7 Ways to Cope with Airplane Ear Pain

image courtesy of marin at freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of marin at freedigitalphotos.net

The hassles of airports are bad enough without the uncomfortable pressure that builds within your ears during airplane flights, also known as ear barotrauma. Ear barotrauma occurs when the eustachian tubes get blocked and your body cannot balance the air pressure inside and outside the eardrums. The temporary hearing loss has only one benefit:  It comes in handy when encountering the misfortune of sitting near a nonstop loud talker. Unfortunately for some people, however, ear barotrauma is much more than discomfort; it’s downright painful. Planning ahead is key. There are ways to minimize the effects of airplane ear pain.

  1. Prep Work

Begin taking decongestants containing pseudoephedrine and guaiphenesin (Mucinex D, for example), provided you have the go ahead from your doctor, 24 to 48 hours prior to your flight. If you suffer from allergies, be sure to take your antihistamine pill and prescription steroid nasal spray. Choose nonstop flights when possible, and drink enough water prior to boarding to stay hydrated so that your mucous membranes do not dry out. If you normally experience ear pain in flight, you might consider taking some pain medication, such as Advil or Tylenol, prior to boarding.

  1. Filtered Earplugs

Pressure-equalizing earplugs (such as EarPlanes brand) can be purchased at drug stores or at the airport. They are designed to minimize the pain from the rapid changes in cabin pressure. Insert them as soon as you are seated on the airplane and again at least 30 minutes before descent. If it’s a short flight, you may want to leave them in for the duration. There have been mixed reviews on the success of filtered earplugs, but, when in pain, it’s worth a try. Bonus:  The nonstop loud talker seated near you will sound muffled.

  1. Proactive Rituals

Using vasoconstricting nasal sprays (such as Dristan or Neo-Synephrine) right before takeoff and prior to descent will keep your nasal passages clear. Many people chew gum to keep their jaws moving. Sucking on lozenges maintains the goal of swallowing as often as you can. You can also inhale and blow through your nose very gently while pinching your nostrils shut to force air through the blocked eustachian tubes.

  1. Be Sleepy but Stay Awake

Yawning can be very effective for relieving the pressure by making your ears pop, so being a bit tired might be to your advantage. You do not want to be asleep, however, during the ascent or descent. Those are the critical times to make conscious effort to swallow often, to keep your jaws moving and to relieve the pressure as best you can.

  1. Young Children

Encourage young children to swallow by sipping a beverage during takeoff and descent or using a pacifier while sitting up. Since young children should not chew gum, drinking through a straw or blowing bubbles through a straw may help. Decongestants are generally not recommended for young children. Talk to your pediatrician regarding prescription ear drops that contain a pain reliever and numbing agent.

  1. Things to Avoid

Stay away from alcohol and caffeine before and during flight. Both are dehydrating and can cause the mucous membranes to become inflamed. Smoking will exacerbate the situation. If you can, avoid flying when in the throes of an upper respiratory illness and suffering from congestion. If you are a nervous flyer, choose to instead self-medicate on an indulgent, calorie-laden treat (unless you are prone to motion sickness, of course—a topic for another time).

  1. Can Ya Hear Me Now?

Temporary hearing loss and associated discomfort should return to normal within an hour after landing. In the meantime, enjoy not having to listen to your traveling companion complain about his or her lost luggage. However, if you have pain, dizziness, ringing in the ear or hearing loss for several hours, you need to see a doctor. If painful ear barotrauma is a chronic problem for you, discuss treatment options with your doctor—perpetual suffering every time you fly is not one of them.

If you need to travel often, it’s smart to keep your immune system strong by supplementing healthy eating and exercising with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting herbs and vitamins such as turmeric, ginger, astragalus, elderberry, echinacea, goldenseal, oregano, Vitamin C and probiotics. Have you tried any of these remedies or some others not mentioned here?  If so, other than abstention from flying (my number one choice), have you found some effective relief?


Natural Remedies to Kick Chronic Sinusitis to the Curb

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Fed up with constant sinus problems? Sick of stockpiling decongestants and antibiotics? Tell me about it. I’ve tried everything short of spraying Lysol up my nose. Nothing smells of desperation quite like risking permanent damage to one’s olfactory organ for the remote possibility of eliminating sinus pressure. Every year, once my allergies are in full bloom, I’m back in the throes my annual six-month sinus infection. Oh, how I love a tall glass of pounding headache in the morning with a shot of facial pain. Not so much. The good news is that I found a combination of remedies that finally kicked my chronic sinusitis to the curb.

Spray what?

No worries, I was only kidding about the Lysol. However, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) nasal spray is no joke. In fact, I believe this is the single most beneficial preventative and curative measure I have taken. GSE  is a strong natural antioxidant and antibiotic. After using this for several days, all of a sudden—OH EM GEE—I can breathe!

Clear the Air

Keep in mind this simple mathematical equation: dried-out sinuses + inhalation of germs = chronic stuffy nose and headache. Multiply that by facial pain and now you are the product of a huge sum of nasty disposition. Invest in an air purifier, particularly for your bedroom, and make sure it contains a HEPA filter. (I also have a small unit which uses UV light to sanitize the air. It’s near my desk at work—can’t hurt, right?) A humidifier in your bedroom for dryer months is a must. Mix tea tree oil, lavender oil and eucalyptus oil with apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to kill mold and germs in the air.

Boost Your Immune System

A good-quality probiotic should be an everyday staple for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it aids your immune system. Make sure you put vitamin D in your daily pill organizer next to the multivitamin and vitamin C for the same reasons. Determined to win the battle against my chronic sinus infections, I now ingest many herbal supplements to help strengthen my immune system. After trial and error, I have come to rely on these, my new best friends:  goldenseal, elderberry, garlic, oregano, and astragalus. Warning: buy only reputable brands. Otherwise, you might as well toss your money in the trash can alongside the insurmountable number of tissues you’ll undoubtedly use while in the midst of yet another sinus infection. Of course, you already know not to begin taking any herbal or vitamin supplements without getting your doctor’s OK.

Natural Anti-Inflammatories

Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, is touted for its strong anti-inflammatory properties, particularly for the sinus. Many people are aware of the numerous health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids such as promoting healthy eyes, heart and joints. Add soothing inflamed sinus cavities to its long list of attributes. Research the benefits of turmeric and ginger. These have become essential regulars in my daily supplement regime. Bonus: ginger is purported to help prevent memory problems; if this is true, at least you won’t forget to take the rest of your supplements.

Food Basics

I have disciplined myself to drink a nutrient-rich super-green cocktail every day. Okay, it’s actually more like a river-silt flavored super-healthy drink which deceitfully boasts a pleasant berry taste. Nevertheless, it give me me energy and makes my skin look maaaaaahvelous.  I now almost like the taste–almost. Stay away from mucous-producing dairy products but be cognizant of getting enough calcium. Almond milk is a tasty alternative.  It is high in calcium and vitamin E and low in sugar. Speaking of sugar, some experts suggest that eliminating it from your diet, along with grain products and caffeine, will cut down on mucous production. Quite frankly, there is no way I can possibly cut sugar, grain or caffeine out of my diet entirely; I just mention it in case your resolve is greater than mine. Try drinking 2T of apple cider vinegar in an 8 oz. glass of water at least 3 times a day at the first sign of symptoms. Apple cider vinegar thins the mucous and is antibacterial and antifungal.  Honey and garlic also have antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties.

Stick to the Basics

You need to keep up on the basic preventatives. It’s important to keep your sinuses moist with saline nasal spray. Warm compresses are comforting for facial pain and help open the passageways. I can’t say enough about the positive results I’ve gotten from NeilMed Sinus Rinse with a drop of tea tree oil.  This method is less awkward than the neti pot. Prescription steroid nasal sprays and daily allergy medications are helpful preventative aids if your chronic sinusitis is a result of allergies. Steaming the sinuses is soothing and helps relieve headaches. (I love the compact personal steamers sold in drug stores).

Allergy Proof Your Home

Not only frequent dusting and vacuuming but also regular cleanings of the HVAC system and wall unit air conditioners are super important. Keep your linens and mattress cover clean and dust-mite free. To be honest, I have little personal knowledge of whether regular and meticulous cleanings of my home would benefit my sinuses. If I miraculously develop the gumption to give it a try, I’ll report back.  What remedies or rituals have worked for you?

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com

How To Make Soy Candles – It’s So Easy

soy wax candles 29Forever Soaps+

soy wax candles 29Forever Soaps+

DIY Soy wax candles are a great project because they are easier to make than common paraffin candles (due to low shrinkage and easy clean up). More importantly, however, soy wax is healthier and better for a variety of reasons. (Read my post on the reasons why here.) Also, soy wax can hold a lot of scent. Both the cold and hot scent throw is killer! The choice is yours whether to make molded or container candles. Since I prefer container candles, this post focuses on the how-to for those.

First, you need to choose your jar. Since soy wax tends to burn longer than paraffin, I like the 8 oz. jars. You will need:

One 8 oz. jelly jar
6.5 oz. soy wax suitable for container candles
Pre-tabbed wick
Optional colorant (I like the concentrated liquid dyes.)
A maximum of .8 oz. scent

Heat the wax on low heat on the stove (or in the microwave) until fully melted. Meanwhile, secure the wick in the jar. Then, add your colorant and stir. (The liquid colorant is extremely concentrated. Take a toothpick to obtain only a dot of color for one jar.) Let the wax cool down to 120º F. Add the scent and stir. Pour into the container once the wax has cooled to 110º F – 100º F. You can keep the wick centered with a wick centering tool. I find clothes pins also do the trick.

Once the wax has completely hardened, the top is sometimes not completely smooth or there may be a mottled “frosting” appearance on top. This can be easily solved by using a heat gun for a few seconds on the top.  Sometimes, you have to use the heat gun a couple of times.

That’s it!  You’re all set. You now have a beautiful and highly-scented candle which will not only burn a lot longer than a paraffin candle, but also won’t deposit nasty soot stains around your home.

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com


DIY Shimmering Solid Lotion Bar

photo courtesy of Marin at freedigitalphotos.net

photo courtesy of Marin at freedigitalphotos.net

Here’s what I love about this particular solid lotion bar (or body butter bar, whichever term you prefer). You pour my recipe mix into new and empty deodorant containers rather than molds. This way, you can rub it on without getting it all over your hands. If you want a little shimmer (looks great on the legs), a pinch of sun gold mica mineral powder in the mix will do it. This recipe will fill two 2.5 ounce deodorant containers.

2.0 oz. beeswax or soy wax
1.3 oz. deodorized cocoa butter
.9 oz. apricot kernel oil or sweet almond oil
.9 oz. jojoba oil
A couple of drops of Vitamin E
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
a pinch of  sun gold mica mineral powder
1-2 tsp. scent (I like a blend of lavender, rose geranium and patchouli essential oils)
Two 2.5 oz.  deodorant containers

Melt the cocoa butter and beeswax/soy wax  in a double boiler. (See this post about why you shouldn’t use a glass container if you opt to melt it in the microwave.) After the beeswax and cocoa butter have fully melted, add in and mix the remainder of ingredients. Pour into the deodorant containers and let them set up. (If you want to buy a large quantity of deodorant containers, you can buy these  from SKS Bottle Co. at a great price.)

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com 2015

Pink Himalayan Salt Benefits – Yea or Nay?

Himalayan Salt Soap

This post is in celebration of today’s holiday: International Skeptics Day. I’m sure you’ve already heard about the benefits of pink Himalayan salt. The sea salt located deep within the Himalayan Mountains was produced many millions of years ago. It was covered with lava a long time ago and is now surrounded by ice and snow. Both coverings are thought to have kept the salt pure. The pink color is due to its iron content. The salt also contains iodine, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, and a whole host of other minerals–80+ minerals, actually. As you may already know, some of the purported benefits of ingesting the salt are as follows:

♦  aids proper metabolism function
♦  improves circulation
♦  detoxifying
♦  helps with the body’s absorption of nutrients
♦  strengthens bones
♦  lowers blood pressure
♦  is anti-microbial
♦  helps with acid reflux

The salt is also being praised for reducing signs of aging. I am wholeheartedly choosing to believe that this is true!

There are also plenty of skeptics’ reports stating that the minerals contained in the salt are in such trace amounts that they really don’t provide much benefit. They also say that the body already contains enough of the minerals contained in the salt. It is additionally reported that while Himalayan salt might be more pure than other sea salt, the contamination in sea salt is so little, that the difference is miniscule. Skeptics believe Himalayan salt is the just the current fashion, similar to a latest Hollywood craze.

Whether you agree that ingesting the salt provides beneficial results or not, here’s something I do know: External use of Himalayan salt on can provide relief for a variety of skin conditions such as itchy skin, eczema, psoriasis and rashes. If you bathe regularly with it, you’ll see what I mean. Despite skeptics’ claims, my muscles feel more relaxed after a soak and my skin looks and feels better than if I were to bathe with regular sea salt. Since I am not a scientist, I really can’t comment if the mineral benefits are absorbed by your body through your skin for internal benefit. I can only go by my customers’ feedback that my Himalayan salt soap has helped their various skin conditions. The spa-like experience also provides soothing relief to the body and mind.

Check out my Yen for Zen Himalayan salt scrub soap.  It has relaxing exfoliation with an intoxicating green tea/sandlewood scent.  If you’re having skin issues or just want to have a spa-like experience, I recommend giving a Himalayan salt soap bar a try. Bonus: salt bars keep your shower clean.

Now let’s get back to what’s important, shall we? I’ll let you know in 10 years if the purported anti-aging benefits prove to be true. If so, I guess 60 will be the new 20.

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com

Rainy Days and Jammies – Perfect Together

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Didja ever notice how you want to skip work and just lounge in your jammies on rainy days and watch bad TV? I’ll take that one step further: I want to lounge in my monkey print jammies with feet, drink hot chocolate with an obscene amount of marshmallows, bake cookies and watch bad TV. Tip: the worse the TV show, the more marshmallows are required.

If it rains on my day off, I still find perks: (1) I have full permission to do my hot chocolate/monkey feet jammies/bad TV routine, or (2) I will finally do some much-needed housework because I don’t feel like I need to get outside and enjoy nice weather. If the sun should peek out at any time on a Saturday, however, be advised that vacuuming can wait another six months.

What do you do on rainy days? Cooking? Lounging? More productive activities?

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com

The 10 Commandments of Food Shopping Etiquette

Image courtesy of bplanet at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of bplanet at freedigitalphotos.net

I choose to aggravate myself at the Shop Wrong grocery store every Saturday. I get up and go at Oh Six Hundred Hours to avoid people who, mostly likely, will irritate me. (Here’s some TMI: I also look like a troll who crawled out of the sewer because I play the odds that I won’t run into anyone I know at that time of the morning.) Anyway, it is my strong belief that fellow customers should obey my rules. Please know that strict adherence will be closely monitored. Here are my ten commandments of food shopping etiquette:

ONE:  Thou shall not bend down and tie one’s shoe at the entrance door to the store or linger for any other reason, such as to review that week’s flyer. This should be done prior to departure from home. I will have no choice but to roll my cart over an individual for such unconscionable behavior. (To that end, it’s not OK to opt for the cart with the squeaky wheel either.)

TWO:  Thou shall not park an unattended cart right smack in the middle of the aisle thruway. If I can’t safely pass on the left, harsh disciplinary action will be taken. Perhaps losing the privilege of partaking in the baked goods section and potato chip aisle might be an appropriate sanction.

THREE:  Thou shall not make me wait to procure a product in the aisle because he or she decides to read all of the labels in excruciating detail. It is common knowledge that the powdered soup has 10 times the yearly recommended allowance of monosodium bloat-a-mate in one serving. Throw it in the cart and move on; someone will eat it.

FOUR:  Thou shall not make a turn at the end of the aisle without first making a complete stop and looking both ways. This will, in addition to cutting down on collision accidents, ensure that I have a fighting chance to get the last jar of Fluffernutter which is on sale. And watch your speed; this isn’t a highway.

FIVE:  Thou shall not get into the 10 item express lane with more than 12 items. That is as much slack as I am willing to give. If you fail to comply, you will be subject to endless sighs set forth in an accusatory tone, loud finger tapping, and burning stares.

SIX:  Thou shall not pay with a check that has not been 90% filled out ahead of time. In fact, thou shall not pay with a check at all. Whip out the debit card and wrap up your transaction in an expedient manner.

SEVEN:  Thou shall not dig for pennies in one’s ratty old change purse for 10 minutes resulting in my ice cream melting on the conveyor belt. (This also applies to coupons resting at the bottom of your bag. Move on. You know they are expired anyway; they’ve been balled up in your purse since 1952.)

EIGHT:  Thou (and this “thou” pertains to the checkout clerk) shall not chew gum like a cow eating salt water taffy and comment in painful detail on every item in my cart. Said checkout person should have the common sense to realize that I’d rather smash my skull with a ball peen hammer than be there another minute.

NINE:  Thou shall not mosey on out of the store and through the parking lot at the speed of -5 miles per hour.  As no one seems to walk as fast as I do, I will ensure check points will be established to make sure that the appropriate minimum mph gait will be observed.

TEN:  Thou shall not, under any circumstances, talk on the cell phone within 50 yards of my person. This behavior inevitably leads to more serious offenses. Thus, this is a capital offense and will result in mandatory checkout in the above-mentioned gum-chewing commentator’s line.

Please also know that I park waaaaaaaay far away in the lot  to avoid abandoned shopping carts and other cars. Parking a large SUV two inches from my vehicle, when there are plenty of other more convenient spots available, will also not be tolerated.

If you notice anyone who is not in compliance with these ten commandments, please let me know. Immediate action will be taken to ensure that the perp is punished accordingly.

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com

DIY Homemade Dead Sea Mud Mask

Image courtesy of gubgib at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of gubgib at freedigitalphotos.net

Today is National Mud Pack Day so I thought it appropriate to post a recipe for a detoxifying DIY homemade Dead Sea mud mask. Dead Sea mud is chock full of minerals. Use this once a week and you’ll remain 29 forever. Well, that may be a bit optimistic, but at least your skin will look maaaaaaaaarvelous, dahling.

1/4 cup Dead Sea mud
4 drops of lavender or tea tree essential oils
1 tsp. honey (or calendula extract oil)

Warm the honey a bit so that it becomes more fluid. (If you choose to substitute with calendula extract oil, know that calendula is a wonderful anti-inflammatory.) Mix all ingredients together. Spread all over your face but not too close to the delicate skin under your eyes. Leave the mask on for about 10 minutes. Then, take a warm damp cloth to gently wipe it off. If you have dry skin, follow up with a moisturizer. If you have oily skin, leave well enough alone. Finally, look at your face in the mirror and admire your fine self.

By the way, my experience is that this Dead Sea mud will keep for quite a while in the jar. It will not get “yucky” even though it remains wet. There are minimal bacteria and other nasty things in the Dead Sea. This particular brand also contains natural grapefruit seed extract as a preservative.

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com

Monday Morning Angst

Monday Morning Blues Soap

Monday Morning Blues Soap

Well, it’s early morning on Sunday and it’s already begun:  the Monday Morning Blues have officially commenced. You feel me? There are just certain days that I’d rather dive off a cliff wearing a chum-lined evening gown into shark-infested waters than think about the weekend coming to an end. Here’s how I’m going to deal with it today:

♦ Throw back a pot of coffee
♦ Treat myself to pumpkin pancakes while throwing back said coffee
♦ Decide where I’m going to go for a lonnnnnnnnnnnnng, stress-reducing walk
♦ More importantly, decide where The Husband is going to take me to lunch after said walk
♦ Contemplate going to a local fall festival and buying more things I don’t need
♦Eat too many Kashi chocolate chip/oatmeal cookies (Those are almost like health food though, right?)
♦ Take a relaxing bath (I suppose a glass or 3 of wine might go well with that)
♦ Get lost in a really good book and try to forget for an hour that the impending doom is dangerously close

Once I get to the evening bath ritual, acceptance usually starts to sink in. At that point, a bowl of ice cream is in order. Well, only 5 workdays until the weekend again AND it’s a full moon this Monday. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

In order to shake off the Monday Morning Dread, you might want to give my soap that smells like “weekend” a try. It has that familiar Coppertone-like happy scent. Close your eyes, use the soap, and you’re back at the beach. Just kidding. Call out sick.  Here’s the link.

Happy Day Before Monday Morning Angst!  Enjoy!

Lower-Fat Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

cheeseburger casserole

cheeseburger casserole

cheeseburger casserole slice

In honor of National Cheeseburger Day, here is my version of a lower-fat cheeseburger casserole. I threw this together one day and, if I do say so myself, it kicks butt. Since I have a habit of not measuring, I’ll do my best with the amounts on the ingredients list. Your kids will love this. It tastes like a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries–sans the 500 lbs. of fat per mouthful, that is. Okay, here we go:


1 lb lean ground beef
1 can tomato paste
1 large onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T yellow mustard
2% American cheese slices
salt & pepper to taste
16 oz. jar of small round dill pickles
1.5 lb. steam-in-the-bag Yukon Gold potatoes


Cook onions in a pan with a bit of oil until soft. Add beef and cook until brown. Stir in tomato paste, salt and pepper, ketchup and mustard. Meanwhile, cook the steam-in-bag potatoes in the microwave as per the directions on bag. Cut up cooked potatoes and line a greased 7″ x 11″ pan with them. Add meat mixture. Cover surface with American cheese slices. Bake at 350º F for 20 mins. or so until cheese has melted. Top with pickles and serve.

You’ll want to bring this to your next Super Bowl or tailgate party.

Copyright 29ForeverSoaps.com