Curing a cough

I've had annoying cough for nearly three weeks now. I'm not sick, at least I don't feel sick, just this lingering cough that won't let me (or anyone sharing a room with me!) get a good nights sleep.

It wasn't until my friend Sarah mentioned that she had it too (incidentally, her doctor said its going around and lasts about eight weeks!!!) that I found myself thinking back to my college days and how to deal with a cough.

So, here are my top tips for dealing with a cough.

1. Forget about cough suppressants from the pharmacy. They are full of rubbish sugars and chemicals, studies show that they don't work very well (particularly for children) and too much can make you hallucinate. If you must buy something from a pharmacy, stick to cough drops with menthol and eucalyptus as the active ingredient. They tend to be more effective.

2. Drink some tea. If you have a chesty cough, tea made with thyme will make it more productive (gross) but clears the infection much faster. If your cough is tickly, have ginger tea with honey instead.

3. Put some Vicks vapour rub on your feet. I don't know how or why this works, but it does. Smooth it on your feet and then put some warm socks on. My reflexology tutor told me this and I didn't believe her until I had children. Works like a charm, even on a small baby!

4. If you are not on GAPS, lucky you - dark chocolate apparently has an ingredient that will help with a persistent cough. It might be just a rumour, I've never seen a scientific study on it, but it's a rumour I have no problem perpetuating as once I'm off GAPS this will be the perfect excuse for chocolate.

Get well soon! xxx

Matt's Christmas present

I've had to schedule this post, because I didn't want him to see it before he got it. So it's currently November 11, although this post won't appear until Christmas Day. Got it?


edit:  I gave Matt his present early, so I can post it now!

I'm so excited. Matt's Christmas present arrived in the post. A shiny, new, wedding ring!!

When we bought Matt's ring originally, it was all a bit rushed. I'd been in hospital, and had only just got rid of my wheel chair, we were just a week away from getting married and we thought going ring shopping would be an incredibly romantic day together.

Turns out jewellers don't just sell you rings off the shelf (we were young, we didn't know this stuff). My engagement and wedding rings are family heirlooms, so they were sorted, but we couldn't find a jeweller with a lead time of less than six weeks!!

Sharing our son story with several branch managers they kindly agreed to allow him to try rings from the shop window, but they only had the display rings available and in the end there was only one shop that had one which would go over his rugby swollen knuckle.

Still, we took it, because we needed a ring for the ceremony. It was fine, just plain gold. It felt like a shame that we hadn't been able to choose though.

Shortly after we got married Matt's ring got lost at a rugby match, and we never bothered replacing it.

When we were young, we didn't have many married friends, and a man wearing jewellery felt odd to Matt.

Having grown up a bit, we are now spending more time with older married couples. As Matt spent time with more godly married men, he expressed a desire to have a wedding ring again.

This time I took my time and was able to invest more money (I sold a few things on eBay) and was able to design a ring myself.

The ring says 'Ba'asher Telchi Elech' which is hebrew for 'where you go I will go' from Ruth 1:16-17

We had that passage read at our wedding. We love it:
"But Ruth answered, "Don't force me to leave you. Don't make me turn back from following you. Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and I will be buried there with you. May the LORD strike me down if anything but death separates you and me!"

Merry Christmas

Lip balm Recipe

If you haven't started making gifts yet, there's still time!!

Today I made lip balms for the girls in my small group, and it honestly couldn't be easier.

You simply warm together in a pan beeswax (hopefully you have some left from making Sun lotion this summer!), coconut oil and a few essential oils of your choice (I chose eucalyptus and clove to give it a tingly 'carmex' kind of feel). The quantities of each are really up to you, and I suggest you try cooling a little on a plate and testing/adjusting until you get the perfect texture for your balm.

I used these little pots available from amazon (if you are a prime customer you can get them next day!).

I also wanted my lip balms to have a tint, so I bought a bright red lipstick to melt in there too. You don't have to do that if you want to keep yours all natural. You could just minerals. I wanted something vibrant in the pot though, because I thought it looked christmassy, but made sure the ratio of pigment to balm wasn't too much, so that it was totally still wearable.

The colour in the pots looks like this:

Festive, but not an everyday lip colour!!

However when it's on, it looks like this:


Preparing for Marriage

Despite being married, preparing for marriage is something I'm passionate about. While I was still young and single, a wise older christian women warned me not to waste that time. Despite feeling 'ready' to get married, she could see I was far from it. Instead of crushing me with the negatives, she encouraged me to work on what I could to become a better wife for my future husband. 

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I love the verse in Titus 2 that says:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

I greatly appreciate the older women, in life stages further along than me, who have honored God's Word by taking the time to gently correct me, whilst modeling godly behavior that I could imitate.

Some girls grow up learning all kinds of useful things from their mums. I wasn't one of them.

It wasn't that my mum didn't know how to do household chores (in fact she did all mine for me!) but I was never interested in learning from her.

When I moved out of home I didn't even know how to switch the washing machine on, I'd never cleaned a bathroom or changed a diaper and the limit of my cooking skills was fried eggs or a cheese toastie. I fast learned some important things, and a lot of my habits still make my mum roll her eyes (sorry, but I'd rather use a colour catcher than sort my laundry into 'darks' and 'lights'!) but I'm getting there.

I learned most of my child care skills through living with a family with young children (they were so gracious to allow me to practice on their precious babes!), then by volunteering for children's ministry. I learned to cook on by experimentation and my husband has put up with some cooking disasters over the years! He also had to help me with laundry initially, not that he'd done much before either, but it turns out he at least knew how to iron a shirt, something I was woefully bad at!

I really want to honor a girl in our small group, Abbie, who has an incredible heart for service, and I know that God is blessing her with some real life experiences that will benefit her for years to come. Not only does she provide respite (and often emergency) care for more than one family, she is the first person to offer to take my little ones if I am sick (or even if I just have a dinner engagement). She has such a genuine others-centered heart, and despite having never nursed a child herself, she notices someone else feeding in an awkward position and quietly, unobtrusively, offers a pillow to rest an arm on.

Today Abbie loaned me some dresses for a dinner engagement (having lost 4 stone on GAPS I'm lacking in formal wear!) and hearing that I had a lot to do, offered to come for two hours before my babysitter arrives to help bathe and settle my kids in bed so I could do hair and make up. People like her really are gold and we shall be so sad to lose her from our small group in January - but equally happy to release her into co-leading another small group herself.

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Married ladies - who are you modelling godly attitudes and behaviors too? Don't just take advantage of free babysitting from younger girls, invest in them, help them to grow.

Single ladies, I really encourage you to find others to bless (particularly mums of young kids, who don't have local family to help). As well as serving you will be gaining valuable skills to serve you later on in parenting and marriage.

And, quite honestly, those of us who are married with small children, couldn't do without you!

Blasphemy in Psalm 82?

A Psalm of Asaph
God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”
Arise, O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!
(Psalm 82 ESV)

Did anyone else notice the first part of that Psalm? 'In the midst of gods he holds judgement'? and in verse 6 'I said, "You are gods..."'?

I did a double take at this part. Who is God calling gods? Translational error perhaps? But no, the hebrew word used is 'elohim', just as it is in the creation account of Genesis 1.

But there is something interesting you should note about the word 'elohim' - it doesn't always mean God like you think. For a start it's a plural noun. You can verify this by checking other commonly heard hebrew nouns; plural of cherub is cherubim, the plural or seraph is seraphim, the plural of repha is repha'im. This is consistent for us as christians because we believe in a trinitarian God, so of course His name, when you speak of the whole, would be plural.

*edit* it's also interesting to note that in hebrew a plural is always three or more, two is called a 'dual' and is dealt with differently!

However, this is a little simplistic, because the word 'elohim' is also used of angels. The simple way to tell is whether the verbs attached in the sentence are singular or plural. If it's singular we make it 'God', plural usually becomes 'gods' or 'angels'. We also see 'elohim' used in Exodus 22:28 'Thou shall not revile the gods'.

To make it even clearer, you will often see in your bible the term 'Lord God' which is 'Yahweh Elohim', making the obvious distinction from just 'gods'.

The thing is, I read through several commentaries on psalm 82 (most notably Matthew Henry - if you don't read him, you should, he's awesome) and in no way does anyone accept that the translators should have written angels or idols here.

In fact, God calls Moses 'elohim' in Exodus 7:1 and Exodus 4:16. In fact, all the governer/judges in Israel (often written 'judge' in our english bibles) were called 'elohim' because they dispense God's judgement.

Then his master [adonim] shall bring him to the judges [elohim]. (Exod 21:6)

The owner of the house shall appear before the judges [elohim]. (Exod 22:8; Heb v. 7)

He whom the judges [elohim] condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. Exod 22::9; Heb v. 8)

You shall not curse the judge [elohim], nor curse a ruler [nasi] of your people. (Exod 22::28, Heb v. 27)

So it seems that this psalm should be talking about earthly kings and judges, who have shown partiality and judged wickedly, not passing out God's judgement but being unjust and uncompassionate.

So why have we had it translated 'gods'? Under the circumstances I would have preferred 'elohim' to be translated 'judges' as it is in exodus. It offends me to think that these wicked men are called gods, and yet it is God Himself who calls them so!

I found my answer in John 10.

The Jews wanted Jesus stoned for blasphemy, because He was 'making thyself God'. Jesus response was this:

“Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

I love that Jesus was always ready to answer any accusations against himself with scripture. The old testament was a prophecy of Him, the gospels a history of Him and the acts, epistles and apocalypse speak of His experience and return.

I like to think that God allowed the human rulers of this earth to be called 'gods', just so that he could foil the legal argument the Jews would have (or at least think they have) for stoning Him.

So that He could be blameless and pure, and above all accusations when He took up the cross.

A perfect sacrifice for our atonement.

Thirteen New Flavours

As I mentioned before, my garden seems to have gotten itself a little confused, so despite it being December we are going to be having tomatoes, garlic and broccoli from our yard on the table for dinner tonight.

For lunch, we went to the Luscious Juice bar (my generous son decided he wanted to treat me and his sister to lunch with his birthday money!). We are completely in love with this Juice bar, partly because it is one of the few places in Bedford where a family on GAPS can actually eat out, but mostly because everything they serve is delicious. Will's current favorite is a hot apple and pear smoothie with cinnamon in it, whilst I like trying out whatever 'Juice of the Day' is on the board (today was apple, grape, cranberry and ginger).

But I digress.

One of the great things about this incredibly friendly juice bar, is that they have a tonne of books to peruse (children's and grown ups) and they have even loaned me a book I got interested in today. It's called '1001 food you must try before you die'.

Reading through the aromatics section has me hooked, so I am attempting to put together a list of thirteen things (for 2013) that we haven't tried before that I want to incorporate into my families meals by the end of the new year.
Just for fun, but hopefully it will also widen my families palettes.

It's been pointed out before that with my dehydrator, DIY Liposomal vitamin C, Essential oils and anaerobic fermentation jars my kitchen is starting to look more and more like a science lab, so I figure a little more experimentation with flavors is nothing compared to what I'm already putting my family through!

I'm going to list them here for so that I can check them off, and so that you can see if there is anything you'd like to try too.

Here we go:
Shiso Leaf 

  1. Shiso Leaf - Strong citrus aromas, much like a grapefruit, which soften on the palate, accompanied by  decidedly green herb tastes of chive and mint.
  2. Rau Ram - The peppery taste of fresh coriander meets sweet spearmint. Best complimented by mild bitter flavors like celery root
  3. Smyrna Bay Leaf - Strong herbaceous tastes of thyme and celery. Intense aroma, camphorous and sweet. 
  4. Salam Leaf - Lemon-meets-cinnamon scent and flavor. Dried versions are muted with an additional nuttiness
  5. Pandan - Floral flavor, cross between jasmine and vanilla
  6. Lemon Myrtle - Predominantly lime with a late hint of menthol complemented by mild acid and green tea. Initial sweet notes of lemongrass oil
  7. File - Used sparingly it adds a unique base note to dishes. Hints of lime and overtones of sage
  8. Amchur - Simultaneously sweet and sour, the taste is reminiscent of mild tamarind and bitter melon
  9. Bush tomatoes are small, yellowish tomatoes native to the Australian Outback. They taste similar to dried tomatoes but with aromas of caramel and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Bush tomatoes may be eaten whole, chopped or ground. They rehydrate during cooking and may therefore be used as a thickener in some recipes. Quelle:, (c) Martina Höppner
    Bush tomato
  10. Bush Tomato - pungent berries with a flavor that resembles, caramel without the sweetness, somewhere between tamarillo and beef stock powder.
  11.  Sumac - Tart and puckering with hints of tamarind. Low heat preserves it's intensity
  12. Smoked Sea Salt - Smoke intensity and residual wood flavors vary based on production sources.
  13. Annatto Seed - Earthy and savoury in taste with a pleasantly mild bitterness, the aroma is of sandalwood and cedar.
  14. Grains of Paradise - A fair peppery heat with essences of ginger, camphor and cardamom

Breakfast-to-Go Cookies

My garden is misbehaving. 

Having harvested all the chillies, tomatoes and peppers long ago (we started getting frost in November) it has decided to produce a second crop. 
In the first week of December. 
Despite the fact that it is snowing. 

I'm coming to the conclusion that we just don't get enough sun in this narrow little L-shaped plot. Everything takes so long to grow, and then ripens in the wrong season. 

Still, if (like me) you have a freezer full of butternut squash puree, then you have the perfect ingredient on hand to make breakfast-to-go cookie dough. This great recipe also freezes well, so you can make it in large quantities and freeze smaller amounts in batches. 

It's very filling, so you won't need a lot. 

What you are going to need:

1 1/2 cups Almond flour
1 cup Peanut butter (or almond butter, but peanut is delicious)
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1 large ripe banana
1/2 cup of squash puree (or some other veg puree - try to keep it sweet)
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 cup of dried fruit chopped up (we used pears, but you could use anything you like)

Put all the ingredients (except the dried fruit) in your blender and whizz away!
Stir in the dried fruit.
Blob tablespoons on a lined cookie sheet.
Bake at 180 for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy warm and delicious and they fall apart (but my kids don't seem to care).
Allow to cool and you can stack them in a tupperware and take them with you wherever you are going. 

I love recipes that involve spices for my children, not only because it widens their palettes, but because there are so many health benefits in those potent little spices. For example, cinnamon helps keep arteries healthy, manages blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol (fairly important for me right now) whilst allspice is believed to ease digestive problems (gas, bloating and nausea), regulate blood sugar, fight nasty disease causing pathogens and improve circulation.  

I forgot to take pictures, so here is a picture of a generic breakfast cookie that I found on google. :0)
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Cooking with Essential Oils

The idea of eating essential oils is totally new to me.
That sounds crazy, right? I took complementary medicine, I used oils all the time, I learned about their benefits - but I only really applied that to skin care and aromatherapy. I have long believed in the benefits of inhaling or massaging with essential oils, but it had never occurred to me to eat them.

As a word of warning, not all essential oils are edible. Firstly, some things, e.g. tea tree oil, are never supposed to be eaten. Even if you find an oil that, in theory, is perfectly okay to eat, such as ginger or sweet basil, it is estimated that 98% of all essential oils are not food grade due to lack of purity.

Essential oils that are okay to eat will be labelled 'therapeutic-grade' and have a 'supplement facts' label showing you the nutritional value of the oil. Don't just use the oil you bought in your local drugstore, as it may well contain synthetic scents or colouring that you should not be ingesting.

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Once I decided to take the plunge (it really is a plunge, they are expensive) I started researching and have found a reputable, organic, retailer of essential oils called NHR. The best part? If you are an amazon prime customer you can get their oils shipped next day, free of charge. UPDATE: I now buy Young Living oils instead. NHR are brilliant, but so are YL and with YL I get free bonus products for ordering regularly. I also get a bigger discount from YL than I was from NHR. If you are interested in getting discounted oils from YL too then leave me a message, I'd love to chat. 

So I took the plunge and ordered peppermint a) because it's one of my favorite flavors and b) because it's nearly Christmas and I want to make peppermint candies (recipe to follow soon) and Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (GAPS Legal of course) so that we don't miss out on those lovely, cool, winter-y flavors because of dietary restrictions. I'm hinting to my husband that I'd like to build a wider collection for Christmas, so hopefully I'll have a more varied pantry soon!

I used the peppermint for the first time today, and oh wow!! One drop was enough to totally flavor an entire batch of our favorite chocolate mousse (1 carton double cream, 3 tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tbsp honey) to the point that I thought the kids might cry off about it being 'spicy'.

I was wrong though, they LOVED it. Elisha ate two bowls!

So, along with it's obvious economical advantages, why would you use peppermint oil in your kids food?

Peppermint oil has a tonne of health benefits, and unlike most holistic medicine substances, it's actually had a fair amount of scientific studies prove it. It contains a plethora of minerals and nutrients including manganese, iron, magnesium, calcium, folate, potassium, omega-3, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

It's renowned for aiding digestion, treating heart burn, relieving respiratory congestion (good for the winter), easing headaches and nausea, reducing stress and anxiety, soothing IBS, treating UTIs, boosting the immune system (another great winter benefit) and improving blood circulation and therefore detox speed.

As always, I would recommend that the best possible way to take your herbs is fresh from your own garden, but in winter months essential oils are better than dried herbs because they are so much more concentrated and because many of the water soluble vitamins (A, C and E) are evaporated out during dehydration. Just one drop of peppermint essential oil is the equivalent of 28 cups of peppermint tea!

Overall a pretty useful addition to the pantry - and it might just prove the cure for my Liposomal Vitamin C problems...

Liposomal Vitamin C update

I've only been taking the vitamin C for a week, so obviously I don't have any blood analysis results to compare with you all yet, but I wanted to update you with how it's going anyway.

For a start, I had grossly miscalculated my dosage. Turns out I'm going to be taking 5 ml teaspoons SIX times a day to get the 6000 mg that is considered a therapeutic dose. That's okay. It's a little limiting with regards to leaving the house (I'm going to have to bring it in a cool bag), but it's not the end of the world. Or wouldn't be if it didn't taste so awful!! Honestly it's like drinking a spoonful of liquid soap.
Doesn't it look appetizing?
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Bear in mind that I have been on GAPS for nearly a year now, it's not like I'm un-used to some 'interesting' flavours, and I don't need everything masked with sugar or salt, but this stuff is making me gag every time I take it.

Which brings me to my next point. Would the home made version taste better? I'm hoping so. After all, it's only lecithin (non-GMO soy) and ascorbic acid (from corn - it makes me hate myself a little bit. You can't watch Food Inc. and then still be okay with buying corn products) with distilled water. How bad can that be?

To be honest, thanks to my miscalculations we are going to have to opt for the make your own version anyway. I had originally thought this was going to cost us around £33/month. It's actually going to be £33 every 10 days.

Not cool.

So, once I run out of my horribly expensive and foul-tasting ready made Liposomal Vitamin C, I'll let you know how the home-brew version works out.

If you're interested why I'm putting myself through this taste bud torture, you can read more here and here.
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