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!