Garden Beginnings

After four years of renting (and being gone for 1-3 months each summer) I am garden obsessed this spring. While I’m waiting for the weather to make up it’s mind that spring is really here, I’ve been busy reading, planning and gathering supplies.

Gardening books from the library–One Magic Square is my favorite so far! 

Start small and keep it manageable, I keep having to remind myself (especially since we’re expecting a baby this summer). I’d gladly dig up half the yard right now, but probably wouldn’t have the energy or desire to weed and water it all come summer’s 100 degree weather.

This year I’m focusing on growing on our top favorite vegetables that are high on the dirty dozen list and/or are fairly expensive. Plus, we’re putting in a few berry bushes. (Happy squeal!)


Tomatoes, mini bell peppers, and herbs

I’ve never started my own tomato or pepper seeds before, but when I opened a copy of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog, how could I resist? You get a greater variety to choose from, ensure they’re heirloom seeds, save money, and get to play in the dirt sooner.

We made cute little newspaper pots that you can plant straight in the garden following Jacquline’s, from Deep Roots at Home’s, easy tutorial. They were fun to make and even Rose and Will were able to help.

Once the seeds germinated, I needed a mount for the grow light that was adjustable. Duplos were the perfect solution.

 Lettuce and spinach peaking up behind the rose bush

The backyard garden plot isn’t ready yet, so my little sis and I dug up part of the existing bed in the front and tucked spinach and lettuce seeds behind the rose bushes.

A removable screen door (perfect for cute toddlers who can’t remember to close the door–and their mamas!) 

If you have busy little garden helpers and no screen door, a removable screen “door” is amazing! I found this one at a yard sale, but you could order one from Amazon or easily make your own too from a tension rod, netting and magnets.

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherHealthy 2DayFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways,Works for MeWalking Redeemed, Our Simple Country Life, Proverbs 31Natural Living, & Simple Lives

 [Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

How (& Why) to Propagate Houseplants

If you’ve been impatiently waiting for the snow to leave and spring weather to stay so you can get outside and play in the dirt (like I have), propagating your houseplants is a great way to use the time.

photo credit 

Houseplants are amazing. As studies by NASA scientists confirmed, common houseplants make the air in your home healthier. They remove dangerous chemicals and dramatically increase air quality. Plus, they’re beautiful.

In his book, How to Grow Fresh Air–(read my review here), Dr. Wolverton lists the very best purifying indoor plants and recommends you have at least one plant per 100 square feet. That’s a lot of plants.

One of the easiest ways to grow your collection is to propagate the plants you have (or beg cuttings from your mom.)

Not only is it fun to add a new plant to your collection and watching it grow, I consider it plant insurance. My brown thumb is bound to kill at least some of my plants. This way, if the mother plant dies hopefully the daughter will survive.

 Heartleaf Philodendron–one of the easiest houseplants to grow

There are two very easy ways to propagate houseplants that have multiple trailing stems, like ivy.

Water Method: Just cut back long stems right above the leaf node (where a new leaf grows). Trim the bottom few leaves and place the stem in a glass of water.

In a few weeks new roots will emerge and you can plant the stems in a fresh pot with good drainage. Water well after transplanting.  

How to Propagate Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew— I killed the “mother plant”. The one on the left is a four-month-old “daughter plant”. On the right is a three-week-old “granddaughter plant”

Moist Dirt Method: 

Cut off stems above the node. Strip off the bottom few leaves. Place the stem in a pot and keep the soil moist. In about 3 to 6 weeks, new roots will grow and the plant will send out new shoots.

How’s that for easy?

Want to make it a really frugal project? Look for beautiful pots at garage sales (often they’re practically free!) I’ve even found some lovely healthy plants at yard sales for a dollar or two.

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherHealthy 2DayFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways,Works for MeWild Crafting WednesdayWalking RedeemedProverbs 31Natural Living, & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Onions for Bruises (& Tumbles!)

Today’s topic: another great use for onions (besides helping break up congestion. And flavoring food, of course!)  But first, a funny story:

Last Wednesday dawned sunny and beautiful. The kids and I all got up earlier than we have of late. After a holiday on Monday and sick day on Tuesday, I determined that today WILL be productive. We’ll get lots of school done. We’ll do extra cleaning. And I’ll spend time just enjoying the kiddos.

With that resolution, I skipped down the stairs to rescue the 3-year-old from the bathroom. We were out of toilet paper. So back up the stairs I ran. On the way to restock, I noticed little Meg peeking her head out from the crib with a smile. So, with three rolls of toilet paper and my water bottle in one hand and Meg and her cozy blanket in the other, I hurried back down the stairs to a now quite impatient little boy.

If your totally productive day gets hijacked by a nasty tumble, onions just might save the day. Use onions to fight swelling and bruises.

At the landing, my socks slipped.

Toilet paper went flying. The water bottle landed halfway down the stairs. And I fell down the stairs face-forward. In the split second it took to hit bottom, I managed to pull Meg close to me and brace our landing with my free hand… and my foot.

Thankfully, Meg was cushioned well, but I landed hard. As the room started darkening and my ears started ringing, I cried out that God wouldn’t let me pass out in front of the shocked and horrified face of my sensitive five-year-old. Instantly, the darkness faded.

(Rose also prayed “God! God help!” Later, when I told her that God has answered our prayers, she said, “But I wasn’t really praying.” It was such a privilege to get to explain to her that we can call upon God when we’re in trouble, just like she would call for me to help. And that He answers!)

I was filled with gratitude… but hardly able to move. I finally managed to crawl to the couch, all plans for a productive morning vanished. Rose and Will (who managed to get himself out of the bathroom by himself) got breakfast ready all by themselves. It was so fun to watch them serve so cheerfully, even if it did take almost an hour!

I can’t help but smile whenever I think of our “productive” morning turned on its head. Especially since there was no real damage, except to my foot.

Which brings us back to onions.

I’m not quite sure how (except maybe that I’m talented like this, you know), but the top of my right foot took most of the brunt of our fall. Moving or touching it send throbbing pain through my whole body. Even keeping it perfectly still, it hurt.

Then I remembered reading that onions are really good for healing bruises and falls in 10 Essential Herbs (a new favorite herbal book !)

After I was able to get up, I cut off a big slice of onion and slid it under my sock against the foot and left it there the rest of the day. The onion helped ease the pain and prevent swelling.  If I hadn’t have run out of onions, it might even have prevented any bruising at all!

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There a band-aid can cure a heart attack. Do you own research (these are some of my favorite herbal resources) and consult a health care provider if your condition is serious. 

Do your “productive” days ever turn out quite unexpectedly? 

Onion & Salt Poultice for Coughs

Before Christmas the children and I came down with a fever, cold, and cough. We were going through tissues at an alarming rate and nothing I did seemed to help very much.

As the days crept by, I began to lose hope we’d be better by Christmas. The fever was short-lived, but the cold lingered. Meg’s nose was running about as fast as the Missouri River. There was no way we could take her around other children.

Then I remembered onion poultices. Putting ground up onions (or anything else!) on a toddler’s chest seems like a recipe for a humongous mess, but after reading about the great successes people had with onion and salt poultices for coughs in 10 Essential Herbs (a new favorite!), I was ready to try it anyway.

Fight nasty coughs with this effective onion and salt poultice

I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked in is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. Do you own research (here are some of my favorite resources) and talk with your health care provider.

Onions help break up congestion and relieve a cough. They’re good for more than just a cough though. According to 10 Essential herbs, you can use this onion poultice for bruises, swelling, or inflammation. I know first hand that onions can clear up a nasty bruise.

The poultice wasn’t nearly as messy as I’d feared.

More importantly, the poultice worked. After just a few hours, Meg’s congestion dried up and her nose stopped running. I couldn’t help but stand in awe at the healing power God locked within such humble plants.

How to Make an Onion and Salt Poultice for Coughs

What you’ll need: 

  • Onion
  • Sea salt, optional (Salt helps draw out unwanted liquid. Since regular salt has so many minerals removed/added though, use sea salt.)
  • Thin cloth, optional
  • Plastic wrap (to keep in the moisture)
  1. Grind or finely chop the onion. (I blended mine in the blender, and that worked really well.)
  2. Mix in 1 part salt for 2 parts onion (i.e. 1/2 cup salt to 1 cup onion.)
  3. If you’re using it to break up congestion, gently heat on the stove or in the oven. Do not cook. You want the onions to still be raw.
  4. Wrap in the cloth, if you’re using it.
  5. Wipe coconut oil (or olive oil) on the chest, then place the poultice on and cover with a plastic wrap.
  6. Leave for 2-8 hours, then discard.
Tips and tricks. 

It’s obviously easiest to leave the poultice on while asleep. I tried a poultice while cleaning the bathrooms, since I had extra onion goop. It worked, but was a wee bit more messy!

If you don’t want to walk around smelling like an onion, wipe the area clean with a bit of lemon juice and water.

Onions draw out toxins. Since they’re so good at it, freshly chopped onions (that haven’t had the chance to attract toxins) are the best choice.

Have you ever used onions to clear up congestion? 

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

(photo credit)

My Five Favorite Herbal Books

Knowledge is power. If you want to be able to effectively treat common illnesses at home, these awesome herbal books contain all the information you need to make powerful tinctures, soothing salves, and effective teas. Learn what herbs to use when (and why!)

Build your herbal library with these awesome herbal books. Learn how, when, and why to use herbs to treat common problems at home.

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

My 5 Favorite Herbal Books

1:  Herbal Drugstore by White and Foster

If I could only choose one herbal book, it would be the Herbal Drugstore. Why? Because it’s thorough, well-written, and laid out in such a user-friendly format. I turn to it regularly to find the best treatment for my daughter’s ear infection, natural remedies for skin problems, or to see if astragalus is safe during pregnancy. Herbal Drugstore has staved off several visits to the doctor and a regular pharmacy (as well as helped me recognize when a visit is necessary immediately.)

Order now from the Bulk Herb Store or Amazon

2: Ten Essential Herbs by Lalitha Thomas

My sister-in-law Amber introduced me to this book and it quickly became a favorite.

My favorite thing about the book is that Lalitha doesn’t overwhelm you with fifty new herbs. She just takes the ten herbs that she thinks are most essential for everyday life and shares in-depth uses for them. Most of the herbs are ones that you probably already use regularly. For example, her first “essential herb” is cayenne.

Did you know that when cayenne is heated it can lead to stomach problems, but dried non-heated cayenne can help stomach problems? (Plus cayenne helps circulation, stops bleeding wounds, helps vision problems, kills parasites, stops shock —I know, it worked for me!-–works as a carrier to make other herbs work better, and much more!)

Order now from Amazon

3: Medicinal Herbs

Rosemary Gladstar’s beautifully illustrated guide to herbs introduces 33 of the most common and useful herbs. Not only does she show you how and why to use them, she gives great growing instructions. (If you don’t grow anything else, grow herbs. They’re easy to grow and so much fun!)

Ever recipe I’ve tried from her book has been a winner, including anti-bacterial green salve and her famous Good Gargle for a Bad Throat.

Order now from Amazon

4: Food – Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper

“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food,” wrote Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine.

After combing through over 10,000 studies on food, Jean Carper concludes: food is a miracle medicine. She pulls from these studies and highlights foods that studies show help combat disease. For example

  • According to studies, an ounce of fatty fish a day reduces your chance of heart disease by 50%
  • Garlic and onions contain over 30 different carcinogen-fighting properties
Read my full review or order now from Amazon

5. Mommy Diagnostics by Shonda Parker

Written by a mom to moms, Shonda’s book is practical field-guide, written from a distinctly Christian perspective. Shonda urges moms to be proactive in their child’s health and to use herbs as the first line of defense to health. Mommy Diagnostics is filled with practical suggestions for diagnosing and treating minor illnesses, but the thing I love most about her book is the way she views sickenss (and herbs) from a Biblical worldview.

As Shonda points out, sin brought sickness and death into the world and no amount of herbs is gonna let you escape the curse of death. But God has give us such a wonderful treasure-trove of resources in His creation. Exploring the world of herbs can not only increase our health, but should make us worship our Creator!

Read my full review or order now from Amazon

Build your herbal library with these awesome five herbal medicinal books. Learn how to make salves, tinctures, and what herb to use when!

Runner Ups:

Those are my five top herbal books, but I just had to mention a couple other favorite resources:

Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pederson

Have you ever wondered what herbs are good if you’re lacking calcium or iron? This book takes you beyond the basics of what herb is good for what problem and analyzes the properties of the herbs in detail. For each herb, Mark lists the nutritional properties as well as how it has traditionally been used to help various maladies. This a great resource for those who wish to get a better understanding of herb!

Order now from the Bulk Herb Store or Amazon

Taking Charge of Your Fertility

I hesitate to recommend a book by a non-Christian feminist, but Taking Charge of Your Fertility taught me so much about how a woman’s body works and made me stand in awe of God’s incredible wisdom in His design. It answered so many questions I’ve had. I really think that many of the things she talks about used to be passed down from mother to daughter but have been lost as we’ve become more and more dependent on doctors to just tell us what’s going on. (And I don’t think that’s just the doctors fault!)

Build Your Herbal Library

A good herbal library will empower you to naturally treat common illnesses, scrapes, and minor emergencies at home. These are my very favorite resources that I turn to over and over again. Start building your herbal library and begin playing “mommy doctor”.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite books on herbs and natural living? 

Assemble a Natural Remedy Closet, November’s Additions

Learning more about herbs and how they work makes me even more awed at the incredible amazingness of God’s creation!

This past month I finished watching Making Babies [there’s just one more day to enter to win a copy!], started reading Practical Herbalism and 10 Essential Herbs, plus spent lots of time talking about herbs with family who have taught me all sorts of interesting things!

It has been a while since I’ve ordered from The Bulk Herb Store, and I had to practice serious self-constraint to not spent $200 on my order!

Oatstraw from The Bulk Herb Store

Previous purchases:

January: $16.73
February: $10.22
March: $18.93
April $24.19
September $17.74
October $22.58
Total to date: $110.39

Oatstraw (1/2 lb.), $4.70 

It seems weird to be steeping a tea made of straw, but oatstraw is one of the best herbal sources of magnesium, according to Nutritional Herbology. Magnesium helps the body absorb calciumOatstraw is also a good source of calcium itself. Since good calcium absorption is so important for growing bones, oatstraw seemed a very important addition to our tea.

Peppermint (1 lb), $14.20

When our box from the Bulk Herb Store arrived, it smelled like peppermint even before I opened up the lid. Yummy!

Peppermint tea  isn’t just delicious, it helps stimulate digestion, strengthen nerves, cleanse the body, relieve stomach ache, and energize you! Along with drinking more water, I am trying to drink at least one cup of herbal tea each day.

Chamomile flowers from The Bulk Herb Store

Chamomile (1/2 lb.), $5.90

Picking flowers is fun, but getting to drink a tea made from flowers? The kiddos think that’s super cool! A mug of chamomile tea isn’t just cool, it’s filled healing properties. Chamomile flower tea helps with digestion, calms the nerves, and is a mild way to combat insomnia.

Cayenne, $1.00 

I picked up a bit of cayenne pepper at the health food store. It is an amazing “herb” in itself but also works as a carrier to make other herbs work better. My sister-in-law loaned me a copy of her favorite herbal book, 10 Essential Herbs by Lalitha Thomas. Lalitha’s first “essential” herb is cayenne. She uses it to help stomach problems, increase circulation, fight infections and all sorts of other things.

One fascinating thing she wrote is that once cayenne is cooked it can cause stomach problems. Raw and dried it helps them. So, if you want to add cayenne to your tea, let the tea cool a little bit first!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or nurse. The only hospital I’ve ever worked in is a doll hospital. There a band-aid heals a heart attack. Please talk to your health care professional and do your own research before treating serious health problems!

What are your favorite remedies? Have you tried any new herbs lately? 

Linked up at Growing HomeHealthy 2DayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysNatural Living, Modern Alternative KitchenSimple Lives

[Full disclosure: some links in this post are my referral links.]

10 Ways to Encourage Healthier Eating

A love for healthy whole foods is a great blessing we can give our children. But like so much in life, developing a love for good foods is  learned.

I wrote this list with my munchkins in mind, but I have a confession to make. My children have actually helped me be a better eater. Their willingness to try new foods has challenged me. Before I had children, I didn’t like olives, dark chocolate, seven grain cereal and many other foods. They love these foods and I’ve finally developed a taste for them.

We’re still learning, but here are some things that have helped my children (and, ahem, me!) be better eaters.

photo credit

10 Ways to Encourage Healthier Eating

  1. Apply the Green Eggs & Ham Rule— don’t say you don’t like a new food unless you’ve tried it. Obvious, I know. But it’s amazing how many times I’ve heard a child vehemently declare they don’t like a food… only to have them love it once they’ve tried it. Try new foods with an open mind (unless, of course, they’re dyed with half a cup of green food coloring!)
  2. Offer Healthy Foods When They’re Hungry- There’s nothing quite like hunger to make a food taste good. Feed salads and vegetables first at meals. It is the easiest way to help kids learn to love them. If your kids complain about being hungry mid-afternoon, offer them healthy choices, not junk food. If they’re really hungry, they’ll learn to appreciate them. (Here are 11 of my favorite healthy snacks.)
  3. Keep trying– If your first attempt at trying to get your kids to eat homemade yogurt is disastrous, next time make it into a parfait or blend it into a fruit smoothy. Once you’ve found something they like, talk about it. The goal isn’t just to sneak healthy foods into the diet. The goal is to encourage them to consciously appreciate good foods.
  4. Buy vegetables and fruits in season- if all they’ve tried is a mealy tomato picked green that’s been sitting for weeks before it gets to your grocery cart, it’s not much of a surprise if they don’t like tomatoes. Buy ripe food or, better yet, grow it yourself with the children (if you don’t have a brown thumb!) It’s much easier to develop a taste for ripe, fresh food! Plus, food in season is generally cheapest anyway!
  5. Make the Servings Small-it’s much better (waste-wise and psychologically)  to have your child ask for more than to force them to finish food* they don’t like or have to throw it away. Serve a bite or two at first. If they don’t like it, you can drop it or try again later. If they love it, yay! Give them seconds.
  6. Incorporate Their (Healthy) Favorites – Everyone’s tastebuds are different. Rose absolutely loves seven grain cereal and oatmeal. Will downs bowl after bowl of honey-sweetened homemade yogurt. Meg eats more eggs than me. All three are good choices, so I serve them regularly for breakfast. (Here are a few other of our favorite healthy breakfasts.)
  7. Learn to Love Flavor, Not Just Sugar/Salt- Creation is full of so many flavors. Sadly though, flavor tends to be masked by loads of sugar (or salt). Gradually cut back on the sweeteners in recipes and focus on appreciating the flavor. Get to the point where you add just enough to enhance the flavor of a dish, not drown it.
  8. Discuss the Health Benefits- talking about why something is good for you and what exactly it helps your body do, not only helps educate your child, but encourages them to take an active part in choosing healthy foods. When I taught Rose, then four, about the importance of protein, she asked “is this good protein” about practically everything, and regularly requested foods that were “good protein.”
  9. Model Gratitude- maybe your grocery budget doesn’t allow you to buy all the foods you want. Maybe the selection where you live isn’t great. If there’s food on the table, that’s cause for gratitude! 
  10. Don’t be Too Strict- When Rose asked “are cookies good protein?” I had to share the sad truth that they don’t have much protein and aren’t really good for us. Her face fell. But, food and taste have been given to us by a good God. We ate the cookies anyway and celebrated His goodness to us.

*To force your child to finish his food, or not? The debate rages. Since sometimes the first sign of a food allergy is a child refusing to eat it, I’ve become more sensitive when my generally-good-eater children don’t want to finish.

 How to you encourage your children to be good eaters? 

Linked up at Living Green, Healthy 2DayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysWorks for Me, Encourage One AnotherNatural Living, & Simple Lives

Assemble a Natural Remedy Closet, October’s Additions

I was tempted to just wait and share my additions at the end of this month (since we’re already a whole week into November!) but better sorta late than really late, right?

I finally took the time to get the shelves with all my herbs and remedies organized. Guess what I realized we were completely out of? Echinacea.

That made it to priority position on my list, especially since we had a cold threatening!

Echinacea purpurea, from The Bulk Herb Store

Previous purchases:

January: $16.73
February: $10.22
March: $18.93
April $24.19
September $17.74
Total to date: $87.81

October’s additions to my natural remedy closet

Echinacea tincture (1 oz.), $7.49

I really, really wanted to make my own tincture this time, but since a cold was threatening, I didn’t want to wait even three days to make a glycerin tincture. So I just bought a tincture at the health food store. Next time we’re getting close to low, I want to make my own. (Doesn’t it sound fun?)

Liquid Melatonin, $5.99

I have trouble falling asleep at night. I always have. Exercising in the morning helps. So does purposing to relax (instead of making tomorrow’s to-do-lists)! But sometimes I still have trouble falling asleep.

My two favorite sleep-aids are valerian and melatonin. Valerian is calming herb (you can buy a tincture or make your own with dried valerian root.)

Melatonin is actually a hormone your body makes to regulate your sleep cycle. When we’ve gotten into a bad sleep schedule, I really find it helpful to get me back on track.

Elderberries, $9.10

I kinda think I ought to grow an elderberry bush with how much I love this stuff! I usually just steep the berries and make it into a mild berry tea. Plus, unlike echinacea, which shouldn’t be taken long-term continuously, you can drink elderberry tea regularly.

Funny fact. One of my children loves elderberry tea. Another loves the echinacea tincture (which is nasty!) but not this mild tea. And the other would way rather have honey and garlic than either other remedy. Thankfully, they’re all pretty effective!

What are your favorite remedies? Do your kids like them?

Linked up at Living Green, Healthy 2DayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysNatural Living, & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: some links in this post are my referral links.]

4 Home Remedies for Combatting a Cough

Much as I love the glorious colors of the changing leaves, fall isn’t without it’s challenges. One of the worst: the onset of the dreaded cold and cough season.

As miserable as sickness in the home is, it’s even more miserable if you’re not prepared!

Sadly, studies have shown that many over-the-counter cough remedies perform little better than placebos. What can you do? Well, here are a few simple home remedies that have worked for previous generations… and still work for me.

Photo credit

Immune Boosters: ounces of protection

An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. Here are some simple ways to boost the immune system to hopefully avoid (or at least mitigate) coughs.

Home Remedies for Coughs

Updated and revised version of this post.

Honey Tea

This simple remedy works wonders in our family! I vividly remember my Rose’s first bad cough. She was miserable. I was miserable. She was up every few minutes all night with a deep racking cough.

Finally, around 4:30, I tried this remedy that my sister recommended.

Rose took a sip of the honey tea. Coughed once or twice. Then slept soundly the rest of the night!

It may not work quite as dramatically for everyone, but honey coats the lining of the throat and, if you use raw honey, has antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits!

To use: mix a large spoonful of honey into a small mug of warm water. Add lemon juice, if desired. I think lemon improves the flavor and fresh lemon juice adds Vitamin C, which certainly can’t hurt! Sip tea until the cough is soothed.

Precautions: Due to the risk of infant botulism, don’t give honey to babies under one.

Eucalyptus Oil (or Vicks Vapor Rub):

While honey lines the throat, Eucalyptus oil helps loosen phlegm. Since it’s loosening phlegm, Eucalyptus oil might temporarily cause a bit more coughing, but as the chest clears, the cough calms.

To use: first, apply a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil. Then rub in a few drops of Eucalyptus oil. The carrier oil helps spread it evenly and keeps the essential oil from stinging.

Either apply the oil to the chest or to the bottom of the feet (and then cover with socks.) Both work well. Eucalyptus oil placed on the chest works directly to break up the cough. But whatever you apply to the sole of your foot spreads throughout your body. I’ve found placing the oil on the feet works really well for my younger kids.

I strongly prefer Eucalyptus oil (buy on Amazon) but you can also use Vicks Vapor Rub, which contains some Eucalyptus oil.

Precautions: Do not take Eucalyptus oil orally unless expressly told to do so by your health care professional. Eucalyptus oil is toxic. Don’t put it your child’s nostrils or near the mouth. Do not use on children under two.

Humidifiers, Steam and Plants

Cough viruses love dryness. Fight them with humidity.

If you have a humidifier, great. (Just make sure to keep it clean and mold-free.) If you don’t have a humidifier, either stand in the bathroom while running a hot shower or boil water on the stove and let the steam escape into the room. Of course, children shouldn’t get anywhere near the steam itself! Just let the steam fill the room.

Did you know that houseplants also raise the humidity levels in a home? One more excellent reason to grow fresh air with plants!

 These remedies have worked for us, BUT I’m not a doctor, nurse, or scientist. The only hospital I have ever worked in is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can fix a heart attack. Do your own research and talk to your health care professional if a cough is serious or persists. 

Articles and scientific studies, for nerds like me:

MayoClinic: Honey an Effective Cough Remedy

Honey for Childhood Coughs: results of Penn State research 

University of Maryland: Overview of Eucalyptus

MayoClinic: Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t & What Can’t Hurt

 What are your favorite home remedies for coughs? 

Linked up at Living Green, Healthy 2DayFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Works for MeNatural Living, & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Honey & Garlic: Simple Cold Fighters

Fall is fully here. We had our first frost Friday evening. The changing weather ushers in soups, hot chocolate, and cozy pajamas, but also the dreaded cold season.

We succumbed to the flu a few weeks ago, and I am determined to be diligent about fighting cold and flu germs before they gain footing.

Important note: don’t give this remedy, or any remedy containing honey, to babies under one, since honey poses the threat of infant botulism. 

Twice already I’ve begun to feel a cold beginning to attack and successfully fought it with a few simple ingredients: minced raw garlic and honey, followed by a nice mug of herbal tea.

Garlic is a treasure mine of natural, germ-fighting, immune-boosting properties. Plus, it’s inexpensive and a staple in many kitchens. And don’t worry, it doesn’t taste nearly as bad as it sounds!

To make: finely mince a clove of garlic. Get a spoonful of honey (preferably raw) and stir the minced garlic into the honey, making sure to coat the garlic with honey. Down the garlic and honey with a big glass of water. (Don’t chew!)

The spoonful of honey most definitely helps the garlic go down. My kids actually like it.

Then make yourself a nice mug of tea. I like elderberries because they’re another great immune booster or peppermint to get rid of any trace of garlic. Or best of all, mixing both.

A humorous caution, from my sis-in-law Amber:

“One winter I got a little carried away though and used the remedy every morning just to keep myself from getting sick. I can remember my papa returning to the truck one wintry day after pumping gas and saying very sweetly “You’ve gotta lay off the garlic, Amber!” Apparently, I was starting to smell like my remedy!!

Word to the wise: Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!”

What are your favorite immune boosters?

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