A Light In The Window

One of life’s simple pleasures is lighting a candle, setting it on a cleaned surface and seeing that cozy glow. Part of what makes a house a home is the cozy atmosphere, right? We need a few throws, pillows and candles burning don’t we?  Of course this doesn’t automatically make it a home but it adds to! There’s just something about a burning candle that speaks life, on a damp, dismal night.

Unfortunately, that seemingly harmless candle might be filling your home with harmful chemicals. Candles are notorious for triggering headaches for many people. This is because of the high levels of synthetic scents, lead, and other toxins being released as the candles burn. Because of this, I have been extremely particular for many years about what candles I burn in my house. There are a few exceptions to the rule; like tea parties or such, that I allow myself to burn tealights, pillar, or taper candles to compliment the decor. Although they’re unscented, they’re still toxic. 🤫 Just don’t use these on a regular basis!

Now a days, soy candles are the rage and most everybody knows how they’re racked up to be so much healthier than the typical Yankee or Woodwick candles. But I’ve heard a few things that made me skeptical of even burning soy candles. I began to wonder if there’s any safe candles to burn! So I began researching a bit.

To be seriously safe, the best candles to burn would be simple beeswax candles. Beeswax is the oldest known material used for candles and one of the cleanest options. It’s natural, free of toxins, and provides a slow burn. They don’t hold scents as well as other waxes, so they’re typically unscented. Except for their original earthy, sweet aroma of honey. Since it’s natural wax, these are quite pricey.

I’ve tried a couple beeswax candles, but the price didn’t fit the quality, practicality, or satisfaction I anticipated. I love me a homey, cinnamon scent, tucked safely in a glass jar! Not a rolled up sheet of beeswax, sitting precariously on the table. You can get some in jars, but the ones I had tried were the rolled up type.

Now on to the soy candles. The most glaring issue with soy wax is that sometimes it doesn’t work on its own, and requires the addition of paraffin. This is better than pure paraffin but certainly has its issues. There are some companies, however, who use 100% pure soy wax, which is good. I’m not saying all soy candles are good or bad; just research them first to see if they are what they claim to be. Make sure it’s 100% soy. Not a blend of oils. I wouldn’t buy any old ‘soy’ candle without information about what the wax is actually made from. Also, are they scented with 100% pure essential oils or do they have ‘fragrance’ listed for their scent? I flee from the word fragrance at rapid speed because fragrance can literally mean any kind of fragrance! It does not insinuate natural or toxic free (especially watch for this in body products!)

A soy candle I’ve burned for many years has been the 1803 candles. This company uses 100% soy, not mixing with any oils or wax. They also have cotton wicks instead of lead as some candles do. Lead cores aren’t quite as prominent as they used to be but you still need to be careful. 1803 candles have a large selection of scents. These are produced with a blend of essential oils and synthetic fragrances. They use synthetic fragrance when essential oils aren’t available such as in Cheesecake, Cookie Dough, or the like. I simply stick with the ones that have essential oils and don’t buy those ‘off’ scents. Generally, use common sense when you’re thinking of scents! My favorite scents that I’ve gotten are Grated Cinnamon and Friendship. These are both cinnamon scented and smell very similar.

I like the 14 ounce wide mouth jars with a matte black lid, but they do have smaller jars available. Direct from the company, the 14 oz. candles are $23. You can check these out here! Some country/gift/antique type stores carry these as well.

1803 Friendship candle

My most recent and most favorite candles are the Welsh Mountain Candles. This company uses quality coconut or plam wax that does not emit residual toxins or chemicals in the air as they burn. The wicks are 100% cotton wicks without lead cores. Any coloring in their candles are natural, without poisonous dyes. However, all the candles I’ve gotten so far were white or off white. They’re scented with 100% pure essential oils, or a fragrance oil. This ‘fragrance oil’ made me instantly suspicious. I didn’t notice this at first. I bought one orchard peach scent, which obviously is not from an essential oil. While it smelled delicious like a fresh picked peach, I still don’t know exactly what all is under that ‘fragrance’ label. It didn’t give me an outright headache but kinda felt like it could head in that direction. I will stick with purchasing the essential oil scented ones after this, just to stay safe. They have them clearly marked on their website as to which are essential oil candles.

They have a wide variety of scents available, in tins or amber jars. The tins are 8 oz. for $11.99 or 16 oz. for $18.99. The amber jars are 9 oz. for $16.99 or 16 oz. for $23.99. They also carry black or white jars with bamboo lids, but these are more pricey. You can check out these candles here!

One scent I’ve tried and absolutely love is the cinnamon & clove! This one is essential oil scented. It smells very fragrant yet not overpowering like synthetic candles.

The amber jars are beautiful!

I’m by no means saying the candles I’ve mentioned are the only clean ones available. I’m sure there are more that I don’t know of. This is simply based off my experience and research, which, for an old-school girl like me, isn’t top of the line! 😉

Check out these candles and see if you can put a cleaner light in your window! 🕯

Cinnamon Rolls And Coughy

Yes you read right. Coffee??? Is my spelling that bad? No. No? We’re not talking about coffee! I’ll explain in a moment; just hang on while I finish my mocha- I don’t drink coffee!

The sunshine spilling through the windshield, a white chocolate mocha in my hand and a quiet drive without my offspring interprets a rare day. I’ve taken the opportunity to type in silence while my husband drives. We’re headed to Kansas City for an appointment and a bit of shopping. We have a 2.5 hour drive one way, so that gives me plenty time to ramble.

This week I’m consumed with baking cinnamon rolls. There’s a Big Iron sales representative that asked me to bake approximately 120 8×8 pans of cinnamon rolls to give his customers for Christmas. I have a “from scratch” recipe that uses unique ingredients such as potato flakes, instant vanilla pudding and milk, resulting in a soft, scrumptious roll! This recipe is tops! One massive batch makes 23 pans. I made one batch yesterday and hope to make 2 batches tomorrow. It’s a mountainous undertaking to mix, roll, slice, bake and frost nearly 50 pans in a day’s time. In about a week’s time I’ll need to make six batches, so if I don’t get much else done, you know why. And you can also guess why it’s taking me so long to get this post ready- I’m now way past last Tuesday when I started it!

This was the last day’s double batch…. Josie loved helping!

I might add that this Big Iron Rep seems to like me and went with me shopping for cinnamon roll groceries. He also hung out with me now and then lending a hand where he could, plus I joined him one day when he delivered rolls to customers. Ain’t that romantic?! I do all this to support his business, because supporting a husband’s business is part of being a wife.

As much as I enjoy making cinnamon rolls, I was thrilled to finish up those last two batches, get my floor cleaned, and the kitchen in its usual order! I’m still basking in the feeling of satisfaction both of a job completed and my orderly kitchen.

What Jerald’s truck looks like when he delivers cinnamon rolls
Jerald in business

This farmer, Kevin Compton, that’s shaking hands with Jerald is retiring and selling all his equipment with BigIron. Some weeks ago when Jerald was listing his equipment he noticed an old runner sled in one of his sheds. Jerald knew I was wanting one so he asked Kevin if he would sell it. Kevin wasn’t sure as he had bought it around 1980 for his children and he wanted to check first with them if they wanted it. And can you believe it they did not?! So on the day I rode with Jerald, I met Kevin and he wanted to give me that sled! I was pleased as punch!! I’ve always thought an old sled would be perfect for porch decor but the price? Not so perfect. And now I’m simply given one!! That very evening I washed it up, trimmed the trees, gathered sticks and…. oh joy! I love it! Fresh cut greens are simply perfect for making large outdoor bouquets. I fixed three of them before I said “enough”. Tuck in some broken branches, a few pine cones and you have pretty decor that didn’t cost a penny. I rebuked myself for not garnishing my porch with greens weeks ago. Simple but beautiful! Especially with a free sled!!

Ok back to the coughy. Has your family been coughing this winter yet? These days any bug that flies is more than a potato bug. According to the news, it seems any kind of bug must be some sort of strain akin to Mr. Corona. I’m just sayin’ but I’m not sayin’ if I agree or not! 😝

I feel blessed that my children have been in good health! Reece and Josie both had a cough season maybe two months ago but have been doing good. I praise God for that! But currently the stomach flu is sailing to and fro in our community. My children haven’t got it but I’m holding my breath. I’m dosing them up aplenty but still. Watch them get sick the moment I post. Just because, well, you know what I just said.

I’ve known for years that red raspberry leaf tea is beneficial for flu, hormones, pregnancy or general immune boosting. I drank this tea in both of my pregnancies. But it was only this Fall that I realized just how good it truly is for coughy spells!

After hearing a testimony of how it calms down a cough, I decided I must try it out. I had plenty on hand anyway. I was amazed at the results! Josie had been hacking around and sounding rather croupy one evening. I had her drink some at supper and then had more by her bed overnight. And what do ya know! She didn’t cough the whole night! I know it sounds like a windy tale but it’s not windy! It’s calming!

My in laws visited us in November. He seemingly has this perpetual cough. I promptly offered him a glass full of this tea I had in the fridge. And what do ya know! He barely coughed the rest of the evening! The remaining time they were at our house he drank a glass full whenever he got a spell. It’s not a joke or a hoax; it calms those croaks!

Reece drinks the tea too and I was amazed at how it even seemed to help loosen up the cough as well! Since then it’s one of my go to’s at the onset of any coughy situation! This tea and good old smelly garlic salve rubbed on the chest and feet through out the day often does wonders!

Reece drinking his tea 😍

Garlic salve is another subject to which some are strongly sensitive. I’m not here to argue. I know it stinks. I mean, who wouldn’t know that?! But this is my philosophy: Garlic salve works. It works amazing. If it keeps me and my children from getting very sick, sparing a trip to the Dr or perhaps out of the hospital, then I mean, get over the smell!! What is smell compared to that?! The hospital stinks too by the way.

All that said, I am not here to make anyone feel bad if your child has needed the hospital for croup or RSV or the like!! You’re the parent and must do what you think is best. If you feel your needing the ER, or a Dr appointment, then by all means go! Sometimes in spite of our best efforts at home remedies, professional help is needed.

Steeping my red raspberry brew

The tea I make is a mix of red raspberry, nettles and alfalfa. It’s called pregnancy tea but I call it red raspberry brew. Certain individuals may hoot about drinking pregnancy tea! But the scoop is, is that it’s for heaps more than pregnancy so just call it brew. Or a tea mix. I think if your drinking tea anyway why not drink a mix of teas/herbs and get added benefits?! Both nettles and alfalfa are rich in nutrients, besides the pop of nutrition in the raspberry leaves.

Here is how I make my red raspberry brew for that coughy spell!

Boil 1 quart water. Remove from heat and add 1/3 cup tea mix. Let it steep for 25-30 minutes or more. It’s not picky on time. Strain the tea and sweeten with stevia or honey. I just add stevia till it tastes good. I like a mix of the END stevia and Now stevia glycerite. Then I add a Tablespoon of baobab powder for extra vitamin C which is optional. It has a bit of a fruity twang which gives the tea a good flavor! Plus, it’s loaded with antioxidants. I stir it in when it’s warm so it dissolves better. Then add in a slice or two of fresh lemon and ice cubes to chill. Or you can drink it warm if you prefer but we drink ours cold and keep it refrigerated after making it.

I love my tea strainer that fits perfectly on a glass or jar for efficiency in tea straining!

This tea would be great to drink anytime just as an immune booster. Even for stomach flu or whatever ails you. I don’t think it would hurt anyone! But for sure, make it for your family who’s got a coughy spell!! And drink a glassful or more a day. Not just a sip or two because that won’t do.

My beloved red raspberry brew ready for drinking!

The most affordable place I have found to purchase raspberry tea leaves is Ann’s Naturals. You can contact her at (270)-524-4680 and be sure to ask for a catalog. She has the best prices I’ve found! She offers the straight raspberry or you can get the Pregnancy Mix which has alfalfa and nettles added; this is the mix I usually get. You can get 1 pound of this mix for only $9! I love Ann’s other products too and buy most of my herbal tinctures from her. She also carries the garlic salve I love and has lots of options for children’s tinctures. You can buy this tea elsewhere too. Most herb/health catalogs or health food stores would carry it.

So there you have it! Slather on the garlic and drink the tea. My sophisticated and unsolicited advice.

Four DIY Spa Products

Shortly after I was married, I began taking a great interest in health. I remember becoming aware of all the hidden toxins in body products. It was hard to grasp that such awful things like “cancer causing substances” were in my body wash and lotions! I distinctly remember a certain body wash that I had gotten especially for our honeymoon and my hubby loved the smell! I hated so much to just throw it away! I think I used it a few more times before I trashed it. I know the sorrow of leaving beloved scents behind. But! Your sense of scents will change as you switch to natural products!

And now? I wouldn’t dream of shopping for body products at normal places like Walmart or even Bath and Body Works. Not only because of parabens and phlathates swimming in the stuff, but the scent!! Powerfully disturbing! I’ll just say my family and I are now very sensitive to chemical fragrances, and besides, synthetic fragrances are endocrine disruptors!

So. Let’s look at a few things we can make ourselves that are great to use and completely non toxic! They don’t take a lot of hard to find ingredients. A few basics and the rest you may have in your home already!

Bath Salts:

2 cups epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup sea salt, 6-10 drops essential oil of your choice. Stir together and pour into a pretty jar. Use about a 3/4 cup in a hot tub and soak until your wrinkly!

Sugar Body Scrub:

3/4 cup raw sugar. (I like to grind mine up so it’s not as coarse.) 1/4-1/2 cup sweet almond oil, or oils like grapeseed or jojoba. Stir these together. I guesstimate a bit as to how it looks. You want it rather a bit extra oily than too dry. Add in 5-8 drops essential oils of your choice. After you pour it into your jar, the oil will separate and that’s ok! Just stir before using. Rubbing this on your body exfoliates the dead skin. Rinse off and pat dry. Now, aren’t you starting to feel pretty good about yourself, coming out of that soak and scrub?! But we’re not done yet!

Hand And Body Lotion:

3/4 cup sweet almond oil. I’ve found this to work best so wouldn’t substitute. 2 Tablespoons beeswax pellets. *Using a white beeswax makes a whiter lotion. Melt these two on low heat until beeswax is completely melted. Cool 1-2 minutes.

In the blender pour 1 cup distilled water. *Using distilled ensures a longer shelf life because it’s pure water without contamination. Start running blender on high, then slowly drizzle in the oil/beeswax mixture and keep blending till emulsified. This happens pretty quick, but keep blending. Scrape the sides as it becomes more emulsified and there’s no water left. Add in your essential oils of choice- approx 30 drops. Blend again. Have your jars ready for pouring. As soon as it’s finished blending, pour the lotion into them. It does set up a little, so I like to scrape it out as soon as I can. And now finish off your spa night with this lotion! I bet you didn’t know lotion could be this easy to make! It also makes a unique little gift!

The worst part is the messy blender to clean. After scraping it out really good, I use paper towels to wipe it out as much as possible, before adding hot soap and water and blending. If you try washing it with greasy sides, it’ll be harder to wash because it won’t wash off as easy as food does!

Lip Balm:

Melt over low heat: 1/2 Tablespoon Shea butter, 1/2 Tablespoon sweet almond or coconut oil, 1 scant teaspoon beeswax pellets. I use a small stainless steel measuring cup or bowl on the stove because I don’t like to use the microwave and besides, it’s easier to watch the progression of melting. Remove from heat and add essential oils. I just drop in as I feel led! If it’s peppermint oil, you don’t want too much, so maybe like 2-3 drops. But for lavender you can do more like 4-6 drops. Have your lip tubes ready and pour in quickly. This sets up pretty fast as soon as it’s away from heat. Cool before capping the lip tubes. I buy my tubes at Hobby Lobby.

* I have had a lot of trial and error in getting these lip balms to the exact consistency I like. If it’s too hard, add less beeswax and if it’s too soft add a tad more. I used to add a half Tablespoon beeswax but kept experimenting and cutting back. The most recent time I made it I used coconut oil and the scant half teaspoon beeswax. I was really pleased with the lovely softness of it! I like it buttery smooth but sometimes I’ve had trouble with it being harder to rub on. Then I just “huff” on it before using. The warm breath softens the balm a tiny bit and it rubs on better. Keep playing around if it doesn’t suit your likes the first time! *If it gets pebbly after a few months, remelt it, and pour back in the tubes. I’ve had that trouble especially with some salves I’ve made and I believe it’s the beeswax. After its remelted it’s nice and smooth again! Remember, these products have no preservatives and chemicals so it won’t be quite like your ‘normal’ lip balm or lotion. But if you’re like me and enjoy natural body care, you won’t mind! And besides, this way you KNOW what’s in your products!!

And just for what it’s worth… My latest batch of lip balm I made, I actually prefer over the lip balm from a very popular brand of natural body products!! Sure, their’s have more flavor variety but are hard to rub on! Mine just glides over my lips so smooth and shiny, it makes me beam with accomplishment! And I don’t even have to “huff” over it! 😜

* You can buy Sweet Almond oil, Shea butter and beeswax pellets at most health food stores or Amazon. I mostly use the Now brand. My beeswax is Sky Organics.

Adding labels and corralling these items in a cute basket makes a special gift most any woman would enjoy! My labels are very basic and you could print some much prettier than these, I’m sure!

Do you make some of your own body products? I’d love to hear about it!

A Peek In My Herb Cabinet

With cold weather coming on and winter being a typical time for flu bugs to sail around visiting homes, I thought this would be a good time to share on some things I like to use and keep on hand. Throughout the winter I regularly give my children herbal calcium, silver and an elderberry syrup or immune booster. Juice Plus chewables are another staple for my children! (At a later date I will blog about Juice Plus, which is an incredibly good product!)

I like to have my cabinets stocked with herbal tinctures especially in winter so I can feel ready for any cough or bug that might creep our way. If you want to use herbal tinctures and remedies, you must jump right on it at the first sign of sniffles, aches or flu. Don’t wait till you have that “ugh” feeling, to place an order of herbs! Keep some on hand so you can begin taking them immediately or sooner! Taking a few droppers full every hour or two is usually a good, safe guideline. You must be consistent if you want results! Once or twice a day isn’t enough if your battling sickness.

Also getting fresh air daily and occasionally fresh air into your house is a real good idea to help battle the germs! (I have a certain set of “fresh air” beliefs) Maintaining a healthy diet will help much in escaping many of those winter flues. Don’t expect to eat a diet void of fresh foods, and then think a few herbs will help you get better in a jiff!

When my children are sick I like to put all the tinctures, essential oils and thermometer in a basket or plate, then I can carry it to the couch or bed and have everything at my fingertips. If the children have fever, I rub peppermint, lavender and lemon essential oils on their spine and feet. Then also, soak a rag in apple cider vinegar and swab or lay it on their foreheads. Of course getting them to drink cold juice or water or suck on ice is also helpful. When I was a little girl, my mom gave me the egg white remedy to bring down fever. Beat one egg white and mix in a little sugar or sweetner and vanilla to make it palatable. Drink down as much as possible. It’s a gaggy texture but it does help bring down fever pretty quick. I haven’t used this on my children but would if they’re fever went pretty high. So far I don’t think mine have had 103 or above and I’ve been able to have success with natural remedies. Did you know it’s beneficial for a child to have several good fevers before they’re 5 or 6 years old? It kills cancer sells and helps the body build immunity to infection/fever. Many people are quick to give Tylenol or something similar as soon as their children have fever. But that’s not good for the body in the long run. However, I don’t mean to carelessly let a fever go too high because it could be dangerous. I keep an eye on their fevers and do all I can but if it would soar too high, then I would give something else.

I used to use a lot of the Doterra brand of essential oils and still really like those, but because of price, I’ve gotten on to using more of the “now” brand. I think they work great but if you want to take it internally, I would recommend the Doterra brand. I really like Doterra’s oil blend called Onguard. It’s a strong combat against germs and sicknesses. I’ve found another place (Ann’s Naturals) carries something very similar, which is called Combat oil. This is a blend of cloves, lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus and cinnamon. You will see this Combat oil right up front in my pictures. I love that oil! I like to rub it on chests or on the bottoms of feet or along the spine. The smell is lovely to diffuse too!

Something I do for myself when I feel like I’m getting sick is drink fire water. Boil a half cup water and stir in 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Then add a half cup apple cider vinegar. Use Braggs brand or one ‘with the mother’. Take one Tablespoon every 20 minutes or half hour throughout the day, or until you feel better. This really burns so don’t give it to children. I don’t mind it too much because I know it works and is good for me. I can take most anything icky- probably because I had to when I was a little girl sick with cancer. Just pinch your nose shut and swig it down! I mean if it’s good for you, why not?! Jerald doesn’t like to take this but if he’s feeling pretty bad he gives in and shivers it down!

One of my favorite places to order health products from is Sun Lite Herbs in Belle Center Ohio. You can call them for a catalog at 937-464-9099. They have reasonable prices and ship quickly! They carry a lot of products for moms/birthing/prenatals etc. as well as for babies and children and much more! Their Infant Tummy Relief works great for baby, but we also keep it on hand for anyone’s bellyaches and it works wonderfully! I also like their Ear oil for ear aches. Side note here, Basil oil is really good for ear ache too. I rub it around the outside of ear, and place a few drops of the Ear oil in the ear. I also like the Horehound Blend that Sun Lite Herbs carries. It works good and is safe for babies with congestion. To give you an idea on their prices, a lot of their 4 oz tinctures are $19.95. And they carry the Be Your Own Doctor books by Rachel Weaver. Very highly recommended to add to your library if you want to learn about caring for your own health! Be Your Child’s Pediatrician is another one she wrote. She covers vaccines and the dangers of them in this book. Very helpful to look up many ailments. I have all of these books and love them!

Another favorite is Ann’s Naturals in Horse Cave, Kentucky. This is a small family business with the best prices I have found! A 4 oz. tincture is $11, an 8 oz. is $19.50, or you can order as large as 16 oz for $38. You can call Annabelle at 270-524-4680. Not a big catalog but yet has a good variety of the normal echinacea, elderberry, cough syrups, immune booster and more. Also, essential oil blends, diffusers and salves. I love her garlic salve and am quick to use that on my children. It works for chest congestion, ear ache, or even just rubbing on their back for extra benefits when fighting any sickness. The Deep Tissue Healing Oil Salve is also a must have for us! It really helps when rubbed in on sore backs, shoulders or any muscles. It could also be used as a salve for congestion. Or if your child falls and gets a goose egg bump, rub on a bit of this deep tissue salve. The second ingredient is arnica oil, which is good for pain and swelling in bruises and speeds up healing. Don’t use on any open wounds because it would burn.

Many of you are likely familiar with Nature’s Warehouse. But in case your not, their number is 800-215-4372. A large catalog with oodles of health and body products, even carrying health foods and THM products. They print informative health articles to read, among their products in their catalog. They send out a catalog four times a year. Any orders over $25 ship free.

New Light Health from Elliottsburg, PA also has a large catalog with many products, as well as printing interesting health articles. It is similar to Nature’s Warehouse. Their number is 855-692-3500.

If you have interest in making your own tinctures and saving money, contact Walnut Creek Botanicals at 320-585-4372. They offer a variety of kits to make your own tinctures! Very nice kits that include specific directions and all you need to make your own, except for the vegetable glycerin or vodka that you will add to preserve your tinctures. I have gotten and made their herbal calcium kit several times. Super easy and heaps cheaper than buying small 4 oz size tinctures! It made approximately one quart of calcium, and the kit then was $19! I haven’t ordered just real recently so I’m not certain if that’s the current price, but it’s definitely affordable!

I hope this has been informative and helpful in your quest to keeping your family healthy!

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”

“It costs money to stay healthy, but it’s expensive to get sick”

On Stevia and Sweeteners

🌿 After my last blog post on mint tea using stevia, I had several requests about the stevia or where to get it. So today I’d like to share with you the stevia and sweeteners I use and what I like. I’m not making claims on certain products, but just what I’ve found works for us and what I feel are safe to use.

It can look rather daunting when you first starting looking into using stevia or other sweeteners. One thing to be sure to check if your looking for a stevia is that there are no fillers or additives! Maltodextrin, dextrose, or fructose are all unhealthy ingredients that are sometimes used in cheap stevias. They take a small amount of stevia extract and mix it with a filler or two. How convenient for the marketers but not for our bodies! Maltodextrin is highly processed, usually made from corn, and is very high on the glycemic level, which means it spikes your blood sugar. Beware of these ingredients!

Some people declare the bad after taste and therefore hate all stevia. Yes, there are some with that after taste or can turn bitter if you use too much! I feel most of the ones I use have very little or no aftertaste. And too, your taste buds do adjust once you use these awhile. I’ve been using most of these for a number of years already so here’s what I like.

The Now Organic Stevia Extract Powder is an affordable, good stevia without fillers. It’s a very nice, fine powder. The Now Stevia Glycerite is another zero calorie sweetener but this is in liquid form. It’s base is vegetable glycerin, which is sweet alone and safe to use. (It’s also what is used to preserve many herbal tinctures) I love the Stevia Glycerite for sweetening drinks! It dissolves a bit easier than the powders and just does a good job. Nature’s Warehouse sells this but it’s called Better Stevia Liquid, but I think its the same thing. They also sell the Now Organic Better Stevia Extract Powder.

Trim Healthy Mama has a very good, pure, organic stevia powder. It is more pricy but is worth it. It has no fillers or additives. It is pretty clumpy so you have to be a little careful to not get too much in, because it comes out in clumps. This one can very easily get bitter if you use too much. Many people enjoy this stevia. You can buy it online or at Nature’s Warehouse.

Sweet Leaf Stevia Sweetener is another one that I feel is safe to use. I’ve used it some but do not have any on hand presently. This one could easily be found at a health food store or online.

More recently I’ve found out of a good stevia that comes from Bolivia. It’s called E.N.D. Stevia. But beware what you buy from Bolivia!! The Bolivian climate is an excellent place to grow stevia. The problem is, about 50% of the stevia from there is fake!! In fact, I had heard of and used just a little of another Bolivia stevia. It was shiny, white little crystals. I was pretty skeptical about it because of different things. So Jerald and I started researching and we came across this one blog that said enough to scare me! If you would like to read that article you can find it here.

The REAL stevia from Bolivia is in powder form and slightly green. Maybe you can see it in the pictures. It sweetens very well and I really like it! There is a definite difference in the two Bolivia stevias I tried. If you would like to purchase this stevia you can do so on Etsy.

I like to keep the powder stevias that I use the most, in small glass salt and pepper shakers. It’s so handy to just sprinkle in to my yogurt, shakes, smoothies etc. I freeze my fruits unsweetened and then when I get them out to use I let them thaw, then just sprinkle in to taste! “Just right!” says Amelia Bedelia 😂😂

Another sweetener combination I use is a mix of Erythritol, Xylitol and stevia. Erythritol and xylitol are both sugar alcohols that pass through your body without adversely affecting your blood sugar. Erythritol has a zero glycemic index and is easiest to digest. Xylitol is very low on the glycemic scale but can cause stomach discomfort. There is mixed research as to the positive and negatives of these sugar alcohols. I feel it’s fine in moderation, but would still feel stevia is a better choice. Both the Erythritol and xylitol can cause stomach discomfort or diarrhea but the xylitol is the worser culprit. That’s why I really like the following recipe because it uses less xylitol! This is great to use in baking because it adds bulk to substitute for the sugar. You can use it about anywhere you want to replace sugar. Be sure to buy Organic Non GMO. We buy the Erythritol and xylitol online at Amazon. Nature’s Warehouse also sells them as would most any health food stores.

Here is the recipe I use.

Simple Sweet

5 c. Erythritol

2 c. Xylitol

1 T. Better Stevia Extract Powder

2 T. Sweet Leaf Stevia Sweetner

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well. Store in airtight container. Use 1/3 cup to replace 1 cup sugar. Used with permission from Simple Foods cookbook.

I have already substituted Better Stevia for Sweet Leaf and it was fine.

If the 1/3 cup doesn’t make your food sweet enough, I would suggest adding in a bit of stevia to finish it off, till you get your desired sweetness.

I also use some Coconut sugar or honey in my baking. Coconut sugar is a healthy sugar with a lower glycemic level. It still raises your blood sugar some, but does not spike it like regular sugar. I feel it’s a very good, safe alternative, but if your trying to lose weight, I would be cautious in how much you consume. Coconut sugar can be found at Walmart.

Honey has a high glycemic index, however if it is raw, local honey, it still has health benefits. So again, if your trying to lose weight, I wouldn’t consume a lot, but is still a healthy sweetner. But Do Not buy Supermarket, pasteurized honey! It is much too likely it is mixed with high fructose corn syrup or some other additives. I read an article on this once, and I could definitely tell a difference between my store bought honey and the raw, local honey I use.

If you still don’t want to use any of these stevias or sweetners I suggested, you could at least use raw sugar. I buy the Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar in a green bag at Walmart. It is at least not quite as processed and bleached as regular old white sugar! But it’s still sugar! I use this for any regular baking/cooking for company or when I take food to gatherings. 🌿

🍰 Stop eating sugar, you are sweet enough already 🍫 🥰

🍯 Life is short and it’s up to you to make it sweet🌿 Sarah Louise Delany

Cleaning Conundrum

Is there anyone who is NOT quarantined presently? What are you finding to occupy your time? Have you started Spring cleaning? I want to clean windows and wash curtains but have not done much yet.

Today I want to share my cleaning schedule as well as what I use to clean with instead of chemical cleaners. (And a few other tidbits thrown in!) I switched to natural products years ago and its really not difficult at all because you likely have some of these in your house already!

But first of all, let me share with you my cleaning conundrum. I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning! I despise a crummy, cluttered house and simply could not function peacefully in a hullabaloo! However, I do not like to clean! But, I abhor a dirty house worse than cleaning, so I dutifully clean! (I’m also just a bit too particular in the cleaning department, due to my germaphobia). Thus it is I find myself in such a woeful predicament every Friday! I clean Fridays to get it over with before Saturday. Occasionally I’ll even clean on Thursday if Friday is too full, just to stay ahead of the dread of cleaning. 😩 But once I’ve gotten things cleaned around here, the heavy feeling of gloom just vanishes like the thunderheads after a Summer storm! It’s so liberating to be able to see my cleaning in the rear view mirror!!

So as you can tell, it takes discipline, and I find it helpful to maintain a basic weekly cleaning schedule as much as possible. If I stay after the general cleanup through out the week its not a Mount Everest to clean. I can whip through my weekly cleaning in two hours or less. I think. I’m not in the habit of timing myself and neither do I always get it done in one grand, uninterrupted stretch…..#momlife! And I don’t always clean everything throughly. If I’m extra pushed for time or something, I’ll skip dusting or skip cleaning the tubs that week etc. And some weeks you may feel you just absolutely don’t have time! But at least, give the bathrooms a quick wipe down with a Lysol wipe, gather trash and sweep floors. That alone helps a lot when you don’t have extra time. But another thing I do like about cleaning weekly is, that when I get company, I don’t need to spend lots of extra time cleaning! There’s more time for food prep or other necessities. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean having a smudgy bathroom and cruddy floors for company. But a quick lil cleanup isn’t as extensive as a thorough scrubbing. And mopping before company? That’s fine, but for me I like to mop after company. (I know, I’m just kinda weird!😜) But when you mop on a regular basis, it’s not that bad and after a big batch of company my floor will need it worse than before. Am I making sense? Now if you come to my house you’re really going to check out my kitchen floor, huh?! And too, I know as moms we do need to simply “put up” with a bit more messiness and dirt. With my cleaning notes here, I’m not meaning a spotless house at all times! I need to remind myself of that frequently! (If I forget, my hubby does pretty good at reminding me that a spotless house is not the most important thing!)

Ok, finally, here’s my chemical free cleaning crew! For the toilets I sprinkle liberally with borax and a splash of white vinegar. Let soak a bit and scrub. For wiping it down, I have a large spray bottle filled with about half vinegar and half water and 20-30 drops essential oils. Most essential oils are naturally antibacterial and work as a disinfectant. White vinegar is also a natural disinfectant as well as hydrogen peroxide. This is my go to for disinfecting around home. It works well for germy areas such as doorknobs, countertops, sinks and toilets. Now if you’re worried about really yucky germs such as the virus floating around the world, then I would say use your Lysol wipes. Those are definitely stronger but then have the chemicals too….Honest confession here. I do keep those on hand but use sparingly.

For mopping my kitchen floor, I add approximately a cup of vinegar, several drops orange essential oil and just a tad of dish soap to my bucket of water. I use my wall mop (shmop) to mop with. Its microfiber, plus I like that I can throw the head in the washer with a load of laundry! It feels heaps cleaner to me than to use a mop that you use over and over but just hang up to dry between uses! I also like how the floor is not sopping wet this way, but dries quickly.

And by the way, I use Seventh Generation dish soap. Super good soap with 0% synthetic fragrances or dyes and is available at Walmart. Have you ever considered just why dish soap is colored or scented? Does it help clean dishes?! Not to my knowledge. But let me know if it does. I haven’t used those dish soaps for so long that maybe I forgot! 😛 Also, this dish soap does not dry out my hands near like the usuals such as Palmolive, Ajax, etc. And since we’re on the dish soap subject, do you have trouble with smelly dish rags? I don’t have much trouble with that but when I do, I rinse it with cold water, sprinkle liberally with baking soda and vinegar. Let it set and fizz awhile, then rinse with cold water again. I don’t use bleach so this is my method. Also, I’ve heard Dawn dish soap can be a culprit in making smelly rags. And rinsing your rag with cold water instead of hot, when you’re ready to hang up your rag, could help with smell too. And get out a clean rag everyday!! How can it clean anymore if it’s been all over the kitchen visiting every filthy mess around, then left lay in greasy, grimy dish water?! But truly, I think the bottom line of any smelly rags, even bathroom rags, is due to the laundry soaps used. But oh dear, I’m getting off the cleaning subject and visiting the laundry room! Excuse me! I’ll get back on track in just a jiff, but first I want to hint that you really should use a clean line of laundry soap too! Many out there are full of fillers, 1,4 Dioxane (a carcinogen), chemicals, and synthetic fragrances. The soap I use I buy at a store in Indiana but they do not ship, so I’m sorry that is really not helpful to most of you. But it is an amazing laundry soap! It’s in powder form and very safe. No suds or smell and you won’t have stinky rags when you use this soap! This soap can be bought at Wittmers Furniture and Gifts in Odon Indiana and I always stock up when we are back there visiting family. However, I’m in the process of trying out some other safe laundry soaps that are easier to source. And I hope sometime to share my findings with you.

Here is a natural bleach recipe you may wish to try. I used to use it but now I just add vinegar to my laundry for extra cleaning power or it can be used as a replacement for fabric softener. 2 cups hydrogen peroxide, 1 cup lemon juice, 2 cups white vinegar, and 11 cups water. Mix and fill 1 gallon. If you wish to disinfect a load of heavily soiled laundry, add 1 teaspoon tea tree oil to the load. I used to make my own dryer sheets too, using the following recipe. 1 cup vinegar, and 8-10 drops ecyluptus oil. Soak little cotton cloths in this and wring out a bit before throwing in the dryer. I actually don’t use these anymore but have switched to the Bounce dryer sheets that are free of dyes and perfumes. Or you can use wool dryer balls too.

For my sinks and tubs I have another spray bottle filled with liquid Castile soap, diluted with water. That and a scrub brush sends filth flying! For added cleaning power you can sprinkle on baking soda or borax then scrub. After I’ve gotten the worst of it, I like to go over the sinks with a Norwex rag to shine it up. I know you can clean using only those rags but I prefer some scrubbing power first. Now I know Norwex rags are expensive and you don’t have to use them! Spraying with the vinegar solution then wiping down does a good job too! Or, you can even use plain vinegar to shine up faucets, mirrors and windows. I don’t have one, but I know the Norwex window rag works really good for glass and mirrors. I just use my vinegar solution and paper towels. For dusting I like a dampened Norwex rag or even another microfiber cloth works good. You don’t have to spray that lemony Pledge to dust!

I love it that there is no strong smell with using these kinds of cleaners! Recently I bought some Lysol toilet cleaner because I thought the toilets needed some extra cleaning power. I used it twice but could not handle the smell! I’m not sure it even helped that much more… maybe a little, but that cleaner went out the door pretty quick! Another thing I love about these cleaners is the simplicity! This basket of cleaners fits neatly underneath the main bathroom sink and is the extent of my basic cleaners. No myriad of cleaners and bottles under every available space below each bathroom sink! (Which is rather like I grew up on!)

If you want to make a cleaner for scrubbing sinks and tubs and such, stir together 1 cup each of baking soda and borax. Then add 1 Tablespoon Castile soap and enough water to make a paste like consistency. You can also add essential oils if you wish. After scrubbing, rinse it down really well or it will leave behind a bit of grainy residue.

Here’s a picture of my liquid Castile soap. You can find it at Amazon or health food stores. I also use this (diluted) in pumps for sink side hand washing. Its extremely versatile! But yet so safe, that you can even use it for your own shower use! Or to bath your babies!

If you are Spring cleaning and wondering what to put in your water to wash the walls, try adding a bit of Castile soap. It don’t suds up a lot in a bucket of water, but still works fine. You can also add a few drops essential oil. Adding lavender oil is supposed to repel spiders.

Here are a couple cleaning quotes you might enjoy!

* Clean your house AND clear your mind!

*Dust is a protective coating for fine furniture.

*I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on the sofa than sweep beneath it.

*We dream of having a clean house- but who dreams of actually doing the cleaning?

Homemade Wipes and Honest Diapers

As all moms of littles know, wet wipes are a must for both hands and bottoms! Especially for on the road and away from home. I’d like to share with you alternatives to regular, chemical laden wipes. Please be careful what kind of wipes you use especially for babies. They’re skin is thinner and extra sensitive. And a lot of wipes have chemicals in them that are absorbed right into your baby’s skin and can also cause diaper rashes. (I would also be really careful what kind of soap, lotion and powder you use for baby but that’s a complete other subject!😊)

To make homemade baby wipes, cut a roll of Bounty paper towels in half. The ‘select a size’ kind is nice. Set the half roll in a large, empty coffee can. It fits perfectly! Now, mix up the following solution and pour evenly over the paper towels.

1 1/2 cups water

1 Tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil

1 Tablespoon witch hazel

1 Tablespoon aloe vera

2 Tablespoons liquid Castile soap

Set the container upside down for a day or so, to help it distribute evenly, before setting upright. I like to take out the middle cardboard piece because the towels are easier to cut and plus, then you can start pulling out the wipes from the center of the roll.

Now, you can also make hand wet wipes using the same method. Following is the solution for that.

1 1/2 cups water

1 Tablespoon witch hazel

2 Tablespoons liquid Castile soap or Lemongrass Tea Tree foaming liquid soap

5 – 8 drops each of any or all of these essential oils- lemon, orange, tea tree, eucalyptus.

If I have these on hand, I really like to use Doterra’s oil blends called Onguard and Purify. These are both especially good for targeting germs.

Pour over a half roll of paper towels.

If you want a safe wet wipe that you can just buy instead of making, I definitely recommend Water Wipes! I love these! They are 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. These are actually what I use for my baby. And I’ve also switched to these for hand wipes for the road too, because of convenience. Now for these I make the same solution that I use for the paper towel hand wipes, except I only use 1 cup of water. You can use even less water if you want to, but I like to rather have mine a little extra wet than too dry. They clean better that way.

Take the wipes out of the pack and place a thin layer in the bottom of a container. Pour on a bit of the solution, then layer more wipes, solution, wipes, solution, etc until the wipes are all layered in container. It helps distribute the oils and soap more evenly this way.

My family has been away from synthetic smells for so long that we all hate scented wipes, soaps etc! But we love these! They smell so much better, plus they’re way better for your skin too!

And one more thing you can do with this same solution recipe. You can pour it into a small spray bottle and use it as hand sanitizer! Shake before use. Of course it’s not gel like the alcohol laden sanitizer is, but this will be a lot healthier for you! Simple, easy solutions for those germy hands, big or little! 👐🖐🖐

Witch hazel can be found in the health and beauty department at Walmart. They also carry the Water Wipes in the baby department or you can find them at Target too. The Liquid Castile soap we buy by the gallon from Amazon because it’s a staple in our house. Or you can also find it in most any health food store.

When Josie was born, I tried out several kinds of safer pampers. It wasn’t long until I had a favorite and that one is still my favorite now with Reece! The Honest Company makes a super absorbent, hypoallergenic and ultra soft diaper. They’re made without latex, fragrances/lotions and chlorine. They are made with plant derived materials and are very good quality! The diapers fit snugly and I hardly remember messes ever leaking out the sides because these hold so well!! They absorb super good too! And my babies pretty much don’t get diaper rashes. I contribute that a lot to diapers and wipes free of chlorine and other chemicals. Most diapers are bleached with chlorine and when they have chlorine, dioxins will be present too. Dioxins can do damage to the body, plus it is a carcinogen.

The Honest pampers are of course more expensive but we feel it’s worth it (think of your baby’s delicate skin and what all its absorbing). You can buy these from Amazon or Target and the prices are about the same. One thing that’s nice at Target is that they frequently run a sale that when you buy two boxes, you get a $10 gift card for the store!

Of course using cloth diapers for your baby would be a very good option but I am just plum not that virtuous! 🤨 If you are, kudos to you!!

And please, I do not want to make anyone feel guilty for what you are using for your baby! However, I would encourage you to at least check into healthier options and see what you could do differently. There are other safe alternatives besides what I shared, but this is what I like and have found works well for us.

Protein Bars and No Flour Muffins

Do you need an idea for something to put in your school lunches this week? Or maybe a healthy snack option to curb your preschooler’s hunger? Or a quick bit of dessert for supper? These are very quick, simple recipes that even young cooks could make. We enjoy both of these!

Protein Bars 🥥🍯

3 1/2 c oatmeal

1 c unsweetened coconut

1/2 c flax meal

1/3 c chia seeds

1 c peanut butter

1/2 c melted coconut oil

2/3 c honey

Stir together wet ingredients and pour over the dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Stir well to combine and press into a 9×13 pan. Refrigerate. These firm up nicely when you store them in the fridge.

These bars are very tasty and chuck full of good ingredients! I use Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter because it doesn’t contain extra sugar or hydrogenated oils. You can use either refined or virgin coconut oil. I grind up both my flax seed and chia seeds and keep them fresh in a jar in the freezer. A Juice Plus Doctor’s wife told me that chia seeds go right through you if you don’t grind them up first, so I like to make sure I get their super health benefits! (and just a hint, likely your picky eaters won’t notice them if they’re ground up!)

Banana Muffins 🍌🍌

1 c peanut butter

3 eggs

1/4 c honey

1 tsp vanilla

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c chocolate chips

Whisk together first five ingredients then add the rest and blend gently. Pour into lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 20 to 23 minutes. They will sink down a bit as they cool. Makes one dozen. (Used with permission from Simple Foods cookbook)

You would not guess these muffins have no flour in them! Using sugar free or dark chocolate chips is a healthier option. This recipe is also a great way to use up those forsaken bananas sitting in the fruit bowl!

Josie LOVES these muffins!! 😋