Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Natural Remedies aka Trying to Stay Healthy

Remember when Jan posted about the flu on Monday? I didn't get back to comment because it had me running scared. All these reports about how bad the flu is this year and how important it is to get a flu vaccine.

But what are you supposed to do when you're allergic to the vaccine?

Yup. When I ended up back in my doctor's office with a 104 degree fever after some vaccine in my teens, he very clearly warned me never to get a flu vaccine, that it could kill me.


So each year I try to figure out how to stay healthy when I can't get the shot and everyone around me is sick (multiplied by the # of students in any given class).

Over the years I've come to rely on a few things.

#1 - Emergen-C

I know this has been around awhile and isn't totally "natural" but it's awesome!
One of the kindergarten aides mentioned to me that her school nurse used to keep a huge box on hand and dispense to all the adults who came in sick.

First I tried the Pina Colada flavor. Yum! The Meyer lemon was also delicious. But I settled on the Cranberry Hibiscus when I bought the big box. The flavor reminds me of the punches my mother used to make for parties. All the vitamins and minerals actually make me feel like I have a fighting chance of making it til spring!

I've also learned to use the Emergen-C Immune Support which has additional vitamins like D.

Which brings me to

#2 - Vitamin D

I remember reading somewhere years ago that in Canada they give Vitamin D rather than flu shots. I have no idea if that's really true, but the years I was good about remembering to take Vitamin D regularly, I caught nary a sniffle.

 #3 - Ginger

I'll admit, fresh ginger always kind of scared me. I wasn't exactly sure how to pick it out or what to do with it.

But in my desperation for something to help the endless, tickly cough, I saw a recipe for ginger tea that promised great results.

I overcame my fears :) and bought some ginger. Just a little piece at first.

I peeled it, sliced it, and boiled it for ten minutes. Then I drained it, let it cool a bit, and drank the liquid. Can I say MIRACLE? By the next morning, I felt so much better!

Here's where I admit that I never actually liked the taste of ginger in anything but cookies. But fresh ginger - that I really like!

If you're less a fan, you can add some honey or lemon.

You're supposed to drink the liquid three times a day.

#4 - Gargling with salt water

A neighbor's pediatrician recommended this when her child was young. I've also tried it with apple cider vinegar, but salt water is a whole lot easier on the throat and mouth.

#5 - Herb tea

I came up with this concoction to fight a nasty cough one year and it's pretty good and reliable.
Boil some water and toss in a mix of herbs with anti-bacterial/anti-viral/anti-fungal properties. I'm talking thyme, oregano, basil. If I have it, I throw in some cayenne pepper, maybe some garlic or turmeric, and let it simmer awhile. Strain and drink like tea. I'll admit it's an acquired taste. Honey and lemon help.  But I also have an herb tea I like to drink regularly.

Tulsi Herbal tea: I knew this was supposed to be healthy (and it always makes me feel good), but when I went searching for benefits, I found this list of amazing benefits.  😇

There are so many varieties available now.

So what do you do when the dreaded winter bugs strike? Head to the medicine cabinet or the kitchen cabinet? Drugstore or grocery store?

Let's share some ideas.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pantry Overhaul

Mindy here, and we have officially moved into the big house. Things aren't perfect, not that they ever will be. Some finishing touches still need to be done, like the exhaust pipe for the venthood over the stove, some shelving, etc. Little things that we can get by without for a short time.

In the meantime, there's still that physical act of moving-in. While most of our things had been moved into the house the day after Thanksgiving, we didn't spend our first night in the new house until December 15th. Then it was a rush toward Christmas, hopping into the car Christmas morning to meet the rest of the family in Ft. Worth, welcoming baby Taegan, coming back for a day and half with one daughter and her 4 boys before I headed back to FW for 10 glorious days of getting to know my new granddaughter.
I can't believe she's 3 weeks old already.
And this little guy...
He's 8 months old now and trying his hardest to crawl.

But I digress. Babies will do that. 

Moving in. Yes, that's what I was talking about. So you know how it goes. You're unpacking boxes, not sure where most things are going to go, but shoving them here and there as you go. Then, once you get most of the rooms kinda settled, you go back and figure out where to put all that stuff you just stuck somewhere for the sake of putting somewhere.

Which leads me to my pantry. For two months, it pretty much served as a catch-all. When something needed to be out-of-sight-out-of-mind, we stuck it in the pantry where it wouldn't be in the way of the workers. I mean, not only did it have all those shelves, it was also the the first space that was truly "finished." So by the time we got somewhat settled, the pantry looked like this.
Which was okay, for a time. I mean, for the most part, we knew what was in there. Then I woke up one morning with a determination for some sort of organization in the house. Living in chaos for several months will do that do you.

And so it began.

But where to begin?

At the bottom.

Bet you weren't expecting that. 

Notice all the crapola on the floor, rendering our walk-in pantry un-walk-inable. So the first thing I did was remove everything cluttering the floor.
This isn't all of it, but these boxes took up a lot of space. We'd purposely kept boxes for things, knowing we'd be moving, but now that we're in our forever home, it's time these things had a permanent place to live where they're easily accessed. 

Next, I segmented similar-use items into their own areas. Like my baking supplies.
Of course, flours and sugars were already at home on the counter.
Cereals were grouped together in clear containers so with one look I can see which ones need to be added to my grocery list.
Even snack foods were grouped. Now I just need to come up with something to hold all those individual little packets, but that's a job for another day.
Once everything was grouped and put back in, this was the result.
The stuff I rarely use went on the top shelf. While the things I use regularly...
Are easy to grab. Note the air fryer on the shelf. Now it's ready to go whenever I want to use it. No unboxing necessary.
Notice how much more free space I have. And would you look at the floor.
No more tip-toeing around things while I'm looking to see what I need from the grocery store. 

You know, when I envisioned my new house, everything was perfectly appointed and clean as a whistle. Reality, though, is that I am not an organization freak, nor a clean freak, and my rooms rarely turn out as beautifully decorated as they were in my mind. However, I'm pretty proud of my tidy little pantry. And all it took was some time and determination. If only the rest of the house were that easy to tackle.

Now it's your turn. Does organization come naturally to you or do you have to work at it? If you're a natural, the rest of us would love some tips. 

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at  

Monday, January 15, 2018

An Orange Smoothie for Cold and Flu Season

Yes, it's here. Flu season.

It's that time of year when the sun hangs low in the southern sky and the cold temps make most of us want to stay inside.

Jan here, with some tips on how to avoid catching the flu...or to lessen its impact on your life.

1) Get your flu shot.

No, it isn't too late. And no, I haven't gotten mine yet. (And yes, I had the flu over Christmas!)

Ever since a younger, fitter, and healthier acquaintance died of complications from the flu a few years ago, I vowed I would get my flu shot every year. This year? I kept putting it off. Now that I'm finally healthy again, I'll be getting my flu shot this week.

I've heard (from reliable sources) that even if you catch the flu after getting a shot, your experience with the virus will be much less serious than if you hadn't gotten the shot. My hubby is the perfect example. He got his shot in the fall, but then came down with the flu in December...and he didn't even realize what he had until I came down with the same symptoms a week later, but more severe and longer lasting. He felt better after a few days. It took me nearly two weeks to feel like I could put two sentences together!

2) Wash your hands.

Your mom was right. Washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself from being infected with a virus like the flu.

3) Get enough rest.

Your immune system needs to be in tip-top shape, and sleep is number one in keeping it there.

4) Eat well to keep that immune system revved.

Orange juice anyone? How about a smoothie?

And here's where today's recipe comes in!

Just over a year ago, I shared a drink recipe that I love - my Winter Sunshine drink! Check out the recipe here: Jan's Winter Sunshine

I love this drink, but sometimes I want something a little...sweeter? creamier?...filling?

This smoothie answers all of those cravings. I'm going to give you two separate recipes. One for normal folks, and one for those with some restrictions on their diet (voluntary or otherwise.)

Orange Julius-Style Smoothie

This recipe is for those who have no dietary restrictions. It was a favorite with my children when they were younger!

1 6-oz can frozen orange juice
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
10-12 ice cubes

Blend the first four ingredients in a blender. Add the ice cubes 2 or 3 at a time until well blended. Drink right away, or freeze and eat as sherbet.

Easy-peasy, right?

Unless you want to avoid sugar and happen to be lactose-intolerant (a recent development...I blame age). Then, this smoothie is for you:

Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie

The original recipe for this is in the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook, but it calls for cottage cheese. The only dairy I can eat is yogurt, so I substituted a couple things, and came up with this delicious, protein-rich smoothie.

1 medium, or 2 small oranges, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup unsweetened almond or cashew milk
1/2 cup unsweetened plain Greek yogurt
3/4 teaspoon orange extract
3 teaspoons stevia/erithrytol blend (like Truvia)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Vitamin C powder
2 Tablespoons integral collagen, or 1 scoop whey protein powder
1 1/2 - 2 cups ice cubes

In a blender, blend the orange slices and almond milk until the orange is completely blended. Add the yogurt, orange extract, sweetener, salt, Vitamin C powder, and collagen (not the whey protein powder).

Blend until smooth.

Add the ice cubes, 2-3 at a time (or if you have a powerful blender like a Ninja or Vitamix, add them all at once) and blend until smooth.

If you use whey protein powder, add it now, and blend for an additional 10 seconds.

Pour it into a large glass (I use a 1 quart canning jar) and enjoy!

Last week, I shared pictures from a drive we took to Custer State Park on a cold, foggy/cloudy day. This week, we went up in the Hills on a gorgeous sunny day! Don't let the sunshine fool you, though. It was still cold!

First, we went to Custer State Park. The week before, we hadn't gone to see how Badger Clark's cabin survived the fire. We knew it hadn't burned, but what did the area look like?

Safe and sound. Whew!

Those big trees were scorched, though.

If you don't remember who Badger Clark was, I wrote about him in this post: Badger Clark

After leaving the southern end of the park, we drove up to Sylvan Lake. The Needles Highway begins (or ends) here.

This is what it looks like in the summer:

And here's what it looks like in January:

Only hikers and cross-country skiers use the highway in the winter!

And the lake was beautiful in the sunshine!

Then we went to visit the Boys on the Hill - our first visit of the year to Mt. Rushmore.

And the air was so clear, we could see the Badlands from Mt. Rushmore...just about 60 miles away.

I've often seen the Badlands from Mt. Rushmore, but never as clear as it was that day! There is a lot of prairie and a lot of ranches between here and there!

So, how is your January going? Have you avoided the dreaded flu? Or were you smart and got your flu shot early?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan

Friday, January 12, 2018

7-Can (Dump) Soup

Missy Tippens

I thought I'd re-share a recipe with you since I know so many are facing cold and snow right now. Here's one of my favorites. And it's so easy!

It's fantastic for leftovers--just gets better the next day on reheating.

This is one of the recipes where you just dump everything in. So I call it Dump Soup!

7-Can Soup

1 pound browned ground beef (Or veggie/soy crumbles)
Add one can of each:
  Chili with beans
  Chili without beans
  Tomato soup
  Vegetable soup
  Veg-All, drained
  Corn (I used yellow)
  Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used mild)

Brown your beef or use Veggie crumbles. Dump in all the other cans of ingredients. THAT'S IT! Anyone can do this. Put in crock pot - low for a few hours until hot. And actually, I made this while in a hurry and just heated on the stovetop.

Once it's heated, serve just like chili. I think I decided I like this even better than chili. It's richer with all the veggies.

I took photos of my making this, and they are gone! I have no idea what happened. I must've accidentally deleted them before my photo stream backed up to iCloud.

So for fun, while I went searching through photos, I found these that I took while shopping. I love the both! :)


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Football Weekend Pizza!

I'm not sure if we've done double pizzas before, but it's football playoff time and this is a great crowd pleaser for little money... and it's the crust that makes it so perfect.  I have two of these monster-sized pizza pans.... The holes allow the crust to cook evenly and "dry" the way you expect pizza crust to be.

I lightly rub the pans with olive oil then sprinkle corn meal over the corn meal... gives the crust a nice, store-bought old-fashioned texture!

So the crust... well we've tried everything under the sun over the years and in a "DUH" moment, I used my favorite chewy bread recipe and it's the best... Just absolutely the best....

It's from Betty Crocker and I use the recipe exactly as the cookbook presented it, which is a rarity for me... but this recipe is perfect.

Mix together in large bowl:
3/4 Cup warm water
2 Tablespoons Yeast (or two packets)

Mix together... Let sit for a minute or two...


2 2/3 Cups warm water (about 110 to 115 degrees)
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 Cup sugar
3 Tablespoons Crisco
5 Cups Flour (I use bread flour, higher gluten content, I love bread flour!!!!)

Mix all of this on medium speed on big mixer or with hand mixer for a couple of minutes until well-blended and smooth.

Add three more cups of flour.

Blend with dough hook until smooth and elastic and dough cleans sides of bowl.

If dough is sticky, add a little more flour and blend with dough hook.

Take dough out of bowl. Grease bowl. Put dough back in bowl. Flip dough so that all the dough is "greased" to prevent drying out. Cover loosely with towel and set aside to rise....

When dough has doubled in size, punch it down (stress reliever!!!) divide dough in half and press each half out onto pizza round.

We press it out gently, teasing it to about one inch in from the edge....

Use fork to prick surface of dough thoroughly to prevent over-rising. Rub surface of dough with olive oil (or use a brush, that's okay, too!!!)

Sprinkle surface with salt, Parmesan cheese and granulated garlic or garlic powder. (Our kids won't eat roasted garlic chunks...)

Bake for about ten minutes. Remove from oven.

See how the crust has risen some, but not too crazy... and the oil and seasoning and Parmesan protect the surface from drying out for the pre-bake. Boboli does this... other producers do, too. It gives you a solid crust base for folks who love thick-crusted pizza and I love thick crusts! 


Drizzle sauce over crust of one pizza. We use a bottled marinara sauce from Pellicano's, their Roasted Garlic Marinara....

Then cover with shredded mozzarella. Add any toppings you'd like. Italian sausage, pepperoni, peppers, onions, etc... 

Bake at 400 degrees until crust is firm but not browning... Let cool slightly before cutting.


Follow the same directions up to baking crust with Parmesan, garlic and salt.... Remove crust after ten minutes of baking, add more Parmesan and cover with Shredded mozzarella. Finish baking until crust edge is dry to touch and cheese is melted.

The pre-baking (with that olive oil coating) is what gives this pizza its distinctive texture and taste, that 'chewability' that comes from great pizza shops.... unless they're silly New York Pizza with that cardboard thin burnt crust.


But we all differ!!!!

And here's some fun with a pup.... a very big pup: Morgan has decided that Jeter is her "spirit animal".... :)

They've become great buddies and how fun is that???? A girl and her dog. And then, check out this sunrise... This is Eastern Woodlands up here. Simply put, if you don't mow it or plant it... you get a forest. Isn't that cool???

The snow just kept coming!!!!!

I love this shot of Christina, helping with the donkeys.... Isn't it beautiful? Just like her!

This week things moderated and we got some melt-off, a real "January thaw"... but this weekend we're going to get hit again, with 1 to 2 feet of snow on Saturday... so I'll be shopping by Friday morning so no one has to venture out on Saturday!

Home. Snug. Football. Kids. Pizza.

Now that's a great family recipe! And crazy affordable!

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream of writing beautiful stories of faith, hope and love as she burrows into her old farmhouse in Western New York... where the cookie jars are always full and the wood stove burns bright....

But when it's -20 Wind chill, the wood stove isn't quite enough! Then we're mighty glad to layer up, just like those pioneers who settled the American West.

You can find Ruthy on facebook and twitter (Ruth Logan Herne) or stop by her website

She'd love to see you!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lentil Balls for Kav

Last week, I was an unwitting tease.

Okay, as I'm typing that I'm laughing. Do I mean that I unwittingly teased Kav with the hint of Lentil Balls or that I am unwitted meaning I have no wits.


Anyone else have to stop and think anytime they see those initials. LOL I know. But *SMH makes me, well SMH.

So, Lentil Balls.

Every year for Thanksgiving, the vegan girl and I dig into the recipe books looking for something new to share while the others eat turkey and ham.  This year, for Christmas, we didn't want the standard nut loaf. Instead we decided on a recipe she found for lentil balls.

To be precise, we made Lentil mushroom walnut balls with cranberry pear sauce. They come from the Oh She She Glows Cookbook and you can find her recipe and a wonderful picture tight here.

For anyone unfamiliar with this cookbook, it is amazing. We call it the cookbook that never fails.  We have yet to make a recipe that isn't just out of this world fabulous. (Although if you love to see recipe  fails, she does show a pretty epic pie explosion on the page with the lentil balls!)

Since you have her recipe, I'll just give our photos.

Disclaimer: we used pecans instead of walnuts.

My favorite part was the leftovers. That's where I got creative.

The first night I spread plain hummus on pita bread, added the smashed lentil balls and added some roasted red cabbage. That was delicious, but I was so busy eating, I forgot to take photos!

As I'm typing this, I'm eating defrosted lentil balls on pita with lemon rosemary hummus, beets, and beet greens. YUM!  (And sshhhhh - so very healthy!)

Two mini pitas spread with this luscious hummus.

Frozen lentil balls

These beet greens were so gorgeous in the January market!

I chiffonaded the leaves and boiled briefly.

 Added on the oven-roasted slices of beet and Voila!