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    January 20, 2017 by Brandy Vencel


    :: 1 ::

    It’s time to share another what’s-in-my-medicine-cabinet tip. We have to do these every once in a while, you know. This time, I want to highlight the remedy Ruta Graveolens 30. It’s one of my favorites and we use it all the time. Ruta Graveolens is my go-to for sprained ankles and similar problems. So, for example, when someone has fallen during street hockey and twisted his wrist, I grab my bottle of Ruta right away.

    A few years ago, if you recall, I sprained my ankle very badly. I was down for the count for a number of weeks, and it really took me about a year to feel normal again. Near the end of that year, I learned about Ruta Graveolens. I was told that some people find it helps even with old injuries. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I tried it. It made such a difference! A residual achiness that I just couldn’t rid myself of disappeared in a couple of days and never returned.

    Ruta is an indispensable tool for families that are out hiking. I have a number of remedies I carry with me when we go — for things like head injuries, snake bites, and such. Ruta is definitely in that group, and it’s come in handy more than once. There is nothing worse that trying to make someone finish a hike on an injured ankle!

    As you know, I’m not a doctor. But I figure we can share things like this, just mom to mom, right?

    :: 2 ::

    The fourth episode of AfterCast came out this week!

    The Don't Look Theory of Parenting, a reckless version of masterly inactivity?

    As per usual, you can scroll down and listen on the page, or listen in your favorite podcast player. Bonus points for leaving a review. You know I appreciate those!

    :: 3 ::

    Who here is into “natural” deodorant? I always had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, of course I wanted to stop putting aluminum on my skin. Naturally. On the other hand, I did not want to make deodorant myself at home, nor did I want to pay an outrageous price for someone else to make it for me. Plus, a lot of the homemade ones use coconut oil and it totally freaked me out to let oil come in contact with clothes. I know people say it’s fine, but I had a phobia!

    This means that for years I used deodorant crystals. This worked fine for me, but once some of our children started needed some, um, assistance in this area, I realized the truth: deodorant crystals don’t work for everyone. With that said, I was certainly not going to put aluminum on my children’s skin.

    And then I learned a trick.

    It’s inexpensive. You don’t have to make it. It’s totally aluminum-free. Most importantly, it works. It’s Milk of Magnesia! If you’re going to try it, you want one with no additives — the only inactive ingredient listed should be purified water. You can even fill up an old roll-on bottle if you have one, or put it in an essential oil bottle. Or using hands works well, too!

    :: 4 ::

    The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas, Charlotte Mason's Great RecognitionYou know my undying affection for The Triumph of St. Thomas AquinasWhen I was at Grace to Build, Riverbend Press was selling a beautiful print. Unlike a lot of prints I’ve seen online, it is tall and includes The Descent of the Holy Spirit above, instead of being wide and only showing The Triumph proper. I badly wanted a copy, but I couldn’t contrive a way to get one safely home. Someone from the conference was incredibly kind and generous — she bought me a copy and had it mailed to me! ♥ I am forever grateful.

    The question that followed was how to frame it. I started to look around online and was saved by a friend again, this time Dawn Duran. She explained to me that Hobby Lobby makes an affordable frame that works perfectly due to the black matting. She was right. It looks lovely! I am thrilled.

    I must apologize for the photo. It’s not great. I know. I’m not that wonderful of a photographer to start with, and then I forgot to take it until after the sun was down and the lighting was terrible. But still, it gives you an idea. The words at the bottom are the text of Charlotte Mason’s 20th principle, which is also dear to my heart.

    :: 5 ::

    Speaking of hanging pictures, here is another one:

    above my piano

    My husband gave me this picture (isn’t the frame lovely?) for Christmas, and he hung it up over the weekend. It’s above my piano, if you can’t tell. I love it. She’s reading … with the windows open … and the breeze blowing … and out the window is the ocean. My beloved ocean. I love the whole thing. ♥

    I remember when we went many months ago to an auction for a furniture company that was going out of business. We were walking around looking at pieces. Everything was an amazing deal. We bought an $800 end table for fifty bucks! I remember looking through the pictures and telling him that the picture were worth buying for the frames — that frames like this (real wood) would cost $100 in Mexico, and a lot more here. I guess that piqued his interest. Apparently, he went back and bought this one and then hid it in his office at work for months.

    Such a lovely surprise.

    :: 6 ::

    This month in 2014:

    I still think about this — it’s an idea I’ve run across a lot over the years, that story is a very powerful thing.

    :: 7 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    :: 8 ::

    A couple weekends ago, we had a birthday party in honor of Daughter Q. turning 10. This was different than other parties we’ve done in the past. It was Epiphany (not her birthday, but the party), so the logical thing to do was roasting marshmallows around the fire pit and indulging in way too much hot cocoa. Here’s how we set it up:

    As you can see, fire pit at the forefront.  The two little tables right behind it have supplies for roasting marshmallows. The table on the right against the house  was for the hot cocoa bar (yum!). The JOY table in the background is where people left donations for a local charity (no gifts, which also means she invited a bazillion people). You can’t see it, but to the left was a trampoline for the children to jump in, and of course they ran like crazy all over the yard. What else do children do when it is dark out and 40 degrees?

    It was totally fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Except for the part where I drank way too much hot cocoa. There are better ways to stay warm is all I’m saying.

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  • Reply SarahD February 9, 2017 at 4:18 am

    Hi Brandy,

    I really like the picture above your piano. Can you share the artist’s name?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 11, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      Ack! I feel horrible about this, but I don’t remember and the matting doesn’t allow me to read it clearly enough — it cuts off too many of the letters on the bottom. 🙁

  • Reply Heidi January 21, 2017 at 6:16 am

    I love the Victor Davis’s Hansen article! So much wisdom, and clear-eyed vision. I’ve recently studied Thucydides for a master’s program, and when I read Thucydides’ comments on revolution and Athenian behaviors, I thought “we’re doomed!” Why can’t the majority see things so clearly?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 22, 2017 at 9:22 am

      Have you ever read Battle of the Books by Jonathan Swift. I have been mulling it over for months since I read it last year. There is this moment when the Moderns want to “see to the East” and they decide to do that by tearing down the Classics. It’s metaphorical, but I think that’s your answer…

      • Reply Heidi January 22, 2017 at 10:50 am

        No, I haven’t! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

      • Reply Dawn Duran January 22, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        Hey – we almost put that one into our Forum Discussion schedule. I’ve never read it, but now you’ve got me more intrigued.

  • Reply Dawn Duran January 21, 2017 at 2:58 am

    Hooray that you acquired the Hobby Lobby frame. It looks lovely, doesn’t it?? I love mine!! I learned about the frame from a FB post by Nancy Kelly, actually, and was really thankful to do so, as it solved my own dilemma of how best to showcase this lovely print commissioned by my dear friend Nicole.

    Yes, humbling indeed. That is really beautiful, Q. Although I personally can’t think of many other ways I like to stay warm than drinking loads of hot cocoa.

    And Si? Good move on the frame surprise. It’s absolutely beautiful!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 22, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Oh, I *like* drinking loads of hot cocoa. Apparently it doesn’t like me back. 🙁 It was a brutal reminder of why I stopped drinking milk a few years ago… 🙁

      • Reply Dawn Duran January 22, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        Aaaaah. That makes total sense, as I have recently been cutting out dairy products lately for the same reason.

  • Reply Tara January 20, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Hi Brandy, would you be willing to share which other remedies you have in your hiking kit? And I’d love to know how you and your 10-yr-old arrived at a no-gifts party. Was that your idea, hers, or both? Is this the usual pattern in your family, or was this birthday unique in that regard?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 20, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      Hmmm…trying to remember off the top of my head about the kit. Definitely arnica 30, rhus tox 30, and apis 200. There are a few others, but this is what I remember right now. 🙂

      As far as the no-gifts thing, totally her idea. She said last year that the next year she wanted to do something “for the poor” and so we took the opportunity to teach her how to do it. She chose a local charity, and then we called and got a list of their actual needs to put into the invitation. Our usual thing is a party with extended family and a couple friends.

      • Reply Tara January 20, 2017 at 8:09 pm

        Great, thank you. And that’s wonderful that she is thinking of others. 🙂

        • Reply Brandy Vencel January 20, 2017 at 10:58 pm

          It was very humbling because I remember MYSELF at 10 and it was SO not like that!

          • Kristi January 22, 2017 at 2:27 pm

            I was going to ask the same thing Tara did about the “no gifts, etc.,” so thanks! ☺ Sadly, I’m sure I wasn’t thinking like that at age 10, either! How lovely of an idea.

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