Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rest in peace, Uncle Bob

I'm so glad you're not suffering anymore, but wow, we are going to miss you.

Love you. Say hi to Gramps for me.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Zero Waste Wednesday (-ish): Homemade sore throat spray

As we established in my last post, I've been sick. You know, I usually get at least one cold in the winter (it's tradition), and I've had some bad ones, but wow, the one I'm fighting now has got to be the worst. I was taking pictures for an article on the high school's new theater production last night and had to leave the room because I'm still coughing / crying / clutching my broken sternum.* Although, fact: I actually slept through the night last night. I'm not sure what to do with so much good news. I kind of can't believe I'm ever going to feel better at this point.

Anyway, when this whole ordeal started, I found an organic throat spray at the grocery store and that has been my constant companion these last seven days. When I looked at the label, I discovered the ingredients were just apple cider vinegar, honey, and some herbs.

Hey, I own apple cider vinegar, honey, and some herbs! When I finished my 2-ounce bottle in five days, I kind of wanted to see what would happen if I made my own.

This is why we have the Internet. I found all kinds of "recipes," although they all seemed to call for essential oils, and on that front, my friends, I am sorely lacking.

Just to prove I actually made this, you get a crappy photo.
Apple cider vinegar + local raw honey + recycled
spray bottle = I'm a genius!

Eh, what could happen? I decided to try THIS recipe from One Good Thing By Jillee (because if you're ever trying to find a tutorial on anything, she's got one), except basically cut out everything that wasn't water, apple cider vinegar or honey.

Which means my recipe was just: 

  • 3/4 cup water (supposed to be purified, I used tap because our tap water is amazing)
  • 2 tablespoons raw, organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey

... All heated up on my stovetop to melt the honey, and then put into my reused throat spray bottle. I had some left over, so I put that into a jar and popped it in the refrigerator because I didn't really know what else to do with it. P.S. To use, shake like mad first.

I suppose I could have added the sea salt ... but I didn't. My reasoning: Apple cider vinegar is used for its bacterial-killing properties and honey soothes, and water is just life or whatever, so good enough.

(Also: I was really tired when I made it.)

So of course now that I have said homemade throat spray -- which, I gotta say, tastes better than the store-bought one and actually sprays -- the tickle in my throat has abated. I've still used it (probably more than necessary) because I MADE THIS AND I'M SO EXCITED plus it's basically a habit at this point to cough and then spray. So I'm not sure exactly how well it works is what I'm saying. It can't hurt, that's for sure, so ... no harm, no foul.

In case you don't trust my tutorial and notes (and honestly, I don't blame you), I've got a few more links for you. Because I'm all about service and sharing knowledge, you guys.

THIS POST from The Hippy Homemaker lists a bunch of different herbs and whatnots that can be used to relieve sore throats. Huh, apple cider vinegar also loosens phlegm. Good to know.

THIS POST from Wellness Mama contains a recipe for a tincture where basically you're soaking herbs in vodka and then straining them, which sounds awesome.

And THIS POST from The Nerdy Farm Wife has both a spray recipe (using a tincture!) and herb lists for battling a sore throat.

As for the zero waste aspect of all of this: No purchased container to have to deal with later with the added bonus of already having all necessary ingredients on hand. Oh, wait, I think I'm supposed to do a pro/con list, sorry, it's been a while since I've done a post like this:

Got to reuse a bottle
Actually tastes fairly decent for a throat spray
No weird preservatives or ingredients I can't pronounce
Sprays well
Could probably also be used as a "swish" if you don't have a spray bottle

None that I can think of ... unless you just like going to the store when you're sick

*My sternum isn't actually broken. But something in that general area is definitely strained or sprained. Probably. I don't know, medical classes were sparse during my college days as an English major.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A couple updates or whatevs

Update 1
I just watched Johanna give Eric a hair cut. With clippers. It's probably the best home hair cut he's ever gotten.

Which means I am off the hook for future hair cuts. That's the best case scenario, really. ;)

Update 2
I have been battling a mother of a cold since last Wednesday. You guys, this cold has been so bad that I missed a day of work. And all our planned weekend activities (see Update 3). It started with a tickle in the back of my throat, then advanced to a raging headache and coughing so hard that I swear I've broken my sternum. The alarming thing about THAT is that I have a high pain threshold, which makes me wonder exactly how bad I'm actually feeling. I mean, if I think it hurts, then it's probably really awful, right? Like punctured lung bad!

Well, whatever. It only hurts when I cough. Or sneeze. Or blow my nose. Or laugh. The dumb thing about all this is that, while I sound terrible and look worse and am constantly clutching my sternum (I'm kind of proud I even know what a sternum is, although I didn't until Eric told me this morning), I'm actually finally feeling better. I can feel the pressure leaving my head, and it no longer hurts when I swallow.

It's just those damn unannounced tickles that send me into coughing fits and bring me to my knees.

Eh, it's probably fine. No, it's not. God, that hurts...

Update 3
This weekend we had Big Plans in the Walker household: Abby and Johanna received awards from the Sons and Daughters of the Oregon Pioneers (Abby is Miss Pioneer Oregon,* and Johanna won the middle school essay contest), and then Johanna had a two-day basketball tournament. So we were going to spend the night with Eric's sister and have all this family time and whatnots.

So I missed that. Ah, well. But Eric taped both Abby's acceptance speech and Johanna's time in the basketball games for me, so I at least got to watch after the fact. Not quite as good as being there, but I definitely made the right call staying home, in that I was just in bed for 48 hours. Good times.

Abby is going to be mad at me for posting this.
Let's not tell her, okay?

*It's an essay contest, not a pageant by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to tell you this. Mostly because ... well, because I think pageants are dumb.

Update 4
So let's talk about Miss Pioneer Oregon's costume, shall we? We had exactly three weeks to get this together and have her portraits taken. Ha ha ha! Isn't that hilarious? Also totally true.

So we found out she'd been awarded the honor the day we left for the Christmas House in Lincoln City (relive those memories here and here). Abby and I hit the Goodwill there, not really expecting to find anything but also totally hoping we would because, as I've mentioned above, time was of the essence.

Anyway, so we hit Goodwill and go to the dress section. There's a lady in the way on Abby's end of the size rack, so we just go to the other end ... where we find this red gingham monstrosity in a size 18. Abby, incidentally, is like a 6. Well, what could happen? It's got a great front button feature and the pattern is definitely 19th century. Here's a close up of the top:


The buttons were actually the best part of the dress. Emboldened by our discovery, we hit the "miscellaneous linens" section, hoping to find some sort of apron. What we actually found was a bed sheet (?) that had a nice crocheted bottom. We were like, we can totally make an apron out of this! 

Ten minutes and $15 later, we were feeling kind of good about ourselves. Although when we took our items up to pay, Abby was all, please don't judge us, to the cashier, and we told her about Abby's award and that was a mistake because the cashier had all kinds of ideas and she was clearly an overachiever. They're out there, you guys. All you can do is smile and nod.

Yadda yadda yadda, I took the dress to an alterations shop in town, and the lady took the dress in IN ONE DAY for $35. Score. Then my mother, bless her soul, made the apron, and my mother-in-law pitched in a green bonnet, and Abby already had some black combat boots (close enough to prairie-wear) and some grey tights, so wallah! That is how you make a pioneer costume in 18 days.

As for the portraits, I took them myself in our backyard. I figured, what the heck, I get paid to take pictures all the time (kinda) for the newspaper, so really, what could happen? This was a good route to take, by the way, because it's basketball season and figuring out when we could actually get pictures taken turned into a bit of a dilemma. But we did it. 

I'm kind of amazed it all worked out so easily, really.

Friday, February 12, 2016

And so it begins. Again.

Lent began on Wednesday.

Seriously, didn't we just do this? It's kind of alarming that I'm at that stage in life where yesterday and last year are pretty much the same thing. Actually, even 10 years doesn't seem like that long ago.

I'm not sure where that leaves us.

Much like in years' past, I'm giving up processed foods,* but this year I'm going for extra holy, so I'm also adding another element to this whole ordeal: I'm giving up buying anything, too.** I don't actually buy that much, 'cause minimalism, yo, but I do rather enjoy coffees and the occasional lunch (and dinner) out on the town.

It's just too easy to walk down the street and pick up a sandwich.

I see these two things as extensions of each other: If I'm not eating processed food, that means most restaurant eating is out, and if I'm not buying anything, that means, like, no food treats at the grocery store.

So why am I doing this?

Well, mainly because I want it to be hard. I want to have to think about what I'm doing, and therefore be thinking about the purpose of Lent. I want to have to struggle a little bit. I want to see how strong I am. Or maybe how weak.

And I guess, too, there's the whole question of why I'm sharing this. Because the point isn't to go bleating about it to everyone so they know what you're doing -- you're supposed to, you know, act like nothing is even going on from the outside. I find, though, that sharing helps me with accountability. Because even though you'd think the fires of hell would be enough (kidding), the spirit is weak.

Seriously weak.

So that's what I'll be up to for the next 40 plus days (you're allowed to take Sundays off, but Eric and I like to just plow on through ... it's kind of easier with no cheat days, if that makes any sense).

* Before you even ask, no, this is NOT Whole 30. I'm not even 100 percent sure what that actually means. My definition of unprocessed equals four or less ingredients, although that's not a hard and fast rule (Fritos have three ingredients, and you can't tell me THAT stuff isn't processed). I will be consuming dairy because coffee just really is better with milk. I have no qualms with sugar, either. But I won't be consuming any prepackaged cereal, or chips, or crackers, or anything good, really. (Good-bye, Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. I'll miss you!)

** For obvious reasons, this does not include groceries. 'Cause we kind of need to eat. And my kids and husband aren't on this train, just me.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Deep thoughts by Johanna Walker

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist
once he grows up." --Pablo Picasso

Johanna's latest canvas. "Art never sleeps, Mom," she said when I dared suggest she take a break from the tiny lettering that was starting to stress her out this evening. "Unless it's a guy named Art," she added thoughtfully.

The end. ;)