Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fun in the Sun with Green Tea

Last year my children spent extensive amounts of time in the pool.  We put it up in June and it was used just about every day through September.  The pool is a summer life saver.  What amazed me last summer, though, was that they would often get out the door without sunscreen and yet they were not getting burned.  (I know this sounds very lackadaisical, but I have always been very vigilant about sunscreen due to having been burned as a child.  My kids can count on one hand the number of times they've been even pink.  At least they could before this summer!  I was less vigilant because they weren't getting burned.)  I couldn't understand it.  I knew that the reason for this had to be something they were eating or drinking, but I never really gave it more thought than that.  Fast forward to this year...same kids, same pool, same summer sun but this year,  those little munchkins were coming in sun-kissed and pink.  I was flabbergasted.  I racked my brain but I just couldn't think of what we were doing differently.  Then one day, I read something and it hit me, green tea.  We have been big green tea drinkers for some time but lately I haven't felt like making the kind you brew (which is what the rest of the family drinks) so I've just been drinking my powdered green tea.  Also of interest is the fact that in the last 2 months, we've been hit with 2 separate illnesses (after a long spell with no illness, which is no small feat with 6 kids, 4 of which are mine, around here) neither of which effected me like it did the rest of the family.  Again, green tea is the only difference.  So, I decided to delve a little further into the whole green tea vs. UV rays subject and here's what I found.

Per the website, www.freewebs.com/herbal_remedies/sunburn.html, "Preliminary studies suggest that certain green tea polyphenols may help prevent skin cancer if they are applied directly to the skin," says Steven Bratman, M.D., an integrative physician and author of The Natural Pharmacist (Prima, 2000). "In addition, there is some evidence that green tea constituents might help protect the skin from sun damage and sunburn," he adds. In a recent study, six volunteers received applications of green tea extract on their skin prior to being exposed to UV radiation, which would normally produce redness. Those who received the highest concentration of green tea extract (10%) were almost completely protected from burning. Even a low-dose solution (2.5%) provided significant protection. Drinking green tea by the cup is also a good idea. It contains a powerful antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Researchers at Rutgers University, Piscataway, N.J., tested green tea both topically and orally on mice. They concluded that drinking green tea for two weeks before and during UV exposure diminished both sunburn and skin cancers. The stronger the tea and the more the mice drank, the less severe their sunburns.

Our experience certainly substantiates this research.  We were conducting our own little field test without even realizing it.  We normally endeavor to drink 5-6 cups of green tea a day.  We drink it cold, sweetened with a little honey and/or stevia.  I also use the green tea powder, which I buy from herbalcom.com, to make sure I'm getting as much as I need for all the health benefits.  You can google "benefits of green tea" and you'll be surprised at all the things green tea is good for.  One website listed 15 different things.  I know I have seen a substantial difference in my metabolism while drinking green tea, increased immunity, and, of course, sun protection. 

Also, a note on sunscreen, the one I use is from Dr. Ben Kim.  Every ingredient in it is good for you, unlike the ones you'll find at the local Superstore, and it even has green tea in it.  Unfortunately, the shipping charges on his site are outrageous so unless I can find other like-minded individuals who want to go in on an order and split the shipping, I may have to find another alternative.  Dr. Kim has many informative articles on his website, and he outlines the dangers of commercial sunscreens and natural measures you can take to protect your skin.  Check out his website for great recipes (he's Korean) and helpful articles.  The sunscreen can be found here:
(www.drbenkim.com/sunshop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=96)

As for green tea, drink up and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

MMS...water purifier and so much more

A few years ago, a story posted in my Raw Food World newsletter mentioned a product I'd never heard of (www.therawfoodworld.com/blog/?p=568 & www.therawfoodworld.com/blog/?p=564).  However, after reading Matt Monarch's experience with it, I quickly became convinced that it was something I needed to have.  The product is called MMS (formerly Miracle Mineral Supplement, now Master Mineral Supplement).  This product has been used for years as a water purifier and considering that the human body is more than 60% water, well, enough said.

There has been some controversy surrounding this product and because of this, I am only going to say, do your own research and make your own decision about whether or not it is for you.  It has helped us through many a rough patch.  I've used it on all of my family, dogs and chickens.  A friend recently had much success bathing her dog in it.  He didn't seem to make any great strides toward recovery until she gave him an MMS bath.  I have had the same success bathing myself, kids, dogs and chickens in it (we've also all taken it internally).  For bathing, you use 30 drops of MMS to 150 drops of citric acid (10%) or 30 drops citric acid (50%).  Again, you can google this info to find exact info on mixing. 

Anyways, I just wanted to throw this out there.  If you have experienced issues for which you have had no resolution, this may be something that would interest you.  Google it and see what you find, but remember to read both sides of the story.  Jim Humble's websites are infomative as is the CureZone website.

NOTE:  Older articles you read may mention taking numerous amount of drops (like 15 or 30).  This is no longer recommended.  The new protocol does not exceed 3 drops per any one dose.  It is recommended that you take smaller (no more than 3 drops) doses more frequently (up to every hour, I usually do every two).  Using smaller doses decreases the likelihood of nausea, which results from pathogens dying off more quickly than your liver can dispose of them.    

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Camping at South Carolina State Parks

Swansea, SC
We love to camp.  I'm not talking tents and cast iron pans over the fire here and I know some of you would say, "That's not camping!"  Our reason for camping is less about giving up all modern conveniences and more about an affordable way for a family of 6 to vacation.  We have a camper we purchased 5 years ago.  It's nothing fancy, no slide-out, but it has beds for everyone, a toilet and shower, so it works for us.  We try to take a couple mini-vacations each year camping at some of the state parks here in South Carolina.  (Check out southcarolinaparks.com for more info).  I thought I'd tell you about some we've visited and what we thought of them.

Myrtle Beach
Our first camping trip to a SC State Park was at the Myrtle Beach State Park in 2008.  We had an enjoyable stay.  Features of this park we liked: one of the few state parks with sewer; lots of trees, which means very shady (a plus in the summer, not so much in the winter); 3 playgrounds, one within the park and one right on the edge; easy access to the beach though it was a little bit of a trek; a nice pier and walking trail;  a laundry facility located within the park; numerous bathhouses; an education program that our children thoroughly enjoyed (it's always a plus as home schoolers when a vacation day turns into a school day!) wi-fi (though we don't spend much time on the computer, it is nice to have if you want to google things to do or directions); located close to the city of Myrtle Beach if you want to take advantage of any of its attractions.  Features of this park we didn't like: pricey; the beach was not the best; the bathhouse closest to our site was quite run down;  though the beach was easy to access, it was quite a trek, part of which was uphill (not the easiest with little kids and no buggy).
Our Rating: 3 stars.  We've only returned once when we had an event to attend in Myrtle Beach.  We would probably not return for a beach vacation due to the beach.

Boardwalk to/from the beach
Next up was Huntington Beach State ParkFeatures we liked: easy beach access with showers right at the end of the boardwalk; boardwalk to and from beach; nice beach with tidal pools, great for little ones; historic building on site; nice area for bike riding and viewing wildlife.  Features we didn't like: no sewer; no laundry facility (and one of our kids got sick and puked all over the bedding); no playground;  we were attacked by yellow jackets walking back from the bathhouse; little trees, not a lot of shade in some places.  Our Rating: 3 stars.  We've returned once and are planning on returning again this year.  The nice beach and close proximity to our home (2 hours) outweighs the cons when we are looking for a beach vacation close to home.

Edisto Beach State Park is the closest park, with camping, to our home.  Features we liked: on the beach; playground; close to a family friend (we could walk to see her).  Features we didn't like: pricey; half the campground is down the road in the woods, I wouldn't want to spend that money and not be on the beach; our site flooded (it rained the entire time we were there); the beach itself is not a good swimming beach.  Our Rating: 3 stars.  Convenient to home but not worth the money.

On the trail at Sesqui
Each year we attend a convention in Columbia and for the past 2 years we have camped at Sesquicentennial State ParkFeatures we liked: reasonably priced; located close to our destination; woody and shaded; playground; nice hiking trails.  Features we didn't like: Some of the sites have a severe grade as half of the sites are located on the side of a hill; no sewer.  Our Rating: 4 stars.  We have stayed there twice and already have reservations to return this summer.  However, we would not go out of our way to stay there if it were not for our convention taking place in Columbia. 

Roasting Dogs at Poinsett
Poinsett State Park was a weekend getaway.  2 of our kids ended up sick on this vacation but we still had a great time.  Features we liked: very affordable; nice walking trail, feels like your in the mountains; roomy camp sites; woodsy, secluded environment.  Features we didn't like: it's literally in the middle of nowhere (not that we didn't like that, we just weren't prepared for it).  Our Rating: 4 stars.  We will definitely return.  We really liked this park but will make sure we have everything we need before we go!

Rolling down the hill at Givhan's Ferry
Givhan's Ferry State Park is just a hop and a skip from our house.  Features we liked: affordable; close to home; nice walking trail; woodsy, secluded environment; located on the Edisto River; playground; hill the kids (and adults) enjoyed rolling down.  Features we didn't like: I can't really think of anything.  No sewer but considering we would never stay more than a couple days, this is not an issue.  Again, this is one that is in the middle of nowhere, but we were prepared this time.  Our Rating: 4 stars.  We will definitely return when we just want to escape for a couple days.  We would never spend a week there, though.

View of the Edisto from Colleton
Colleton State Park was an anniversary get-away.  Just me, hubby and our oldest dog, Buddy.  There's not much to this park but we had a blast.  We did a Lowcountry Boil and steamed crab legs which were out of this world.  It rained the entire time and was cold (our anniversary is in December) but we couldn't have had a better time at a 5 star hotel.  'Nuff said.  Features we liked: affordable; close to home; on the river; nice walking trail; small, so it's not too busy; close to Walterboro.  Features we didn't like: no playground (if we were bringing the kids); not located in an area we would want to spend an extensive amount of time.  Our Rating: 2 stars (for the park, 5 stars for our stay there, we don't get away much!).  We probably will not go back as Givhan's Ferry is closer to our home and nicer, in our opinion.

Girls with Sally at Carowinds
Lastly, our most recent trip involved a stay at Andrew Jackson State Park, up near Rock Hill, on our recent Carowinds adventure.  Price was a big factor in choosing to stay here versus the Carowinds campground.  At only $15 a night, the money saved was worth the extra driving time.  Because we  spent a lot of time at Carowinds, we did not get to explore the park as much as we usually do, but here's what we thought about what we saw.  Features we liked: affordable; nice sized sites; on a lake; playground; walking trail (we didn't get to hike it); ducks that would come right up to you.  Features we didn't like: about 7 miles from the closest town (not a big deal).  Our Rating: 4 stars.  We would only make the trip up there if we were going to Carowinds.

Well, that's it for the SC State Parks.  We've also camped at Tybee Island, GA, St. Augustine, FL, and some other parks around SC.  Our favorite thus far is St. Augustine, but at 5 hours away and with gas prices as they are, we won't make it back there this year.
Tybee Island, GA

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Canning...time and effort with big rewards!

With the veggies ripening in the garden on a daily basis, all the produce filling your counter tops can become a bit overwhelming.  One thing I really enjoy doing is "putting up" fruits and veggies for a future day.  Mostly it's just been butters (apple, peach and pear) and jams but this year I am expanding to other things as well.  Pickles have topped the list, with the cukes from the garden, and I hope to soon be putting up some tomatoes.  I would love to have enough to last until next summer and not have to buy canned tomatoes at the store.  The whole issue of what they line the cans with stresses me out.  Now I'll admit, canning can be a bit time consuming, especially making jams and jellies, but when you're popping open that jar of fresh peach jam next January and slathering it on a piece of homemade, organic bread, you'll be glad you spent the time to do a little canning.  I know my kids always are!  When we get to the last jar of jam, there's always a melancholy that settles over the kitchen as they divvy it up.  

Back to canning, I love the PickYourOwn.org website.  They have instructions for canning just about anything that can safely be canned.  For my pickles, I use a recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, modified to my taste.  Here's how I do my pickles.

First, you must start off with small, fresh from the garden, pickling cucumbers.  I tried making pickles with the big, yellow cukes my CSA was giving out last year and they were all pure mush.  Not an appetizing quality in a pickle.  This year, I opted not to join the CSA and am instead investing that money into growing my own food.  My pickles have been better for it!  Once you have your specified amount of pickles (this recipe makes about 3 or 4 pint-sized jars worth), wash them up really good.  Make sure and remove all the dirt and little prickles on your pickles.  :)  Next, stuff them in the jars.  Your jars should be nice and hot, sterilized.  I use the dishwasher sanitizer cycle.  In order to make the most of my space, I've been slicing the odd shaped cukes and stuffing the slices in around the whole cukes.  Into the jar, add about 5 peppercorns, a teaspoon (or so, to your taste) of minced garlic, and a sprinkle of dried dill weed or a stalk/branch (what's a piece of dill plant called?) or so of fresh dill.  I failed to mention that you should have already had your vinegar solution mixed and heating on the stove top.  Oops!  Anyways, heat 1 3/4 cup water with 3/4 cup vinegar (I use white, I've also seen recipes calling for apple cider vinegar) and 2 T of pickling salt.  Make sure and use pickling salt or your liquid will be cloudy (so I read, I haven't experienced this personally).  Now pour your heated vinegar over your cukes, fill to 1/4 inch from the top and process in the canner for 10 minutes (that means after the water returns to boiling for my fellow canning novices).  Take them out, let them sit overnight without touching them and then put them away for another day.  We tend to eat an entire jar at a time.  These are not Vlasic so don't expect any big crunching to be going on but I did recently discover Ball's Pickle Crisp (which is food-grade calcium chloride) and I have tried it in a few jars to see if improves the crispness factor.  I'll update when I find out.  Even without though, they are quite tasty and not mushy.  Please check out the website mentioned above for general instructions on canning, in case I forgot anything.

So here's to your future canning endeavors.  It's a bit time-consuming and requires some effort but knowing you're eating organic or local, home-grown (or at least home-processed) food is worth every minute!  Feel free to comment on your canning experiences, recipes or observations.

Natural Remedies for Coping with Depression and Anxiety

Though we'd rather not think about it, depression and anxiety are daily issues for most people.  Let's face it, the world we live in is wrought with things that can cause or exacerbate these issues.  You can go to the doctor and get a prescription, but who can deal with the side effects, not to mention the cost?  (Disclaimer here:  These are serious medical conditions and if you are affected more than mildly by them, please seek help.  The info presented here is for individuals who have these conditions under control and are simply seeking natural ways of helping them to deal with them.)  Though I have not personally been effected by depression, I have people who are close to me who deal with it daily.  As for anxiety, I don't think you can be alive and not have to deal with it at some point in your life.  These are some of the means we have come up to help ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.


If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times but it bears repeating.  The best treatment for ANY illness is diet and exercise.  Unfortunately, people care more about the oil they put in their car than they do about the fuel they put in their bodies.  As someone who suffers from a number of health issues, I can speak from experience and say, the only thing that got me back on my feet was changing my diet.  A good rule of thumb is eat at least 50% raw (uncooked) foods at each meal.  The less you eat the better.  You should never feel full.  All of this taxes your digestive system and causes your body to spend more time dealing with digesting and less time taking care of the other issues that need attention.  Exercise is important in allowing your body to flush out toxins, which can contribute to these conditions.  Even just 30 minutes of walking a day has proven helpful in dealing with a number of different health conditions.

You may also find that supplementing with different vitamins and minerals helps.  Often, depression and anxiety are caused by a deficiency.  SAM-e is a supplement that has gained a reputation in helping with depression and anxiety.  The dosage we've found to be effective is 400mg/daily, taken in the morning on an empty stomach.  To make SAM-e work, you also need 800mg of folic acid and 1000mcg of B-12.  Make sure your B-12 is sublingual (the kind that dissolves in your mouth) and Methylcobalamin.  Research has found this to be the most easily absorbed form of B-12.  When you find yourself under a greater amount of stress, increase to about 800mg of SAM-e.  (These are the dosages that work for us.  You may find 200mg/daily is sufficient or you may need 800mg/daily.  Start small and work up until you find the dosage that helps you to feel less stressed and depressed but not irritable.) Then once things calm down a bit, decrease back to your normal dosage.  If you start feeling irritable on SAM-e, it means your dose is too high.  Also, you may experience some stomach upset when you first begin to take SAM-e.  This will go away with time.  Don't stop taking it.  The improvement you'll feel mentally is worth a little tummy ache!


Essential oils have also been found to help with depression and anxiety.  Check out the recipes page for a great "anti-anxiety" blend.  We have used this with much success on numerous occasions.  For intense moments of anxiety, Bach's Rescue Remedy works wonders.  Regardless of why your experiencing stress, this helps, adults and kids alike.  We often use the oil blend and rescue remedy together.  


These are a few things that help us face each day, knowing we can deal with whatever comes our way.  Maybe they'll help you.  And remember, even just the act of smiling (even if you don't feel like it) has been shown to improve one's mood.  So put a smile on your face and feel better!
 


Difficult Gardening but Easy Dinner



Growing a garden is one of the great things about spring and summer.  Mind you, it is not a minor accomplishment here in the woods.  6 years ago, this property was untouched woods.  That's great for the whole "nature" experience, not so good for growing a garden.  The first year we planted a garden, we were so naive.  We thought we were gonna throw some seeds in the ground and that something would actually grow.  Oh, it grew.  You know those little corn cobs you buy in the frozen section of the grocery?  That's how big our corn grew.  Our watermelons were the size of a softball, with a nice red center.  Tomatoes no bigger than a golf ball.  We had been hit with the dreaded blight.  So, every year for the past 5 years, we have searched out the best way of dealing with the hand we've been given.  We've tried countless natural fungicides for the blight, a variety of things for the squash vine borers that plague our zucchini year after year, nematodes for the mole crickets and we've given up trying to grow melons and corn.  Two books that are priceless: Jerry Baker's Backyard Problem Solver and a little spiral bound book put out by Clemson Extension.  They have helped me through many a problem.  This year we are trying Actinovate for the blight.  We are also trying RootZone, which is for helping your plant deal with drought or transplanting but has also been found to help with insects and disease.  At this point, nothing is too far out there to give a try.  I'm even putting organic dry milk on the garden! (The milk is supposed to make the ph so that the fungus can't grow?!?)  So far, I'm getting tomatoes, basil, peppers and cucumbers.  The squash vine borers have pretty much obliterated my squash but I haven't given up yet!

On to the point of this post, some time ago, we came up with a simple little dinner we love!  We have it weekly.  I've even eaten it for breakfast.  All you need is some flat bread, olive oil, basil, tomatoes and feta (or mozzarella).  The basil and tomatoes are in no short supply here in the woods right now.  I make my own flat bread, so as to have organic, and the flat bread recipe I use, courtesy of Foodnetwork.com, is awesome, easy and quick. Check it out here:

www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/kathleen-daelemans/homemade-flat-bread-recipe/index.html

You can probably figure out how this goes, but just in case, this is how we put it together.  First, put a little olive oil on your flat bread.  I then sprinkle on a little garlic powder but this is optional.  Next, lay out your tomatoes.  You can either thinly slice or chop, though it is easier to eat if chopped.  I sprinkle a little sea salt on the tomatoes.  Next lay on your basil, again whole or chopped but easier to eat chopped.  (After pulling off whole tomato slices and whole basil leaves in one bite, I began chopping!)  Now sprinkle on your feta chunks or grated mozzarella and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.   Isn't that easy?  My kids, who swear up and down they don't like fresh tomatoes, eat them on this.  Try it...it will be your new "go to meal" too!