May 25, 2010


Allergies. Ugh. Thoughts of itching nose and face, headaches, swollen and sore throat fill my mind at the very mention of the word.

In my early twenties, I had such severe allergies, they'd morph into sinus infections four or five times a year. My GP and the two ENT's I visited didn't help me beyond the prescriptions they wrote for allergy meds and antibiotics. Their inability to educate me pushed me to start asking questions. These questions were the catalyst that led me to my current passion for organic living and a gentler approach to everyday maladies.

Without further ado, here's what's worked for me. Remember, these changes didn't happen in one week or even one year but several years.

1. Eliminate chemical cleaners from the house. Yes, I mean no bleach.Vinegar, baking soda and good old hot soap and water work great for cleaning.

2. Remove fabrics that harbor dust from the house - like carpet, un-washable drapes and pillow covers, goose down pillows and comforters. We have tile and wood in our house and all my fabrics are washable.

3. Pay close attention to soaps/fragrances and makeup that touch the skin. We use unscented laundry soap and shampoo. I wear minimal makeup and the ingredients in it are edible - like olive oil and fruit extracts.

4. Eliminate foods like citrus, dairy, wheat, sugar and caffeine during allergy season and then add them back in one at a time over a few weeks time to see if any of them seem to exacerbate symptoms. My big triggers were dairy and citrus and I don't consume either during my worst allergy times.

5. Try homeopathic remedies. My Naturopathic doctor prescribed one for me that looked like pollen and it worked!

6. Try local raw honey. The idea is that honey contains local pollens that build the body's immunity to allergens.

7. Try Nettle (Urtica Dioca) infusion (a strong tea) and my symptoms definitely subside if I drink it regularly. While one can buy herbs in capsule form, my personal preference is to make a tea, infusion or tincture with them. It's an acquired taste and I always add peppermint to mine.

8. Flush daily with a netipot. Keep your sinuses moist and "dusted".

As usual, I want to clarify that I'm not a doctor or herbalist and this information is not intended to diagnose or cure any diseases. It's meant for informational purposes only and I encourage you to do your research and consult with an herbalist or Naturopathic doctor for more information about herbs - especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or if you are taking any medication. That said, the reason I love herbs is that they are usually far more gentle on our bodies than over the counter prescriptions and remind our bodies how they are supposed to work! 

Try some of these and breathe the air without fear of sneezing!!!

May 16, 2010

Contest from Joyfolie

I love buying things from moms who are talented in making beautiful things so when I get the chance to win one for free, I go for it! :)

Today's free offer is from Joyfolie. You can enter the contest too by clicking here.

Good luck!!!

May 14, 2010

Whole Wheat Biscuit Recipe

Here's the recipe I promised. It's a delicious biscuit recipe made with 100% whole wheat pastry flour and yogurt. The biscuits are light and have a great flavor.

Wish I could tell you how long this takes - but I'm probably not a good measure. I dragged my youngest off the desk three times before finally resorting to having her "help" me by playing with flour at the counter. By the way, little people LOVE to "help" by measuring the flour or cutting the biscuits!

As my fourth grade teacher always said, READ all the instructions before following! :)
The instructions are detailed and a picture tutorial follows. Excuse the pic quality. I'm using my cell phone!

Whole Wheat Yogurt Biscuits 
Makes 14 - 2 1/2" biscuits

Dry ingredients
2 3/4 c. Whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. salt (I use sea salt - fine is best)
1 T + 1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. sugar (optional - I use fine raw cane sugar)

Wet/fat ingredients
6-8 T. COLD butter (I do NOT use's not food!)
1 1/2 c. yogurt

Tools needed
measuring spoons
measuring cups
glass measuring cup (for yogurt)
food processor (*optional but SO much faster)
Rubber or silicone spatula

*If you DON'T have a food processor, you can still make this recipe. You'll just measure your dry ingredients in a bowl and stir thoroughly. Then, cut butter in with a pastry cutter or two forks.

** An IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT FLOUR! - Don't ever "scoop" your flour into the measuring cup. The measurement won't be accurate because the flour will pack into the scoop. Result: heavy biscuits. Instead, spoon the flour into the measuring cup. You could probably sift the flour for fluffier results but I haven't done it. Don't care that much. :)

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Combine 2 1/2 c. flour and other dry ingredients in a food processor & pulse till thoroughly blended.
3. Cut butter into little cubes (see pic).
4. Add butter cubes to dry ingredients and pulse until butter is in pieces that resemble coarse cornmeal or small peas. Don't overmix!
5. Dump dry ingredients into a bowl.
6. Add yogurt and only stir till ingredients are combined. RESIST the urge to beat it. Dough should look fluffy
7. Flour counter with remaining 1/4 cup flour and plop dough on it. It will seem damp.
8. Flour your hands and knead the dough about 6 times.
*Haven't kneaded before? Just stick the heel of your hand into the middle of it and squish - then turn the dough, fold it over and do it again! Easy!*
9. Gently pat the dough till it's about 1/2 inch thick.
10. Cut into biscuit shapes, whatever you like - as long as they're all the same size. Otherwise they won't bake evenly. Also, cut them as close together as possible so you don't have to re-shape the dough for another round. The less you handle the dough, the better!
11. Place on cookie sheet - close together for fluffy biscuits and spread out for crispier ones.
12. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. (Mine took exactly 12 minutes but they might take more or less depending your elevation.

They taste awesome hot but they aren't bad cold or reheated either.

 Good - Quality - Ingredients

 Cube your COLD butter

Crumbly flour and butter mixture

Fluffy yogurt dough

Time to cut the biscuits!

May 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom-in-Law!

My MIL's Easter Cactus

I'm on a Mother kick lately, I guess, since my last post was about a Mother. But this one is a little different. Today is my mother-in-law's birthday and she's a pretty great person. This is my "Happy Birthday" message to her.

My mom-in-law and I have several things in common...We are both vocalists (she has an Ah-Mazing soprano voice). We both enjoy gardening. We are both committed fully to our families. We are both romantics at heart. And, interestingly, we both tend to be a little introverted when we're not performing.

Born in the South, my MIL still retains some characteristics of that culture. She is a lovely woman and dresses beautifully and appropriately for every occasion (JUST like ME! - flip flops are cool for church right?) She is reserved with her opinion (Totally like me!). She is a super hostess and throws terrific parties. She babysits and cooks for us regularly and frequently and the grandkids *A-DORE* her.  I can always count on her to come to my concerts. When my parents were ill, she offered regular meals, prayers and love to not only me but to my whole family. She is generous - to a fault - with her time and money to people who are in need, family or not.

All of these things and more, recommend this lady as a wonderful mother-in-law. But what I most appreciate about her is that even when we don't share the same opinion on something, she goes out of her way to be respectful and supportive.  Because of this, our relationship has grown into a loving, healthy one. And, I can honestly say that I see her as more than just my husband's mother or my children's gram. I truly love her and consider her my dear friend.

May 7, 2010


Sitting here at my computer after a day that seemed interminable,
teary toward the end.
The moon is waning and so is my energy,
my soul is tired.
It was a day when I would have loved to phone my mom and just hear her voice -
But she is not here in body.

So, I sit -
face covered in Earth,
sipping a nectar made of flowers
that came forth from the same womb which birthed me,
and my limbs begin to relax, 
comforted by the thought that there is another Mother I can still touch,
one who offers physical comfort and rest when I need it most.

Thank you...

May 6, 2010

Finding the Middle Ground, SB1070

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks, or out of the country, or lying senseless in a coma, by now you know about AZ SB1070, known as the Arizona Immigration Bill. It has caused quite a response, not just in the state but throughout the world. Anger from both sides seems to be the prevailing attitude, though some friends of mine have found ways to express their thoughts about it in creative and funny ways.

Last week, when I made a fairly benign comment about the bill to someone who didn't share the same view, he shouted his disagreement at me - complete with insults about my intelligence and education. It is the style of communication controversial  talk radio hosts love because it makes them feel smart. Insulting people of differing opinions is great for creating the type of polarization that wins elections but it is not a good basis for a thoughtful or productive conversation that might lead to greater understanding between people who really want a solution.

Don't get me wrong. Those of you who know me know I LOVE a good debate. I love to be challenged mentally, to find a way to make my point in the most convincing way possible. But, even in the midst of a heated debate, I firmly believe in showing respect and compassion to the person I'm debating and toward those people whose future we're discussing. Cheap insults and polarizing political diatribes don't win many converts to a new opinion.

How different our conversation could have been had my friend and I begun with respect and a willingness to find our common ground before highlighting our differences? We might have each learned that the other was more right that we knew.

Steven Covey emphasizes a concept in his business courses which seems very appropriate to this and so many other political situations...

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I'm going to take it as my mantra in the coming days.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this! Have you had any arguments about this one?

May 4, 2010

Give without Remembering

Give without Remembering. I saw this sign on the way home last night just as I was thinking about this very topic. Lately, I've had several opportunities to give something of myself  - time, encouragement or more tangible support - to another person when I knew it would not result in any kind of reciprocity.

Now, in my experience, this can be a tricky situation to navigate. Generally speaking, it's good to give freely with no expectations. The major religions of the world teach that giving without expecting anything in return is a spiritual discipline. In the New Testament, Luke 6:35 "love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." Matthew 6:3 says, "but when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." Now that's hardcore.

But sometimes, it's easy to slip into the role of the person who is always there for everyone else but who doesn't take care of herself - especially as a parent. Many times, I have fallen into this latter category to the degree that I didn't have any energy left to spend on taking care of myself, spiritually, physically or emotionally. Of course, after a while I learned that leaving so little for me meant I didn't have anything left to give anyone else.

Just to clarify, I'm not putting myself up as some kind of saint who just worked herself to the bone for the rest of the world. But I am saying that learning when to give and learning when to step back and let someone else have a turn may also be a form of spiritual wisdom. So, right now, I'm learning about how to balance this practice in my own life. I think that's why I've had opportunities lately to choose when I can give and when I have to step back and be sure I'm refilling my own spiritual, physical and emotional energy tank.

Anyone else struggle with this?
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