Stock Your Natural Remedies Cabinet

Summer involves lots of activity and lots of activity will inevitably lead to a few bumps and bruises, scrapes and the occasional run it with a natural pest (mosquito, poison ivy). Being prepared to prevent when possible and treat easily and naturally reduces stress and makes life easier.

Please Note: This is not to be taken as medical advice. I am sharing what we do for our family. Hopefully, this will prompt you to make a plan for your family for various possible needs. Doing your research, planning and preparing now will make your summer run more smoothly and be more fun!

Natural Remedies for Summer

Here are a few things I keep on hand year-round to keep us healthy and deal with minor illness and injury:

Healthy food and healthy movement makes for a healthy body. Even while on “vacation” choose to keep the sugar and refined carbohydrates low and to eat lots of fruit and veggies. Even when we eat like this, our bodies can still benefit from some basic supplements. We take a homemade herbal multivitamin year-round and try to eat lots of probiotic rich foods (like kefir, yogurt, kombucha and fermented veggies). There are many good multi-vitamins you can buy (or make). Do your research and choose the best one for your family.

I keep homeopathic Arnica Montana on hand for all sorts of major and minor trauma. It is great for bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes as well as for sore muscles and headaches.

I keep a few rice packs in the freezer at all times. These can be as easy as a sock filled with uncooked rice, tied off and put into the freezer or you can also find nicely sewn squares at craft sales and online. This is my favorite form of “ice pack” it easily molds to various body parts and has no hard edges to add to the hurt, but it is also cold enough to get the job done but not so cold that you have to worry about freezing skin and then don’t melt into a puddle and cause a mess! These are magic with kids, so easy and reusable!

I keep bandages on hand in a couple of sizes and shapes, but the basic size works well for most things. I like to keep the plain flesh colored ones for adults as well as “fun” ones for the kids. (I buy my fun bandages from the dollar store, only $1/box!) My kids would use these fun bandages for all sorts of non-necessary boo-boos so we have made the rule that blood has to be present in order to need a bandage!

Instead of an antibiotic cream on cuts and scrapes, I use extra virgin coconut oil. It keeps the wound moist, which promotes healing, and extra virgin coconut oil is naturally anti-bacteria and anti-fungal.

For cuts and scrapes that are larger than a regular bandage can handle, I use non-stick gauze pads and vet wrap. A non-stick gauze pad covered in coconut oil will protect the wound and provide a barrier to infection, securing the gauze pad is easier, sturdier and more comfortable with vet wrap than with tape. Vet wrap can be found at most farm supply stores in a large variety of bright colors (or ordered here). It is the same stuff that can be found at most drug stores in a flesh colored hue but at about two to three times less in price! Vet wrap sticks to itself but not to skin and while wrapping it around the injury may look a bit beyond necessary, it holds the gauze pad securely in place (even while swimming). I was a summer camp nurse and used vet wrap all the time! It kept even minor scrapes and cuts free of dirt and sand while playing rough and tumble games and while swimming. Remember to change the bandage after wet or dirty activities. 3M NextCare waterproof bandages are truly waterproof and very sturdy when correctly applied to clean, dry skin (to correctly apply them so that they are waterproof and last can take a bit of practice…). They are a bit expensive (as far as bandages go) but depending on the situation are very worth the price!

Aloe Vera Gel with added lavender essential oil is my favorite skin soother! It is great for dry skin, sun burn and rashes of various kinds. Use a 100% pure aloe vera gel and a high quality essential oil. (Plant Therapy is my preferred essential oil brand but there are many other high quality options.) I also like to keep diluted lavender essential oil handy in a roll-on bottle. It works good to roll onto any little bump, bruise or rash. My youngest even likes to use it for mosquito bites! It is extremely safe and kids can put it on themselves which they like!).

Sniffle Stopper essential oil blend (from Plant Therapy’s KidSafe line) is great for helping kids to breath easier and sleep well when dealing with summer colds or allergies. I just put a couple of drops on a rag and set the rag on their night stand. You can also use an essential oil diffuser or apply it to the chest or back when properly diluted.

Where we live in Minnesota, some form of bug repellent is almost a necessity at certain times of day and in certain locations. The mosquitoes can make being outdoors almost unbearable during parts of the summer and in the evenings. I prefer the most natural option possible and have had good results with a lemon eucalyptus repellent (Repel Brand or Cutter Brand can be found at most stores). There are also small companies that make truly natural insect repellent (MadeOn and Earthley are a couple that I may try this summer).  If you make your own with essential oils, place your essential oils in a carrier oil (like almond or coconut oil)or turn it into a lotion bar with shea butter and bee’s wax and then apply.  This will keep it from evaporating quickly and “wearing off” like the essential oils do in a base of witch hazel. 

Ticks and Lyme Disease is always a concern since we live in a Lyme-indemic area.  I’ve done a whole post how we have treated Lyme Disease in the past and what we are doing to prevent future infections.

Living “up north” and spending more than six months of the year without adequate sunlight on our skin to make vitamin D, I avoid using sun block whenever possible. Eating a diet full of healthy fats will make your skin naturally more resistant to sun burn. However, if I know that we will be in full sun for over and hour during peek times (10am-2pm) I choose to use a natural sun block on the areas that are the most likely to burn (face and ears, shoulders and upper chest and back). I’ve used and liked the sunblock from Tropical Sands for many summers.  Katie from Kitchen Stewardship has an awesome and very comprehensive safe sunscreen guide

I keep Bentonite clay on hand year-round and use it daily in my tooth powder and face powder but it is absolutely amazing  in dealing with summer pest bites and stings. It stops mosquito and fly bites from itching and bee or wasp stings from hurting within a matter of minutes. You can make a paste simply be adding water to the dry powder until it reaches your desired consistency or you can buy a pre-made paste which is easy to use and carry with you.

Another thing we always keep on hand (but hope we don’t have to use) is homeopathic poison ivy/oak tablets. Avoiding exposure to poison ivy is the best, but sometimes it happens. Using these tablets as directed (a few times a day) for a couple days completely dries up the rash and greatly reduces the itching! 

What are your favorite natural remedies for summer?



Creating Your Summer “Bucket List”

How is it going as you prepare for a summer of fun, relaxation, experiences and relationships?  As spring gets busy (it is super busy around here), revisit your summer mission statement and keep at it; just do the next thing.

This week we are going to create our “bucket list” for this coming summer.  A “bucket list” is a list of things you want to do or experience.


Start by making a list of all the things you want to do or experience this summer.  You can make separate lists for yourself and for your family if that is easier.  To start with, just make a list of whatever comes to mind.  Be sure to include simple, easy things like:

  • run through the sprinkle
  • eat a cherry popsicle
  • take a nap in a hammock

As well as things that require a bit more planning, preparation and expense like:

  • visit the zoo
  • go to the beach
  • July 4th fireworks
  • go camping
  • go to the county fair


There are probably more things on your list than you will be able to accomplish in one summer.  As a family (or with your spouse) look at the things on your list that involve more time, planning, preparation and expense.  Choose the ones that will fit into your family’s available time and budget without causing added stress.  Now schedule them in and make the necessary reservations and time-sensitive preparations.

After you have finished that, take a second look at the items you decided wouldn’t work for your summer or budget.  Is there something similar that you could on a smaller scale?

Example: If you wanted to go camping for the weekend but don’t have the time or equipment, could you set up a tent and sleep in the yard for the night? This involves much less time and preparation, is still a fun and memorable experience and leaves an easy escape for a sudden thunderstorm!

Now, make a list of the fun, little, everyday things and post it somewhere you will see it often.  This will help you remember to take the little bit of extra time and preparation to make these things happen (like adding cherry popsicles to the grocery list).

As you plan activities keep in mind the necessary down-time needed by members of your family.  My family needs quiet alone time pretty much every day (it is a central part of our daily routine).  We also cannot handle being away from home (even for a few hours) every day and running errands and getting groceries “counts” as an activity away from home.  Therefore I know that we can plan no more than two or three out of the house activities each week.  However, sometimes I can add an extra activity onto something that has to be done, like stopping to play at the park after getting groceries or going to get ice cream after church.  I know that adding nature-oriented, low people and short activities works well for my family (of mostly introverts and highly sensitive people).


Remember that clear communication is very helpful in making your summer run smoothly.  The night before, or each morning, talk with your family (spouse and kids) about what will be happening that day.  Remind each person about his/her specific responsibilities (daily cleaning habits, educational pursuits, etc).  This lets everyone know what to expect and what is expected.  You can leave some things as a surprise (like a trip to the ice cream shop after dinner or a stop at the park after the library).  I prefer to use the word surprise rather than the word secret.  A surprise is always something good (make sure to keep this true) but to some people a secret is not always a good thing.

Summer is coming quickly!  Are you getting excited?

What are some of the big and little things on your bucket list?


Preparing to Take a Vacation From Cleaning (Sort of!)

If you are going away from home for a week of vacation you can pretty much let daily chores and laundry slide.  But for an entire summer you can’t.  Bummer, I know!  However, you can minimize the chores you need to do for the entire summer!


The first thing you need to determine is what cleaning necessities are for you and for your family.  What things need to get done each day or each week to keep you home clean enough for you to happily function day in and day out.

Note: If you do not have any idea where to start with this and/or you have no chores that regularly get done each day/week and you feel as if your home is always a disaster, check out the blog, podcast or book from A Slob Comes Clean.  She has great advice and help for those who have little to no daily cleaning habits and need more help in this area.

And one of her e-books is in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle on sale through May 1, 2017!

Example: Make beds, bathroom cleaning, sweep/vacuum, laundry, dust, quick tidy, yard work or gardening, groceries/errands.

Next, time yourself doing each chore individually.  Only one chore at a time.  Only that specific chore.  Write down the chore and the time it takes.  Do this for each individual chore.  Do this for a couple of days (or a week if you are an over-acheiver).  Now, add up the time you spend each day in basic cleaning tasks.  I’ll bet the average for each day is about 30 minutes.

Example: I can quick clean our bathroom in 5 minutes.  Doing the dishes after a meal takes me 5-10 minutes.  Folding/putting away one load of laundry takes 5-7 minutes.  Vacuuming our main living areas takes 5-10 minutes.

Determine if there are any of these chores you can delegate to other family members.  Can your children help with the cleaning?  The laundry? The food prep or dishes?  I firmly believe that children, even young children, can and should help out around the house.  It can be a struggle to motivate and encourage excellence in these areas but an important step to train our children in life skills.  Begin training hen now to help this summer with the motivation that when summer come you all can have more time for fun and activities together!  Getting the whole family involved is preparing for a vacation summer will help them look forward to and appreciate the summer even more.

From now on practice doing these daily and weekly minimal cleaning chores.  They will soon become a habit for everyone involved and the time it takes to do each chore will probably lessen.  One reason it is easy to keep a vacation resort cabin clean is because it starts clean and maintenance cleaning is easy because there is little clutter to move around or put away in order to clean!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle has great resources to help you de-clutter your home and develop simple cleaning systems that work for YOU!

The thing about a system is that what works for me may not work for you and what works for me today may not work for me tomorrow.  That is why I love having lots of resources to reference.  I now that I will find something that works today and I know that I will be able to find something will work for later.    Check out the resources included in just the organizing and home section:

  • 14 Days to Opening Your Front Door to Guests by Dana White ($7.99)

  • 2017-2018 Yearly Personal Planner by Jolanthe Erb ($4.99)

  • Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers by Anne Bogel ($15.00)

  • Clean Mama’s Just One Page Kit by Becky Rapinchuk ($7.00)

  • Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking. Discover New Habits. Free Your Home. by Joshua Becker ($5.99)

  • Command Center 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Command Center that WORKS for Your Family by Meredith LeRoy ($5.00)

  • Creating Success At Home: Your Guide to Redefining Home, Conquering Clutter, Taking Back Time, Boosting Your Energy and Overcoming Decorating Fears by Sharon Hines ($3.99)

  • Family Chore System & Planner by Mandi Ehman ($17.00)

  • Life Your Way Complete Printables Download Pack by Mandi Ehman ($7.00)

  • Minimize the Mess: A Mother’s Guide to Simplifying the Home by Rachel Kratz ($2.99)

  • Overwhelm to Order: The Ultimate Homemaking Binder by Rachel Norman ($9.99)

  • Revive 30-Day Challenge by Jessica Fisher ($27.00)

  • Speed Clean the Deep Clean: A Collection of Time-Saving Cleaning Tutorials and Tips for Busy Moms by Katelyn Fagan ($4.99)

  • Sweet Life Planner: Vanilla Edition by Laura Smith ($35.00)

  • The Mindset of Organization: Take Back Your Home One Phase at a Time by Lisa Woodruff ($8.99)

  • The Paperless Home: How to Use Evernote to Organize Your Life by Abby Lawson ($32.00)

  • The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Hack Guide by Amy Bellgardt ($9.99)

  • Your Intentional Holiday: Heart & Home Planner by Victoria Osborn ($10.00)

These resources alone are worth well over the cost of the bundle…And there are ELEVEN other sections as well as special bonuses!

Check out the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle  and order HERE!

Handwriting Isn’t a Subject We Home School

Home schooling works best for our family and our highly sensitive children.  I also love that we can pretty much finish all our school work in the mornings and have the rest of the day free.

We use Sonlight Curriculum and I couldn’t be happier with it!  I don’t have to put much time into planning because it is all done for me.  I love the literature based approach and all the great books we get to read to learn about our big world, its people and its history.  While Sonlight places great emphasis on the process of learning to write (stories, poems, essays, etc.) and offers optional handwriting curriculum, it is not a focus in their curriculum scope.

I greatly appreciate the unfocused approach to handwriting.  Tony is a certified handwriting analyst and firmly believes that ones’ handwriting is greatly influenced by one’s personality. Because of this, we feel it is important that our children learn to writing so that it can be clearly read by others (printing and cursive) but we will not be concerned with the process they use to form the letters.


This approach to handwriting removes so much pressure from our children and encourages their personalities to develop.  It also means I don’t have to force them to make their hand writing look a certain way!


For more information on handwriting and personality read the following articles:

What are your thoughts about handwriting and personality?

Fun Stuff from Around the Web

Tony and I spent Saturday to the Back to Basics event.  It was such a fun time!  Tony presented on building systems in order to simplify everyday life (the thought process behind our Everyday Simple book).  I was able to present about Capsule Menus.  The process of building and following a capsule menu has made my life so much easier!

There has been some fun and useful stuff floating around the web lately, here are some of the things that have been interesting/helpful/fun to me:

Enjoy some fun (and hopefully useful) browsing!

What “new to you” things do you want to share with others?  Please leave a comment and share!





Everyday Simple, the Book

Our first book, Everyday Simple, is now available for purchase!

This book has been a divinely blessed project from the beginning.  It flows from our hearts’ desire to see you live a joy-filled life through the blessings that simplicity brings.

From the book:

What we desire is a simple life. A life that is not controlled by stuff and the pursuit of more, but a life that enjoys what we’ve been blessed with and holds all things loosely. A life of generosity with our possessions but also with our time and our emotions.”

Developing habits to make life easier takes some thought. What works for me may not work for you, and what works for someone else may not work for me. But by looking at the systems and routines of others, I gain ideas, and I am able to better think through solutions that will work for me.”

In Everyday Simple we want to help you take a look at your life; help you to make intentional adjustments and develop habits. We want to help you fine tune and move toward a simpler life and a richer existence.”


You can order here through CreateSpace or here through Amazon.

Christmas Cookies Made Easy

Need a last minute Christmas cookie?  These hint to the holidays because of the flavorful spices used but are easy and yummy enough to make year round!  (Because who needs to do fussy, time consuming baking when you have so many other things to do?!)

Brown Sugar Spice Cookies

Cream together:

  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar (I used evaporated cane juice and 1 tbsp molasses)

Mix in:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Mix in 4 cups flour, one cup at a time (I use white whole wheat). You will have a stiff dough.

Chill dough (or not) then roll to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick (using  bit of flour to prevent sticking) and use your favorite cookie cutters OR roll into balls and press.  Bake in a 350degree oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Note: these easily come off my baking stone, but I need to use parchment paper with my stainless steal cookie sheet to avoid sticking.


The kids enjoy using the cookie cutters.


I enjoy finishing up quickly once the kids are tired of “helping”!

The next recipe we make year round.  It became our “go-to” cookie when Hannah was younger and couldn’t handle even the small amounts of soy in traditional chocolate chips (and our budget couldn’t handle the allergy-free kind!)

Grandma Healy’s Ginger Cookies

*This is a family recipe.  Grandma Healy was Tony’s great grandma who lived to be 103 years old (and lived independently until shortly before her death).  This recipe was engineered by an aunt to mimic the cookies Grandma Healy made (no one knew the recipe!).

Cream together:

  • 1/4 cup shortening (I use coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar (I find it to be plenty sweet with 2/3 – 3/4 cup sugar)
  • 1/4 cup molasses (I use black strap)

Mix in:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves or allspice

Then add 2 cups flour (I use white whole wheat) and mix well.  Use a cookie scoop or place by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  If they want to fall apart as you transfer them to a cookies sheet, just let them cool for a bit on the cookie sheet first.


Enjoy a last minute Christmas treat…or save until some other time!