RESOURCES: 5 ways to make homemade ice packs

RESOURCES: 5 ways to make homemade ice packs

Photo courtesy of The Make Your Own Zone

I’ve got five easy ways that you can make a homemade ice pack and they’re all easy to do with using common household items that can be put in ziploc bags and then popped in the freezer.   If you want  a little extra security against leakage, you can also double bag your ice packs by putting the ziploc bag inside a second ziploc bag, with the zippered side facing down toward the bottom.  And one of the methods is even easier – just use a wet sponge!

1.  Corn Syrup

Corn syrup (here’s a highly recommended brand) makes an excellent gel type of ice pack.  It stays nice and squishy and flexible and doesn’t change texture or color in the freezer.  It also contains nothing harmful if it would accidentally puncture or leak in a lunch, aside from things getting a little sticky.   It can be made using any size ziploc bag.  Simply pour some corn syrup into the bag, seal, and put in the freezer for several hours.  This is my favorite method for making a homemade ice pack and I keep one in the freezer all the time.  It’s especially good for injuries because it stays flexible and can be molded around ankles, knees, wrists or other sore areas.

2.  Dish Soap

Dish soap (I recommend Dawn Blue since it can be used to make lots of other DIY things) makes a simple homemade ice pack and depending on how long you leave it in the freezer, it can be more gel like and flexible or firmer and icier.  I prefer to take it back out of the freezer after just 2 hours because then it will still be flexible and squishy (much like the corn syrup). If you leave the dish soap ice pack in the freezer for longer than a couple hours, it will be much more icy and firm.  So the time frame for this method is more important, depending on what type of ice pack you want. Either way, it’s a simple method that can be made in any size ziploc bag by just pouring in dish soap.  No measuring is needed.  I’ve tried this method with both Dawn dish soap and Ajax dish soap which both worked well, and I would think that other brands of dish soap should work for making an ice pack too.

3.  Rubbing Alcohol

The addition of rubbing alcohol to water will keep it from freezing completely which makes it an easy way to create a homemade ice pack.  To make this method in a quart size ziploc bag, combine 1½ cups of water with a ½ cup of rubbing alcohol.  Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight. I made this version in the smaller snack size ziploc bags and simply cut the recipe in half, combining ¾ cup water with ¼ cup of the rubbing alcohol.

4.  Salt

For a really cheap and easy DIY ice pack, simply add some ordinary table salt to water. Salt is another ingredient that when added to water will keep it from freezing completely. Use a sandwich size or quart size ziploc bag and add 2 tablespoons of salt to 2 cups of water.  Seal and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight.

5.  Sponge

Finally, you can create an ice pack by using a clean sponge, getting it wet with water and putting it in the freezer. This is a good method for an ice pack for lunches as it’s just water with no other possibly harmful substances.  The sponge will be hard and firm with no flexibility when first taken out of the freezer.  As it warms up it becomes moist and soft again, but not drippy.  You can put it in a baggie if you want, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

If you’re looking for homemade heating pads instead, try this post.

Advertisements

GO NATURAL: A mother lode of dehydration recipes

Go Natural: A mother lode of dehydration recipes

Recipes and photos courtesy of RealSelfSufficiency

At this time of year many of us find ourselves with scads of fruits and vegetables around. There’s no way we can eat them all before they go bad, and if you’re anything like me, you pull out your hair trying to figure out what to do with everything. According to FoodForward, 40 percent of all food that’s grown, raised, and cooked gets thrown away.

And then I found this! Look at the recipes! I may dance, people.

Before we begin, there are some important things to know. First, you need at the very least a decent dehydrator. For a good overview of different dehydrators, go here. I recommend this if you have a lot of money. This one is better in the mid-priced model range. If you need to start more cheaply, try the one I originally bought. I have no complaints about it, though it can take a little extra time to perform some tasks.

For dehydrating meat and fish, it’s essential that you use a high-quality dehydrator with carefully controlled temperatures and even, consistent airflow. Using a cheaper model is potentially dangerous, because if these products aren’t dehydrated fully and at the right temperature, dangerous bacteria may remain or other harmful bacteria strains may grow. So only try these recipes if you’ve got a decent dehydrator and you’re sure you can establish that the flesh is properly, safely dried.

Additionally, many herbs, spices, and mixes contain chemical agents like anti-caking agents and, for those of us who want a more natural diet, those synthetic and heavily-processed ingredients are something we want to avoid.

Onto the delicousness!

FRUITS

  1. Caramel Apple Chips
  2. Cinnamon Apple Fruit Leather
  3. Dried Apple Slices
  4. Dried Asparagus
  5. Dried Bananas
  6. Dried Blueberries
  7. Dried Cantaloupe
  8. Dried Cherries
  9. Dried Cranberries
  10. Dried Figs
  11. Dried Grapes
  12. Dried Kiwi
  13. Dried Lemon Peel
  14. Dried Mangoes
  15. Dried Orange Slices
  16. Dried Persimmons
  17. Dried Pineapple
  18. Dried Plums
  19. Dried Raspberries
  20. Dried Strawberries
  21. Dried Watermelon
  22. Orange Peel Powder
  23. Raw Vegan Cinnamon Sugar Pear Chips
  24. Rhubarb Fruit Leather
  25. Spiced Pears
  26. Strawberry Rhubarb Fruit Leather
  27. Sun Dried Tomatoes
  28. Tomato Powder/Dried Tomatoes

VEGETABLES

  1. Basil Wrapped Stuffed Mushrooms
  2. Beet Chips
  3. Beetroot Powder
  4. Carrot Chips
  5. Carrot Greens
  6. Cauliflower Jerky
  7. Dehydrated Edamame
  8. Dried Celery
  9. Dried Green Beans
  10. Dehydrated Hash Brown Potatoes
  11. Dehydrated Jalapeno Peppers
  12. Dehydrated Peas
  13. Dehydrated Scallions
  14. Dried Lettuce
  15. Dried Onions
  16. Dried Peppers
  17. Dried Sweet Potatoes
  18. Dried Turnips
  19. Jalapeno Cheddar Kale Chips
  20. Marinated Dried Eggplant
  21. Potato Flakes
  22. Raw Zucchini Chips

MEATS and FISH

  1. Beef Jerky
  2. Candied Bacon Jerky
  3. Cajun Jerky
  4. Chicken Jerky
  5. Corned Beef Brisket Jerky
  6. Dehydrated Jerky
  7. Ground Beef
  8. Habanero Beef Jerky
  9. Hamburger Rocks
  10. Kentucky Bourbon Beef Jerky
  11. Kombucha Scoby Jerky
  12. Korean Beef Jerky
  13. Lamb Jerky
  14. Malaysian Style Pork Jerky
  15. Mexican Heat Beef Jerky
  16. Mexican Lime Jerky
  17. Salmon Jerky
  18. Smoky Cola Beef Jerky
  19. Spicy Herbed Beef Jerky
  20. Sweet and Spicy Purim Theme Beef Jerky
  21. Sweet Heart Jerky
  22. Sweet Pork Jerky
  23. Teriyaki Jerky
  24. Venison Jerky

SNACKS

  1. Apple Cinnamon Fruit Rolls
  2. BBQ Kale Chips
  3. Candied Ginger
  4. Carrot Pulp Crackers
  5. Cauliflower Popcorn
  6. Cheesy Garlic Kale Chips
  7. Cheesy Kale Chips
  8. Chia and Sprouted Quinoa Crackers
  9. Chocolate Chia Granola
  10. Cinnamon Walnut Crunch
  11. Clementine Cranberry Macaroons
  12. Cool Ranch Kale Chips
  13. Coconut Bacon
  14. Coconut Sesame Cookies
  15. Corn Chips
  16. Crispy Parmesan Tomato Chips
  17. Dark Chocolate Coconut Chips
  18. Dehydrated Marshmallows
  19. Dilled Pickled Kale Chips
  20. Dried Watermelon Candy
  21. Fruit Roll Ups
  22. Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Buckwheat Apple Granola
  23. Golubka’s Pad Thai with White Crab Mushrooms and Bok Choy
  24. Gourmet Raw Pizza with Nut Free Crust
  25. Gummy Zucchini Candy 
  26. Habanero Kale Chips
  27. Kefir Fruit Leather
  28. Kombucha Scoby Candy
  29. Lemon Cookies
  30. Lemon Goji Truffles
  31. Lemon Pepper Potato Chips
  32. Maple, Parmesan and Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips
  33. Mini Raw Vegan Carrot Cakes
  34. Mushroom Onion Yam Burgers
  35. Onion Veggie Bread
  36. Paleo Skittles
  37. Potato Pancakes
  38. Prawn Crackers
  39. Pumpkin Spice Bread
  40. Pumpkin Spice Cookies
  41. Raw Banana Bread
  42. Raw Butternut Squash Cookies
  43. Raw Carrot Cashew Bread
  44. Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies
  45. Raw Chocolate Log with Cinnamon Cream
  46. Raw Coconut Tangerine Granola
  47. Raw Coconut Wraps
  48. Raw Hot Cross Buns
  49. Raw Lemon Chia Scones
  50. Raw Mini Christmas Stollen
  51. Raw Onion Rings
  52. Raw Sprinkles
  53. Raw Vegan Koftas
  54. Raw Vegan Mexicali Burger
  55. Raw Veggie Burger
  56. Raw Warm Mushroom Casserole
  57. Savoury Crackers
  58. Sesame Honey Almonds
  59. Sesame Seed Butter Macaroon Bites
  60. Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips
  61. Sour Worms
  62. Spicy Sriracha Tofu Jerky
  63. Strawberry Oat Breakfast Bars
  64. Taco Chips
  65. Toasted Coconut Chips
  66. Vanilla Buckwheat Crispies
  67. Vegan Barbecue Zucchini Chips 
  68. Vegan Superfood Bread
  69. Veggie Wraps
  70. Wild Garlic Dehydrated Chia Crackers
  71. Zucc Raisins

HERBS and SPICES

  1. Chili Powder
  2. Dehydrated Milk
  3. Dried Chives
  4. Dried Rose Hips
  5. Dried Sweet Basil
  6. Garlic Powder
  7. Ginger Powder
  8. Citrus Salts
  9. Onion Powder
  10. Peppermint 
  11. Rosemary

OTHER RECIPES

  1. Bean Bark
  2. Bread Crumbs
  3. Carob Flour
  4. Chicken Jerky for Dogs
  5. Coconut Flour
  6. Dehydrated Cheese
  7. Dehydrated Cottage Cheese
  8. Dehydrated Eggs
  9. Dehydrated Rice
  10. Flax Crackers
  11. Fruit and Veggie Leather Dog Treats for Dogs
  12. Liver Dog Treats
  13. Mint Sweet Potato Chews for Dogs
  14. Natural Food Coloring
  15. Peanut Butter and Banana Chips for Dogs
  16. Raw Buckwheat Granola
  17. Raw Vegan Bread Recipe
  18. Smokey Tomato Sauce (Vegan)
  19. Traveling Bone Broth

Do you have any recipes you love? Tell me in the comments!

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Six facts about Tramadol you should know

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Six facts about Tramadol you should know

 

I thought this was a great infographic about Tramadol. Many medications exist to treat chronic pain and illness, and in my experience, Tramadol is one of the more effective choices with one of the lesser amounts of side effects.

For my pain, I try to stick to ibuprofen and diazepam (generic Valium), but sometimes Tramadol is needed. When I have to take it, I do. I think that’s how many of us battling chronic illnesses handle the pain. Grit your teeth if you can, take over the counter meds if the pain doesn’t go away, switch to narcotics if you’re unable to handle your pain level.

How do you handle pain? What do you think of Tramadol? Tell me in the comments!

MY LIFE: Reconnecting with my spouse on our wedding anniversary

MY LIFE: Reconnecting with my spouse on our wedding anniversary

Courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from Hanza Butt

Today is my thirteen wedding anniversary. As many of you battling a chronic illness know, being sick can exact a heavy toll on your marriage and family life. So on this day of celebration, I decided to share some tips on connecting with your spouse despite your illness.

  1. Communicate. Don’t suffer in silence. It doesn’t help you, and it certainly doesn’t help your spouse, who will have no idea you’re having a rough day, etc. Our spouses are not mind readers. State your needs clearly. We need to tell them what’s going on so both of you can face the challenge of your illness together.
  2. Deal with anxieties so you can feel more in control. It’s normal to go through the stages of grief when your life changes so drastically. Don’t shove it all down inside and hope it stays there. It won’t. If you can’t deal with this yourself, use a therapist or counselor who specializes in treating people with depression and anxiety. And remember – your spouse might be grieving too.
  3. Watch your caregiver’s health too. The stress of helping you might be putting a burden on them, and if they’re sick, they can’t be there for you. Caregivers can suffer from burnout. Help them find ways to relax and recharge, alone or with you.
  4. Address the financial strains of the situation. Most people with chronic illness find that doctors’ appointments, meds, and other costs associated with the treatment of that illness can be a burden on a relationship. Use a financial planner if that helps – there are even some who specialize in helping chronic illness families figure out how to make their dollars go further. You’ll find a list of providers here.
  5. Put effort into your spouse whenever you can. if you’re able to cook a nice dinner, go see a movie with them, or schedule a time for them to get out of the house to do something they enjoy, do it. Make keeping your spouse happy a priority.
  6. Try to keep a positive attitude and encourage your spouse to do the same. Study after study has shown that attitude makes a huge difference in your health, and for a chronic illness warrior, this is especially crucial.
  7. Pursue your own activities and interests and make sure your spouse does the same. They may become so wrapped up in helping you that they neglect their own mental well-being. Make sure you each keep separate identities in addition to the joint identity you have as a married couple.
  8. Don’t stress about sex. Intimacy can be achieved in many ways that don’t require a marathon session of sex. Cuddling while watching a TV show, cooking together, going somewhere fun – all of these things can create a sense of togetherness.

So there you have it. Do you have any additional tips to share? Tell me in the comments, which I’ll read later, since today is all about my spouse and my marriage.

RESOURCES: Things to do when you’re feeling down

RESOURCES: Things to do when you’re feeling down

There are, of course, a kazillion things listed on this infographic. However, rather than going through all of them, I’m just going to highlight the groupings, since I think it’s easier and less overwhelming to pick the group you want to employ than to try to scan through all the individual ideas. Once you’ve narrowed the choices down to one, you can check out just that area.

Nurture Yourself: Self-nurturance is quite simple. It means seeking out pleasurable activities that are self-satisfying. Yet women in our society, even those battling chronic illness, feel quite guilty when they take time out of their schedule for personal development or satisfying activities. Things you can do to nurture yourself are to take a bath, color, or play with your pet.

Engage Your Brain: Engaged means fully occupied or having your full attention. An engaged reader really focuses on the words and maybe even jots down questions or comments in the pages’ margins. If you’re busy or involved with something, you’re engaged in it. Examples of this in regards to chronic illness include playing games on your phone, doing Sudoku or crosswords, and the like.

Move: Get to know your body well through trying different movement practices and honoring your unique circumstances. Everyone with chronic illness has different needs and energy levels, and you need to listen to your body. Examples of movement include gentle things like walking, tai-chi, and water aerobics.

Be Social: This has to do with being around other people, doing something that you find pleasurable. Unfortunately, for those of us with chronic conditions, social activities can be a huge energy drain, but doing things like meeting a friend for lunch, giving a donation of any kind to charity (doesn’t have to be monetary, charities need tons of different types of help), or inviting friends over for a gab session all apply.

Get Creative: If you do something creative you are basically doing anything original, making something new or imaginative. You can doodle or draw, go see a movie, make a craft, or cook a new recipe. Your options are nearly limitless.

Be Spiritual: Spirituality is different for everyone, but the basic premise is to affect the human spirit or soul as opposed to being consumed by material or physical things. Some examples of this (as you can see, they’re not all religious in nature), include meditation, listening to music, or getting together with others to celebrate your spirituality.

Now that you know some things you can do the next time you find yourself feeling low, keep this list handy. We can all think of these things without the list, but I find that when I don’t feel well it’s hard to divide out individual thoughts at all. My wish with this blog is to give other chronic illness warriors the tools they need to handle their conditions and live the best life they can, and I hope it does that.

Do you have specific things you do to pull yourself out of a funk? Tell me in the comments section!

RESOURCES: Let’s talk about magnesium

RESOURCES: Let’s talk about magnesium

Any chronic illness warrior should be making sure they’re getting enough of vital nutrients to not only keep themselves healthy, but also to treat specific parts of their illness. Magnesium is probably one of those vitamins that you don’t think of very often. We hear so much about the B vitamins, vitamin D, etc that magnesium and other minerals get overlooked.

But magnesium is absolutely essential to achieve good health, and especially in those battling a chronic illness, it’s something you need to take seriously. Not only is magnesium a part of three HUNDRED different bodily functions, but it’s also something only 25% of Americans get enough of in our diets.

And magnesium can be leached from your body if you eat a lot of processed foods and sugary drinks. We all struggle with eating properly – I had a margherita pizza for lunch – but don’t make it worse by allowing yourself to give in to those cravings. Reach for a snack packed with magnesium instead. These include nuts (peanuts, almonds, and cashews have the highest amount), plus oatmeal and other foods. See the infographic above for more information about them.

Another way to put more magnesium into your body is magnesium supplements and sprays, drink additives, and epsom salts/detox salts that you add to your bath.

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Essential oils to relieve pain

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Essential oils to relieve pain

Essential oils can be a huge help in pain relief. Many of us don’t want to rely on pills for pain management, and little other help is available, save a few salves and other topical applicants. You’ll notice many of the same essential oils are used to mitigate pain. I buy these in the bigger sizes, usually 4oz. Let’s begin!

There are three ways to use essential oils. The first is topical, whether diluted with a carrier oil or not (depending on the oil), applied directly to the affected area. The second, aromatic, consists of putting a couple of drops of the oil(s) in water in a diffuser. The third, which is probably the most difficult, is internal. You can buy empty veggie caps and fill them with a combination of carrier oils and essential oils. Most of these I would recommend applying topically for the best chance of relief.

Back pain:
Ginger
Wintergreen
Lavender

Nerve pain:
Eucalyptus

Neck pain:
Chamomile
Lavender
Frankincense

Shoulder pain:
Chamomile
Lavender
Frankincense

Knee pain:
Wintergreen
Rosemary
Ginger
Frankincense

TMJ pain:
Wintergreen
Lavender

Foot pain:
Frankincense
Wintergreen

Kidney pain:
Lavender
Thyme

Tendon pain:
Frankincense
Wintergreen

Hip pain:
Frankincense
Wintergreen
Lavender

Leg pain:
Rosemary
Wintergreen

Bone pain:
Frankincense
Wintergreen
Eucalyptus

 

I hope this gives you a good jumping off point for using essential oils in your everyday life to ease your pain. As you can see, only a few are needed for a variety of applications. I think oftentimes people think a ton of money must be spent on essential oils, but that’s not the case at all. I urge you to try these.

 

RECIPES: 10 easy, healthy ways to use zucchini

RECIPES: 10 easy, healthy ways to use zucchini

Picture courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from CSouza_79

Does your kitchen counter look like this? Mine does! Well, nearly. What to do, what to do with all that zucchini?

I’m here to help!

  1. Zucchini Salsa Turkey Burgers with Salsa Yogurt Dressing {GF, Low Cal}
  2. Lemon Herb Salmon Zucchini {GF, Low Cal, Paleo}

  3. Gluten Free Zucchini Blueberry Bread {GF, Low Cal}

  4. Parmesan Zucchini and Tomato Gratin
  5. Zucchini and Prosciutto Egg Muffins (Dairy free, Paleo, W30)
  6. Paleo Zucchini Hummus {GF, Low Cal, Paleo, Vegan}

  7. Zucchini Greek Yogurt Pancakes {GF, Low Cal}

  8. Chicken Zoodle Pho {GF, Paleo, Low Cal}

  9. Garlic Herb Sauteed Zucchini and Squash

  10. Zucchini Chocolate Oatmeal Bites {GF, Low Cal}

MY LIFE: 5 things to never say to any chronically ill parent

MY LIFE: 5 things to never say to any chronically ill parent

Image courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from Ian

People are sometimes thoughtless. They can also be cruel. I think to think many of the ignorant comments directed toward chronically ill parents are borne from ignorance, not malice, so allow me to talk about some of the things a person should not say to a chronically ill parent.

  1. You don’t seem sick!/You look fine!/What do you mean you’re tired?/What do you mean you can’t?/Any variation on this theme.
  2. It could be worse./At least it’s not cancer./Any variation on this theme.
  3. Do you wish you had never had children?/Do you regret having to take care of someone else with the way you feel?/Any variation on this theme.
  4. Have you tried massage?/Pills?/Acupuncture?/Unicorn tears?/Any variation on this theme.
  5. Why don’t you just exercise more?/Become a vegetarian?/Hire a nanny?/Any variation on this theme.

The first invalidates our illness. The second trivializes it. The third is just plain insulting and cruel. The fourth is annoying at best because of course you’ve tried everything you can. The fifth is presumptive and dismissive.

This post is short and sweet for a reason. Normally I explain more, but these five things are some of the worst things we hear over and over. Just don’t, and educate others not to either. We can educate (like I am here), but we get tired of explaining/justifying our lives and choices to others.

Do you have any question/statement that grinds your teeth? Tell me below!

MY LIFE: 4 things I’m doing to keep my kid busy and give back

MY LIFE: 4 things I’m doing to keep my kid busy and give back

 

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from Carissa Rogers

It’s summertime, and that means cries of “I’m bored!”, right? But what’s a chronic illness parent with low energy supposed to do about this problem? Find things for your children to do that don’t require much effort on your part. As a bonus, these five suggestions help make the world a brighter place.

  1. Buy origami paper and have your children make a bunch of simple origami animals. Take the lot of them to a hospital or homeless shelter so the kids have something to play with. I bought this paper and it should last quite a while since it’s got 1000 sheets in it! The only downside is these are small sheets, but if your child is just learning origami you don’t want big sheets anyway.
  2. Use printer or construction paper and ask your children to make cards for residents of a local nursing home. We all know how many of these people never get visitors, and knowing someone cares might mean a great deal to them.
  3. Go to the dollar store and buy some pet supplies for a shelter, then bring them there and offer to help clean, walk dogs, or whatever else the shelter needs help with.
  4. Also at the dollar store, buy some treats for children and adults alike and bring them to your local food pantry. Oftentimes the people who get supplies from food pantries don’t get fun stuff. Just remember not to buy things that require eggs, milk, etc to prepare. If you prefer to buy things most food pantries never have enough of, here’s a wish list from our local food pantry:
    1. cereal
    2. peanut butter or other nut butters
    3. canned tuna and chicken
    4. canned soups, stews and chili
    5. canned fruits and vegetables
    6. beans, canned or dry
    7. boxed macaroni and cheese
    8. pasta and rice
    9. spaghetti sauce
    10. baby food, formula, and diapers

And there you have it! What things do you like to do with your children during the summer? Tell me in the comments section below!