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Homemade Cold Remedies

March 18, 2015

I battled the WORST cold I have had in a long time the past few weeks.  It lasted a good two weeks before I was feeling better and even today almost another week later I still have some lingering affects (effects?  I can never get those straight…).

During that period I tried several different homemade cold remedies that I thought I would share on the blog and also so I can remember them for next time.

Ginger Tea

One of the first things I tried was ginger tea.  Ginger is really good for nausea and upset stomach.  I swear I read somewhere that it was good for colds too but of course I can’t find that site now.  I am not a huge fan of ginger but I actually liked this tea.  To make ginger tea, mince an inch or half inch piece of peeled ginger and steep with boiling water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add honey to taste if desired.  I then let the ginger settle to the bottom and drank without straining.  I wish I would’ve tried this for morning sickness back when I was pregnant!

Raw Honey

Raw honey is supposed to be anti-viral and anti-bacterial.  Stir raw honey into hot tea or do what I did and use this as an excuse to eat it by the spoonful.  It really soothed my sore throat.  I also had toast with honey and cinnamon for breakfast as cinnamon is supposedly anti-bacterial and anti-viral as well.

Apple Cider Bomb

Apple cider vinegar drinks are all over the interwebs whether they be for fighting off colds or increasing weight loss or giving you clear skin or shiny hair.  For my cold, I mixed up two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon lemon juice and one tablespoon honey.  I then diluted that mixture in a glass of water and drank if before breakfast one morning.  It was a little rough going down and actually made my stomach upset almost immediately.  I had to eat a piece of toast quickly to calm it down.

Apple cider vinegar supposedly puts the body in an alkaline state, which helps the body kill off a cold virus.  Since it was a bit unpleasant going down I didn’t try it more than once.  BUT I will say that Benzo started to feel some sinus pressure about a week after I got sick so I made him drink this for a few days in a row.  He claimed it was allergies but I wasn’t so sure.  He did not end up getting sick.  Could be coincidence, could be that it worked.  Who knows for sure.  But I will try to remember this the next time I feel a cold coming on to see if I can ward it off faster.

Neti-Pot with Homemade Mix

I also used the neti-pot regularly with my homemade neti-pot mix.  This provided more relief in the later stages of my cold when I could actually breathe a little and get the solution to run all the way through.

And then there was the remedy that finally helped me get some sleep…..

The Hot Toddy

I couldn’t sleep for several nights since I couldn’t breathe and was coughing so much.  Benzo kept telling me to take a shot of whiskey but I thought he was crazy.  When you’re sick, alcohol is the last thing that sounds good.  Nothing was helping me sleep, not even nighttime cold medicine, so I gave in and had him make me a hot toddy.  It was just a cup of hot chamomile tea with a tablespoon of whiskey and honey to taste.  The first night I drank it I slept almost ten hours straight.  Benzo was kind enough to refrain from saying, “I told you so.”

I also drank tons of hot tea as well as lemon water for extra vitamin C.  I did take some day time cold medicine and lots of ibuprofen, so I don’t want anyone to think I was only fighting this thing naturally.

Here are links to some of the sites I checked out when looking for homemade cold remedies:

30 Homemade, Natural Cold & Flu Remedies

10 Natural Remedies for Conquering the Common Cold

Honey & Cinnamon – A Simple Cold Remedy That Kids Love

14 Powerful Natural Remedies for a Sinus Infection

I think natural remedies are great and can definitely help, but it’s important to know your own body and know when you need to seek medical help.  Hopefully we are moving out of cold & flu season now and can tuck these ideas away until next year!


Sweet Potato-Egg-Black Bean Skillet

March 6, 2015

I’ve been sick, sick, sick this week with a terrible cold.  It was really bad earlier in the week and now it’s tapered off and I’m feeling more human again.  I plan to share some homemade cold remedies soon, but for now I thought I’d share an easy dinner we had on Tuesday night.

We had a bunch of leftover cooked black beans and sweet potatoes from sweet potato-black bean quesadillas the night before.  I was trying to think of a way to use them up that wasn’t more quesadillas.  I also thought eggs sounded good for some reason.  So I googled “sweet potatoes black beans eggs” and found the following recipe on Eat Live Run:

Southwestern Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet

It looked really good and I’ve always been intrigued by those skillets where you cook the eggs on top of everything.  I showed it to Benzo who said “I’ve got this” and I entertained my children while he cooked.

He made a modified version since we didn’t have a lot of time nor all the ingredients.  Basically he warmed up the leftover black beans (probably half a can) and about half a cup of frozen corn in some oil in a big skillet with some dried onions, smoked paprika and cumin.  The sweet potatoes were already cubed and cooked from the night before, so they went in a little later to warm up.

Then he realized that the pan he was using couldn’t go in the broiler so he fried up some eggs on the side instead.  To serve we put the sweet potato mixture on a plate, topped with a fried egg and grated cheese.

The lighting in my kitchen is atrocious.  I wish I could post better photographs but if the picture isn’t on my phone it will never make it to the blog.  I just don’t have time to edit photos for every blog post!

Anywho this meal turned out really delicious!  We all liked it and decided we’d definitely make it again.  I’d like to try the full out recipe on Eat Live Run next time when we can plan in advance.  Our family likes the sweet potato/black bean combo a lot and it was nice to have something different instead of just quesadillas or tacos all the time.

I am so happy it’s Friday and I’m feeling better enough to enjoy the weekend.  We are finally getting some nice weather and I can’t wait to get my munchkins outside to burn off some of their cabin fever!


Velcro Stick Art

March 2, 2015

I mentioned a few weeks ago that for this past Christmas Benzo and I did a lot of DIY gifts for our kids.  One of them was velcro stick art.  We’ve been playing with it a lot lately so I thought I would share the project on the blog.  It is literally the EASIEST project ever.

I found the idea on Pinterest on the blog How Does She:

Stick Art Kit with Free Printables

You can probably guess how to put it together by the picture below.

All you need is BIG popsicle sticks, self-adhesive round velcro and something to put it all in.  I bought the zippered pouch below at the dollar store.  It works perfectly.

The stick art is a great quiet activity for little hands.  It is also a great opportunity to talk about shapes and letters as you try to build them out of the sticks.  And with lots of sticks you can build the more complicated shapes like hexagon and octagon and easily count the sides.  I think I made around 6-8 of each color.

I didn’t originally intend on getting the colored sticks but when I went to the craft store that was all they had.  I had my toddler with me and wasn’t about to make a second stop so colored sticks it was.  I ended up being really happy I made it with colored sticks because it gives you more opportunities to talk about colors in addition to shapes.  The other day while I was making dinner I asked my older son to make a purple house with a yellow roof.  The extra element of color captured his interest (instead of just “make a house”).  He also gets creative and makes “pizza” or really big, crazy shapes using all the sticks at once.  It’s fun to see what he comes up with that’s not on the cards.

I printed the printables front and back on white cardstock.  I meant to “laminate” them with clear contact paper so they would last longer, but I never got around to it.  I’m sure it won’t be long before they are destroyed and I will have to replace them with new prints.

Here are the sticks in action at a church service not long ago.  They did a decent job of keeping our kids busy and quiet!  The kit fits easily in the diaper bag.

Again this is the easiest DIY project you will ever do.  It takes literally 10 minutes to stick the velcro on the sticks and then print out the printable cards.  With the colored sticks I think this would make a great DIY gift for Easter baskets next month!

For the official instructions and the free printables (!) please see the following link:

Stick Art Kit with Free Printables

Thanks How Does She for such a great idea!


Eye Make-Up Remover

February 26, 2015

Several years ago I posted about homemade eye makeup remover that was simply canola oil. I used it for awhile with success but eventually gave it up because it was, well, too oily. I switched to just scrubbing my eye makeup off with my face soap but then that seemed too harsh for the delicate eye area.

I went back to eye make up remover but used the store bought Target brand.  I really liked how it worked until I turned the bottle around and checked out all the unpronounceable gunk inside.

Back to the homemade eye makeup remover drawing board.  I searched around on Pinterest and the interwebs for ideas.  I knew I wanted something that was simple and could be made with ingredients I usually have at home.  I didn’t want to have to buy a bunch of new stuff that would end up cluttering my bathroom.  I’ve found that with homemade stuff, simple is better.  If a homemade beauty product requires 8 different ingredients and takes 30 minutes to make, there’s a very high likelihood I’ll never keep up with it.  I mean who has time for that?

I finally found a great post at Whole New Mom that talks about different kinds of homemade eye makeup removers.  The recipe she ended up with is equal parts oil, witch hazel and water.  All ingredients I normally have at home!  (Benzo uses witch hazel as an astringent on his face, so we already keep that in our bathroom.)

In a measuring cup with a spout I add one ounce each of water, witch hazel and olive oil.  I use olive oil because it’s what we already have at home.  If you’ve never bought witch hazel before you can get it at Target near the rubbing alcohol.  I like to make just a small amount (3oz) each time so I don’t have to worry about it going rancid on me before I use it all.  The three ounces lasts me around 2-3 months.

The water and witch hazel cut down on the oily-ness and the salad-y smell of the olive oil.  In my previous post on eye makeup remover I said that I didn’t like using olive oil because of the smell.  The witch hazel helps a lot with that.

I also squeeze two Vitamin E capsules into the mixture for some extra soothing on my eye area.  I already had Vitamin E from other homemade beauty product project.

I still use the Target bottle.  I just rinse it out and pour the new stuff in.  The oil separates from the liquid so you have to shake it up before each use.  But that is standard with store-bought makeup remover too.

I’ve stuck with this recipe for a year now and still going strong.  It works like a charm and is quite simple to mix up whenever I run out.  And much better for my face than store bought.  It’s exciting when a homemade product works out isn’t it?graphictomatonoshadow

My Favorite Kale Salad

February 22, 2015

Last year at a church pot luck I came across a kale salad on the buffet. I sampled it and it turned out to be the best. kale salad. ever. Unfortunately I had no idea who made it. A few weeks later at a smaller church dinner the same kale salad turned up again! This time I was able to find out who made it and beg for the recipe. The person happily obliged and I’ve been making it ever since.

This is one salad that I actually crave and last week I requested it for dinner (though I love to cook, Benzo does most of the cooking during the week). Benzo accommodated my request and we enjoyed it for several days.

My Favorite Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice and the minced garlic.  Set aside.  Meanwhile wash and remove large stems from the kale.  I like to use the really curly kale for this salad.  Tear or chop kale into 1-2 inch pieces or whatever size desired.  Place kale in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  You can also add some fresh cracked pepper if desired.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese on top.  Pour oil/lemon juice/garlic mixture over the top.  Then get your (clean) hands in there and mix it all together.  You actually want to massage the dressing into the kale.  So turn it over in your hands and squeeze it for several minutes until it’s good and mixed.  Massaging kale helps release the bitterness.  See also this link:  How to Massage Kale.

That’s it.  Lick the cheesy breadcrumbs off your fingers and enjoy your salad.

This salad is similar to the Hail the Kale salad at a local restaurant called Unforked. It’s one of our favorite places to eat! I usually get tacos though. I think I like my version of kale salad better. :)

The recipe is so flexible you can just experiment with the proportions until you find the best mix for your tastebuds. This week we had kale salad with balsamic chickpeas and mini roasted potatoes. It was delicious.

The great thing about this salad is that it will keep in the fridge for a few days. The kale is sturdy enough that it doesn’t wilt, even with the dressing. Benzo actually made a double batch and we had it again the next night with frozen cheese pizza and finally finished it up on Saturday for lunch.

I never get tired of this kale salad. It makes a great main course with additions like beans, chickpeas, avocado, tomatoes, pepitas, etc. Meat eaters could add chicken or salmon. On its own it’s a really good side dish to any main course. And it makes a great pot luck dish! We’ve now taken it to potlucks ourselves and the bowl is always empty at the end.

Hail the kale!!



February 19, 2015

I saw a recipe for homemade slime on Pinterest (of course) and thought it would make a fun DIY gift for my boys for Valentine’s Day. I had never made anything like it before and since my 3 year old loves Play-doh I figured he would like slime. It seemed simple, only three ingredients other than add-ins, so I thought it would be an easy, no-stress project.

Wrong. The three ingredients are water, glue and liquid starch. Water and glue are easy but have you ever tried to buy liquid starch? I went to 4 places before I finally found it at the 5th place, a Walmart super center. Target, Hy-Vee, a regular Walmart and a marketplace Walmart all didn’t carry it. There is no Walmart super center in between my home and my office so I had to make a special trip out south.  My low-stress project ended up being very frustrating in trying to find the dang liquid starch!

Once I procured the liquid starch, mixing it up was actually very simple, though I wasn’t really sure it was going to turn out until the next day. I got the recipe from Little Bins for Little Hands. It’s a simple process. Mix together 1/2 cup water and a 1/2 cup washable glue. Then add in any food coloring or glitter as desired. Then pour 1/2 cup liquid starch into a second bowl and pour glue mixture into that. It will immediately start turning “slimey”. Mix with spoon at first then mix with hands.  I did this last Friday night.

So a couple notes on this project. First of all the standard bottle of glue is not quite half a cup.

If I had turned the bottle upside down and let it all run down it probably would have been 1/2 cup but I didn’t have the patience for that (it was 9:30 at night and I was tired). I topped it off from another bottle of glue we already had.

Second I used a lot of red food coloring and red glitter.

Third the slime gets better with age. When I was first mixing it it was really stringy and gloppy and I honestly thought it was going to be a bust.

IMG_8622But I kept mixing and threw it in a big yogurt container and let it sit overnight. The next day it was MUCH better. Very smooth and elasticy.

Finally do not try to dry off the slime with a napkin or paper towel. I thought it was a little wet when we first got it out to play with it on Saturday so I thought I could blot it dry with a paper napkin. As soon as I laid the napkin on the surface the slime sucked it in and there was no getting it back. I tried to pick little pieces of napkin out of it but to no avail. I thought I had ruined it and would have to start over! But we just started playing with it and the napkin disintegrated into the slime never to be seen again. The slime seemed fine after that.

I let my 3 year old play with the slime in a 9×13 pan and that worked just fine.

He loved it! He played with it a good long time. The glitter came off on the pan and our hands though.

It was easy to rinse off. My 18 month old played with the slime in his high chair. I supervised him pretty closely though to make sure he didn’t try to eat it. Both boys loved putting it into little cups and squishing it to make tooting noises. Boys. :)

The slime was great on Saturday and Sunday.  By Monday though it started to get really sticky and wasn’t coming off our hands and cups as easily as before.  Then my older son stuck is elbow in a big slime glob and got it all over his fleece pullover.  The younger one managed to sit in some and got it on his pants.  We rinsed the clothes off pretty quickly but I can confirm this slime didn’t stain their clothes thank goodness.  I am going to do some searching to see if we can add water to it to make it less sticky.  Surely it didn’t run its course in just three days!  If I find anything I will come back and edit this post.

Bottom line though the slime was super easy to make and my kids really liked it.  The older one has already asked when we can make more colors!


Preschool Valentines

February 11, 2015

Valentine’s Day is Saturday which means preschool Valentine’s Day party is Thursday.  Last night we let our older son stay up a little later after dinner to help put together his valentines for his classmates.  I knew I wanted to do a no-candy valentine and there are tons of ideas on Pinterest.  I also knew I wanted something simple and inexpensive.  I settled on something like this:

Have a ball snipPinterest is a rabbit hole when it comes to finding out who did the original design so I can give credit where credit is due.  After clicking through multiple blogs I finally got down to the original source: Dandee-Designs.  As you will soon see, ours looked NOTHING like the original.

I could’ve done a cute printable.  I could’ve done the entire thing myself and left my son out of it.  It would’ve been a lot faster.  But where’s the fun in that?  Then it becomes just another thing to cross off a to do list.  So last night we sat down and tackled putting together 14 valentines.

I previously bought the bouncy balls at Party City for 49 cents each.  To start, my son helped take off the little cellophane wrapper and put each ball in a bag.

I decided to hand write the tags because I thought it would be more personal.  And my printer is actually broken.  ;)

I cut sheets of red cardstock into fourths and then folded them in half to make the tops for the bags.  On one side I wrote “Have a BALL this Valentine’s Day!” and on the other side I wrote “Your friend,”.  Then I let my son write his name on all of them. This was a great name-writing practice activity!  They’ve been working on it a lot at preschool and he did really well on some of them.  Then there was this one:

If you know his name you’ll know that is not even close.  I pushed all my Type A feelings aside and just tried to go with the flow.

After name-writing we then decorated the tags with stickers and put the bags together with the stapler.  He did the sticker part and I did the stapling part.

The preschool teachers gave us a sheet with all the kids names in these little cards that we could cut out and attach to the valentines.  We stuck ours inside the bag with the ball with the names facing out (that’s the little red card behind the ball).  So for each ball my son picked out a card and then decorated the tag to go with it.  This was actually really fun because it gave us a chance to talk about each boy or girl and what stickers they might like on their valentine.

Yes the stickers are stars and smiley faces and not hearts but that’s all we had in the craft drawer.


I’m really happy with how they turned out!  I like the handwritten, homemade vibe.  And now I know for sure that even if another mom/kid does the “have a ball” valentines they won’t look exactly the same as ours.  I mean everyone is on Pinterest so chances are pretty high that there’s a duplicate.

I’m also glad I took the time to do this project together with my son (and that I actually planned ahead enough in advance to do so!).  The whole thing only took about an hour and he seemed to enjoy it.  I know I enjoyed the time together.



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