Wednesday, October 31, 2012

When Illness Strikes

So I'm a little behind this week. But it's because I caught a nasty head cold from work. Thankfully I've had the past two days off so I was able to relax with some buddies.
What I woke up to Monday
Everyone seems to have their cure for the common cold, but I thought I would share what I'm doing to get over this ailment quickly.

First off you need some ibuprofen & vitamin C. Ibuprofen takes down any swelling or inflammation, including your ear tubes & sinus cavities. I also grabbed a six pack of orange juice cartons. Vitamin C can also help reduce inflammation and is well known for boosting your immune system. Some say while it won't cure a cold, it can help prevent further complications. Outside of juice, drinking tea is also key.

The one echinacea flower I was able to grow this year
I normally try to drink echinacea tea. Echinacea is an amazing herb along with a beautiful flower. It is actually a native plant in North America.

Echinacea's root is normally what is used, which is best after growing for three years.  Some argue the real benefits of echinacea for the flu or cold, but it does have anti-bacterial properties that can stop pathogens from spreading. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory.

But alas, I was out of echinacea. And my normal grocery store was not selling it. And needless to say with a cold, I wasn't motivated to look elsewhere. But there's more you can take than echinacea!

I first started off with some peppermint tea. Peppermint is normally best for an upset stomach, but mint's powerful menthol does wonders as a decongestant. It's also known as an astringent, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial- just to name a few. My mother swears by peppermint tea for a sore throat and she's right. As with about any tea, I add a bit of honey. It not only sweetens the tea, but honey is also beneficial to your throat. If you don't enjoy peppermint tea, you can also brew and steep the tea before just inhaling the vapors.

Over the past couple days, I interchanged juice with peppermint tea along with Celestial's sleepytime throat tamer. That contains chamomile, licorice, ginger, tilia estrella, and slippery elm to coat the throat. Continuing a lot of a fluids is a must when you are ill so the body can stay hydrated as it disposes the bacteria & toxins. And knowing that I'm normally dehydrated, the extra fluids can't hurt.

But along with fluids, vitamins & herbs, I must confess that I used some medications. I'm dealing with a head cold- there's nothing wrong from the next down. There's just a sore throat and a lot of head congestion. So I caved in and took either some form of NyQuil or Mucinix. But we can still go over what these medications do to the body.

First we have DayQuil, which is obviously a "day" version of NyQuil. It has acetaminophen, phenylephrine, and dextromethorphan as active ingredients. I would rather see ibuprofen than acetaminophen since acetaminophen reduces inflammation in different way than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen & aspirin). And Tylenol never really does anything for me.

But it's the Phenylephrine that matters the most to me. It's a decongestant and is marketed as a replacement for pseudoephedrine. Decongestants retract blood vessels in the chest and nasal cavities which reduces inflammation and mucus in those areas. Peppermint tea can break congestion up, but I needed my body to stop making unnecessary mucus.

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant, but my cough in this case isn't terrible. That ingredient is just a bonus.

Ok, a friend convinced me to also take some Mucinex D. Its active ingredients are guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine. Guaifenesin is a cough suppressant like dextomethorphan. Both are debateable as a "good" cough suppressant, especially for kids. I would say if you are looking for a good cough suppressant, stick with honey and tea.

Mucinex D or even NyQuil D's biggest selling point is that it has pseudoephedrine, which is the leading cause of a big debate in my state. Pseudoephedrine is not only a degonestant, but a powerful stimulant. Drug makers use pseudoephedrine to make meth. In response, lawmakers in several states are making restriction of how a person can get medications with pseudoephedrine. So most drug companies conjure up a replacement for pseudoephedrine & can be sold over the counter. I'm not too concerned on this topic, but I can understand the arguments.

So there you have it- what I used to battle an icky head cold. It's been about two days & I'm feeling a lot better but it's also thanks to one thing I haven't mentioned yet: rest. I filled in at work over the weekend & in return I had Monday & Tuesday off. While it's always awful to be sick over your weekend, I'm overall glad. It happened over a time period where I could get a lot of rest. Sleep is the number on best way to get rid of an ailment. Resting allows your body focus entirely on destroying the bacteria or virus. And who doesn't enjoy a lazy morning or two?

Also something to keep in mind: a good amount of sleep, vitamin C, and tea will help keep away the cold or flu. So rest well my friends; and enjoy a cup o' tea for me.
Katsumi ensuring that I keep resting

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Little Fall Decore

We are well into autumn so I realized I better get out some decorations out before I have to take it down and get Festivus gear in order. Thankfully, I have some help this year.
Preparing the Jack O' Lanterns & Painting
I don't know why I didn't realize this before, but fall decorations can be expensive! A couple weekends ago, we went out to a local pumpkin patch. Don't get me wrong, we had a great time, but some of the costs for autumn decoration can cost a pretty penny.
It's not fall without a good ole' fashion hay ride!
We found a loverly little pumpkin patch
We still ended up purchasing a few pumpkins (and pie pumpkins for cooking of course), but we got into thinking about decorating without breaking the bank. Here are some key words: Hobby Lobby & Dollar Tree. First, I've mentioned it before, but if you're looking for a cheap way to all a little creativity with class to your home, you got to try painting your own letters!
I've been working on have a new Monogram for each season: here's autumn
At Hobby Lobby, the cardboard letters are about $2-3, depending on which you get. There is an initiative cost of getting enough paints, but after that, that's it! And here's to think the store's actual painted letters (only in one color mind you) cost more than $8.

But I decided to do a little more than just a new seasonal letter. So, I bought the letters to make a banner- "FALL." It didn't cost that much & only took about a week to finish.
During the first few steps
I decided to have each letter incorporate different things. "F" was for fall in general, so of course I had to get in some pumpkins. The other letters were a given: "A" had apples & acorns, "L" had leaves, "L" again for lantern. I was really happy with the end product.
Now here's the tough part. I decided I wanted to hang this out along our porch, but I didn't want to get my husband worried about drilling holes. So, I'm trying out a temporary structure using staples and twine. I simply strung twine across the back of the letters & stapled it to the letters. I did a few staples for each to get some support. Thankfully this project is light, but I'll have to keep an eye on it throughout the season.
So after that was all said & done, Ashley & I got to work on the porch. Most of it is a lot a great finds we got at the Dollar Store- couple window decals, a skeleton Ashley painted, and a lot of fake cobweb. You'd actually be surprised how well that stuff works.
It's all spooky!
But it's time for le piece of resistance! Thankfully, we already have a few hooks for planters & such on the porch. I tied the twine through the hooks and then touched it up with some ribbon. I'm so happy with how it turned out!
Ashley also got some cobweb on it
So all in all, our porch now has a touch of Halloween & autumn- all while spending $50 at the most. I hope this inspired you with a few some thrifty decoration ideas!
Happy Harvest Season!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Knowing Where Your Food Comes From

Taking a quick break from pumpkins to give an example of why I love living & eating in Western Kentucky.

This weekend, we went with another couple to Palmer Farms, which provides local, grass-fed beef. This is where we've been getting our more nutritional beef that takes a chunk out of our carbon footprint while tasting absolutely delicious. You can read more of why I'm getting picky about my beef here.

So, this was my second time going out to the Palmer Farm. It's about an hour and a half round trip drive for us to pick up about $50 (normally) worth of meat. And the ground beef is $4.50 / pound. And I can tell you without any hesitation that every cent, tank of gas, and minute of my time is worth it.

Both times we've been to the farm, it's been a wonderful experience. And this last time was no exception. We were first greeted by Stacie and two handsome lads who couldn't wait to show us some of their calves! We were able to spend some quality time with two calves that were just a week old and needed to be bottle fed. They were precious!

Couldn't get too many still photos of this guy- he was frolicking all over!
It took awhile to get this sleepy girl up, but isn't she a beaut?
In the midst of hanging out with these calves, Stacie's husband Mike showed up. We all ended up having a lovely symposium on the drought, livestock, and how a cow's diet impacts the flavor of meat. Then general crops came up in conversation and they offered to show us their tobacco barns. And oh my, did it smell wonderful.

Just one of the Palmers' barns that are full of tobacco leaves
During that time, we were able to not only learn about a crop that assisted in making our great nation, but also about American farming in general. On my first note, it was just a few tobacco seeds that John Rolfe was able to smuggle to the new land that gave a jump start to the colonies. You can just tuck that random fact away for a rainy day.

But we were also discussing what all has to be done in order to get the crops (like tobacco) to harvest in time. And I guess it just never crossed our mind for my husband to apply for seasonal farm work. I say this because the hubster is in the process of starting a career in (what he hopes) biology. Farm work, along with finishing school, could definitely get him one step closer! And of course, we all hope we can work something out next season.

I'm sharing all of this to tell you that I'm so happy to have these conversations with the family that raises my delicious burgers and steaks. We are able to talk about what grass the cow eats and what all they have to do when a calf gets sick. When it gets a bit dryer (can't believe I'm saying that after this devastating drought), we will even get to tour the pastures! And we hope this is only the beginning. There's a couple of other farmers when it comes to different livestock and crops. There's even one Amish farmer out here that wants to do a pig roast with his customers. These are relationships that are lost for most Americans. 

I got around to a few other things this weekend- mostly cleaning, cooking, and strangely: gardening! With the rain and still semi-warm temperatures, the tomatoes are still producing and my chamomile even seeded into a flower bed. So that's now a potted plant we will figure out how to house during winter. Maybe I'll get more tea out of it!

Live in Western Kentucky and love the thought of knowing your farmer & getting delicious grass-fed beef? Check out the Palmer Farms website. Not only can you learn more about the health benefits of grass fed beef, but Stacie has their prices along with some recipes on there.

Palmer Farms

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanks Pumpkin: A Lovely Pumpkin Breakfast

Ok, things are now back in order. I hope you all enjoy the new layout. And I welcome any new visitors that come through pinterest.

Well, it's October and that means only one thing: time to enjoy some pumpkin! Last year, I explained why pumpkin is such a magnificent fruit. It's crammed pack of vitamins, minerals, and fiber all while containing low on calories.

Since there are so many ways to enjoy pumpkin, I'd like to continue to show you the great ways your can easily add a little pumpkin to your diet. Today's feature: a delectable breakfast of pumpkin french toast with a pumpkin spice latte!

As of all things, both of these ideas come from pinterest. I found a vegan recipe for the pumpkin french toast. For those who are not vegan (like myself), two regular eggs work just as well compared to flax. And we ended up not needing any additional topping outside of butter & syrup. It was delicious all its own!

A Yummy Pumpkin Breakfast
And I was able to find a great, but simple pumpkin spice latte that you can easily make at home. I even bottled up a second batch to keep as a creamer.
There is one thing to keep in mind for these and other autumn breakfast/dessert recipes. Many call for some "pumpkin spice." That is quite easy to make.

Pumpkin Spice For Various Recipes:
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

Combine those ingredients and store as you would any spice- in a seal-able container. I ended up using it for both of these breakfast items. When mixed with pumpkin, it is delectable. But then again, when is pumpkin not delicious?!