Category Archives: General

My Top Ten Must Haves For Cold & Flu Season

Cold and Flu

(there are actually 13 items in the picture – I have grouped the teas, cold medicines, and essential oils together). 

It’s approaching fast and before you know it, the dreaded cold and flu will be here. November is the official start so you might as well fill that Thanksgiving cornucopia with a few remedies and concoctions because along with the seasonal festivities, comes seasonal ailments.

Last year was the pinnacle of illness for our family, friends, and especially me. It all started with the month-long “cold” in December, picked up on New Year’s Eve with the flu, and ended in February with a newly pregnant me on the bathroom floor battling the Norovirus (I know, not a pretty image). All of those ailments hijacked my system and made for a not-so-fun winter and a pretty scary Facebook page.

The good news? There are remedies to assist in the prevention and treatment of the above illnesses.  John managed to avoid all sickness with the use of these products and Jack never came down with the flu or the Norovirus. Here is our list of top ten must haves for cold and flu season:

1. Astragalus Root Liquid Extract

I sure wish I had discovered this powerful herbal tincture before cold and flu season last year. By the time I had learned of this ancient treatment’s cold fighting abilities, it was too late for me. I was pregnant and already battled the month long cold and the flu. It was by accident I discovered this treatment and it worked well for John all season long. So what is it? A powerful, Chinese herb used to improve immune system function. I like this article from Natural News.

2. Ancient Secrets Hypertonic Seawater Nasal Spray

This nasal spray is 2.0% Sodium Chloride derived from seawater. This product has a easy press valve that releases a fine mist. Use it during the winter and allergy season to keep nasal passages flushed and  moist.

3. Zicam Cold Remedy Oral Mist 

Zicam oral mist (not to be confused with the intranasal spray and swabs that were recalled by the FDA) really, really works. This zinc concoction does in fact shorten the duration and severity of the common cold. I have used it for years with no side effects. Simply spray in mouth per the directions on the bottle. The nasal product line was recalled by the FDA due to many users permanently losing their sense of smell.

4. Hyland’s Daytime and Nightime Cold’ n Cough 4 Kids

Both of these products are homeopathic and are safe kids ages 2 and up. My son Jack has used both of these and both work very well in keeping him comfortable when a cold hits. I especially like the Nighttime blend because it allows him to sleep comfortably.

5. Badger Eucalyptus & Mint Aromatic Chest Rub

Think is the natural form of Vicks. While this rub is not as potent as Vicks rub, it gets the job done. We use it as a chest rub, lymph node rub, and foot rub during times of illness. It is refreshing and has an adorable badger sipping tea on the cover. What’s not to love?

6. Oil of Oregano 25% Oil Blend and Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Both of these essential oils are disease killing powerhouses and should be readily available in your home. I use a pre-diluted brand of oil of oregano to treat ailments of all kinds. It works great on cold sores and the common cold.

Oregano Oil – Known as “nature’s antibiotic” is as I said before, a powerhouse. Here is a helpful blog post on the usage of oregano oil.

Please note, oregano oil should be diluted as necessary prior to usage. It is a strong, powerful oil. Never take essential oils internally or use undiluted oils on your skin without the proper dilution. Consult an herbalist or a reputable book for more information. In addition, pregnant women should avoid using oil of oregano.

Eucalyptus Oil – This oil is  great for diffusing, cleaning, and inhaling during cold season and all year long. Simply inhaling this powerful oil through steam clears up sinus congestion and fights head colds. I use it all winter long and it helps tremendously. Taken internally in large does, eucalyptus oil is toxic.

Here is my favorite wintertime, all-purpose house cleaner using eucalyptus oil: Fill a spray bottle with mostly water, add a few drops of dish soap (I like Seventh Generation Lavender – it smells great) or tea tree castile soap for added antibacterial properties, and add about ten drops of eucalyptus oil. It makes a great antiviral and antimicrobial cleaner.

7. Coconut Water

Coconut water is nature’s Gatorade so skip the artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup and opt for this wonder liquid when sick. Coconut water contains natural electrolytes, sugars, and  potassium. *did you know coconut water can be used as a universal donor because it’s makeup is the same as blood plasma?!* Here is a link with some information on the benefits of coconut water.

8. Tea

Ahhh, what’s not to love about a hot, steaming cup of tea? Tea was first steeped about 4700 years ago in China and has been credited for it’s amazing health benefits ever since. Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, second only to water. While not all teas are created equal or have the same illness battling properties, there are a few teas we consume often during cold and flu season. These three beauties keep us feeling hydrated and aid in the prevention of and treatment of the cold and flu.

Turmeric Tea – Turmeric is a true disease fighter. My husband stayed illness free all winter and he drank about two cups a day. Unfortunately, turmeric tea should not be consumed by pregnant women; therefore, I missed this boat for a good chunk of the winter. The benefits? Check them out.

Organic Echinacea Plus – Echinacea has long been sipped by those fighting the common cold. It has been toted to shorten the duration and ease symptoms. I religiously drink this tea during the winter and during times of illness, sadly, pregnant women should not consume echinacea; therefore, I again missed this boat last winter. Which brand is best? I love Traditional Medicinals.

Just for Kids – Organic Cold Care Tea – My son loves this tea made just for kiddos! It is a blend of elder flower, linden flower, chamomile flower, and peppermint leaf. Many tea formulations are too powerful for children so finding this blend by Traditional Medicinals was a lifesaver.

9. Burt’s Bees Honey Lemon Throat Drops– When I think throat lozenges, I think of those powerful, mentholated drops, and cringe. I have never enjoyed cough drops simply because they are too overpowering. Last year I discovered Burt’s Bees own line of throat drops made with honey and 2.0 mg of menthol. They are not overpowering and work really well. There are 20 drops per bag making them a bit pricey. Thankfully, I hit a clearance section at the grocery store last year and stocked up. Interested in making your own honey drops? Check out this Pure Honey Cough Drop Recipe from Little House in the Suburbs:

10. Vitamin C 

My husband loves those effervescent, vitamin C packets and uses them when he feels as if he is coming down with something. They are little vitamin shots that help support the immune system. We happen to have the Target version of Emergen-C in our medicine arsenal. We also keep chewable vitamin C supplements for daily use. Increasing your vitamin C  intake in the winter is a good way to help ward off the cold and flu virus.

So, there you have it. My top ten must haves for cold and flu season. Do you have any remedies, products, or concoctions you can’t live without?

Happy (healthful) Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Lavender Hydrangea Play Dough

Lav Play Dough Cover

Today is our first day back to “normal” since returning from our week-long vacation on Lake Winnipesaukee. John went back to work this morning and Jack and I have done stuff around the house, mostly playing and some mild housework.

This morning I saw the flowers on our hydrangea bush are just about gone. I decided to pick some remaining flowers and make play dough. Lavender essential oil adds a nice touch and Jack really enjoyed the floral dough. This would be a great way to use up any remaining flowers from the garden or inside your home.

Lavender Hydrangea Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tbsp cream of tartar, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1.5 cups of boiling water, 5 drops of lavender essential oil, and 1 handful of hydrangea flowers.

Directions: Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl or pot. Mix in vegetable oil and essential oil. Add water and mix until it is a dough consistency.



To use, spread out on wax paper and have kiddos roll out the dough and add in the flowers.  It doesn’t take long to cool and is usable almost immediately.




Enjoy the aroma and color!

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Fall Bucket List


bucket list

It is that time of the year again, well almost. Before we know it, autumn will be here! Not sure about you but autumn is my favorite season. Everything from the warm, rich colors to spiced cider and apple pie is right up there at the top of my favorite things list.

This year we are expecting our second child at the beginning of October. I know life with a newborn and a toddler will be exhausting; however, with a little planning and a fall bucket list, I am sure we will get to enjoy each day of autumn doing a little something to celebrate the season.

So, here it is, some ideas for a 2013 Fall Bucket List. Enjoy!


The Pumpkin Patch

This one is a given! Bring the family, a wagon, and a camera to your local Pumpkin Patch. Pick some pumpkins for your front porch and for a homemade pumpkin pie.

Go Fly a Kite 

Grab a kite and the family for an afternoon of soaring. Autumn is naturally breezy and the perfect time of the year to throw on your favorite sweater and spend the day outdoors. Don’t forget to swing by your local coffee shop for a pumpkin spiced latte.



Apple Picking

Again, grab the family, a wagon, and a camera. Hit your local orchard and fill those bags. You may arrive home and wonder what exactly one is to do with so many apples. The options are endless. We love homemade apple butter. I have posted my recipe at the end of this post.

Autumn Crafts

This one is a given for our family. During each season we try to do a craft each and everyday. We do everything from painting to coloring pages. We make play dough and do a lot of sensory activities.

painting pumpkins

The Fairapple fair

Most towns across America have annual fall festivals or county fairs. Pack up the family and head to your local event. Maybe your town has an annual parade, fair, or even a farmer’s market event. This is a great way to support your local community and have fun at the same time.

Leaf Peeping

Autumn wouldn’t be autumn without those richly colored leaves. Jump in the car or on your bikes and head out to an area where the leaves are stunning. We like to collect some of our favorites for crafts and pressing. Make sure to bring your camera.


Get In the Kitchen

Autumn is my favorite time in the kitchen. I light my favorite Yankee Candle and heat up some warm spiced cider and get cooking. I enjoy using my crock pot most in the fall because the smell is unbeatable. Also, it allows for some bulk cooking. With all the apples, pumpkins, and in our case, venison, it is imperative we prep our food supply and make it last. Below is my favorite apple butter recipe.

Traditional Crock Pot Apple Butter

You will need:

3 lbs of apples, 3 cups of sugar, 2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp. of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. of allspice, 1/2 tsp. of cloves, a pinch of salt, and 3/4 cup of apple cider or water.

Fill your crock pot 3/4 of the way full with peeled and cored apple slices. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cover and cook on lowest possible setting until apples are a thick, butter consistency. Keeping cooking down if too much liquid is present. Make sure to stir. Pour into canning jars and freeze or hot water can them for shelf stability. To can leave 1/4 head space and boil in water canner for 10 minutes.

I hope everyone gets out there this fall and enjoys the season. It will be here before you know it. Making a bucket list is a great way to make sure you get to all of those fall activities.

The Joyful Homemaker

Pregnant, Packing, and Planning

It is time to get back to the blog! July proved a month of insanity on the home front between being in my third trimester and putting in an offer on a short sale, blogging really wasn’t happening.

We have started packing, organizing, and overhauling our belongings. This is going to propel me into a blog series on organizing a move though I will admit, many days I simply want to curl up on the couch with a book. I forgot how tiring the third trimester is!

So, back to the blog! Happy August and happy homemaking!





Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

The Joyful Homemaker

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, The Joyful Homemaker. I am new to the blogging world and with the help of my amazing husband, I decided now is the time to begin a blog, chronicling my adventures as a stay at home mom and as a self-proclaimed, “frugalista.”

My biggest joy comes from mothering my son, Jack and working with my husband to keep our finances, home, and family are in tip-top shape. It is time to go out into the blog-o-sphere and share my tips on budgeting, meal managing, thrifting, homeschooling, and of course, mothering. I look forward to sharing with and learning from all of you. Thank you for joining me on this new journey.

Yours truly,

The Joyful Homemaker, Megan