make feet soother gifts

I have had aching feet for a long time.  I tried many things, and now I know that stretching, shoe inserts and foot soaks are the best remedy.  I like to experiment with making things from natural sources; especially essential oils, but I found that some good, old fashioned ingredients are also helpful.

I work with other women who also are plagued with the aches/pains of aging-&-daily-life. So, I decided to make some feet soak powder for Christmas presents.  I searched the internet and found this was the base recipe to start:  (BUT read on- note that I modified it!)

3/4 cup epsom salts                                                                                                             1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda

Most of the recipes called forepsom essential oil, but I didn’t want the powdery stuff to glob.  Yet, of course, I wanted it to include some scents and herbs.  I found Lavender and Honey Epsom salt (faithful Calgon-take me away), and purchased a jar of “Village Naturals Therapy” (found at Walmart) concentrated bath soak. There are several scents/herb mixes available, but I picked Eucalyptus, Spearment, Menthol simply because it was green and I figured the green color would be a nice touch for gift effect.

I doubled the recipe in order to make multiple little jars.  I just spooned in what looked like a good mix of green crystals.  There is not a certain recipe, this will be strictly to taste.  Fell free to pick other variations, or just the basic recipe as above with a few drops of you favorite essential oils….and relax!!

footgift

 

9 things Mama taught us from the Bible

On Mother’s Day, I was sitting in church listening to the minister go over 9 things that Mom taught us.  Things that gave us confidence.  Things that warned us of heartache.  Things that assured us we were loved.  You were supposed to pay attention to the “moral” of the story….  here they are …tree row

Conduct yourselves with wisdom towards others, making the most of the opportunity. Colossians 4:5

Don’t judge a book by its cover= acceptance

wind flowers

Good manners never go out of style= respect

bugmouth

Choose your battles=discernment (sifting)

 

lone branches

First, walk a mile in their shoes= compassion

 

twisted vine

 

                         Two wrongs never make a right= forgiveness

 

loveydoves

People mean more than things= generosity

Prettypink

 

            Your word is your bond=                   integrity

 

Into each life some rain must fall= contentment

unnamed

pump

 

This too shall pass= patience

 

 

God is everywhere, and we find him anywhere we look.  As I create some of the pieces on our website www.livingakers.com, I think about God and all the glory of nature he placed right at our fingertips.

Trees are everywhere

logo1 logo4 logo3 logo2


 

 How often are trees used as a logo?

Just for fun, I googled that question and got 143,000,000 results. Way more than I ever considered!!! Perhaps a more appropriate question would be WHY trees are so popular as logos.  Because they have significance in all aspects of life, success, growth, stability, history and more.  I started noticing how many companies use trees as logos when I began my business finding and producing products made from trees or about trees. Everywhere I go, I see tree logos on billboards, at companies on awnings.  Could this mean that we humans appreciate this important piece of nature? In a way, it has become a symbol of incorporated (business) forests.  Maybe we should pay attention to our nations forests…  we do…

https://www.forestfoundation.org/forest-foundation-mission-vision-values-goals

The American Forest Foundation has a mission: “to ensure the sustainability of America’s family forests for present and future generations in conjunction with out strategic partners.” If you appreciate nature and your land, perhaps you consider how important it is to manage it, and here is help:  https://www.forestfoundation.org/our-focus

http://www.forestandwoodland.org/about-us.html

In Missouri, we rely on the Forest and Woodland Association, a partner of the American Forest Foundation.  They offer a wealth of information, through members sharing their experience and knowledge.  Most states have land owner Tree Farm Systems.. check yours out!

The world is paying attention to the importance of trees..

Forest Service Recognizes United Nations’ International Day of Forests

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

Try going one full day without using a product derived from a tree.
You won’t be able to use a pencil or paper or sit on your couch or at a desk. You won’t be able to check the mail or drink coffee while reading the newspaper.
Trees are important for everyone around the world, and now the U.N. has designated every March 21 as the International Day of Forests

In honor of trees, I create a variety of hand-crafted, specialty tree gifts- made from or about trees…  some can be seen on my pinterest page!

Necessary ‘Neem’ for skin care

I happened to catch an episode of Dr. Oz, and was fascinated with what I learned.  ‘Neem’ is an essential herb in Ayurvedic medicine (based on an ancient system in India).  First, the audience was introduced to the three types of dosha. Find your dosha, is a quiz you take to determine your ‘mind/body’ balance.  There are three types; Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Discussion was provided on the suggestions for harmful and helpful ingredients/spices unique to each type ‘Dosha’.  Very interesting, and the guest, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, explains easily how all this makes sense.

Then, we got into the information about an herb, used in India for centuries as skin care essential-  Neem.  It is from a tree indigenous to India: GntNeemTree

Dr. Chaudhary’s mother was in the audience because she was talking about Neem, something she used all her life by just making a poultice from leaves picked right off the tree.

Now that I viewed this episode and feel totally enlightened, I also feel ‘behind’ compared to how many people already have been aware of the special essence of this plant.  (I still have moments of delayed knowledge- but I get ‘it’ eventually.)

There are multitudes of products available, lotions, oils and combinations in products.  If you are like me, I want ‘pure’ organic ingredients. That’s why I prefer to DIY, and save money at the same time.  I did a little checking to compare prices, most average $9-19 for an oz of pure Neem Seed Oil.  It is marketed for several purposes, cosmetic (hair and even toothpaste), and a natural insect control for gardeners. It is offered in many forms; oil, dried, teas and is very common as an ingredient in lotions, facial wash, etc.  As I said before, I like to make my own, so I got my Neem Oil at Mountain Rose Herbs for $4.75 for 4 oz.  You can also get it at http://www.bulkapothecary.com/ with a comparable price, but their smallest quantity is 15 oz.

Have Happy skin everybody!!

 

skin care found in the kitchen

There are many ingredients right in your very own kitchen that are useful for skin care. Honey for instance, has many uses, which you can read more about in the post on this site; Honey for natural health help

Cinnamon is another handy ingredient. Cinnamon(If you want to use the essential oil, or get even more ideas of cinnamon use, don’t forget to look for it at Mountain Rose herbs- the link is on the right)

Here is some really helpful information about this spice I found at Live Strong.com 

Cinnamon–in both grated and essential oil forms–is beneficial to the skin because it brings blood and nutrients to the skin surface while also helping to dry skin. An article at organicfacts.net reports that cinnamon can be used to help dry acne and relieve an itchy scalp, but works best when applied in a preparation with an oil or petroleum jelly, which can moderate some of the harsh effects of cinnamon.

Plumps Skin

Cinnamon is a spice that brings blood to the surface of the skin, causing minor swelling and plumping. A preparation of three drops of cinnamon essential oil mixed with a couple tablespoons of petroleum jelly or olive oil can be applied to fine lines to plump out the skin, making the lines less visible. It’s best to avoid the eye area as cinnamon can cause burning if it gets in your eyes. You may carefully apply it to the outside of crow’s feet, away from the eye. This mixture is also helpful in plumping lips and can be used in place of lip gloss.

Scalp Cleanser

Cinnamon can help clean and nourish the scalp by acting as an exfoliant and bringing blood to the scalp, and along with it, oxygen to nourish the hair follicles. Take 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon and mix it with 1 tbsp. of honey and 1/4 cup of warmed olive oil and apply to the scalp, massaging firmly during the application process. Leave on for about 15 minutes and then wash hair with your normal shampoo. You should feel a little tingle as the cinnamon stimulates the scalp.

Eczema Treatment

Some people have found relief from patches of eczema by combining 1 tsp. of honey mixed with 1 tsp. of cinnamon and applying a thin layer of the paste on affected areas. Do not use this preparation on children or on patches of eczema on the face. Try a small test area and wash off immediately if the skin becomes too irritated. You should see results within a week, according to an article on Earth Clinic.com .

Acne Treatment

Cinnamon can help rid your face or back of acne by both drying out the skin and, again, bringing blood and oxygen to the skin surface. Mix 3 tbsp. of honey with 1 tbsp. of cinnamon and apply the paste to pimples and leave on overnight. Or apply a thin layer to the face as a mask and leave on for about 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Cinnamon masks can irritate the skin, so they should not be applied more than once a week.

Oh, and of course don’t forget the added bonus of how it helps the kids!  Some in the sand box helps keep the bugs and ants away! sandbox

 

I recently made a specialty homemade soap with cinnamon and oatmeal. Tune in for future post…

Useful Hedge Apples

Another gift of nature. Someone told me a few years ago, that if you put hedge apples in the corners of your house, they will keep away spiders. So, I tried it, and for the last couple years, it has worked. This year, I hit a jackpot of HUGE hedge apples!

Just a few made such a big pile.

“Folklore provides numerous claims that hedgeapples are repellent to insects and spiders. The fruit of the osage orange has been placed in households for ages. The Hedgeapple’s average lifespan in an air-condition environment is 2-3 months. Although some can develop spots at an early stage, Hedgeapples should only be discarded once most of the green has disappeared.” Hedge Apple resource.

These are those “brainy looking” things that can occasionally be found in the woods in the midwest. Deer love them. (I’m not sure what else eats them.)  I have heard people comment that they smell, but what I’ve noticed is a mild sweet scent. I don’t find it unpleasant. That must be a preference thing. Also, they are sticky and will turn brown and shrivel in a few months.

Such an easy, free, natural remedy. If you put some around the house, place a napkin or rag under it, or it can stain as it turns brown.  For tips on doing things yourself, using natural ingredients, or advise on just about anything frugal, check out www.frugallysustainable.com/

Tomato Pie, anyone?

This recipe is so simple, easy, and delicious– ANYONE can make it!

a slice of Tomato Pie

I was feeling the need to get out of the same-o dishes, use some of the last of our garden harvest, and found out there is such a thing as tomato pie.  So I decided to try it, and wow, was it a big hit with the family! (even my husband, who is opinionated).

The first attempt, I used the recipe from Simply Recipes, but left out the tobasco. Luckily, I had some fresh Basil in my herb garden. I you want fresh, certified organic herbs, try Mountain Rose (click link on right).

  • 1 9-inch pie shell (see pie crust recipe for homemade version)
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally, squeezed to remove excess juice, roughly chopped, to yield approximately 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced basil (about 8 leaves)*
  • 2 cups grated cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack, or Gruyere or Mozarella)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank’s Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

*To slice basil, chiffonade them by stacking the leaves on top of each other, roll them up like a cigar, starting at one end slice the “cigar” crosswise in thin slices.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pie shell in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or longer until lightly golden.  If you are starting with a frozen crust, you’ll need to cook it a little longer.  If you are using a homemade crust, freeze the crust first, then line the crust with aluminum foil and pre-bake it for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

2 Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel, or a potato ricer.

3 Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with chopped onion.  Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions.  Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes.

4 In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, Tabasco, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The mixture should be the consistency of a gooey snow ball.  Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.

5 Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes.

The second attempt, I didn’t bother to squeeze the moisture from the tomatoes, and the only difference I could tell, was that it seems to have more flavor. Some people just don’t have a taste for the mayonaise flavor, so, I decided to try cream cheese in order to eliminate the ‘twang’ flavor from mayonaise that some people, (like hubby) just don’t prefer.  I used 1/2 cup cream cheese and sour cream instead of the mayo, and it was; according to the hubby “a definite improvement”.  The cream cheese made it distinctly richer, so smaller portions were in order. For a healthy, tasty side dish (or entree), I highly recommend you try this!!  Low fat mayonaise, low fat cream cheese, could all be used for less calories, but not take away from taste. Gluten-free flour can easily be substituted in the crust.

 I got to use some of my fresh, home grown tomatoes and basil, and now have a family-approved quick, easy, simple side dish.  🙂

 

 

 

 

“Perpetual Pessimists Need Not Apply”

This ad appeared in a newspaper employment classifieds. It is a perfect reminder of how easy it is to see what’s wrong with anything, anywhere we look. These times are difficult.  The economy is making us face a need to be self-sufficient.  Employers face these same challenges and can easily become discouraged when seeking employees who are willing to meet the goals of the business, only to spend time and energy filtering through the ‘perpetual pessimists’ who expect something for nothing. That’s my perception of what this ad means.  What, exactly, does pessismist mean? According to Merriam/Webster:

1: an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome

2: the doctrine that reality is essentially evil b : the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness in life
pes·si·mist noun
It is an implied topic throughout the Bible also.

JAMES 3:16 TEV  Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil.  When we look around, where is there NOT jealousy and selfishness? That is what the pessimist tunes into. The trick is to turn it around: “Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

That’s why it is important to make an extra effort to seek the good. Dont’ give up.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
-Leo Tolstoy

I would never dream of going to a potential employer, filling out an application, making an interview appointment, arriving at the appointment (already put forth effort), only to loudly speak through my attitude in some way that I’m thinking “they won’t hire me, anyway” or that I’m too good for the job, or that I’m worth more than they offer. If that’s what I’m thinking, it will show in my demeanor.

Perpetual Pessimism is a state of mind, but it represents self destruction. I interpret this photo representing the act of chopping away at our own foundation.

You can choose to be a pessimist or just refuse to be negative.  That’s what  the quote in this blog title by George Bernard Shaw means to me. For inspiration and advice so that the difficult times we face don’t become overwhelming, I recommend Gretchen Rubin’s book “Happiness Project” and you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.  Also, author Larry Winget (he calls himself the “Pitbull of Personal Development”).  You can find these and many, many good books at BetterWorldBooks. Look for encouragement, and you can find it!!

poison ivy natural remedy tips

Did you know that all you need is”Jewel Weed” which grows right next to the poison ivy.  Pick off a leaf and rub the sap onto the area that touched the poison ivy. You can apply it later, also when the welts appear.I found fantastic information from frugally sustainable about the many ways to treat poison ivy.  As easy and simple as Apple Cider Vinegar, a banana peel or a blended up raw potato applied as a poultice.  There is a post by Andrea on Frugally Sustainable that gives many ideas to try. Such as: Drying paste. In the palm of your hand, make a paste with a tablespoon of bentonite clay, essential oils(10 drops total of either lavender, tea tree, chamomile, or geranium), and just enough water to moisten into a paste. Apply to rash and allow to dry before rinsing off. Use as often as needed. Also: Herbal compress. Make a strong tea using either burdock root, plantain, comfrey, or jewelweed — or any combination of these herbs. Apply to the skin by soaking a clean cloth in the tea and then placing the cloth on the affected areas. Let it dry and re-apply as often as needed. It should relieve the itching immediately.  Witch hazel: Spraying the affected area with witch hazel will help to ease the itch and dry the blisters.

If you want to have on hand herbs like these, or any fresh, organic herbs or teas, you will be sure and find them at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Get a good picture of what poison ivy looks like, so you can easily identify it, if you come across it.

Get out there and enjoy the outdoors!!! Don’t let a little plant ruin it.

 

 

 

 

Recovery Tip for addicts about spring fever

What, exactly, is spring fever? That’s kind of an age old question. Poets and songwriters write about it, people talk about getting it every year. The fever part means ‘ a rise in temperature’.  That goes along with the change of season, it means that now the dreariness of winter wears off, the gray skies and constant cold turn to blue with warm sunshine. It doesn’t sound like a sickness to me.

Some medical studies indicate there might be a link to the longer days that provide vitamin D with more exposure to the sun, which increase endorphins. (These make a person feel good) So is spring fever a bad thing? If you look the definition up, it refers to a “lazy restlessness”.  I don’t know about you, but these words seem to me to conflict. Perhaps the lazy refers to a desire to lay out and soak some sun and the restlessness means there’s been a change in energy.

There’s that word, “change” again. For addicts, it’s uncomfortable, scary, but in reality, it is inevitable.  When God created the earth, he created seasons that change with time. We know it, we can count on it. Spring represents renewal, new growth. So, what does this have to do with recovery? The ‘conflict’ in feelings we experience with seasonal changes, is dangerous in regards to relapse.  When you made the decision to be clean, you decided to change, to begin a journey of renewal- physically, emotionally and spiritually.  It’s that restlessness, a desire for something different (new) that you should focus on.

Mark Twain talked about spring fever through Huckleberry Finn who said; “It’s spring fever. And when you’ve got it, you– oh, you don’t quite know what it is you want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

You can see the renewing change of spring in the bright, green of budding leaves, grass turning green, beautiful colors of blossoms and budding flowers. Oh, and the pollen… which means hayfever/allergies. What to do when THAT strikes? Well, I have a couple suggestions; first, Neti pot (but please, follow the directions for saline solution, NEVER use strait tap water). The tiny molecules of pollen need to be flushed out of the nasal passages, or they irritate, build up and cause allergy symptoms. Second, try natural ingredient remedies. Do whatever you can to avoid taking drugs-even over-the-counter ones.

Now that the dreariness of winter is over, it doesn’t seem like as much sleep is needed, the extra layers of clothes can be shed, kick off the shoes and go barefoot (or at least slip on some flip-flops), the days are longer and the sun feels oh-so-good. It isn’t that hard to find what is positive about the change in seasons, but it is necessary to keep looking for the positive in every change.  If you want more information on recovery, self-help, addiction or just about anything, go to Better World books, they have a fantastic selection, very reasonable prices, fast shipping, and even buy back books.

Look around at all the beauty in the spring changes, fever or not, embrace the renewing!