Saturday, March 26, 2016


I am attempting to make an effort to get my kids outside more.  It is not difficult for the older girls to get out, and not to much of a problem for the boys (they are allowed in the backyard, which is fenced), but baby girl....well, that is more of a problem.  She doesn't go out unless I go out, or if I have an older girl take her out back.  So each day I take a break from the work that needs doing and soak in the sun and fresh air.

There are more pictures of Merida only because I have to follow her around.  Jed was outside with us, but he spent his time chasing down chickens or rounding up baby goats.  The other two boys hung out a bit with us as well, though they had their turn chasing some chickens as well.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Battling Ringworm

  Not one of the more pleasant topics to write about.  I've mentioned quite a few times that I had been battling 'stuff' for a while now.  Well, I think I am ready to share what I've learned so far.  I am not 100% clear.  I have a couple of 'hot spots' that may be left over fungus, OR some scarring from some of the more extreme things I tried to get rid of it!

Back in June (2015), I spied the horrid red "O".  At that time I had two or three, all under my arms.  Having dealt with this on two other occasions with various children, I knew right off the bat some things that would NOT work.  After our last episode (years ago) we gotten a hold of some Nystatin.  That cleared things up within a couple of days!

We did not have insurance at the time, so I was going to have to make do tackling this on my own.  I tried all sorts of things.  Tea Tree oil, oregano oil (that will burn!), neem oil, and even bleach.  I found that leaving things on contact with a wipe did better than just rubbing some on.  This was taking a tole on me since I had to do this multiple times a day.

We finally got insurance, and had the money for a doctors visit.  This was sometime around Sept. or Oct.  By then I had multiple rashes over my body.  He wanted to give me an oral medication, but I am still nursing, so we decided using a topical would be best.  He gave me two prescriptions.  He told me the first one he gave me was going to be more expensive, so I asked for Nystatin, since it worked so great the last time.

I went with the Nystatin because the other medicine, with insurance, was going to cost $140!!  I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to drive home with that bottle of cream!  The last thing I needed was a house full of children with ringworm.  So I had been very careful in how I bathed, using baby wipes, so I could throw them away.  I had to dry off in a certain order in hopes to avoid spreading this on myself any more than it already had.  Then I had to wash all my clothing and towels in hot water (I increased our water heaters base temp. so that it would be hot enough to kill it off in the washer, but not hot enough for anyone to get burned if they were using the sink/tub.).

After about 4 or 5 days my rashes started to itch like crazy!!!  I knew that this meant either really good things, or really bad things!  In my case, it meant bad things.  My rashes were going into hyper mode and growing!  So back to my other natural, or in the case of the bleach, not so natural options, since it seemed to be keeping things at bay.  However, that one week of using the prescription led to things spreading :-(

I was at the feed store one day when I asked if they had anything for ringworm, that may prove safe for humans. I have heard that a lot of meds for animals (not all!!) are made for humans and animals in the same facility, split at the end to go into different packaging.  Anyways, they had something.  I looked up online, and they do indeed have a human version, but the animal version is just cheaper.  What I got was called Vetericyn.  Now this did make a big difference.

Things started to clear up.  As an aside, I knew this would be a battle, due to the mold in our house.  My immune system is down because of that, which is why I probably caught ringworm in the first place.  Again, I noticed bigger improvements if I held wipes sprayed down with the Vetericyn on my skin for 30 minutes at a time.  But again, though it was improving, it wouldn't clear up.

We had a change in medical insurance so I asked for my doctor to prescribe me another cream, and an oral (I wanted that as a back up).  This time our insurance had better coverage, so I didn't have to pay so much.  I talked to the pharmacist about the oral medication and the fact that I was still nursing.  She was surprised that the doctor had prescribed it since she says it isn't considered safe.  Though she said it is prescribed as a last resort, and if I waited 5 hours after nursing, things should be ok.  Ugh, not what I wanted to hear.

I went home and slathered on the cream (ok, not really, as you are only supposed to put a thin layer on).  And, you might be able to guess this by now, but 4 or 5 days later, big time itching all over again!!!!  I cried.  I really, really did.  I remember staring at the oral medication bottle and praying.  I knew that with the track record I just had with using the creams, AND after reading online that many women find that once they stop the oral antifungal, their rashes just come right back, the oral medication would probably be a failure as well. I felt that the risk to my own health, let alone that of Merida's wasn't worth it.

But then I remembered something I had read in a homesteading book, written by Ben Hewitt, called Nourishing Homestead.  He wrote how each winter his cows would get ringworm.  After a few years of this, and learning more on how to take care of his animals, he figured it was a nutrient deficiency.  He started giving them free choice kelp.  Ever since then his cows have been ringworm free.  I looked in my pantry stock of herbs.  There on the shelf was a glass jar of spirulina.  I had bought it two years ago, hoping to add it to my goats feed.  For some reason that never happened.

I started adding almost 2 tsp of the spirulina to my morning smoothie.  Well, the morning smoothies started because I needed something to put my spirulina in :-)  I add other greens like kale, spinach and chard.  Needless to say, besides those couple of 'hot spots' EVERYTHING cleared up within that first week!!  In the week before I started to spirulina, I had 5 new rashes develop, FIVE!  So the fact that all those, and my other ones are totally gone, is nothing short of miraculous.

My next step is to purchase some more spirulina (I'm running low) and some kelp.  We've started on another supplement that is supposed to help heal your gut lining, and I will be having my alternative health 'machine' showing up on my doorstep this week.  But those things will be to help my overall health, and not so much the ringworm, as that is not an issue at this point.  Again, my body still needs a bit more, since I have these couple of hot spots left, but I am certain that the added spirulina is what finally helped me.

One very BIG step we need to take is to get rid of the mold in our house.  Jeremiah killed it off as recommended to us by the mold removal company.  But we need to go through the attic and get rid of all sources of dead mold, and then do a major cleaning downstairs.  I am sure with all of those things checked off those hot spots will be a thing of the past.  (These hot spots do not itch, are not actual "O"s, --though there are two that are light pink in the shape of a filled in circle--. and anyone who wasn't told I had ringworm would even consider those areas to be ringworm.  I just know that is where some of my ringworm rashes were, so they are areas I am keeping an eye on.)

All I know is that it was very refreshing to use an actual cloth washcloth in the shower and to be able to towel off without having to do so in a certain order.

I try to tell myself that I've gone through all these things with these different types of "bugs" for a reason, but it's not always pleasant to deal with it on a daily basis.  As a side note, ringworm, is NOT a worm, it is a fugal rash, just like athlete's foot.

Now for my disclaimer:  This is what worked (or didn't work) for me!  I am sharing this information with those who may be interested.  Please do your own homework, and talk to a trusted health care professional to see what your situation warrants.

My new BFF :-)  It may be two years old, but it is still potent.  It will be interesting to see how green the new batch will be compared to this batch.

You can see I keep a child's liquid medicine cup in here to measure out what I need.  This stuff is so powdery that it gets ALL over when trying to get a scoop.  And since we are always loosing our regular teaspoons, I went for the medicine up.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Groceries for our family of 10

I hope I am not the only one who loves to see not only how other people feed their families, but what it costs.  I can NEVER figure out how some people can have a grocery budget of about $300 for the **month** (family of 5 that I am thinking of).  Um, how is that possible?  Because my **weekly** budget is $450!!

Well, I decided to share what our groceries for the week look like, and their cost.  Because, maybe I'm missing something!

I usually go shopping at BJ's and Walmart.  Two years ago Aldis popped up, right in front of the Walmart I shop at!!!  But I never really made it there, unless they had avocados on sale.  Aldis has added a lot of good food items in those two years, and I have finally made the time to compare prices.  In my defense, Merida was born just two years ago, and shopping with an infant is an IN and OUT as FAST as you can affair!

Aldis does have some great prices.  Some are not too far off what I normally buy, but savings is savings.  For example I save just ten cents on applesauce at Aldis compared to Walmart.  However, for almond milk, Aldis is about 50 cents cheaper.  After Jeremiah came home from BJ's I was able to see that Aldis mozzarella cheese, for the same amount would be 71 cents cheaper.  It all adds up!

 Here is the whole of Aldis, except for a 24 count box of gummies, which my children devoured the moment I got home :-)  All of this cost: $82.05  Is it just me, or does that NOT look like 80 bucks of food!

 Aldis broken down a bit more.  Here are the fresh and frozen items I bought.  Oranges for snacking; the frozen spinach, celery and one of the cucumbers are for my daily green smoothies; the two bags of peppers for two recipes; and the tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados, plus the other cucumber are for salads.

From the back, we have four cans of diced tomatoes for a couple of recipes; two jars of applesauce for snacking and for Merida to take her D-Mannose powder; one can of cashews for a recipe, a splurge, but they were only $2.99; two boxes of baggies; popcorn kernels (popcorn is a favorite snack around here); two blocks of cheese for snacking; two packages of cold cut meat and the sliced cheese, they are for sandwiches intended for Bella, though everyone dug in once I got home;  one bag of shredded cheddar cheese for recipes.

 Three loaves of bread (though I could make my own, I am taking some short cuts at this time in my life!); I bought two almond milks (just one pictured); peanut butter; salsa for chips; and two jars of jelly.

 Two 12 count packages of Ramen (yes, I know they are unhealthy, but I try to grant them a couple of unhealhy food items, plus these cook up extremely fast if we are in a rush to get out the door); two packages of hamburger buns for a bbq chicken dinner this week; and two 10 count packages of tortillas for two different dinners this week.

The whole of Walmart's grocery haul.  I actually went over the receipt because *all* of this cost $86.32!  Not pictured is a 16 pound bag of cat food.  I forgot to mention we also have to feed 1 dog, 2 ponies, 4 goats, 5 cats, 8 rabbits (though tomorrow we are selling them), and 30 some chickens on our grocery budget as well.

 A close up look at Walmart items:  One box of mashed potatoes, stir fry sauce and rice vinegar for recipes; three packages of noodles; spaghetti squash for tonight's dinner; radishes for my green smoothies.

From the back, 4 tubs of yogurt (one will be used to make two gallons of homemade yogurt); 4 cans of soft dog food; mandarin oranges for chicken salad this week; two cans of coconut milk for my smoothies (I can not have dairy or eggs); 4 cans of Walmart brand Rotel; two cans of chunk pineapple for a recipe; two bags of bacon bits (for potatoes); black beans; razors, medicines and bandaids; a bunch of silverware since ours seem to walk off all on their own!

Jeremiah makes the BJ's run on Saturdays, and this is what we bought for the week, though some items last longer than one week.  For example the cocoa will last longer than a week.  Last week we bought baby wipes, but this week we needed diapers.  The total for all of this came to: $195.24

A close up look, from the back, two packages of 2 count whole chickens; three gallons of milk; Italian sausage; ground beef; two tubs of sour cream; bacon and pepperoni (can't wait for pizza night!)

Next up we have 6 packages of bananas (aprox. 3lb. each); children's Ibuprofen; cocoa.

Large bag of corn chips; 2-5lb packages of apples; 6 pack of romaine lettuce; two packages of mozzarella cheese; and cherries.

The package of diapers.

A quick stop to Whole Foods for some kimchi.  I usually make my own, but needed some to try to knock out a sinus infection I have.  These were about $13.

Due to the truck being used this morning, and church tomorrow, I have to save our animal feed purchases for Monday.  This week we will only need one 50lb bag of goat feed, and three bales of hay.  That should come to around $45.

That brings us to a grand total of $421.61.  There will be small things that pop up, like I didn't realize we needed some SOS pads, and some tweezers.  


One of the great tips I got off of "How Jen Does It", was to put your bag of snacks into smaller bags.  Brilliant!!!!  This has truly cut down on wasted chips.  With that large of a bag, and small children trying to handle said large bag...well, that equals lots of spilled chips.

Saoirse enjoying a baggie of chips :-)

 For any THMers out there, these are the special ingredients I use.  I already had the gelatin on hand way before I started THM.  I bought these neat blue containers at the Dollar Tree.  After a bag of Super Sweet tipped over, which was not closed all the way....well I don't have to tell you that I wanted to make sure that didn't happen again!!  I plan on finding or making some nicer labels, but didn't have anything on hand but plain ole paper and tape.  So far we've been buying our xylitol at Whole Foods.  Not sure if we are saving money or not, it was really a case of "we need some xylitol right now" situation :-)  I did not need to buy any of these this week.  I try to space these purchase out so I am not buying them all at once.

While I was taking these pictures I was sipping on my lovely army green smoothie.  I try to mix up what I use.  The base is the same, either almond milk, or coconut milk (depending on whether I want and "E" or "S" breakfast), a handful of okra, 1/4 pound of frozen spinach and a 1/4 pound of kale, collagen, sweetener, and most importantly for me: powdered spirulina.  Then I add some of the following, all of which is frozen: yellow squash, carrots, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberris or cherries.  I also may add the following, which are not frozen: radishes, cucumber, avocado or celery.   I would like to get my hand on some beets to try those as well.

Below is my menu.  Moira and I are eating using the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) way.  It is easiest of we can all eat the same, and I try to keep it that way, though as you will see below there are a couple of exceptions.  For breakfast I try to make a large green smoothie, but everyone else eats according to the breakfast items below.  You will also see an S, E, or FP for reference for THM.  For a crash course of what those letters mean:  All meals are supposed to have a protein and then each meal will either fall more towards higher in fat, or higher in carbs.  An "S" stands for, satisfying, a meal that has higher fat.  The "E" is for, energy, those are higher in carbs.  The "FP" stands for, fuel pull, which is neither high in fat or carbs.

You can see I have quite a few "E" meals in here, which means that on the days with lunch and dinner as an "E" I will make an "S" breakfast.  And even though my kiddos will be eating the same meals, they will add cross over items, or have snacks that will be crossovers.  Crossovers, for those that do not know are when you combine both fat and carbs in higher amounts.  Again, this is a VERY simple explanation, but hopefully you get the idea of how it works.

My menu for the week:

These are not scheduled, but I try to mix it up between smoothies, some type of eggs and possibly bacon, oatmeal or yogurt with fruit.

Sat: hard boiled eggs and roasted veggies *S
Sun: tomato chicken bisque soup *S
Mon: for the kids, cheeseburger rice/ for Moira and I, salad *S or E depending on how we feel that day
Tues: chicken salad *E
Wed: soothe your soul soup *FP
Thurs: rice and veggies, with shredded chicken *E
Fri: left overs

tonight, Fri: pasta with meat sauce, regular noodles for kids, and spaghetti squash as noodles for Moira and I *E 
Sat: cashew chicken *S
Sun: bbq chicken with coleslaw *E
Mon:  beef burritos, tortillas for kids, lettuce leaves for Moira and I *S or E depending on our topping choices
Tues: rice and sausage *E
Wed: slow fajitas, on sprouted homemade tortillas *E (if we felt we needed an "S" meal, we could put our fajita filling on a lettuce leaf and use sour cream, cheese and avocado toppings)
Thurs: pizza made with sprouted wheat *E

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