Friday, September 23, 2011

Jewish Penicillin (aka Chicken Soup)

Apparently chicken soup will cure all your evils. Seriously, I’ve been reading up, colds, flu, stomach ailments, bad skin, bad moods, chicken soup will solve them all. Of course I won’t be declaring this under oath or anything, but still, it’s known as “Jewish penicillin” (though why that is is beyond me, it should really just be known as Grandma’s penicillin, everybody’s Grandma makes chicken soup, right?).

Anyway, there’s a catch (of course there is!) for it to work its magical powers you can’t use ready-made store-bought chicken soup, no ma’am. You done have to go out and get yourself a real bird.
I used to make chicken broth all the time when I was weaning the kids and I used it instead of just plain water for the purees (not the fruit ones, do I need to say it?), but it always smelled chicken-y and was too bland and, well, blah, so when I used it for soup I always had to add bouillon, which sort of defeats the whole purpose, you know?

So I’ve been experimenting and what I’ve come up with is divine. For optimal health I’ve read one should have a cup of “real” chicken broth a day, every day (kind of like the apple, it keeps the doctor away), I suggest you just make large quantities occasionally and freeze it. So if you want soup, or catch a cold, or a stomach bug, or just need comfort food, it’s there for you. Although, I do suggest you heat it in a pan, not the microwave, to preserve all the nutrients and stuff.

Please don’t pay too much attention to my pictures, they’re kind of crappy and there’s just no way to make chicken pieces boiling in a pan look good, just trust that the end result will be worth it!

As with most recipes this continues after the jump so click on the link!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Virtual Coffee {24} - The crazy masthead one


So do you like it? Cause I love it! What? Why, my new masthead of course. So, check out my new masthead! Seriously, look up! See the new masthead? Isn’t it awesome! Am I excited about it?

Today is a momentous day, and Virtual Coffee is the best way to share it, so welcome to coffee! Moomser is a year old today. Unbelievable, I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d keep this up for an entire year!

My awesome new masthead was created by the awesome Meredith Groenevelt from Bueno Baby, and when I say awesome, I mean it (also, I can't think of other adjectives). Seriously, I sent her some pictures of truly questionable quality and she came up with this! Of course, the subject matter is first class (ahem, my kids) but she really got me, and she was great to work with and if you want to see some really amazing stuff go check out her mastheads (the ones on her blog) she changes them every month. I particularly like this month’s.

Of course I had to spruce up the rest of my page to go with my fabulous new masthead (in case you didn’t get it, I have a new masthead, up there, at the top of the page, did I just get really annoying??), but what with being in Spain until today I haven’t manage to put up the changes. I’m putting them up this week and I hope the site renovations will make it easier to navigate and more pleasant to the eye. Considering my incredibly limited computer skillz I can’t really ask for more. So stop by to check them out, if you get the chance.

So if we were really having coffee today you should probably change the subject, and take away my mac, cause I'd spend most of it just looking at my new masthead.

Ok, I’ve almost spent my pent up enthusiasm for the new masthead, but seriously, do ya like it? I’m a little hyper today, does that come through? Should I cut out the caffeine?

p.s. if you end up in my archives you’ll notice there are posts actually older than September 20th, I imported those from another blog I had, cause I was feeling a little lonely here at first, but today’s Moomser’s birthday. So, Happy Birthday! 

And thanks for stopping by for coffee, now go visit our hostess Amy! Toodles.


Monday, September 19, 2011

The one about tv shows

This is going to sound weird but I sometimes find myself thinking about the show Lost and wondering what the hell compelled me to keep watching it. (And what on earth is compelling me, right now to write a whole post about it.) If I think about it rationally, it was one of the worst shows ever aired, but apparently the writers were really awesome because they kept me (and millions of other people) coming back for more.

I recently realized that the main reason why I kept going back for more was because I kept hoping that sooner or later it would all start making sense to me, that somehow they would manage to tie it all together. Of course as the show progressed this seemed less and less likely, though the pull towards making sense of it became ever stronger. So I watched all the seasons, once, and the end result was something that was far-fetched and unlikely, mostly unlikeable, and definitely infuriating. When I think of Lost it generally pisses me off, to think of all the wasted hours, but the individual episodes were actually quite good, keeping me on the edge of my seat and all. Of course, the general feeling that all the writers, producers and directors where mostly doped up on crack remains. So I am letting it go. Because not all shows can be good, but the good ones stayed with me. The good ones where shows I watched over and over and over again, but of course “the good ones” is also very subjective.

So I’m burying my memories of Lost and my anger and disappointment towards it today by remembering some of my favorite shows, the ones that kept me coming back with happy feelings.

Friends – I remember slowly saving to buy all the season DVDs of Friends, slowly, one at a time from amazon uk, cause they weren’t out in Italy yet. I’d get my box set and sit at home for several nights just watching the entire season, and then I’d watch it again. It was hilarious, it made me happy and I still have fond memories of that time.

The X-files – my brother started watching the X-Files when they first came out in the US. I was already in Italy for University at that point and started watching it with him when I went home on holiday. I won’t lie, I thought it was a load of crap. My brother, then 15 or 16 thought it was all true and spent his days spouting conspiracy theories as teens are wont to do. Years later it finally comes out in Italy too and my roommate was really into it, so I started watching it again, and slowly a compulsion started. Unfortunately my roommate has since passed away (at 27 from a brain aneurism) but watching the X-files always makes me feel close to her. “The truth is out there” and I’m sure she knows what it is now.

Studio 60 on the sunset strip – I imagine most of you haven’t heard of it. It was one of the smartest, wittiest, most well written shows I’ve ever seen, which is probably why it was cancelled after only one season. If you have the chance, watch it, you’ll thank me.

The West Wing and Boston Legal – these are my go to “comfort shows”. I watch them when I need a mood lift, I’ve watched them both during both of my pregnancies, while breastfeeding my kids, after my Dad passed. I can’t explain it, but they distract me in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling dumb afterwards. They both have dialogues I actually want to follow, to me it always comes down to the writers, the use of words.

I watch other shows too, I like the mainstream popular ones like Grey’s Anatomy or Desperate Housewives or CSI, but those are my “switch my brain off” shows. Nothing wrong with that, of course, I’m not a TV snob, but the shows that really stayed with me throughout the years, the ones that I want to keep watching over and over are the ones where the writing matters.

This is why Lost pisses me off, the idea was so good, the execution was so bad. And now after this little venting post I hope to finally, definitively forget about Lost so I can concentrate on the really important stuff, like Modern Family and trying to figure out if Kitchen Confidential and The Big C are any good.

What are your favorite shows? What makes you keep going back for more? What’s important in a show, the writing, the action, the actors?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Lately I’ve been doing a lot of researching. Random researching, about a lot of different things. I look stuff up on the internet, I read site upon site, I look at actual books on whatever subject interests me at that specific moment but then, I’ve realized, I don’t actually use all this research that I do. After a few weeks (or, more rarely, months) of research I’ll declare myself satisfied with my expertise on the subject and I’ll promptly allow myself to forget everything without ever having tested my knowledge in the real word. All this is basically a colossal waste of my time.

So now I’ve decided to try and put this research compulsion of mine to good use, or at the very least to some use, I’m going to share it here so that I at least have a reference to go to when invariably I start wondering about that thing I researched six months ago and forgot about.

So some of the things I’ve been researching a lot recently are home remedies to common ailments. Luckily, I caught a cold the other day so I actually managed to put some of this research to good use, and generous soul that I am I’ve decided to share my knowledge with you!

First of all, the disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I figured I had to specify it in case it wasn’t clear from the first paragraph. All the information written here comes from the internet, or my grandmother, or folk knowledge, it could be true or it could be total hogwash I have no idea so proceed at your own peril.

Another important thing to note, once you catch a cold, you’ve caught a cold. There are no miraculous cures. All you can do is allay the symptoms and speed up your recovery, and here’s me helping you to do just that, so this is what I do if I catch a cold:

1.    Take a pain reliever. Do I even remotely look like a martyr? I like ibuprofen, it gets rid of my headache and relieves the muscle tension that always accompanies my colds.

2.    Cayenne Pepper is my BFF. When the cold is accompanied by a sore throat I gargle with a cup of warm water, 1tbs salt and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. I won’t lie, it burns your tongue and lips but the sore throat goes. I promise. I don’t know if the pepper anesthetizes my throat, if it scares the bacteria from reproducing, if my immune system goes into overdrive as a defense mechanism from the burning torture, but it works I’ve tried this repeatedly. I usually start gargling as soon as I get that scratchy throat feeling and I do it as often as I can, like every half hour for at least two hours. And the sore throat disappears. It helps to eat a tsp of honey when you’re done gargling cause it gets rid of some of the heat in your mouth.

3.    Steam. I boil water and stick my head under a big towel over the steaming bowl until it stops steaming. It clears my sinuses right up, and my sinuses are assholes. I’ve tried steaming with a variety of different things in the water: baking soda, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil… but what works best in my opinion is a splash of apple cider vinegar (or just regular vinegar) it’ll get you breathing through your nose in no time. Beware: it stings your throat and eyes at first, but stick with it your nose will thank you.

4.    Drink. Not alcohol, but tea. My go to recipe for a cold is this:
 ½ lemon & ½ lime (rind and all, just wash them well), 1 cinnamon stick, 1 inch long piece of fresh ginger, 1tbs honey and a some fresh herbs, like fresh mint and fresh lemon-thyme, or herbal tea if you don’t have the herbs. Add a generous amount of honey and drink up! It’s yummy, and it helps, it just doesn’t keep, the lemon and lime rind make it really bitter if it sits around.

5.    Vit C and zinc. Some research says this works, some says it doesn’t. I always have some sitting around and figure it can’t possibly hurt, though I don’t take mega-doses as some docs suggest I usually try to keep it around a 1gram capsule of vit c twice a day. I’m pretty sure that too much of any vitamin can’t be good.

6.    Hot shower. In my opinion there are few ailments a hot shower or bath can’t improve. Just forgo the hair washing unless it’s really necessary and stay warm after.

7.    Honey and garlic. Yeah, I know, this sounds really gross. Mix 2 cloves minced fresh garlic and 3 tbs raw honey and let it sit for a couple of hours. Take a teaspoonful three times a day, and try not to breath right in anyone’s face for a few days.

8.    Gargling. I’ve mentioned gargling with cayenne, but if you can’t stomach that just plain salt will do just fine. In fact, I was reading that even gargling with plain water everyday reduces one’s chance of getting a cold.

9.    Nose flushing. I use these saline sprays from the pharmacy but I don’t know if they sell them everywhere. I’ve also heard Neti pots are easy to use as well as a simple bulb syringe filled with saline (or plain salt and water, just don’t make it too salty). It’s important to be gentle, but regularly flushing out the nose helps sinus infections from occurring (supposedly).

10. Sleep. So now you have an excuse to sleep more, it’s for your health!

11. Real chicken broth. And by real I mean homemade, with chicken bones and stuff. I now always have some ready in the freezer, I’ll post the recipe for this within the next few days. But seriously, it’s so worth the effort it takes to make, because it’s good for so many things. And I promise, mine doesn’t smell gross and it won’t take you forever to make!

12. Lots of fluids. (And you know I don’t mean soda and alcohol, right?)

There ya have it. I used to get colds ALL THE TIME, now I don’t so much. Or maybe the cayenne kills them before they have time to get annoying, I don’t know, either way I've had plenty of chances to test this stuff. Plus all the stuff I mentioned has no side-effects (other than possibly your friends or partner staying away from you cause you smell garlicky or getting annoyed at you for sleeping to much). So it’s worth a try, right?

Do you have any tried and true natural cold remedies? What do you do when you get sick?

Also, if you don’t start feeling better soon or have a high fever, call your doc, don’t listen to me!!

Last thing, I just realized that number 1. isn’t really a natural cold remedy. Oops.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Virtual Coffee {23}

Hello dear friends, and welcome to coffee. I’m not actually having coffee today because the girl is sick and I just put her down for a few minutes sleep but don’t know how much time I actually have so it was either write or make coffee… evidently I really love you guys as I chose you over coffee!

So the girl has a cough and a fever (but thankfully no cold) the poor thing sounds like a barking seal, which, apparently is an actual medical diagnosis. I called her pediatrician today and told him she had a barking cough and he asked “barking like a dog or a seal?” and then made the sound. So there ya have it, she’s got the seal cough. Anyway, we’ve been nebulizing away since yesterday and I really hope it works mainly cause I’m not a big fan of antibiotics (unless really necessary) and also because considering all the work that goes into her sitting still for the entire ten minutes the nebulizer takes I would really like to see some results from my efforts.

I would also tell you that, very selfishly, I hope she gets better by Thursday (or her doc’s coming over to prescribe something stronger) and her brother doesn’t get sick too cause I’m supposed to go to Spain with my Mom on Saturday (YAY!). You see, my Mother’s getting married on September 30th (double YAY!) and as I can’t go to her “girl’s spa retreat” the weekend before the wedding (bad logistics) she invited me to go to Malaga with her for two days.

This wedding has been a long time coming so we’re all really excited. My mom has a real thing for my husband, so when he got sick she postponed her wedding (twice) so that he could make it and now she’s getting married in Rome, though she lives in Houston, cause we weren’t sure when he was going to be able to travel that far. Of course, her partner is a sweetheart too because there was really no reason for him to agree to get married so far away, other than he loves my mom and wants to make her happy.

Back to me being selfish, if the boy gets sick or the girl doesn’t get better I’m going to have to cancel the trip because the control freak that has taken up residence in my head won’t allow me to leave unless my children are 100% happy and healthy. So that’s what they need to be, because I really, really want to hang out with my Mom, doing adult things, wearing heels, sipping cocktails and eating paella as one does in Spain. So let’s all keep our fingers crossed, shall we?!

I’ll leave it at that as I’m starting to hear “waking up” sounds from the other room. Have an extra cup of coffee in my stead and then go visit our hostess Amy! Toodles.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Thwarted by a cold

I had big plans for this blog this week. Some totally new content that I hope you’ll enjoy, a new look, some oldies but goodies… but then the Girl got sick. 

She wasn’t terribly sick this morning, but when I saw she wasn’t 100% I jumped at the chance to spend the day with her, just the two of us, a rare occurrence. I figured she’d be back at baby parking tomorrow and I could get on with my life. Ha, said fate, right in my face.

Because the girl’s “kinda sick but not really” evolved into a clingy mess of neediness, barfing, a temperature and a seal-like barking cough that makes my ribcage hurt every time I hear it.

So all my big plans have been put on hold until a time to be determined… and let’s just hope the Boy doesn’t catch it next cause this month is already crazy insane without this, because, (did I mention this?) my Mom’s wedding is in like two weeks. Two weeks! GAH!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New is good. Right?

Stuff has been happening to me, little changes, that I haven’t talked about because they were hardly noticeable. Except now they’re starting to be noticeable. I may not have mentioned this before, but I’m a Libra. I know, all you rational people out there are rolling your eyes at me, and normally I’d be one of you, except, and this is why this is relevant, the duality of the Libra has started manifesting itself more and more. Hence the changes.

Lately, I’ve discovered new things that interest me, things I’m trying to put into practical use in my life, things I never would have considered a few years ago, not in a million years! In a way I’ve finally decided to embrace my contradictions, the opposing forces in my brain that drive me to buy only organic fruits and vegetables and then, with the next bite drown myself in the epitome of industrial foods like hershey’s chocolate syrup.

I’ve been reading a lot of environmentally friendly, crunchy, granola content and it’s starting to rub off. Hence the changes. Hence this post, in fact, which in my usual completely round about way is mostly to tell you that you’re going to be seeing some new content on here. Some new, crunchier content. (Along with run-on sentences I apparently really like fragments too). This is not to say that I’m completely abandoning my materialistic ways, let’s just say I’m reassigning my resources.

To give you an idea, some of the things I’ve been researching are: natural remedies for a variety of ailments, real food, the role of gluten and dairy in our lives, natural beauty treatments, frugality and what it means in our society, and a variety of related subjects. Although, let me reassure you, I’m not turning into a completely different person… I’m just looking into ways of living a healthier, happier, less expensive life more attuned with nature. Also, this way, I can spend all the money I save on the really important things. Like shoes.
Of course I’ve upgraded the look of this blog to go along with the new content (not that I’m completely shifting gears or anything, the old content stays, I’m just expanding), thanks to Meredith of Bueno Baby. The unveiling on Monday along with a post on raw milk, or how to use honey on your face, or possibly on how to make really yummy super healthy chicken stock… something like that.  I’ll save the posts on how I’ve stopped using shampoo for the near future, when you’ve adjusted to me going all nineties, granola, lefty, Birkenstock wearing, but just once a week, I can’t handle it more than once a week. So for now, Toodles!