines in the book.  Before you know it you’ll be living on enormous quantities of crazy good for you food.   And you’ll lose about 20 lbs in 6 weeks. Or more.  My husband lost 28.

And as promised I’m going to tell you what I eat.   I live on Large LARGE amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, and smaller amounts of grains.  These can be combined into thousands of recipes.  I eat pizza, brownies, cakes, frozen banana ice cream (it’s fabulous) and even banana splits.  I eat sandwiches, fries, breakfast bars, wraps, Buffalo cauliflower (just like buffalo chicken wings), lasagna, chili, sloppy joes, cereal, and everything I used to eat–just modified.   I save a small fortune not buying meat.   You’d be amazed what cauliflower can replace.  (Chopped small into chili, it replaces the beef and you’d never know the difference!  I’ll share my recipe for chili later today.)

I also get a tremendous amount of recipes from www.vegweb.com

But I couldn’t know which are good and which are deadly until I read Dr. Fuhrman’s book.  Things like added oil are a no-no, but there are ways of switching ingredients out if need be. You’ll learn all that in the book.

If you are in a super duper hurry, you can also check out Dr. Fuhrman’s website.  But please don’t rob yourself of the permanent lifestyle change that comes from reading his book.   You owe it to yourself and your family.   That book has become my second bible.

Keep me posted if you decide to join me.   As I mentioned in my prior post, I had some life changes that caused me to fall into both menopause and a terrible depression and I lost my way from this way of life for a year.  I’ve recently made my way back and am feeling amazing already.   Just like the first time around I dropped 8 lbs in the first week and my head cleared.  My energy is back. My depression has lifted.   Life is looking good.  I won’t drift away again.   I hope you’ll join me.   And when you get to where you want to be, we’ll exchange 50’s pin up style photos. 🙂    Here’s one from last time.  Not bad for a granny!

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10/24/14–still going strong!   Down 30 lbs and feeling amazing.   My asthma has completely cleared as well.   Are you ready?