Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Top Five Feel Betters for A Cold (includes 3 bonus recipes!)

It's cold season around these parts.
Drippy noses, coughs, sore throats, runny eyes, no fun.
My main mode of operation is to let colds run their course without much intervention, except to support little bodies in the battle against the bug. I try to steer away from over the counter medicines. So here are the few things that provide extra comfort for us when we are sick.*

1. Olbas Oil   a.k.a "Spicy Stuff"
This oil is super "spicy." It contains oils of Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cajeput, Wintergreen, Juniper and Clove. It really helps when stuffiness makes it hard to breathe and fall asleep. I use it, Diet Coke Papa uses it,even Babe-ala uses it. We put a few drops on a tissue (no more than 5 drops for the Babes because the "vapors" can irritate the eyes) and then place the tissue inside of the pillowcase or under the sheets of the bed. I have rubbed feet with this oil and covered them with socks. (This supposedly works wonders for colds. I noticed better sleep after this technique). You can add a few drops to coconut oil to dilute it a bit. I have also put 10-20 drops into a small jar on the shower floor (out of the way of the direct stream of water), while holding the Babe with the cold, letting it do it's vapory magic in the steamy air. You could also let the vapor magic happen in a closed up bathroom while you enjoy the sauna with the your Babe, if he/she is not in favor of showers.

2.The Snot Sucker This thing is amazing (especially for little babies who may not protest as much)! First, you have to get over the fact that YOU are the engine that drives the snot out of your baby's nose. Simply (depending on your child's willingness to have their nose sucked) insert the nose-tip into a tiny snotty nose and suck out the boogers. There is a tiny sponge in the snot collecting compartment to ensure the snot doesn't reach your mouth. We lost ours after a few times and seriously, you would have to really suck hard to get the snot all the way up the tube so I don't worry about it. Works so much better than the one they give you in the hospital or the one that comes in the baby first aid kit. If you try it you will wonder why you ever flinched at sucking boogers out of your baby's nose. Seriously!

3.Maunuka Honey (Should NOT be fed to children under 1 year old).
Oh yum! Maybe the best thing about being sick around here is Manuka Honey! Manuka is a very special honey made by bees that feast on the Manuka or Tea Tree which grown in New Zeland. It is said to have anti-microbial properties. Very special and very expensive. Manuka honey is hard to find and easy to consume. We use it VERY sparingly and in lemon ginger tea at the first signs of a cold. It is superb for sore throats!

photo by Angry Julie Monday

4. Vitamin C Mocktail
For those of you who do not know, I am a recovering alcoholic. I concocted this recipe when I was first recovering. I drank them all the time. Now, I share them with the Fam-O! Hey! that's one good thing that came out of drinking. They are a great substitute for a glass of sugary fruit juice and perfect for providing extra vitamins and fluids when we are sick.

Zippy Cranberry Orange Fizz (fills a Quart Mason Jar)
1 packet of Emergen-C Super Orange
12 ounces of lemon or any citrus flavored sparkling water
6 ounces of kombucha (we use a local brand that makes a seasonal flavor but a peach or ginger flavor would work beautifully)
lots of ice cubes
splash of cranberry juice

Cherry Berry Super -T Charger (fills a Quart Mason Jar)
1 packet of Emergen-C Drink Mix, Acai Berry
12 ounces of lime sparkling water
8 ounces of Celestial Seasonings Black Cherry Berry Tea or Wild Berry Zinger (cool it down before adding it to the mix)
6 ounces of kombucha (we use a local brand that makes blueberry or raspberry flavor but any berry flavor would be fine)
lots of ice cubes
splash of cranberry juice

photo by lindspetrol

5. Good Ol' Chicken Soup
I don't know why but good chicken soup has always been the hardest thing for me to make. My grandmother and my mother made me the most awesome chicken soup. Somehow I never got the recipes and I never found one that satisfied. Maybe it's because boiling a whole chicken kind of creeps me out.  But with the latest cold infecting our homestead, pregnancy related cravings, and Halloween around the corner, I decided to brave the boiling chicken carcass in my kitchen. And let me tell you, oh so good! It takes some time to simmer but it's much easier than I have been thinking it to be for years and years and years. I know it's like I have been living on some planet with no chicken life. You probably already have the best recipe for chicken soup. But I need a place to keep mine and if you need one you can sneak it.

The Easiest Recipe for Really Good Good Ol' Chicken Soup 
1 medium onion
3 stalks of celery
3 carrots
4 parsnips
1 whole organic, free range chicken (3-4 pounds)
1 bay leaf
32 oz. chicken broth
3 T chicken base (we use this one)
1 1/2 quarts of water
2 T fresh dill
2 T fresh parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop all vegetables. (This soup is chunky. Great with a piece of bread!)

Rinse the chicken in cold water. Sprinkle with salt and peper.
Place the whole bird in the pot.
Add the bay leaf.
Pour in chicken broth, add chicken base, and water.
Try to stir, just a bit to dissolve the chicken base.
Add all the veggies, dill and parsely.
Bring to boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 hours.
Remove chicken from the soup.
Place on a cutting surface and remove all meat from the bird.
Shred it and return it to the pot.
Simmer until you are ready to serve.
Add black pepper and salt to taste.

That's it. Just a lot of sitting around, being sick, waiting for the most delicious soup to soothe what ails you.

P.S. One of us will NOT eat soup. (Even though another one of us believes that if  that one would try it he would probably like it.) So, I throw in some egg noodles after I've shredded the chicken and then pick them out and serve them without the other goodness. At least they have been cooked in the goodness. Right? That's what I'll keep telling myself.)

Hope these things bring your family some comfort during this cold season!
I would love to add to my arsenal.
What's your favorite feel better for a cold? Please comment!

*All information and resources found on The Best Things are based on the opinions of the author. Readers should consult with health care providers to make their own nutrition and health decisions. None of the information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Busy Little Squirrel

This is Babe-ala's favorite book!
We read it at least four times a day!

Every Mom has at least a dozen books memorized and this is one I can tell in my sleep.
Getting to that point is what makes reading it really fun!
I can play with the words and the story as we read it and see who notices or who cares.
And Babe-O has also come to really enjoy this book with us. He has it memorized too, so he can jump right in and Babe-ala really loves that!

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tarfuri begins like this:

"The leaves are falling. The air is getting cold."
Through out this picture book, the little squirrel is very busy gathering food for the winter.

What better excuse for making cookies? That's what I say.
So we did! The three of us! Babe-ala's first batch of  "I made these" cookies! (But no picture of that because cookies with a four year old and eighteen month old is a whole lotta crazy in the kitchen, no room for a camera!)

Honey Frosted Cutout Cookies made with Spelt Flour

I found the recipe for the cookies here and they are seriously delicious!
(The recipe calls for sprouted spelt flour but I didn't have that so I used regular spelt flour.)

For the frosting:
I used 1/4 cup of softened butter, enough honey for your desired level of sweetness, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix it all together until incorporated. SO delicious!!!!

They have a sort of nutty flavor that is perfect for fall. But I am going to use this recipe for Winter cut outs too.

I used cookie cutters like this one, this one, and this one to cut out red birds, squirrels, owls, leaves, and pumpkins.
We ate some right out of the oven - delish!
And then played with some - Food Fun!
We matched them to the pictures, made the various animal sounds, and played out the story.
Of course we did it all right on the reading couch. Because well, it's comfy, it's our favorite reading spot, and we can look out the big window at all the birds and squirrels that are getting ready for winter in our very own yard!

Are you too busy to make and play with these delicious cookies? I hope not.
They are worth it!
Happy Autumn!

Want an extra bonus?
Here are a few of our other favorite fall books! Some have squirrels!(They all do except for Ghosts in the House).
(We love it when we don't have to return our favorite books to the library. Click on the picture to buy them for your family. )


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Top Five Excuses for My Absence

Maybe you have noticed that I have been slacking in the blog department?
Maybe you have missed me a little?
Maybe you have missed seeing my cute kids once in a while? 
Well, I am making a come back. Slowly. 
And I thought, maybe I should explain my absence a bit. 
So here are my top five reasons excuses for being absent. 

5. Birthday Parties 
My last post was April 8. That means 5 months have past! Babe-ala's First birthday was only a few days after that last post. First birthday's take lots of preparation folks! Well, any birthday takes lots of preparation if you want to do it right! And we did! It was absolutely a BEST THING! 

And just a few weeks ago was Babe-O's 4th birthday! It was Bat-tacular! 

Out of towners, multiple days of celebration including parties and beautiful cakes! (Yes, I made those myself!) So birthday bookends is my number five excuse. 

We have been busy!  Vacationing in the woods! Making a very first catch! Boat rides! Hog rides! Beach going and sun bathing! How amazing to get away from it all and have fun together!

3. Sabbatical. 
Diet Coke Papa is on sabbatical. This means lots more family fun! And when the Babes are sleeping we get to spend some time together, even if we are half asleep. So, I have spent that late night time with him, rather than here.

2. 12-17 months! 
Babe-ala is on the move! And it's hard to keep up! She is walking... running forwards and backwards. (As you can see she broke her arm in August.) She is sweet as ever and smiley (most of the time)! She is mischievous in all the best ways! She LOVES outside and playing and anything that Babe-O loves. She is saying all kinds of words. ("Bee-Bee" = birdie, "Nu Nu = Noodle," "Mango" = Mango, "Bob-O"= Babe-O,  "Moy" = More, "Dude" = Dude).  She brings so much laughter, fun, and action to our lives everyday. I can't believe how fast she is growing and how much my heart bursts with love when I look at these pictures. She deserves every minute of attention away from this blog that I can give her! 

1. As in, ONE MORE baby! 
Yup, ONE MORE baby on the way!

Our new baby girl is due on March 8th, 2015! 
How's that for a super late announcement! 
Anyway, morning sickness has passed. Fatigue is getting better. 
We are all excited for our new Babe! 

I am glad to be back. 
Thank you for the encouraging words while I have been gone! 
Keep coming back for more of our Best Things! (And you gotta love the kid pics!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Moment with The Babe-O

We have a nasty, rotten cold.
It has been cycling through our house.
Babe-O and I are fortunate enough to have it at the same time.
This means lots of cups of tea, lots of "spicy stuff" (an oil I use to help us breathe at night), and plenty of tissue. It also means Babe-O makes frequent trips to the "big bed" to visit me in the night. Last night he joined me for a sleepover. We blew our noses together, applied more spicy stuff, and propped ourselves up as high as we could on a stack of pillows.
In the quiet darkness and in between sniffles Babe-O said,
"This means we get to spend the whole night together snuggled up in the big bed. Won't that be fun?"

     Yes, my Babe-O. It's the most fun I have ever had being sick. 
     I hope you always want to be so close. I hope you always want to spend time with me to yourself.
     I know that time may be limited. 
    And when you no longer need me in the night I hope you will always know that I am still there. 
    When you have a cold you can take care of on your own, I hope that the smell of "spicy stuff" will    comfort you deeply and in a way you may never fully understand.
    And when I get sick and am without you, I am remembering this moment always.    

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Natural Remedy for Diaper Rash

Diaper rash has reared it's ugly head around here. Poor Babe-ala!  She is already starting to sign to use the toilet. But the journey between signing and using is a long one. Although we change her frequently and immediately, it seems her skin is super sensitive and prone to rash. We tried various ointments but nothing seemed to be working.

So I took her in to see her doctor, who diagnosed her with an external yeast infection. The prescription was for Clortimazole. It's commonly used for yeast infection, jock itch, or athlete's foot.
I just couldn't do it. While it seems relatively safe, there is no evidence of it passing through breast milk and we are still nursing. And I know there are more natural resources out there. So with a trip to the amazing local health food store we created this recipe. And it seems to be doing the trick!*

We mix up a batch of about four applications at a time.

3 Tablespoons of Plain Greek Yogurt (Sounds a little weird but its just a creamy medium for the good stuff plus it adds a little extra good bacteria. Fat content doesn't matter.)
4-5 drops of Black Walnut Extract (made from the black walnut hull, an anti-fungal.This is the brand we use.)
1/2 capsule of Acidophilus which promotes healthy bacteria growth (This is what we use. There are others out there as well. Just open the capsule and pour the powder into the yogurt mixture.)

Keep it in the refrigerator and use liberally at each change.
We kept applying for a few days after the rash disappeared.
We also give her half a capsule of acidophilus in her breakfast yogurt or some applesauce. Which is just a good idea for all of us.

When diaper rash reoccurs that seems to be non-yeast related we omit the black walnut extract.

Happy Baby!
I have just been dying to use this picture somewhere! 

*All information and resources found on The Best Things are based on the opinions of the author. Readers should consult with health care providers to make their own nutrition and health decisions. None of the information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Autumn Under Construction

Summer has been full of construction education in our neck of the woods!
Babe-O has never been so interested in construction and construction equipment before. (His fourth birthday cake was a delicious chocolaty construction site. I used a decorating pack like this one to make the cake below.) Anise is also fascinated with the big machines. We have never known so much about various construction vehicles before. I feel privileged to now be able to name most vehicles we encounter on daily trips in the car! (Thanks to Babe-O and Mighty Machines videos).  We spent a considerable amount of time this summer camped out by construction sites to watch the action.

As summer construction slows down, we decided to do some construction of our own.
 Step 1: Rake up a few leaves.
 Step 2: Gather up a few mighty machines!
 Step 3: Construct away!
Simple, fun, helpful even (at least motivation for getting the raking started) and definitely a BEST THING!

Here are a few of our favorite construction resources (and a few that we dream about):

p.s. I am not ignoring the fact that I have been M.I.A. A post is soon to come on The Top Five Reasons Excuses for My Absence. But if I start there I'll never start blogging again. So I chose to start with a few shorter posts to get myself going while I work on my re-entry piece. Hope you'll understand and re-join me on this journey.