Fruit Juice Jello

img_5697

My son loves jello. We have recently had a virus go through our house providing the perfect opportunity to make home made jello.  This jello is made with two ingredients: fruit juice and grass fed beef gelatin.  Gelatin is soothing for sore throats and healing for the gut. This takes about 5 minutes to make and a couple of hours in the fridge to set.

My favorite gelatin to use is this gelatin from Aspen Naturals:img_5694

Ingredients:

  • 4tbsp gelatin
  • 4 cups organic juice

Method:

  • Pour 1 cup cold juice in bowl
  • Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice, mix together and let sit to bloom
  • Heat remaining 3 cups of juice until it begins to boil
  • Pour hot juice into bowl with gelatin and stir until gelatin dissolves
  • Pour mixture into one container or several small ones and put into the fridge to set
  • Eat and enjoy

You can also make this with half the amount of juice and use water for the remaining amount of liquid.  You can also add fresh fruit to this jello as well as cream.

 

What is an herbal electuary?

img_5672

My kids had high fevers this week that led to a strep diagnosis for both of them.  While I was researching natural remedies to help bring down their fevers I came across the concept of an herbal electuary.

What is an herbal electuary?  It is a powdered medicinal herb mixed with honey.  The honey makes the herb a bit more palatable. Because honey and dried herbs are shelf stable this concoction lasts for quite some time.  I was looking to make something that would help fight inflammation, bring down fever, and soothe sore throats.  You can use any herb- I chose tumeric for the reasons mentioned above.

The basic recipe is 3 tablespoons herb to 8oz of honey.  You can make it a bit more thick by adding more herbs or keep it more runny.  It really depends on the way you want to use it.  I have been mixing it into warm tea or milk and giving my kids 1/2 to 1 tsp to soothe their throats.

 

****NOTE**** I am NOT a doctor. Herbs used medicinally can be very potent. Consult a doctor before using any herb medicinally to make sure you are using the right dosing and any contraindications that may exsist. This recipe does not take and should not take the place of medical advice or help by a licensed physician. Do NOT give honey to children under the age of 1.

 

A Day In The Life Of Our Homeschool

Hi there! Glad you stopped in.

Over the past school year I have had so many people ask me what our typical day to day schooling looks like in our home.  We have done a lot of different things over the years and I feel like this past year we finally found our groove – what works for our family.

Overall we follow more of a flow schedule than a hardcore timed schedule. We tried a timed schedule in the past and it just didn’t work for our family.  We also don’t school year round anymore. We may go back to it one day but this year we decided to take all of June and July off and I’ve gotta say we’re all loving it!  I remember summers growing up as a time of rest and fun and while school years can be full of rest and fun there is something to be said about having some time off where you don’t have to have something planned out.

I have two children. One going into 4th grade and one going into 1st.  This past school year I started writing down their assignments for the entire week in a notebook.  They checked off each task as they finished and if they chose to they were allowed to move ahead to their assignments for the next day.  They are allowed to do their assignments in any order unless there is a specified task that I’ve asked them to start with.  Some things we work on together so we decide on a time to do those once the day has begun.  They are allowed to start when they are ready but must be started by 9 am.  My oldest is an early riser and would sometimes wake at 6 and get started by 6:30.  I started doing this for a couple of reasons.

  1. I want them to become as independent as possible.
  2. I want them to understand how to manage their time.
  3. I want them to have some control over their day.
  4. I want them to know what to expect for the week.
  5. I want them to see what they accomplish in a day.

This simple change of writing down the assignments and allowing them to check it off was a game changer. GAME. CHANGER.

Here is an example of my 1st graders assignment book.  IMG_5178

 

We are a part of Classical Conversations so one day a week we are at our community day. That puts us schooling at home 4 days a week.  I have to say that the community aspect of CC is what drew us in. I enjoy the classical method and my kids are enjoying it but the community is the real deal breaker. Our community is full of wonderful parents and kids. It’s a treat for us to spend one day a week schooling with our community.

The following is a loose schedule we follow the 4 days a week we school at home. During those days there are a few subjects we do everyday: Math, Reading, Spelling, CC memory work. We do science and handwriting 3 days a week.

  • 6 am – 8 am Breakfast and get ready for the day
  • 6 am – 8 am: Get out assignment notebooks to see what they are doing.
  • 9 am: Start school work.
  • 12 pm: Eat lunch. During lunch I read to them or we play mad libs or listen to a book.
  • 1 pm: Oldest finishes assignments after lunch if he isn’t done.
  • 2 pm: Chores
  • 3 pm – 6:30 pm: Free time
  • 6:30 pm: Dinner
  • After Dinner: Family time
  • 8 pm to 8:30 pm: Sleep

My oldest will be going into the Essentials program of CC this next year so that may change our daily work a bit but not sure how just yet.  I may have to revise the above schedule to make it work better for us.  That’s one of the great things about homeschooling – the flexibility.  Having the freedom to change up our days based on my kids individual needs. One of the many reasons I love homeschooling!!!

 

 

Migraines Part 2: Autoimmunity- Consistency is Key

If you’re here, then you or someone you know is struggling with migraines or daily headaches.  If you haven’t read the first part, go back and read Migraines Part 1 before you continue here.  There’s some helpful info on diet, medicine and the first part of my journey.

Last September (2017) I began dealing with auto-immune symptoms.  I had some testing done to rule out major things like MS but the tests didn’t point to anything conclusive. Because of this my neurologist suggested that I go on an autoimmune reset diet also known as the autoimmune protocol or AIP.  The plan was to see if the diet took care of the symptoms.  If the diet didn’t touch the symptoms then more testing would be done but since it can take 5 to 10 years to diagnose an autoimmune condition the diet seemed to be the best place to start.  Some of the AIP diet overlaps with the migraine diet . So it really wasn’t that big of a change or that difficult to do.  That’s not to say it isn’t difficult, because it is, but if you are committed and consistent it can work for you.  Healing is worth it.  I will definitely talk more about AIP diet in a later post.

With all the family birthdays and holidays I didn’t actually start the autoimmune reset fully until right around Christmas.  I would say I did it about half way until then. Within 2 months I lost about 13 lbs – which felt amazing.  The autoimmune symptoms slowly started to fade. Around this same time my husband bought us some kettle bells and we started working out at home. Nothing elaborate just purposeful everyday movement.

IMG_5587 (1)

Over this past spring (2018) I began having less and less migraines and very few autoimmune symptoms.  In the past 5 years, April- September seemed to be the worst migraine months for me because we live in the south where major storm systems, heat and humidity are the norm.  I know for a fact they are the worst months because I’ve been tracking my migraines every day/month for the last 5 years.  This year is different. Even with the storms etc I have had very few migraines.  The main difference between this year and previous years: consistently eating AIP compliant foods and consistent exercise. 

My neurologist has told me for a while that movement is like medicine.  The truth for most chronic pain people is that it can be very hard to move consistently when you are dealing with chronic everyday pain.  We know that exercise has so many benefits for the entire body but there is fear that movement will cause more pain.  I had that fear. When I get really hot I get migraines. So for a while I had fear and stress dealing with the thought of working out. Eventually I got over it. And I’m so glad I did. When I combined purposeful everyday movement with AIP compliant foods I began to find healing.

I now realize that when I eat rice, flour, sugar, soy, eggplants, too many white potatoes, corn in any form, or fried food  I end up in pain. My arms burn like someone is holding a lighter under them, my joints hurt, my head hurts more than normal and my digestion is all screwed up. When I consistently say no to these foods and say yes to anti-inflammatory foods I feel better. I can think more clearly. I have more energy. I don’t feel like I’m dying.  A bit dramatic, I know, but when you have chronic pain you can feel as though you’re dying a slow death.

Healing is a process and the journey for everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you but it’s worth a try. Start with a walk everyday or gentle yoga.  Cut out inflammatory foods like grains and sugar.  It can be hard to make that first step into healing. Do it anyway.  I promise you won’t regret it.

Gluten Free Goodness Muffins

This recipe is easy and delicious! If you are just going gluten free these are a must try.

Here are a few variations you could do:

Replace dates with cranberries and add a 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. Add in a 1/2 cup of fresh berries, they taste amazing against the chocolate. Put in a couple tbs of pureed pumpkin or sweet potato. Blend in the carrots instead of folding them in at the end.  Get creative…The goodness is endless! Enjoy!

This recipe will give you from 12 to 15 muffins.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine almond flour, soda, salt and cinnamon
  3. In a blender combine dates, bananas, eggs, vinegar, and oil
  4. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and blend until completely combined
  5. fold in carrots and nuts
  6. Spoon mixture into paper lined muffin tins
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Take them out and slather with butter.

Migraines Part 1: The Migraine Diet

A Life with Migraines

One of my first memories is having dye put in my veins for an MRI because I had headaches all. the. time.  I continued having headaches and migraines throughout my childhood and young adult life. As I entered my mid to late 20’s they got worse.  After having my 2nd and youngest baby, the frequency and severity became unbearable.  I was having migraines like clockwork and daily headaches.  I couldn’t function when a migraine hit,  I would literally just have to sleep, sometimes for a couple of days.

Paleo and Migraines

During this time my family and I started a strict paleo diet.  I researched the paleo lifestyle for a while.  I read testimony after testimony of people who had frequent migraines then went paleo and quit having them altogether.  I was eager to begin my headache-free life. Unfortunately for me it was the exact opposite.  I had the worst migraines of my life after going strict paleo.  Something had to change.

Medicated Migraines

May of 2012 my neurologist put me on Maxalt. I had taken a drug like it before that didn’t work so I was very hesitant, not to mention that I hate the way meds make me feel.  I used Maxalt as a way to stop the migraine pain after it started and it worked…I would have to sleep for a little while but at least I was functioning.  Maxalt worked at stopping the migraine once it started but the medicine didn’t prevent or change the frequency of the migraines.

Food is the best Medicine

October 2012 changed my life. I had a 3 week-long span of daily headaches with migraines every 5 days. I was so discouraged and desperate.  I felt low and just sad.  What happened next changed my life.  I went to my neurologist, Dr. P, and said I’m willing to do anything I couldn’t function.  Dr. P left the room and when he came back he said “I don’t normally give this to my clients because its overwhelming but I think you can actually do it.”  With that he handed me a stack of papers.  Enter the Migraine and Headache Diet!

The Migraine and Headache Diet

The migraine diet is laid out into foods that are permissible and foods to avoid. He told me to take the foods in the avoid column and keep them out for a month and then add them in one by one to see if any of them were triggers. Bananas, avocados, olives, eggs, yogurt and so many more.  What the heck?!  I was eating these foods ALL the time.  A good number of the avoid foods were my favorite “paleo” foods and were a daily part of my diet. But again I was desperate.  I took all of the foods in the avoid column out immediately. Dr. P also put me on 400 mg of magnesium a day.

One week later I stopped having daily headaches. 

I have been on the diet over a year and the migraines are getting better.  I still get migraines once a month, but the pain and frequency are changing. Instead of 5 migraines a month with awful daily headaches, I have 1 or 2 at the most and the pain is much less.

Below is a list of foods (potential migraine triggers) that I avoid:

  • more than 2 cups of caffeine per day
  • energy drinks
  • any and all fake sweeteners
  • all processed meat
  • all nut butters
  • soy sauce
  • yeast extracts
  • cultured dairy products (buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt)
  • aged cheeses
  • fresh made bread
  • yeast breads
  • eggs
  • chocolate
  • all beans
  • onions
  • olives
  • pickles
  • bananas
  • figs
  • raisins
  • papaya
  • red plums
  • sauerkraut
  • sunflower and sesame seeds
  • canned and processed foods
  • pizza
  • msg
  • anything that has natural flavorings, msg, or yeast extract in ingredient list
  • Chinese food
  • any fermented or pickled foods
  • seasoned salts
  • most store-bought salad dressings
  • aged meat
  • game meat
  • organ meat
  • fish except salmon and tuna
  • food with nitrites and nitrates
  • alcohol
  • red food coloring

This is a long list and I understand why people would find it overwhelming. For me its been life changing.  When people comment on what I can’t eat and how sad it is, I think of how good I feel compared to how I used to feel. If you have ever suffered from migraines you know how hopeless it can be and most people don’t understand, they’re like, “Take a goody powder.”

Ridiculous.

I do have other migraine triggers like strong smells (perfumes, candles, air fresheners..I mean just open a window, no one needs 35 plug-ins! it’s poison…I could go on and on here but I will stop) and weather- yes weather! It’s a real trigger.

There is no one cure for migraines.  Every migraine is different just like every person is different. This is just what’s helping me.  It was hard at first to wrap my mind around the fact that these healthy foods cause me to have migraines. Then my awesome husband said “Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.”  That has helped me so much!

For an update check out Migraines part 2 

Pocket Microscope

My husband recently bought this pocket microscope as a gift for my son’s 9th birthday.  I have ALWAYS wanted a microscope, so I knew without a doubt that I would homeschool it- that is use it for all the homeschool things 🙂

The great thing about this microscope is that it literally fits in your hand and it is easy for little hands to use.  We have used it to look at objects around the house as well as outside. My favorite thing we’ve looked at so far is the little ant that decided to hitch a ride home in my picnic bag.

You can buy this pocket microscope here.