Fight Colds And Flu Naturally: Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Our son's first year of school was spent fighting off multiple colds, the flu and missing a week of school due to pneumonia.  As a mom it was such a helpless feeling to see my son constantly sick.  So despite the pediatricians advice that there was nothing to do but let the virus run its course, I decided to do a little research for ways to boost his immune system.

What I discovered is a tiny little berry, called elderberry, that is packed with vitamins to help boost the immune system and has been shown in studies to reduce cold symptoms.  They also contain flavanoids that help fight against several strains of the flu virus. 

The results:  so far my son has had only one cold and after giving him elderberry syrup instead of traditional over the counter medication that only mask symptoms, his symptoms were completely gone within a week!  I took it myself  when I had a scratchy throat (a sure sign that a cold is on its way) and to my surprise the sore throat was gone within a day or two and I had no cold symptoms at all! 

Store bought elderberry syrup is not cheap, but you can make your own much less expensively.  I used this recipe from Naturally Knocked Up:

Elderberry Syrup

Makes: approx. 16 oz.

1/2 cup dried elderberries
2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
optional ingredients: cinnamon stick, cloves, grated ginger, lemon juice

1.  Put dried elderberries, 2 cups of water and optional ingredients in a small pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half.

2.  Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and use the back of a spoon to gently squeeze out any liquid from the berries.  Stir in honey.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Note:  The original recipe calls for 1 cup of honey, but I found that 1/2 cup is plenty sweet enough for us.  However, the honey also acts as a preservative and if you would like it to store longer you can add more honey. 

Dosage:  Elderberry can be taken daily as a preventative against colds and flu. Elderberry syrup is also very effective at fighting colds, but may ward off a cold completely if given at the earliest sign of a cold.  I've found that there really isn't an exact dosage for elderberry syrup.  I give my children 1 tsp. three times a day if I hear any sniffling, sneezing or complaints about sore throats.  For adults the amount is about 2 tsp. every 3 or 4 hours, but may be taken as much as every couple of hours.  I've also read of adults taking up to one tablespoon at a time.  Not for children under age 1.

Disclaimer:  I am sharing this information from my own experience and not as a licensed health professional.  You should do your own research on this topic to determine if this is the correct course of action for your family.  Please be sure to contact your doctor with any health concerns that you have and follow his/her advice.

Linked to:
Domestically Divine Tuesday
Simple Lives Thursday

Frugal Living: Recognizing The Little Things

It's been several years since I started shopping with coupons, but one thing I am learning is that couponing is just one way to live frugally.

Frugal living is actually a lifestyle--it's all the little things we do every day in order to save money and live frugally. Have you ever wondered if all those little things actually make a difference?  Are you feeling discouraged about living frugally? 

I was recently inspired by The Prudent Homemaker to make a list of all the little ways that we save money during the week.  This week start looking for small ways to save money and write down all the little things that you are able to do that save you money.  You might find that all those little things add up to big savings!

Here are the simple ways that I was able to save money this week:

--Now that we have colder weather, we set the thermostat to 62 degrees at night and 66 degrees during the day. 

--I bought an extra turkey while they were on sale this week ($.49/lb.).

--I made turkey stock from our Thanksgiving turkey and plan to make several meals with the leftovers.  And thanks to those leftovers, I only spent $30 on groceries this week!

--I made homemade Elderberry Syrup.

--I made my own bread crumbs by using the bread end-slices that I keep in the freezer.

--I used the leftover canned pumpkin that I had in the fridge to make a double batch of pumpkin pancakes.  I didn't have to buy cereal this week since we ate these for breakfast for several days.

--Thanks to an online Black Friday deal, I was able to order 3 bottles of laundry detergent for free with free shipping.

--I started crocheting angry birds for Christmas gifts for my children with yarn I already had and using a free pattern that I found on the internet. (Angry birds are a big deal at our house this year!)

--I bought fabric on sale for $1.50/yd. to make super hero capes for the boys for Christmas.  I'm going to use this free tutorial.

--We made a masking tape town and a tent under the table for some free rainy day fun.

Do you think frugality is a lifestyle?  What do you do to live frugally?

Come back every Saturday for Simply Saving Saturday where I share simple ways I am able to save each week.

Linking to:
Thrifty Thursday

{photo credit}

Operation Christmas Child Update #4: Wrapped and Ready To Go

After almost a year of packing, it's hard to believe that this week is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!  Our shoe box gifts are wrapped and ready to go to church with us on Sunday, where they will be collected and taken to a drop-off location nearby.
Packing shoe boxes this year has been a wonderful experience for our whole family and a great way for our children to learn about giving this year. I am already thinking about next year's boxes and can't wait to shop the after Christmas sales!
If you would like to get involved with this organization, but are unable to pack a shoe box, you can donate by building a box online or by adopting a box.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, be sure to visit their website where you will find information about how you can get involved and heartwarming stories of children around the world who have received an Operation Christmas Child shoe box.

Recipe: Healthy{er} Pumpkin Fudge

I was so fascinated by this no-cook White Chocolate Pumpkin Fudge recipe that I just had to try it myself.  It is so simple and delicious, you won't even miss all that sugar that you find in "normal" fudge!  Here's how easy it is....

Melt chocolate chips with coconut oil....
and stir in the pumpkin puree.
Add a splash of vanilla and the spices, pour into a prepared loaf pan and freeze!
After about 45 minutes, remove from the freezer and cut into squares. 
Since this fudge does soften at room temperature, it should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.  Our family prefers to store it in the freezer for a cool treat that we can enjoy anytime.  For the recipe, visit Texanerin Baking.

You might also like to try:

Friday's Fabulous Frugal Finds: Soap Deals and Jump Ropes

Even though I am almost finished packing the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes for this year, it's never too early to start shopping for next year!  I found the jump ropes on sale at Walmart for $.50 and will be perfect for a little girl's box.
I was so excited to find these soap deals this week!  Some of this soap will also go into next year's shoe boxes.
Dollar Tree:
Olay Bar Soap {single bars} Price: $1.00
  -$1.00 off 1 from 10/28 P&G
Final Price: FREE!
Family Dollar:
Ivory Soap {3 bar packs}
  -$1.00 off 2 from 9/30 P&G {expired 10/31}
Final Price: $.50 each wyb 2

Dawn 14 oz. Price: $.88 {sale ends tomorrow!}
  -$1.00 off 2 from 10/28 P&G
Final Price: $.38

Beaded Jingle Bell Necklaces

Oriental Trading is a great place to find all kinds of affordable toys and craft kits for Operation Christmas Child boxes, but it is also a great place to find inspiration!

I noticed these Jingle Bell Necklaces in their most recent catalog and since I already had all the supplies, I decided to make my own to include in the shoeboxes for little girls.  These would also make nice stocking stuffers! 

 You will need:  cord or yarn, jingle bells, pony beads, scissors, glue, tape
Cut about 2 feet of cord or yarn and tape or glue the ends (if you are using yarn, you will want to dab a bit of glue on the ends to keep them from fraying).  Then thread the beads and jingle bells onto the cord.  Remove the tape and tie the ends together.  That's it!

In fact, it's so easy that even young children can help with this project.
These Jingle Bell Bracelets are a great idea for the 2-4 year old shoeboxes.  You can find the instructions for these bracelets at Clip With Purpose

Other OCC craft ideas: