Tag Archives: cleaning

Ears can be very ouchy things…

I have a friend at Church who has been proclaiming for some time that he has “a manky ear”.  Although I am not over clear on what “manky” describes, I have been motivated to try and find some sensible things for my friend to try.  I know he has already gone to his doctor, and he has had his ear syringed, but it is still bothering him.  I wondered if a Country Doctor might be able to help.


It really comes down to whether “manky” = earwax or pain.  I am not sure that my friend is in that much pain, and I know he has had his ear treated with warm olive oil as well as having it syringed, to no avail.  I also know that there are few things more miserable than painful ears, so I wanted to check out what to do to help people.  Lets deal with pain first.

According to my book, earache tends to stem from infections of the middle ear, or outer ear canal.  When the sufferer is a little person, it often goes with a stinking cold and lots of congestion.  Apparently, there are only two parts of the baby that are fully grown at birth – eyes and the ear canal. Everything else is up for growing and changing as time goes on  Of course, as the rest of the ear is still babysized, it causes all kinds of bottle necks with in the ear for, let us call it technically, gunk to amass and cause problems.  Sometimes it can be caused by a virus causing swelling and mucus to fill up your eustachian tubes – which are the tiny channels which equalise pressure in your nasal passages and inner ears.  And we can also have all sorts of thing in the ear as well.  Bugs.  Pieces of Lego.  Tiny cutlasses from small plastic toys.  All kinds of stuff.   You can also get an inflamed outer ear canal.  You can tell if it is that, because if you pull on your ear lobe, it makes the pain worse.  Seriously, what a useful diagnostic tool that is!!  I might just have to text my friend and ask him if that works!

ear ache

If your ear is inflamed, then I am going to suggest anti-inflammatories to help with the soreness.  It will not deal with the reason for the pain in the first place, but it will bring down the swelling, and that can only be a good thing.  One of the best home remedies for an earache is warming up olive oil or mineral oil and using just a few drops into the ear.  It is best to do this while lying down and with the affected ear facing up.  Once the oil is administered, putting a warm compress against the ear can also help.

Another thing that can nix the ache is taking a decongestant.  You need to make sure it is a decongestant without an antihistamine, as the antihistamine could thicken up the mucus and make the problem worse rather than better.

ear cleaning

And now we come onto the other side of potentially manky ear; the earwax.  Although it is a perfectly natural human body byproduct, it is not a pleasant think to contemplate.  It is in fact a natural protection secreted by a special gland in the ear and the idea of it is to trap germs and dirt.  The skin in your ears starts to grow just outside the eardrum apparently and migrates forward, taking the wax with it.  It is, in some ways, Nature’s form of cleaning house.  Often this cleaning system goes a little awry though.  It could be from a cotton bud pushing the wax back into place, or it could be overly productive was making glands.  The good news is that wax build up is curable.

ear bubbles

One of the best things to use is hydrogen peroxide from your pharmacist.  A few drops in the ear two times a day for several days should clear up any build up problems.  It is certainly better than historical solutions of ox gall, child’s urine or she goat urine.  If those are my options, I think I will stick to the ear wax build up.  When you put the peroxide into your ear it will bubble.  Wait until the bubbling stops and the drain the liquid away.  Wax should come to.  If the wax is hard, then mixing glycerin with the hydrogen peroxide (half and half) will helps to soften the wax for removal.

However, the best bit of advice?  Do not stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.  Now that seems to be eminently sensible advice.


Trying to fit it all in…

Seriously, if this year needed a subtitle, like they do in the movies, this would be the one for me.

fitting it all in

I am in something of a reflective mood today, after I attended the funeral of a friend’s Father yesterday.  I went to support my friend, and I was so proud of how she held herself together and dealt with the raw emotion that goes along with these sorts of occasions.  Having been there myself, not so long ago, I know how useful it is to have people to lean on.  But as with every funeral, it makes me think about things.

One of the things I was thinking about yesterday and today is how frantically (even maniacally) busy I am.  I have no idea how I had the time to go to work.  I am a full time homemaker and even now I don’t always get to all of the jobs that I want to get to. I dread to think what the place would look like if I was out of the house 10 plus hours per day with a commute on top.  The garden would be a wilderness and the dust bunnies in the house would be unionising and militating for self rule!


As it is, I haven’t managed to get a duster or a vacuum around the place in three weeks (but to be fair, I was out of the country for 10 days!) and I feel like such a slattern.  I am doing a deep clean in every room today, in the vain hope that keeping on top of it will be easier thereafter.  Yeah… I am not hopeful about that either.  Also, the fact we have a meeting with our new Adoption Social Worker tomorrow morning is also rather a motivating factor.  “Yes, this is how tidy the house will never ever be again once a child arrives in our lives”

I have told myself off, and I am attempting to cut myself some slack, but it is really hard.  I set such high standards for myself, and I get cross with myself (and whoever is standing close by, to be fair) when I can’t reach them.  Perfectionism is a total b*tch. But practically speaking, is keeping the house clean the most important thing?  No, not really.  Keeping it hygienic is different from keeping it perfect.  It is hygienic.  No one is going to contract a communicable disease when coming into this house.  You might get cat and dog fur all over you, but in this house, that is how we accessorise!  I have a plaque somewhere that says “Welcome to our home – clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be fun”.  That is what I am aiming for.

As I go around the house getting into some fairly mucky corners, I am thinking that I need to reassess my priorities.  I don’t think I actually have a set of them at the moment.  Everything is at the top of the list, and that is not a sustainable way to be.  In fact, as I have been uncomfortably close to having a total meltdown this week, I can tell that sustainability is out of the window and running down the path screaming.  Somehow I need to reassert some control over everything that I need/want to achieve.  I can feel a big old list coming on.


Any reader of this blog will know that I love a good list.  But having one is just the first step.  Then you need to prioritise the list.  No point having a list of stuff which is all a priority because then you look at it and go all clammy and sweaty palmed and think “EEP! Where do I start!”.  So, you need a system.  When I was at work and dealing with competing priorities from every which way, I used a simple ABC method.  A’s were the things I needed to do.  The ones where the ONLY person who COULD do them was me.  The ones with a time limitation that was measured in microns, or at the very most hours.  B’s were the jobs that it would be nice to get to.  The jobs that would make people smile a little bit, or the one’s that would make my job a little easier if they were out of the way.  C’s were the jobs which I would get to eventually, but no one one would holler about if I left them.  Or the ones I could delegate to someone else.

Transferring that system to the house then…  A’s would be the stuff that makes the place safe; B’s would be the tasks I might have put off for a while but once they are done life will be a little better;  C’s would the bits which can stay on the list until someone says “A dust bunny actually talked to me”.  (I am thinking painting.  I hate painting.)

I wonder if I can extend that system to the garden as well?

Home energy makeover… in just 12 minutes…

Sunday is a day for spiritual renewal.  But not just for people, houses need a bit of a lift every now and again as well.  You will probably recognise the signs.  When you feel your mood dropping as you walk into a room, or into the whole house.  Chances are you need to shake up the energy in the house a little bit.  Here are some feng shui tips to do just that.

open windows

First of all, open all the windows.  Getting fresh air into the place makes it smell lovely, and if the weather is good enough to do it, it seems a shame not to.


Dusting and polishing the surfaces in a room always makes it feel better, as does vacuuming and mopping floors.  Make the house sparkle for that energy uplift.  Make sure any bins you have are also clear.

fluffed pillows

Fluff up your pillows and cushions, water your houseplants, and blast your favourite music out (with consideration to your neighbours!)


If those things haven’t worked, then you can try burning a sage wand or a beeswax candle, sprinkling lavender oil in each corner, or just changing your light bulbs to brighter lights.  If needed, switch on the lights.


Mainly, for this Sunday, I am going to be counting my blessings, taking deep breaths and smiling broadly!  We are commemorating an anniversary for our family this weekend, and when I think how far we have come in the last 2 years… well, I can do nothing more.


Sunday Morning

Doing the Laundry…

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it is lined with various cleaning products.  You know the type of thing.  The ones you get seduced into buying at the supermarket when you are desperate for something to get rid of the limescale on our taps, or in your bath, or just to make the house shine and smell nice.

cleaning products

I am firmly of the conviction that you can clean your house without resorting to those manufactured chemicals with lots of things in them that I can’t pronounce.   Sometimes you need the big guns, but nature provides stuff that is just as good.  As my hubby and I are moving house, cleaning is on my mind, and my goal is to do it all from natural sources.

First tool in my arsenal is the steam cleaner.  We have one which you can use to clean the oven (very efficient!) as well as steam around the taps, sink, bath and tiles and the other hard floor surfaces we have around the house.  It is great.  Keeps the place hygienically clean and doesn’t give you a headache from the chemicals.  If you add a drop of essential oil in the water reservoir, it makes your house smell fabulous as well.  My favourite is either Neroli (Orange Blossom) or Lemon.


So, what will you need to have in your cupboards to make some cleaning products?  The shopping list is white vinegar, Bicarbonate of Soda, Lemons or Lemon Juice, Salt, Olive oil, Some kind of bar soap, liquid dishwashing soap, washing soda, Borax (or borax replacement) and essential oils of your choice.  You can pick up most of these from your supermarket, but if you can’t find them, try the internet.

At the moment, I am trying to get on top of the laundry.  It seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I want to conquer Mount Washmore and keep on top of it while we are trying to sell the house.  With the ingredients listed above, you can make a very inexpensive laundry detergent.   Take 1 bar of soap, 1 cup of borax or borax replacement and 1 cup of washing soda.  Grate the soap bar into a big bowl, mix well with the borax and washing soda.  Store in an airtight container and use 1-2 tablespoons per load.  It works better in warm or hot water, but if you want to use cold water then dissolve the mixture in 1/4 cup of hot water.  For really tricky stains on your clothes, you might want to include a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and some white vinegar in the washing machine.  This mix will fizz, but the fizz is what gets the stains out.

laundry ball

Of course there are also Laundry balls you can buy, which mean you will never need laundry detergent at all.  The agitation of the washing machine and these spiky balls basing against the clothes gets dirt and stains out.  I have never used them, but I have friends who swear by them.

Tomorrow, I will give you some more natural cleaning recipes, all using the ingredients listed above.

Methods of Cleaning your Teeth Naturally…

Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on a tube of toothpaste?  Good grief!  Most of the words have 3 to 4 syllables and are synthetically manufactured chemicals.  I am not against using toothpaste or Listerine (other mouthwashes are available) , but I am interested to know if I can reduce the amount of those synthetically manufactured chemicals I am taking into my body.  I know that most of the world does not use toothpaste for oral hygiene (there are a variety of sticks which do the same job apparently) but I did wonder whether there was any thing I could use that might happen to be in my kitchen already.  Cue some researching.


Now, oral hygiene is incredibly important.  Not just because you do not want to get cavities and spend lots of time (and money) at the dentist.  There is also a link between bad oral health and heart disease.  All linked to the plaque apparently.  So, I will continue to brush twice a day, but if I can stop putting unnecessary chemicals in my body so much the better.

The first thing my research came up with was that you do not need to use anything other than a toothbrush.  Brushing thoroughly for 2 minutes twice a day, will be fine.  Flossing is important too, so you need to do that twice a day as well.  But no chemicals involved and clean teeth sorted.


I also found a recipe for tooth powder.  If you mix half a cup of baking soda and one eighth of a cup of salt in a glass jar, storing in a cool and dark place, it will keep for quite a while.  Dipping a dampened brush in this mixture will lighten and brighten your teeth (the baking soda) and get rid of the plaque (the abrasive salt).  You might also want to add some drops of peppermint oil to make it taste a little better.

If a powder is not your style, you can make this recipe into a paste by adding 3-4 teaspoons of glycerin and 10-15 drops of essential oil of your choice.  Common additions would be peppermint, anise or lemon.

homemade mouthwash

I love the feeling of having a clean mouth – I really feel like I could take on the world when I have fresh breath and clean teeth – but I really do not enjoy using the commercial mouthwashes.  They are so strong, it feels like you are eating a hot curry, rather than deodorising your mouth.  But, if you take 1 teaspoon each of rosemary, peppermint and lavender and mix the herbs well, then put one teaspoon of the herb mixture in a cup of boiling water, steep it for 15 minutes and strain, letting it cool before using it, you have a fabulous, natural and chemical free, mouthwash.

I am definitely going to make some of the tooth powder (with an option for the tooth paste if I decide I prefer it!) and the mouthwash sounds positively appealing.  What about you?