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Maddie’s Itchy Ear/ Hot spot remedy

When we got Maddie she came to us after a bit of an ordeal.
Poor pup had been through the ringer.  No one really knows her story.  What we do know is that she spent months in a pound followed by time at the Richmond SPCA where we found her and she saved us.  Because she is AWESOME.

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Seriously…why did anyone ever let this sweet girl go?  Beyond me.

What we knew very fast was that Maddie has terrible skin allergies.  Her belly had lost all fur and her ears were about the same in spots when we brought her home.
They sent us home with a prescription for allergy medicine they assumed she would need for the rest of her life.
I changed her over to high quality food, my home made yogurt mixed in once a day and oil blended salve and the below hotspot spray.
My guess is that this spray would work on any “hotspot” areas…Maddie’s “hotspots” are her ears.
Within a month of using this her inner ears had gone from a black, crusty, disgusting, itching all the time type of ear to a lovely pink shade that she only scratches occasionally.  I only spray it now when I see it flaring up on her from time to time.

This post I will share the spray recipe and soon the salve…but in all honesty the ear “salve”  isn’t much different than the Eczema ointment I used for Adam’s hands.  I add in a bit of home made Plantain and Comfrey oil to the salve as well.

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Ingredients:

1 spray bottle
Witch Hazel

Sweet Almond Oil
Fractionated Coconut Oil
Oregano Oil
Melaleuca (tea tree) Oil
Lavender oil

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I fill the bottle about 1/4 with the Fractionated Coconut oil, 1/2 Witch Hazel, 10-20 drops of each of the oils.

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Shake it up and call it a day…

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Now I am thinking Maddie may or may not appreciate a “keep toddler away” spray but I have yet to find that right mixture…
according to Lucas “Maddie is my very best friend in the whole world!”
I will say she is definitely the BEST dog in the world <3

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FYI…this works as a great bug spray as well…double Heck Yeah!:-)

Sometimes I just like “Snake Oil”

I must say over the last year I have had quite the addiction to Essential Oils.
Now I have always used oils like Tea Tree, Lavender and patchouli but I hadn’t really ventured further.  And then I took the Whole Living class all Summer last year and fell in love with a few new ones…
Before I knew it I was reading more…using more.
Finding a million uses for these great smelling oils.
Here is the thing….I HATE artificial air fresheners.  For years if I smell them they give me an instant headache and stuffy nose.  Possibly the soy allergy that we now know I have but anyway around it they don’t even have to list what chemicals you are inhaling.  I knew that there was no way I wanted my loved ones around that junk.
Then I started using them in my herbal concoctions…
Maddie’s ears being the first real “ah-ha” moment.  Many of my friends on Facebook often post and make fun of their friends that sell essential oils like Young Living and doTerra the average comment is that they are doing nothing short of selling “snake oil” (this especially makes me laugh now).
Well I have kept my oil addiction on the quiet side because Lord knows I didn’t want to be selling “snake oil”;-)

But then a funny thing happened…our health was benefiting in amazing ways and our doctor visits are down to maybe one a year per family member…a few of us are sitting at zero.
Poor Maddie came to use with ears that were so itchy they had put her on a medication for lifetime.
Lifetime….
She had scratched at one ear until she actually has a permanent place that she can no longer grow fur.  She was in BAD shape.
Enter the oils.  I made her a salve that had her inner ears from solid black, bumpy and itchy to soft and pink within a few months.  She no longer has to take the medicine she was supposed to be on for a lifetime.  I made her a bottle of “itchy ears” for hot spot days and the salve when I see they are getting rough again.
Then came the Eczema on the backs of Adam’s hands….BAD.
Then the cyst…yes a cyst…that the oils literally got rid of…
Did I mention headaches, motion sickness and colds?

Before I knew it these oils had creeped into our everyday life.
I started off trying out Young Living.
My friend Toneka showed me how to use the diffuser and I was hooked!!  Forget Glad stinky stuff  folks…an oil diffuser is your stinking houses best friend and worth every penny!
I am not really a “brand loyal” kindof gal…I knew it would be between the two major oil companies, Young Living or doTerra.  I figured I would start with YL and try it and see if they fit.  I had a terrible experience with their customer service from the very first day I signed on.  They could care less if I stayed or left and so…I said “by-by”.  Now the YL product was great!  Nothing bad to say about that but when you are buying a consumable product from a company, often, their “backend shop” needs to be seamless and the customer service the same.
It was a nightmare.  My friend orders something that was one backorder for months!  That was ridiculous and NOT something I would be promoting.
So I did what any addict would do.  I used up my YL kit and signed up for doTerra.
Decided I would give it a whirl.

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Confession.
I have signed on with more MLM companies than a normal person probably would…mainly because I want that starter kit!  Duh!
I am to the point now that if I sign on to “sell” a product it is really just code for “buy my product at discount prices”.  Duh!
I have had some clear favorite MLM’s over the years…Thirty One was awesome and the only reason I stopped?
Because how many purses and bags does one girl really need?  I can say my closets have a plenty and I had a great time with it.
But I am not a “party” kindof gal and most MLM’s make selling online tricky and complicated.
I figured when I left Thirty One my MLM days were probably over….but never say never.

When I signed on for both YL and DT I had no intentions of ever really “selling” to anyone other than myself.  I am totally an awesome client…for myself.
I am not into the whole holding “parties” and making my friends run away from me every time they see me in fear I will ask them to host one.
Real fast way to lose friends…
Nope I just wanted the kits and discount for ordering product.
But doTerra…well they had me in love within 24 hours of signing up.  They had videos of how they create their oils, how to use them, when, where…education education education.  I LOVED that!!!
Huge bonus…doTerra doesn’t require you to pay some big crazy kit price if you just want to get in on the discount each month on your orders.
They offer what is called an Independent Product Consultant (IPC) which basically means you register for $35 bucks (like a Costco or Sam’s club membership).

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You are then able to:

  • Get your oils at 25% off retail
  • The ability to sign on with the Loyalty Rewards Program (LRP)  and earn free products
  • A website with no fee (that is a pretty big deal in MLM land)
  • You may sponsor new members and earn bonuses ( not required)
  • Get in on other specials they run

Right about now my friends who aren’t into this kindof thing are going “Oh good Lord please don’t ask me to host a party or buy something!”
Guess what?  I am not going to.  I am simply putting this out there and letting folks know that I am seeing amazing benefits from these oils and if you want to try something new to help heal this or that…just let me know and I will see what can be done.
I am not going to swear oils will cure your cancer or major disease BUT I can totally vouch that they will indeed supplement a healthier lifestyle.
After all I far prefer to rub peppermint behind my earlobes when a headache hits as opposed to taking a harsher drug.
Same with lotions, salves etc….
I avoid chemicals as much as possible around here and by doing so use a heap of oils in exchange.
At the end of the day…I am quite happy with them and will be sharing more of the recipes I use around here with these oils.
Figured I would let you know, in full disclosure, why I always list doTerra oils in my recipes;-)
The banner ad with a link to my store will always be hanging out around here somewhere.
Swear I am not going to be hounding any friends to hold “parties”…promise.
Now I may just offer some “make and take” classes but those are a whole different creature.

The long road to forever…and a day.

Do you have your morning cup of coffee?  How about a story…
The “happily ever after” kind…of course.  They are my favorite you see.  Far too long for a single blog post, or 30.
But I shall condense and try  to focus today’s post on “in the beginning”.

Once upon a time I was this 15 year old girl(once…only once), who everyone knew, had zero desire to ever have a boyfriend, let alone spend the rest of my life with a man.
I would never end up like my mother…strapped to a man.  A man who controlled her every move, appreciate not the meals she put on his table, the endless laundry, the thankless hours spent in a garden to make a bit of extra money, the raising of his kiddos.
A man that cheated on her, yelled often and drank far too much….yes, he was my father.  I did indeed love him, even with all his flaws but no way would I EVER marry my father or any man for that matter.  My mind was made up.
I swore that oath at the ripe old age of 12 and was sure I was going to stick with it.
Yes, I was convinced I would NEVER want a man.  I even had this >>> giant poster on the closet in my bedroom..

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I think I must have been every bit of fourteen when I stuck that on that on my door.  I was adamant.
No boyfriend.  They were trouble.

Now don’t get me wrong…most of my friends were actually boys.  Mainly because I have never “played girl” very well.
I had lived through enough drama my first 13 years to last me a complete lifetime…and it hadn’t ended yet.
Always the tomboy…never the beauty queen.   I preferred that role.  It was safe.
Well it was at least “safe” until those teen years hit and before I knew it many of the boys I had been so close to as friends, well they fell hard for the girl that had zero desire to be with a boy…any boy.  Ever.
And just so you know…I had no interest in girls either;-) (these days that disclaimer must be made I suppose…LOL!)
I simply liked myself just fine and being alone was safe.  I built that brick wall stronger than Fort Knox.
I left a trail of broken hearts.  Each time I felt so bad for my friends.  I would point out they were just in love with my cooking and mothering…because even then I “mothered” folks.
The line “I just don’t like you that way…” and “I just don’t want to be in any relationship right now…” were used often.
Actually even used that line the week before I left for church camp…heartbroken by yet another close friend “falling in love”.
But on a hot day in July I hopped on our churches bus with bull horns adorning the front grill…my frizzy Summer hair in it’s full frizz glory, and slept my way to Front Royal, VA.

I kid you not…this was the bus…it had the tiniest bus seats.  They were tiny but teenagers can sleep anywhere.  True story.  Can’t make this stuff up.

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Why is Steve under the bus?  I have no clue?  Was it broke?  Probably the thing was like a million years old.
We made it though and my girlfriends and I promptly set up “home away from home”.

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And we then ran away to the main pavilion so they could “find boys”.  Oh sure I didn’t mind that…boys were fun to look at and all.
I just had no idea what would happen.
Would I have gone to that pavilion if I had known?  HECK YA!
With in five minutes of being up at the main hub for the camp ground we had met a group of handsome young fellas.  We sat in a circle as we all gabbed about where we were from, ages, names…the normal stuff.  As we were sitting there a few of the fellas saw their fellow youth group friends walking by and yelled out a greeting.
“Hey Daryl!  Come over and meet these girls!”
At that moment time really did stop for me.
I have read more than my fair share of romance novels over the years and can assure you that “love at first sight” is a very real thing.  Before that day I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that.  I would have sworn “doesn’t exist…only in romance novels”.
But there he was right in front of me.  My stomach flip flopping and my head buzzing with some strange sound.
I heard not a single word anyone else said at that point.  I simply had to know who this guy was.  What in the world was wrong with me?  Was I getting the flu?
It had to be the bangs?  Right?

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Daryl and I managed a conversation for about 5 minutes before their group had to head back to their campsite.
Here is the catch…Fishnet is a huge, Woodstock for church folks, type of event.  Finding him again took me three very long days.
By the end of that third day all of my girlfriends had their official camp “boyfriends” and I had no fewer than three boys they were trying to talk me into making mine.
THAT wasn’t happening.  No way.

I had three days of walking around by myself, looking for him.  Pondering what in the world was up with me?  Surely I was just not feeling well that first day from the long hours spent on a bus filled with stinky teens.  Had to be it.
As the sun started to set on that third day I plopped butt on a picnic table to feel sorry for myself…chin on fists, staring at the ground.  Sulking.
Then something crazy happened.  Daryl plopped down beside me…I was speechless.  Those darn butterflies and buzzing came back instantly.
He then proclaims: “Where have you been?!  I have been looking for you for three days!!”
We had 3 days together from that point.  Never losing sight of each other except for when the adults would make us.
By the end of the third day when my bus pulled away I was in tears…tough me, in full ugly cry.
He was not in much better shape.  As the bus pulled away I can still see him standing there waving, running beside the bus.
We had made the promise though.
We would get married one day.  That much we knew, for sure.
The next three years were the hardest of my life.  My home life spiraled once again….I was convinced I would never see Daryl again.
But we wrote… and called.  We knew everything there was to know about each other well before the pressures of normal teen dating were added.
We had time to grow up and be friends.  Rare these days.
We would be boyfriend and girlfriend and not be girlfriend and boyfriend over those years…but we were ALWAYS friends.

When I finally received that letter … him saying  “I still love you”  and I finally managed to make it down for a visit.
I just had to know…was our crazy chemistry real?  Or was it just puppy love to an extreme?
When I saw him again for the first time in three years…
The butterflies danced and that crazy buzzing returned.  I had dated in between those years and told them all “I will always love Daryl.”
I hadn’t lied.
At the end of the day we had a total of three days together, three years apart and me driving up and down the road, 10 hours one way, at the age of 18 to see this romance through once a month for a weekend here and there in between my work and school life.  I was living on my own at the time…another very long story.
I think we totaled it up once and we had spent a total of, maybe, 18-20 days together in our life before I moved in with his family.

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We became the little town of Farmville, VA’s town scandal for a time.  The mothers all in a tizzy that Daryl, a junior in high school at the time, had his girlfriend living with him.  But there was so much more to our story that they just didn’t know…
It was “just for the Summer” to help out as his mother was dealing with a brain aneurysm.  He needed me. We needed each other.
In the end those mothers who gossiped the loudest now all have sons with divorce under their belt.
Sometimes you can know who you are meant to be with….even when you are 13 and 15.
It happens.
Love at first sight is real.
I still get butterflies….

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And yes…one day I will write our book.
Will I share it with the world or just our kids?  I don’t know but this trilogy deserves to be written.
It’s the greatest romance story I have ever known…thankful it is ours.
I have always said that even if it all ended tomorrow I would never change a thing.  Having a passion filled relationship that spans decades…
Well I tease often that Daryl is God’s apology for my childhood being so drama filled.
God must have been like “I am so sorry…let me give you a wonderful adulthood…as drama free as possible and filled with love and passion.”

I have no clue what would have happened to me if there hadn’t been a “Daryl” but I am sure it would not have been a “happily ever after” scenario.
Today starts our 25th year in love.  It is also the first year we have had to spend it apart in at least 22 years.
His work takes him out of town weekly now.  We are both so aware when he is gone just how much we complete each other.
How much we can’t be apart for more than a few days without feeling lost.
Is it too cheesy to say “he completes me…”.  Oh yes, far too cheesy.  But it is how it is.
Happy anniversary honey…come home soon.  My butterflies miss you.

Pickles make the world go around…

Pickles…I love them so.
I have tried several different ways to make them over the years and ended up deciding that lacto-fermented pickles are the best (and easiest) way to make them.
I could go into a deep conversation on why fermented foods are great for you, why you should be eating them and the many health benefits but I really don’t feel like I am expert enough to really go into the science of fermenting foods.
This much I know for sure.  I feel better for eating them and where we used to be sick constantly we stay pretty darn health these days.  I can’t help but to think that the healthy gut flora has something to do with this.  There was a time when twice a year, every year, the tummy bug went through this house.  We haven’t had a tummy bug in almost 4 years now.
This is a BIG deal for me.  I HATE the tummy bug…
Are they related?  Not sure but I can say that it has been about that long since I started down the fermenting, veggie based diet road.  I can’t help but to feel they are related.  I seriously had to re-register Haley at our doctors last month when I took her for a church camp check-up.  Why?  Because she hadn’t been to the doctor for illness in so long they assumed she had gone somewhere else.

Really though…I don’t eat a thing in life that doesn’t taste good.  While health benefits are great and all taste matters.
Interested in learning more about fermenting?  There are endless resources out there!  If I could figure out how to get this new computer to link I would add that in…but I am stumped at the moment.  I shall see if I can figure out how to add links with it tomorrow…until then….
Now onto pickles.
So guess what…this method, is more than likely, the method many of our grandparents used.  It is CRAZY simple.
This time of year is the heart of pickle making.
For years I have heard that dill should be blooming at the same time as cucumbers come in but I have never been able to get dill to flourish in this VA heat.
This year I set a whole little section up for just the dill patch and babied it.  Watering and cutting back each time it tried to bolt to seed.
In the end I finally had success!  Dill flowering heads at the same time as the cucumbers!
It’s the little victories in life;-)

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Ingredients:

2 quarts of chlorine free water
5 tablespoons of Sea Salt
3-4 Flowering Dill Heads per jar
5-6 Garlic cloves
Peppercorns and red pepper flakes to taste
A Grape, Oak or Horseradish leaf

Ready for how simple this is?
Bring the water to warm enough to dissolve the salt on the stove…salt is your bff in fermenting.

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VERY important…let the water go back to room temperature before letting your veggies near it.
Otherwise it will “cook” them a bit and take some of the crispness away.
I normally grab the days cucumbers out of the garden, cut the dill and grape leaf off the vine (grape, oak and horseradish add tannins to the mix that help keep your pickles crisp) and start chopping and making the jars.

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I add a ton of garlic and dill (not just the flower heads) because we love both so much!
You can add other spices that you would like as well!  Just depends on how spicey you like yours.

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Add the brine once it is nice and cool, making sure it covers everything.
I typically use my friend Kelly’s method of adding carrots to the top as a weight to hold everything down…but I was out today.
I will be picking some up tomorrow though and adding them to the top.
I typically then cover mine loosely with a lid.  This time of year we have flies and I prefer the lid to the flies.  I air them out though several times a day and you will know when they are fermenting well because they will start bubbling over when you open them.  It’s wild!  And I swear the ferment gives them this extra “kick”.
I need to share my fermented salsa recipe as well!  The tomatoes are starting to ripen so hopefully it won’t be long on that front;-)

So now what?  You let these beauties sit on your counter for several days…until they have just the “kick” you are looking for.  Our families typical “happy spot” taste wise seems to be around the 2 week mark.  Check them from time to time and make sure they are under the brine.  If they have a bit of cloud in the jar don’t freak…fermented pickle brine tends to get a bit of a cloudy look to it.
I really can’t recommend researching the benefits of fermentation enough.
Now go out there and pickle those veggies!

4th Of July

Heck ya!! Love me some Summer holidays and the 4th…well it is a fun one indeed!
This year we headed out to our friends house for yet another fun 4th.
Figured I would share some pics…because this blog is the closest thing I have to a scrapbook these days (remember those days when I had time to actually….scrapbook?!  Boy do I miss it!)
First off…love Mandy’s table settings and of course lots of yummy food!  So cute:-)

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Did I happen to mention that we are on night #5 of “the 20 day sleepover.
“THE WHAT?!?!” you are asking about now…well you may remember Haley’s bff Gwyn left us last Summer and moved with her family to FL.
It was sad and horrid and well…these two have missed each other terribly.

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How in the world are we keeping sane, you ask?
Well you should know by now my house is ALWAYS loud, full of children and heavy on the chaos.
I babysit often, host playdates and I often say my “job” of SAHM is parallel to that of a cruise director.  I am used to keeping kids busy.
I actually enjoy the above.  Nuts…I know.
Here is the thing you must know about 12 year old girls.
They can be angry, bitter, chip on the shoulder roller coasters of emotions…but not these two.
I love Haley’s friends.  The girl has excellent taste in choosing her friends.
Gwyn is a kind, light hearted barrel of fun.  She has a fantastic attitude and wonderful family.
I am so happy she is part of Haley’s world and that they have been able to keep their special friendship going over the miles that part them.
The deal is Gwyn stays here in Richmond for 10 days with us and then the girls hop on a plane and head to Gwyn’s for 10 days.
They are having a blast and tonight we have even added Afton to the mix (another of my favorite young ladies).

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Lucas wanted to try out the fun games too…

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And then there was the ping pong ball on the spoon race….
It started off smoothly enough.

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But then the darn ball wouldn’t stay on the spoon and heaven help the poor boy he just couldn’t work out in his mind how to pick it up and try again.
In his defense it was well past his bedtime at this point…but it was hilarious.

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We moved on to some car play and sand box fun…
Oh Jack!  How did I forget this shot?!  Lucas finally got to meet another 2 year old that gabs as much as he does.
They had so much fun gabbing each other’s ear off!
This conversation was Jack telling Lucas all about the fishes on his shirt and Lucas declaring:
“Those are AWESOME fishies!! I love them!”

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Oh and look who actually let me take his picture!!!  Adam…a rare sighting indeed!
Guess what 14 year old boys who have grown up with a mom who is a photographer don’t like?
If you guessed “getting their picture taken” you would be correct…

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And then there are these three…aging very gracefully I might add.
I have been friends with all well over a few decades and can say they haven’t aged a bit but they sure have all turned into amazing men and fathers.

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and then…fireworks.
Thanks Parrish family for sharing your backyard!  :-)

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Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th Of July!:-)

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