I first discovered the joys of coconut oil when Keith and I started our journey into the Paleo eating plan. It was a recommended alternative in cooking to butter or other fats and so we bought a jar and started using it in our cooking. Then my mother-in-law mentioned that not only did she use it in her cooking, but she often used it as a makeup-remover or in place of facial lotions. My love for the stuff was cemented when I got a painful sunburn on our trip to Mexico last year. I rubbed coconut oil into the burn, went to bed, and it was almost completely gone the next morning!
But then I started to see things online about a mysterious thing called “oil pulling” that was being credited for solving just about everything except world peace. What could this magical cure-all possibly be? So the other day armed with some spare time and intrigue, I did some research. Since the list of potential benefits is high and the cost is low, I decided it was worth giving it a try so this past Friday night I purchased a gigantic tub of coconut oil from CostCo for $14 and Saturday morning I started my regimen. But I’m getting ahead of myself and you’re probably thinking, what the heck IS it? I’ll give you a brief run down.
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is a practice supposedly rooted in some ancient medicinal practice from Asia. You swish the oil around in your mouth and it supposedly absorbs or “pulls” all the toxins from your mouth into the oil, then you spit it out. You’ll want to use the highest quality oil you can find, of course as it is the purest and has the most benefits. And just what benefits does this practice have? Well, here’s a list of what I’ve found online:
* Helping to strengthen the gums, jaws and teeth.
* Helping to prevent gum disease, cavities and even gingivitis
* Helping to prevent bad breath
* Provide a holistic method and remedy for dealing with bleeding gums
* Helping to prevent dryness of the mouth, throat and the lips
* Helping to prevent general soreness around the area of the jaw (such as TMJ sufferers)
* Relief for migraines and headaches
* Reducing arthritic inflammation
* Helping to reduce the signs of eczema
* Helping to reduce insomnia
* Reducing the effects of a hangover after consuming too much alcohol
* Helping to support the normal function of the kidneys
* Helping to reduce the symptoms of bronchitis
* May help to reduce pain
* Some oil pullers have even reported that it helped to improve their vision
- Oil pulling is apparently most effective when you do it first thing in the morning before you eat, drink or brush your teeth.
- Take a teaspoon (approx) of coconut oil and stick it in your mouth. (I stick it in there in its room temperature state and it quickly melts in your mouth. However, it does make me gag a little at first, so if you have serious texture issues, you might want to melt it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
- Set a timer for 20 minutes (no more, no less) and swish the oil around in your mouth. (This would be a great time to take a shower, read your morning devotional, cook breakfast check your email, whatever. Doing an activity makes the time pass quickly!)
- At the end of 20 minutes, spit it into the trash can. DO NOT SWALLOW (remember, it’s got all those toxins in it!). DO NOT SPIT DOWN THE DRAIN (or your drains will quickly clog.)
- Brush your teeth and go about your day.
- Repeat each morning.
Opposition and Disclaimers
Because I do my research carefully, I checked out both sides of the story before trying it, or bringing this blog to my readers. And just as there are millions who claim it heals everything from acne to cancer, there are an equal number of folks who say it’s total malarkey. I checked out what Snopes.com had to say (they think it’s neither helpful nor harmful) and also found this blog of a girl who had a crazy-bad reaction after “pulling” for 2 days with coconut oil (she had done 2 treatments a day, so 4 treatments). Other folks have said that while they had a reaction to or couldn’t handle the texture of coconut oil pulling but have had positive results with safflower, sunflower or olive oil (the blog author referenced above switched oils and did fine!). However, a note of caution, the Paleo guidelines recommend you avoid safflower and sunflower oils at all costs, so there’s that to consider too.
Granted I’m only a few days in and I don’t have any particular horrible maladies. I’m not sure that it will really affect the dry scalp that I battle in the winter (although I certainly hope so) and while I do think that my teeth look a tiny bit whiter, that could really honestly be the power of suggestion. But here’s what I DO know. My mouth feels cleaner than it’s ever felt. Like straight-from-the-dentist clean. And it lasts most of the day even after I’ve eaten. And it’s amazingly relaxing. I’ve been using the time spent oil-pulling to read my Lenten devotional and pray and that combined with the swishing is such an amazing way to start my morning. So if I have a super clean mouth and a relaxed mindset going into my day, that’s enough reason for me to keep doing it.
I guess the bottom line is that oil-pulling, like ANY out-of-the-ordinary health practice, probably isn’t for everybody. Listen to YOUR body! If you have a particular health condition you might want to check with your doctor (or dentist as well in this case) to make sure they don’t know of anything that might conflict or react with your medicines or illness. And know that results can vary….something that cures one person might not cure another, etc. But so far…my experiences have been positive. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you tried it? Liked it? Heard of it? Hated it?
This is a post that I was hoping I would get to write with a happy ending…and even though we’re not totally out of the woods yet, I’m going to go ahead and publish this in faith that all is, in fact, well.
One of our hens, Sylvia, hasn’t laid an egg in a really long time, but we weren’t too concerned because it’s pretty normal for hens to stop or slow down their egg production in cold weather, and lets face it….even with our fancy heat lamp and all that, it’s been a brutal winter. But then last week, we noticed something was a little bit off with our beloved black australorp. She was wandering off by herself alot and instead of dashing across the yard chasing bugs and pecking around for treats she seemed to prefer napping under a bush. She wasn’t really eating or drinking much and one night, the other hens flat out refused to sleep on the perch with her. When I went to pick her up, I noticed she was gasping for breath and her poor little body was really really hot. No thermometer needed to know our girl was running a really high fever. So we made the executive decision to bring her in for the night and start her on some antibiotics.
The first night was the toughest. She was clearly dehydrated, but was too weak to drink on her own, so I fed her with a syringe (no needle, of course) and she gobbled down dose after dose of medicated water and some “sav-a-chick” electrolyte water (who knew they made gatorade for chickens!?) and then I put her in a pet crate with a cozy nest of hay for the night. The next few days were a routine of mixing up antibiotic twice a day, coaxing her to nibble on dried mealworms out of my hands and researching poultry maladies on Google. After several missed diagnoses, we decided that she most likely was suffering from egg yolk peritonitis, an uncomfortable sounding genetic disorder that typically results in a dead chicken. Our girl however continued to rally through the weekend (our house sitter Ellen was a champ on Sunday and Monday when we were both gone for work….mixing up bowls of medicine and patiently monitoring how much Sylvia drank).
Why the quarantine you ask? A couple of reasons. First, because she was showing some fairly serious respiratory distress we were afraid it was some sort of airborne pathogen and the last thing we wanted was to loose our entire precious flock. Second, the temperatures in Nashville were reaching the teens and single digits at night and we figured that just couldn’t be good for a sick chicken. Third, as her condition was deteriorating quickly, we realized we were going to need to put her on antibiotics if we wanted to try to save her. But, since you can’t eat eggs from a chicken who has been on antibiotics, we couldn’t let any of our other girls drink the medicated water, and clearly there is no explaining to a chicken which water bowl is theirs, so the only way was to make sure the other girls didn’t have access to her “special” water.
Once we were confident that it wasn’t something that was contagious (we didn’t want our other girls getting sick!), we started letting Sylvia out to play during the day so she wouldn’t loose her place in the flock and so she wouldn’t get lonely. Louisa, Jane and Beverly Clucky were all thrilled to see their sister again and instead of bullying her like I was afraid they might (we had a tough time integrating Beverly Clucky when we got her, so this was a justified concern), they took her “under their wing” and followed her around, curled up next to her when she needed a nap break, etc.
I think tonight will be Sylvia’s last night in the bathroom as she seems to be almost completely healthy again. I’m not sure if she’ll ever lay eggs again (and of course, even if she does we’ll discard them for the next few weeks since she’s been on antibiotics so they wouldn’t be safe to eat), but we’re thrilled that she’s on the mend. She’s also mellowed out a bit which is fun…she used to be a little bit difficult and now she seems to genuinely like being held. Her whole body relaxes and she snuggles up to me. So sweet. I guess she knows I saved her little chicken life. I’ll leave you with some tips on what to do if you have a sick chicken, and one more sweet photo from this week. Fingers crossed our girl will be completely recovered in no time!
Sick Chicken Tips
- Watch for any birds that might keep to themselves, seem lethargic, stop laying, or exhibit other behavioral or physical changes.
- Isolate the sick bird to prevent the rest of the flock from falling ill. Even “non-contagious” things like injuries should be isolated as healthy chickens tend to pick on injured birds, resulting in the death or further injury of the ill hen.
- Research online….there are lots of excellent poultry owner forums online or in chicken raising handbooks that can help you diagnose possible diseases based on symptoms.
- If you feel like your bird needs medicine, consider a poultry antibiotic power mixed in the sick chickens water. Remember not to eat their eggs for several weeks afterwards and that healthy birds should not have access to the medicated water.
- If you need to get serious medical attention, consider finding a vet in your area that specializes in poultry, or at least birds. Remember though that vet bills can be expensive and won’t always end well (one of our original flock, Gertrude, saw a vet for what ended up being a brain tumor and then had to be put to sleep. It was a sad and expensive day.)
- A great alternative to a vet would be your local farm co-op or TSC. They often carry basic medicines and their staff are typically pretty knowledgeable. And they won’t think it’s weird that you love your chickens as much as you do. And speaking of loving your chickens….
Last weekend Bethany’s boss Kelly Minter did a two-day women’s seminar right down here in Mississippi, in Starkville no less, where I went to college and not 30 minutes from our mutual hometown. So, the Johnsons made a weekend visit to the Golden Triangle (For all you non-Mississippians, its basically just like the Bermuda triangle.) and I finally got to see a little window into Bethany’s wild weekend world. This is what she does most Fridays and Saturdays, except often they fly but being so close to Nashville, they got to drive down for this event.
I missed the first half of the seminar, but here are a few peeks at Bethany’s responsibilities on Saturday. Actually there was a lot more going on, but these snaps are just from the times when I felt it was acceptable to take pictures. You know, and not be ‘that’ person. First, there’s t-shirt display.
That’s a JMA t-shirt, and they are super cute. Killin’ it.
Okay, then there’s the occasionally impromptu fiddle/guitar jam session.
Also, lots of generally knowing what’s going on and what needs to happen and when.
Let’s not forget about ‘boot wearing‘ either.
Maybe someday we’ll have enough for a whole scrapbook of ‘behind the merch table selfies’. There’s just nothing like impromptu meetings with best friends.
Wednesday night I got the cooking bug, which is something that I need to get more often. And although I might cheat on my healthy eating when I eat out (or am on the road), my Paleo experience did change one thing: the way I grocery shop, meaning that cooking at home is my best bet if I want to be healthy. First, I whipped up a batch of my Squashed Banana Muffins, with two extra bananas instead of zucchini. It was a delicious variation and I loved having a muffin for breakfast this morning with zero guilt! Next, I made a beef stew that I’ll post next week. And then….I made a tasty treat to satisfy my sweet cravings.
Keith had actually found this amazing recipe on the internet the night before and when I saw how simple it was, I decided I needed to give it a try, and was so glad I did. Normally I alter recipes that I find online, but this one was just so good as it was that there was just no improving it, (although I did shorten the title a bit.) So all the credit goes to Rebecca Bohl of (PaleoGrubs.com) for this recipe…I just bring you notes (italicized) and photos, and a high high recommendation that this is a recipe you need to make. Now. And while I don’t have kids, it’s for sure a kid-friendly recipe as it doesn’t involve knives or the oven! Kids will love dumping all the ingredients into the food processor and watching it all whir around together and then what’s better than rolling things in little balls like play-dough?
Paleo Brownie Bites
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Add walnuts and salt to a blender or food processor. (*I have a fantastic food processor, but I actually chose to use my Ninja blender for this recipe and it worked great!) Mix until the walnuts are finely ground.
- Add the dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder to the blender. Mix well until everything is combined. With the blender still running, add a couple drops of water at a time to make the mixture stick together. (*I did about 10 drops of water, and I think it could have used a little more.)
- Using a spatula, transfer the mixture into a bowl. Using your hands, form small round balls, rolling in your palm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. (*I let the balls sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes before I ate one, and I’d recommend doing it as they taste really great lightly chilled.)
I know everybody has been dying to know which color of gray paint we went with, after trying 8 or so different options all over the living room walls. And we have made a selection, I believe.
Its practically the neutral-est neutral there ever was, I guess. No risk taking here – this is the Switzerland of paint colors.
Its so neutral that although I liked the looks of the paint chip in the store, I hesitated to try it for fear of being too boring.
The paint is named…
you’ll be shocked by this.
Nope I’m kidding.
Its called “Off white”.
In our wacky house with all the fluorescent tube lighting, ‘off white’ does in fact look like a pale gray. Its certainly an upgrade from the current ‘butter’ color. And best of all, it doesn’t clash with the 51 cabinets that are already painted a green/gray/khaki color. And since there are 51 of them, and the paint is in perfect condition, THEY will not be repainted. They will be worked around.
But agh, is ‘off white’ too bland for all 57,000 square feet of wall space in this room? Maybe. But perhaps we have enough going on between the brick and the wood trim and the wood floors. A little ‘Blah’ may be just the ticket. Sure hope so.
Here’s a shot of the ‘off white’ right next to some cabinets.
What we have here is a partially constructed kitchen desk area, which just one step in the plan for the baby nursery. Hopefully we’ll finish this little project this week, and move on to stuff like putting the crib together.
Oh side note, the reason why I know we have 51 cabinets is because I just ordered new hardware for them. NOW for the risk taking.
BRASS! Goodbye brushed nickel. The knobs will go on the cabinet doors, which means I’ll have to fill 51 now-extraneous holes and paint over them. Sounds like a perfect maternity leave project, doesn’t it?
As you can tell by the fact that we have an entire post category devoted to it, Mary Hall and I both love to travel. Alot. Of course, there was the epic United Kingdom trip that we took together as teenagers, but we’ve both made our way around the world and the country individually on many occasions. Since I currently work as a road manager and freelance musician, I’m on the road almost every weekend and even though my destinations aren’t always exotic, I’ve discovered that there is certainly an art to traveling no matter if you are going across town or across the world. While I know that there are plenty of folks that travel way more than I do, I thought I’d bring you what wisdom I do have to you kind folks. I hope to see you on the road.
1. Loyalty Isn’t Just For The Dogs. – The most important thing I can think of in travel is to choose a chain and stick with it. It doesn’t so much matter which brand you choose, only that you choose one! Most programs are created fairly equal, so pick whichever one is most convenient for you based on places you travel frequently. Choose what program works for you, and then stick with it. Besides earning points or miles for free travel, most programs have different tiers that provide different benefits such as free upgrades or waived luggage fees that you can qualify for based on your amount of travel, and if you travel alot, those perks can make an exhausting day a little bit better.
2. Join The Club: ALL of Them. – I know, you’re thinking, “but you just gave us this sermon on brand loyalty!” I know, I did. And I’m not being a hypocrite. See here’s the deal. Sometimes you can’t control every aspect of your travel. Maybe your boss is in charge of booking rooms or your favorite airline doesn’t fly to the airport where that big meeting is. But this doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Not only are most loyalty programs free to join with no annual fee so you can join them all with no worries, but most programs have partnerships with other programs. Simply log on to your online account and set your earning preference to earn what you want. I have about 8 hotel loyalty memberships….I’ve chosen one as my “main” hotel chain and that account is set to earn hotel points. All the other ones are set to earn airline miles on my “main” airline chain. If I only stay at a specific type of hotel once a year, it would take forever to earn a free night. But having a few extra airline miles on my favorite airline will go much further to earning a free ticket!
3. Be A Card-Carrying Promotion Hunter. – Another great way to earn free travel or perks for more comfortable travel is to get the credit card. I have a major credit card (one Visa and one AmEx) for my favorite hotel brand and favorite airline. Not only do I get bonus points on purchases made at those chains, but I get luggage and onboard discounts as well as enough bonus nights to almost have status right off the bat with my hotel card. If credit cards aren’t your thing, that’s ok. There are still lots of promotions out there that you can take advantage of that won’t affect your credit score. Many programs will send out emails advertising promotions, and if you don’t want any more traffic flooding your inbox, then you can still take advantage of most of these by just logging on to your online account and checking the “promotions” tab. Marriott for example has a particularly awesome promotion that they have been running 2 or 3 times a year called the “MegaBonus.” Just register and then for every two nights you stay within a certain period of time, you get one free night. Pretty awesome deal.
4. Attitude Is Everything: The Golden Rule Still Counts. – If you’re a frequent traveler it’s not so much a question of IF something will go wrong, it’s more like WHEN. Flights will be delayed, or cancelled. You’ll get to the rental car place only to find out that they JUST gave away that SUV you’d reserved. Your hotel room won’t be ready at check in, and when it is, you’ll quickly realize that someone smoked in the non-smoking room or that your towels aren’t exactly what you’d call clean. But here’s the thing. You’re not the first person this has happened to that day and you won’t be the last. But you can be the NICEST. Think about it. If you are a customer service rep and you have a line of angry people with messed up travel plans, and in the middle of it all, up steps a kind, even-tempered person who treats you with respect and understanding, who are you most going to want to help?
Ashamedly, I’ve not always been kind in every single situation of travel-gone wrong, so I understand that sometimes its hard to keep it together. But I’ve also noticed that the times I have been patient and kind, the folks behind the counter have, in turn, been nicer to me, and I’ve walked away having been helped, but also feeling like a decent human. Winning, all around.
5. The Only Dumb Question Is One You Don’t Ask. - Some situations are how they are, and you won’t be able to change them. But sometimes, customer service reps are able to help you out in ways you wouldn’t have thought of if you didn’t ask.Just today, this particular rule proved itself again. I’d paid for Early Bird boarding on Southwest for two people, roundtrip which totals $50….and is a fee that Southwest advertises as being “un-refundable” no matter the circumstances. However, in between the time I purchased the early bird and the actual flight, both passengers earned “A-List” status on Southwest thus getting free-early bird. So I called Southwest and asked about a refund even though I was aware of their advertised policy. And you know what? The customer service rep was super nice and told me that she couldn’t refund my $50, but she COULD send me a $50 Southwest voucher valid on any future Southwest travel and transferable to anyone I chose to use it on.
6. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Then Call, Call Again. - This one is one that I learned from watching my husband, and I’ve used it to my own advantage on a few occasions. For some reason, not all phone customer service reps will tell you the same thing. I don’t know why this is, but I know it’s true. So what do you do when the first customer service rep you get isn’t helpful or doesn’t tell you what you want to hear? You politely thank them and you hang up. And then you call back. And you repeat this until you find someone who gives you then answer you want (or realize that your request is unreasonable….you be the judge.) This usually works the best if you’re trying to change a flight or get a seat upgrade. And rule #3 totally applies here too. The nicer you are, the more likely you are to get what you want.