Saturday, November 3, 2012

Homemade cough syrup for my Husband

 My Husband likes it when I make this homemade cough syrup for him. He says it works better for him than store bought stuff. It might be the large amounts of brandy in it. 

But here is how I made it. 
To begin with you will need a glass container that will hold it all. The opening will need to be covered with a towel that is held on with a rubber band. It will need to steep for 2 weeks. After steeping you will need to bottle it. I have used canning jars before but found some pretty blue glass bottles this time instead. 

You don't need a double boiler to do this but I like to use it. I think it helps heat up the brandy gently without heating off too much alcohol. My husband likes the alcohol. 

This is the type of brandy we like to use. My husband likes the flavor and it isn't too cheap or expensive. 
You will need 2 pints. 

The next ingredient will be honey. It is better if it is local organic honey. This is what my husband picked up for me. I usually buy some from the local health food store. You want to take 1 cup of honey and stir it into the brandy over low heat. Stir until dissolved. The remove from the heat right away.

I will be putting most of my herbs in the cheesecloth. It makes it easier to strain later. You want to use a nice size piece. 

One of the things I put in it is orange peel. Nice freshly grated peel. 1 tbsp. 

Then add 2 whole cloves. 

I usually use loose leaf tea, but all I had was tea bags. I like to use chamomile and nettle leaf. But the recipe I have been using calls for 2-3 eucalyptus leaves. My husband has a sensitive stomach so I use several bags of the other tea instead. The chamomile is to ease stomachs. the nettle leaf is supposed to reduce allergy symptoms as well as support the immune system. I have used echinacea before as well. 

Before you tie up the cheesecloth you will also need to add 1 tsp cardamon, 1 tbsp crushed peppermint leaf, 1 tsp sage, and 2 tsps cinnamon. 

Juice half a lemon and add it to the brandy and honey mix. 

I take the opposite corners and tie them and double knot. Then the other sides. 

Stick it all in the same jar. Put a towel over the top and rubber band it on. I did not take a pic of that, but I then set it in a cupboard for exactly 2 weeks. 

After steeping for the 2 weeks i took it out and prepared to strain it. I put some cheesecloth into the funnel to do this. 

It will get gummed up and fall down into the spout, so you will need to keep pulling it back up and using all angles to pour it. It does have honey in it and it makes it a little goopy to strain. Make sure you squeeze all honey back into the medicine. 

The finished liquid is cloudy. 

I had these for awhile and my husband asked if I could bottle it for him. 

Both bottles are only filled half full. That way they wouldn't soak the corks too bad while being store tilted on their side. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My first try at Kombucha Tea

 I love my midwife! She gave me her  homemade kombucha tea to drink during my pregnancy and it was awesome. The best I ever had. I knew I wanted to make my own. I asked her about it and she said it was surprisingly easy. All I had to do was get a scoby from her and start brewing. A scoby is a culture. It is bacteria and it looks like a mushroom. I am not entirely sure what it is but it is not the same as fermenting pickles or the probiotics in yogurt. It is supposed to be good for eliminating systemic candidas. 

First you need a gallon glass jar. Clean with vinegar and rinse it real well.

then you are going to make sweet tea. I used 2 family size bags of green tea and 2 family size bags of regular lipton tea (I have since found that I like to add 2 more tea bags for flavor). I boiled up the water in my tea kettle and steeped the tea bags right in the kettle. I put a cup of sugar in the jar and poured the hot tea over it. I  mixed it up real well then added cold water almost to the top.

Here is the scoby that she gave me. It is in a cup of starter liquid. she just poured a cup of her tea in there with the scoby.

Here is the tea I brewed. I added the cold water. I tested it to make sure it was cool before adding the scoby. You don't want to kill the culture.

Here it is. Tea, sugar, scoby, and starter.

Put a towel over the top and use a rubber band to secure it. We want the air to get in there, but we don't want bugs in it.

Up close view of the scoby floating on top. I marked the date in case I forgot when I put it in there. Then I put in in a bottom cupboard. It is dark there but not too cold. The warmer it is, the faster it ferments.

After a week I took it out and tried it. I took a straw and stuck it down beside the scoby to the tea underneath, then put my finger over the top to get a taste. It was still sweet with the beginnings of tartness going on. That is what I wanted. In the warmer weather I find it only takes 5 days and in cooler it takes 8. You just have to taste it and see when it gets to what you like.

I decided I wanted to do a second fermentation. I didn't have any juice. Juice is better. Whole fruit makes stringy things in the brew. I used some berries though. I mashed them up real well and added a little more sugar. About a tablespoon. If you don't want to do a second fermentation, then just pour all the tea (except a cup for the next batch) into a pitcher and add some juice for flavor if you want. Glass is best for this tea. I have read that it can leach the bad stuff out of metal and plastic. It shouldn't matter too much with the refrigerated stuff though.

I am putting them in little jars for ease of drinking. Make sure you save the scoby and a cup of the liquid off the bottom in a bowl. You will need this to make another batch.

I put my pureed fruit in the bottom. I tried to spread what little I had out evenly among the jars but whatever. A little variation in taste is nice.

See the bubbles! It already has some carbonation going on.

Yumm. Raspberries.

I filled them up to leave little room for air. For this part you don't want air. I put them in a warm cupboard for 2 more days to encourage the second ferment. Then I will take them out and put them in the fridge to get nice and cold for drinking. Then I took a cup of liquid from the original tea and the scoby and did it all over again. The next brew, I should be able to peel the baby scoby off the top and give thee mother away or store it and keep on brewing.

 Here is my jar with the towel rubber banded on top. It has a permanent place down there. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Prefolds made out of old tshirts and flannel receiving blankets.

When I found out I was expecting my 5th child, I was excited and scared. More work, less sleep, less date nights with the hubby. I had just gotten used to being able to have spare time again. I figured I should use some of that spare time getting ready for this last little baby.

I had cloth diapered my last 2 children and loved it. However, I had not used cloth for the newborn period. I always used sposies (what cloth diapering fanatics call disposables). I decided that I could  make my own. I am handy with a sewing machine. They couldn't be that hard to make. And I did have 3 dozen old t shirts just laying around waiting for a project. I bought a bunch of flannel receiving blankets from a second hand store and started googling my little heart out looking for instructions. I found lots of stuff. Half of it was good and half bad. I figured I had nothing to lose.

Here is an old t shirt. I decided I wanted a diaper that was 11in by 13in. so i measured my t shirt to see how much of it I would need.

I cut off the top. I was going to use the top for something but I can't remember what now. I am sure there is lots of stuff you can use it for.

Most of the t shirts had seams going down both sides. I trimmed off all the sides until I had a nice rectangle that fit my measurements. I wanted an 11 by 13 in diaper so I cut them just a tiny bit bigger. I figured that it would give some room in case the ends around the seams rolled up.

Old flannel receiving blankets are not nice and square. They change and become lopsided. I folded in half so that it was long on the fold.

I wanted them 4 inches wide and the 11 in long. But I cut them just a tiny bit bigger like the dipes.

First I trimmed off the end to make it straight. then I went along and cut every 4 inches. The last piece I trimmed off the end to make it straight. So they were cut in pairs.

Here is my stack of cut up shirts and blankets. Enough to do 36 diapers.

I decided to use 2 layers of t shirt and 4 layers of blanket.

I pinned the 2 layers of t shirt together. A lot of blogs I read said to put the layers of blanket in between the t shirt layers. But I wanted to see the flannel fabric. I thought most of the prints were real cute and would look good with the different colors of t shirts.

I really don't like this print so I wanted to hide it under another.

So I put this cute dog one over it and the pinned it in place.

Here is another combo I thought was cute.

I probably should have taken some pics while I was sewing them up. I hope you can see the seams in these next pics.

Here is a pic of my newborn (1 week old) son wearing the prefolds I made. Most of these diapers worked just fine with snappis. Some of them I had to use pins with. It all depended on the actual t shirt fabric.

Now, if you are going to put the flannel on the outside, I have a few words. First, You have to sew real close to the edge. Whatever is left on the other side will fray the first couple of times you wash it. We don't want loose strings wrapping around body parts and constricting them. I sewed these twice. once right next to the edge and then once a little further in. I mostly straight stitched but i like the zig zag on some of them too. I did not try to be perfect. I just tried to make it as close to the same as I could. These were the perfect absorbency for my little guy. He needed it too. He is a heavy wetter to this day and these did the trick. I made them with just the right rise that they fit under his healing little belly button nicely and inside his Bummis newborn wrap that had the belly button dip. 

PUL on reusable breast pads

I had bought these cotton breast pads before the last pregnancy. My flow was so heavy last time that I leaked through them rather quickly. I was afraid that I would do the same thing this time. I figured that putting a pul backing on them would help fix that. So I went to Joann's fabric and bought some pul they were selling.  I didn't measure anything. I did exactly what you see. I was pretty sure I had 4 pairs but I could only find 3. I did later find the last pair so I actually have one more set to do. It is important to note that when working with pul fabric, you are supposed to iron it first and then let it cool, not to sew anywhere except the very outside edges, and put in a dryer for 20 min on med heat after wards to reseal the fabric around the holes made by sewing it. 

I put them on the fabric to see how much fabric i would need.

I cut squares around them.

I pinned them on the outside to hold them still while I cut off the extra.

I sewed a seam all around the outside edges. I washed and dried them a couple of times. They did not changes shape. I have used these many times and I love the fact that they do not leak straight out of the front anymore. when they are full in the middle they seep to the outside (like a diaper in a wrap). They would eventually leak if worn too long but they worked great for me.