What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frozen Downspout

frozen downspout
Frozen Downspout
March 28, 2011

Winter is refusing to let go of its frigid grip on our area.  Despite the beautiful sunshine it is quite cold out and there is still snow on the ground.  The warmer day temperatures have caused a bit of thawing with melting snow that freezes into long and rather impressive icicles.  One of our downspouts froze up and if you look closely it is from the water coming down then freezing upwards until it met then froze solid.  At the same time melting snow from the roof continued to come down the spout and freeze.  It looks pretty but is a sign of water damage.  As soon as it turns nice this downspout will need replacing as the freezing caused the seam to rupture.  This is an easy and low cost DIY repair.

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grain Packs for Pain Relief

grain pack for pain relief
Grain Pack for Pain Relief

When it comes to pain relief, quite often icing is used to reduce swelling and inflammation for the first 72 hours following an injury.  Once this period has passed, icing may be continued as required to control any inflammation as well as heat applied to help with muscle relaxation and pain control.  Heat is also used to alleviate the pain of arthritis, rheumatism, transient or chronic joint and muscle pain. 

Electric heating pads have long been the choice for applying heat to relive pain and sooth sore muscles.  However, an electric heating pad is a very poor choice for several reasons.  First and foremost, electric heating pads produce a dry heat.  When applied to sore muscles it draws moisture from the muscle creating a rebound pain after the heat is removed.  This sets up a cycle of pain relief followed by rebound pain so the electric heating pad really ends up making things worse.  Second there is the potential for being burnt if the heat is turned too high or you fall asleep on the heating pad.  As with any electrical appliance there is the potential for shorting or malfunction that could cause a fire.  Finally, electric heating pads use electricity and with rising electricity costs this is not the ideal solution.   There is another way to get pain relief that is safer, more effective and uses minimal electricity.

Heated grain packs are highly recommended for pain relief.  The grain pack is placed heated for 1 minute on each side in the microwave oven on high.  The pack will then release a moist heat providing relief for 30 minutes or longer.  Grain packs bend easily so can wrap around sore muscles.  In addition to heating, a grain pack can be kept in the freezer to be used as an ice pack when necessary.  I have a special designed one to provide pain relief from my sinuses that fits over both eyes and has soothing essential oils to help with sinus drainage.  This one can also be used cold or hot depending on the symptoms.

Grain packs are very easy and inexpensive to make with basic straight sewing.  The filler can be inexpensive long grain white rice, flax seed, barley or corn.  Make up several in various sizes.  You can make an optional removable cover if desired for easy cleaning similar to a small pillow case.½

4 - 5 cups of filler
2 squares of heavy fabric 11" x 11"

Place the right sides of the fabric together.  Sew around three sides of the squares leaving a ½-inch seam allowance.  Trim seams and turn to right side.  Smooth the two sewn corners with a ruler.  Fill as desired but not too full.  You want a bit of movement in the filling so it can be wrapped so leave about 1 - 2 inch headspace.  Tuck in  ½-inch along the top edge.  Sew across to form the final seam.  The grain pack is now ready to use.

Garden Gnome

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Scrapbooking - Garden Layout (2)

digital scrapbooking garden layout
Digital Garden Layout
March 12, 2011

Digital scrapbooking does not need special programs although they do help.  One of my first digital layouts depicting scenes from my garden was done using Microsoft Word and the photo uploading software for my digital camera at that time.  Once an image is imported into the Word document, it can easily be resized by clicking the cursor on the corner of the image then moving the cursor as desired.  Word even has special text effects for titles and journaling.  I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the end result was. 

Garden Gnome

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scrapbooking - Garden Layout (1)

garden layout

I have been using traditional and digital techniques for scrapbooking.  Pictured is a garden layout I did.  Now in technicality all of it is digital in that the background, images and journaling is all digital.  However this layout uses traditional scapbooking methods.  The digital images were printed out then cut and matted as desired.  I used pop dots to raise the one image and used a die cut from an image as an accent.  The other images were cut out using traditional scrapbooking technique.  This is a very easy way to combine digital and traditional scrapbooking methods.  I like the layout so I hope you do too.

Garden Gnome

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Respiratory Steam Inhaler

respiratory steam inhaler
Respiratory Steam Inhaler

I suffer from chronic sinusitis that developed into infected sinuses,  allergies, asthma and congestion.  Years ago my ENT told me one of the worst things you could do for these types of problems is to use over the counter medications for these types of problems.  These medications dry the mucosal membranes making them irritated which causes inflammation compounding the problem.  In addition to that problem irritated mucosal membranes are more prone to infection.  Dry, irritated mocosal membranes can also cause asthma flare-ups, nose bleeds and sore throats.  There are two excellent, safe and yet effective ways for symptomatic relief of sinusitis, allergies, asthma, and congestion.

The first way to get relief is through proper internal hydration.  Water intake should be increased to 2 L (64 oz) per day.  This should be plain water.  Caffeinated drinks (eg. tea, coffee, colas) should be avoided as they are dieuretic causing your body to lose the valuable moisture it needs to clear mucosal membranes.  There are several delicious herbal teas that will meet your craving for a hot beverage without the drying effects of caffeine.  There are also special herbal tea blends designed to help reduce mucose production.  Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided due to their dehydrating effects.

Until your body is properly hydrated and even when it is there will be times you need relief.  Steam vapor is a safe and effective way to relieve congetion.  I use a personal respiratory steam inhaler to relieve congestion symptoms as necessary.   No chemicals or salt is needed, only plain water.  My steam inhaler is rather unique in that the hood folds down and is held in place by release tabs for easy travel.  It is only 3½- inches high with the hood folded down so is quite compact.  I really like the design as it takes up little storage room or room in the suitcase.

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Aggressively Treating Serious Bruising

[Disclaimer:  This is not meant as medical advice but rather how I dealt with serious bruising and complications.  If you suffer a serious bruise, seek medical attention.]

On February 18 I suffered a fluke injury to my leg that resulted in serious bruising that developed a rather large hematoma.  Mobility was greatly affected for a full two week period but as of Monday of this week I was off the crutches, hobbling painfully around.  I have been very aggressive treating this injury.  Here is what I have done:

  • icing immediately as soon as I saw the damage - Ice should be applied as soon after the injury as possible to reduce swelling and promote clotting.
  • sought medical assessment including x-rays to rule out any fractures - There was a strong possibility of a fracture given the force with which my leg was hit. 
  • RICE - rest, ice (20 minutes every 2 hours), compression (omitted due to extent of hematoma), elevation;  Compression should not be used with any bruise that has developed a hematoma.
  • arnica cream - Arnica cream is a natural anti-inflammatory agent with pain killing properties.  It helps the bruise to heal quicker.  I have applied arnica cream three times a day and will continue to do so until all signs of bruising are gone.
  • Vitamin C - I immediately started taking 5,000 mg of Vitamin C daily.  Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that is needed for tissue repair so it supports healing.  Vitamin C is water soluble so any excess your body doesn't need will be excreted.  There is no danger of taking too much.  Now that I'm on my feet I have added an additional 2,000 mg for a total of 7,000 mg daily.
  • low-impact leg stretching - One concern is clots forming at the back of my leg so it is important to keep the calf muscle moving to prevent clot formation there.
  • not overdoing it - Now that I'm off the crutches and slowly hobbling about the house it is important to not overdo things.  According to my doctor the hematoma will take a good month to show good signs of improvement.  In the meantime for continued healing it will be necessary to continue what I'm doing, gradually increasing movement without over tiring my leg while watching for any negative symptoms (eg. increased swelling, pain, etc.)

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Arnica Cream

arnica cream

Shortly after injuring my leg a week and a half ago I learned about arnica cream.   In addition to using the RICER method for dealing with sever bruising, arnica cream is a topical ointment used to promote tissue healing.  The cream helps reduce swelling and inflammation while relieving pain.  The anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties also makes this cream suitable for joint pain, arthritis, and sore muscles.  It is applied on to three times daily for up to seven to ten days.

Arnica cream contains extract from  Arnica montana, a European relative of the sunflower plant.  This natural remedy is considered to safe for regular use although prolonged use may cause skin irritation (redness, itching, blisters).  If this happens you should stop using the cream.  Arnica cream can aggravate eczema and adverse reaction are most likely to occur if you are allergic to members of the sunflower family.  The level of extract used in the cream is 20mg/g.  It is toxic if ingested so should be kept away from children and pets.

I'm finding that the arnica cream is helping somewhat but it is a rather nasty bruise with a lot of swelling so even with the cream it will take some time to heal.  I have not experienced any negative side effects.  The cream does help with pain relief which is nice.

Garden Gnome