Our Thankfulness Wreath

I am passionate about being intentional during the holiday season to cultivate simplicity and special family traditions in order to tune our hearts towards our Savior and focusing not upon ourselves but upon the glorious gifts that we are blessed with each and every day. It is easy for the holiday season to get incredibly busy with activities, outings, and gift shopping, and miss out on the more important work of preparing our hearts for the Lord’s coming. I am certainly guilty of this. I am thankful for the grace and strength that God freely gives to help us stop the madness, search our hearts, and begin to make practical steps towards refocusing our hearts.

This year I came across a cute thankfulness wreath pictured in a recent edition of Family Fun magazine that I was inspired to make for our own use. It was super easy to make. You only need a 12-inch styrofoam wreath, fall colored cardstock (or construction paper works too!), and about 1/4 yard of fabric cut into thin strips (about 2 inch strips works best I discovered). I took each strip of fabric and wrapped it around the wreath and secured it with straight pins. Then, I cut out leaf shapes on the cardstock and folded each leaf in half for added dimension and pinned them around the wreath with more straight pins. Each night as we prepare our hearts for thanksgiving, we will take our wreath down from the wall and write on a leaf the things each of us our thankful for.

To take just a few moments on a regular basis to think upon what we are grateful for during this month of preparation for Thanksgiving is really precious, especially as you hear the small voices of little ones whispering their thanks and recording it upon our wreath. Oh to keep our hearts focused on the goodness of a Mighty God who loves us. I need grace each and every day to keep my eyes upon the Lord rather than my failures and problems. This simple practice is just one way to get our eyes off ourselves and on One far more worthy of our gaze.

For further inspiration, visit: 5 Meaningful Things to Do In Preparation for Thanksgiving. Looking for a quality picture book read aloud for Thanksgiving? Check out our favorite: Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving.

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Pumpkin Oatmeal

We eat oatmeal at our home about two to three times each week because it is cost effective, filling, and nutritious. But it can often get a little old without some fun variety here and there. With the fall season, pumpkin is a favorite flavor that adds a scrumptious taste to traditional oatmeal. It’s yummy, simple, and healthy!

2 cups rolled uncooked oats
3 1/2 cups coconut milk (or combination with water or other milk of your choice)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, dash of cloves)
Candied pecans/walnuts
Maple syrup or honey, to sweeten

1. In a medium saucepan, combine rolled oats, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla and spices. Mix till well blended.
2. Place saucepan over high heat on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat and transfer to individual bowls and top with chopped nuts and sweetener of your choice. You may want to add a bit more milk to your taste.

Enjoy!

Yield: 4-5 servings.

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It’s That Time Again! Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is one of our favorite Christmas activities every year! It is such a fun and tangible way to minister to suffering children around the world alongside your children and family. It is a practical way to get the focus off ourselves and see the great neediness in the world around us. It is a simple way that we can extend God’s love to the nations. And our kiddos can participate each step of the way, from picking out gift items, to writing cards and letters to the child, to wrapping, to praying, and finally to seeing the destination of the boxes. You can track your gifts and see what country your shoe box went to, which provides fun interaction and educational experiences with your children as you can discuss the country, the needs, and geography. This is one way to give your children a heart for the world. Watch the promo videos together and all your hearts will be touched.

Operation Christmas ChildI cannot encourage your family more to participate in this awesome project! Last year, I shared how I heard back from a child I had sent a shoe box to nearly ten years before. I got to see firsthand the impact of that gift. Read more of Meryl’s story here.

Collection week is November 12-19, 2012. Find out more information, drop spots, how to track your gift, and more here.

Need some ideas of what to package in your shoe box?

Check out this post: 101 Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Ideas

Here are the items we packaged in our boxes this year during our trip to Target:

Boy (2-4 years)- small monster truck, small bouncy balls, crayons, coloring pad, short sleeve t-shirt (these are all on clearance now, so a great time to get something nice for a great price), slinky, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, washcloth, candy

Girl (5-9 years) – hair bands, my little pony, small stuffed animal, crayons, coloring pad, candy, short sleeve t-shirt, fingernail polish, toiletry items (as listed above)

Girl (10-14 years) – barbie doll, coloring pencils, sketch pad, short sleeve t-shirt, cute head band, hairbrush, fingernail polish, cute socks, toiletry items

And the kids loved drawing a picture and writing a special message to each of the children which adds a personal touch from our heart to theirs.

Will you join us in bringing the love of Christ to children around the world?

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How to Make Your Perishable Food Items Last for Two Weeks

After my recent post on menu planning and sharing my current two week grocery shopping routine, I had several readers ask how I made my produce and perishable items (like dairy & bread) last for a two week period. Here are a few tips I have learned to make it work!

1. Use the more perishable produce items during the first week and save the more hearty produce during the second.

For example, we will use the softer produce, green beans, cucumbers, pears, grapes, etc during the first week and use more of the coniferous vegetables squashes, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, apples, oranges, and such for the second week. Pears and bananas usually take a week to ripen anyway, so they can be consumed later as well, depending upon their ripeness at time of purchase.

So in my menu planning, we will usually eat fresh salads, green beans, zucchini, carrot sticks, and such during the first week, with grapes, pears, bananas, and such for lunches, and then once that is consumed, we will eat squashes, broccoli, steamed carrots and other veggies with our dinners during the second week, and more apples and oranges for breakfasts and lunches. I also occasionally purchase some frozen produce (such as spinach, peas, and corn) during the second week as needed for fillers to throw into many meals. Many vegetables can be blanched and frozen to preserve them. This helps preserve the most nutrients. If you store the lettuce properly, we usually can still have fresh salads in the second week as well.

2. Store produce in airtight containers.

A general rule of thumb is that you can rinse and prepare your produce and store in airtight containers in the fridge to extend their life. For a full extensive list on this practice without using any plastic bags, check out: How to Store Vegetables & Fruit without Plastic. This helpful article explains how many vegetables can be stored wrapped with a damp towel or paper towel. I also have found green bags to be very effective in preserving produce in the past. They can be rinsed and reused many times.

Another effective method is storing a paper towel in a ziploc bag with your produce items (lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, etc) and that helps absorb the extra moisture from the produce and prevent early spoilage.

A few tips on specific items:

Lettuce – I recommend buying lettuce in airtight sealed bags or plastic 1 lb bins, as this prevents the lettuces from perishing quickly. Many stores carry organic spring salad mixes in these bins, and I have found they last at least two weeks in the fridge, if not longer. Also, many stores sell lettuce in sealed bags that you don’t have to open until needed, which keeps them dry and preserved for much longer than just buying a head of lettuce.

If you choose to buy by the head, you can also rinse and dry your lettuces with a salad spinner. Allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or so until lettuce is completely dry before transferring to the fridge. Store in the airtight container until ready to use.

If my lettuce begins to spoil, I will simply throw it into a green smoothie, and nothing goes to waste!

Bananas – I find it best to purchase bananas in various stages of ripeness so they can be used throughout a two week period. If they start to fade and I cannot get to them, I will simply open them up, cut into small chunks, and stick in a ziploc bag in the freezer to use with smoothies on another occasion. This works really well.

Pears – I store pears on the countertop until they just start to get ripened and then I transfer them to the fridge in a paper bag to preserve them until they can be consumed.

Apples & Oranges – These store well in the same drawer together in the fridge. Apples do give off a gas that can cause other fruits to spoil more quickly, so it is best to keep one drawer for just apples and oranges, since oranges are not affected in the same way.

Berries - I buy all my berries in bulk during the summer time and then freeze them in ziploc bags to use throughout the year for smoothies. The key is not to rinse them until they are ready to be used otherwise they perish quicker in the fridge or clump together in a frozen mess in the freezer.

Onions – I keep these together with potatoes, winter squashes, and other vegetables and fruit that take time to ripen on a shelf in my kitchen. These can also be stored in the fridge to preserve them longer. I try to keep one or two in the fridge at all times, as the refrigeration process seems to eliminate the watery eye syndrome that is common with onions.

Celery - This can be stored upright in a jar with a small amount of water in the bottom to keep them fresh. Cut off the ends and store them by individual stalks. More often then not, I just keep in the original bag and it lasts just fine.

Mushrooms – I usually buy mushrooms by the pre-assembled package to help preserve them. Otherwise, store in a brown paper bag.

Bread- (Obviously, not produce item, but someone asked how I extend the life of my bread) Since we eat a fair amount of bread, I buy a dozen loaves of bread at a local discount organic bread store and store in the freezer and pull out as needed. This prevents any bread from getting moldy.

Milk – We go through about three gallons of milk every two weeks (we certainly could use more but we are also on a budget ;) . I usually buy raw milk for the first week and a half (since that is about as long as it lasts before going sour) and then a gallon of organic milk for the last portion. We just have to make sure we use it slowly but surely and not overindulge to make it last the full two weeks.

Cheese & Butter- These two dairy items freeze very well, so I will buy my cheese in a 5 lb block and cut it into 1 lb chunks and place in ziploc bags in the freezer until needed. Butter can be stored in the original box and pulled out also as needed.

All other dairy products seem to last just fine for the full two week period.

Remember, it will take a bit of trial and error to figure out how much you will consume to make a twice a month shopping excursion work for your family. I know personally, it took me two or three tries before I really figured out how much we needed to eliminate quick trips to the store between the two week cycle. And that’s perfectly normal and okay. I also find it useful to make sure to plan in a extra buffer meal or two (sometime quick and simple (baked potato bar, cans of refried beans for quick burritoes) and dessert, for those impromptu guests and evenings when I just don’t feel up to making a big dinner.

For a complete guide on how to store all your produce, check out this excellent list.

{Photo Credit}

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Beef Bourguignon w/Slow Cooker Adaption

Hey friends! My goal this year is to adapt one of our favorite family recipes each month to a more simplified slow cooker version! Here is one of our favorites that I am sharing today while republishing the original recipe from the archives. You won’t be disappointed!

After watching the film Julie & Julia on the life of Julia Child awhile back, I was determined to learn to cook a few of Julia Child’s recipes, starting with her Beef Bourguignon, since it was so emphasized during the film (and I have the very same Le Creuset french oven as well!). After several attempts, I have come up with a fabulous adaption of the recipe that is so much simpler than the original and still ever as delicious! This meal is absolutely fabulous – especially for the meat loving husband. It is certainly a special treat for us on a budget, but it makes the man very happy, so I make it once a month or so. It is also a excellent dish for hospitality and has received rave reviews wherever we have served it. We serve over creamy garlic mashed potatoes or noodles for a delicious comforting meal. Unfortunately, I really failed in my photography on this one…but it is truly my favorite meal!

Ingredients:

  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 2-3 pounds stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 3 cups red Burgundy wine (pretty much any cheap red wine works as well. I recommend sticking within the french wines for best results.)
  • 2-3 cups beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1-2 crumbled bay leaves
  • 2 pounds mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/4 cup butter

Directions:

  1. In a large 9-10 inch fireproof casserole pan, cook bacon over medium/high heat until tender and browned. Remove bacon from pan, while leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
  2. Dry the beef in a paper towel before placing in the casserole and saute it on each side until nicely browned.
  3. Add the carrots, onions, and 1/2 cup beef broth and saute until tender.
  4. After bacon has cooled, chop into small pieces, and then add back to the pan with stew meat and vegetables.
  5. Toss with salt, pepper, and arrowroot powder and mix till well combined.
  6. Add the wine, remaining beef broth, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Add enough liquid so that meat is barely covered. Bring to a boil.
  7. Turn oven to 325 degrees. Cover the casserole and place in the lower third of the oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  8. While the beef is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. In a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to diminish, add the mushrooms. You may want to do them in two separate batches to prevent overcrowding, which will prevent them from browning nicely.
  9. Toss and shake the pan for 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are nicely browned. Remove to a large bowl.
  10. After the meat has cooked for 2 hours, add the mushrooms. Return to oven for the remaining 1/2 hour to 1 hour.
  11. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. The taste improves with age! Simply reheat to serve.

Enjoy!

SLOW COOKER ADAPTION:

Yes! I am all about simplifying and making life easier for myself, so my recent adventure was adapting this recipe to make in the slow cooker. And it works beautifully

Simply throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker. The only changes you will want to make include eliminating the beef stock (as it will make it too wet) and doubling the arrowroot powder/cornstarch. You do not need to precook the meat in anyway. I like to throw the bacon in whole and then after it is cooked, I will remove and chop it up. You can saute the mushrooms as the recipe above describes for extra flavor before adding, or you can simply toss them in as well without any advance preparation. Cook on low for 6-8 hours for best results. You can cook it on high for a shorter period of time, but if you want the stew meat to be soft and tender, it is best to cook low for the longer period. Yum!

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Quiet Time Learning Bins for Little Ones

I have recently been trying to get a bit more organized in two areas:

1. Keeping my toddler engaged while I work homeschooling my Kindergarten daughter and vis versa.

2. Maintaining a peaceful nap period every afternoon.

I wanted some fun educational resources for my little ones to be able to work at independently while I rotated between working with each of them one on one. We also have a daily rest period after lunch when everyone goes to their special place (in their bedroom or elsewhere) for a quiet time or nap time according to their age. This is a time for us all to refresh ourselves with rest or quiet independent play. I find it essential for this mommy to have this period during our day to revitalize myself for the rest of the day. It allows me time to write, read, nap if necessary, and do a few clean up tasks here and there.

How do I keep everyone engaged but quiet during these periods?

I heard about the idea of quiet time bins in years past, so I knew it was about time to get creative and make something of it for our home. This one simple idea is a great solution for both my dilemmas mentioned above.

We compiled 5 individuals boxes for each child with 5 different activities for 5 days of the week.

I found these simple plastic organization shoe box bins at my local Dollar Store.

In each box, I picked out various age appropriate activities. I wanted educational, logic building, hands on, creativity inspiring activities, so we chose the following:

Toddler/Preschooler (2-4 years):
Beginner Puzzles (I found some cheap box puzzles at Dollar Store that I put in small ziploc bags)
Playdough (a few cans of playdough with cookie cutters -again, playdough is from Dollar Store – 4 colors for $1) – this is just an activity we use during school time because of the mess involved
Wedgits
Day & Night Logic Game
Pattern Blocks & Boards

Other ideas: Kumon First Step Workbooks (w/beginner scissors) – we have used and enjoyed these books in the past! Another favorite is My Book of Easy Mazes for this age group.

Kindergarten (5-7 years):
Sewing Cards
Magnetic Dolls Dress Up
Advanced puzzles (Stored in small ziploc bags and cut out small image of completed puzzle from original box)
Zoologic
Never Bored Kids Book or Kumon Cutting Workbook (with scissors, glue and other supplies)

We labeled each box according to the day of the week for its use. This allows the activities to be rotated and continue to be fresh with each week. Each day, I work for a 30 minute period with my toddler and my daughter plays with one of her boxes or works on independent school work. During rest time, if my toddler doesn’t sleep, as happens occasionally, I will also allow him to pull out a box. My daughter listens to books on tape and may occasionally play with her daily activity box during rest period as well. I have found it works the best keeping one busy at the counter while I spend some quality time with the other.

This is just a simple tool to keep everyone busy and engaged and your home running smoothly during these periods of your day.

For other ideas, check out these posts:

Quiet Time Bins – Keeper of the Home

How to Make Quiet Time Activity Bins – Nice Girl Notes

Quiet Time Bins – Holistic Homemaker

This post includes affiliate links to product recommendations that we use and love. Please note we do receive a small percentage of each purchase made through our links that help to support this site. 

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My Favorite Cloth Diapers Giveaway!

I’m excited to bring you today a wonderful giveaway from my favorite cloth diapering store and sponsor, Sweet Bottoms Baby Boutique! This online store is awesome! They offer a huge selection of cloth diapering products, baby carriers, mommy care products, natural safe toys, and everything is offered with free shipping, plus you can accumulate rewards with each purchase providing savings on future orders. Each order comes very quickly to your door packaged with love and a sweet array of samples. (My last order was shipped two hours after I ordered it!)

I have used cloth diapers for all three of our little ones and have absolutely loved the experience not to mention how much the cost savings in comparison to disposable. There are so many wonderful styles and colors to choose from which makes it tons of fun.

My two favorite cloth diapers are the Bum Genius stay-dry one size pocket diapers and the more reasonably priced Kawaii one size pockets. These two diapers compile the entirety of our cloth diapering stash because they are high quality, rarely leak (and if they do it is usually a good sign that they need to stripped which solves the problem), dry quickly, and with their adjustable sizing can last me through the whole period of diapering for each child. I have used my stash of Bum Genius through three children and have only needed to replace elastic one time, which is really easy to do with the new styles. Bum Genius have a fabulous one year warranty on their diapers as well. Kawaii while not as high of quality, lacks warranty, and more difficult to replace elastic, they have really surprised me with their durability. If on a tighter budget, these dipes are the way to go, as they retail between $8-10 per diaper. Kawaii tend to be a bit more bulky than the Bum Genius, but otherwise they have held up remarkably well. For my extensive review, visit here.

I highly recommend snap diapers as they last so much longer than any style of Velcro. Velcro just accumulates tons of hair and string which can be a challenge to clean out, and also the Velcro losses its strength in ability to cling over time, which never happens with snaps. I used Velcro style with my first baby, and then quickly switched to snaps with my second baby, and have been thrilled with the ease and durability. Sweet Bottoms Baby offers a Fix & Fasten Guarantee on their diapers, providing free repair of snaps for the lifetime of the diaper! That’s quality customer service.

So today, we bring you a special gift package of one Kawaii and one Bum Genius pocket style one size diaper (your choice of color and style) for two lovely winners for your sampling pleasure! This is a retail value of $27.50 per gift set.

To Enter:

1. Visit Sweet Bottoms Baby Boutique and check out their selection. Pick out your favorite style and color of the Bum Genius and Kawaii diapers and come back and share with us! 

2. For a second optional entry, tell us your favorite money saving baby care tip in a second comment. 

Follow them on Facebook for specials, giveaways, and more! Check out their Fall Festival Sale now and save 10% by entering “fallfestival’ at checkout on most items!

Giveaway closed.

And the winners are….

Lauren & Melissa! (you will be contacted shortly if you won!)

Winner will be randomly selected and announced on the day following the close of the giveaway.
No purchase necessary to participate.
Giveaway limited to US participants only.
Email subscribers must click through to the original post and leave a comment in order to be entered. Replying to the email in your inbox does not qualify. Sorry!
This is a sponsored giveaway from a company that I love and support!

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Homemaking Help 101

Do you feel lost in your homemaking and don’t know where to begin? Did you not receive the training you desire to be a resourceful homemaker? Do you desire a routine but just feel hopeless? Here is a compilation of all the best articles here at Passionate Homemaking and elsewhere on the basics of homemaking, from cleaning to menu planning to your mission. I hope having them all in one place would make it easier for you to take simple steps, one by one, in finding a routine that works best for you. Remember, these are just tools and they certainly are not all encompassing. Feel free to adapt them to your preferences. This is just a resource to help encourage you in making a beautiful and peaceful home that brings delight to the residents and blessing to those who enter through your doors.

Housecleaning

Cleaning Your House in 30 Minutes per day

How to Wash Your Laundry in One Day

Organizing Kitchen Storage with Canning Jars

Fly Lady Routines

Weekly Cleaning Schedule

Fifteen Family Chore Charts

Schedules & Routines

12 Efficiency Tips in the Kitchen

Developing a Simple Schedule & Routine

Get a Maid, a Chef, and a Nanny by Creating Effective Routines

Establishing a Morning Routine

Tips for Maintaining a Simple Peaceful Home: Routines, To Do Lists, and More

Simplifying the Schedule

Establish Routines for a Simple Home

Start Your Day By Getting Dressed

Menu Planning

Simple Menu Planning  

Dry Erase Menu Plan System

Simplifying By Buying Groceries Online

Monthly Grocery Shopping

Monthly Baking Routine

Home Management

Homemaking Binder

Build a Home Planning Notebook

My Favorite iPhone Apps for Home Management 

Simple Steps to Declutter Your Home

Taking a Weekly Planning Retreat

Simplifying by Planning

Yearly Planning with a File Crate System

Free Printable Homemaking Resources

The Color Coded Family

Home Decorating

Simple Home Decorating on A Budget 

Simple & Frugal Children’s Bedroom Decor

Make a House a Home – Decor

Decorating on A Budget – Part 1 & Part 2

Artwork in the Home

Homemaking How-To’s

How to Properly Iron Your Clothes

How to Wash Your Clothes

Keeping it All In Perspective

Making Your Home Lovely

Tips for Maintaining a Simple Peaceful Home

No Mundane Task

Pitfalls of To-Do Lists

A Home for God

Increasing the Passion In Your Homemaking

Understanding the Heart of Order

Let Your Work Be Your Worship

Homemaking Resource Recommendations

Maximize Your Mornings by Kat @ Inspired to Action (a powerful tool for making the most of your day by starting it out right!)
Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney (Read my full review here)
From Clutter to Clarity: Maximizing Life from the Inside Out by Nancy Twigg (It starts with the heart! Love this book!)
One Bite at A Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh Oxenreider (small weekly goals for organizing a simple home – practical and doable!)
Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider (a room by room guide to getting organized!)
Managers of the Home: A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families by Steve & Teri Maxwell (my mom swears by this book and she managed to homeschool and organize a family of 8 children!)
I’m an Organizing Junkie   (a useful blog for all things organizing!)

What are your favorite homemaking articles? Add your favorite links in the comments below! We’d love to hear what has helped you!

{Photo Credit}

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Stocking Your Natural Herbal Medicine Cabinet

Screen shot 2009-10-20 at 7.22.56 AMPhoto by niachan

Edited and republished from the archives. Originally published 10/20/2009.

We have already been attacked with our first bout of illness for the year with coughs and colds, so it is time to restock the medicine cabinet with our favorite natural remedies. I love using herbal tinctures and remedies for our healing and was eager to share with you what we concluded were some of the best items to have on hand for all the little ailments that could come upon us. I am not apposed to using antibiotics on occasion if it is totally necessary, but for the everyday headaches, wounds, colds, flus, fevers, here is what I have found to be effective natural solutions.

Colds/Congestion

Emergen-C – I have talked previously about our favorite Vitamin C drink Emergen-C here. I like to stock up on this when I get a good deal. Trader Joe’s has a good price on it as well as Vitacost.com. Pumped full of 1000 mg of vitamin C, it also has a good portion of energy boosting B vitamins, in addition to various minerals and electrolytes.  This will keep you healthy or kick out those nasty colds quickly! When we get sick, we will drink several packs of this product daily. It tastes delicious and is a good way to cover up any other herbal tinctures that we may add to it. We use the Kids Emergen-C for our little ones. They normally drink one package each day for boasting the immune system during the winter.

Traditional Medicinals Teas – Gypsy Cold, Breathe Easy, Throat Coat – I love these delicious teas for specifically formulated with various herbs for every ailment. They are delicious, relaxing, and refreshing and really help solve the problem. They also help to encourage you to drink more fluids, which is most beneficial for healing. Amazon sells a sampler pack with subscribe & save discounts providing you with great natural support at low prices all winter long. Their Just for Kids line of teas is wonderful for your little ones.

Eucalyptus Oil – Eucalyptus in it’s essential oil form is wonderful to have on hand as it is highly beneficial. Add a few drops to the humidifier for easier breathing and rub it on the chest to help relieve congestion. We use this for our children especially. Dilute a few drops of oil in a dab of coconut or olive oil and rub on their chest to relieve congestion.

Echinacea/Goldenseal – A great combination to boost your immunity. We take in tablet form. Most do not recommend for pregnant mothers.

And as my mom always says, when the kids are sick, give them regular baths and change their sheets often! Keep those germ bugs running away.

Coughs

Coughs Remedies for Infants & Kids – We have recently discovered the wonderful natural remedies of cough syrups by Hylands and found them to be quite effective for our little ones. It is hard to find something safe for infants, but Hylands offers an infant cough syrup that works very well with all natural ingredients. They also offer a cough syrup for Kids ages 2+ made with honey. These are wonderful to have on hand for those nights when they just cannot go to sleep due to extensive coughing.

Adults – We love the Ricola Cough Drops for soothing coughs and sour throats, in addition to the Traditional Medicinals teas.

For further ideas for natural healing of colds, check out our previous posts:

Natural Cold Remedies for Children

Natural Healing for the Family

Soup Remedy for Colds

Flu/Fever

Elderberry Syrup – Elderberry is anti-viral, contains high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants, has cell-protecting components, soothes sore throats, and supports the immune system and respiratory system. The elderberry is effective in fighting viruses, such as the flu, and upper respiratory infections. According to Prescription for Herbal Healing, “a clinical study of elderberry found that it cured 90 percent of flu infections within seventy-two hours. In the same trial, patients receiving a placebo needed six days.” This is also effective as a cough syrup. We recommend Quantam Elderberry Syrup as it is naturally sweetened with honey or the sugar free version. This is recommended for children over 1 year. A nursing mother can take 1 Tbsp of Elderberry syrup 5 minutes before nursing to pass the benefits on to a infant less than a year old. For infants, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Years, recommends putting 1 drop per pound of body weight directly on a baby’s tongue, or administer while nursing. This book states it is completely harmless and can be given repeatedly as needed to help decrease fevers and the like. You can be taking this regularly as an immune booster as well. Make your own elderberry syrup and save money. Follow this recipe.

Echinacea – To ward off the flu at the first hint of symptoms, take echinacea, an herb with powerful antiviral and immunity-boosting effects, says renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in her book, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. Echinacea is available in most health food stores in supplement form, as a tincture and as a tea. Echinacea works best over a short period of time, and isn’t an effective immune strengthener when taken long term. She suggests using the herb for no more than a week.

For infants, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Years, recommends mixing 10 drops of Echinacea in a four ounce bottle of water. Allow baby to suck this as desired to keep a fever in bounds. A mother can also take a dose of 5-15 drops two to three times daily that will pass through the breast milk to protect the infant.

Calming Children, Teething

Catnip Tea – A combination of catnip and chamomile is a great aid in calming children when dealing with various stress, teething, pain, etc. Traditional Medicinals offers a catnip tea as well as Mountain Rose Herbs (the Quiet Child Tea) that we enjoy. You can freeze this tea in ice cube trays and allow a baby to suck on it for teething relief. I also dilute it a bit and offer it to a baby in a bottle if needed. Hylands also sells Teething Tablets that are semi-effective. I’ve also had people recommend a drop of brandy rubbed on the gums does the trick. I have yet to try this method. ;)

When all else fails and baby just can’t sleep, we do use a small dose of Infant Advil dye-free drops for teething and fevers.

Ear Ache

Garlic OilThis is a good recipe to use as a preventative as well! Press 2-3 garlic cloves in 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Let warm on stove for 15-20 minutes. Strain garlic from oil. Lay child on side and drop 2-3 drops of garlic oil in ear and massage lower outer ear for a few minutes. Wait for half hour or so before doing the other side so oil won’t drain out. 3-4 times daily. You can also buy a garlic oil already prepared for you. Make sure to use this homemade tincture right away or store in the refrigerator for up to one weeks time to avoid any safety risks. Please DO NOT store at room temperature.

Muscle Pains/Aches

Arnica Spray - Arnica is highly valued for sprains and bruises when the skin is not broken. Can help prevent bruising if applied quickly. Great relief for sour muscles. Also available in several other forms, as a tincture and in ointments, it makes an excellent treatment for rheumatism and some skin irritations as well. We use Hyland’s Arnica Spray.

Headaches/Nausea

Hylands Headaches – Hyland’s Headache is a traditional homeopathic formula for the relief of symptoms of head pain due to stress and sick or nervous headache. No side affects but rather natural healing response. Safe for adults and children. Take at the first sign of a headache for best results.

Ginger Tea - Ginger’s wonderful effects as a treatment for nausea have led it to be highly recommended for sea sickness or motion sickness as well. Ginger tea is very settling. A great aid for pregnancy nausea as well.

Stress

Rescue RemedyBach’s Rescue Remedy is a natural form of healing for everyday stress and help maintain control in your body. Homeopathic remedy. Composite of five of the flower remedies discovered by Dr. Edward Bach. Rescue Remedy calms the nerves, eases tension, buffers emotional shock, and combats stress. You can use this on your pets as well under the guidance of a holistic veterinarian. Crisis Calm from NaturoKits is also a great stress reliever. Our favorite tea for stress relief is Tension Tamer.

Herbal Healing Salts - My favorite way to relieve stress, muscle pain, or to heal any wounds, is to take a hot bath with a combination of herbal healing salts. Epsom salts is in this combination as well. But with the addition of lavender and other herbs it is very relaxing.I use the herbal bath salts from Mountain Rose Herbs and absolutely love them (they are on sale in October as well)! They help to relax me in order to sleep well.

Cuts, Bruises, Muscle Pain

Epsom Salts – Excellent for soaking a small open wound to prevent infection. Use daily as a soak for warts as well. It really works! These are also effective after childbirth to heal the vaginal area. These are cheap and available at your local supermarket.

Hydrogen Peroxide – A great antiseptic. Pour directly onto a wound to clear out dirt and fight infection. Cover with band aid.

Witch Hazel – Witch Hazel is one of the most widely used first aid remedies, both for its astringent and blood clotting actions. Use distilled Witch Hazel as a compress for minor burns and sprains, or apply directly to the skin for insect bites, nosebleeds and cuts. Witch Hazel also makes a good skin toner.

Super Glue & Butterfly Band-Aids – Butterfly band-aids and super glue are a must for the slighter deeper cuts as well. Saves you from getting stitches and prevent scaring. We used it all the time growing up with deeper cuts on the head or fingers. Use your discernment as to the deepness of the cut. Aaron gashed his finger a few months back which was definitely deeper than a regular band-aid would heal. So we cleaned it out with hydrogen peroxide, and then held the gash shut with our fingers and applied a thin strip of super glue  and covered with a butterfly band-aid. I cannot say how natural super glue but it was designed originally to quickly patch up soldiers on the battlefield during the Vietnam War. They even used it to glue lacerated livers together (lovely, huh?). I did find reference to it being non-toxic though. It does seals the cut and allows it to heal beautifully! We saved ourselves from many hospital trips growing up by using this simple frugal method. For more on this solution, read Super Glue: Safe for Treating Cuts? and How To Use Superglue for Cuts.

Stomach aches

Papaya Enzymes are a chewable digestive aid that is 100% natural. Each serving contains papaya fruit. Pepermint and chlorophyll are added to refresh and sweeten breath, so it is also a great breath refreshener! We love these chewable tablets! They really work! I usually use only two for myself when needed and one tablet for children.

Burns

Aloe Vera – The one to turn to for burns and skin irritations of all types. When you can, using a piece of live plant. Break off a leaf and rub it directly onto the skin for relief of burn, sunburn or poison ivy. Not for internal use.

I also love the Wild Weed Salve in the NaturoKits First Aid kits that works wonders for burns of every kind.

Baking Soda – for quick relief of the pain of a burn (as in receiving a burn in the kitchen), dash a little bit of baking soda on the burn. Love it!

Other items and supplements…

Lastly, we all take cod liver oil daily for it’s omega-3 content and naturally occurring vitamin A and D, which are also wonderful immune boosting aids. Cod liver oil is excellent for overall health and wholeness. We use the Nordic Naturals brand as recommended by my naturopath. Aaron takes the EPA version, I take the DHA version (more suitable for pregnancy, nursing, and female hormone balancing) and our baby and kids take Childlife Cod liver oil. I give the children a natural liquid multi-vitamin especially in the winter as a preventative. We use PediVites (also recommended by our naturopath due to it’s completely pure contents). Beyond that, we don’t take any other supplements.

Looking for a good reference guide for natural healing? An excellent resource that every family should have on hand to use as a guide for natural healing is the Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A to Z Reference to Drug Free Remedies. We use this book all the time and it is the only one I keep on hand for frequent use!

Further Reading:

Natural Insomnia Help

Hay Fever Homemade Allergy Tonic

Boosting Baby & Toddlers Immune System Naturally

5 Natural Medicine Cabinet Essentials

Those are the items in our medicine cabinet! Take stock of what you have for now is the time to prepare for the winter cold/flu season! These items will save you doctor’s bills because many basic sicknesses can be solved naturally at home.

Most of these items recommended above can be found very reasonably at Vitacost. Some links above to Amazon are affiliate links and we do receive a small percentage of the sales made through our links.

Disclaimer: As always, remember that I am not a doctor and offer these recommendations from my own personal experience and research into natural healing. Please double check with your naturopath/holistic practitioner before using any of these suggestions. Find a naturopath for the health and wholeness of your family!

Do you have any recommendations for natural healing that you would like to add to the list?

 

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Hearty Spaghetti Sauce

I love the Italian heritage that runs in my family and the immense flavors for delicious simple spaghetti sauce. It is perfect for a cozy fall night and a great means of concealing a lot of extra veggies in one place. Plus when you throw it all in the slow cooker or stove top and allow it to slowly simmer all day, the flavors mesh in amazing ways leaving you with a rich satisfying meal. You can add zucchini and carrots discreetly by simply finely chopping them before adding. I usually use a pound of ground beef or half ground beef and half sausage for a tasty addition. This last week I used stew meat and it was good. This is a family recipe that has been passed down through the years. You can’t go wrong.

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 carrots, finely chopped (for disguise purposes)
1 zucchini, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
1-2 pounds ground beef, pork roast, italian sausage, stew meat, meatballs (your choice!)
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz) or 1 quart of homemade canned tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-2 Tablespoons natural sweetener (honey, xylitol, rapadura), for balancing of flavors
2-3 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Parmesan cheese, topping (optional)
16 oz package of spaghetti noodles (we love brown rice and quinoa noodles! Tip: wash in cold water to prevent sticky noodles!)

Directions:

1. Saute onion, pepper, carrots, celery, and zucchini in oil until soft.
2. Add meat and cook until no longer pink.
3. Add remaining ingredients.
4. Cover and simmer for several hours, or transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. If you use slow cooker, add more thickener as needed.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

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