Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe

I am not a fan of over-the-counter cough syrups, and for good reason.  Nevertheless, there are times (like today) when the cacophony of hacks and sniffles demands a little extra attention, and children need relief from coughing so they can get their healing sleep.

Homemade Cough Syrup Recipes via The Simple Homemaker

Besides the usual rest, immune-builders, and liquids, homemade cough syrup can provide some relief.  Many of the old recipes contained whiskey.  I can see how that would knock the little ones out for a few hours.  This homemade cough syrup recipe which my great grandmother passed down to my mother is alcohol free.

Great Grandma’s Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe

Cough Syrup Ingredients

  • one cup honey, raw is best
  • one teaspoon ginger
  • juice of one lemon

Combine and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes.  Do not overheat, as the raw honey will lose some of its remarkable nutritional and healing benefits.  This is also great for sore throats.  (If you don’t want to risk overheating, put the honey in after combining and heating the lemon juice and ginger.)

Thanks, Great Grandma!

I also found several homemade cough syrup recipes from bloggers around the web.  Here are my top four.

Top Four Homemade Cough Syrup Recipes

The following homemade cough remedies are organized in order of what is most readily available in my pantry.  Your pantry staples are probably slightly different than mine, so take a peek at each before deciding on one.

Keeper of the Home: Building on a simple base of raw honey and onion, Stephanie also offers options to enhance the homemade cough remedy with ingredients you may or may not have readily at hand.  The options make it suitable for most pantries.

Nourishing Joy: While not quite as simple as Great Grandma’s recipe, Kresha’s homemade cough syrup can easily and quickly be created from items I have readily on hand.  If you are an avid do-it-yourselfer in the kitchen, you’ll recognize all the ingredients.  Kresha also explains the health benefits of each component in her cough remedy. She also has a recipe for herbal cough crops.

Frugally Sustainable: Andrea’s homemade cough syrup uses fantastic ingredients, not all of which are in the average pantry.  She recommends planning ahead, preparing the herbal syrup in advance, and storing it in the refrigerator until the first signs of a cold sneak into your home.

Modern Alternative Mama: I only have three of the six ingredients in Kate’s elderberry and honey cough syrup recipe.  Nevertheless, by preparing ahead for the inevitability of the season, you could be stocked up and ready to concoct a batch of this powerhouse against colds.  Kate successfully uses this homemade cough remedy for her own family.

To further get through the season healthfully, check out the superb five-week immune-building recipe link-up sponsored by Erin at The Humbled Homemaker, Nikki at Christian Mommy BloggerMindy at The Purposed Heart, Anne at Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, Leigh Ann at Intentional by Grace, and Rachel at Day2Day Joys.  The recipes we’ve tried are fantastic!

How do you fight colds at your house?

Healthy Snacks To Go

Simple Philosophy for Better Health

Everyone is at a different point in the journey toward better health.  Some have barely begun or have no intention of beginning, while others have pursued healthy living so vigorously, that all that is left for them is to de-stress about the whole thing.

Similarly, people have different ideas about what healthy living is.  You have your vegans, your vegetarians, your low-carbers, your calorie counters…you name it, there’s a group for it.  There’s even the “I’m not listening!” group.  See?

Simple Philosophy to Better Health - I'm Not Listening

Personally, we are most closely associated with what has become known as real foodies, although we are by no means extreme…by no means!  We eat food that is, simply put, real.  It has not been morphed into an unhealthy version of its previous self.  (Real foodies can be vegans, vegetarians, low-carbers, and calorie counters, too, by the way, although we are none of those.)  So, we eat homemade bread, but not store-bought.  We’ll have eggs for breakfast, but not Cheerios.  Butter, yes, margarine, no way on God’s green earth can you force that stuff down the throat of this born-and-raised-on-a-Wisconsin-cattle-farm girl…I mean, no thank you!  Essentially, I’m an apple girl, not a fruit snacks girl.  (Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t eat it and love it at YOUR house…we just don’t eat it here.)

For years we had fortified cereal and whole grain crackers in the house, along with other seemingly innocuous food choices that we were led to believe were healthy for our children—granola bars, whole grain breads, soy milk, flavored yogurt.  I would keep a few frozen pizzas in the freezer for “those nights,” and we loved to feast on Manwich from a can…mmmmmmm.  (Uh, we took it out of the can and prepared it as directed, just so you know.)

Today we don’t eat any of that, unless we have made it ourselves.  That means we make our own bread, snacks, yogurt, sometimes ketchup and pasta…you name it, we probably make it.  (Although I’ve yet to find a mayonnaise recipe they will eat.)  The ingredients are simple and real.

That doesn’t sound like a simple philosophy for better health!

You’re right; it doesn’t.  (You don’t have to yell.  Just keep reading.)

If we had made the transition from our fairly decent diets to eating mostly real foods overnight, or even over-month or over-year, it would definitely not have been simple…at all!  In fact, ironically, the stress would probably have killed me, or at least launched me head first into a bag of Doritos!  (Mmmmm…chips.)

But we did not work on improving our health overnight or even over-year.  We did it over years.

Here’s the simple part of the simple philosophy for better health:

Wherever you are in your journey toward improving your health, take one step forward.  Only one!

If you drink soda every day five times a day, cut back to four.  If you smoke eight cigarettes a day, cut back to seven.  If you eat only packaged, processed foods, even those that claim to be healthy, try to make one meal a week from scratch.  If you live for sugar, gradually (gradually) cut back and replace it with something better.

If you are further along on your health journey, your steps will look different.  Perhaps you could take one item from your pantry and read the ingredients.  It should read like a children’s book, not like a science journal.  If you can’t read it in a Dr. Seuss sing-song voice, you don’t want to eat it and you certainly don’t want to feed it to your children!  Replace that one item…just that one! (Don’t even bother reading any other labels right now.)  Eventually, you won’t even remember that you used to make pancakes from a box or that you used store-bought salad dressing and soup or that you had cold cereal 15 times a week—that’s a lot of cereal.  You and corn syrup and hydrolyzed soybean oil won’t even be on speaking terms, and you won’t remember when the relationship first started to disintegrate.

Some ideas: replace your bad oil with a healthier oil (we use coconut and olive), find one salad dressing recipe to try (we can help you there), learn to do one new thing in the kitchen, such as making your own pancakes, stock, or bread.  (If you’re really new, pancakes are a snap.)  Just pick one!

Perhaps your journey toward improving your health requires something beyond food, such as exercise or de-stressing.  Focus your one step in that direction, getting a pedometer and slowly increasing your walking goal, or taking time on the occasional evening to unwind with a warm bath and an uplifting devotional.  But don’t stress about it!  If the babies are having an I-don’t-know-why-I’m-sad-so-can-you-peeeaaasse-hold-me night or your hubby is feeling chatty or amorous, enjoy the blessings of the moment rather than stressing over your lack of de-stress time.  (We humans are ironic that way.)

If you’re really far on your journey toward improving your health, then I’m probably learning from you!  Nevertheless, there is one thing I’ve noticed that many health-focused people really need to do…and that’s enjoy life! Don’t stress because your child ate the Dumdum they gave him at the bank when he and your hubby were running errands together.  Don’t become judgmental because your mother-in-law served GASP instant mashed potatoes with gravy from a package for Thanksgiving.  Don’t fill everyone’s ear with all the things within arm’s reach that will kill them—that kinda makes you a downer.  (I know, cuz sometimes that’s me.)  Unless there is a critical health issue involved, relax, live, love, laugh, and let it go.

Pick just one thing…and do it! Got it?

Part two of the simple philosophy for better health:

Aaaaaahhhhh!  There’s more?!

You bet your bippy.  (I thought you were going to stop yelling.)

When you mess up–and you will–don’t worry!  Don’t stress!  Don’t give up on the whole simple philosophy for better health.  In fact, plan some mess-ups. 

Simple Philosophy to Better HealthWe like making chips and they are delicious with a capital -licious!  But…sometimes I buy chips.  Yup…buy them.  Not the less-bad-for-you organic variety either.  And then we eat them…all at once.  And we smile.  Not just a polite little smile, but a great big giddy smile, like this:

That great big giddy smile is good for you.  Try it.

What small step is in your simple philosophy for better health?

Linked up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday.

Mommy, Play With Me

I hope you had a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast, because you need to be at your best for this. I’ve got a pop quiz for you. I can hear your groaning, you know. You didn’t study, did you? Don’t worry; it’s multiple choice.

The Importance of Playing with Your Kids and How To Fit it In | The Simple Homemaker

Ready?  Let’s go.

Question number one and only, asked by someone small(er than you):

Mommy, can you play a game with me?


  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. Maybe later.
  4. I have to finish ________, and then I can play with you.
  5. No hablo ingles.


1 or 4

Mandatory long-winded commentary on the options:

1. Yes.  As parents, “yes” should be our answer as often as reasonable when our children reasonably ask for our time, attention, and love…but not necessarily for Legos, money, or car keys.  It warms any child’s heart and gives children confidence in their worth when you truly enjoy playing with your children and enthusiastically take the time to do so.  Just a note: a cheerful yes is not the same as a begrudgingly dutiful “I suppose.”  Children can tell the difference between love and duty. (There is a lot to be said for children playing independently and respecting the time of others, so if your child is over-the-top about demanding you entertain him or interrupting your time unnecessarily, then this does not apply to you. But that’s a topic for another day.)

2. No.  Heart crushed.  Of course, sometimes the answer has to be no, like…when you’re…uhhh…skydiving or…in the final stages of labor, maybe.  But, really, opt for number 4 instead of the “no.”  A better answer would be  “Sure, Son, after I land and regain my ability to breathe unassisted” or “Yes, but please wait until after the baby is born and napping.”

3. Maybe later.  The problem with the maybe laters of life is that later never comes.  Most children will tell you that “maybe later” (and “we’ll see,” by the way) means “never.”  ‘Fess up.  You know it’s true.  “Maybe later” is too open-ended and abstract and will rapidly be forgotten by you, but not by your small(er than you) child who will subconsciously add it to an array of unfulfilled maybe laters that chisel away at your relationship and at his little heart.

4. I have to finish _________, and then I can play with you.  This is great if, and only if, you follow through to the letter.  Not only does this answer tell your child exactly when you will be available to play, but your consistent follow-through will instill trust in your child.  Knowing you will be playing with them as soon as possible, your children will happily wait (and probably help you with whatever you’re doing).  Take warning, however, that if you consistently tell them you will do something at a certain time, and you consistently let them down, your word will mean nothing to them…and that’s a tragedy.  Better to say “no” and be truthful than to put your children off indefinitely until they learn your word has no value.

5. No hablo ingles.  No commento.

How can I find time for playing with my children?

You’re busy; I know.

Busy MomsI have six children whom I homeschool, I run a business and assist with a music mission with my hubby who also enjoys a little attention, and I am considering installing a hammock and toilet in my kitchen since I practically live there, seeing as we buy almost no processed foods—nope, not even bread or cereal.  This is on top of the normal tasks involved with being a wife, mother, homemaker, and writer/editor.  Believe me when I say I too am busy, and I understand the lure of answers two and three (number 5 doesn’t work on my kiddos, since they’ve noticed a little ingles escaping from my lips over the past 15 years).  Consider, however, that a family game does not have to be Monopoly.  It doesn’t have to be chess.  There are quick, fun alternatives for playing with your children.

A game of 20 Questions or I spy requires no supplies or set up, and can be played anywhere, even while you’re cooking.  There are also family games that can be played in under ten minutes, such as some of the mini Lego games* and a few of the array of quick card games now available (some favorites are Dutch Blitz and Gopher It).  Games can be played with a timer or altered to be shorter.  Longer family games, like Apple to Apples, Clue, or your classic favorite from childhood, can be reserved for family game night, which you can schedule weekly, monthly, or sporadically by writing it on the calendar and sticking to it. You can even have an ongoing game that may take days, weeks, or months to finish, such as chess or Scrabble—of course, this has to be set up out of reach of the really smalls.

When you consider the monumental returns on the small investment of time that accompanies your enthusiastic “yes,” you may be the one asking your children if they want to play games instead of the other way around.

Hey, you did great, but next time study for the quiz.

* Our favorite mini Lego game is Wild Wool, which is currently rather pricey at Amazon.  We bought it in spring for ten bucks at Wal-Mart, so check there first.  It only takes about ten minutes to play…unless your sheep are named, get married, and have lambs—that drags it out a bit.  Robo-Champ is also great; it’s faster (five minutes, usually), and is under ten bucks online.  My children like some of the other lower-priced, less-time-consuming Lego games as well, but I haven’t given them the parent tolerance test.

What is your favorite family game for playing with your children?

Reflections on Life, Time, Family and The Death of Steve Jobs

The death of Steve Jobs has touched many people—few connected Americans are not touched in some way by the passing of this legendary technological genius.  Despite the effect he has had on many lives, I can’t help but think that the people who will miss him most are his surviving family members—his four children, his wife, his biological parents, and his two sisters.  It is these people who will live with fond memories, yes, but also regrets, pain, what-ifs, and if-onlies.

Death of Steve Jobs

When we hear of someone dying, whether someone famous such as Steve Jobs, or someone less well-known, but often far more personal, we begin to think a little more deeply than many of us may be comfortable thinking.  We contemplate the rapidity of life and the inevitability of death.  We rest assured in our faith or, for many, re-evaluate the wisdom of rejecting God.  On a more immediate basis, we evaluate our own lives and relationships a bit more.

We assess how we spend our time.  We look at the hours wasted online, watching television, complaining, or working overtime.  We contemplate whether hobbies and careers have attained a higher status than the people in our lives.  We recall with regret the number of “laters” and “not nows” that have escaped from our mouths.  We look shamefully on the number of hours we spent dealing with clutter, full calendars, and self-imposed expectations that distract us from the people we are blessed to have in our lives.

With such regret and reawakening driving us, we often tend to refocus our lives, promising ourselves we will spend more time with our loved ones.  We commit to making time for what really matters, for saying “yes” instead of “later,” and for saying “no” to anything that will keep us from our families.  This lasts only briefly before life crowds in on us again and we are once more taking each other for granted and confusing our priorities.  If excessive stuff, activities, and expectations are not permanently eliminated, there will be no space for those who really matter…but there will always be room for regret.

Nobody is immune to death.  Similarly, nobody is immune to the regret that often comes with knowing you could have given more time, been more committed, or been more attentive to your loved one.

One of the most important reasons for simplifying your life is to make more time for the people with whom you have been blessed.  Make an effort today and every day to remove the unnecessary elements from your life—perfectionism, clutter, obligations, expectations.

Focus on faith and family.  There will come a time when nothing else matters.

For a powerful and moving perspective on Steve Jobs’ death, please read “The Death of Steve Jobs: The Real Story.”  It is the single best article I have read on the subject.

Reading Adventures

Pierre Auguste Renoir

Curious about the reading adventures mentioned in Love in Action: Read Aloud to Your Children?

Together you’ll travel to Narnia and Treasure Island. You’ll be shipwrecked on an island and make your home in the trees. You’ll discover a noothbrush on your toothbrush and climb to the top of a tree to attend a big dog party. You’ll meet the Moffats and Pippi Longstocking and watch the five little Peppers grow. You’ll tame the mighty black stallion, cry through Black Beauty’s losses, and ride along with Marguerite Henry and the great horses of history. You’ll memorize Prayer for a Child and Dr. Seuss’ ABC. You’ll flee Egyptian priests from Bubastes and sail the seas with Odysseus.

You’ll meet the real Mary Poppins. You’ll help Charlotte save Wilbur, help Christopher unstick Pooh (again), and tag along on vet visits with Dr. Herriot. You’ll make friends with Patricia St. John and Louisa May Alcott. You’ll empathize with Beezus and root for Henry. You’ll cheer through Understood Betsy and bake through The Little House series. You’ll give a moose a muffin, a mouse a cookie, and a pig a pancake. All of it, together. Why, I’m almost envious!

Here are some of the books that will take you there.

Clicking on the picture of a book will take you to Amazon where you can read a description of it.

(Sorry for using a slow-loading Amazon widget.  I decluttered “become a tech-savvy supermom bordering on perfection” from my life queue.)

What are your favorite books from your childhood?

Picture: Renoir

Contentment Challenge

It’s one thing to talk about being content. It’s another thing entirely to embrace contentment, to commit to it, to be content. That is precisely what we are going to do today:

Contentment Challenge

Commit to contentment.

Are you ready?

Deep breath.

Here we go!

Today, beginning whenever you read this, make the commitment to not complain.

Don’t complain about anything.

Don’t complain with your words, with the tone of your voice, with your eyes, with the way you hold your shoulders, with that irritating little sigh–you know the one!

Don’t complain with your silence.

No complaining on Facebook, email, twitter, or anywhere else your cyber-jogs take you.

No complaining out loud or in your head.

No complaining about the weather, about your man, about your neighbor’s man, about your neighbor’s dog, about your neighbor.

No agreeing with someone else who is complaining…not even a sympathetic grumble.

No complaining about your hair, your nails, your weight, your personality, your inability to stop complaining.

You cannot stop the birds of temptation from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.

~attributed to Martin Luther

When the tempting birds of complaint fly over your head, and they will, do not let them land! Don’t give in to the temptation to complain!

Turn instead to gratefulness.

For every one complaint you feel tempted to send rippling through your peaceful home, find three things to be thankful for. If you can’t think of three, ask for help. If you have someone to ask, count that person as one blessing to be thankful for.

How long?

The challenge lasts for 24 hours, but I can guarantee your husband and children would rather you kept it going for, say, 24 years…times four. Please, please and again please don’t store up your complaints for 24 hours and unleash them. Instead, annihilate them with gratitude.

I know it sounds like a juvenile game, but isn’t our complaining really juvenile? Aren’t we just spoiled children who are unhappy that God’s gifts aren’t exactly what we would have chosen?

Live a simple life of joyful contentment…beginning with the next 24 hours.

Are you in? Leave a comment and let us know, so we can pray for and encourage each other on the road to simple contentment.