5 Tips for Beating Winter Illnesses

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!  How is it already the last day of the year?!  It doesn't seem possible to me, but I am sure I have said that in the past, and will continue to do so in the future!  We had a lovely Christmas holiday, unfortunately, Christmas night I started to get sick...and then Jack was sick...and then Emma too.  Somehow Matt managed to avoid it completely.  I thought that sharing what we do when we are sick might help some of you as well!

Bragg Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):  We take this at the first sign of a cold, although the more research I do, the more I am thinking we should be taking it everyday regardless of whether we feel sick or not.  Apple Cider Vinegar has some amazing health properties.  It is high in Potassium which is important for blood pressure, heart, liver and kidneys, and also it is an electrolyte in the body that helps with regulating fluid levels.  ACV helps in balancing the pH levels in your body.  I never really thought about my body being too acidic before, but eating a diet much the same as the Standard American Diet (SAD) will cause your pH level to be too acidic.  And an acidic body is a breeding ground for illnesses.  ACV also helps to remove toxins from your body.  To take ACV mix 2 tsp of vinegar in 8 oz of water - add honey to taste.  Or if you are like me, just pour yourself a little ACV shooter!

Raw Honey:  There are so many benefits to raw honey, especially if you can get it from your neighborhood.  Raw honey helps to sooth sore throats, and is one of the "medicines" my kids request the most when they don't feel well.  Perhaps the sweet factor is part of it!  If you are able to find a raw honey that is very local to you, and you also suffer from allergies, this will sometimes help lessen the pain during allergy season.  The reason being that you are ingesting some of the pollen that you are allergic too, which in turn helps you build up your immunity to that pollen.  Please remember to not give honey to a child under the age of 1.

Raw Garlic:  Oh the wonders of garlic.  Garlic is good for the heart, and helps to boost the immune system by enhancing immune cell activity.  It also can be used as antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial agents.  This is why, besides eating it, we also use garlic oil for earaches.  Many ear infections will go away on their own if we allow them the time, but the pain associated with an ear infection, or even a severe head cold, is sometimes too much to handle.  So we put a couple drops of garlic oil in each ear when there is pain.  It has worked well for us.  Some ideas for incorporating raw garlic into your diet (if you can't stomach eating a raw clove - which most people cannot do!), hummus or white bean dip for raw veggies, fresh tomatoes and crushed garlic over pasta, in salad dressing (with ACV!), and guacamole (my personal favorite).  Using it in cooking is also beneficial, but when chopping garlic wait 15 minutes after chopping before putting it on to cook.  This allows a chemical reaction to take place which produces allicin and this compound is what exhibits anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

Tea:  As soon as anyone is sick in my house, we seem to always start drinking tea.  Now, I have written before how much I love coffee...I mean, I really love coffee!  However, when I am sick, I have no taste for it, and instead turn to tea.  Interestingly enough, I never seem to get a caffeine headache when I have these periods of no coffee and being sick.  Now, I don't have a whole lot of information to share on wonderful homemade teas from herbs I have grown myself - although I do hope to get there some day!  Instead, I stick with what I know.  One of my favorite teas is Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat.  It soothes my throat better than anything I know.  We also will make ginger tea from freshly grated ginger for upset stomachs, and chamomile tea at bedtime.  Also, any type of decaf tea with a little honey goes a long way to getting my kids to stay hydrated when they are sick.

Rest:  Seems like an obvious one, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, I think in our society, even when we are sick, we are expected to go, go, go.  You are expected to be at work, you are expected to continue with your obligations, having a cold shouldn't stop you.  But, if we take a little bit of time to be still, sit, read, de-stress; whatever is ailing you will most likely leave that much sooner.  Now, I understand as a mama it is next to impossible to be able to sit and rest, but when we are all sick, it is ok to not get the laundry folded as soon as it is done drying, and it is ok to not mop your floor and instead opt for a movie with your kids.  Rest is definitely something we shouldn't give up, just because we have x, y, or z on our agenda.

These are some of the ways that we try to get healthy when we are sick.  And in fact, these are things we try to do when we are well too!  Having a body that is healthy and working is so important.  While I can't imagine never having another cold, I like to know that I am lessening the time with that cold, and potentially staving off something that is worse.

What do  you do when you are sick?  Do you have any tips on staying healthy in the first place?

Disclaimer: I am not a Doctor, or even a medical professional.  I am sharing what works for my family and not trying to give medical advice.  You should check with your own Doctor and make your own decisions for what is right for your family!

Linking up with Clever Chicks Blog Hop, One Project at a Time, Your Green Resource, the Homestead Barn Hop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, empty your archive

Sunday Quotes

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. 


Weelicious Cookbook Winner

The Weelicious Cookbook Winner is Kaci who said "Grilled cheese or peanut butter and pickles or jelly =D" Peanut butter and pickles is definitely not something I have tried, but perhaps the next time our CSA share gives us some pickles I will try this!

Kaci I have e-mailed you for your contact info from hello@townsend-house.com  Please check your junk mail folder!!!

A little break

I have decided to take the rest of the month off from blogging.  Not because I don't absolutely love writing for all of you every day, but because I have been talking about not being stressed and enjoying this wonderful season.  After the tragedy that happened last Friday in Newtown, I decided that I want to spend a little more time with my family and a little less time planning blog posts.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!  And I look forward to reconnecting with you all in the New Year!

sadness in my heart

I have spent the past weekend hugging my kids as often as humanly possible while trying to hold back tears for those hurting from the shooting in Newtown.  I have been spending a lot of time this past month talking about keeping a peaceful and stress free holiday season.  Instead concentrating on family and enjoying my kids joy which feeds into my own.  I think that this awful event reminds me of that even more.

I had planned a lot of baking posts for this week, but I plan to take a couple days off to instead play with my kiddos in the newly fallen snow.  And also to remember what is really important at this time, and all times of the year.

My prayers are with all the families involved in this tragedy.

Torani for the holidays!

I have been talking about coffee a lot recently, haven't I?  I think because it seems to be my life blood at this stage in my life.  It is funny because I never drank coffee until after I graduated college.  Definitely not the norm!  Now, I am mainly a coffee and cream kind of gal, but man do I love a good latte.  You can imagine how excited I was to try out some of the Torani syrups.

I was able to try both the sugar free Gingerbread and also the sugar free Hazelnut   They definitely did not disappoint.  I have a little espresso machine at my home, which I like to use when I am feeling fancy.  These syrups made me feel like having fancy coffee, so lattes became a prominent part of my day.

I don't do a lot of sugar-free items, but these were delicious, and it didn't leave any strange aftertaste.  I think my favorite would have to be the Gingerbread.  I love anything gingerbread, and this was a great addition to my coffee.  I have also heard (although have not tried...yet) that adding some of this delicious syrup with vanilla vodka makes a lovely holiday drink.  I think we may try this at our Christmas Eve party!

Overall, I was extremely pleased with the offerings of the Torani syrups.  And these bottles last a long time.  You don't need a huge amount of the syrup to give you a nice flavor!  Definitely recommend that you pick up a bottle (or two!).  They have some wonderful holiday flavors too, Gingerbread and Peppermint.  Yum!

How do you like your coffee?  Have you tried the Torani syrups before?  Are you as addicted to coffee as I am? :-)

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks and Torani.  The opinions and review are my own.

Christmas Yarn Along and a new book!

Things are moving right along on the scarves that I am making for my nieces.  I really like both of the patterns, so that makes it easier to knit!  My kids have been enjoying watching me knit recently, so I am getting a few extra minutes here and there to finish rows.  Although, the kids keep asking me if what I am knitting is for them.  I wonder, how am I supposed to hide what I am knitting for them, from them?  Any ideas?  I'm not so much into middle of the night knitting...for some reason my brain doesn't work at night!

As far as reading goes, I just received Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place in the mail a couple of days ago.  I was really excited to get this book.  I have talked about Sharon Astyk's other books before; Depletion and Abundance, A Nation of Farmers, and Independence Days.  They are all  amazing books that give you so much information about climate, what we can do to help ourselves and those around us - definitely great reads.  But, this new book, was one I was especially looking forward to.

It seems like I can read all kinds of wonderful stories of people who are making a life for themselves on a large parcel of land, with all kinds of beautiful gardens and animals.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), I don't have that at this point in time.  So this book is all about making what you have already work for you.  And that is what I am excited about.  Figuring out the resources I have available to me.  For a long time I was always waiting for "the next big thing," but for the past year or so I have realized that I can't keep waiting for the next thing.  Hence getting chickens in the spring, and deciding to really do up our garden even though we live on 1/4 of an acre.

I haven't gotten past the introduction, and I know that I will probably have to wait until the Christmas craziness dies down, but definitely looking forward to reading this book!

Joining Ginny and her yarn alongEncourage One Another, Your Green Resource

2013 Garden Plans...already?!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the new Weelicious Cookbook here.

The seed catalogs are starting to arrive again.  I thought it was super early, but I looked and last year I started writing about seed catalogs the first week in December.  It seems to catch me off guard easily!  I think the fact that I get so full of Christmas planning, I can't even start to think about the next year's garden.  However, this year I want to be much more on the ball with ordering seeds.  Even when I end up ordering seeds at the beginning of January, there are always a couple varieties that I really want that end up being sold out and are replaced with something else.  Not the biggest of deals considering I don't really ever believe I am going to get a ton of food from my garden, but still slightly annoying when it is something I really want to grow!

One of the big changes this year is trying to do it all from seed.  I would like to have all of my own seedlings to put into the ground, instead of buying them from the greenhouse.  Not that buying the seedlings already happy and healthy on Memorial Day is a bad thing, but I figure if I am going to buy the seeds, I really should make more of an effort to get them to grow.

It isn't that I don't plant any seeds.  I love to put seeds in the ground.  It is something that Emma had so much fun with last year.  In fact, when I showed her the first seed catalog she was super excited about all the different seeds she could pick out.  But, what I am not so good at, is starting the seeds inside and early, like tomatoes.  I have the space, I have the lights, I need to just do it this year.

Have your seed catalogs started arriving yet?  Are you already planning for next year?  Or do you wait until after the holidays to settle in and decide what to do?

Linking up at The Clever Chicks, Homestead Barn Hop, Your Green Resource


I just wanted to take a minute and thank all of my wonderful followers here at Townsend House.  I just recently received my 100th follower, and it was such a joy for me to see that.  I love writing here, and I hope that you all enjoy reading what I have to say!  Thank you for joining me each day!

Weelicious Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

I had the awesome opportunity to look at Catherine McCord's new cookbook, called Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes.  This cookbook (and also her very cool website!) was born out of her desire to feed her family kid-friendly meals.

If you have small children, you know how difficult it is to get them to eat well.  From an early age you try to make all the right choices, but there are tastes that are unfamiliar and strange textures the kids don't like, which in turn makes you try anything to get your child to eat!  Catherine offers a great assortment of advice and recipes when you are trying to make the right choices for your children (and your family as a whole!).

The first part of the cookbook is all about advice.  She starts out right at the beginning with feeding your baby their first foods, and what is best for them.  Then she moves on to the obvious concerns a lot of parents have these days, like "my child will only eat chicken nuggets" and other issues you may be facing with your own children.  And then there is the section on setting yourself up for success, to know what you should have on hand, and how to involve your kids so they want to eat what is good for them.

The second part of the book is the recipes.  It starts out with some wonderful first food recipes.  I think one of the best things that I did when my kids were just starting to try solids was getting out the stick blender and making my own baby foods.

This cookbook isn't just about babies though, no definitely not.  It has an amazing selection of recipes for the entire family, from breakfasts, sauces, snacks, dinner, and even desserts and drinks, there are some wonderful recipes available.  The thing I really like about all of these recipes is the fact that I can include my 2 and 4 year olds in the process.  They both love helping me in the kitchen, and having tasks available for them to do is really great.

We have a couple favorites that we will be coming back to again and again (and possibly have already...).  The first being the cinnamon-honey popcorn.  We are big popcorn eaters in my home...ok...well it is really me, I am the big popcorn eater.  I typically make my own popcorn on the stove, and the kids love it, so when I saw the addition of honey and cinnamon to the mix, I knew my kids would be ecstatic.  So I popped up a batch of this popcorn and we sat down to watch our Christmas movie of the day.  The kids were so excited to have something besides butter on their popcorn, and I have to say that I agreed.  This was a delicious mix of spice and sweet!

Our other current favorite is the banana-corn fritters.  Honestly, I was surprised that this recipe had no sugar.  I don't cook with a lot of sugar, but I have never made a sweet recipe where the only sugar added was the fruit.  But, the bananas in this fritter made it just sweet enough.  My husband declared them his favorite thing ever.

Overall this is an amazing cookbook that I think any family would be able to use, no matter what the age of your kids.  And lucky for one of you, Catherine has offered one copy of her new cookbook.  Please enter using the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking with Giveaway Day

Jesus Pure & Simple

I have been talking about dialing back this Christmas season and really enjoying it with my family, and understanding why we have Christmas to begin with.  And before that I spent an entire month talking about being more intentional, instead of delivering tips for you to take, I have been sharing my life with you.  Recently I was sent a copy of the book Jesus: Pure and Simple by Wayne Cordeiro.  Wow, that really came at the right time.

This book is all about how people are over-complicating everything, right down to the church and the church service.  And instead of drawing people close to God, instead it is pushing people away.  This really resonated with me.  I do go to church every week, but sometimes it is a struggle.  I don't think there should be politics in a church, but there always seem to be.  Why is that?  Well, because we are not perfect, we are all sinners.

The entire purpose of this book is to bring you back to Jesus, not to the many ministries in your church, not to the long to do list you have for your home, or all the outings you plan to take your kids to, it is all about Jesus.  And once you realize that and step closer to Him, everything else seems secondary - which it should. But, also having this close relationship allows our actions to better exhibit God.  God created us in His image, and so when we are more in tune with Him, we automatically are more available to others in a way that is pleasing to Him.

It was really an eye opener, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is feeling a bit frazzled with life.

As far as my knitting goes, last week I talked about how I was not putting pressure on myself to knit for this Christmas, because clearly we are in the end stretch here as far as crafting goes.  And you know, as soon as I gave myself permission to not do it, I had all the time in the world to knit.  The kids will sit with me while we watch a Christmas movie and I can just knit.  So I know a few littles in my life who will be receiving handmades, and that makes me happy.

Joining Ginny and her yarn along.

I received a copy of Jesus: Pure and Simple from Bethany House for review purposes, the opinions are my own.

A Stress Free Christmas - Part Two

I love Christmas traditions.  When I was growing up we had several that I really loved.  Some of the memories that I have are of my brother and I opening up the little doors on our Advent calendar, having an awesome Christmas Eve party, and eating lobster for Christmas dinner.  When I got married and then had my own children I wanted to start some of my own traditions.

The past few years I have felt as though it wasn't quite possible to start traditions with my kids because they were so young and entirely uninterested!  In years past I have attempted to start a couple of traditions, but we got so busy, or the kids were not interested, I would instead get frustrated and feel like starting traditions in my own family was impossible.  But, this year is definitely different.  This year my kids are 4 and 2 and seem to have so much Christmas spirit, they are bursting at the seams!

I tend to want things to work out perfectly, but I am coming to realize that having two babes means nothing will work out exactly as I plan, but it is my choice how to react to that outcome!

This year we decided to start the "Elf on the Shelf" tradition.  It seems to be pretty popular, and I am starting to understand why.  If you don't know, the general idea is that there is an elf who is Santa's helper.  He hides every morning and your kids have to find him.  Then he watches all day long and then goes back to the North Pole to report to Santa on how good you are being.  My kids are so excited to find out where the elf is in the morning, that they go to bed earlier (and subsequently wake up earlier) to let the elf go home and then come back and hide again.  It is so fun to watch the kids run around the house looking for the elf, and when they finally find him to say hi and wave.  Emma has been frequently attempting to trick the elf into flying around the house by pretending to fall asleep on the couch...he is a tricky elf though and hasn't fallen for it yet!

The other tradition that I started this year was an Advent calendar.  However, I definitely changed it up a bit. I saw a great blog post on Creative Chaos about a DIY Advent Calendar with paper bags.  Hers is so pretty!  I knew that I wouldn't be able to hang something on the wall, and I knew that I wanted to have 2 Advent calendars for my 2 kids.  I also couldn't find pretty white bags, instead I found brown paper lunch bags at the store.

And my kids being my kids, I thought it would be great to have them decorate their bags.  Let me tell you, handing them both 24 paper bags to decorate was pure genius on my part.  They were completely occupied for the few days it took them to complete the project.  When they got bored they would leave them and go play, and then go back to them periodically.  I thought it was awesome!

In each bag I placed a Hershey Kiss, either a little snack or toy and a Bible verse that I wrote out on little cards.  Overall, I was incredibly pleased with the outcome, and the kids are really enjoying their morning activities.

I think the fact that I am letting go of a lot of outside pressure (that I mainly create for myself) and instead I am concentrating on my own joy and the joy of my family, especially my kids, it is really working out for me.  I am not putting that pressure on my kids either, if there is a day they don't want to look for the elf in the morning, that is ok, it won't ruin all the other days that we have had!

Letting go of perfect is an important part of my stress free Christmas this year.

Do you have any special traditions that you are looking forward to?  Or do you have traditions you are having trouble implementing?  What is holding you back this year?

Linking up at Empowered Living Hop Hip Homeschool Hop

Chickens and the cold

It has been extremely cold recently.  Well, not below zero, but 5 degrees a couple nights in a row.  To me, that is cold!  If you have been following along with my chicken journey, you would know my biggest concern is what to do with them during the winter.  Is it too cold to let them out?  Do they like snow?  Do I need to keep a heat lamp in their coop?

I have been researching for months it seems on all of these questions.  My problem has been that there are always two answers for all of my questions.  So instead I am trying to figure it out on my own.  What works for my specific chickens?

We do not have access to an outside outlet.  What that means is that we are not heating our chicken coop, nor are we keeping a water warming plate.  After that first really cold night I was definitely concerned that I would find frozen chickens when I went out to the coop.  Surprisingly, they were happy as can be, jumped out of the coop and ran for whatever grass they could find.  Their water had turned icy, but wasn't frozen completely solid.  I filled up another container with fresh water and left it outside their coop for the day, since they were running around, and they were happy and stayed outside (in 18 degree weather) all day long.

What does this mean?  Well, I think it means that my chickens are a bit heartier than I had previously thought.  I think they have acclimated to the cold weather.  A benefit of not having a heat lamp out for them at all.  I am really happy with how well they seem to be doing.  We are still averaging 6-7 eggs each day.  I always have 5 or 6 eggs from the white chickens.  The araucanas lay an egg every other day it seems, so not as good on the laying front, but they are still fun to have around.

I know that when we get into January it is going to be a lot colder here for longer periods of time, but the fact that they have been doing so well right now, I have confidence they will be fine.  I hope that we will get enough snow to keep the coop insulated from the outside, and I plan to keep fresh pine shavings in their coop to keep them comfortable.  We have had a bit of snow, which always seems to melt away, but when it is snowing they are out digging in it and having a good time.  I think I lucked out with chickens who actually like the cold climate I live in!

Do your chickens like the cold?  Do they dig in the snow too?

Linking up at the Barn HopClever ChicksFarm Girl Blog Fest and Your Green Resource