Country Traditions

October 18, 2010

Natural Remedies: Hair and Skin

Hair Style.

Image by Magdalene Sun via Flickr


  • Use lemon juice as a rinse over freshly washed hair to induce natural highlights, especially if you’re a blond. It’s instant sunshine for your hair, in a fruit.
  • Beer has long been used—even by professionals—as a setting lotion and conditioner. Pour straight from the can or bottle, comb through and rinse.
  • Mayonnaise, straight from the jar, will make hair soft and shiny. The egg nourishes brittle hair with protein, while the vinegar gives it body and bounce.
  • Try this mixture to regain supple hair: Mix one teaspoon powdered brewers’ yeast with four ounces of apple cider vinegar to create an after wash rinse. Pour it over wet hair and let stand at least a minute before rinsing.

Problem: Oily hair and skin


  • Add one teaspoon baking soda to two ounces of your shampoo. This works as an alkali to absorb excess oil.
  • Baking soda works the same way with skin, it will absorb oil and also neutralize excess acid in your skin. Make a paste with baking soda and water.
  • Try lemon juice as an astringent facial cleanser.

Problem: Dry skin


  • For a homemade scrub, mix ground oats and honey. Rub all over your face—especially your nose. The abrasive will remove dry, scaly skin while the honey seeps in as a moisturizer. Rinse completely off and pat dry, and your skin will be glowing and baby soft. Only use this remedy once a week.
  • Plain honey is an excellent remedy for chapped lips. Leave on overnight—it makes for sweet dreams!
  • For superdry skin, use olive oil. Rub it in prior to a bath or shower. You may substitute peanut, sesame or sunflower oil.
  • A quart of milk in a hot bath is a luxury as well as a skin toner. It’s a trick nearly as old as time.

Problem: Puffy, tired-looking eyes


  • Used teabags make excellent eye cosmetics. After dunked, drain it and place it over your closed eye (one for each) and hold it there for a few minutes. Redness, soreness, swelling and irritation will disappear like magic.


Things Mother Use To Say

Filed under: family, wisdom — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 4:11 am
Ludwig Richter – The Housewife

Image via Wikipedia

I was born and raised in the north by a Mother from the south. She was as southern as it gets. Old wives tales and sayings unheard of were common in my house. Here are just a few.

“Don’t whistle  at the table” It conjures up the devil.

“Never open an umbrella in the house” It will bring death to someone in the family.

“Don’t sew on Sunday” God is watching you.

“Don’t bite your fingernails” They will puncture your intestines.

“Never swallow gum” It will harden and block something.

“Don’t make fun of anyone” You will reap bad luck.

“Plan on being a good housewife” Only girls who can’t find a husband work.

“Always cook more than you need” You never know who will come by hungry.

“Always iron your sheets” You will sleep sounder.

“Clean your kitchen first” People always look at your kitchen.

“Don’t swear” It shows your lack of the English language.

“Try not to get to friendly with the neighbors” They will always want something.

“Take a covered dish to the new people moving in” Let them keep the dish for good luck.

“Let the baby cry” He needs to strengthen his lungs.

There are so many, I still don’t sew on Sundays.


September 28, 2010

Home Remedies: Pets

Filed under: animals, home remedies, recipes, Vinegar, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 3:16 pm
Rolled oats

rolled oats


  • Shampoo your pet with flea shampoo and spray the animal between shampoos with flea spray.
  • Place a flea collar in the bag of your vacuum cleaner. Any fleas you sweep up will stay put in there.
  • If you don’t want to use a flea collar with insecticides, active ingredients such as eucalyptus, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary and marigold won’t exterminate, but will deter fleas.
  • Feed your pet a combination of brewer’s yeast and garlic once a day during flea season. The mixture will make your pet taste bad to fleas when they bite, while also conditioning your pet’s skin.
  • Placing an open jar or two of eucalyptus stems and leaves around the house can deter fleas. Place them in rooms where your pet spends the most time (especially those with carpets- fleas love to hide in them.)
  • Give your dog a flea bath with limonene shampoo, and flea-comb him down thoroughly while he’s in the water so the fleas drown.


  • Oatmeal Bath- Put uncooked oatmeal or rolled oats into a sock or nylon stocking and run a tubful of warm water over it. Soak your dog (cats will rarely let you do this) in the water for 5 to 10 minutes. Oatmeal based shampoos are also available at pet stores.
  • Aloe Vera- Break off a piece of the plant and apply the thick juice directly to the raw area.
  • Aggravated skin sores, also known as hot spots, can make your pet miserable. If you see a hot spot developing, clip about one-half to one inch around the sore to prevent hair and other dirt from further aggravating it. Clean the sore with hydrogen peroxide on gauze or a cotton ball, and after it dries spray the area with cortisone cream. Do this twice a day until the sore starts to dry out or a scab begins to form.

Cuts, Scrapes, Abrasions

  • Mix together 1-pint water, 1/2-teaspoon salt, and 1/2-teaspoon calendula tincture.
  • Soak an injured paw in the solution. If the wound is on the body put the solution in a quirt bottle or large syringe and gently apply it to the injured area.
  • Repeat the soaking or application every 4 to 6 hours for the first 24 hours.

Bites and Scratches

  • Rinse out the fresh wounds and punctures with large amounts of this solution: 1-pint water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Echinacea/goldenseal tincture.
  • Hydrogen peroxide may also be used t clean wounds, but it can damage delicate tissues.
  • Cat wounds are notorious for forming abscesses. If the abscess is draining, clean it with withe Echinacea/goldenseal solution. Always wear latex gloves while handling an abscess.

Burrs in Fur

  • For dogs, comb the burrs in their fur with a metal comb immediately. If burrs are badly tangled rub vegetable oil on your fingers and work the lubrication slowly through the fur until you can pull the burrs out.
  • Cats typically will want to take care of their own grooming, but you can help by gently working through the mess with a wire brush. Most cats won’t let you cut the fur or lubricate it the way a dog will.

If a skunk sprays…

  • Bathe your dog in a mixture of 1-quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/4-cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap. Work the solution into the fur (avoiding eyes) then rinse.
  • To rid the stench from your pet douse him with tomato juice, leaving it on for several minutes before rinsing it off. For a large dog, a single washing can require several cans of tomato juice. You may have to repeat the procedure, but the odor will eventually work itself out of your pet’s coat.

REMEMBER…sometimes simple solutions aren’t enough. If problems persist or worsen, or when in doubt, always check with your vet.

September 27, 2010

Keep Kitty out of Garden

Filed under: animals, gardening, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 2:05 pm
a green plastic watering can

Image via Wikipedia

Then there is a free method, contributed by Sussexman and YB: “…put the human urine into a watering can and dilute 50/50 and just water round the area you wish to protect result no cats. It will be washed away by rain but as it is free and will be adventageous to your ground.” YB wrote: ”
sussex is right..Gross as it may sound to some people “human” urine is a good dose of nitrogen to the soil. Urine is Sterile wso no worries there. I say go ahead and give it a try…”

I contributed:

Could you spare some ground on the edge of the property, tucked away, where you could till and get them to use it instead of your flower beds?

Then go to this link:

and you’ll find suggestions for orange peel, coffee grounds,etc.

September 17, 2010

medicine chest

Filed under: home remedies, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 2:12 pm
Mortar and pestle

Mortar & Pestle

A few  medicines:   The Cures:
Dr. Rush’s Bilious Pills
A potent combination of chemicals
and herbs that quickly cleaned out
a person’s digestive system. Used
for many ills during the expedition,
Lewis brought 50 dozen.
Turkish opium — Obtained
from a poppy plant, it was used
to relieve pain and calm nervous
excitement. Mixed with alcohol,
it made a concentrated sedative
that had been used in medicine
since 1510.
Balsam copaiba — An oily
sap from a South American tree
that contains a germ-killing acid.
When swallowed, it could calm
the stomach and relieve gas. As
a lotion, it was used to treat swelling
of the skin.
Mercury ointment — A treatment
used to treat lesions. The
patient was often treated until he
showed signs of mercury poisoning
such as excessive saliva or
sore gums.
Peruvian bark —
People took more of this
than any other medicine, 15
pounds in the powdered form.
Obtained from a tree in Peru, it
was used as a pick-me-up drink
and for fever, snake bites, abdominal
pain and just about anything
else. It contained quinine, a malaria
— They used containers
like these to carry medicinal
substances such as
mercury ointment, see
“cures” above.
1,5. Medicine containers.
2. Cupping glass — When
heated and placed on the
skin, it draws blood to the
3. Dr. Rush’s Bilious Pills,
see cures.
4. Turkish opium, see
6-7. Medicine bottles.
8. Bullet tongs — For removing
9. Straightedge knife
10-11. Scalpels — For operating
and blood letting.
12. Cauterizer — When
heated, closes wounds.
13. Tenaculum — Pulls
arteries out of a wound.
14. Retractor — Draws
aside the lip of a wound.
For grinding chemicals and
herbs into a powder which
would dissolve more easily.
16. Bone saw — For amputating
17. Medicine chest — For
storing medical supplies.
The Causes
Challenges the Corps faced:
l Frostbite
l Snow blindness
l Hail storms
l Gastrointestinal disease from
food and water
l Diseases from encounters with
l Grizzly bears
l Rattlesnakes
l Hunger
l Poorly balanced diets
l Fatigue
l Skin and respiratory infections
l Dislocated joints
l Parasites
l Bullet wounds

September 16, 2010

Alternative Medicine

Filed under: gardening, herbs, home remedies, recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 5:37 pm
Street vendor selling herbal remedies in Patzc...

Herbs, alternative medicine

Alternative medicine; or medical and healing practices that fall outside of the realm of Conventional Medicine  (Western) has always been with us.  Legends of Shaman, Medicine Men and Healing Powers have been passed down from generation to generation.  Natural home remedies for a plethora of conditions and diseases, old fashioned and folk medicine remedies, natural cures and alternative treatments have been passed down throughout the generations. Natural herbs, fruits and herbal supplements are rapidly gaining the attention of consumers as they search for natural remedies and cures with no side effects. These treatments are commonly used now for beauty and skin care items such as acne, warts, anti aging and skin tags, as well as health conditions such as arthritis, gout, migraines, diet / weight loss and most other forms of healing.

Old home remedies are based on the premise of using the natural ingredients and constituents found in many spices, fruits, grasses and herbs to naturally treat foreign bodies, dangerous viruses and bacteria that are causing pain, inflammation, disease and damage to the body. Herbal remedies continue to increase in popularity.

In the last decade the interest in Alternative Medicine has increased to the point that 38% of American adults use some form of Complementary or Alternative Medicine .  Worldwide the numbers are much higher.  People worldwide are rejcting the notion that expensive synthetic chemical and prescription medications are the only answer to our medical issues and treatment for our ailments. Instead, they are grapsing and utilizing the notion of natural remedies and home treatments to remedy common problems. For ages, modern medicine has been well aware that antibiotics strip the body of healthy flora and fauna known as probiotics and healthy bacteria, leaving people feeling drowsy, fatigued, weak and prone to allergies and further viruses.

Traditional medicine (Western Medicine) has its roots in Natural Healing methods, from practice to pharmaceuticals, the roots are direct descendents of ancient and folk medicine. The increasing interest in natural health practices, alternative and complementary (alternative medical practices that complement or enhance conventional medicine) have prompted the traditional medical community to look at how the conventional medical field could be enhanced by alternative practices.   The focus in Complementary Medicine is to combine mind, health and body, conventional and alternative medicine into a holistic approach rather than treating only the disease.  Natural home remedies are the culmination of the most natural form of self-treatment.

Medicinal Herbs

Filed under: farming, home remedies — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 1:44 pm
Allium sativum, Alliaceae, Garlic, bulbils; Ka...

Allium sativum, Alliaceae, Garlic, bulbils; Karlsruhe,

Plants have been revered through out history for their magical healing powers.  In a dire situation where over the counter medicine is no longer available, many will be forced to turn their backs on modern medicine and reacquaint themselves with more homeopathic and natural forms.

In this type of situation, many will be turning to alternative medicines to alleviate and assist some of the more chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms, migraines, anemia and arthritis.

Cayenne Pepper – (Capsicum minimum)

Cayenne pepper is a powerful stimulant, producing a sense of heat in the stomach, and a general glow ove r the body without a narcotic effect.  A few grains in hot tea will aid in sluggish digestion and flatulence.” (Source – Herbal Medicine: The Natural Way To Get Well and Stay Well)

  • This pepper can assist as a digestion aid.  Using sparingly, sprinkle a bit over food or in a hot soup.
  • Cayenne pepper is a good source of Vitamin C.
  • Mixing cayenne pepper to a citrus drink such as grapefruit juice can be a very effective energizing drink.
  • Cayenne pepper can be used to combat a sore throat and can also be used in a sore throat gargle mix.
  • An effective anti flu drink uses 2 tsp. of cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1 cup of boiling water, 1 c. apple cider vinegar.  Most adults can take between 1 tsp.-1 tbls. every half hour.
  • Sprinkling cayenne pepper in shoes will warm the feet when it is cold outside.  Caution: it will stain the area where it is sprinkled, but it is quite effective.
  • Cayenne has a history of being used during malignant sore throats and in scarlet fever where it is used internally and as a gargle.
  • Cayenne tea can be used as a control for internal or external bleeding and should be used for those health emergencies where no medical or nursing help is available.
  • A few grains on the gums of cayenne will smart on the gum, and in a cavity and act as a temporary pain alleviator.

Chamomile – (Anthemis nobilis )

  • This herb is known for it’s uses as a mild sedative.
  • Some homeopathic and natural remedies for children with ADD/ADHD have used chamomiles calming properties.
  • The flowers can be strained out of the tea and placed into a warm compress to use on ear infections.
  • Tea compresses and tea rinses can be used to treat eye problems.
  • It also has the power to assist in healing of  indigestion, morning sickness, nervousness, neuralgia, painful periods and assists as a sleeping agent.

Dandelion – (Taraxacum officinale)

  • The salt in this plant acts to neutralize the acids in the blood and is considered a cleaning tonic.
  • When the flowers and a few leaves are gathered and made into a tea that treats biliousness (gastric disorder caused by liver or gall bladder disorder) and reducing ankle swelling.
  • To jump start a slow functioning liver, drink two to four ounces of freshly sliced dandelion root in two pints of water until the water is reduced to 1 ounce.
  • A coffee can be made from the root to cleanse the liver and also has a tonic effect on the pancreas, the spleen and the female organs.
  • If a person is suffering from gallstones, dandelion can also be used.  Combine an ounce of  each: dandelion root, parsley root, lemon balm with a half ounce each of licorice root and ginger root.  Add two quarts of boiling water, simmer down to one quart, strain the liquid and drink a half glass every two hours.
  • The Chinese “barefoot doctors” use the entire dandelion in their healing practices.  The leaves and the tops are simmered together in a decoction, or they are crushed and used as a poultice for boils and abscesses on the body.
  • Dandelion has also been known to lower elevated cholesterol levels, as well as normalize blood sugar levels in diabetics, and can also help cure symptoms of gout due to its uric acid content.
  • Additionally, young leaves can be gathered in the spring time to make a lovely salad or a steamed side dish.

Echinacea – (Echinacea Paradoxa, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida)

  • There are three types of echinacea plants, and all have the same healing properties.  The chemical constituents are different in some, but the healing is the same.
  • Although the root is most widely used for it’s medicinal purposes, truly the entire plant can be used.
  • This herb strengthens the body’s ability to resist infection and stimulates production of white blood cells.  Echinacea stimulates the body in non chronic illness such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats, abscesses and for recurrences of yeast infections.
  • Echinacea can also be taken as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis.
  • A gargling solution can also be made with the tea to use with a sore throat.  For cases that are not strep throat related: add 10-16 drops to water or to sage or ginger tea and use as a gargling agent.  If a person is fighting strep throat: every two hours, gargle with the above mentioned teas to which add a dropful of echinacea extract.  If only tablet or capsules are available, take then every two hours during the acute stage.
  • It also helps eliminates mucus and phlegm associated with certain respiratory conditions.

Garlic – (Allium sativum)

  • Garlic is an absolute must for a medicinal garden.  Garlic has so many healing properties, they cannot all be listed.
  • Garlic has natural antibiotic properties.
  • In Russia, garlic is used as an anti flu remedy.
  • Garlic draws out the pain from joints, toothaches, and earaches.  Place a crushed raw piece of garlic on some gauze (otherwise some of these strong herbs can cause blisters) and place the gauze over the area of pain.  For the joints, use a garlic paste.  For the ear, use slivers in gauze.  It takes about 5 days to cure the ear infection.
  • Garlic also helps alleviate and draw out infection from abscesses in teeth as well as in the body.

Marigold– (Calendula officinalis)

  • Marigold is an excellent herb to have on hand for skin issues such as eczema, skin inflammations, soothing varicose veins, soothing chapped hands and can be used to reduce body scars.
  • Creating a plaster by combing marigold ointment and peppermint can be used on the chest to ease the heart during inte4nse fevers.
  • Dipping a compress into marigold tea and using equal parts of apple cider vinegar can alleviate inflammation.
  • The author believes that marigold is “the greatest healing agent for all wounds.”
  • Using marigold in the case of open wounds that will not heal is an effective way to promote rapid healing.
  • This flower is also a haemostatid after a tooth extraction.
  • A douche can made from marigold to aid in leukorrhea (vaginal discharges)
  • Due to marigolds cleansing properties, it can also be used as dressing a terrible wound.
  • Marigold was also used as a toothache and headache preventative in the 1500’s in England.
  • This is also a great companion plant to many garden vegetables.

Peppermint – (Mentha piperita)

  • Peppermint is used in a tea in conjunction with chamomile as a digestive aid.
  • It has stimulating and refreshing properties that dispels headaches.
  • Peppermint tea will also assist in overcoming muscle spasms and cramps.
  • Due to the camphorous principles in peppermint, if peppermint is applied to a wet wash cloth it can be used externally to relieve pain.
  • This herb also hep clear sinus infections.  Apply a large, warm peppermint pack to the sinus area.

Sage– (Salvia officinalis)

  • A tea made of common sage can help lift depression.  A pinch of bruised cloves and a pinch of pure ginseng can also be added as these herbs are also used as antidepression herbs.
  • Rubbing the sage leaves across the teeth can be used to clean the teeth and assist in bad breath.  The tea can also be used to gargle with.
  • Sage tea rub downs and sage baths can be used to ring down a fever.  American Indians used this type of fever reducer.  Note: adding apple cider vinegar to the tea for reduction can be quite effective and the patient simply feel better.
  • Sage tea can used as an antiseptic by chewing the sage leaves to cleanse the system of impurities or drank as tea.
  • Sage has also been known to assist with hot flashes associated with menopause.
  • If a person has stomach troubles, cold sage tea can used to alleviate the symptoms.
  • Sage can also be used to treat the flu.  Using the tea before and during any type of epidemics and to hasten healing during a flu attack.
  • Sage leaves can be wrapped around a wound like a band aid to help heal the wound faster.

Tea Tree– (Melaleuca alternifolia)

  • The Aborigines have used this plant for centuries as an antiseptic to heal insect bites, stings, abrasions , cuts and warts.
  • Because of tea tree oils high antibacterial properties it can also be used as an antiseptic to treat acne.
  • Applying tea tree oil directly to fungus on feet (Athlete’s foot), or adding drops into a foot bath this will help treat the fungus.
  • Tea tree oil can also be used to cure cold sores.
  • Diluting the tea tree oil (4 drops of oil and a pint of water)  in water can also be used as a douche to cure yeast infections.
  • Adding a few drops on tea tree oil to a fine tooth comb and combing through hair to catch lice eggs is also effective.

Thyme – (Thymus vulgaris)

  • Although thyme is normally used in culinary recipes, it has a great range of use.
  • Thyme can help alleviate gastric problems such as wind, colic and bad breath.
  • Thyme also has properties to help eliminate phlegm and is helpful in overcoming shortness of breath and help with most lung problems.
  • If it also effective in fighting sore throat and post nasal drip.
  • If a person has the whooping cough, make a syrup of thyme tea and honey to help treat the disease.
  • Thyme can also be used to treat a fever.  It is recommended to mix thyme with other herbs to have a better medicinal quality.  Herbs used in conjunction with thyme to treat a high fever could be: marshmallow root tea, slippery elm powder (or tablets), fenugreek or comfrey root or leaf tea.
  • This herb also helps relax the nervous system and can relive a headache.
  • Thyme can be used as a first aid poultice.  Make up a paste of moist (hot-moistened) thyme leaves and apply it to the skin to relieve the pain of an abscess, boil or swelling.  A hot poultice of thyme can help relieve the pain of a sciatic attack, too.
  • An antiseptic can be make for both internal and external use.  It is also used as a local anaesthetic.  Medicate gauze and worrl for surgical dressings with theyme.
  • his herb is also great for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, parasitic skin infections and burns.
  • A insect spray (combined with lavender) can assist in keeping gnats and mosquitoes away.  In fact, the Greeks used thyme as a fumigator.
  • This herb can also be used to dispel worms and parasites.

As many are gearing up to buy seeds for a survival garden, please do not forget to purchase medicinal herbs.  Keeping a body as strong as possible from viruses, colds and flu’s will only help a person in the long run.  And supplying a home with organic healing medicines can, in an extreme emergency assist in saving their lives.

Childbirth in Early America

Filed under: birth — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 12:54 pm
Baby on mother's belly right after birth, skin...

Image via Wikipedia

Childbirth in Early America

When the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, September 16, 1620, on its historic voyage to the New World, three of its 102 passengers were pregnant. Elizabeth Hopkins and Susanna White were each in their seventh month of pregnancy. Mary Norris Allerton was in her second or third month.

Their pregnancies must have been excruciatingly difficult. After a few days of clear weather, the Mayflower ran into “fierce storms” that lasted for six of the voyage’s nine-and-a-half weeks. For days on end, passengers were confined to the low spaces between decks, while torrential winds blew away clothing and supplies and the ship tossed and rolled on the heavy seas.

While the ship was still at sea, Elizabeth Hopkins gave birth to a baby boy named Oceanus after his birthplace. Two weeks later, while the Mayflower was anchored off Cape Cod, Susanna White also had a baby boy. He was christened Peregrine, a name that means “pilgrim.” Peregrine White would live into his eighties, but Oceanus Hopkins died during the Pilgrim’s first winter in Plymouth. In the spring of 162l, Mary Norris Allerton died in childbirth; her baby was stillborn.

Childbirth in colonial America was a difficult and sometimes dangerous experience for women. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, between 1 percent and 1.5 percent of all births ended in the mother’s death as a result of exhaustion, dehydration, infection, hemorrhage, or convulsions. Since the typical mother gave birth to between five and eight children, her lifetime chances of dying in childbirth ran as high as 1 in 8. This meant that if a woman had eight female friends, it was likely that one might die in childbirth.

Death in childbirth was sufficiently common that many colonial women regarded pregnancy with dread. In their letters, women often referred to childbirth as “the Dreaded apperation,” “the greatest of earthly miserys,” or “that evel hour I loock forward to with dread.” Many, like New England poet Anne Bradstreet, approached childbirth with a fear of impending death. In a poem entitled “Before the Birth of One of Her Children,” Bradstreet wrote,

How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend,
How soon’t may be thy lot to lose thy friend.

In addition to her anxieties about pregnancy, an expectant mother was filled with apprehensions about the death of her newborn child. The death of a child in infancy was far more common than it is today. In the healthiest seventeenth century communities, one infant in ten died before the age of five. In less healthy environments, three children in ten died before their fifth birthday. Puritan minister Cotton Mather saw eight of his fifteen children die before reaching the age of two. “We have our children taken from us,” Mather cried out, “the Desire of our Eyes taken away with a stroke.”

Given the high risk of birth complications and infant death, it is not surprising to learn that pregnancy was surrounded by superstitions. It was widely believed that if a mother looked upon a “horrible spectre” or was startled by a loud noise her child would be disfigured. If a hare jumped in front of her, her child was in danger of suffering a harelip. There was also fear that if the mother looked at the moon, her child might become a lunatic or sleepwalker. A mother’s ungratified longings, it was thought, could cause an abortion or leave a mark imprinted on her child’s body. At the same time, however, women were expected to continue to perform work until the onset of labor, since hard work supposedly made for an easier labor. Pregnant women regularly spun thread, wove clothing on looms, performed heavy lifting and carrying, milked cows, and slaughtered and salted down meat.

Today, most women give birth in hospitals under close medical supervision. If they wish, women can take anesthetics to relieve labor pangs. During the seventeen and eighteenth centuries, the process of childbirth was almost wholly different. In colonial America, the typical woman gave birth to her children at home, while female kin and neighbors clustered at her bedside to offer support and encouragement. When the daughter of Samuel Sewall, a Puritan magistrate, gave birth to her first child on the last day of January, 1701, at least eight other women were present at her bedside, including her mother, her mother-in-law, a midwife, a nurse, and at least four other neighbors.

Most women were assisted in childbirth not by an doctor but by a midwife. Most midwives were older women who relied on practical experience in delivering children. One midwife, Martha Ballard, who practiced in Augusta, Maine, delivered 996 women with only four recorded fatalities. Skilled midwives were highly valued. Communities tried to attract experienced midwives by offering a salary or a house rent-free. In addition to assisting in childbirth, midwives helped deliver the offspring of animals, attended the baptisms and burials of infants, and testified in court in cases of bastardy.

During labor, midwives administered no painkillers, except for alcohol. Pain in childbirth was considered God’s punishment for Eve’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Women were merely advised to “arm themselves with patience” and prayer and to try, during labor, to restrain “those dreadful groans and cries which do so much discourage their friends and relations that are near them.”

After delivery, new mothers were often treated to a banquet. At one such event, visitors feasted on “boil’d pork, beef, flowls, very good rost beef, turkey-pye, [and] tarts.” Women from well-to-do families were then expected to spend three to four weeks in bed convalescing. Their attendants kept the fire place burning and wrapped them in a heavy blanket in order to help them sweat out “poisons.” Women from poorer families were generally back at work in one or two days.

During the second half of the eighteenth century, customs of childbirth began to change. One early sign of change was the growing insistence among women from well-to-do urban families that their children be delivered by male midwives and doctors. Many upper class families assumed that in a difficult birth trained physicians would make childbirth safer and less painful. In order to justify their presence, physicians tended to take an active role in the birth process. They were much more likely than midwives to intervene in labor with forceps and drugs.

Another important change was the introduction in 1847 of two drugs – ether and chloroform – to relieve pain in childbirth. By the 1920s, the use of anesthesia in childbirth was almost universal. The practice of putting women to sleep during labor contributed to a shift from having children at home to having children in hospitals. In 1900, over 90 percent of all births occurred in the mother’s home. But by 1940, over half took place in hospitals and by 1950, the figure had reached 90 percent.

The substitution of doctors for midwives and of hospital delivery for home delivery did little in themselves to reduce mortality rates for mothers. It was not until around 1935, when antibiotics and transfusions were introduced, that a sharp reduction in the maternal mortality rate occurred. In 1900, maternal mortality was about 65 times higher than it is today, and not much lower than it had been in the mid-nineteenth century. By World War II, however, death in childbirth had been cut to its present low level.

In recent years, a reaction has occurred against the sterile impersonality of modern hospital delivery. Women today are much more likely than their mothers or grandmothers to want a “natural childbirth.” Beginning in the l960s, a growing number of women elected to bear their children without anesthetics, so that they could be fully conscious during childbirth. Many women also chose to have their husbands or a relative or a friend present during labor and delivery and to bear their children in special “birthing rooms” that provide a home-like environment. In these ways, many contemporary women have sought to recapture the broader support network that characterized childrearing in the colonial past, without sacrificing the tremendous advances that have been made in maternal and infant health.

September 15, 2010

Old Wives Tales

Filed under: home remedies, wisdom — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 11:00 am
1926 US advertisement for lucky jewelry . &quo...

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  • Rhubarb and pineapple are poisonous when eaten together.
  • If you eat food standing up, it is effectively fat free.
  • Eating carrots helps you see in the dark.
  • People only use 10 per cent of their brains.
  • Chew gum to get rid of a nosebleed.
  • If you keep fiddling with that you will go blind.
  • Raw egg whites are supposed to help nappy rash. However, because of nasty bugs, you ought not to try it: raw eggs are best kept away from young children.
  • Only eat shellfish when there is an ‘r’ in the month.
  • Eating your greens will make your hair go curly.
  • Don’t swallow watermelon seeds, apple cores, apricot stones or insect larvae, or they will grow in your stomach.
  • When swallowed, chewing gum will stay in your stomach for seven years. Or it will wrap around your heart and kill you, depending how over-protective your mother was when she warned you about these things.
  • My mother always said that if you can manage to slurp up those little bubbles in a freshly poured cup of tea, it means good luck. I wasn’t so lucky, since I always took a drop of milk in my tea, after which the bubbles were usually gone.

Luck and the lack of it

  • If you spill salt you’re supposed to throw it over your left shoulder immediately. This is because when you spill it the devil appears above your left shoulder and you’re suppposed to blind him with the salt. If you don’t do this then the devil takes you over.
  • In Britain (and possibly in other parts of Northern Europe), black cats are considered lucky. In Mediterranean countries and the USA, black cats are considered unlucky. In both cases it’s because of the association with witches. In Britain, a witch (or her familiar) has just crossed your path and ignored you, which is good luck. Elsewhere, any encounter with a witch is bad luck.
  • The Swedish belief is that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck, but that you can neutralize the bad luck by spitting thrice over your left shoulder every time this happens. Should you spit over your right shoulder instead by mistake, you will have bad luck for the next 24 hours.
  • Breaking a mirror results in seven years’ bad luck.
  • Walking under a ladder produces immediate bad luck – such as a bucket of water falling on your head.
  • In Morgantown, WV, USA, it is widely regarded that carrying around a yellow cigarette lighter causes bad luck.
  • Never open an umbrella up indoors because it will bring bad luck.
  • If you find a penny and it is heads down, don’t pick it up as you will be picking up bad luck. However, if it is heads up, pick it up and good luck will follow you for the rest of the day.

General pearls of wisdom

  • If you sneeze with your eyes open, they will pop out.
  • Killing a spider will make it rain the next day.
  • You will catch your death of cold by walking around with wet hair.
  • If you pick your nose your finger will get stuck up there.
  • A watched pot never boils.
  • If you keep pulling faces, one day the wind will change and you’ll get stuck that way.
  • Put on your jumper or you’ll catch a cold.
  • Choosing lottery numbers according to your pet’s birthday, your wife’s name or numerology increases your chance of winning.
  • You should wear gloves to handle floppy disks in case you catch a virus.
  • Posh-sounding recorded ladies mean it when they say, “If you would like to hold, we will connect you in a couple of moments.”


  • Sitting on a dirty toilet seat can make you pregnant.
  • If you are carrying the extra weight out front, it’s a boy.
  • If the hair on your legs is growing faster during pregnancy, it’s a boy.
  • Girls are carried high; boys are carried low.
  • Sleeping in a bed with your pillow to the north indicates that you will be having a boy.
  • If your feet are colder than they were before pregnancy, you are having a boy.
  • If the father-to-be is gaining weight along with the mother-to-be, it means that you’ll have a boy.
  • If the maternal grandmother has grey hair, it will be a boy.              There is no proof of any truth to these superstitions.

September 14, 2010

Recipes for Homemade Toiletries: Soaps, Shampoos

Filed under: home remedies, recipes, soap making — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 2:05 pm
A collection of decorative soaps, commonly fou...

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Homemade Deodorant

One of the best deodorants is plain old baking soda. You can pat it right onto your skin or mix it with a little cornstarch for extra staying power and moisture control. Try 1/2 cornstarch and 1/2 baking soda. Some readers say that mixing in anti-bacterial tea tree oil makes it even more effective.

Homemade Shampoo

Old-fashioned castile soap can also be dissolved in warm water to be used as shampoo.

After shampooing, rinse your hair with lemon juice to make it shine.

If regular shampooing is impossible for some reason, try mixing 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 cup cornmeal in a shaker bottle. Sprinkle lightly onto hair, then brush thoroughly to get rid of dirt and oil. A combination of baby powder and cornstarch can also be used the same way.

If you like your store-bought shampoo but would like to add to it a little, the essential oils that old-timers relied on for hair care really do work.

  • To nourish and moisturize, pour some shampoo or conditioner into your palm and add a few drops of cedar wood, chamomile, clary sage, lavender, rosemary, thyme, or ylang-ylang.
  • To add thickness and body, use cedar wood or clary sage.
  • To reduce oiliness, try bergamot, cedar wood, lavender, lemon, pine, rosemary, or ylang-ylang.
  • To add luster, try sweet basil, Roman chamomile, or lavender.
  • To detangle hair, use chamomile, grapefruit, marigold, passionflower, or sweet clover, and to relieve dandruff, try cedar wood, clary sage, lemon, pine, rosemary, or tea tree.

Homemade Moisturizer

For healthy skin, add rosemary oil to the bathwater.

Another age-old tradition to prevent wrinkles around the eyes is to apply a drop of castor oil around each eye before going to bed. Castor oil acts as a humectant, meaning that it attracts and retains moisture in the skin. This promotes healthier skin cell rejuvenation. Some plastic surgeons apply castor oil around an incision after surgery for this exact reason.

Eye Make-up Remover (Safe and Gentle)

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil,
  • 1 tablespoon castor oil, and
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • For use on your entire body, put some castor oil in a little spray bottle. To maximize absorption, spray it on your skin after showering and gently rub it in while your skin is still warm and your pores are open.

Natural Skin Cleanser

Tales of the queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, tell of her beauty and her radiant skin. Her secret? Apparently she used to take frequent baths in fresh milk. Researchers now have found that the lactic acid in milk is the cause of the stunning skin. Alpha hydroxy acids help loosen dead skin and give healthy skin a deep cleansing.

  • As the tub fills, pour in two cups to one quart of fresh milk or butter milk. Fresh milk can be substituted with one cup of powdered milk. A few drops of lavender essential oil may increase the relaxing effects.
  • Soak in the tub for at least 20 minutes and gently massage your skin with a wash cloth or a loofah to rub off all the dead skin.
  • After taking your bath, drain the tub and take a quick shower to rinse off all the milk on your body.

If you don’t have time to soak in the bathtub, below is a recipe for oatmeal soap.

Oatmeal Soap Recipe

  • Gather these ingredients: 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup small soap pieces, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil, 1 tablespoon water
  • Put the soap slivers in a plastic bag and pound them into small chunks.
  • Put chunks in a blender, add the oatmeal and pulse until grainy.
  • Pour into a bowl and add the oil and water.
  • Mix with your hands, removing any remaining bigger chunks of soap.
  • Shape the mixture into a ball and let sit until hard, about two hours.
  • Be sure to wash the blender thoroughly to remove the soap residue.

Homemade Toothpaste

Washing your hands with toothpaste and water will eliminate fish odor.

Even today, baking soda remains in the lead for tooth-whitening products. Unlike other modern toothpastes, baking soda is gritty enough to remove plaque, but not abrasive enough to remove tooth enamel. A combination of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide lifts particles caught between teeth and kills bacteria.

Do not add anything to the baking soda to make it more abrasive. You may want to add an artificial sweetener for taste (which is essentially all some of those “natural” toothpastes do).

Note: Dentists ask that you have fluoridated water; if so, baking soda toothpastes are just fine.

Homemade Toothpaste

  • Mix ¼ teaspoon hydrogen peroxide and ½ teaspoon baking soda, scoop the paste up with your toothbrush and proceed as you normally would.

Homemade Minty Toothpaste

  • To make toothpaste with a more traditional toothpaste consistency and a mint-y taste, mix together 6 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/3 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons glycerin, and 15 drops of peppermint or wintergreen extract.
  • Depending on how much you use at a time, this recipe is good for 15-20 applications and should be stored in any appropriately sized container with a snug lid.

Homemade Cinnamon Mouthwash

  • Boil 5 cinnamon sticks with 1 cup water in a covered pan.
  • You can make up to a 3-day supply by increasing the amount of cinnamon sticks and water, but keeping the ratio the same.
  • Remove the pan from the heat after about 5 minutes of boiling and remove the lid.
  • Discard the cinnamon sticks and let the liquid cool.
  • Store your mouthwash in a clean bottle and use as desired.
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