May 20, 2012


One of our chickens, Honeydew, started to act broody a while back - wanting to sit on eggs. After she kept it up for a few days, Nana made her a private nest in the old dog house annex to the chicken coop. She passed a trial run of sitting on a clutch of Sophie's wooden play eggs, so Nana went to Swampy Acres to get some possibly-fertilized eggs. Honeydew sat on her eggs faithfully for 23 days, until first two, then four, then six babies hatched!

This is Radish.


And Mama Honeydew, not happy with me for intruding.

There were two more eggs that had chicks inside, but sadly they didn't make it out of their eggs. Papa helped Sophie bury them in a flower bed. The other six are doing fabulously - Honeydew is such a great Mama hen! They are not yet a week old and they are already following Honeydew out into the yard, where she pecks treats and drops them in front of her chicks, teaching them what to eat. Then they all go back in their little nest house for a nap snuggled under Honeydew's wings. It's incredibly entertaining to just sit and watch them eat, drink, play, and fight. And I love watching Honeydew's mothering.

Sophie is working on taming the chicks right from the very start. Welcome to the next generation of chickens in the family: Stew, Mindy, Espresso, Radish, Darrell & Darrell. 

May 14, 2012

good advice

Sophie gave me some really great advice this morning. I'm so glad that I listened to her! First some background:

A couple weeks ago a spot in my lower back started hurting pretty badly and I began to suspect that I might have a compression fracture (lovely prednisone side effect), and it got so bad one day that I went to the doctor. Among her advice, she strongly suggested that I wear athletic shoes at work instead of my usual Dansko's. I have worn and loved Dansko shoes since I was 13 years old so I was skeptical, but I was in enough pain to give her advice a try. I bought a new pair of tennis shoes (all my old ones were too dirty from camping to wear at work) and wore them for a week. Within a day or two I felt immensely better. Then the weekend came, and I wear slippers at home and did wear Dansko's a couple times out and about.

So today it's Monday, and as we're rushing out the door (always happens...) I was hesitating between wearing the tennis shoes or the Dansko's. I decided on the Dansko's, and Sophie looked up from putting her shoes on and said, "Mom, those shoes will make your back hurt, you're supposed to wear your fast shoes." I responded that my back had been feeling better and I thought I would try wearing the Dansko's again. She held my "fast shoes" up to me and suggested I take them with me in case I changed my mind. So I did - mainly just to make her happy so as to get out the door faster.

Fast forward a couple hours and I'm on my feet at work, bending over the counter to write in a chart, and I realize that my back hurts so much that I'm practically stuck bent over and I have to push myself back up to standing. By lunch time I was more than ready to change into my fast shoes that I had left inside the car; another couple hours of wearing my fast shoes and my back was already feeling better and I was so thankful that I listened to Sophie earlier. Thank goodness for bossy, know-it-all almost-five-year-olds!

January 25, 2012

homemade dry shampoo

It's been over ten days since I went all hippy again, and apart from one or maybe two semi-bad-hair days, it's going well and I'm happy with it. Today though, I was driven to the kitchen to concoct another hair product by greasy hair at my roots. This is mainly a problem because of the length of my hair - I'm letting my bangs grow out, and they're too long to be bangs but not long enough to stay put with the rest of my hair. Therefore I push them to the side a million times a day, and this area ends up getting oily faster than the rest of my hair. I have a can of dry spray shampoo in the cupboard, but I've been steering clear of it for obvious reasons. Besides those, it stinks like fake fragrance. Solution: good old baking soda and some cornstarch.

Find a cute little jar and an old makeup brush, and you're set.  Here's my "recipe": 

1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
some powdered rosemary (not sure why I did this, but it seemed like a good idea; feel free to omit)

Shake it up. Wait a day till your roots are oily. Dip the makeup brush in the powder, apply it to your roots, massage it around a little and then let it sit for a few minutes. Then all you have to do is use a natural bristle hair brush (I use one with wooden bristles because I have enough hair for two people, but a boar bristle brush would work too) to brush it through. Even though my hair is medium to dark brown, it completely disappeared and I'm completely happy with the results! Hooray!

Let me know what you think if you try it!

January 23, 2012

unconventional use of garlic

I'm immunosuppressed due to the medications that I take, and this means that I get frequent infections. I average a sinus infection and resulting Z-pack every other month or so, not to mention every cold that comes around (which with a preschool child is quite a lot). I also get yeast infections more often than I'd like due to the frequent use of antibiotics. Yeast infections, as most women know, cause maddening itching, pain, redness, and gross vaginal discharge. Yeast is among the "normal flora" of our bodies, but when it gets out of hand it's no fun at all.  

A couple of years ago (coincidentally around the same time I started on immunosuppressants) I recognized the early symptoms of a yeast infection and since I knew I wouldn't be able to get to the store for a couple of days, I Googled "natural cures for yeast infection," or something along those lines and decided I didn't have anything to lose by giving one of the results a try. The one I chose to try was garlic. The next day I had no symptoms of the yeast infection, and they didn't return (that time around). It worked! And it always does, as I've seen no reason to use anything else ever since. All you have to do is: first, recognize the early symptoms, or "warning signs," of an impending yeast infection. Then, peel a clove of garlic, squish it a little, and then insert it into the vagina just like a tampon.

Now stay with me here. I know this is pretty hippy or whatever, but it really does work. According to an article by Midwifery Today addressing garlic for vaginal yeast infections, garlic kills not just yeast but also many harmful bacteria. Plus it doesn't have any side effects, as opposed to OTC yeast treatments (like Monistat or other brands) which can cause stomach pain and fevers as well as increasing the irritation in the vagina (PubMed Health). It's probably already in your pantry, so you don't have to go to the store (potentially delaying treatment) and buy a box of over-priced and over-packaged medication. Better for you, your wallet, and the environment! 

So yes, it's pretty hippy or whatever. I'm ok with it.

January 16, 2012

making changes

Last night I was cruising around Pinterest when I saw this picture:

It led me here, and from there I started clicking and reading and before I knew it, I was mixing oils in bottles and clearing the shampoo and conditioner out of my shower. I've been down this road before (some of it) and stuck with it for quite a while - about a year total, probably. But I always seem to get pulled back to the "dark side" of chemical products. Apparently advertising works on me, or something. I'll have to work on that.

The "oil cleansing method" on my face is new, though. And so far I really like it. It feels good (facial massage and steam, who could ask for more?), and even on my troubled skin it seems to be working. I've been taking oral steroids (prednisone) for longer than I can remember (on and off for 2+ years, and steady for over a year now), and along with every other lovely side effect from this evil drug (or miracle drug - it's a love/hate relationship), my skin has really taken a beating. It's thinned, fragile, and I've broken out in "steroid acne." I never really struggled that much with acne, even as a teenager, so this is new to me and I've tried just about everything in the book to combat it. "Natural" products, truly natural products from Etsy sellers (two of my favorites are Rainwater Botanicals and DressGreen), and most recently the Bare Minerals line of skin care. I also started using prescription clindamycin (an antibiotic) on my face. Nothing worked all that great. So now? I'm cleansing with a mixture of 1:1 sweet almond oil and jojoba oil with lavender essential oil added, and moisturizing (using only a few drops) with jojoba oil and essential oils with healing or antibacterial properties (right now I'm using lavender, clary sage, lemon, and tea tree). I'm still using the clindamycin as well - maybe if all goes well I'll consider eliminating it. I'm not expecting a miracle cure here or anything, but it's an enjoyable process so as long as it doesn't make my skin worse I'll probably stick with it.

I also washed my hair with baking soda and vinegar last night. I've done the 'no-poo' thing before and I know it pretty much works but I also like to use handmade soap shampoo bars, so I'm going with a combination of these for now. You'll find plenty of explanation as to why it's a good idea to stop using shampoo and conditioner (and body wash - that's where good old Dr. Bronner comes in) on Google, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. But I'll tell you what it's done for me. First off and most noticeable, I'm just as clean as ever. I'm all about being a hippy, but I don't want to stink. So that's taken care of. The next thing, and what occurred to me as I massaged my scalp with baking soda and water, is that using natural - truly natural - methods of cleaning and taking care of your body changes the focus of your attention during your daily routines. Instead of noticing the product (its smell, the foamy lather), you notice your skin and your hair, and in doing so makes you feel better about yourself and take better care of yourself.

January 10, 2012

scraps = stripes

After I finished the last pair of mittens, I had a bit left over of two balls of the same kind of yarn (Baby Cashmerino) but in different colors. I had some more of the same yarn left over from the last two sweaters I made Sophie - it's the only yarn that doesn't itch her. Therefore I knit with it a lot - she's lucky I love her!

I'd also been thinking lately that Sophie needed a new hat.


So far Sophie is very impressed with it, and at bedtime tonight she requested that I finish it so that she can wear it to preschool tomorrow morning.

I better get knitting!

January 08, 2012


Mittens, mittens everywhere...

I've been on a mitten-knitting spree lately - today I'm finishing up the last pair (for now!). I call these playground mittens because they are the perfect weight and warmth for playing at the playground and holding onto cold swing chains - and they fit so good that kids can actually grab onto things without having to bunch up or tug on their mittens.

I have a couple more finished objects hanging around but I haven't managed to get good pictures of them yet! I better get on that. Maybe that should be my new year's resolution - take more pictures! I think I've made that resolution before.... hmmm.....