Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Lip Balm

Yep, you read that correctly. I have been making lip balm (and lotion, but I will save that for another post)!

It all started on an outing with my mother-in-law, Judy. We both have the same favorite commercial brand of lip balm, Burt's Bees. We were in a store and looking at the different types included within that brand, and somehow the conversation turned to coconut oil. Judy watches the Dr. Oz TV show, and I think she saw something about the benefits of coconut oil on that program. She was saying how good it was for your lips and skin, and that any good lip balm would have it. We checked, and Burt's Bees does, but...

That got me to thinking; are there recipes for things like lip balm on the internet? So I googled, and there are many! Next, I went to Amazon and ordered the ingredients I would need. Once everything arrived, I took bits from the recipes that I thought sounded like they'd work, and put them together in my own recipe. It took a little experimenting, but I have found what I like best.

So, what would a person put homemade lip balm in? My first experiment, I happened to have a couple of nearly empty lip balm tubes, so I filled them. Then knowing Amazon has just about anything you could ever think of available, I checked there and found some empty little containers with lids (think the little pots of Carmex). Looking further, I discovered that yes, they sell empty lip balm tubes!

A lot of people just use plain coconut oil on their lips. At room temperature it is solid, so digging a little out of the jar works ok. But coconut oil has a very low melting temperature, something like 76° F. Since our bodies are warmer than that by about 20°, it isn't very convenient to carry in a tube in your pocket. With my first batches of lip balm, I pocket tested them to make sure it wouldn't melt and leak out of the container. That would not be convenient, and might ruin clothing (ever accidentally send a tube of lip balm left in a pocket through the dryer??? It's not good). Thankfully, my lip balm passed the pocket test with flying colors.

Picky about lip balm, I am so spoiled now that if I have to use any other than my own, it just does not feel as nice. Even my previous favorite Burt's Bees no longer does the trick. I also find myself needing more lip balm sooner than I would if I were using my own. So this weekend, I made 15 tubes of peppermint lip balm, my personal favorite (the first batch I made with orange essential oil, and that is also good). It was a painstaking process, but I toiled and persevered, and in the end I had the perfect product! Ok, I admit that may be a slight took all of 5 minutes! Yep, just 5 minutes of my time will keep my family in lip balm for quite awhile.

This is a small double boiler pan that holds probably a couple of cups is all. Using the microwave is not a good idea for this project. Melt the ingredients together, give everything a good stir (I use a wooden popsicle stick), and carefully pour into the empty lip balm tubes. 

Once the lip balm cools and solidifies (this happens fairly quickly), put the caps on, wipe away any dribbles, and store until you're ready to use.

The ingredients are coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin E oil, and peppermint essential oil. That's it! Very smooth and moist, not the least bit waxy feeling. I love this lip balm!

Here's to no more chappy lips!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Worth Your Time

I have watched this sermon twice now. once by myself, then I shared it with my family and we watched it together last night. I will probably watch at least parts of it again and take notes. Very eye opening and made the sacrifice Jesus made infinitely more real for me. Please watch it. The sermon begins at about 2:13 in, following a long intro and prayer.

Will you accept the cup?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

First Blooms!

Spring really is here! Even though it's just begun to feel springy, and we are not safe from freezing temps or snow yet, the flowers are eager to get on with things. I hadn't checked the flower beds in a few days, but today when I checked, BINGO! I found blooms!

Many of my bulbs and perennial plants are putting forth some real effort, but the two posies above win for earliest blooms. The tulips and daffodils are coming along, but it will be awhile yet before they show their pretty faces.

Of course there are plenty of dandelions growing. Looks like I need to get some weeding done already!

The ants think it's safe to come out. They are very busy running to and fro. I have no idea where they are going or why, but there are plenty of them out doing whatever it is they do. It is not easy to snap a photo of them. I asked nicely, but none of them stopped to pose, so I just clicked away as they ran on by.

The dogs spend the winter hurrying to do their business and get back inside, but the past few days have been warm enough that they are content to get a little sunshine time. What a "ruff" life!

Ahhhh, spring!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, 1989

April 8, 1989 was a Saturday, and the day I married my best friend. 25 years later (EEK! 25?!?!?! How did that happen?!?!?!), he is still my best friend. We've definitely had our ups and downs, but through it all, what we have goes beyond just love; we still like each other! We have been blessed through it all, and have a daughter, and she is beautiful, inside and out. Our little family is complete.

Chad and I have been "joined at the hip" (my mother's description) since we were 15 years old. We were barely 20 on our wedding day, and had people in both of our families say we would not make it. One prediction was specific; less than 10 years. I have forgiven them, but I do have to say that time has been the best revenge! Take that, oh ye doubters! Ha!

Chad was fresh out of Air Force basic training, and our honeymoon was spent as a road trip heading to his first duty station at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. We left Wyoming in a pretty heavy snowstorm, and arrived in Florida a few days later to temperatures in the mid-80°s. The warmth and sun were wonderful, but the bugs and humidity took some getting used to! The Panama City, FL area was our home for nearly four years, and the memories of that place are magical.

I love my husband! There are no words large enough, or deep enough, to express just how much I love him. Happy 25th Anniversary, Chad; I am looking forward to the next 25 years and beyond!

Next up, learning how to be empty nesters in the next year or so...

Happy April 8th!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'm Thinking of Something Green...

Yesterday's snow has mostly melted, the day is warmer, and there are green growing things all over the yard! We've had such a bitterly cold winter that I've been fretting over my flower gardens. It is good to see several of my plants putting out new leaves!

Ahhhh! Come on, Spring!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Such a Tease!

The weather can be such a tease this time of year!

My tulips yesterday, 57° F.

My tulips today, 32° F.

I imagine my tulips are shaking their little heads and heaving great sighs about being under a couple of inches of very wet snow today. I am glad for the warmer days we've had here and there. I will be even more glad when they come and stay awhile! I think there is hope; besides some of my early plants popping out of their beds, there are robins in the neighborhood again.

Are you seeing signs of spring yet?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Who'da Thunk It?

I love it when I run across something new and interesting that I did not previously know. Don't you?

I use ground flaxseed meal to get my omega-3 fatty acids, rather than eating fish (yuck) or taking fish oil pills (also yuck). I've been mixing it in my oatmeal or a protein shake for a few years, but I had never really stopped and looked at the package it comes in. Until today.

The Bob's Red Mill package is literally covered in writing, most of it small print. Beyond making sure it's the ground flaxseed rather than the whole, and looking at the nutrition information, I had never bothered to read all the other stuff. But this morning, something at the bottom on the back of the package caught my eye:

"Flaxseed meal makes a great egg substitute for most baking recipes. For one egg, simply mix 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl and let sit for two minutes. Add to a recipe as you would an egg."

Hmmmm, I'm going to have to try that.

Then I read more of the info on the package. There is a recipe for bran muffins, and more info about the benefits of eating ground flaxseed. It is high in fiber, and contains 75 times more lignans (natural antioxidants that are good for the heart and for preventing cancer) than any other plant source. I knew it was good for me, but I had no idea just how good.

But an egg substitute? Who'da thunk it!

Friday, March 7, 2014

An Interesting "Cure"

Some of what I'm going to write about is kind of unpleasant, and embarrassing to talk about. But what I've been through and discovered may help others with similar problems, so here goes!

My family and friends know that I have suffered from gut issues for many years. I've been diagnosed with stress, lactose intolerance, allergies, IBS, and finally, celiac disease. The process from stress to celiac took about 12 years. Even though I've been gluten free for four years, my insides still have never worked right and have been really cantankerous most of the time. I have to make sure I have access to a restroom no matter where I am. Feels like prison; like being chained to a toilet all the time. This is embarrassing, annoying, and causes anxiety. Not fun.

For years, I've had increasing trouble eating vegetables. It started with celery, then cucumber, and just kept gradually getting worse until I was unable to eat anything but small amounts of iceberg lettuce, a little tomato, and maybe a little bell pepper. For quite awhile, I was still able to eat raw fruits, but eventually that became impossible, too. It didn't matter if the veggies were cooked or raw, a few minutes after eating them, I'd get sharp pains in my stomach that would over the span of a couple of hours move to my gut. Very painful, I know my intestines were inflamed. These were not gas pains. In fact, there was never any gas. Just swollen and painful guts, followed by diarrhea. It would take several days for things to calm down as long as I avoided vegetables and most raw fruits.

Over the years I have heard about and tried probiotics of various types. I have eaten yogurt with the active culture acidophilus, and I've taken probiotic pills that have other "good" gut bugs. Nothing seemed to make a difference. Since I am lactose intolerant, taking a pill seemed like a better option than eating yogurt. But alas, not only didn't taking probiotic capsules work, I think some of them actually made things worse.

About a month ago, I read an article about how most lactose intolerant people could eat Greek yogurt with no need to take a Lactaid pill. The way it is processed, there is virtually no lactose left in the finished yogurt. I was kind of interested in Greek yogurt also because it is higher in protein, and I was interested in trying it out as a breakfast option, not because of the active cultures. I never even thought about that aspect. I tried a few brands and seriously disliked most of them, but I found I really liked the Chobani.

I began to notice about four or five days later that I was feeling really great! No gut pain or discomfort at all. I am always aware of my guts, but I realized that I was feeling NOTHING from them, and that was amazing! It was also a pleasant surprise, because I wasn't eating the Chobani to try and help my gut problems. Hoping it wasn't a fluke, I kept eating the Chobani every morning, and continued to have happy insides without even a single twinge! I felt so free, not having to run to the bathroom multiple times a day, every day! Chobani has five different active cultures in it, so I don't know if it's one of them, or the combination of all five that helps, but I'm so thankful to be feeling better!

I did a little research, and this is what I found out about Chobani Greek yogurt: Twice the Protein of regular yogurt • Only Natural Ingredients: Free of Artificial Flavors & Preservatives • Made with milk from cows not treated with rBST • Kosher Certified • Gluten Free • Safe for People with Corn, Nut and Soy Allergies • Vegetarian Friendly: Made without Gelatin.

Next, I decided to go out on a limb and try eating veggies. All in, I went straight for the veg that does the very worst number on me; celery! I ate a stalk of celery, and waited. Usually within five minutes I would begin having the stabbing stomach pain. This time, nothing happened. I waited to see if the gut pain and inflammation would happen, but it never did! The next day I ate even more celery, and a few other raw veggies in a big salad. No symptoms!

After a couple of weeks, I did a little test to see what would happen if I stopped eating the Greek yogurt. I didn't eat any for a week, and my symptoms returned. So I went back to eating the yogurt, and everything calmed down again within a few days. So I make sure to eat my Chobani at least two or three times per week, and am able to enjoy happy guts that are functioning normally. I am loving being able to eat all kinds of vegetables and fruits again.

I have no idea if the other brands of Greek yogurt have the same active cultures as Chobani. I haven't checked it out, because I don't like them and won't eat them anyway. I have discussed my "cure" with my doctor, and she loves that I've found such a simple solution. She had talked to me about probiotics before, and knew that I had not found any that worked for me. She's very pleased with my discovery, and I know she will pass this information on to her other patients that have similar problems.

Ahhhhhh. Thank you, Chobani. Life is good!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Greetings from the Deep Freeze

It's cold here in Northeast Wyoming. We woke up to a temperature of -17°F this morning, and it soon dropped to -18°. Is it the first time it's been this cold? No, and it won't be the last. Is it the coldest it's ever been? No, thank goodness!

But it is sooooo cold here, and supposed to get even colder tonight, that I have been having some silly thoughts about our frigid weather today. Who knows...maybe laughing about the cold will generate a little heat??? Ok, maybe not, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The maniacal giggling has nothing to do with the fact that my brain may have too many frozen cells to function properly at the moment!

The following (bad) jokes are mine. The cartoons are not. They're borrowed from Google Images.

Picture this: I drive to Al Gore's mansion and pull up to the speaker at the security gate at the bottom of the driveway...

Voice from the Speaker: May I help you?

Me: Yes. I'd like 2 extra large orders of global warming, with a side of unseasonably warm temperatures.

What do I get when I have to take our dogs outside to potty in sub-zero weather? Pupsicles!

A delegation of climate experts, Al Gore and Obama were scheduled to travel to Wyoming and meet with state leaders about our coal, gas and oil being used world-wide and increasing global warming. The delegation cancelled the trip because it was too cold.

Ahahahahahaha! Ok, now it's time for some hot cocoa. Hopefully wherever you are, you are warm!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Political Cartoons

These are some political cartoons I've enjoyed. I especially like how political cartoons cut to the chase. I know politics can be dangerous territory as far as discussing with others goes, but sometimes it's good to laugh at the things that are frustrating, and there's been plenty to be frustrated with. I'm not looking to get into a war with anyone having a differing opinion from mine. If you disagree, it's ok, you don't have to look at these. Otherwise I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm a Proud Grandma: Meet Shelly!

Yes, I am a grandmother!

My daughter, Megan, came home from school this past Thursday with a baby girl. Megan named her Shelly, and she is a delight.

I had the joy of babysitting little Shelly while Megan was at school on Friday. I don't know how Megan got so lucky, but Shelly is the easiest baby I've ever cared for. I'm well acquainted with babies; through years of babysitting, working in the church nursery, and then having my own child, I've taken care of A LOT of babies. And one thing is for sure; Shelly is a very special baby.

Would you like to meet her?

Here she is!

Megan with her baby, Shelly.

Doesn't Shelly look happy and content, all snuggled up?

Look at the sweet outfit Megan made for little Shelly.

Getting some of that important tummy time.

All bundled up and in the car seat, ready to go to school with her mama.

I got busy with my grandmotherly duties and crocheted the little baby blanket for Shelly. I was going to make matching booties as well, but...Shelly doesn't have any feet.

Megan is taking a child development class this semester, and her assignment was to care for her baby for the next five days. The teacher had the class draw out of hats to determine gender, single birth or multiples, even some of the babies had certain illnesses or birth defects. Once the students found out all the details about their baby or babies, there was no trading allowed; it was the luck of the draw, just like in real life. Shelly turned out to be a healthy baby girl. Then the students had to name, decorate and dress their babies, and had all kinds of craft supplies to use. I think Shelly must be the cutest baby in the entire class. No, of course I'm not biased toward my grandchild at all!

The boys in the class were not thrilled with this assignment.

Some schools have those electronic dolls that cry, pee, have to be fed, etc., like real babies. I'm so glad our school doesn't have those! I think when I was in high school, the students in that class had to carry around a sack of flour for their babies. Megan's teacher uses raw eggs, which is a good idea also. Break your baby, and fail the assignment.

Shelly went to school with Megan this morning. The assignment is over after today's class. Not wanting to part from her baby, Megan has plans to keep Shelly always. She will blow out the insides of the egg, and hopefully with care, Shelly will be with us for years to come as a fun reminder of the past few days.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sweet Pea

This is what Sweet Pea, our first chihuahua, does a lot of the time. Adorable, isn't she? The smallest of our chihuahuas, it's easy to see why we named her Sweet Pea. She was barely bigger than a hamster when we brought her home. Awwww!

Hold on! Not so fast! This is what happens if you try to pick her up out of her bed for any reason. Cuddle, trip outside, or just walk anywhere within a 10 foot radius of her bed, and Sweet Pea turns into this...

She has sharp little pearly whites, and she knows how to use them! We have all been bitten by Sweet Pea, in fact, she got my left index finger just yesterday. OUCH! She does not go outside for potty breaks willingly, so we take our lives into our hands several times a day. We have ways to get her grabbed up without letting her get those chompers into us, but sometimes the best laid plans don't quite work.

There are plenty of times every day that she comes out of her bed and wants to be held and cuddled, and she's perfectly sweet, but it has to be her idea. Otherwise, look out!

Even with all of her grumpiness, we love our tiny tyrant.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Superior Weekend!

Saturday, we traveled to Casper, WY for the 2013 State Marching Band Festival. Megan has been working very hard with the rest of her school's marching band for the last few months on their show for this year. It's a very complicated program, but they went into the competition on Saturday evening confident that they were going to be successful.

Our band is sharp! Always the first band on their feet at attention when another band was taking or leaving the field, they showed utmost respect.

At attention as another band takes the field for their performance.

Our band was the 5th out of 17 bands to perform. Their show consisted of three movements from "The Planets";   "Mars," "Venus" and "Jupiter" by Gustav Holst. This music was written in 1912, but didn't feel old fashioned at all. A very lively show, the band is moving all the time. Many of the other bands would do some moving around, then stop and stand for awhile, then move again. Our band was in constant motion, which makes for a more entertaining show, but also makes it difficult to get non-blurry photos! I did my best, but dearly wish some of the pictures would have been more clear.

They had so much going on that I really can't believe nobody crashed into anyone else. They were amazing! At this point in the show, there wasn't a lot for the percussionists to do, so they performed a flagline instead of a drumline for a bit.

Megan looks like she's holding still, but she was actually marching forward here.

Finishing up one of the movements.

At attention between movements.
Megan and cousin, Steven.

After they performed, they were excited and knew they'd done a great job. Anxious to find out how they scored, they had a long four hours to wait until the awards ceremony.

After all the high school bands performed, the University of Wyoming Western Thunder took the field and performed. They were crazy awesome, and so inspiring to the high school band kids! The first time Megan saw UW perform was her first year in marching band as a freshman. She knew right away that she wanted to be a member of UW's marching band when she goes to college. Now a junior in high school, Megan is more passionate than ever about this dream.

This marching festival is sort of a family event. Cousin, Steffy, is a member of Western Thunder, and is the middle clarinet in this photo. Cousin, Steven, is Steffy's younger brother, and is a member of the high school band. It's a fun reunion when Megan, Steffy and Steven are all together for the marching festival.

Finally, after over 5 hours of marching performances, it was time for the awards ceremony. All 17 of the high school bands came down to the field and stood at attention, waiting to hear how they scored. They don't compete against each other, so there is no 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. ranking. Their scores are based on performance of music and their marching. They are rated as Good, Excellent, and Superior. Every band is striving for that coveted Superior rating. It's been several years since our band has gotten that rating. For the last few years, they've gotten the Excellent rating, and this year they were determined to bring home Superior for the first time since 2009.

Waiting for the scores to be announced.

Congratulations to Megan and her entire band; they got their Superior rating! There are also some awards, called captions, for different sections and aspects of the marching program. Our band was also awarded the brass caption. Megan was especially excited about this, being a member of the brass section!

In all, there were 7 bands given the Superior rating. It was a great  night and so much fun! I loved seeing all of the bands perform. They all had a great time, and it's quite entertaining to be in a building with hundreds of enthusiastic teenagers.

Megan is already talking about, and looking forward to, next year's marching season!

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Love a Parade

Yesterday was the high school's homecoming parade. It was cold, windy, and occasionally spitting a snowflake here and there, but I couldn't miss seeing Megan marching with the band and playing her trumpet.

Mom and I went downtown about 40 minutes early so we could get a place to park right on the parade route. We stayed in the car and out of the cold until the parade got to us. I give all the band members a lot of credit for being able to march and play their instruments in that cold wind, and not only play, but play well. They sounded great! The tune we heard them play was "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas.

Photo taken by my mom. Thanks for sharing, Mom!

This is Megan's third year in marching band, and the trumpet is the third instrument she's played during marching season. She has played on the drumline in the past and really loved it, but she's also really loving the trumpet. So, the question is, will she stay with trumpet for marching season next year (her senior year!), or will she go back to drumline? Stay tuned! Haha, stay tuned...see what I did there? Band...tuned... :o)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday; Ladies Day!

Yesterday my family had a ladies only party! There were aunts and cousins ranging in age from great-grandma to toddler; eight of us in all. The party took place at my Auntie Grace's house. There were lots of photos taken, and already three blogs have been written about the day. Since I didn't take any photos, you can click herehere, and here to see lots of pictures and read about all of the fun.

I really enjoyed getting to read stories to my littlest cousins. They live a couple of hours away, and their visits are about the only chance I get to read to little kids anymore, so I arrived armed with books. I love the excuse to get my favorites out and jump into the stories I've loved since I was a child. There is nothing better than sharing a story with a snuggled up kiddo.

As always, Ladies Day ended all too soon, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!