Friday, November 30, 2007

Home Remedies

"I'm getting better...I'm nearly well!" Which is what I THOUGHT the "dead man" says in Scene 2 of The Holy Grail...

Turns out he didn't say the "nearly well" part and I'm just remembering that wrong...at least according to the online scripts I could find. Oh well. This is what comes of having a whole herd of male relatives who quote from Monty Python all the time...it gets jumbled up in one's head. Maybe "nearly well" is from the Parrot Sketch?

But I AM getting better, and so is Colin. And, even better, Tom and Natalie have not fallen prey to the cold yet. I think they are waiting for Sunday, so that Colin and I will have to go to church all by ourselves.

Mandolinartist (whose real name is easier to type!) mentioned in a comment that when she was sick as child her aunt would bring her Coke in little glass bottles. That got me thinking about home remedies and how they differ from family to family...and how they change as people marry and have children of their own. Here are the ones I could remember from my childhood and then the ones we use in our house now.

Growing up:

1. Chicken soup. This was for colds, bronchitis, flu, anything respiratory basically. Mom made her soup from a whole chicken with celery, carrots, garlic, and onion and LOTS of water. The healing properties were in the broth and we'd get it in a bowl with a smattering of veggies and a bit of chicken floating on it. I think sometimes she put rice in it, too, but not always.

2. Orange juice. Also for respiratory issues, but sometimes for post-stomach virus convalescence as well. Not so good for the latter, too much acid.

3. Cola syrup over crushed ice. THIS is what was good for the stomach. We'd get little sips of this when Mom thought we close to being done with the...uh...oral output...part of the production. I remember feeling there was hope that I would live when I'd see that little bottle of cola syrup. :) I don't know why we didn't have regular Coke or Pepsi; maybe because Mom never bought that kind of wicked thing!

4. Kaopectate. This was for the other output issues of the stomach variety. Nasty stuff that tastes like watered down clay with mint in it. I don't remember it working very well, either. Blechhh...

5. Vitamins. Of course. Especially chewable vitamin-C tablets, which when sucked on actually do make you feel you're doing something for a sore throat.

6. "Pep Up". This was more by way of a daily tonic than a remedy, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention it and make my parents look cruel. :) Mom read a bunch of books by Adele Davis, who was some sort of granola-filled organic guru in the 60s and 70s. Dear Adele recommended "Pep Up" which was a nasty, foul, from the pit of hell, drink made with milk and yogurt as its base. Not bad, eh? Except for the dolomite powder, nutritional yeast powder, other powdered vitamins, wheat germ and I-don't-know-what-all-else that were added to it. It was nasty, it was horrid, it was SO BAD I can still taste it if I think about it for long. Mom claimed it kept us healthier and made our hair shiny. I did have thicker hair back then...it wasn't worth it.

7. A&D Ointment. This was our magic potion for owies. Other families had Mecurchrome , that stinging red stuff with iodine in it. But we had nice, soft A&D ointment. If you got a bad scrape Mom would clean it up, put A&D on it, and bandage you up. Worked wonders without the screaming pain of the red stuff.

In my house now:

1. WATER!! My kids will tell you that if they complain of any ailment, large or small, any ache or pain...the first thing I will say is "Are you drinking enough water? Go drink some more water!" Now, I live with three people and I'm not going to name any names on these ailments, but 2 people in this house pass out when they get dehydrated, 2 people get constipated from not drinking enough, and 2 people get never-ending coughs and won't drink to help lubricate their throats. Water is cheap and low in side-effects.

2. Chicken soup! Natalie even made some for us this week, what a wonderful daughter! Ours is made with very rich chicken broth (I freeze chicken broth from baked chicken and save it for soup), lots of garlic, white wine, lots of chicken, rice, parsley, celery, carrots, crushed red peppers...and I think Natalie put fresh thyme in hers. I like chicken soup with a lot of flavor to it, and Tom will consider it a meal if it has enough chicken and rice in it to be thick. We eat ours with LOTS of Town House crackers.

3. Hot tea. Wonderful stuff for sore throats, or just to warm up a chilled sickly person. Something in the tea (tannins?) seems to help heal up the throat, too.

4. Sudafed. Now we get into the realm of remedies completely missing in my childhood, the pharmaceuticals. Better living through chemistry. :) Sudafed, the GOOD kind, the kind you have to get by standing in line at the pharmacy like a criminal and showing your papers...Sudafed is the only thing that helps my sinus headaches. (Oh, I also make sure to DRINK MORE WATER!) I take it when I have a cold to help me breathe freely at night; I've been giving Colin a child-sized dose of it throughout this cold.

5. Robitussin DM. Oh wait, we had this as children. My favorite cough remedy. Tom prefers Delsym but it makes me dizzy. I'd rather just get up every 4 hours and take more Robitussin.

6. Neosporin triple-antibiotic cream. This is my version of the "magic owie healer". Clean the owie, spread on the Neosporin, pop a fluorescent bandaid on top...you're good to go. Natalie might remember that her owie cream was fancy-schmancy organic Calendula Blossom cream from the natural foods coop. Natalie probably remembers eating more whole wheat bread than Colin does, too. I've lapsed in my old age...

I don't think we have any particular "sicky" foods in our family, other than the chicken soup. I've heard of families where they eat scrambled eggs only when sick, or milk toast, or cinnamon toast with tea. I guess I do follow my mother's plan on this...basically, if you're well enough to keep anything down you eat what everyone else is eating.

So, long post today...must be getting my brain cells back!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sore Froats...Ugh!

If it's not one thing it's...well, this time it's sore "froats" for Colin and me. Usually a little sore throat doesn't bother me much, but this is the kind that feels like a big sore lump. My usual remedy for a scratchy throat is to keep drinking plenty of fluids. But when it HURTS so much to swallow...yikes!

Whine, whine, complain, complain... I am thankful it's not anything worse!! And I'm thankful that so far Natalie and Tom seem to be fine. Tom, bless his fuzzy little heart, went to the store and got us more Tylenol. Maybe Natalie will make us some chicken soup. Colin and I will be on the couch, sitting under fuzzy covers, trying to find something on TV to watch that we can call educational.

Sore "froats"...blegghhhh...we blame Uncle Jim. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Seven Weird Or Random Things About Me

Natalie tagged me for the 7 Random or Weird Things Meme for NaBloPoMo. Wasn't that nice of her? Yeah, I thought so, too.

See, here's the problem...any of you reading this could probably come up with seventy times seven things weird about me. But, the nature of weirdness being what it is, I am not so likely to recognize the ways in which I'm weird. You're weird; I have adorable little quirks.

So, I'll give it a shot and we'll see what happens.

1. I don't like ketchup. Or catsup. I make an exception for ketchup mixed with brown sugar and used to glaze meatloaf. Other than that, no way.

2. I like dogs but I don't want to own one. Really, really, really don't want one.

3. I believe all pets, including stuffed animals, benefit by being given British-sounding names.

4. I've never flown on an airplane. Or any other way, for that matter.

5. I don't like coffee, although I do like the way it smells. In certain circles this is considered weirder than in others.

6. I like sleeping under a flannel top sheet even in the summertime.

7. I have extremely picky feet and have a very hard time finding shoes that don't hurt somewhere. I usually wear strange and rather unattractive footwear as a result.

8. (Bonus!) I've never bathed in yogurt, and I don't look good in leggings, and I've never been to Boston in the fall! (If you recognize this line you can officially call yourself weird, too.)

I don't know anyone to tag for this, so the chain will break right here. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Everything Is Illuminated...And Noisy, Too...

A little background, first. Colin is recovering from a cold, not a bad one...just annoying. So he's had a bit of a cough, especially at night. We keep an insulated mug of water on his bedside table, because a drink often helps calm the cough.

Both of my children are prone to coughs, and both have distinctive coughing "styles". Colin tends to get croupy and, when in the throes of a virus, can wake us up instantly with his metallic shrieking croup cough. His almost-better cough is more of a "woof, woomph, womph" sound. Natalie has a discreet, tentative cough...a "sheep with a secret sorrow" cough. Kind of "ahem, caf, caff".

Sunday 4:00 AM

I wake up because I am 45 years old and head to the bathroom. Once I'm in there I realize that I can hear a child coughing. I listen for a minute and determine that it is Colin. By the time I'm getting back in bed he has stopped coughing, so I roll over and head back to sleep. He starts coughing again, this time with more enthusiasm. Realizing he is awake and coughing, I decide to take action. Tom, meanwhile, is sound asleep next to me. Our story continues as follows:

Me(quietly, but loud enough to be heard across the hall): Colin, sit up and get a drink of water!

Colin: (whoomph...woph...) Okay!

Tom: (whumphhh!!!) What's going on?

Me: Colin is coughing, I told him to get a drink.

(I rebury myself in my covers and prepare to go back to sleep. Tom gets up and heads for the bathroom. While he's in there, Colin coughs with varying degrees of enthusiasm but nothing alarming)

Tom: I'm going to go give him some cough medicine so he can get back to sleep.

Me (still trying to sleep): If you think he needs it.

They head off down the hall with flashlights ablaze. Into the kitchen where they turn on a light, perhaps the pantry light. Tom tells Colin to go get his water mug so he can see if it needs to be refilled. Tom gives Colin a dose of Robitussin and refills the water mug. While he's doing this he's also giving him a lecture on proper nighttime water cup etiquette.

Tom: When you get a drink in the night, just SET your cup back down, don't BANG it back down like this. (Demonstrates...BANG) (Continues filling water, bangs several doors, bangs water cup while putting lid on, someone bangs the pantry door closed, the computer comes on and something is done to it, much conversation takes place involving banging water cups)

Me: (realizing that Colin is now wide awake and has had a lot of water to drink) Colin, stop in the bathroom and pee before you head back to bed!

Colin: What??!

Me: (louder) ditto

(Colin stomps down the hall, turns on the hall light, turns on the bathroom light, thuds the toilet seat around, does his thing, washes his hands, and tromps back to bed.) (It is now finally DARK again in the house)

(Tom comes back to bed, mutters a while about coughing, and goes back to sleep)

I lie awake for a good while wondering if I should just get up or if I'll be able to get back to sleep. Meanwhile, Colin coughs while waiting for his medicine to kick in. And everytime he coughs, he obediently sits up, takes a drink of water and then...instead of BANGING the cup down...turns his flashlight on so he can see to set the cup down gently.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"If you can't think of anything to blog about...

...you shouldn't be blogging." Thus saith the Husband. Who may have a point.

Crispy things:

  • Pumpkin seeds. Cleaned up, boiled in salted water till they turn gray, and roasted in a coating of corn oil for 10-ish minutes at 350 degrees. Ideally they should be stirred very often and watched carefully. Mine didn't burn; I don't know why not! Very tasty transformation.
  • My skin. Not enough water yesterday whilst shopping. Yes, we are such sensitive plants in this family. At least I'm fortunate enough to not get all woozy and faint when I'm dehydrated. Just crispy...lovely.
  • Pie crust. Ideally, that is. I spent too much time researching pie crust recipes today. Now I'm scared to try making one. "My name is Beth, and I am not smarter than a 5th grade...I mean I have NEVER made pie crust from scratch"
Time wasters, other than blogging:

  • Watching "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" I justify this in my mind because I can craft at the same time. Hey, that's how I justify most of the TV I watch! Not that I watch that much...tightwads don't get too many channels. :)
  • Again with the watching...this time "The Next Great American Band". This show is sort of what American Idol should be. I was crocheting last night so I didn't vote for any of the bands. SOMEONE in our house voted for The Clark Brothers and Tres Bien. I think I like Tres Bien best so far, or maybe the Clark Brothers. I find myself strangely fascinated by Ellipsis, but I lived through the 80s once already...don't really want to do it again.
  • Trying to make decisions. I waste way too much time being indecisive. I can't decide how much detail I want to share about that. Well, as one example, I wanted a blog for over a year but didn't start one because I couldn't think of a name.

Things I did today:

  • Made chili for tomorrow's lunch
  • Made hamburger buns
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (getting lots of blogging mileage out of those pumpkins, aren't I?)
  • Made some Christmas gift decisions...I think
  • Washed sheets and blankets
  • Researched pie crust
  • Explained to my husband that my entire blog entry does NOT consist of my to-do list for the day, and that yes, I DO like me some lists
Okay, enough profundity. Time to go check the ice cream supply in the freezer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pumpkin Pressures

Several factors combined to create a Pumpkin Experience in our kitchen today.

First, I've been seeing blog after blog where the blogger has posted gorgeous pictures of the process they went through to turn their Halloween/Harvest Festival pumpkins into pies.

Second, there is a Pumpkin Force at work in our church. Mighty women of God who slaughter pumpkins to make pies...instead of buying the perfect pumpkin puree in the tasteful blue can from Aldi. They claim that this home-cooked pumpkin makes pies that taste BETTER.

Third, I have two small pumpkins. Little decorative pumpkins. Not the really little ones that are actually gourds, but the little round 7 inch kind. When we bought them (for decorations!) I think the receipt even listed them as "pie pumpkins".

Fourth, despite being plopped on our front porch since late October, exposed to the elements, these pumpkins have steadfastly refused to die messy little pumpkin deaths so I can send them off guilt-free to the compost bin.

So, pumpkin baking time! My mom did this a few times with pumpkins we grew. I remember that the pies she made from them were nasty...watery, stringy, yuck. But the roasted pumpkin seeds were very good.

I hauled the victims inside and prepared to commence butchering. We have a nice sharp chef knife that suffices just fine for cutting open Butternut Squash. It would not even begin to pierce the skin of these babies. Colin was watching and suggested I try hammering the knife through the pumpkin. He even, helpfully, went and fetched me a hammer and offered to HOLD THE PUMPKIN for me while I hammered. I declined that last offer.

After much hammering and enthusiasm the pumpkins split open. I scooped the guts out and Colin offered to help sort out the seeds. He lasted longer than I would have at his age before freaking out and having to get the pumpkin slime off his hands. :)

Now the little pumpkins are are in the oven baking on a foil-covered pan; and the seeds are boiling gently in heavily-salted water. We will boil the seeds until they turn gray, dry them overnight, and then roast them in some oil. The pumpkin we will see about...if it looks enough like canned pumpkin and not too much like grey stringy mess, I will try it in a pie or pumpkin bread.

But what I'm wondering now is...how did we cut pumpkins open when I was a kid? Were Illinois pumpkins softer than the Carolina type? There were no sharp knives in our kitchen, that's for sure! Something to ask Mom about.

I have to admit the baking pumpkins smell really good. I wonder if I could pour some milk and molasses in each half and pass them off to my family as Pioneer Pumpkin Pies? Probably not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Obligatory Rambling First Post

Okay, so, well, here we go...and we can all hope that only the FIRST post is rambling, eh? :)

This will, of course, be very oddly formatted and somewhat random because...do I KNOW what I'm doing??? No, I don't...not really. Let's just dive right in with some bullet points, because The Cat loves the bullet points. And also ellipses.

*It is very tempting to refer to oneself in the Third Person Singular...aka "The Cat". Too tempting, truly. One can only imagine that it could lead to Garth Brooks Syndrome in which one refers to oneself in the Third Person Plural. "We've got a great tour coming up!" Yo, Garth, you got a mouse in your pocket?

*Bullet points should not be so long and meandering.

*First Person Singular...alas. Me, I, my...but didn't your Composition 111 teacher just take a fit about too many of those words in a paper? The Cat...I will just have to watch her...my paws.

* In a similar vein, I had to decide how to refer to members of my family. Do I make up cutesy names? I asked Mr. Cat (and if you know Mr. Cat in person, you know why I'm tempted to use his real first name along with the cutesy cat lingo) and he said that was Not Necessary. So, no Sissy Cat and Bubba Cat...no Eleanor and Brabbinger...dang.

*The purpose of this blog, and you may now consider yourself formally warned, is to give me space to babble. If you know me in real life, you probably don't think I'm shy. I am. Don't read my blog if you don't want to find out what's really behind that bland Midwestern facade. Hehehehehe....

*This is not a homeschooling blog, a knitting blog, a crocheting blog, a cross-stitching blog, or a cooking blog. But wouldn't it be COOL if you could design a blog that would DO all those things for you?!

*The Cat homeschools, knits (badly!), crochets, cross-stitches, cooks, reads, watches bad reality TV, and overthinks things. Therefore, these topics and so many more will be addressed via this blog.

And I think that's probably all the more I should do with this first post! Now to figure out how to edit it, post it, all that nonsense.