Health


There are as many ways to make elderberry syrup as there are cooks. Everyone has their own take on this medicine. So here’s mine… I think it tastes pretty good.

I definitely have a surplus of elderberries after finding a huge supply at the end of the summer!

Benefits of elderberries

Elderberries boost the immune system and have been used as a immune medicine for a very long time. They are anti-viral and can kill H1N1 virus. They have the most flavanoids of all berries.  Flavanoids are anti-oxidants that protect cells and prevent numerous diseases in the body, including heart disease, metabolic disorders, and cancer. The flavanol in the most content in elderberries is quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has been found to prevent cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease (such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), and prevent and treat cancer. Quercetin has been proven in a study to be part of a plan to successfully reduce tumor size. It helps support the respiratory system and helps break up phlegm and thus lessen a cough. It can shorten the duration of a cold or flu. Needless to say, elderberries are a powerful medicine.

These are the ingredients you will need:

1 cup fresh or frozen elderberries

1 cup water

¼-½ cup honey

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 T ground ginger

1 cinnamon stick or 1 T cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put water, berries, grated ginger, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan.

Bring mixture to a boil, then set heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, covered. Stir it from time to time. Turn off heat and let it sit until it is warm.

Strain with a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve.

Measure how much liquid you have and add equal parts honey. For example, if you have ½ c elderberry liquid, add ½ c honey. Stir until it is a smooth syrup.

Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to help preserve the syrup. Pour the finished syrup into a clean bottle with a tight lid. Store it in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.

Take 1 tsp. per hour when sickness descends or 1 tsp. per day when healthy.

Note: Do not give to babies under 1 year old, as honey is not recommended for babies.

I hope you enjoy this medicine and that it brings you health!

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We have celebrated Winter Solstice for a few years as a family, but never have we shared this celebration with friends. This was going to be our year. I was going to invite friends and it would be magical and well-planned. Then my kids started cycling through short (but contagious) fevers. We called off the friends-coming-over part and decided to make-do and celebrate this holiday alone!

Captivated by candlelight

Dinner was nothing special– cabbage salad and soup– but any meal can be made magical with candlelight.

Light promises to return

This year, I really wanted to focus on two things. First, embrace and accept the fact that we are in the darkest time of the year. Second, remind myself and my family that the light is returning. We took turns talking about what we remember from this last summer, as well as what we look forward to this summer. It helps me feel less overwhelmed with the darkness when I just accept that it’s a part of the year’s cycle, and remind myself that it won’t last forever.

Elsa’s face, like the year. Dark and light.

This has been a wonderful year. We have experienced better health than ever before, we have made progress to accomplish our tiny house goals, and we have had many days of loving our kids and our friends. It has had a lot of sad days, anxious days, and “junk days” that went un-enjoyed… as any year has. But mostly I remember this year for all the happiness we have felt.

Time for some good books

We read two very good books that I had borrowed from the library. One was Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, which spoke of a boy taking a quiet walk in the snow with his dad to find an owl. The other book was The Shortest Day: Celebrating Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer. This book explained the history of solstice and the science behind it.

Embrace the darkness, take time to rest. Summer will come quickly.

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Yes, we made our mattress. And it’s stuffed with straw, like pilgrims.

We knew we needed a new bed since Trent’s and my loft in the tiny house is smaller than a queen sized mattress. When we started looking at different mattress styles, we learned about Japanese futons. I loved how eco-friendly and simple they are, but I still couldn’t bring myself to spend somewhere around $500 on something I will lay on to sleep.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea of the straw mattress… probably Trent, since he comes up with all of our far-fetched ideas so far. When we realized we could possibly make a great sleeping surface for just a few dollars, we couldn’t NOT try it and see if it would work.

There isn’t much information about making a straw mattress on the internet, but I did find this blog post. Sometimes it’s just nice to see that you’re not the only person doing something. I sewed basically a large pillowcase of old sheets together. I think the dimensions are about 5’x6.5′. I re-enforced the top layer with an old hospital-style blanket that is thick and tightly woven.

 

Me, with my creation- the cover for the bed.

 

Then, we bought a very large bale of straw for $10. That was the only money we spent on the whole project. Trent fluffed up the straw, I put it in the cover, and Wade held it open for me.

 

Me stuffing the tick with Wade’s help.

 

Trent used a little punch to make snaps for the end. I’m not claiming to have made a great product here and the little flap on the end is super funky and looks like a old-fashioned pair of pajamas with the drop-seat bottoms. But hey, it seems to work and it’s covered with sheets the whole time.

 

Trent added snaps to the end

 

Then we were left with this funny lumpy mass. But I knew a few small people that could take care of THAT problem for me!

 

Funny lumpy mess

 

If there’s one thing my kids love to do, it’s JUMP!!! They had that thing flattened in no time!

 

Jumping it flat!

 

And here is the final product! We will be able to sleep on it for several months before we move into the tiny house, which will give us time to figure out whether we like it.

 

 

So how has it been so far? To be honest, it’s good, but it’s also a bit of an adjustment. Here are my pros and cons so far:

Pros:

  • It smells like straw!
  • It makes me not want to stay in bed when I wake up.
  • It seems to be making my back more strong (There have been studies that prove that sleeping on hard surfaces helps to realign the back.)
  • You make a nest or indentation for your body at the beginning of the night and that feels strangely nice and primal
  • It’s simple, cheap, and compostable!!

 

Cons:

  • The straw compresses a lot when you sleep on it. It’s not a soft, fluffy bed at all.
  • It’s a little extra work to fluff it up and to make a little nest at night.
  • We will need to change the straw from time to time.

 

Time will tell how we like it, but overall, I do like it so far. And you can’t beat spending $10 for a eco-friendly mattress!

*UPDATE*

We have been sleeping on the mattress for about 3 weeks now, and we still love it! It has actually helped reduce my lower back pain/weakness, which I have been thankful for! We each have a little “nest” where we sleep that is contoured to our body.

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She’s sitting outside in the grass, playing with her Barbies. The November sun shines off her golden-white hair. Her body is grounded to the Earth’s electricity. Her skin is soaking up vitamin D. She is playing alone, which is a wonderful new advancement for this 3-year-old. She helps the Barbies dig at the Earth and is experiencing the wonderful, magnificent world of imagination. 

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of kids exploring the outside lately. It seems to be taking over my mind, and the more I’ve researched it, the more important it has proven to be.

One excellent study was conducted in Portugal found that these three things contributed greatly to learning and development:

1. Contact with natural elements

Nature is a wonderland of ever-changing scenery as the weather and seasons change, as bugs crawl around, and birds fly overhead… there is always something changing outside to capture kids’ minds. It is also a source of “open-ended materials”, such as rocks, sticks, bodies of water, bark, lichen, moss, dirt, and leaves. These materials can have numerous uses assigned to them. Sticks can be people. Rocks can be cars. Moss can be a ladybug’s bed. This helps kids develop creativity, thinking outside the box, and problem solving skills. 

 

2. Importance of risk

Our culture is so safety conscious, it’s starting the feel like we should bubble-wrap our kids to keep them from ALL danger. While the job of parent is to keep your kid from danger, we cannot insulate them from all pain. Risk-taking is a important part of the human experience. Kids need the stress of risk and the joy of achievement. According to the study, risky play promotes persistence, entrepreneurship, self-knowledge, and problem solving. Know your kid and what they can and can’t do physically. Teach them to trust their instincts and assess their own risk, for example, say, “Do you think you are able to climb that tree? Climb slowly and if you feel unsafe, don’t go any higher!” This teaches them to listen to their senses and make their own decisions, and of course you are standing by to help them if they get in a pickle. 

 

 

3. Socialization opportunities

When kids are in a natural environment, they are faced with challenges and risk, which is a good opportunity to learn a variety of social skills with other kids. They can work together to build a stick fort or help another kid climb on a log. I also feel like kids are more verbal when they are outside, and more likely to talk and exchange ideas with their siblings or friends. 

As I’ve said before, being outdoors is very important to our family, especially as we prepare to live in a tiny house. Our house will be small, but their “playroom” will be very, very large.

If you have a habit of letting your kids interact with nature, good work! It will pay off in so many ways. Childhood is for play and so is the outdoors. I feel such a concern for the modern kid, made to sit for so many hours each day and snatched away from nature.

Now, as I look out the window, her older sister and brother have joined her and they have a grand spread of Barbies in the grass. True to the research, they are engaged with the changeable outdoors as they move around grass and dirt, they are imagining, and they are building their social skills as they work together to make a good home for their Barbies. Soon they will be adults with worries and heartaches, but for today, they are kids and they are playing.

 

 

For more reading on this subject…

This scientific study is very intriguing.

This book is excellent. It’s probably the best book I’ve ever read:

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It’s been cold and grey lately and I feel the seasons changing. We have had a lovely, colorful fall with a lot of sunny days. But Fall is giving way to Winter. The darker, more thoughtful days are here. It’s time for us to spend more time inside and catch up on some more quiet, indoor projects.

But with this season always comes the dreaded cold and flu season. It’s been so bad in the last few years. I’d started to have a deathly fear of it until we started to learn more about the immune system and wellness. I had begun to think the bugs are getting worse and worse each year, but now I’m pretty sure it’s just our immune systems that are getting worse and worse. Of course, I’m not a doctor and don’t understand all the details about these things, but it certainly can’t hurt to approach the cold and flu season from a different angle:

Don’t fear it, fight it. Don’t let it happen to you, let you happen to it. Strengthen your body so you don’t get it in the first place.

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

In order to strengthen our immune systems, we take some things away from our bodies and we add some things to our body.

Sugar, sugar, sugar. Ahhhh! It’s causing so much harm to the world. We take as much sugar as we can out of our diet. This goes a long way to helping us stay strong.

And as for what we add? Here it is.

Thieves Oil

This is the legendary blend of essential oils that was originally mixed by a group of marauders during the Black Plague that looted the plague victims’ homes. The blends of spices and oils that they rubbed on their bodies before looting kept them safe from the bacteria.

Young Living has their take of these spices in a essential oil blend called “Thieves”. This is an awesome blend and I love it. But because I’m super cheap, I just can’t spend the money they want for that oil, so I’ve blended my own.

There are lots of recipes out there with different proportions of oils, but the main components that all these recipes have in common are lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus, cinnamon bark, and clove. I make it from Mountain Rose Herbs organic essential oils, and I also love their recipe. They have good, clear instructions on usage and safety.

This oil smells wonderful and spicy and Christmasy. I add it to the kids’ bath, rub it on our feet, and diffuse it.

 

Rosehip Tincture

This is something I kind of came up with on my own. I found out that most vitamin C supplements are incomplete and not very usable by the body. It actually takes nutrients from your body to process it. Oh my! I really wanted a good source of vitamin C, and was interested in rosehips, since they have 10-50 times more vitamin C than oranges. But heat destroys vitamin C, so making tea was out of the question.

I decided to make a rosehip tincture. There is some information about this on the internet and in books, but not much. It seems to work great for us and as an added bonus, the kids love it. The tincture turns out tasting somewhat like a syrup and the kids beg for it.

**edited to add** Here’s how I make the tincture:

The basics are that I mix dried rosehips with vodka. You could use glycerin instead of vodka if you are concerned about alcohol.

I usually fill a pint canning jar halfway with dried herbs, then fill it to the top with vodka. For the tincture pictured below, I did the same thing, but I used a quart jar for some reason.

I store it in a dark cupboard and shake it every day for 4-6 weeks. Once the tincture is done, I strain out the marc, or solid chunks of herb, and bottle the finished tincture!

This is a great article about tinctures, glycerites, and vinegars.

 

 

Cod Liver Oil

This stuff is so good for you. It’s rich in vitamins A and D, as well as Omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 Fatty Acids. It’s good for your mood, skin, bones, and teeth.

But vitamin D is also important in immune function. I think that’s why the flu hits so bad in the winter; we aren’t getting much sunshine and our bodies get depleted of vitamin D. Sunshine is an awesome way to get vitamin D, but in the winter, this is super important that we take this supplement. We use the Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil. The kids love the Cinnamon Tingle flavor. It’s spendy, but it lasts a long time and is worth every drop. It’s cheaper than getting dental work done!

Elderberries

I was able to forage a ton of elderberries this summer, and I’ve preserved them to use for this winter. I froze some for fresh eating and dried some for making syrup.

Elderberries are a powerful plant ally that offer antibacterial and antiviral properties and have been used for a very, very long time by many generations of humans. They have been known to kill the H1N1 virus, and in addition to that, they have been found to reduce the severity and length of a cold. Get to know this plant; it is here to help you!

 

 

I’ve enjoyed sharing how we prepare for cold and flu season. A healthy immune system is a central to a wonderful, healthy body, so don’t underestimate it! Share with us in the comments what you do to ward off sickness!

If you are interested in keeping up with the progress we are making on the tiny house, be sure to like my Facebook page. I post (nearly) weekly pictures of our progress. I will be blogging more about this journey in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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Why Do We Wear Moccasins?

Why Do We Wear Moccasins?


Posted By on Oct 25, 2018 in Health | 0 comments

For a year now, Trent and I have both been wearing leather-soled moccasins. They are pretty cute and they are super comfy. I absolutely love wearing them!

But they are more than a style statement. We wear them to be in connection with the earth’s electricity, which is called grounding or earthing. 

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

Our electrical body

Let me explain a little about the science behind grounding.

Our bodies have an electrical charge. The earth also has an electrical charge. Our bodies are healthiest when they are the same electrical charge as the earth. In order to equalize the charge in our body, we have to touch the earth. 

This is where the problem sets in: many of us don’t touch the earth in the course of the day. We live in a house off the ground, we wear rubber-soled shoes, and we don’t usually touch plants or the ground. When we live our life like this, our body builds up a positive charge, which isn’t good for our health. We start to get inflammation, our blood is more viscous, and we tend to have more chronic pain.

But when we go barefoot, touch plants, or touch the ground, our body immediately starts working better. The earth is a powerful, free natural medicine. These are some of the benefits:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced chronic pain
  • Better blood flow
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Increased wound healing

Who doesn’t want that?!? The longer sessions we can have of being in connection with the earth’s energy, the better it is for our body. But even a short touch to a green plant leaf will have some health benefits. 

These are some of the substances that conduct electricity:

  • Metal
  • Water
  • Leather
  • Natural fibers (such as wool)

These don’t conduct electricity:

  • Wood
  • Rocks
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Clothes made of synthetic fibers (which is pretty much all clothes, unfortunately)

 

 

Our grounding experience

Ever since we heard about grounding, Trent and I have been intrigued by the idea. It is such a simple concept that makes a lot of sense.

For a year now, I have been wearing leather-soled moccasins, in addition to going barefoot whenever I can. My feet are stronger, I am more aware of the surfaces I am walking on, my feet feel more free, and I stand up straighter when I wear my moccasins. I can run really fast in them, too! On top of all that, I love the way they look.

Beyond just going barefoot or wearing moccasins, there are a lot of things you can do to connect yourself with the earth. There are many products at The Earthing Store that can connect your body with the earth when you are inside working or sleeping. There are grounding sheets, pads, blankets, and bracelets.

We have been using grounding bracelets on our ankles while we sleep for about a year. To be honest, they are a little annoying. We just went with this option because we are super cheap and this was the cheapest option. But it is worth it to me to wear them because I know for a fact that I sleep more deeply and peacefully when I wear it. (When my kids let me sleep deeply and peacefully, that is.) It is great to ground while you sleep, because it helps your body as it renews cells overnight.

I can’t say grounding has changed our lives, but I do believe it is one thing in many that we practice to maintain good health.

 

Buy the shoes!

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to buy moccasins from the Etsy shop that we got ours from… Check out this shop. Gary does excellent work and has great customer service. They are the best, most unique shoes you will ever buy. This is not sponsored– I just really love his product.

 

 

 

 

 

These sandals are a good summertime option if you want to be grounded, but not barefoot.

Read the book

 

Watch the movie

 

 

I hope you enjoy discovering this wonderful concept and how it applies to your life. There is so much more to this world than we can see with our eyes… and I find that so wonderful and mysterious.

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