Monday, March 29, 2010

Self-Reliant Health - Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm is one of my favorite herbs. It is a tree, native to North America, and the inner bark is the part used. It's an amazing, highly nutritious herb with a mild-flavor. To me it's a slightly nutty taste. In The How To Herb Book, it's described as hinting of "burnt caramel candy". In the case of famine or food shortage, it would be an excellent herb to have stored or to forage for eating.

I like to buy it in powdered form so I can put a scoop or two in my fruit or protein shakes. It swells a little and gets thicker as it sits - in your glass or your stomach! - so you need to have plenty of water with it. My favorite Slippery Elm shakes are with a banana, soy milk (or water or milk), maybe a shot of vanilla, and a little Cinnamon sprinkled on top.

In our family, we've mainly used it for digestive and respiratory ailments. It is very healing and soothing for upset stomach, bowel problems, coughs, congestion, sore throat and tonsils. Here's a good over-view from my book called The Woman's Book of Healing Herbs, by Sari Harrar and Sara Altshul O'Donnell:

"History and Traditional Uses - Before Dutch elm disease destroyed many of the continent's mature trees, Native Americans relied on the sweet-tasting inner bark to ease childbirth, soothe labor pains, and relieve many other ailments, from diarrhea to dysentery, rheumatism to sore eyes, coughs to sore throats, and wounds to ulcers."

"Rich in slick mucilage, slippery elm was widely used at the turn of the century to coat and soothe irritated mucous membranes in the digestive system, mouth, throat, lungs, uterus, kidneys, and bladder. It also cooled hemorrhoids."

"Healing Potential - Today, proponents say that the mucilage in slippery elm bark is still an excellent remedy for bladder infections, diarrhea, peptic ulcers, coughs, colitis, acid stomach, and many more irritations and inflammations of the reproductive, digestive, and respiratory systems as well as of the urinary tract. Externally, homemade slippery elm paste or gel may help heal wounds, soothe inflamed skin, repair a torn perineum after childbirth, and restore vaginal lubrication at menopause."

My How To Herb Book explains that it basically coats, relaxes and heals all inflamed tissues, inside or out. It is very gentle and safe and therefor an excellent herb for babies with diarrhea or digestive problems. It normalizes stools and soothes, coats and heals the entire intestinal tract lining. It's great for ulcers and hiatal hernias. It's also a good thyroid support.

2 case studies were sited. The first was where hemorrhoid pain and bleeding was stopped within minutes by using a small retention enema. That's where you only use about 1 cup of warm mixture and it is entirely absorbed in the colon.

The second was used with baby lambs. When lambs are born, they have a tendency to get diarrhea (scours). Sometimes my baby goats did also. Many times the lambs die. This person fed her lambs slippery elm mixture and the diarrhea was quickly corrected and the lambs were fine.

Nature is full of tasty wonders. When we heal ourselves from the Lord's pharmacy, we are nourished, fed and strengthened at the same time. So I hope you'll consider adding some slippery elm to your storage!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Homemade Toothpaste

Well, it's actually tooth powder. This is an excellent substitute for commercial toothpaste. It does a better job, promotes a healthier mouth and costs a whole heck of a lot less! Besides, what will you do when your tube runs empty and you can't buy any more? This is a simple recipe that you can make any time from your kitchen pantry.

Homemade Tooth Powder

3 parts baking soda
1 part table salt
optional: add drops of peppermint oil or any other flavor to your liking.
Stir it all together.

Pretty simple. I guess some people really dislike the taste of baking soda. It's never bothered me, but if you find it unpleasant, the flavoring might really help. I added peppermint oil to ours and I really like it. It leaves a cleaner feel and taste in your mouth than any commercial toothpaste I've ever used. Here's a quote from an article by Patrick H. Bellringer that explains pretty well how and why it works so well:

"Baking soda is chemically a base or alkaline substance, the opposite of an acid. When an acid and a base are combined, they react chemically to neautralize each other and form a new substance known as a salt. Baking soda is a weak base and reacts in the baking process to form gas bubbles. The gas bubbles form air pockets in the pastry as the gas dissipates, shich causes the bread/cake to 'rise'. "

"Common table salt is produced by the chemical combination of sodium (Na), a powerful toxic powder, with chlorine (Cl), an extremely toxic gas. The salt produced is known as sodium chloride (NaCl) or common table salt. NaCl is found naturally in nature and is deposited on the floors of evaporating desert lakes. NaCl is required for proper metabolism in all living cells, yet in pure form NaCl can kill all life forms. This is why the salt flats of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, have no life forms living there."

"... Our forefathers used salt and soda as a tooth powder for cleaning their teeth..."

"...the soda will neutralize the organic "food" acids which erode the calcium of the enamel of your teeth and cause cavities. The salt will kill bacteria present in the mouth, and the salt and soda combination will act as an abrasive to clean the plaque and food particles from your teeth. Never will your teeth have been so clean and with no harmful side effects to you..."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter cookies have always been one of my favorite cookies, but I seldom make them because I don't like to cook with shortening. Shortening IS Partially Hydrogenated Oil. Once you study up on that stuff, you probably won't want to put it in your mouth again! But this recipe is made with butter. I was excited to try it out.

It's a soft dough and my oven cooks a little hot so they "melted" out a little flatter than normal, but man were they good. The real test was on my boys. Of course boys like cookies, but they really Ooooed and Awwwed over these. Jacob said they were "perfect" because they had a crispiness on the outside and were soft inside. OK. So I thought I'd point any of you other Peanut Butter Cookie lovers to this recipe. It's found at Made With Love. Enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lessons From Edgar Guest

One of the many important benefits I love about Home Schooling, is the ability to choose your own texts and literature to teach your children from. The Holy Bible was a primary reading text in schools at one time! I have old history books that tell the stories of God protecting George Washington from bullets, and of General Washington praying to God for divine intervention, which he received. And so many more stories of the faith of our founding fathers and others who built the foundation of our great country.This painting by Arnold Freiburg hangs in my house.

I especially love the old English readers. Each lesson taught a moral or value while it taught the children to read, spell and comprehend. Here are a couple of gems from the great American poet, Edgar Guest:

True Nobility

Who does his task from day to day
And meets whatever comes his way,
Believing God has willed it so,
Has found real greatness here below.

Who guards his post, no matter where,
Believing God must need him there,
Although but lowly toil it be,
Has risen to nobility.

For great and low there's but one test:
'Tis that each man shall do his best.
Who works with all the strength he can
Shall never die in debt to man.

Results and Roses

The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain.
Whate'er we want of any worth
We've got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek
Its secret here reposes:
You've got to dig from week to week
To get Results or Roses.

If the children in America had continued to learn these kinds of lessons, our country would be very different today. There would be no welfare state or entitlement mentality. There would be greater respect, integrity, dignity and honor. Today's generation of children, will be tomorrow's lawmakers and rulers. Teaching our youth real values and morals, with Christ as their exemplar, is the best possible way we can prepare for "tomorrow".

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stay Warmer and Save More Money

It's snowing at our house today. While most of the rest of the country has been having unusually cold weather, we've been having unusually warm. We live just 60 miles below the Canadian border in the Rockies and usually get a lot of snow in February, but the past week has been in the 40's and 50's instead! The forecast for today was high 40's and sunshine, so the snow this morning was a little unexpected.

Our 3-story home is entirely heated by one wood stove on the lowest level. It's radiant heat. There are no ducts, vents or blower to push the warm air through the house. Because we have two stairways, the main one and an additional spiral stair, there is a natural air circulation that happens as the heat rises and cold falls. The fire goes out, or is burned down to coals by morning, but the house was still warm and comfortable this morning when we woke up, even with the snow falling outside. The home holds heat well in the winter, and stays cool in the summer. There are several simple things you can do to better maintain the temperature in your home, and save heating and cooling costs.

On a cold day, walk around the inside of your home and do a check around all the doors and windows. Hold your hand close to the edges of the door and move it all around the perimeter. You will feel cold air coming through the gaps if there is not a good seal. Do the same around the edges of the windows. Sometimes I can feel cold air pouring in through electrical outlets and plug-ins. Check around any other vents, flues or intakes.

If there is cold air coming in around a door, look at your weather stripping. It's either worn out, gone or doesn't fit well enough to do the job. First check to see what is already there. If it was well-fitting and efficient but just worn out, then buy the same kind to replace it with. There are many options for weather stripping.

The thin foam strip type is very inexpensive to buy. It would be used to fill a small crack where the door comes against the lip of the door jam. But remember that you usually "get what you pay for". If it will be getting any amount of rubbing against it, it won't last long. It's a thin, flimsy type of weatherstripping, but does have it's value when used in the right circumstance.

The heavier foam tube or rubber types are more dense for better protection, and in most cases, will last much longer. Here are a few different types that are on the doors in our home:

Or you can attach a metal-backed weatherstrip to the outside door jam. When the door shuts, it seals against the tubular vinyl or rubber seal. In my opinion, these aren't as aesthetic as the hidden seals, but if it is what you need I'm sure the sacrifice will be well worth the savings. Even though the one in the picture is a silver metal, you can buy or paint it to match.

A door sweep, like the two shown below, will stop the draft from coming in under the door.

For your windows, there are various types of weatherstripping that are applied either inside or outside. Often, just a bead of caulk around the window frame will insulate against air coming through. Caulking and weatherstripping will also help keep the bugs out.

Electrical outlets are just a plastic box inserted between the outer wall and the Sheetrock on the inside, so there is no insulation between them. For only a dollar or two, you can buy a foam insulating gasket. They go on the outside of the Sheetrock (inside wall), under the plate/cover. The picture shows gaskets that fit both outlets and switches. They are easy to install by just removing the cover, placing the gasket around the switch or plugs, and then replacing the cover. Since cold air will still want to come through the holes in the plug outlet, insert some plastic child-protection covers into the outlet and no more cold air will be allowed through. So simple and inexpensive, and yet so effective!

Vents, pipes, gaps in siding, or other areas that can let air through, can be insulated, caulked or filled in with foam spray insulation. This picture on the right is of foam spray insulation that was used to fill the gaps in our wood siding around doors and windows. The excess was removed so it would be less noticeable. The picture below is of a pellet stove vent pipe. It was sealed from the inside of the cover. You can see some of the sealant that oozed out around the pipe. In spite of how it looks, it is well sealed and no cold air comes in around it. However, the pipe is a single-layer metal pipe that conducts cold to the inside through itself. We don't use the pellet stove and plan to remove it. When we do, we'll just remove the entire pipe and seal it over with an insulated cover.

Window blinds can make a very big difference in your heating and cooling. In the winter, I shut the blinds at night to add a little more protection from the cold that comes through the glass. These insulated blinds do a great job of keeping heat in. When the sun shines during the day, I make sure the blinds are open on the sunny side of the house. We get a lot of solar heat through the windows. In the summer, we leave some windows open at night to cool the house back down after a hot day, and then make sure to close them in the morning before it starts getting hot outside. I also keep the blinds shut on the sunny side if it's too warm. Good quality windows make an enormous difference in heat loss/intake. If yours are really old and inefficient, you may want to consider saving up for some new ones.

While I was thinking about this today, I remembered an outlet in my kitchen that pours in the cold air. Looks like I still have plenty of projects to stay busy with! Although we're not paying for our heat, it is a lot of work to get 8 or 10 cord of firewood every year, so I'm highly motivated to do some more weatherizing!

Even if where you live normally has mild weather, we're all seeing that "normal" can't be counted on any more. Prepare now and be ready for crazy unexpected changes. Life gets very busy, but sometimes the smallest things can add up to the greatest benefit if we'll just take the time to give them a little attention. One report I read, said that improving the weatherizing around windows and doors, can save you better than 20% on heating bills! It's one more simple way to save some money and be better prepared for the storms ahead.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Mom's Awesome Sweet Bran Muffins

My mother has made these bran muffins since I was a little girl. I've always loved them, especially hot out of the oven! So naturally, I had to take her recipe with me when I left home. Now my husband and teenage boys love them like I do.

These muffins are sweet and moist. This is a great recipe to have for baking with storage ingredients. They are also healthy for you, inexpensive, and quick to make. What more can you ask for?!

Mom's Best Bran Muffins

1 1/2 c. millers bran, unprocessed
1 c. milk
1/2 c. honey
1 egg
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbl baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda

Combine the bran, milk and honey. Stir and let stand for 2 minutes or more. Then add the egg and butter and beat well. The butter should be softened or melted. Mix together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt and soda. Stir the two mixtures together, stirring only until combined. If you want to add blueberries or other berries or fruit, now is the time.

Fill 12 well-greased large muffin cups 2/3 or almost full. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

All of the ingredients in these muffins can, and would be good to have in your storage. I have made them with powdered milk and powdered eggs and they turned out great. I haven't used powdered butter, but I think that should work fine also. Sometimes I use some oat bran. When I made these today, I doubled the recipe (they disappear fast!) and out of the 3 cups of bran, I used 2 wheat bran and 1 oat bran.

I hope you and yours enjoy these as much as we do!


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