Remembering Pearl Harbor, Passport America & Home Remedies

USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.  At Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona suffered direct-hits from four 800-kg bombs dropped by high-altitude Japanese Kates and the remains of over 1,000 crewmen are still entombed in her hull. Even today, droplets of oil still leak to the surface.

USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii. At Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona suffered direct-hits from four 800-kg bombs dropped by high-altitude Japanese Kates and the remains of over 1,000 crewmen are still entombed in her hull. Even today, droplets of oil still leak to the surface.

I don’t know why I am in such a pensive state of mind today.  I’m remembering Pearl Harbor on this anniversary of “a date which will live in infamy.”  Usually I see Dec. 7 on the calendar and I may or may not attach any special significance to it.

Years ago I toured the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu.  The visit was profoundly moving as I stood right over the ship that is the grave for over 1,000 sailors and watched the oil slick that is still slowly seeping from the hull.

War really is hell.  I am glad that I do not have any first-hand knowledge of it.

But with all of the ominous rumblings throughout the world, I sometimes wonder how long I will be able to say that.

Moving right along to happier topics, I have all the clothes packed in the Casita for our upcoming trip.  Now all that remains to be packed are toiletries and food.  I’ll go ahead and get the canned and packaged food packed later today.

After I get that done, I want to give the entire house a deep cleaning since we plan to be gone longer than normal this time.  Our plans are to leave December 15th.

I bought a Passport America membership last night.  That will open up a lot of options for inexpensive camping for us.  I absolutely adore the woodsy, rustic, remote Federal campgrounds we usually stay at.  But sometimes I’d like a break from them and would enjoy staying closer to civilization.

Of course, there are a lot of RV parks in Florida that don’t honor PA — or that don’t honor them in snowbird season.  But there are a surprising number that do.

Also, now that I know I can safely leave both Sunny and Sheba in the trailer for a couple of hours, we’ll have a lot more freedom this trip.

Tinycamper's little apothecary  :)

Tinycamper’s little apothecary 🙂

I wanted to report back to those who are curious about how my home remedies turned out.

The frankincense and myrrh balm does seem to have helped.  My thumb joint  is not as swollen and tender to the touch as it was.  But that could be for any number of reasons.  The flare-up could have run its course and calmed down naturally.  I could have an over-active imagination and it could be the placebo effect because I wanted it to work so badly.  Or it may actually have helped.  In any case, it feels better now than it did last week.  😀

I made it in little 3/8 oz. plastic jars I got from Amazon.  A normal salve base is one part beeswax to 8 parts oil (like olive oil — I used almond).  However, the essential oils are so thin and penetrating that the normal recipe turns out almost liquid.  I tried again with a 1 to 4 ratio and it was still semi liquid after adding the esssential oils.  I’m thinking that maybe straight beeswax with that unusually high proportion of essential oils might work.  In any case, to the salve base in the little jar I added 25 drops (1/4 teaspoon) each of frankincense and myrrh essential oils.

The results of the sleeping aromatherapy trials are much the same.  I do think they help me fall asleep.  It could be that I expect them to help, therefore they do. It’s so hard to quantify things like that.  Lavender helped.  Lavender and marjoram helped more, I thought.  Clary sage and marjoram was better.  I finally concocted a recipe of several essential oils that are supposed to promote sleep and I thought that was a lot more effective.

For those who are curious, I ended up with:

10 drops Roman chamomile, 5 drops clary sage, 5 drops bergamot, 5 drops marjoram, 5 drops frankincense, and 2 drops ylang ylang.  I bottled it in a little 1/2 oz. dropper bottle — again from Amazon.

But then last night I couldn’t sleep and nothing helped!  Also I have been breathing so many essential oils lately that they’ve triggered allergic reactions.

So be very skeptical and try at your own risk.  🙂

Electric Brakes & Hard Lotion

Hard lotion bars

Hard lotion bars

We got the electric brakes replaced yesterday, so are good to go.  I watched the guy do it so I would understand how they worked.  I even got to stick the wires in the 7 pin connector to test the electrical connection.  😀

So I’m happy — except that it cost $450 of our trip money.

Oh well, at least we will enjoy the trip a lot more knowing that the brakes work as they should.

I started preliminary packing today — starting with cleaning out my purse!  That’s always a chore, but once I’m past that psychological hurdle, I’m primed for the rest.  Got our underwear and linens packed in the Casita, and have sorted out which clothes to take.  Not that I’m anxious or anything!

Lotion bars shrink wrapped for storage.

Lotion bars shrink wrapped for storage.

After the shea butter allergy fiasco, I decided to stick to a very basic lotion recipe.  I decided against a liquid because I didn’t want to add a preservative.  Without a preservative, liquid lotion would have a short shelf life and I would have to keep it refrigerated to keep mold from growing in it.

So I made hard lotion bars, consisting of equal proportions of beeswax, coconut oil and almond oil, scented with several drops of essential oil.  Since it doesn’t contain shea or cocoa butters, it is not as rock hard as some, and is much easier to use.

The almond oil makes it even more moisturizing to my extremely dry skin, and the beeswax keeps the moisture from evaporating.

So — two things have worked out right in a row.  I’m on a roll!  😀

Casita Repairs — & Epic Fail!

Several months ago we had taken the Casita to a local tire shop to have them check the bearings.  They apparently forced too much grease in and blew out the seals on the back.  We ended up with grease squirts in our wheel well, and our brake controller started showing wildly random, nonsensical readings.

Ron took the truck in for service and had them check it to make sure that wasn’t the problem.  They told him the truck’s brakes were fine.

Long story short… we’re having a guy look at the electric brakes on the trailer Wednesday, and are pretty sure they’ll have to be replaced.  And that’s something we need to have done before our next trip.

Secondly, we have to park the Casita under trees, so we have a problem with mildew growing on the roof.  Before our last trip, Ron was scrubbing the roof and decided that a foam mildew remover would make the job easier.  What we didn’t count on was the foam running down the sides of the trailer and leaving chalky streaks in the Poliglow.  It did.  It totally ruined the finish.

So I got the old Poliglow stripped off the top half of the trailer before it turned cold.  But the weather hasn’t been warm enough to reapply it until now.  Now that it is warm enough, we are also getting rain.  And I can’t apply the new coats of Poliglow when there is a chance of rain.

So we will probably head to Texas with a matte finish trailer instead of a shiny white egg unless we get a break in the weather really soon.

My cayenne infused oil made a gorgeous pinkish red salve.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work!  :)

My cayenne infused oil made a gorgeous pinkish red salve. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work! 🙂

The epic fail story?

I’ve rarely used shea butter before.  When I did, it was always way down the list of ingredients in a lotion.  Since I had read that shea butter was superb for eczema treatment, I ordered a pound of it for my homemade creams and lotions.

Last night I made two big batches of shea butter cream and lotion — then slathered myself with that wonderfully rich, creamy goodness before going to bed.

Rich, silky, deeply moisturizing cream -- that I'm violently allergic to!

Rich, silky, deeply moisturizing cream — that I’m violently allergic to!

I woke up itching — bigtime!  I had a weepy red rash all over my body!  It never occured to me that I might be allergic to shea butter, but I am.  Violently allergic to it!

So tonight I’ll scrape my creations out of the jars so I can reuse them.  Then I’ll make another batch.  This time it will be unscented, and with no shea butter!

Thanksgiving & Experiments

For culinary use only  :)

For culinary use only 🙂

We had a lovely, peaceful, sweet Thanksgiving Day today.  Just Ron and I and the dogs.  It’s the first time we haven’t shared the holiday with the family in years.  But we are looking forward to spending Christmas with Gail and Mike.

I decanted my cayenne and ginger infused oils today.  The cayenne is fiery.  The flavors are intense.  I can’t wait to cook with them!

However, I rubbed a bit of the cayenne oil on my arthritic thumb joint to test the effect, and — nothing.  No effect whatsoever.  My thumb didn’t even get warm.  So my hopes for using the oils in a home arthritis remedy were dashed.

I did read some extremely encouraging news on the use of frankincense and myrrh to relieve joint pain, reduce inflammation and improve mobility:

Here are pertinent snips:

There have been more than 20 scientific studies carried out on these two ingredients in the past 15 years for the treatment of arthritic and other inflammation, the most recent of which was this year at the Indira Gandhi Medical College at Nagpur in India.

…The study noted that those applying the extract to the skin reported up to 70 per cent better mobility in their knee joints and a 50 to 60 per cent decrease in knee-joint swelling. In addition, the frequency of the swelling was significantly reduced.

…Another study, carried out last year at the Institute of Pharmacology at the University of Tubingen in Germany, found that commiphora molmol (myrrh) extract was found to have significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects when used on localised acute and chronic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritic patients.


Sunny and Sheba enjoying turkey, dressing and giblet gravy.

Sunny and Sheba enjoying turkey, dressing and giblet gravy.

The only problem is that frankincense is expensive, and good quality, uncut myrrh is off the charts.

I do have 1 oz. of frankincense, and have 1/3 oz. of myrrh on order just to experiment with.  I hope I can concoct something that will help a little, anyway.

If not, it’s been entertaining.  Expensive entertainment, though!  🙂

Projects Between Trips — Home Remedies for Arthritis & Eczema

My homemade eczema treatment cream

My homemade eczema treatment cream

As always, I must have projects to keep me entertained and happy during the down time between trips.

This year I decided I would experiment with making my own home remedies for conditions that I’ve never found a satisfactory treatment for elsewhere.

Eczema, for instance.   The thick, nasty ointments and creams the doctors prescribe are downright disgusting.  You have to be really miserable to slather yourself with that stuff.  Alternatively, you can slather with cortisone-based cream.  A side effect is that cortisone makes me grow a moustache.  That’s almost worse than the skin problems!

Infusing cayenne and ginger oils for an arthritis cream

Infusing cayenne and ginger oils for an arthritis cream

So I did a little (okay, a lot) of research and found a recipe for an eczema cream I liked.  I tweaked it a little bit.  And I am absolutely delighted with the result.  It contains beeswax. coconut oil, safflower oil, aloe vera gel, Vitamin E and honey.  It was scented with rosemary and tea tree oil.  But I thought it smelled nasty, so I added some sweet orange essential oil.  Now it smells wonderful.

The honey was an odd addition, I thought.  But it must be the magic ingredient that makes this cream really special.  It is completely non-greasy and feels wonderful on the skin.  And the soothing protection lingers for hours.

I’ll make this again, but will wait until my shea butter order arrives, as I think it will make it even more healing.

Another project is finding a pleasant, effective treatment for osteoarthritis back pain.  Cayenne (capsicum, capsaicin) is widely used in OTC arthritis creams.  Ginger is warming and anti-inflammatory, so I think it will  boost the effect of the cayenne.

In researching home remedies, you run into so much garbage and ignorance, it is very difficult to sift fact from myth.  But I ran across an Israeli study that said that frankincense rubbed topically over joints for 7 days was an effective arthritis pain treatment.  I also ran across a Japanese study that said that orange oil rubbed into arthritic knees had proven beneficial to elderly Japanese patients.

I splurged on cute Japanese dishes -- in hopes they will help me limit my food portions!

I splurged on cute Japanese dishes — in hopes they will help me limit my food portions!

So, combining all of that information, I decided I would make a cream infused with cayenne and ginger oils, and add frankincense and orange oil to scent it with.  If nothing else, I love the smell of frankincense and sweet orange, so it ought to smell good!

I have to infuse the cayenne and ginger oils for 10 days first.  I’ll pour the oils into a clean jar then, let them settle, then decant them for use in my arthritis cream.  I am so excited to see if they really do help!

The oils will be combined with beeswax, almond oil, grapeseed oil and aloe vera gel, so they should not be irritating to the skin in the proportions I’m using.

A final project is trying to lose the massive amount of weight I’ve put on this past year due to the double whammy of quitting smoking and steroid COPD treatments.  So I bought myself a little Japanese dish set that will be so much fun to use — and will hopefully help me limit my food portions.

After Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, of course!  🙂


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