Posts filed under DIY

How to Love a Bum Knee {Practical Tips for Joint Care}

I'm pressing on with my commitment to wellness and healing this year; honoring the gift of my body as the primary tool of service in my vocation; recognizing the stumbling blocks of getting... um... older. A little nuts and bolts for body maintenance today...


When I was 15 years old, I blew out my knee in a freak hurdling accident. Complete tear of the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), cartilage damage, blah, blah, blah. It required reconstructive surgery and extensive physical therapy. I went on to fully participate in life and sports but my knee has never really been the same. 

I'll never forget the words my doctor told me after surgery: "You'll have to keep those supporting muscles strong for the rest of your life. Good preventative care will save you much struggle"

Uh huh. Said the teenager. 

So here I am a couple decades older, wiser, and creakier, wishing I had heeded his advice. I have learned about body maintenance the hard way but here are a few ways I keep the swelling and pain down and increase my overall knee health...

NUTRITION

Okay... nutrition will always be number one for me no matter the topic. But that's because it does matter. My surgery knee is a classic example...

For 20 years, the swelling in my knee was a 24-hour given. In all that time, I was never able to sit back on my heels. Never had that kind of mobility even though I was fit enough. Then I started a radical elimination diet for other reasons. Ready for my miracle?

Within 3 days (THREE!), I was able to sit back on my heels like I was a toddler again. After TWENTY years. I had no idea that my joints were in a constant state of swelling from my poor diet. All the years of all-over body pain and so many injuries... it all started to make sense. 

Fix the diet... feed the knees.

STRENGTH

The doctor was right. Don't stop moving. Keep oiling the machine. Strengthen the muscles. Those joints need it even when they hurt! As we age, it is even more important to add some strength training. Your knees need you to help them bear the load. 

POSTURE

I've recommended this book before for helping with proper body alignment and posture and I do it again. Your knees have the necessary disadvantage of being attached to every other part of your body. If you are off a bit somewhere above or below, the knee is going to take a beating.

SQUAT PROPERLY

When exercising, stick the bootie out to do squats. No knees over the toes. Pretend you're sitting in a chair and put your weight on your heels. 

WEIGHT

I have noticed over the years that my knee pain is much more controllable if I fall within 5 pounds of what I know to be my ideal weight. It's a small margin but it does make a difference... and science backs up my experience. Researchers say that each one pound of weight lost reduces knee pressure by 48,000 pounds per mile! Fortunately, my clean diet is self-regulating. I generally don't have to scale watch. Pregnancy is an obvious exception and I am more careful.

DECREASE INFLAMMATION

I don't use commercial creams and only rarely use OTC medications, but I am loving this simple recipe for knee pain and swelling. The affect for me is quick and relieving. This is particularly helpful in pregnancy when my weight surpasses the weight load ideal for my knees. I use it prior to a workouts to help reduce swelling (and consequently prevent injury), and after workouts to relieve any soreness and stiffness. 

Every person's body is different, but this natural blend provides me with noticeable swelling relief directly after application. The natural plant compounds provide anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits. It often makes the difference between being able to fully straighten my knee or not. 

Directions {including affiliate links}...

I generally fill my roller ball bottles at a 1:10 ratio which breaks down to about 20 drops per 10 mL bottles. That dilutes enough to be safe but effective for all in the house. 

1) Add 20 drops of the following essential oils to a 10mL roller bottle:

  • 10 drops Soothing Blend (Wintergreen, Camphor, Peppermint, Blue Tansy, German Chamomile, Helichrysum, and Osmanthus) This is a proprietary blend that I LOVE from the company I purchase oils from. (You can purchase directly HERE. or contact me to learn more about essential oils and how to get 25% off.)
  • 5 drops Juniper Berry
  • 5 drops Frankincense

2) Fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil. I use fractionated coconut oil.

3) Put the roller and cap on, give a gentle shake, and label. ALWAYS label. 

4) Roll on as needed.


As old-ish as I feel sometimes, I know that these knees have probably only carried me for half of my life journey. I have a lot of living left to do... lots of little ones to carry... and big ones to keep up with. I'm not ready to decline yet! 

Thanks be to God for the gift of this body. I intend to do my best to take care of it. 

Do you have any tips for knee health? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Posted on February 29, 2016 and filed under DIY, fitness, nutrition, wellness.

Face Washing: The Oil Cleansing Method

I promised this post when I last wrote about my various oddities. The funny thing about being a little quirky is that it becomes quite normal after a while... and other people start to look pretty strange instead. (But that's a post for another time). Today, I'm writing about washing  my face with oil. Sounds strange for sure, but only until you try it.

I've been moisturizing my face with plain oil since 2013 and it first happened this way...

I have extremely sensitive and allergic skin and have tried every lotion under the sun with little success. I finally discovered a natural, handmade face lotion made by a Christian Etsy seller and I was hooked. Lovely, lovely stuff... it was the first time I had been able to use a face lotion in a long time without an adverse reaction. I highly recommend it. (Incidentally, this is also the only lotion that my mother-in-law can use without a reaction as well.)

Rosehip and Hibiscus Facial Lotion

The catch was that it costs more money than I like to spend on my face. As I neared the bottom of my bottle, something strange happened to me and I had a frugal fit.

I need this lotion... BUT... I bet I can make it myself.

So I purchased ingredients to make something of my own design and while I waited for them to arrive in the mail, I ran out of lotion. I needed something because my face would burn terribly and dry out after I washed with soap. I did a quick internet search and discovered that I could just use plain... oil.

I ran to my cabinet and pulled out a bottle of almond oil. This will do, I thought. And it did. I thought I would break out in horrendous acne. But I didn't. Instead, it felt lovely and did the trick. I never did end up making the lotion (although it is still on my to-do list) and I have since discovered the simple art of washing with oil as well.

The how-to of oil cleansing is beautifully simple. You need only two ingredients: castor oil (for cleaning) and a moisturizing oil such as 100% pure olive, hazelnut, almond, or grapeseed. A little research and experimentation will help you discover which of these oils is best for your skin.

I made my first batch with equal parts castor and almond oil. I was astonished to find that the combination was a little drying and I have since increased the amount of almond oil with happy results. Everyone's skin is different so this really does end up being a bit unique for each person.

The Ingredients

1. Castor Oil - Draws out Dirt (some people with sensitive skin might want to limit this almost entirely if it is too drying)

2. Olive or other moisturizing oil (My preference is almond oil)

3. Experiment with adding your favorite (therapeutic grade) essential oils for scent and skin benefits.

 

*Ratio depends upon your skin needs and sensitivities (see instructions and links below for greater detail)

You can find these ingredients at your local Walmart, grocery, or online. It cost me only $5 to make 6 ounces of cleanser, which will probably last me a very long time. It sits on the bathroom counter with a homemade label that reads (in red sharpie):

Mommy's Face Wash... Do Not Touch!

(Which, of course, made all the children want to touch it asap.)


The Method

1. Pour a small amount of oil (nickel to quarter size) into your palm and using your fingertips, massage it into your skin. Apply to a dry face. Gently rub it in for about a minute. No need to scrub.

2. Wet a washcloth with hot water (please don't burn yourself) and lay it over your face, letting it cool until it is about room temperature. This is where a lot of cleaning action happens. It has been so cold here that my washcloth cools off super fast... so I have been repeating this step with the other side of the cloth.

3. Rinse the washcloth out (or just use the corners) and wipe off the oil. Again, do not scrub... just wipe it off. You'll have some residual oil but you really do want that.

4. I will occasionally need a little extra moisturizer and will use some coconut oil or almond oil in the morning or after a shower. It is still my plan to make a gentle, organic lotion and I plan on adding some zinc oxide to defend against the Summer sun.


The Results

This stuff cleans extremely well. A pre-wash is unnecessary because the oil is the perfect makeup and dirt remover. Oil removes oil. I find that this method works much better than scrubbing with soap and water.

I have acne-prone skin. I'm a 38-year old woman with just as many problems as I did when I was a teenager! I assumed oil would make it worse but instead, I have experienced a very rapid improvement. Dry patches and oily patches are starting to equalize and breakouts have decreased. My skin is softer. I can't do anything about contact sensitivities but I can do my best to have a healthy baseline.

Before someone asks me how I have time to do this kind of stuff, let me say this... I need to wash my face. My face hates the ingredients in almost all commercial beauty products (including make-up which I also have to purchase on Etsy) and I have extreme reactions. So I do what needs to be done. I am no fashion or beauty guru. I do not wear much make-up and I do not wear it often. But as I get a little older, I'm finding that the face and body need a little extra attention. I know the Chief would love me even if I washed my face with mud, but he deserves a pretty wife on his arm. And since I'm the only wife he's got, I'll have to do the best I can with what I have. :)

*This post contains affiliate links {and I love when you use them}... but please know that I only post links that may be useful to my readers!

Posted on June 16, 2015 and filed under Beauty, DIY, Womanhood.

Taking Up Dreams Again in 2015

Like many of my holy days and holidays over the years, my New Year usually comes and goes with a steady hum, riding the reliable waves of adrenaline. By the time I hit January 2nd, the surge of temporary energy has usually passed, my resolve to become resolute hits the wall of reality, and I smile wanly at a new pretty planner which originally showed so much promise... but in the end, just looks pathetically like the old one.

Can I talk to you about how years of chronic illness coupled with the demands of family life can challenge a soul? Let me preface it by saying that I regret nothing. But it would not serve anyone to hide the reality that a heavy sense of failure settles in and begins to feel startlingly like grief. That is the effect of chronic fatigue and physical pain on a heart that longs to run a Pinterest-worthy household but so often had to focus on simply surviving the day.

With my dietary changes and the elimination of an unreasonably crazy club sports schedule, I have been given  new wings. New hope. And new challenges. I still consider myself a low-energy mama and do have periodic relapses but I feel much more myself these days. I have a new opportunity to run a household in a way that doesn't look like perpetual survival mode. An opportunity to rise. Why do I call that a challenge? Because... well... it is like starting all over again.

If I sound overly pathetic, please remember that I am reducing a life of joy and crosses to a tiny blog post. Consolidating the challenges to make a point. My life has been blessed and God has been standing in the gap for me at every threatening chasm. Huge, huge blessings. But I have a specific purpose here...

I dared to hope a little more this Christmas. It was with a great deal of incredulity that I realized that the heavy boulder upon my back - the one that was called pain and illness - was much smaller than it had been. My eyes began to open a little wider and slowly, slowly, slowly... I began to unbend front my hunched position. It is hard to stand up straight after being under a weight for so long. And although I certainly feel the burden of mortality and the effects of years of damage to my body, I am indeed standing up straight.

The big question remains... What now? How do I live in health? It has been so long.

I finally gathered up my courage to pray bigger and allow an earthly hope to grow. I prayed for a saint to be my patron for 2015 and St. Vitus took up the challenge. Among other things, he is the patron against oversleeping. Very funny, Vitus. Well played. So I prayed about wakefulness and alertness and a more organized life. I dared to dream of more for my days and I felt God calling my soul to RISE.

I picked up our Bible concordance and flipped to the word "rise"... wanting desperately to know if Our Lord had ever spoken it. He had. I turned to Matthew 17... the Transfiguration...

{The disciples} fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, Rise, and do not be afraid. And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone."

And isn't that all. Isn't that everything? To see only Jesus. Rise!!

Just a few chapters later in Matthew, Judas gives in to despair and unceremoniously ends his own life. The antithesis of Jesus' dream for us.  I am often like Judas, so focused on my own failure that I take my eyes off the Savior. I ask HOW? How, Lord, is it possible that I can reach you through my failures and deficiencies? I am too lost, too broken, too weak. And He says...

"Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?" {Matthew 9:5-6}

And so I rise at His command. I take up my cross, my matt, my hopes and my dreams... Rise... and walk.

While I was in the midst of chronic fatigue, I relied heavily on the ability to dump everything into a digital home until I was able to gather the energy to sort through it. Paper planners were beyond my capacity. But I love paper and pens and the act of writing and planning concretely and I finally have the courage to return. I still love my Evernote and use it regularly, but it is a season of more.

So I have invested in multiple discbound planners (leather for me and vinyl for household), a paper punch, and various printables and accessories that give me tremendous hope and joy (insofar as earthly things can). The most reasonably priced option I found was the Staples Arc system. (If you are looking for the best deals, go through Ebates to Staples, Amazon, or ebay to combine with specials or coupons you might find. It costs nothing but gives a cash back percentage on many online stores. It seems like small change at first but if you use it regularly, it adds up so nicely.)

I really only need a week-at-a-glance style planner page and lots of space to jot notes, so I designed my own that I could date and modify as needed. The leather and vinyl Arc planners both came with blank journal pages and so I alternated my weekly planner printable with a blank page. This is where all of my lists, brainstorming, and daily notes go. My month overview is in the front of the binder but those are easy to find free online.

This came together so well that I really wanted to share it here. I have included the printable PDF's to both my personalized 2015 weekly planner page and also a blank page below, so that you can customize your own. Patron saints, quotes, Scripture, word of the year, children's drawing, whatever your heart desires.

The Arc paper punch is an essential investment for me since most of what I put in my notebooks will be printed at home. It allows me the freedom to completely customize. 

Just a note to consider before printing 52 of these... I spaced the margins to suite my discbinder system and not a three-ring binder. It seems like a three-hole punch might overlap the lines a little but I did not test it out. If you're not sure, give it a test print first. You can probably adjust your printer margins slightly if you want it perfect. The pics below are just screen shots. Click on the PDF links for the high quality versions.

My 2015 Weekly Printable Planner...

2015 Blossoming Joy Weekly Planning - RISE! {PDF}

Customizable 2015 Printable Weekly Planner...

2015 Blossoming Joy Weekly Planning - BLANK {PDF}

As much as I would love to say so, these tools are not a magic pill for a perfectly planned life. But boy... they just make me so ridiculously happy. May God bless you in the New Year and may the peace and love of Christ reign in your homes! 


** This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a percentage if you purchase through my site. But every item linked here is something that I use regularly and find useful within my vocation.

Posted on January 9, 2015 and filed under DIY, Liturgical Year.