Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Valentines Decorating

The Headlines:

It's a quick holiday after the big season.

But it deserves a little attention.

Here's how to love it.

Each year after New Years, we take it all off.  Yep, the tree comes down.  The wreaths, the stockings, the everything.  It all gets packed away for the following year.  We clean and scale down.  The house looks bare.  It's depressing.  Life is seemingly empty.

But alas... it is not.

It's time to throw out a little color and decor that is V-day.  Not much... I mean, c'mon, you just got through THEEE Super Bowl of holidays!  You just need enough to know the day exists.   Your kids will love you.  Your husband may not care.   But you, yes, you (remember you're in there too)!  YOU will be a little more amorous inside.  Promise.

Here are 5 steps:

1 - Pink and Red Baby
Pull it all out.  Hand towels (see them back there) and vases.  Whatever you got.  Don't go overboard.  Just enough.

2 - Go GLAM! 
Yep, as you're splashing those lovely colors around... get your glam out.  This means things that are shiny and sparkly!  Like in the picture above.  That's a Tiny Target vase for $3.  Or below.

Here, some closer looks.  The mixed metal pillow on the couch (Home Goods).  Or the XOXO garland I hung on my Window Screen Frame.

Or what about the tall, thin Rhinestone vase (which came from a Rose delivery years ago - yup, I kept it).... next to the large, mirrored, shiny votive (Home Goods).  It all adds to the drama that is Valentines Day!
3 - All About the Candy
What can be easier than sticking Red Licorice in jars?  Nothing.  I use this trick every time this time of year.  I think it's gorge.  I usually put it in all three containers.  But this year I added silver gum balls (from Party City).  See, Splash of Glam (refer back to #2)!

Or Red Hots in Hearts (refer forward to #4) sitting on your kitchen table.  How easy can you get?

4 - Get your HEART On
Here's another one: puts "hearts" and "love stuff" everywhere.  Simple.  Like above.  Or perhaps on the mantel and in your foyer like below.

That pillow is, again, from Target for 20 bucks.  I love it and can actually use it past Valentines... if I want.

5 - Get the Kids Involved
Finally tonight, get those kids in the spirit.  This is easy to do.  Go to the Dollar Tree.  Buy them some cute trinkets for a buck.  Signs, garland, lights.  You know the drill.   That's what we did here with this heart garland (from the Dollar Tree) in the Playroom and on my daughters headboard - the sign is from Target ($5)  - clearly I scored there this holiday!

**Sidenote, that dollar section when you walk in the door of Target is fabulous.  I kinda can't get enough of it.  Even though it's kind of going up in price.  Still good stuff for a bargain.  Way to go Tar-jhay!

And that is all... now go enjoy your Valentine Season as you LOVE your Home Decor!

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Elbow Grease

The Headlines:

Heard of elbow grease?

Neither had I...

Turns out, it's something we should all be using.

Last year was busy.  Aren't they all?  I feel like I run to catch up to each day and the years still fly by.  Especially since I had kids.  I wonder if that's how my Grandma felt?

Lessons From Grandma
She had 4 kids versus my two. She was a strong, German woman.  It's funny how you remember grandparents.  I remember her washing dishes.  Standing in that kitchen scrubbing away.  She was good at cleaning tough stuff.  I would see her work magic with a pot, pan or a chair cushion.  Sometimes even a good stain on a beloved shirt of mine.  There weren't many shirts so I needed the ones I had... she'd use this stuff called Elbow Grease.  I couldn't believe how great it worked.  My Grandma could do anything with that stuff.

It wasn't until one young, dumb day that I finally asked... what is this Elbow Grease stuff Gram?  She laughed and somehow explained to in her choppy, short way.  I couldn't believe that it didn't come from an actual bottle.  That, instead, it was something we all possessed.  Even me.

Sometimes I think that's what may be missing in our world right now.  Some simple Elbow Grease.

Putting Elbow Grease Into Action
It's something we've been trying to teach our kids for a while.  I think we may be getting some where.      My son started playing football last Fall.  He's 5.   The kid's not particularly huge, he's not even that fast.  But turns out, he loves that dang sport.  It's kinda crushing me, I saw that movie "Concussion" over the holidays.  Anyways, he wasn't that good.  I mean, really, not... that... good.  But he wouldn't stop playing football at home.  Everyday, passing to himself.  Calling plays.  Watching the real guys do it on TV.  It annoys his sister and tickles me.  But he is working hard.  Always.  The video below was this past Christmas Day.

Last weekend was his first game of the Winter season.  The kid ran like 40 yards for a TD up the middle and did something called a Pick 6... which I guess is when you intercept and run for a touchdown.  My word, I thought, he sure did use some Elbow Grease to get that job done.  I'm not saying he's going pro and I'm not even sure he'll ever have another game like that in his life.  But it doesn't matter - what does is he's working hard and going after what he wants.  Grandma would be proud.

I plan to use some Elbow Grease this year.  Like always, the husband (BP) and I will tackle some household projects.  We always come up with our list in January.  I was really proud of a couple past ones this last year like this Mega simple DIY Cardboard Letter, these Pendant Lights or my absolute FAV which is this huge Mirror I Antiqued.  But I'll even do one better and start to tackle Real Estate more.  I've had my license for over 10 years, we've bought and managed some rental properties and  homes are my passion.  I love showing them to people and finding the right one for their needs.  It's a privilege really.  Wouldn't you want a Picky Chick helping you find the right place to buy?  Click HERE for information - I'll be writing more about that soon so stay tuned.

Yet... as we do all those things, we'll also keep working hard to help these crazy kids, well, working hard.  These days our world seems incredibly lazy to me.  Like our mind-set needs a reset.  Kids these days think we should all be able to create some APP that makes a million dollars overnight.  But that's not what gets you to be great.  It's the hard work, the journey, the trouble along the way that makes a person unique - who they're supposed to be.

My daughter is a dancer.  She's been doing it since she was 3 years old.  She too has never been the best on her dance team.  I mean she is a shining light to us... but you know how that goes.  Anyways, last Summer we went to Las Vegas for her teams National Dance Convention.  At these things, young dancers from all over take classes, they compete their routines (solo and team) and they earn what they call "scholarships" for future dance conventions.  These things can get pricey.  It's always hard because some on your team may get picked and most of the others, don't.  It can be heartbreaking for these little boys and girls.  And, honestly, for the parents too.  So when we went - there wasn't much talk about any scholarships - we were just going to put our time in and get out.   The night before the scholarship announcement was a rough one.  We went out to a special dinner with some friends and the girls just melted.  It was a long week with a lot of hard work for 8 and 9 year olds.  But because she had an early wake up call, before bed we went over what she'd wear for the big day.  There was only one leotard left.  It was her black one.  The one she'd worn countless times for 2 years.  So along with some hand me down bootie shorts that was it.

The next morning she saw all of her friends with brand new leos and sparkly bows in their hair and she, as darling as she was... looked, well, not sparkly.  She was devastated.  Broken down.  Out of steam.  So I took her to the side and promised her 2 things:  they are not picking scholarships because of what you are wearing and you need to go out there and dance your heinie off if you want to win anything.

That by the way, didn't really work.

It was what I said next that kicked her into shape.  I told her we were leaving.  "If you're not having any fun then I don't want to be here.  We don't need to do this... let's go."

She didn't want to leave.  Instead, cautiously, she went in.  I stayed out and shed a few tears.  Apparently, she stayed tough, struck some poses and danced her heinie off like I told her.  Because hours later when the scholarships were announced it was the little girl in the black leotard with a middle part and a pony tail down her back who won one of them.  I couldn't have written it any better.  She may have been surprised but I was in shock.

See?  Elbow Grease.

Finally Tonight 
I like that my son isn't the best player on the Football team and that my daughter isn't the point in every dance.  It makes them want it even more, every week, all the time.  Some talents are given... others are earned.  I'm not sure what's best but I would say it's the talents that you refine on your own through hard work that may matter more.  At least in the long run.

Turns out Grandma really was on to something when she introduced me to Elbow Grease.  Guess it just goes to show some of the most valuable lessons may be the ones you've already learned.

Here's to 2017,


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

5 Tips to a Fabulous Holiday Party

The Headlines:

Throwing a party for 6 or 26?

These tips work every time.

I really can't believe it's this time of year again.  I honestly feel like life is a series of moments.  Each one better than the last (if you're lucky) but the moments roar in and then out as fast they came.  It's like I just want to make time stand still.  So it can all soak in.

But with 2 kids, a husband, dog and household depending on you... that really can't happen.  Not much anyway.  I know you know what I'm talking about.  Sometimes, I feel it's even worse for BP (the husband).  If he's not at work, he's with the kids, if he's not with them, he may be with me, if he's not with either he's performing a "honey-do" chore... or maybe, once in a while, he's golfing.  There's not a lot of margin in his life.

So when the holidays come there's even less margin to move in.  And much, much more to do.  Like throwing a party.  We do one almost every year.  It's a lot of work but it doesn't have to be... well not thhaaaaaat much anyway.  Here are my tips for a raging one every time.

1 - It Starts w the Invite
However you do it... make it simple and easy.  Everyone is sending out e-vite these days.  I get it.  But I still like paper.  Even though I know it's more time consuming.  I quickly make a poem, print it and affix it to some poster board that I cut out.  Simple.  I made up this poem a couple years ago.

Here ye all you Christmas fans
It’s time to make some serious plans
Come to our home for lots of good cheer…
And if you’ve been good – maybe some beer.
We’ll eat and be merry.
We’ll even serve cherries.
Just come to our house on the eve of the day…
That makes all your children forever behave.
Bring mom and dad, sister and brother…
 Make sure that elf is running for cover. 
‘Tis the night that magic begins to fade…
That’s why you’ll be here – with joy on parade.
So please let us know if you’ll make such a date…
We can’t wait to see you --  it will be super great!

I actually put these invites INSIDE OUR CHRISTMAS CARD - that way you don't have to send a separate party invite.  It's all in one.  BAM.

2 -  Signature Cocktail
Once you get to the party, the first order of business is that drink.  People want to relax!  Plus, it also helps people feel welcome if you see them, offer them and deliver them their first drink.  You can let them fend for themselves after that... but it's always nice to start out that way.  3 things are key when it comes to the Holiday Cocktail:
  1. Give it a name (that's the Sparkle-tini below) - makes it more festive
  2. Add something fresh (those are raspberries)
  3. Unless you have a bartender make it EASY to assemble!

Always prepare a big batch before a party, then shake and pour each cocktail during it.  Click here: Sparkletini Recipe if you're interested.

3 -  Serve Finger Foods
You're at a party and while it's about eating, it's also about talking.  You can't talk with a big mouthful.  So grazing is really more in order.  Create your menu accordingly.  Serve things people can quickly pop in their mouths.  Dips, skewers, maybe finger sandwiches or arranged little appetizers.  They don't have to be fancy.  But they do have to be yummy!  Here are a couple I did last year.  The rolled pickles are, as my friend called it, "stupid easy."  You add some garlic powder to cream cheese, mix and then scoop it onto a small pickle with a meat surrounding it.  Stab it with a toothpick and done.

The one on the bottom: Smoked Trout on Cucumbers.  Both are attempts to add some healthy crunch to the night.  But also have plenty of dips on hand.  Like this Artichoke Dip or try these Heart Shaped Appetizers.  A little labor intensive, more than any of my others here at least... but worth it.

I like making my own apps but let's be real, you can also go to Costco or Trader Joe's where they have some stupendous ones you can buy!  I may end up doing that this year in all honesty.

Lastly, we also usually do a big hunk of a "fancy" red meat that we can easily cut and people can self serve sandwiches.  It's perf.

4 - Treat "Bar" 
Once people are done feeding their faces they may want something a little sweet.  Especially if you have kids around.  Have a variety of things.  Not all chocolate, not all fruit.  Arrange it in a cute way, different heights are key and use some cute baggies or bowls.

Then make sure there's one Show STOPPER.  Like these hot chocolate cupcakes.

I'd give you a recipe but really any chocolate cupcake will do - any frosting will work though this one is my FAV (add a tiny drop of peppermint extract if you want a cool twist on a vanilla frosting):

This is what you need:
1 cup butter, softened
2 tspns vanilla
1/4 tspn salt
32 oz powdered sugar
6-10 tblspns of milk

This is what you do: Beat first 3 ingredients with mixer until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with 1 tblspn of milk at a time, until all is blended and smooth.  DO NOT refrigerate.  

Then toast some marshmallows, throw them on top along with a peppermint stick!  DONE.  If you can, add labels for your candy bar.  It's a tiny effort for a big return.

By the way, to make Sugar Cookie Popcorn I just melted some Sprinkle White Chocolate and then drizzled it over the popcorn on wax paper, tossed and voila!

5 - Send Guests with a Take Away 
I don't do this every year but most years I give out a little something.   It doesn't have to be big.  In fact, it shouldn't be big!  Just a little something as they head out the door...

These ornaments from Walmart actually (shhhhhhh) are super elegant and super inexpensive.  I love the way they look all bunched together.  It's kind of a two-fer.  Decoration and that parting gift all wrapped up in one!

Finally tonight, The More the Merrier 
I've always thought if I have 6 people over, I may as well have 26.  Or 56.  My theory?  I'm already putting out the effort.  At the Holidays, people want to be festive.  They want to dress up, they want to eat, drink and be merry.  So this is the time not to exclude anyone.  Also, depending on when you have your soiree, lots might not be able to come... it's a busy time of year.  So invite them ALL!

But most of all, have a lovely season with your family.  Enjoy the moments... they grow more fleeting by the year.  Since time can't stand still you can at least stop, take a deep breath and just be in... listening, looking and loving what's before you instead of what's already passed or to come.

Then, you can party.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Yummiest Dark Chocolate (gluten free) Cookies EVER!

The Headlines:

These may look like something you've tasted...

BEWARE - they're not!

They're BETTER!

Sometimes looks can be deceiving.  Like on Halloween.  You may dress up like a French Maid but you don't clean for a living!

Kinda like this cookie recipe.  It looks like something you've had before.  Maybe even something your sweet Grandma used to make.  But guaranteed - it's not!

Why?  First of all, there's no butter or flour in them.  And therefore, I guess, not that many calories.  You could maybe call it a "skinny" cookie... but I think it makes them sound too boring.  Which these are NOT!   See, kids below having LOTS of fun!

SO, without flour or butter - how do they work you ask?  It's the cornstarch.  And the chocolate.  Yea, those 2 things.  But here's the deal.  You're not missing anything in these cookies.  They are truly stupendous... even with just a couple ingredients!  I couldn't even stop eating the batter (which I never do) - it was outrageous chocolate goodness, as was the cookie itself.

See, I found this recipe a while ago and have been wanting to make it ever since.  This Fall Break we finally pulled the trigger and my kids were stoked (obvi, above)!  It was first published here: on but I tweaked it just a tad.  Not much.  That awesome gal gets most of this credit!

Here's What You Need:
coconut oil (non-stick spray)
1 tblspn cornstarch (nope, no gluten in here)
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
3 egg whites
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (make sure you get the gluten free kind - some pow sug's have starch in it)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tspn salt

Here's What You Do:
Set oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet (or 2) with parchment paper.   Or use that spray I mentioned above.  Melt 1 cup of dark choc chips in a micro proof bowl, set aside.  Take a large bowl, 3 egg whites and beat them with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Add in 1 cup powdered sugar.  Mix until it's not quite as "stiff" anymore.  Then, in a separate bowl blend salt, cocoa powder, cornstarch and another cup of powdered sugar.  Now, take that mixture and slowly add it in the egg white bowl.  Grab the 1/2 cup of choc chips and pour those into the melted chocolate, then add that to your cookie dough.  SaveSaveSaveSave

Now, scoop little balls of dough and roll them into the rest of your powdered sugar. About 22-24 times.  They look like this:

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  This is a tad tricky.  They can get a little over-cooked if you keep them in a couple minutes long (12 or longer) or they can be slightly under-cooked if you get them out too early (10).  So experiment.

But in the end you'll have these little dollops of melty, yummy goodness.  I'm telling you, Scary!  Scary good.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Benefits of BONE BROTH & How You Can Make It!

The Headlines:

It's Nature's Multi-Vitamin. 

The healthiest thing you're NOT EATING.

Let's change that.

This world has come a long way.  We've gone to the moon, invented the internet, heck we mass produce ice cream in the form of little tiny dots.  But sometimes it's nice to go back to the beginning.  Hundreds and hundreds of years ago some woman used the bones of the cow that her husband slaughtered for their family and made soup.  It wasn't only good but it held the key to pure and total health.  

Not long ago, I wrote an article on my 10 year old daughter... who is recovering from a horrible drug that was supposed to make her feel better.   It's a long story that many of you read.  Thank you by the way.  If you haven't I encourage you to do so HERE.  It's my most popular post so far and I can't tell you how happy that makes me.  I make no money on my blog.  Not a cent, just ask the husband.  So it makes me proud for the simple reason that it's chalk full of important information that I know will help others.

Anyhow, because of that post many people emailed/messaged me.  Including a college friend of mine who told me, in my quest to heal my little girl, I should also be feeding her Bone Broth.  She lives in Southern California where it's become all the rage.


You can buy it in Malibu for $8.50 in a small sized to go cup (gulp) or you can make it yourself.  More on that later.

My friend uses it to aid in her "Leaky Gut Syndrome" which is a real thing, I promise.  So I looked into it more and Bone Broth really is an all-powerful elixir.  No wonder everyone in NYC and LA are doing it... It aids in overcoming intolerances and allergies, detoxification, brain development, boosting the immune system, better sleep, more energy, joints/muscles/bones development - and yes ladies - collagen production!  

How Does It Work? 
The bones of heathy, grass fed, organic animals carry minerals and nutrients that we can't get to unless we boil and then simmer those special ingredients out of them!  It's not enough to just eat the meat around them... you have to suck the extra GOOD STUFF straight out.

Drinking bone broth puts anti-oxidants, vitamins, amino acids, minerals and electrolytes in your body like magnesium, collagen, glucosamine, calcium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, potassium, gelatin, arginine and more.  The problem is, typically, many of the aforementioned items are hard for the human body to absorb... consumption through broth makes it possible.

I heard it said that Bone Broth is Nature's Multi-vitamin.  That seems like an accurate description.


I know what you're thinking... I'll just buy some organic broth at the store.  You can't.  My acupuncturist says, even organic, store bought doesn't even come close to what you make in the kitchen.  He says, you may as well just drink water.  So let's get started.

Here's What You Need:
1-2 lbs of Organic, grass fed cow bones (found at most grocery stores today - about $8 per/lb)
Filtered water
Carrots (organic)
Celery (organic)
1 large Onion
Non-iodized Salt (himalayan salt, )
Apple Cider Vinegar
Powdered Collagen (optional)

Here's What You Do:
Put bones in water with 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar and bring to a boil.  Remove scum and transfer to crock pot.  Add coarsely chopped vegetables, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of collagen if you choose.  The whole thing takes maybe 15 minutes.

Keep on low setting for at least 48 hours... up to 72.

Could it BE any easier?

Once it's finished, strain bones from broth and keep in fridge to re-use (at least 1 to 2 more times).  Now you can either choose to strain everything from the broth or keep the veggies and extras in there.  After it cools place in fridge and/or freezer.

Also, you can sip some along the way and just refill with water but the best benefits come the longer the potion sits and simmers.

How Does It Taste?
That probably depends on who you ask.  My 10 year old likes it, my 5 year old doesn't.  My friends husband won't touch it.  My husband has it every morning.  I like it but I don't love it.  Maybe you should decide for yourself.  Two words of caution, my first batch was darn right yummy.  When I added the collagen it took a bit of that "yumminess" away.  Plus, I HATED when I tried doing it with chicken bones.  I threw it out.  

I know it's voo-doo sounding, as BP (the husband) likes to call it.  But in the same breath he now touts how amazing it is... all the "voo-doo" we do and have mentioned on this blog like Himalayan Salt LampsFERTILITY - How to Get Pregnant When Doctors say You Can't and of course Healing Your Child from A Prescription Pill  - REALLY WORKS.  It just does.

As I always say, I'm not a doctor but there's certainly nothing harmful about Broth.  If you're interested in reading more about the Benefits of Bone Broth - I got much of my information HERE.    Hey, if it helps me with wrinkles, my daughter with her nut allergy and my husband with his aching joints - SOLD.

Finally, tonight, I believe we, as a people hear things when we want to hear them.  It's how we survive in this information dense world we live in.  The other day I walked into my acupuncturist's office (whom I LOVE and respect by the way) - Robert Koagedal - with Acuheath in Scottsdale, AZ.  Find him HERE.  I told him, "Hey, I'm making Bone Broth" to which he chuckled and replied, "I've only mentioned that to you about 10 times!"

The benefits of Bone Broth go deep. So, hear me now... or when you're ready.  And take that plunge.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

DIY - How to Antique a Mirror

The Headlines:

I needed a LARGE mirror. 

But I didn't want to spend 2k

So I spent $110.

And did it myself!

Decorating is hard to do.  It's so personal.  What one person loves, another hates.  I like to decorate differently than many people.  I love an occasional West Elm buy but mostly, I like original stuff.  Things you can't buy in big box stores.  Things you won't see everywhere.  I also, however, don't like to spend a ton of money for that "original" stuff.  Which means I need to get pretty creative.  This is one of those times.

For a long time I had an entry I kind of threw together.  It went with my "Defined Style" of "Desert Cottage" but didn't keep up with my newly tweaked Defiintion of "Desert Cottage Elegance."  I figure I'm growing up and maybe my decor should too!

So I did this:

What did it look like before?

It was fine.  But it hadn't jived with me for the last few years.  See, this is the Foyer area.  It's what you see the moment you come in the door.  In other words, it matters.  I knew I wanted a mirror on that wall. A large one.  I wanted it to open the space rather than stop it.  But I needed a big mirror here.  Really large.  It had to take up a good majority of the area so it would have to be at least 4 foot by 6 foot... it could even be larger.  I researched it.  Do you know how much a mirror that size would cost?  Like thousands of dollars!

Not in my budget.  That's why I decided to make one.  But not just any mirror, I wanted it too have some visual interest... not just be reflective.

It's hard to see so here it is close up:

Put it this way... it's a lot more interesting to look at.  But the key to this whole thing: it was incredibly INEXPENSIVE.

More on that later.  For now... let's get started.

Here's What You Need:
Large, think plastic bottom layer (for your work space)
Working Garden hose
Muriatic acid
Spray paint stripper
Eye goggles
Face mask
PT's and/or rags
Funnel (chem resistant)
Gloves (chem resistant)
Spray bottle (chem resistant)
Plastic putty knife
Black basic spray paint

Here's What You Do:
Pick a day that's not too hot and not too cold.

Step 1 - Find an outdoor work space.  Lay the plastic material down.  If you buy a new mirror, you can even use the cardboard it came in like I did below.  Carefully lay your mirror on top.  I actually chipped mine, but I figured, I AM aging the thing... it works!

Step 2 - Gear up.  Put on your goggles, mask & gloves.  Take the acid and pour it through the funnel into the spray bottle.

Step 3 - Spray the paint stripper all over the back of the mirror(s).  You're actually taking off the protective layer.

Wait a couple minutes... you can see it working.  Then, you start working.

Step 4 - Scrape the paint off with the putty knife.  It's ok if some of the paint is left behind.  Once finished, use some paper towels or rags to wipe it down.  Mine looked like this:

Step 5 - Spray the Muriatic Acid.  This is the heavy duty stuff so be careful.  Aim towards the sides but spray some randomly everywhere.  You'll see it working.  You'll also feel it on your lungs if you don't use that mask!  Leave it anywhere between 1-3 minutes.  Perhaps it depends upon the mirror.  Some say 1 minute.  But when I kept it on for only 60 seconds - barely anything happened.  I had to re-do it 3 times.  It also depends on what look you're going for... i.e.: how much age or "black" you want to see?!?  I wanted to see some but not too much.

Step 6 - Hose off the Acid.  This is where you need that garden hose.  Be careful where the acid goes too... don't use too much water! Your Mirror will now be "see-thru" in some spots!  It will look like this:

Step 7 - Spray paint the back black.  After the water dries, you need to protect the mirror as well as add the "antique" look so spray that black on.  Once that dries - you're finished.  The whole project took under and hour.  Or it would have... except for the fact that I had to go back and spray the acid several times.  Plus, I had to move the mirrors at one point because the sun was too harsh and hot.  But really, overall, not a lot of time.

Step 8 - Hang.  My last step was to hang these puppies.  Some people lean their mirrors, which I also LOVE to do!  But for this, we actually used the exact same things handymen use to install bathroom mirrors.  Those metal clips.  They looked the best and were the least invasive.  Plus, they cost next to nothing.

You could also make your own mirror frame around it with molding but I didn't want to... I decided to hang a grapevine wreath with some burlap that I had laying around the garage.  I just thought it added an element that was missing.

Finally, tonight, back to cost.  This project set me back a mere $110.  A lot of bang for my buck!  But cost really depends on the type & size mirror you use.  Have one at home?  That's free.  The two I bought (each were 36"x48") totaled about $90.  You can also get mirror tiles like these at Home Depot: CLICK HERE they're 12"x12" - $10 for a six pack.  I almost did that so I could make it as large as I wanted but it also added an extra step.  After I "antiqued" them I'd have to affix all of those to a board before I could hang.  But it too would have looked super cool.

I'm super happy with this... I got a 4 foot by 6 foot mirror for a fraction of the price it would have cost to buy.  Now, your turn!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Finding Savannah: Healing Children from A Prescription Drug - Singulair/Montelukast

The Headlines:

My daughter took Singulair (generic is Montelukast). 

It had devastating effects that seemed to linger.

Here's how we mended her...

You can do it too!

Life is precious.  Many of us don't even realize it.  We go about our daily business.  Things are great.  Until they're not.

That's where I was in my family almost 2 years ago.  I wrote the full story last year... you can read about it HERE.  I'll warn you, it's not pretty.  I basically gave my daughter a pill (Singulair/Montelukast) to aid with her asthma and it ended up slowly suffocating the life out of her.  Not literally, obviously, but very figuratively.  I nominated myself for BAD MOM of the YEAR Award.  Since then, it's been a long, windy road but she's almost back.

As I start this post I want to reiterate I'm not a doctor.  I'm simply a Mom with a daughter.  A daughter who had an illness that became a huge problem.  A daughter who was prescribed a little pink pill to conquer a sickness that ended up making her a shell of the person she used to be.  Arguably, worse off than she was without it.  I also want to make it clear if you have a child or know any person who is taking the drug Singular/Montelukast - be aware - go in with your eyes wide open.  Because the problems that come with these drugs may hit you on the head like a tidal wave OR they could sneak up out of no where and knock you out cold.  Finally, I want to attribute much of our success in this healing process to a Facebook Support Group which you can find HERE dedicated to helping individuals get their lives back after having them stolen by this horrible drug.  It is to them, the administrators and the contributors, that we owe everything.

Once Upon A time

It was years ago when my then 3 year old little girl got a persistent cough that wouldn't go away.  She went to the ER right before her OWN Birthday Party for it, was admitted to the doctor multiple times for it and as a new Mom I was scared by it.

Fairly quickly, we were given several choices by her pediatrician on how to handle this scary cough.  I picked the one I thought easiest and most effective.  A pill she could take daily called Singulair/Montelukast.  Because she, at first, took it very sporadically (only when she'd have coughing "fits")  I never attributed her change in behavior to the pill.  But as the years went by, she took the pill more and the dosage went up.  As time went on, she was showing signs of anxiety, depression, OCD, she was unable to focus, always in a fog, she couldn't remember things, she was crying a lot and completely irrational.  My daughter was also having physical problems.  She was shaking and had sleeping and stomach issues.  She had (and still deals with) an occasional bloody nose and there are reports that Singulair/Montelukast can exacerbate that as well.  Bottom line, after a few years - my little girl was no where to be found.  I was unaware but while the pill my daughter took had gotten rid of her cough it simultaneously, completely, messed with her brain.

I was lost and confused.  She was more lost and confused.  My husband and I couldn't figure out where the change came from.  Was she going through her hormonal years early?  Until one day after a horribly emotional Brownie camping trip, followed by an old fashioned cold (see OTC avoidance below) - did it hit me (it helped that, on this day, she said,  "I often feel like crying for no reason.")  My God - it was the Singulair/Montelukast.  I yanked her off of it.  **Though that is controversial - see below.  I now wish I would have tapered her.  But for me, at that moment, I just needed to get it out of her body.

Life After Singulair/Montelukast 

The change was noticeable.  My little girl was in there again.  I ran to the doctor because I was scared of what was to come.  I was sure her asthma cough would come roaring back.  I was wrong.  Perhaps she grew out of it at that exact same time but I tend to believe the Himalayan Salt Lamp had something to do with her good luck.  I wrote that story HERE... I think it could be part of a Natural Asthma Cure.

But as I continued to rejoice at our good fortune... over the next year and a half I noticed she had a tendency to go into what I called the "Singulair Slump."  She would, for a time, go back into this very dark place as if she was on the pill again.  I didn't understand why.  So I began to pay closer attention.  I noticed pretty quickly it was after she would come home from a sleep over or after I gave her an over the counter (OTC) drug of some sort.  Like a cold or an allergy medicine.  But other times it would happen out of no where.  It was odd, because on the one hand she was thriving - on the other she was struggling.

That's when I, once again, reached out to the amazing people at that Facebook page I told you about above... I asked them if anyone else had experienced this "Singulair Slump"?  The answer was a resounding YES.

Singulair/Montelukast Residual Effects

Now fasten your seat belts folks cause what follows is a lot of information.  Information which some may call complete crap or total voo-doo.  That's up to you to decide.  But from where I sit... it's our very real and true story.

There's talk that due to the nature of the drug sometimes there can be residual effects that are triggered by certain things.  See, Singulair/Montelukast works by changing the neurotransmitters in the brain and therefore can completely alter the messaging system there.  Read THIS ARTICLE  to understand that.  Because of that, it can throw some immune systems into over drive (term used is overactive immune system) making the patient more susceptible to ailments, including but not limited to, something called "leaky gut" syndrome.  That's when the digestive lining in your tract can become compromised and cause toxins to leak out into the body which in turn leads to depression, bloating, sleeplessness and brain fog.  Watch more about"Leaky Gut Syndrome" in THIS VIDEO from Dr. Oz... it's a real thing guys!  

So the goal after getting off Singulair/Montelukast then becomes repairing the damage that seems to be left behind from the drug.  Think of it as a deep bruise on the brain/body that needs some time and HELP to heal.  There are natural things we can take and artificial things we should avoid that can aid us in recovery.

This is pretty simple.  It's stuff normal healthy adults and children shouldn't have in their diet.  It's just in this case, it's truly imperative for the daily health and well being of prior Singulair/Montelukast patients.
  • Aspartame 
  • MSG
  • Preservatives (also contained in some flu shots)
  • Artificial colors/flavors
  • OTC medications: specifically (but not limited to) ALLERGY MEDS & cold meds
  • Fluoride treatments
  • inhaled corticosteroids (like Pulmicort or Flovent )
  • lack of sleep

It's called by some the "Threshold Theory."  When a past Singulair/Montelukast patient goes over this certain threshold with one of the items above - it throws them right back into the "Singulair Slump."

This is not as simple.  There's lots to do here.  But if you think about it, it all makes sense.  Essentially you need to repair what was damaged in the body by the drug.  Depending upon how much damage was done... you may need to do a lot.

**Discalimer - This is what we've tried and what has worked for us.  I'm not a professional nutritionist or doctor.  This is simply trial and error.  But because everything on the following list is natural and rather well studied I feel confident there aren't too many wrong turns a person can take.

  • Fish Oil - is brain food.  It can help repair what's been damaged.  Watch THIS VIDEO for more on that
  • D3 
  • Tumeric - in a powder form (but not just the cooking spice) with black pepper in it.  It too helps brain function.  It's now being used to combat Alzheimers.
  • Magnesium Transdermal Spray - is a healing agent which helps in the proper functioning of the cells in your body.  Read THIS ARTICLE for more information.  
  • Quercitin - is an anti-oxidant and natural anti-inflammatory so it works as a natural anti-histamine.  It will aid recovery in both the brain and body.  THIS ARTICLE should help explain more. 
  • B-12
  • Organic foods  - Lots of leafy greens, apples, coconut oil, parsley, non-histamine foods - some choose to follow a completely non-histamine diet.  We do not.
  • Probiotic - to help fix any "Leaky Gut" issues caused by the pink pill.
  • Gaba - is a neurotransmitter that is natural occurring in all brains.  But some of us have a Gaba deficiency (often found in autistic & ADHD kids).  As mentioned earlier, due to the intake of Singulair/Montelukast, some neurotransmitters in a patients brain are interrupted and impaired.  If Gaba is low in a system - it can throw a person into a tailspin.  See THIS ARTICLE .  There are supplements to take like Gaba Calm, but Gaba can also increase on its own when using other vitamins/minerals or by practicing...
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture 
My daughter has tried or is using all the above except for meditation, acupuncture or Gaba at this point.

Getting Your Child Back 

As you do all of the things above... you will begin to immediately see a new person.  Or perhaps you'll just get the old one back.  It isn't slow, it's fast.  It's noticeable and it's incredible.  I get emotional every time I think about it.  I'm crying right now writing this.  To see you daughter genuinely smile... is the best gift of all.  She has become a brighter student, a better dancer, a happier friend.  She can laugh when she used to cry.  She can recover when she used to crumble.  She is my baby girl again.  Not for long... childhood goes fast my friends.

But it can still go dark.  I test it.  A few months back, she had some Oreo cookies and a drink with some aspartame in it and the next day, Mother's Day, she got upset: "I'm feeling really left out.  You and Grandma are getting all the attention."  I responded, "that's because it's Mother's Day dear."  She replied, "Well, if it was just you it would be fine but it's both of you and I'm feeling bad."  Me again: "Honey, you're not a Mother."  See, the irrationality quickly crept in.  Or last weekend we had company for 2 nights (she got no sleep)... the day the company left she was mopey all day.  She just goes into a shell.  I know what you're thinking but it's beyond what normal kids do.  It's the "Singulair Slump" - it comes roaring back.  But the good news is, after vitamins and just one solid night of sleep - we get her back again.  It's a bit of a roller-coaster ride but I'll take it.

I look forward to the day that she can stay up late and not have to worry about how or if it will effect her mood.  I hope and pray that day comes.  I can only imagine college life being incredibly difficult (with late night studying and an occasional party) - I don't want her to suffer any more than she already has... but how long she will be in "recovery" remains to be seen.

**Taper or Cold Turkey?

Because of that fear, how long she'll be in "recovery," I recommend tapering your child off Singulair/Montelukast.  Don't chance it.  It doesn't take long.  Over one week to one and a half weeks,  give them less.  The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, or ISMP, says any medication that causes neuropsychiatric side effects should be tapered off to avoid further damage.  You can read their article HERE.   Also, this is a real life scenario: a woman from the Facebook Singular Support Group had 2 sons on the drug.  One she tapered, the other went cold turkey.  The son who went cold turkey still has some lingering issues, after being off for years.  The other son does not.

Report Adverse Drug Reactions

It's important to continue to get the word out.  My daughter, Savannah, is one of the lucky ones.  She's still here.  It can get bad fast - many people take their lives while on this drug.  Stronger warning labels, more studies, better public awareness is needed in order for our children to get a fair shake.  Singulair/Montelukast stole a part of life from my daughter and I'm raging mad about it.  My only hope is that, with my research and the help of other caring and sensible individuals she'll continue to grow into the person she was always meant to be.  Not the person shoved into her body in the form of a little pill called Singulair.

Read the FDA's Pediatric Safety Review of Singulair/Montelukast ARTICLE HERE and if you'd like to Report the Adverse Effects you've encountered on this drug (or any other for that matter) you can click  HERE or call 1-855-543-3784.

Finally tonight...

I'm not saying pull this drug from the market.  I'm sure there are some people that need Singulair/Montelukast for their daily well being.  Further, there are most likely some children who aren't negatively impacted by it at all.  Then by all means, let them have it.  But do so under close supervision.  Make doctors, patients, families aware of what can potentially happen when you take this drug.  The people who are complaining about adverse reactions aren't lying and they do matter.    Every child matters.

Someone you know needs this information.

According to the CDC, 1 in 12 have asthma today.  More than half of those people are children.  

Many are using or will use Singulair/Montelukast.  So share this information to your friends and family.  Let everyone know of the huge harm that can come from a little pink pill.  Then remind them healing can happen.  You WILL find the person Singulair stole from you as you watched the entire time.  Just like we finally found Savannah...

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