Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Enough Already!!

I wrote in this post about how my health has gone down hill in the last year or so. In case you don't want to click on the link, here is a brief recap:

* After a year of almost non-stop sinus infections and respiratory problems, which came after a few years of off-on respiratory problems, I went to the allergist and was diagnosed with allergies to pollen, birch trees, coconut (already knew about this odd one), and wasps. It took a few months of tweaking meds, but I've been doing fairly well since then.

*Last summer, I experienced some dizziness and then a middle ear infection, and then "fullness" in my ear, loss of hearing and LOTS more dizziness. I was diagnosed with Meniere's disease last fall.

* I had a bump on my forehead that didn't look right. I also had redness on my cheeks that would get worse in the cold or the heat and after exercising. I went to a dermatologist and was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on my forehead. I had Moh's surgery to remove it in January. I was also diagnosed with rosacea and now I use a facial gel and take a low dose antibiotic.

* In early January 2010, I was admitted to the hospital after experiencing heart attack-like symptoms. I was cleared and released, but I was put on a cholesterol lowering drug (and it was recommended that I exercise and lose weight - I exercise most days and I've lost 80 pounds so far. Go me!)

* I've had problems with my teeth for years now. In 2010, I had two root canals and two crowns put in and a couple of fillings. There went over $2000 out of my pocket. Ouch.


More recently:

* On March 19th, I was eating something (soft) and one of my crowns fell off. No big deal, right? They'll just glue it back on the tooth. Except that THE TOOTH broke off in the crown. This was now a VERY BIG VERY EXPENSIVE deal. And of course, it didn't happen on a back tooth or something. On one of my top FRONT teeth. A bit hard to overlook the big gaping hole in my mouth. After weighing my two (expensive) options, I ended up going with a dental implant followed in a few months by a crown. Total cost: $3000, out of pocket. Oh, did I mention we are still making payments on the $2000 dental bill from last year too? And did I also mention that the dental surgeon AND our new dentist (we changed dental insurance) require all the money up front before providing services??? Thankfully, I have parents who love me and will help a daughter in need.

* I was diagnosed with tendinitis in my right foot. In the grand scheme of things, this has been the most minor, but it has hindered my gym attendance as of late, and is sort of annoying in general. It hurts a little bit all the time, and a bit more when I exercise. I also have some left knee pain. Similar to the the foot pain - a little bit all the time and more when I exercise.

* And then THIS Saturday, my lower back started itching. Then my neck. Then my head. I tried to ignore it. Sunday, we went out of town. I had broken out in a red rash by this time. It was all over most of my torso. I could no longer ignore it. I took Benedryl, which did nothing, well, except help me sleep. I went to the Dr. today and he said that it is probably an allergic reaction to something (really???) and that 90% of the time, you can't figure out the cause and most of the time, it goes away and doesn't reoccur. So he put me on Zyrtec for 12 days along with Prednisone. I've taken 3 doses so far. NO CHANGE. I'm still itching and I still have the rash.


So, I'd just like to put in a request for a moratorium for medical and dental issues. For at least 6 months. A year would be fantastic, but I don't want to be completely unrealistic.

Monday, April 25, 2011

OK, I've found a pretty good happy medium

at least on the "clothing" front.

When I decided to go to a more simple, natural type of living back in 2007, when I thought about the cost of going with all wool, all organic cotton, etc., it just seemed so overwhelming. I knew we couldn't afford to do it. So I didn't. But I felt guilty about it.

As the years went on, I would just sort of justify NOT doing it because we couldn't afford it. I'd be annoyed that it cost so much to go natural, but that was about as far as I'd go with it. I hate to shop too - either on-line or in stores - so it wasn't like I was going to spend the times searching for deals, even if it was looking for my natural products.

And then a few months ago, I started looking a little closer at our shopping habits. I buy almost all of our clothes at thrift stores. It is very, very rare that I purchase something at a store. So while we aren't usually wearing natural fibers, I AM reusing/recycling.

We will continue to do most of our shopping at thrift stores, and then when someone does need something that we can't get at a thrift store, THEN I will make it out of wool/organic cotton, etc. Not perfect, but it makes the most sense for us right now.

Oh, and a little post-script to this post from over a year ago. I climbed back on the wagon, not too long after this. And like with clothing, we've found the way that works for us. Maybe not in the 100% way that I'd like, but I'd say we are about 85% of the way there in the ways that I like to live with Simple Living. We walk when we can, I have a garden and grow what I can, I buy organic of the foods that are important to us, we don't shop retail hardly at all, we compost. I rarely coupon anymore. I buy hardly anything that has a coupon. To save money, I just buy less and of less variety. I use vinegar and baking soda for most of my cleaning. I use Soap Nuts for my laundry. The only cleaner I buy is for the dishwasher. I just can't find a DIY dishwasher cleaner that will work, but I do use this, so I do the best I can.

That is my mantra with Simple Living lately (and Life In General) - Just Do The Best You Can.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Laundry: Simple Style

OK, now I will admit that if I didn't have to do laundry or dishes ever again, I'd probably be o.k. with that.

That being said, I've tried to find things that make those daily jobs (yes, for this family of 5 with an in-home daycare and kids that swim on a almost daily basis, laundry is daily. And of course, dishes are daily. Sometimes dishes are twice a day. But I digress . . . ) slightly less dreary. Oh, and as natural as possible too. Well, within reason. I am not quite to the point that I'm going to be washing my clothes in the bathtub. Or even in washer like this. Although, honestly, I think it is pretty cool actually.

But here are a couple of things that I do with laundry: There are 6 laundry hampers - one for Super, one for me, one for Mr. Simple, one for the girls, one for towels, and one for whites. I separate the whites from everyone's dirty clothes so that there is a full load of whites. That way, the colored clothes are already sorted per person and so when the clothes have been washed and dried, they can just go into that person's clean clothes basket. Also, each person is responsible for bringing their dirty clothes hamper and clean clothes basket to the laundry area and for taking it back to their area and putting their clothes away.

I generally use the dryer, but I do dry outside in the summer, when I can. Technically, it is against our home owners association here, but since it is now "cooler" to be doing green things, the association is overlooking clotheslines as long as they aren't permanently mounted in the ground.

In the past, I had used handmade laundry soap, but since we got a new front loading washing machine, I was concerned about using it, and so instead I used about a tablespoon of Seventh Generation (or something similar) liquid laundry soap. When I have a stain, I wet the area and rub a Fels Naptha laundry bar over it.


I have recently discovered my new SUPER favorite laundry thing. It is called SoapNuts.

I love, love love, them. It gets the laundry so clean and it is completely natural AND I can use it in my front loader. It also makes it so you don't need to use anything to get rid of static cling in the dryer.

I also love them because they are non-allergenic, antimicrobial, and harvested in a sustainable way. You usually can't say all those things about laundry soap.

(Opinions all my own. I was not compensated by anybody for this post LOL)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm going to stop gardening

O.K., not really. But I've decided to stop gardening at the "big" plot. For the past few years, I've had a plot behind our church. It was 15 feet wide by 20 feet long. It was great to be able to have that much space. It gave me plenty of room to grow stuff like cucumbers or corn or other plants that are space hogs. But I decided not to - at least this year. For all of the advantages, there were disadvantages.

The first being that it isn't THAT close to my house. It is about 10 minutes by car to get there - which isn't far - but when I'm trying to do weeding in the morning before the daycare kids arrive, it makes it is 10 minutes there, and 10 minutes back, and only leaves me about 20 minutes to weed.

And speaking of daycare kids, it just wasn't working in my daily schedule to have a garden over there and have to watch small children. If I needed to go over to there to plant or weed or harvest with the daycare kids (and my own children), it was difficult to try and do that and watch children.

I also had to drive. There was no storage space for my tools and supplies, so I'd have to drive just to transport my supplies. I'm talented on a bike, but not talented enough to carry a hoe AND ride a bike. And so it costs me gas every day that I went over there. And that seemed like not quite the point of gardening.

But of course, I'm not ACTUALLY stopping gardening. I enjoy gardening. And eating fresh food. And preserving food. So what am I doing?

Square foot gardening and raised beds.

Those of you who have been to my house may wonder where I am going to put the beds. Especially since I have a large wooden playset in my backyard. Well, I have 5 feet of yard that is outside the perimeter of the backyard fence that is still part of our yard. So that is where the majority of the beds will go. I'll have two beds in the actual backyard and then 4 beds on the perimeter. I'll also be adding a couple of small dwarf fruit trees. I

n addition to changes in the backyard, I am pulling some things out of the front beds and adding medicinal herbs. I've already got a raised bed of cooking herbs in the back. Next year, I'll be adding some native plants in the front yard and another tree.

Now, if I want to get up in the morning and water or weed, it will take me about 30 seconds to get there. I can weed or plant or harvest in the afternoon when the daycare kids are napping. I can store my tools in my own garage.

It isn't perfect, of course, either. When I had the plot, I didn't have to buy the dirt. LOL I didn't have to make the beds. So there will be some work that I didn't have to do before. And more money. I'll let you know at the end of season what I thought. And if I'll be headed back to "plot gardening" sticking with "square foot gardening."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Tale of Turmeric

The last time I was at the health food store, I decided to get some fresh turmeric. I've never been one who has used turmeric much (if at all) before, but I had recently purchased a couple of cookbooks and one of them had turmeric in several recipes. There was also a recipe posted at the health food store for turmeric and ginger tea. So anyway, I decided to get some. I scooped out several scoopful into a plastic bag and took it home.

So later that week, I decide that I should probably transfer the turmeric from the plastic bag into a glass spice jar. So I got out the bag and the jar. I looked at it for a minute and thought about getting out a small funnel, but I decided that I could just angle the plastic bag into the jar and then I wouldn't have to get out anything else, etc.

Bad idea.

So, of course, the turmeric spilled. On the counter. On the linoleum floor. I tried brushing it off the counter into the bottle and ended up getting it on my hands, and spilling more of it on the floor. I also spilled a little on my left foot, but I was wearing clogs at the time, so at least it wasn't all over my feet, right? I finally managed to get most of the turmeric in the bottle and I went to go wash my hands.

OK, I know i had heard that turmeric could be used for dying purposes, but you'll be glad to know that I know this for a fact now.

The turmeric came off my hands - slightly. There was still a definite yellow tint. I tried to wipe up the floor and the counter. Same yellow tint left behind. And same with my foot. Well, I figured I'd try again later with a little bit more soap, but I was running late for my meditation class, so I just hopped in the car and headed over there.

I got a quick glance at my face when I got out of the car and I had yellow on the left side of my face. Great. Thankfully, I had baby wipes in the car (yes, my "baby" is 6, but you never know when you might have turmeric on your face and need to wipe it off.) and I was able to get most of it off. I slipped my shoes off for meditation and noticed that not only was the top of my left foot a little yellow, but in between my toes was yellow too. Great. And my fingernails were yellow too. Great.

So after meditating (and trying not to think about how much of my body and kitchen was dyed yellow during meditation) I came home and tried to deal with the kitchen. I don't usually use Magic Eraser, but every once in awhile, it is just the only thing that will work to get a stain out. So I used one on the counter and got most of it off. There is only a slight tinge if you are looking at it in just the right way.

Then I started working on the floor. And after repeated scrubbings, and trying a few other things, I gave up. It is permanently stained. At least it is just linoleum. And at least it is just in a small area. And at least my kitchen is closed off from the rest of the house so hardly anybody besides me will ever see it.

And 3 days later, my fingernails and between my toes are still yellow, but everything else is pretty much gone. I haven't decided if I'm going to actually use the turmeric now or just toss it. You know, before I end up dying myself all yellow. Just call me Big Bird. Well, since I'm only 5'3", I guess that would be Little Bird, right??