Hit or Miss

I hope everyone is having a great start to 2016!  The weather has turned colder here in Michigan but the sun is out which is nice!

I am a bit of a health nut (“nut” being the operative word) and like to use natural products as much as possible both with food, household cleaners and cosmetics.  My family gives me a hard time about some of my “experiments” but I enjoy trying out new ideas.

My latest was trying to make my own hand soap.  In hopes of avoiding the harsh chemicals in many soaps, I tried a recipe for hand soap using liquid Castile soap, essential oils, vegetable glycerin and aloe vera.  I really loved the way the soap turned out and it smelled wonderful. I ordered some pump dispensers on-line (both regular and foaming) and made up a few bottles.  I really like Castile soap because it doesn’t leave a soap film in the sink or shower, which makes for easier clean up.

All was going well and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for trying something new, when one day I went to pump the soap not noticing the dispenser was clogged and it squirted all over my clothes!  I thought it was a fluke until the Mister started complaining about the soap squirting him every time he went to wash his hands! I’m not sure if it was the dispenser or something in the soap recipe that kept making it clog but I will let you know when I find the perfect recipe that doesn’t wash your clothes when you wash your hands!

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I also had a bottle in the shower on a top shelf and accidentally squirted myself in the eye with the soap.  As I was clutching my burning eye, I was questioning my sanity-maybe people don’t typically make their own soap for a reason!

When I mentioned to the Mister the other day that I was going to save us tons of money on our grocery bill by starting to make our own cleaning products, I got a huge eye roll and a reenactment of a soap dispenser dispersing soap all over his shirt!  Hopefully the homemade cleaning products turn out better than the soap!

How about you?  Do you have any great homemade recipes using natural products?  I would love to hear about any that have worked out for you!  Regardless of the fails, I do enjoy trying new recipes and products in the hopes of stumbling on a great one.  I will be sure to share any “hits” I find!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

~Blessings,

Jen

Quick and Easy Patriotic Fruit & Pretzels

I had to throw together a quick dessert for a party recently.  I wanted it to be on the healthy side since I knew there would be lots of other sweets at the party.  So I went to where I usually get most of my ideas, Pinterest! I am a bit of a Pinterest addict and I am always so happy when I actually make something from the hundreds of ideas I’ve pinned.  My dessert is a variation of this one I found on Pinterest.  If I made it again, I would try to use strawberries or watermelon for a brighter red color, but the cherries were what looked best at the market so we went with that!

This is a super easy dish to make and it was wildly popular at the party!  You can’t beat fresh, Michigan cherries!  I just washed the fruit, arranged it on a tray with yogurt covered pretzels and it was ready to go!

Fruit and pretzels

So if you find yourself scrambling for an idea for a 4th of July party, give this a try!  Simple, easy, healthy and delicious!  A perfect combination!

Happy 4th of July!   I hope you enjoy some good food, family, fireworks and fun!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

A Mother’s Care

Happy Summer! I am officially on summer break this week so hopefully you will see a lot more action on this blog!  Jules and I still continue to battle some health issues, her recent being pneumonia and I am four weeks post-surgery for my foot injury.  We thank you for your patience at the sparse posts but we hope to be back with lots of fun and inspiring ideas to share with you!  Just a teaser-Jules has been working on some pretty inspiring fairy gardens so stay tuned for pictures and directions for an enchanting project!

I’m happy to say the surgery for my foot injury is behind me (for more details on the injury click here).  Hopefully I will be done with the walking boot in a couple of weeks and can move on to physical therapy and be as good as new.  I’m trying to see beyond the temporary inconvenience of this injury and look ahead to days of health and healing but it has been hard to be patient.

I have learned many things through this challenge, one of the biggest being how  important encouraging words and acts of care are to someone under the weather.  I think I knew this on some level but until I actually experienced it first hand, I don’t think I really “got” how important and meaningful it is.  The encouraging e-mails, messages, visits and prayers I received before and after my surgery really helped brighten my day, made me smile and brought me so much comfort.

I realize now how much this means and I want to be better about doing this for others.  It only takes a second to send a message or make a phone call and it can really help to offer hope and cheer to someone who is feeling down.

Were you wondering when I was going to get to the point of the title?  Due to circumstances of the Mister’s work, he couldn’t be with me during my surgery.  My brother and Mom were able to be with me and then my Mom stayed to care for me afterward.  We have mentioned before about my Mom’s health issues, so I think she was feeling pretty good that she was on the caring end of things this time.  I was so thankful for Mom being here and the time we spent together.  There is just nothing like a Mother’s care and I was so comforted by her presence and help following my surgery.  She knew what I needed before I even had to ask.  We spent the days of recouperation talking, watching Hallmark movies and just hanging out.  I thank God daily for my Mom and the time we are able to spend together, as I get older, I realize deeply what a blessing this is. Here she is with Little One.  Thanks Mom for all of your help!

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I apologize for this post being a bit rambly!  I hope these words might inspire you to reach out to someone you know who is going through a health issue.  Even if you can’t be a caregiver like my Mom was to me,  taking the time to send a message, card or pick up the phone to say hi will surely brighten their day.

~Blessings,

Jen

A Time For Healing

Rest

Spring is right around the corner and with it I am praying for warmer temperatures, sunshine and restored health. We have had some difficult health challenges in our family over the past few months. As you read in an earlier post, Jules has been battling some issues with her heart. Prayers for her speedy recovery are appreciated. Our Mom has also had some health concerns that have been challenging to work through, but things seem to be moving in a better direction, Praise God!

I have not experienced anything as serious as their conditions, but have been battling a foot injury that has required me to reduce my normal activity level by about 90%. I injured my foot during our travels to Germany last summer, by doing too much uphill walking in the wrong shoes and developed tendonitis (an overuse injury). Instead of going to the doctor right away, I thought it would eventually get better, so I didn’t see a medical professional until last November when the pain became unbearable. The doctor has tried several things to cure the pain but nothing has worked so far. A month ago, he sent me home in a walking cast with orders to rest.

Mt. Zugspitze

(We saw some awesome scenery this summer, but every sight seemed to be at the top of a very high mountain/hill! It makes my foot hurt just looking at this picture, but it was totally worth it! This was taken at Mt. Zugspitze-Germany’s highest peak.)

This whole ordeal has been so frustrating and has tested my patience.   As much as I thought I hated exercising, I really miss it. I realized how much I counted on it for my mental sanity and stress control. I also realized how hard it is for me to just sit, rest and let others help me. The Mister and the girls have been great helping out with the cooking, shopping and cleaning. Little One has made about a hundred trips up the stairs fetching things for me. I have struggled with feelings of guilt and frustration because I am not able to do things I usually do. I realized that, as with any situation, there are lessons to be learned. Jules said to me the other day that she wondered if her health challenge was a message from God to slow down. I have definitely found some advantages to slowing down and resting.

I’m not as tired as I was when I was running every day and I really don’t miss those 5:30 am wake ups. I have even discovered some different ways to work out that I might not have tried before the injury. I have had more time to just hang out with my family, since I am not running around like a crazy person trying to get everything done. Jules and I have even had time to start scheming together on a new project, which has been loads of fun! I have also learned I don’t have to take on everything myself, I have people willing to help me which is so comforting. I just have to be willing to accept the help. Oh, and one side note I really can get a lot of things done via the Internet! The Mister opened the front door the other day and commented that every time he opened the door, there was another package on our front porch! I’ve become a bit of an Amazon addict!  Finally, I have learned to let some things go. Things might not get done the way I would do them or on my timeline, but they are getting done and if they aren’t, it isn’t the end of the world.

Now, do I wish I didn’t have to experience this injury to learn these lessons? You bet! Would I have learned them without being forced to? Probably not! So as I continue to heal from this injury, I will focus on being thankful for the blessings in my life and the lessons I am continually learning. I thank God for always being by my side, especially during the challenging times. I know I can always bring my troubles and cares to Him and He will provide comfort, peace and rest.

How about you? Do you need to slow down and take some time to rest? Have you been struggling with an injury or illness? I encourage to you find a way to slow down, accept help when you need it and say no to some things, so you can say yes to others. We would love to hear your stories or tips in the comments.

Blessings,

Jen

Friday Funny

Unknown

Day 24…..that’s how long it’s been since I’ve been to work. This was not planned. I was supposed to have 2 weeks off. One hard recovery week, one nice and easy recovery week, and then back to work. Well……didn’t work out that way. Rest, rest rest…that is what everyone is saying. So the other day when someone posted this video, I felt like I was looking at myself in a mirror. It made me laugh the first time and has made me laugh each and every other time I’ve watched! Can anyone else besides me relate to this! I feel just like this guy, and I’m not seeing much light at the end of my tunnel…who knows where it will go next week!!!

Hope you all enjoy your weekend. Hopefully I won’t have to post “The Sloth  2!!” next week!

Julie

Where in the world is my Luck!!

Bad LuckGood Evening Dear Followers!

Remember the old Hee Haw song about luck, and that if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all!! This seems to be me lately. I’ve recently run into a few health issues that I would just as soon not deal with. First of all, about a year and a half ago I had to have a pacemaker put in. The fact that we had to postpone the surgery about 3 times because of the severe sciatic pain I was having, should have been a clue things were probably going to go south!! (Oh, I had to have surgery for that too!)

So at the very young age of 56 I had to have a pacemaker put in because of a slow heart rate. No problem. My cardiologist was excellent, did a great job and I went back to work in a few days. After a few tweaks we had it ticking pretty good. Things went pretty well until last summer when I spent 6 weeks with pneumonia…who gets pneumonia in the summer?? People with bad luck I say!! Finally in August I was regaining my energy and feeling better.  Then one day last fall I was sitting on the couch and felt this huge jolt, like something dropping out of my stomach!!! It was the weirdest thing I had experienced. Over the next couple of weeks it kept doing it, only more rapidly. It felt like gigantic hiccups in my abdomen. Literally you could see it jumping. I decided it was time to visit the cardiologist for a check. They did some adjustments, and voila…it was gone…for five days. Too bad, I was on my way to a week in Florida with Christine, Dave and the babies and I wasn’t missing that. It was only on and off and because I knew what was causing it, I was ok.

Now it is a week later, vacation over,  I’m at the airport and I decide that I’m going to get a little exercise and walk to my gate. All of a sudden I was getting jolted repeatedly. The faster I walked the harder it hit. It wasn’t really painful, but you know how it starts to hurt after you hiccup hard for awhile. Well, it had never been this bad before and wouldn’t stop. Of course, my mind was imagining horrible things…was it an aneurysm…was I going to explode?!?! I called my daughter and she suggested calling the cardiologist, surely he had an answering service. Quickly I had a return call from my him. He really didn’t know what was going on. I explained I was ready to board the airplane in Atlanta. He said if it was still doing it when I got home to go to ER. It was and I did. They couldn’t find anything wrong, so next day I’m back to the doctor. He believes the lead was hitting my phrenic nerve (it’s the nerve that runs along the diaphragm…don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was either!!). So once again the tech resets things….the tech has started calling me his “problem child.” He said he has probably put about 10,000 of these things in and only saw in happen a couple of times.  (See the bad luck pattern happening???) Again he adjusts it but tells the doc he is getting out of the safety zone and can’t really do anymore changes…but it stopped…again…for about 5 days…..and this time the doc said the leads will have to be replaced.

Finally the day comes…the surgery went off without a hitch. The hatches were battened down and the surgeon said they weren’t going anywhere. About 10 days later I am feeling pretty good, wondering even if maybe I could go back to work sooner. I was still pretty sore and tired though, and thought another week of rest would be good for me. Then comes last Sunday…do you see it coming??? The bad luck?? Well if you thought I was going to say it was thumping again, that would be wrong. No, this time I’m having chest pains. I think, oh it must be gas and I took a Zantac and a couple of Tylenol and went to lay down. After about an hour I sent a text to nurse daughter asking what I should do. I don’t know how she even had time to read it before my phone was ringing. She was screaming at me to take an aspirin and get to the hospital. She was like…”I mean it, I’m not kidding, get out of that bed and get to ER, right now!” Well yes ma’am! So I walk out, tell my husband, I’m having chest pains and Christine told me to go to ER. At this point he doesn’t even question my wackiness. He puts his shoes on and off we went.  I decided to go the hospital my cardiologist works out of. They run some tests and turns out I have something called cardiac effusion which means fluid around the heart….and they are 99.9% sure that it was from the surgery! What the heck, I have a rare surgery and then a rare side affect! So at the tender age of 57 I had my first ambulance ride ever to the “big hospital!” By this time the IV meds were making me feel pretty good and its pretty much a blur after that.

Ambulance ride

After a couple of echo cardiograms with no changes, they shipped me home. I’m feeling a little better now, but not 100%. My family doctor added a couple of new meds today which he said should help things clear up quicker! So…I’m done….I’m ready to be healthy and back into activity. I will tell you, when I was laying there with chest pains, I sure started giving consideration to how well I have been taking care of my heart and what I need to do in the future. So as soon as I get my pain gone and energy back it’s time to start being heart healthy!! Who’s with me??

Peace, light and stay warm!

Julie