Sunday, July 24, 2016

Winning the Battle of the Spurge - Keeping a Lawn Beautiful

Every summer like clockwork I start the battle of the spurge. I'm highly against poisoning weeds but I do ask the hubby to poison once in spring, long after the first application of preemergence. This is because we also get spurweed in late spring which is extremely painful to pull by hand and there is so much of it. Your local privately owned lawn and garden center should be able to direct you to the correct weed killer for your area. Be sure you tell them specifically what you are battling. You can also bag samples to take with you as showing is better than describing. Make sure whatever they suggest is not going to kill your grass!

It seems though even after the preemergence and weed killer, we still get spurge and carpetweed.  I find it everywhere. I don't want to harm the butterflies, bees and birds so I've decided to hand pull the spurge. If you don't wear gloves, spurge will stain the sides of your fingers. It is also poisonous so be sure to wash your hands carefully if you opt out of wearing gloves.

Here is a photo I took of spurge. It seems to have one large root and expands from there and grows outward in a circle.

I'm sure God created spurge for a reason. I just don't want it in my lawn!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How to Make Homemade Cleaning Disinfecting Wipes - Green Cleaning

These are very easy to make and cost effective. As noted below, I used grapefruit essential oil. This EO scent was able to cancel out the smell of the alcohol and the vinegar.

Some posts state to use paper towels. You can do this but I highly recommend a better, tougher brand of paper towel like Bounty or Brawny. I used the cheap kind I had on hand and found that when cutting the paper towel roll at the halfway mark, the paper shredded badly. The rolls were also just a little too large so I had to shove them into the recycled plastic Lysol wipe container. You could remove some of the paper towels first so that they fit better into the container. Just don't wantcha to be disappointed if the paper shreds! 

I think probably the better thing to do and I'll try this next time, is to cut many old rags into decent sized pieces and just pour the solution below over them.

Mix all this together, put your rags or towels into the recycled plactic container and pour the mixture over the top.

This is all-natural with no toxic chemicals. The vinegar and alcohol along with essential oils have disinfecting properties.
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 2 teaspoon liquid dish soap
  • 10 drops essential oil - I used Grapefruit EO
  • Recycled plastic Lysol or generic brand container

Musings about Pumpkins and How to Grow Them

Last year I started my pumpkin plants waaaaaay too late, August to be exact in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why I did that, I guess I just wanted to see what would happen. Well. I saw the seeds at Lowe's in August and thought it would be cool to try. They ended up getting powdery mildew and produced one small pumpkin which I promptly picked and put in my sitting area.

This year I made sure to get the seeds out in early June. I piled four mounds of garden soil and organic compost, each with 5 pumpkin seeds. I covered with cedar mulch to try to help keep the soil from washing away. This is what they look like today:
Notice the bloom on this one, top right?

This one mentioned above with the bloom has a little boy bloom.
 How do I know this is a boy? I Googled it, of course. 
Boys will have a long shoot with a bloom at the end, like this. 
Little girl blooms are much closer to the vine.
 I don't have a girl yet, but I'll be sure and provide a photo when I do

Monday, July 18, 2016

How to Spread the Love of Your Echinacea Purple Coneflower Plants

This planting area started out as 6 small clusters of plants grew from Burpee seeds. After the plants went through the blooming season in 2015, I let the blooms die off while still attached to the plant. Once the cone tops have dropped all their blooms and turned completely brown / black, snip (deadhead) the cone tops. Simply dig a small hole and drop the cone tops in spots where you want to fill in your area. I only partially cover the cone top with dirt. Next season you will have new Echinacea Purple Coneflower plants. Dig up as needed and share with others.

Deadhead this and partially cover with soil

Baby Echinacea Purple Coneflower

A bloom that self-deadheaded! I'm leaving it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Friendly but Scary (to me) Visitor

Lots of Blue Jay squawking in Dogwood Forest. Found the reason. What kind of snake is this?? Rat snake, chicken snake?

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Sinus Surgery for Allergic Fungal Sinusitis - AFS

I wanted to make a post regarding my sinus surgery I had yesterday. I think it's important to get the word out there for those who have suffered for years!

I've suffered for 20+ years with chronic sinusitis, allergies, congestion and the whole 9 yards. Years of trips to my PA involved the same routine - steroid shots, antibiotics, Flonase, and allergy pills (I've tried them all - Claritin-D, Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, Zyrtec-D, generics, etc...). Using Neti pots gave some temporary relief only to have the symptoms come back in full force. Even saw an ENT back in 2009 who told me I had allergies. Duh!

In December 2015 something changed. There was a constant pulling and spasming feeling below my left eye socket along the cheek bone that radiated into my left ear and into the top of my head. Followed by gallons of post-nasal drip. Neck pain as well. Before long my eyesight in my left eye became blurry and my teeth and jaw bone hurt. I had also lost quite a bit of my sense of smell.

Went back to PA in December 2015, same routine with the meds as before - Augmentin and Flonase . After no relief I also visited a dentist in January because I thought the pain may have been a bad root canal and crown that did not take well in the top of my mouth. Dentist did an x-ray and we noticed the whole left side of my face was nothing but a white cloud. The right side was clear and the sinuses above my eyes were clear. It was evident at that point there was a mass on the left side. He commented it was a sinus infection. I went ahead and had teeth extracted, the top molar that was very close to the sinus cavity that was full and a wisdom tooth on the bottom that was impacted. After a dry socket in the wisdom tooth and an infection of the upper tooth, more antibiotics, this time Clindamycin and then Keflex. Ugh.

Back to the PA in February - May because the pain was still there! More antibiotics this time - Z-Pack followed by Levaquin (which is a separate story), and finally he was about to prescribe Doxycycline with a comment that if that didn't work there was nothing else he could do to help me. At that point I asked to be referred to another ENT.

Thank God I did that. My first visit with the ENT involved going to get a CT scan of my face. This revealed, sure enough, a mass, the same mass as back in January on the dental x-ray. At that point he did an in-office endoscopy which revealed what he thought was probably a fungal infection. It was so bad it had calcified and was losing pus. The "mass" had deviated my septum a bit. He mentioned I would need surgery to remove it and he would send it off for a biopsy just in case. He would not know fully what the surgery would involve until he got in there. This scared me a bit. I also wanted clarification that this was not the invasive type of fungus you watch on a show like "Monsters Inside Me" or something like that. Nope, but he said he would be operating right around my eye and brain!

I thought I would also mention the most disturbing fact was the terrible smell that was emanating from my sinuses. It started at work where I actually was blaming other people, in my own head of course. First it was the housekeeping lady, I thought she had gotten into something rotten. Then as I was sitting in a meeting with my boss and a work colleague, I honestly thought my boss had a bad case of gas. As I went back down to my office, I thought the whole building was on fire. It didn't dawn on me until I was at home on Saturday and  bent over to pick something up that the terrible smell was coming out of my face. Some people describe it as rotting flesh, to me it smelled like extremely burnt beans on the bottom of a pan. Enough of that, it was bad enough to mention to the ENT.

I went on another antibiotic and heavy steroids for the surgery to reduce swelling the week before surgery.

Two weeks later, yesterday July 14th, I had the surgery. At 49, this was my first surgery so I was both a little unwilling and nervous but I was ready for relief. And after all, they were operating on a FUNGUS in MY FACE. What if it spreads or something. I had been told it was painful, not worth it and a long recovery time. My ENT let me know before the surgery that I was anemic, my iron levels were a 10, whatever that means. He said anything below the 10 and he would have called off the surgery. I guess that might explain the hair loss, tingling and numbness in my hands and feet, shortness of breath and fatigue. Something else I need to work on I suppose.

The surgery went well and I consider it a success. As I sit here typing after just having surgery, I can tell you I am in no pain, my face has never felt better and I can breathe out that side for the first time in a while. I am very glad I did this. He did not need to correct my septum or pack my nose. My husband said the doctor mentioned to him that he did need to insert a steroid splint. I can't even feel it and I have not had a pain pill yet. Just a shot or two of Bailey's in my coffee. Works better than anything I think. Had I needed a deviated septum repair, I might be typing a different story regarding pain from what I have heard about that. But this was easy!

I want to mention that I did quite a bit of research on fungal sinusitis and it is quite common in the south where humidity is high. There was a large study done at UT - Southwestern. The Mayo Clinic also conducted research in 1999 that suggests that 96% tested were fungal sinusitis. The fellow that helped me immediately after my surgery had the same surgery and mentioned that 99% of sinusitis issues that don't resolve with meds are probably due to fungus. So don't mess around with it, go get it checked and removed if necessary!

Reading material:

* July 21st - I wanted to update to say that the effects of the anesthesia did take several days to wear off. I had read 24-48 hours it should be out of my system but honestly it was more like 5 days. I have EDS and POTS as well and my POTS symptoms were definitely made worse by the anesthesia. I wasn't expecting that. I was told no bending over, no lifting more than 10 pounds and whatever you do, do not blow your nose. A week after surgery I can tell it has healed and it does feel like it needs a good cleaning out but I'm still not blowing my nose. I go tomorrow so my ENT can clean it all out again, this time though it's just an office visit and take 1 pain pill beforehand.

*July 22nd - Went back for the follow-up appt. My sinus cavity looked so good he did not even need to clean it out. The nasal steriod stent is still there but will dissolve on it's own. I think I am on the downhill slide!

*July 25th - I thought it noteworthy to say that the steroid stent came out of my nose on Sunday. I had complained that there seemed like a lot of mucous the last few days at my Friday post-op appointment. So much mucous that I was choking on it. I woke up Sunday with what I thought was a bad allergy attack. Much more mucous and sneezing. On Friday, I was told I could blow my nose and had no restrictions so yes I blew my nose to clear the gunk out on Sunday. After a sinus rinse a hard object was felt in my nose. I was able to pull it completely out! I almost gagged pulling it out. I called my ENT office today, he is on leave until August 1st. Nurse asked about pain and if I was bleeding. Neither. She said they have seen these come out before, but usually not this soon. This was supposed to stay in and dissolve. I'm curious to see what Dr. says about this development. It would only happen to me!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Samples From My Garden 2016

Lovely Purple Coneflower. I grew the purple from seed and the white ones I bought on sale at Lowe's.

Snowcap Shasta Daisies next to my mailbox:

Old wine bottles given to me by a neighbor - used to edge an Iris patch:

Starting a new planting area - Variegated Hydrangeas bushes, Daisies, Passion Flower vine, Bridal Wreath bush:




Hubby scared off the little guy starting a motorcycle