Mushrooms

Sunday was a perfect fall day in the Pacific Northwest. The skies were clear and everything looked more alive following a few days of heavy rain. We were fortunate to find ourselves at IslandWood on a mushroom tour. Mushrooms tend to emerge after a rain so the timing was just perfect. It was a great reminder of the need to simplify and live. For an hour we walked the beautiful trails and scoured the ground for mushrooms. Every day we pass the same fungi we found there, but this experience forced our family to slow down and appreciate the diversity around us. Before Mushroom Mania (isn’t that a fun name?) I basically ignored the mushrooms growing around us unless it was to kick them out of the way and watch them disintegrate under my shoe, but on Monday we did something different. On Monday we bundled up, put on our rain boots, grabbed some baskets, and in the fading light of evening walked out into the forrest and discovered that our own backyard was full of mushroom treasures.

 

Declog Your Drain Naturally

Our tub and utility sink get a lot of heavy use with kids and projects. I was frustrated last week by how slow they were draining, but refused to turn to a toxic drain cleaner. We had spent the morning watching the salmon (mostly chum) returning to their place of birth at Chico Creek in Bremerton, WA. The salmon are such amazing creatures. They travel thousands of miles, without eating, just to return home and continue the cycle of life. I was struck by how close to urban life these fish find themselves, but they don’t give up; some have been observed flopping across roads in an effort to complete their journey. I certainly do not want to add Drano to the toxic runoff entering their streams and further hurt these awesome creatures. Crunchy Betty has a great method for declogging drains using vinegar and baking soda. It worked wonders! I did have to repeat the process for the tub drain.

What You Need:

  1. Boiling water
  2. Vinegar
  3. Baking Soda

What To Do:

  1. Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain.
  2. Dump 1/2 cup baking soda into the drain. You may need to work it into the drain with a butter knife handle.
  3. GRADUALLY pour 1 cup vinegar/1 cup hot water down the drain. The mixture will fizz  up so you want to add the liquid gradually.
  4. Let sit 5-10 minutes.
  5. Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain.
  6. Repeat 1-2 times as necessary.

Check out this post for a bonus activity kids can do while you have your naural cleaning supplies at the ready. Also, below are a few pictures of the tired salmon at the end of their journey. The salmon tour was a day after a big rain so the current was strong and the waters were murky; this resulted in not so great pictures. However, the photos do show the salmon searching for a safe gravel bed in which to spawn and hide their eggs.

 

 

 

 

Playing with Vinegar and Baking Soda

One of the great things about The Terrific Twenty is they are all kid-friendly. While you are going about your daily routine there is no need to worry about your little ones getting into your household products. My five-year old son is very fond of mixing vinegar and baking soda; the reaction gives a lot of bang for very little effort. While I was de-clogging a few drains using the baking soda/vinegar method, I set my son up with an old soap dispenser filled with vinegar, a bowl of baking soda and an empty bowl for mixing fun!

“I put baking soda in a bowl and then I squirted vinegar into the bowl. It was fun!” -Wyatt (5)

One of the best things about this activity for kids is afterwards you can put the product and the kid to good use. We poured the final mixture into the bathtub and scrubbed it down. Good, clean fun!

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Gray Hair: Acceptance and More Energy?

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I am self conscious of the increasing number of gray hairs that appear daily on my head. It was my hope that I would just go gray gracefully, but I am not ready! I am only 31! Graying is genetically determined, for the most part, but there is also an element of the graying process controlled by how well you take care of yourself; at least that’s what I want to believe. I recently read Natural Remedies for Reversing Gray Hair: Nutrition and Herbs for Anti-Aging and Optimum Health by Thomas Xander. I thought, why not? It is a short book and I took away a few ideas that I hope to share. The first was a drink containing many of the Terrific Ten, but also black strap molasses (on the secondary list). For anyone who hasn’t had black strap molasses before, it’s pretty intense and runs about 60 calories per tablespoon. It is also chock full of great vitamins and minerals that your hair needs to stay healthy including iron and vitamin B12.

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According to Xander’s book, people have experienced success from just taking 2-3 TABLESPOONS of the stuff per day. Not gonna happen. Below is the recipe for the drink. Read on for my reaction to the drink and what I am trying out instead as a compromise.

What You Need:

  1. 2-3 T. unsulphured black strap molasses
  2. 2-3 T. raw, unpasteurized  apple cider vinegar (The “Mother”)
  3. 2 T. lemon juice
  4. 1 T. raw, local honey
  5. 1/8 tsp. fresh, ground black pepper
  6. 1/4 cup hot water

What To Do:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mug, except the hot water.
  2. Pour hot water over the mug.
  3. Stir the ingredients until well mixed.
  4. ENJOY

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Here is where I confess that I gagged and struggled to get the stuff down (but I did!). My husband found me jumping around in the kitchen, swearing at the mug. It was an experience, but not one I am willing to continue.

INSTEAD I have been taking 1 tsp of black strap molasses by itself, everyday for about a week. As tough as it is to swallow, I can really see an increase in my energy; it’s worth it for the B vitamins and extra iron it provides. I am hoping it slows down the graying, but I also like the energy it gives me.

An Allergy Experiment

Everyone in my family suffers from seasonal allergies, especially my husband. His nose becomes congested, his head aches; his eyes turn puffy, red and watery. This past week he has been especially uncomfortable following a surfing trip out past Neah Bay on the Washington Coast. Incredibly beautiful,  however the experience left him miserable.

IMG_0109I felt terrible for him, but thought it would be a perfect opportunity to test out an allergy remedy. So I challenged him to try a teaspoon a day of a delicious, all natural allergy/cough syrup:

What You Need:

  1. 1 half pint mason jar
  2. 1/4 cup extra virgen olive oil
  3. 3/4 cup honey (LOCAL)
  4. Juice of 3 lemons
  5. Cinnamon stick
  6. Vanilla (half a bean with the seeds scooped out is best)

What To Do:

  1. Heat ingredients 3-6 on stove top until steaming.
  2. Pour into mason jar.
  3. Whisk in honey until well mixed.

I tried this myself a few weeks ago with good results. First of all, it’s delicious (especially with the addition of the cinnamon and vanilla). Second of all, it was incredibly soothing to my throat and body. I wouldn’t say it was an effective cure, but it absolutely soothed my symptoms and made life a lot better.

UPDATE (NOVEMBER 16)

My husband loves the stuff! He has faithfully taken 1 teaspoon everyday for a week and has noticed a significant reduction in his symptoms.

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

White refined sugar has been much maligned, but I have found an amazing use for this food villain: Coconut Oil Sugar Scrubs. I have struggled with sensitive skin and rosacea for years. The process of washing and moisturizing my face is painful and often leaves me red and burning. While perusing the awesome Wellness Mama blog I found a recipe for facial sugar scrubs and decided to try it out. I was very skeptical and braced myself for a terrible break out; the idea of putting more OIL on my face to wash it seemed counterintuitive. However, the results have been amazing. This scrub is probably best used as an exfoliant a few times a week, but I have been using it once daily for three weeks now with awesome results. My skin is less inflamed, the oils are better balanced and it is soft to the touch (not greasy as I expected). This scrub works great as a facial and body exfoliant. Here is my recipe:

What You Need:

  1. 1/2 cup coconut oil
  2. 1/2 cup white sugar
  3. Half pint mason jar

What You Do:

  1. Place the coconut oil in the mason jar and heat it up for approx 10 seconds in the microwave. You may also heat the coconut oil on the stove.
  2. Mix your sugar into the coconut oil. Feel free to play around with the ratio or sugar to coconut oil. You may want less sugar if you find the mixture too abrasive.
  3. Seal the jar and let it cool to room temperature. It will harden into a paste. The mixture will last about two months on the counter.
  4. Use about 1 teaspoon on your face, gently massaging your skin in a circular motion. Rinse with cool water and pat dry with a clean towel.

BONUS

This works miracles as a lip scrub!

The Terrific Twenty

Goal: Use The Terrific Twenty to provide alternatives for what is found under the kitchen sink, in the medicine cabinet and on the bathroom counter. 

I want the best for my family, but find myself constantly overwhelmed by the endless stream of information and products that assault me daily. After a few years of dabbling in natural remedies, I noticed there was a pattern; a core group of ingredients that are found in natural cleaning, beauty and health products. I created a list of the ones I found most frequently and challenged myself to use this list to transform what is under my kitchen sink, in my medicine cabinet and on my bathroom counter. So far my little experiment has really helped me to cut down on mental clutter. Most of what you need is already in your house. No need to fall prey to the latest celebrity craze; open your fridge and pull out a lemon!

I do not have any formal experience in these areas, but I am happy to share what I learn in the hopes that my successes and failures help you. Come along and gather up the following items, many of which are already in your house:

THE TERRIFIC TWENTY

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar (The Mother)
  2. Coconut Oil
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Extra Virgen Olive Oil
  5. White Distilled Vinegar
  6. Ginger
  7. Onion (Yellow)
  8. Honey (Raw, Organic, Local)
  9. Garlic
  10. Lemon
  11. Black Strap Molasses
  12. Cinammon
  13. Vanilla
  14. Peppermint Oil
  15. Salt
  16. Fresh Ground Pepper
  17. Walnuts
  18. Castille Soap
  19. Bay Leaves
  20. Sugar (yep!)

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