Home Remedy for Plugged Ducts

November 2014 195It doesn’t work for everyone, but I have repeatedly found ginger to be the most miraculously fast and effective cure for plugged ducts for me ever. I unintentionally pushed myself kind of hard the last week and noticed over the weekend that I had a lot of tenderness and several hard, knotty lumps in one breast. It went on all day and was getting worse even with plenty of nursing and I started to worry about mastitis (especially because I had a headache too). So, I rubbed on a paste of ginger, turmeric, and coconut oil and literally within fifteen minutes all the plugs were gone. I’m not quite sure how it works, but I can actually feel the lumps “dissolve” as I apply ginger. It has never failed me–whether a paste like this, a ginger tea compress, or just kitchen ginger straight from the shaker and held against the breast with a warm washcloth.

Use 2TB each turmeric and ginger and stir together with enough coconut oil to form a paste. Heat lightly and apply or just spread on like a salve.

My mom was the one who first tipped me off to this remedy and it works so well!

Warning: if you use the version with turmeric, it will stain your skin and clothing. I suggest nursing baby while applying it or immediately after (use caution not to get in baby’s mouth) and then taking warm shower right after.


Not so beautiful, but effective!


Recipe: Wild Raspberry Cobbler


21 weeks!

…The spirit of adventure
runs through my veins
with the rich color
of crushed raspberry

May it always run so free
may it be blessed
and may I be reminded
of the courage and love
shown in small, wild adventures.*

Last year I wrote about my “Inanna’s descent” as I picked wild raspberries with my children.

…I was thinking about how I was hot, tired, sweaty, sore, scratched, bloody, worn, and stained from what “should” have been a simple, fun little outing with my children and the above prayer came to my lips. I felt inspired by the idea that parenting involves uncountable numbers of small, wild adventures. I was no longer “just” a mom trying to find raspberries with her kids, I was a raspberry warrior. I braved brambles, swallowed irritations, battled bugs, sweated, swore, argued, struggled, crawled into scary spaces and over rough terrain, lost possessions and let go of the need to find them, and served as a rescuer of others. I gave my blood and body over to the task…

In that post I included a raspberry sorbet recipe. Yesterday, the first raspberries of the season were ready and waiting for us, so I took my 21-weeks-pregnant Raspberry Warrior self and went on another small adventure to collect the reward. However, my plan for these berries was not sorbet, it was raspberry cobbler using my all-time favorite cobbler recipe (modified from this one: Blackberry Cobbler #1 | The Pioneer Woman Cooks | Ree Drummond). I consider any berry picking expedition to be the very definition of success as long as there are enough berries to make a cobbler! It was so delicious I felt like sharing my version here, in case any of you would also like to enjoy one with your family during berry season.

Ingredients June 2014 055

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 ts. salt
  • 1 ts. baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)


Melt butter. Mix sugar and flour into the same baking dish in which you plan to bake the cobbler. Whisk in milk. Pour in melted butter and whisk again.

Scatter rinsed raspberries evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly.

Serve with whipped cream on top if desired, though plain is delightfully delicious as well!

We shared our cobbler with my brother and sister-in-law and then got some more cousin belly pix together! 🙂
June 2014 003

*My full Raspberry Warrior poem is reprinted in my newly published free gift offering for newsletter subscribers at Brigid’s Grove (if you aren’t signed up yet, fill in your email on the right hand side of the screen at the BG website and you will receive the free book within 24 hours). This freebie is a 56 page book of earth-based poetry. 

Family Fun Day!

Today was the first big snow of the winter at our home in the Midwest and we spent the day on several family traditions. First, we made snow ice cream! We always did this when I was a kid and my kids love it too. (My own parents moved to Missouri from California, so I don’t think they made snow ice cream during their own childhoods!)

Simple Snow Ice Cream Recipe

  • One can of evaporated milk (or one cup of whole milk or cream or coconut milk or something else milk-like and thick)
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • vanilla to taste

Stir up and spoon over bowls of fresh snow!

After the ice cream, we made grebble. Grebble is a Volga German doughnut-like item that we inherited from one of my great grandmas. There are lots of recipes online, but I just use a basic bread dough recipe. The tradition that evolved in my childhood household was to make grebble for breakfast on the morning of the first snowfall. We usually go over to my mom’s house on this day and she makes grebble for all of us. Today, since we are all snowed in at our respective houses, I made grebble for the first time for my own kids. In the twisting of the dough and the hot oil, I felt myself linked by chains of fires to the kitchens of my ancestresses. 🙂

Simple Grebble Recipe

  • 2 ts yeast
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. white flour
  • 1.5 TB sugar
  • 1.5 ts salt

Dissolve yeast into water. Add other ingredients and mix in bread machine on dough cycle until it has risen the first time. Take out, roll into two fairly skinny loaves and slice each (still dough) loaf into rounds. Cut a slit in each round and pull one end of the piece through the hole and back out the other side to form a little twist. Fry in hot oil until golden brown, turning once. Eat dipped in granulated sugar!

After the grebble we made salt dough ornaments. They’re still (slowly, slowly) baking!

Basic Salt Dough Ornament Recipe

  • 1 c. cheap white flour
  • 1 c. sea salt or other salt
  • ~1 c. water (add slowly–may need a little bit more or a little bit less to get dough the right consistency)

Stir up until thick, non-sticky dough is the result. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters or hand-build into small ornaments and sculptures. Bake in oven on low temperature (200 degrees) for around three hours or until totally, totally dry and petrified. Then, paint or otherwise embellish. Yes, we used awesome Star Wars cookie cutters 🙂



Talk Books: My Kitchen Cure

“If it comes from a plant, EAT It. If t is made in one, DON’T.” –Mee Tracy McCormick

How interesting can a book about cooking natural foods be? Very, if written by Mee Tracy McCormick! I have several autoimmune disorders and I have quite a few friends with autoimmune disorders as well, so when My Kitchen Cure came to my attention as being written by an autoimmune cooking expert, my interest was piqued. However, when the book arrived, I thought, “what was I thinking?! I don’t have time to read a cookbook. I have a birth blog!” Then, I started reading, and found to my surprise that I couldn’t put it down. Mee Tracy’s story is really riveting and her writing voice is down-to-earth, straightfoward, and just plain funny (be prepared for quite a few references to “shadoobie” and the ideal consistency thereof!).

The first section of the book is a page turner that reads like a novel. We learn about the author’s hereditary experience with Crohn’s disease and her progressive, painful decline from this disease. This section of the book is sprinkled with stories about her travels and experiences living in other countries as well as on her farm and cattle ranch in Nashville, TN. Mee Tracy experiences a turning point in which she decides she is unwilling to continue turning herself over to conventional medical treatment and possibly not survive to see her children grow up, and sets out to cure herself with food. She transforms her own kitchen habits and diet and slowly, slowly heals her body and transforms her life. The final half of the book is full of Real Food recipes designed to heal autoimmune disorders. Many are raw, many are vegan, many are gluten and dairy free, and all are specifically chosen to be nourishing and healing to depleted, stressed  bodies. Even the recipes are written in a light, conversational way that makes them actually fun to read. They are also very inspirational and my own shopping list quickly grew to include things like kombu, arrowroot powder, and plenty of raw cashews. I’m seriously going to try some of this stuff, shawty! 😉

Apparently 55 million people in the US experience an autoimmune disease. Part of the cure can be found in our own kitchens, and Mee Tracy McCormick’s book is on hand to help us get started.

Here’s one of the simple, yummy sounding recipes that I’m totally making as soon as my raw cashews get here!

Sour Cream Queso

2 cups cashews
1 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 TB nutritional yeast (if avoiding yeast products, use 1/2 ts of white miso instead)
1 TB salt

Blend in a blender at high-speed until completely smooth!

My Kitchen Cure is available on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. Opinions expressed are my own and I have no other relationship with or obligation to the author or company.

Everything Banana Bread Recipe

3/4 c. sugar May 2013 001
1 1/2 c. mashed banana (or combination of banana and applesauce, or even just applesauce!)
3/4 c. melted coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 eggs
2 c. flour (I use one cup wheat, one 1/2 cup white, and one 1/2 c. a mix of oats, bran, wheat germ, flax seeds, chia seeds, or whatever other good things I’d like to put in to make this a truly “everything” bread)
2 ts vanilla (I use the homemade extract I made last year!)
1 ts baking soda
1/2 ts salt

Optional, but highly recommended: pecans/walnuts and chocolate chips!

Mash bananas and mix in all ingredients except nuts and chocolate chips. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Bake in a greased cake May 2013 002pan, two loaf pans, or muffin cups at 350 for approximately 30 minutes (less for muffins, more for loaf pans).

I strongly recommend this recipe for postpartum mamas! Either make and freeze in advance yourself, OR make a batch and bring it to a postpartum mama to have on hand for a nutrient dense, tasty, pick me up, any time during the day. When I was postpartum, I loved having things on hand to eat for snacks, rather than only specific meals. Getting enough to eat postpartum is a perpetual issue for me and this “everything” bread solves the issue nicely 🙂 It took me an excessively long time to realize that you can make any quick bread recipe in a cake pan rather than loaf pans—it bakes more quickly and it cuts up into nice little squares for potlucks or for postpartum snacking, rather than trying to dig something out of a loaf pan and hack it into slices (for a potluck, this tip makes the bread go literally twice as far!).

Here are lots more Postpartum Survival Tips!

May 2013 003May 2013 005

Guest Post: Spring Sugar Scrub Recipe

I’ve been making my own body care products for quite a few years and I enjoy sharing recipes and ideas with other women. I used to teach classes in making “salves and scrubs” and “lotions and potions” and I find it pretty empowering to take charge of your own personal care products, using only ingredients you can find readily at grocery stores and that you could actually safely eat! So, when I received a guest post submission from Michelle Pino from the spa Skana, I was happy to share it with my readers. Sugar scrubs make a nice simple handmade gift for Mother Blessings ceremonies in particular. If you attach the recipe to the jar, it makes it easy for her to refill it as needed! I also like making sea salt scrubs, for which you would just replace the sugar in this recipe with sea salt (the finer the grain the better).

Scrub Away Winter Skin Just in Time for Spring

by Michelle PinoScreen Shot 2013-02-20 at 10.25.39 AM.png

I love seeing the grass turn green, watching the flowers begin to blossom and the feeling the sun shining through the clouds. Here in central NY, sunshine is rare during the winter months, but there’s plenty to look forward to in spring in summer. However, one of the things most people don’t look forward to in the spring is revealing their dull, dry skin that his been covered up all winter.

Working at a spa in central NY, dry skin is often the focus of many of our treatments this time of year. We use a blend of natural ingredients including fresh herbs and organic products at the spa. Luckily some of the same products we use at the spa can be found right in your own home–or a quick trip to your grocery store!

This simple DIY body scrub is the perfect way to prep for spring, tank tops, shorts, sundresses, and flip-flops! It could also be a perfect gift for a girl friend, aunt, sister, mom or co-worker this Mother’s Day.


1 c. White Granulated Sugar

½ c. Almond Oil

4-6 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Combine the sugar and oil by slowly adding the oil to the sugar. You may not use all of the oil, or you may need more. You don’t want your sugar scrub to be too ‘soupy’ though!

That’s that! Apply the scrub to your skin in the shower to warm, clean skin. I don’t recommend using it on your face; however, as it may be too coarse.

A sugar scrub is easy to make and can be used any time of year! Try using different essential oils to get the perfect scent for anyone!

This inexpensive treat can be stored in a mason jar or other airtight container. Try adding some ribbon or a printable sticker if you are using the body scrub for a gift. The lucky recipient is sure to enjoy!

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 10.19.31 AM.png

Michelle Pino is the Spa Manager at Skana Spa in Verona NY. Michelle is an enthusiastic person that is passionate about her job as well as leading as healthy of a lifestyle as possible. Outside of work, you will find Michelle baking, reading or possibly crafting!

Recipe: Cocoa Butter Belly Balm (and all-purpose stretch mark soother)

Flame detailing…
Racing stripes…
Tiger stripes…
Battle scars…

Stretch marks. By whatever name you call them, most pregnant women and many adolescents will experience the addition of at least a couple skin customizations before their developmental transition is complete. I felt lucky during my own pregnancies to experience very few of them and never any on my actual belly—with my first son I got two marks one on the underside of each breast, not during pregnancy, but nearly immediately postpartum. Hey! With my second son, I got a couple of light marks, again not on my belly, but on my rear end! Hey! And, with my daughter, I got a series on my left hip and some new ones on my bottom. Again with the HEY!!! During each of my pregnancies, I was diligent about applying cocoa butter belly balm every night. With my first, I used a purchased version, but with the others, I used my own homemade version. I had a nice little nighttime ritual where I would rub the balm into my belly while singing, “cocoa butter for my Lannbaby…” 🙂

Here is my super simple recipe:

Cocoa Butter Balm

2 oz cocoa butter
10 large TB coconut oil
8 squares beeswax (approx. 1 large tsp each)

Melt together over low heat. Makes 12 ounces of balm. Excellent skin soother, scar softener, stretch mark nurturer, overall moisturizer.

You can leave out the beeswax and it will still work. My experience is that it is of a “grainier” texture though then.

Feel free to experiment with proportions and amount of beeswax until you get your own perfect blend. You will often need less wax in the winter (particularly if you live in a cold house) and more in the summer.

You can substitute some safflower or sunflower oil for some of the coconut oil.

You can use more cocoa butter and less oil. I’m cheap and cocoa butter isn’t, so I skew my proportions to more coconut oil.

You can use cheap Louanna coconut oil from Wal-Mart (Thanksgiving is a great time of year to find this)

Hobby Lobby often has 1lbs blocks of beeswax. Melt it all and pour it out on a lined cookie sheet and then break it into nice, useable chunks.

Family Dollar sometimes has real, no additives cocoa butter available in the makeup section in handy two ounce tubes. This recipe was created based on their existence!

Once I starting making this to sell and also including it in a homemade body care products class, I started buying cocoa butter in a 5lbs bucket from The Chemistry Store online.

I like packaging the belly butter in brown glass jars from Specialty Bottle.

This balm is kind of greasy—I recommend applying at bedtime, or in clothes you don’t care about, or walking around with your belly exposed until it has been absorbed.

Don’t be fooled by commercial cocoa butter lotions. While they might look or smell nice or be named Pure Cocoa Butter!!!!(TM), most contain almost no actual cocoa butter, but instead an assortment of various ick, including known carcinogens and artificial scents. I like using only products on my skin that I could actually eat!

Personal tip–don’t only treat the baby to this balm application, remember your hips and buns too!


I found this picture via google images when looking for a different one that I had in mind. If anyone knows who it belongs to, please tell me so I can ask appropriate permission! (or, take it down)

Guest Post: Homemade Baby Food

Homemade Baby Food

by Cynthia Dorsch

            Given the recent trends in DIY projects and healthy, homemade concoctions, it’s no surprise that baby food is also on board.  Making your own homemade delicacies for your child is not nearly as complicated as it sounds.  Homemade baby food projects can be just as fun as they are economical.  Listed below are some of the best recipes I’ve encountered in my days as a DIY baby food maker.

To begin, any baby food recipe is going to require the use of some type of blender.  Getting the food pureed to a perfect consistency may be essential to pleasing the palate of your young one.

Sweet Potato Based Puree

No baby food recipe arsenal is complete without a good sweet potato based purée.  Infants almost always take sweet potatoes without complaints and the many health benefits associated with them don’t hurt either.  To get this recipe started you will need to

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
  • Take one large sweet potato, and making sure it is properly cleaned, poke a few holes in it with a fork
  • Place it in the oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until it is soft to the touch
  • Once baked, cut the potato in half and scrape the contents into your purée device
  • Depending on your appliance, you may want to wait until it has cooled to blend, but either way, go ahead and give it a whirl to ensure no large chunks or hard pieces will make it to your baby’s tray
  • After it has been blended, make sure it is cool enough for your toddler’s mouth and voila! You have yourself a great supply of baby food!

Apple Based Puree

                Appealing to your baby’s sweet tooth can be a difficult challenge.  You don’t want to overly emphasize sugar and sweetness but you still want to have your little one have a great treat once in a while.  I found this following recipe to be the perfect marriage of both of these and my son (who’s sadly now a little too old for this) thought so too!  To whip up some awesome apple inspired baby food you will need to:

  • Get two apples, I generally favored the Red Delicious variety but I’ve also heard of Braeburns being used as well
  • Peel the apples and carefully cut them into large pieces
  • Set aside about an 8th of cinnamon
  • Place the apples in a steamer above a pot of nicely boiling water
  • Leave them in there for about 4 to 5 minutes or until tender
  • Once they’re nice and soft put them, along with the cinnamon into your blender and blend till smooth
  • After the mixture has cooled, you’ve got a wonderful apple based purée!

Bean Based Puree

            Beans are a great staple for any growing youngster’s body.  With their complete proteins and fiber, giving your baby a great homemade bean purée is a great choice that requires a little more elbow grease than the last recipes. However, this can really pay off with the happy grins and smiles of a satisfied and full youngster. To get the ball rolling you will need to make sure you have:

  • 1 cup of some leafy greens, (Kale or Spinach are great healthy choices)
  • A clove of garlic
  • A tablespoon of chopped onion
  • An 8th of a teaspoon of oregano
  • A half cup of cooked brown rice
  • A cup of cooked white beans
  • And finally, a half cup of cooked tomatoes

You’ll want to make sure your kale is properly cooked or steamed before you add it to the blender.  A great thing you can do here is steam the onions, oregano and the greens all at once.  Place all the ingredients in the blender and purée until everything is smooth.  Make sure this meal is cooled properly before serving and see how fast your baby will eat this treat up.

Cynthia Dorsch loves writing about health and wellness. In her free time she can often be found researching and catching up on trending techniques and new innovations in the medical field. She currently writes and blogs for My Egg Bank, a company specializing in third-party reproduction.

Homemade Extracts

Every other weekend we get together with four other families who all live in the same 20-mile, rural region and we have a “work party.” In an admittedly sexist division of labor usually the men work on the large, house-building type project and the women work together on a cooking project or some other type of project, while also taking care of the children and preparing lunch and dinner for the whole crew (our families together total over 20 people and so it is actually a lot of work to feed that many people for an entire day!). I could write a long post about the many wonderful things we’ve gained from this work party experience, but it will have to wait for another day. We just celebrated our one year anniversary and it has been amazing what a positive influence the work party experience has been on the lives of everyone in our family.

During the last work party at our own house during which the men worked on Mark’s greenhouse project, the women gathered in my kitchen to make a variety of homemade extracts. Our main goal was to make vanilla extract to be ready for the holiday season, but we also made orange and lemon extract, mint extract, and flavored vinegar.

We bought our vanilla beans from Amazon. They were $25 at the time there for 1/2 lbs (about 50 beans), which was much better than the $9 per 3 beans from the bulk spice company (looks like the same ones are $27 now). They were pliable and easy to work with.

I followed the general ideas from these two websites about how to make your own extracts, but took the even lazier approach and decided to make the extract right in the vodka bottle! My share of the beans was about 11 beans. I slit them all lengthwise, separated the sides a bit with my fingers and dropped them into a 1.75 liter bottle of 80 proof vodka. Voila! It started to turn a lovely golden color almost right away and then deepened to a dark brown. We’ve tasted it and it tastes like…vanilla! I’m continuing to let it steep though, since there are conflicting reports about whether to let it sit for 6 weeks or 6 months.


Think we’ll have enough vanilla to last us a while?!

For the lemon and orange extracts I used about a 1/2 cup of peel and 1 c. of vodka. I loosely based it on the recipe from this site. We did the mint extract the same way. I used mint from my yard.

We also experimented with flavored vinegar based on information from this handout. I used strawberries in apple cider vinegar. I plan to use it for salad dressing, but haven’t tried it yet. It retained a lovely red color!


Extracts all lined up while freshly made (see how much lighter the vanilla was on the first day?)

And here are the work party women after a full day of extract-making!


I really value these friendships and what we’ve created together!–

Amazon affiliate link included above.

Recipe: Four Minute, Four Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies (or: super easy, super tasty flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies of pinnable awesomeness)

It will probably take you longer to read this post than it will take to stir up these cookies. I’m not sure if they really take four minutes to assemble, I didn’t time it, but they are super quick! The boys and I invented these for Pinterest Day and they said, “Now, YOU have something to put on Pinterest!” So, I’m posting here and will pin away!

I continue to boggle that no flour is required to make these tasty morsels. Here is the recipe:

First, you have two options:

2/3 c. peanut butter

1/3 c. Nutella

OR: 1 c. peanut butter (any kind)

1 c. sugar

2 eggs

dash of vanilla

optional: chocolate chips

Stir all ingredients together, plop on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about ten minutes.


These cookies are chewy and delicious and you won’t believe they are flourless and so simple!



Time to Pin it! The boys will be so excited! 🙂