EAR 1

Ear Infection Helps

I love doctors. I am grateful for modern medicine. Sometimes modern medicine works great with a dose of natural help as well. This is one of those times – at least in our family.

My oldest has had one ear infection in his life, and it was when he was three years old and we had no idea what was going on because he had never experienced it. He took antibiotics; it cleared up almost immediately; he was fine.

My two younger kids have had different experiences. Both of them started to get ear infections starting around 9 months old whenever they got a runny nose, which maybe happened every month or two (thankfully not more often. My middle child stopped getting ear infections by the time he was 2 1/2 or 3, except for one random really bad one when he was four. My daughter is now 2 and some change, and has FINALLY stopped getting ear infections. But not because they have stopped, but because we found a solution that works better for us than the conventional antibiotic route.

When my kids get ear infections, they are full-blown awful in both ears. That’s how we roll. Right before Christmas of this year, my daughter got a runny nose which turned into an ear infection. I took her into the doctor, but our normal pediatrician was off, so she was seen by a different doctor. My kids also routinely “fail” antibiotics, especially the ones that they tend to prescribe first, so I mentioned this to the doctor and she prescribed a stronger antibiotic to help hopefully get it kicked before Christmas. That was a blessing and a trial all at once.

Turns out the antibiotic, first of all, didn’t help. At all. I bought an otoscope a while back (pictured above) from the store so I could check on my kids’ ear infections, or check on their ears if I was suspicious of something, and I could see that it was not budging. Second problem was that my daughter developed a very violent gag reflex to the medicine after about five days of taking the antibiotic. She got to the point where she would just throw up. In frustration, and thinking that there had to be a different way to take care of things other than shoving my kid full of medicine, I asked my friends on facebook for their feedback. I was surprised to see how many people help to prevent problems outside of trying antibiotics, and also glad to see that a lot of the answers were consistent.

Armed with their input, and honestly a bit nervous because I am NOT a “natural remedies” person, I went to the health foods store and asked for some help. I found this lovely product (also pictured above), and it has been AMAZING. I gave my daughter a drop in each ear, and rubbed some from her ear down her neck to help get things moving – her complaining about pain went away almost immediately, she slept better, and I could literally watch her ear infection clear up (using my handy-dandy otoscope) over the course of a couple of days. It was awesome.

I was still a bit skeptical, though. I wondered if maybe her ear infection cleared up because it was viral instead of bacterial and had run its natural course (which is why antibiotics may not clear things up). So I thought that we could put it to the test the next time something flared up.

About a month later, she got another runny nose, and came up to me saying, “Ear hurt. Ear drops please.” I gave her a drop in each ear once each day for a couple of days (each day she would complain that her ear hurt), and it never developed into an ear infection. That was the first time in over a year that a runny nose did not develop into an ear infection. It was wonderful.

The same thing happened again about a month later – same results.

For us, this has been a great tip to know – it has saved us a ton of money on doctors bills and prescriptions, even in the last few months; it has kept my daughter from having to go through the pain of ear infections; it has helped us feel grateful as we have been able to sleep through the night because our poor daughter isn’t awake, screaming from ear pain.

Wally’s Ear Oil contains Sweet Almond Oil, Eucaluptus Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Mullein Extract, Echinacea Oil and Garlic Oil. These different ingredients, alone or in combination, were what my friends recommended most. Those, or colloidal silver.

**Disclaimers:

(1) The product says to use on children 2 and over. My daughter fell into this category (she was a month shy of two when we first tried it), so I have no experience with trying to go outside of those guidelines. I would talk with your doctor about their feelings on using the drops on younger children.

(2) The product also mentions NOT using it if the eardrum is ruptured. This is also where the otoscope could come in handy.

(3) With the otoscope, if you should have one or purchase one, be VEEEEEERY careful when you are putting it into ears to keep a good distance from the eardrum. It gets easier with practice, so maybe try using it on our spouse or an adult friend or an older child, all of whom could presumably sit still for long enough for you to work slowly, before you try it on a younger child. It is not worth the risk of damaging their ears. It is; however, very nice to be able to know what is going on. The one that I bought (Dr. Mom) is great, and comes with several pictures that show you what a “normal” ear looks like and an “infected” ear looks like. It is great to know when there is actually a problem with the ears, and when they are fine. It is a little expensive, but it quickly paid itself off.

I hope this helps someone! Let me know about your ear infection tips too.

BYUB 5

BYU Mint Brownies

Happy Friday the 13th! Those have tended to be good luck days for me, so we’ll do something minty and yummy today. :)

These are so, SO good. It really isn’t fair. We made these this weekend (we’ve made them a couple of times before as well), ate some, gave a bunch away, and looking at this picture makes me want to make more of them. Yummy chocolate brownie covered in mint frosting, and then chocolate frosting. The brownies are honestly good enough to eat alone, but when you add the frosting layers, it is perfection. I found this recipe from Christy @ The Girl Who Ate Everything, and she found the recipe from the BYU Dining website.

Ingredients (Brownies):

1 c. margarine

1/2 c. cocoa

2 T. honey

4 eggs

2 c. sugar

1 3/4 c. flour

1/2 T. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. chopped walnuts (or leave the nuts out – that’s what I have done)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt margarine and mix in cocoa. Allow to cool. I did this on the stove, but it just occurred to me that it would be even faster in the microwave. I get it to where it is JUST melted so it doesn’t take so long to cool down. Also, do NOT eat this. It may look delicious, but it isn’t. Your brain will tell you not to eat it because unsweetened cocoa is not very tasty, but sometimes the autopilot of taste-testing goes into override. Not that I speak from experience….

Step 2: Add the rest of the ingredients (honey, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt) and mix well. Pour it all into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 25 minutes. Then let them COOL. I stick mine in the freezer to cool. Because I am just that patient.

Step 3: Get your frosting(s) ready!

Mint Frosting Ingredients:

5 T. butter (the original recipe calls for margarine, but I have found butter to work better)

dash of salt

1 T. light corn syrup

2 1/3 c. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. mint extract

1-2 drops green food coloring

3 T. milk

Soften butter, and then add salt, corn syrup and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add the mint extract and food coloring and mix. Add the milk gradually until it is a little thinner than cake frosting.

For the chocolate frosting, you can either buy a tub from the store or make your own recipe. I found this one and have thought it is perfect – it can stand on its own with the brownie and the mint frosting, but still goes well with them. If you use that recipe, you can substitute milk for the evaporated milk and it works fine. I have also substituted margarine for butter, and that has been fine too.

Step 4: After your brownies have cooled, spread on your mint frosting. I put it in the freezer after this step too to make the next one easier.

Step 5: Spread the chocolate frosting on top.

That is IT. We have found these are best if stored in the refrigerator or freezer. How can you pass these up? I mean, really?

Enjoy!

PAN Final 2

11 Ways to Clean a Cookie Sheet

**Update: I found a way that WORKED completely for me – check here. Hooray! :)

With the 800,000 ways to “get your cookie sheet GLEAMING NEW!!!” on Pinterest, I decided I needed to try it.

After all……..

This is my friend, the cookie sheet:

And, yes, “THE” is singular. We were given probably seven cookie sheets when we were first married. We gave several of them away to other people, left some at different places, and now have ended up with only two left. One of them I don’t like because it tends to burn things on the bottom, so really we only have one.

That one cookie sheet looked good for years. Until I ended up baking olive oil onto it at a very high temperature. And baking bacon in the oven without lining it first with parchment paper. Yeah. That all happened in the past year. We’ve had the cookie sheet for almost nine.

I found an idea on Pinterest that claimed to get your cookie sheets looking like new with no pain! Sounds great! But, it didn’t work. At all. This, unfortunately (fortunately?) led me on a maniacal quest to find a way to get the silly thing gleaming and new again. If someone is able to get a clean cookie sheet, certainly I could too!

Here is what it looks like now:

A big improvement. Not perfect, but it still surprises me when I see it out of the corner of my eye – it is so shiny! Minus the stubborn stains, it looks new. I just tell myself that the stains left on the cookie sheet are its battle scars and prove that it has lived to see many a hot oven and make many a good meal. And, gauging from the stains left and the hours I put into cleaning my faithful cookie sheet, I am the master of leaving stains that are practically impossible to get rid of. This is “The Cookie Sheet that Lived!” (think Harry Potter).

As my gift to you, here is a rundown of pretty much everything the web had to offer on how to clean a cookie sheet – what worked, what had potential, and what didn’t seem to hold much promise. This way, you can know where to start you own obsessive quests to clean off your cookie sheets. :)

What worked (FINALLY):

1. Baking Soda + Peroxide – this was the first thing that I tried. And one of the last things too. The author said that she just smeared it on with her hands. This did not work at all. I wish I hadn’t read the “hands only” part because that would have saved me hours of searching. BUT, it finally did work (hours later) when I came around and tried it again scrubbing with steel wool using all of my might. You could also just use baking soda, but I found that the two together really did work best – you just make a paste from them. Wear gloves too – it started turning my fingers white when I first tried the “hands only” method.

2. Bar Keeper’s Friend (from a comment string) – this was the first thing in the beginning that “budged” my stains with only using a sponge to scrub, but it didn’t do much to the big stains. HOWEVER, once I used Bar Keeper’s Friend AND steel wool, it got even more off than the baking soda + peroxide + steel wool. I just felt like I had to wash it 500 times afterward to make sure the chemicals were all gone.

Worked Somewhat or Had Potential (could be used for the right stains):

3. Cream of Tartar + Vinegar – this left my cookie sheet GLEAMING, but otherwise the stubborn spots were still there. And Cream of Tartar is definitely more expensive than baking soda.

4. Oven Cleaner – this particular article mentioned leaving it on for 20 minutes. By the time I got around to trying this one, it did not to a lot for me. It seems like it should work in theory, but it didn’t work on the heavy stains. I also tried later to leave it on for 2 hours – DON’T. It left a funny residue on my pan.

5. Ginger Ale – It actually recommended cola soda, but ginger ale is what I had on hand. This one was interesting. After I poured it on and it had settled down a bit, I noticed that there were places where the carbonation was congregating – right around the big stains. I had hoped this would mean it would take them off, but it did not. It did, however, get the funny residue off that had been left by the oven cleaner. And it was quite shiny.

6. Sol-U-Mel – this is a fantastic cleaner, and was what the original pinned person said made their pans perfect and new again. It didn’t budge anything, but by the time I got around to trying the Sol-U-Mel, I may have gotten all of the easy stuff off. I tried full-strength even. No help there.

What did NOT work (but may have a chance if you have the right stain):

7. Magic Eraser (from a comment string) – this did not work AT ALL.

8. Goo Gone (from a comment string) – didn’t work either.

9. Washing Soda + Vinegar – this was my creation. I had thought that maybe since washing soda has a higher pH than baking soda, maybe it would be better at taking off the grime than baking soda alone was. Turns out that vinegar turns Washing Soda into a clumpy solid, and it is very hard to smear on the cookie sheet. When I did get it to smear on there, it turned grayish, but didn’t do much else. Same with Washing Soda and water.

10. Boiling Baking Soda in water, and dumping it on the pan (reader comment) – didn’t do much either

11. Borax (reader comment) – this also did not work for me at all.

There you have it. A rundown of pretty much everything I could find on the web. Let me know if you try or have tried any of these things – I’d love to hear how they work for you!

TP 5

Tamale Pie

This recipe is a goodie. My mother-in-law passed this one along a few weeks ago, and we have enjoyed it. It is easy, and tasty. Just make sure to start making it early enough to allow for the baking time.

Ingredients:

3/4 c. corn meal

1 1/2 c. milk

1 egg, beaten

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained (or chicken)

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 T. dried onion (minced or flakes)

1 T. seasoning salt

1 lb. can chopped tomatoes (14 oz. is what I could find)

1 can corn, drained

1 small can sliced olives

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix corn meal, milk and egg in a bowl.

Step 2: Mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Yum. 

Step 3: Dump the corn meal mixture into the other ingredients and mix. Then pour in greased 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish (or other smaller baking dish) and bake for 1 hr. 15 min.

Step 4: Sprinkle some cheese over the top, and melt in the oven (about 5 minutes).

There you go! Very easy, and delicious with some sour cream. Enjoy!

 

LS 7

Foam Light Sabers

Our family has some fun traditions for birthdays, and one of them is for us to get the birthday child a mylar balloon to tie on his/her chair to announce their birthday. A couple of weeks ago my middle child turned five. And he was having some friends over to play for his birthday. And I didn’t have a balloon for him yet. Oops! So an hour before his play date, I ran to the dollar store near us to see what they had on hand. They were OUT of helium, so no balloons. But they assured me a store across town had them in stock. That wouldn’t work since we were under a time crunch, so I went into panic mode. What could I do that would be cool enough for him to not worry about the balloon? Then I saw some foam noodles in a bin. And then I remembered this party idea that I had seen.

I found the needed supplies (they had them all there!), ran home, and my husband and I pulled them together just as friends were coming over.

Here’s what you need:

Foam Water Noodles, Black Electrical Tape, Silver (Gray) Duct Tape, Clear Tape, Knife

Step 1: Take your foam water noodle, and cut it in half. I found a serrated knife to work well for this.

Step 2: Find which side is straighter, and wrap two strips of duct tape next to each other. This will make part of the “handle”.

Step 3: Wrap a strip of black electrical tape over the seam between the strips of duct tape, and then wrap another strip at the end of the duct tape. This will give the handle more of a finished look.

Here’s what your two light sabers should look like now:

Step 4: Draw a dot for the button on the handle, then cut a piece of clear tape to “seal” the button on. We just drew the buttons on for the kids at the play date, and by the end the buttons had all worn off. I redrew the buttons on the extra light sabers we made after the play date and covered the button part with tape. It only takes a little square to seal it off.

You’re done! These are a great way for little kids to be able to play without really being able to do much to hurt each other. The kids at the play date took the light sabers out on the tramp and went to town – it was a lot of fun to watch them. We ended up making enough to have one for each kid to take home, one for each of our kids, and then four extra for when friends come over to play on another day.

The fact that you can find all of the supplies at the dollar store made this a really inexpensive project too – each noodle made two light sabers ($.50 each), and then we still had tape left over after making 14 light sabers.

Enjoy!

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