How We are Fighting the Flu and Cold

Spring is finally on the horizon, y’all! I am so ready for some warmer days and less dreary, rainy weather. More than anything, I am SO ready to be out of this dang flu season. There is so much snot and so much coughing everywhere we go. Between that and the weather, I am coming to understand why bears want to hibernate in the winter. Leave me inside with a cozy blanket, Netflix, and no one else’s germs, please and thank you. But sadly I have three little boys and two of them have to go to school everyday. And much to my frustration, I can’t send them out the door in a protective bubble with their lunches and backpacks in tow. So unfair.

The one thing I can do to protect them, however, is give them a dose of my favorite flu-fighting, immunity boosting goodness in a bottle. Elderberry syrup, y’all. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. I’m going to tell you all about my favorite brand Andi-Lynn’s, why it works, and what sets it apart. The CDC has shared that this year’s (and most years’, honestly) flu shot is less than 50% effective. So whether you decide to get one or not, you need something else in your arsenal to keep you and your kiddos healthy.

Elderberries are full of antioxidants which work to prevent cell damage. They support your immune system and have the potential of being anti-viral and anti-bacterial (read more about its benefits here). Everyone in my house has a teaspoon of elderberry syrup daily as a preventive against cold and flu. The reason I use Andi-Lynn’s versus an over-the-counter elderberry product is because of the quality. Andi-Lynn’s uses black elderberries, works in small batches, and uses a minimal amount of ingredients that are fresh and local. Via their website, they use “pharmaceutical grade organic elderberry juice. This juice and our meticulous and preserving process maintains the whole fruit matrix of the elderberries so you receive all of its natural nutrients. (They) also protect you from chemical preservatives, and use a non-GMO certified citric acid to ensure your elderberry syrup has a long shelf life without exposing you to harmful chemicals” (read more here). Andi-Lynn’s has their pure elderberry syrup as well as seasonal blends.

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A few weeks ago, Evan had over 10 kids in his class out with the flu, and we stayed flu-free! I am definitely giving the credit to the elderberries. If we get off track with taking a dose daily, or if a cold creeps in, I up the dosage to a few times a day and add in one of my other favorite Andi-Lynn’s products - propolis drops. I desperately asked Andrea (the owner of Andi-Lynn’s) what to do when Gibson had a cold that just wouldn’t let up a few months ago. She sent me home with a bottle of elderberry syrup and a bottle of propolis drops, and said to give him some every few hours. I’m a firm believer in the power of both of these remedies! That cold cleared up so quickly, and anytime someone in my house has got a sniffle, the propolis/elderberry combo knocks it out SO fast. No ear infections, no sinus infections, no lingering colds.

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So WTF is propolis?? you may be asking yourself (hopefully I’m not the only one who uses less than lady-like language when talking to myself sometimes, right?!?). Propolis is made by bees! It’s a resin like material that bees use to glue their hive together. What makes it so awesome is that it’s proven to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. This article from Wellness Mama explains a lot of propolis’ known benefits and uses much better than I can. All I know is I’ve seen how effective it has been in kicking a cold’s butt so incredibly fast. Monday I was sure I had a cold coming on (tiredness, itchy and runny nose, sneezing, the works) so I had a dropper full of my propolis drops a few times along with some elderberry (the propolis by itself is not too tasty, so adding it to the elderberry helps!), and Tuesday when I woke up I didn’t have even an inkling of a cold symptom. I’ll let that speak for itself.

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Those two products are the ones I use most at home, but there are a few others that I love and want to share with y’all.

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Cough & Calm - the name is exactly what it sounds like. We use this anytime a cough creeps up, and it works to help soothe and stop it! It tastes good, and there’s no weird side effects of other typical cough syrups. I’ve given it to my kids and used it myself.

Tummy & Teething Drops - every mama needs these in her arsenal!!

Inhale Sinus & Respiratory Drops - I’m planning to keep these on deck now that ALLLL the pollen is here.

Fire Cider - Raw apple cider tonic - This stuff burns SO good. It contains live cultures and active digestive enzymes. All the ingredients are a great health boost for your body. Take a shot or make a delicious drink with it. I like to have it mixed with a little raw honey - spicy and sweet!

You can head to this link to find out where to buy your products locally. Andi-Lynn’s now also has its own store front location in Walker, Louisiana where they also host events and workshops. All products can be ordered online as well, and Andrea has graciously given us a free shipping code to use! Just type in CCHMHEALTHY at checkout and you’ll get free shipping on your entire cart!

Let me close by saying that I am by no means a health professional. Hopefully that goes without me saying, but just in case... I am just sharing my experience with these products and why I love them. Use your discretion and do your research! Cheers to good health, friends!

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This post is sponsored by Andi-Lynn’s Pure and Custom Formulary, but I have been using their products for years and all thoughts and opinions are my own. I will never share something here that I don’t love and believe in, that’s a promise!

Made New

I’ve been interested in art for as long as I can remember. It started like all kids with paper doodles, and eventually led to me drawing on every piece of furniture in my room (which my mom was amazing enough to allow me to do) and painting my closet doors in black and white designs. The first time I held a film camera in my hand and pressed the shutter, something inside of me lit up and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Cue me deciding not to go to college for psychology, and instead choosing photography. Thankfully this was before I actually set off for college months later.

Art, colors, textures, light…they’ve all shaped the way I’ve seen the world around me. I finally decided to have a go at painting a few years ago. I don’t know exactly what pushed me to do it other than a deep desire. Kind of like that moment with the camera 10 years prior. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. And turns out, I was kind of decent at it. And in turn successful at making art for other people. But then I found myself in a “rut” of making art I didn’t love, not sure what my style or “voice” was in the art world. And then I had another baby and life got busy, and the paint brushes stayed put away for a while.

And then that stirring up thing happened again. For months and months I kept seeing these visions of the kind of paintings I wanted to make. They weren’t like anything I’d done in the past. And they were beautiful. I loved dreaming of them and taking photographs as inspiration for them. But for some reason or another I just hadn’t brought myself to actually try to make it happen. I would like to say it was for lack of time, but I think underneath that was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That they wouldn’t actually be as beautiful as I was envisioning them to be.

Honestly I could have let myself sit in that fear and funk, and I’d still be here two years later with paintings in my mind and not on canvas. But I hit the breaking point of saying I either have to just go for it, or I need to walk away from this dream.

So I went for it.

I remember the canvas laid out on my floor in the living room (I didn’t have an easel, desk, or any type of “real” workspace back then). I cranked my favorite worship album on, and got to work. I don’t know how far into that first painting I was, but I know I stopped and just started crying. Because I was bringing my idea to life. And it was working! And I had decided to push past fear and doubt and step into what I believed God was giving me.

I fully believe God places dreams and desires in our hearts. He wants us to step into the gifts He's given us. He wants us to dream big and trust Him with the process and outcome. Maybe creating a piece of art isn’t your calling or doesn’t even sound that scary to you, but I bet there’s something like that in your heart. Something you dream about that feels too scary to say out loud. He takes our desires and plans and turns them into something even better than we can try to come up with on our own.

I named this first painting I did “Made New.” It marked such a turning point for me. I was learning to try things and not live in the fear of failing. I was learning to trust God and trust my gift. He kept reminding me that He makes all things new. And that He make all things beautiful in His time.

I’ve had quite a few people ask and encourage me to share more about the meaning behind my paintings, and I knew that God was also asking me to share more openly with you here! My hope is to make this “story behind the painting” a regular series here on the blog, so if you like this kind of content let me know! I will let you know when the original painting is still available to be purchased (updated: “Made New” sold after this post was published). I’m also linking some available prints! Maybe you need this visual reminder to keep dreaming, to make brave choices, and to know that He is in all things, making them new and making them beautiful.

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2018: Year in Review

Believe. It’s the word I chose at the beginning of this year. I also wrote down things like authentic, intentional, bold, brave. But believe just felt like it summed the whole thing up. Because if I could believe the truth about who I was, then everything else would flow from it. My prayer was that it would be a year that I would let go of lies that had held me back, and stand firmly on the truth of who God made me. I wanted to believe that I was capable, that I was created with gifts and with purpose. All I had to do was to step into that boldly and let Him work.

I had no idea what this year would hold for me when God gave me that word. But, He knew. He knew how much I’d need to lean on and rely on Him this year. He knew that I would have to dig into Him with all that I had, that my own resources would never be enough to get by. This year may have been unexpected for me, but He wasn’t surprised.

It would be impossible to sum up what this year has given me in just one simple blog post. But I’ll do my best.

I shared on instagram a few days ago that I was having a hard time navigating this whole end of the year/start of a new year thing. That last year I was the girl with the goals and the plans, and not to say that I didn't accomplish them throughout the year, but I was just swiftly reminded that I need to hold my plans loosely. It’s been hard to get my head around setting New Year goals this time. I think mainly because in order to move forward you have to sort through what you’re leaving behind.

From the get-go, this year was crazy. The first week of February is when I found out I had the BRCA2 mutation. And it’s set the course for much of my year. I feel like this year was sectioned off by “before my surgery”, “after my surgery”, “before my second surgery”, and “after my second surgery”. There was so much waiting, so much anxiety, so much unknown. A lot of pain, physically and emotionally. It’s hard to pinpoint other highs and lows of the year because BRCA2 and mastectomy were the banners hanging over a lot of it.

It’s been a freaking hard year.

But.

It’s also been such a year of growth, and there has been so much good. And I’m going to venture to guess a lot of that good wouldn’t have been possible without the hard. Trudging through the hard taught me so much about myself, about God, about trusting, about humility, about patience. There were many chances to let myself cave under the weight of it, and some moments I did. But I know I can look back and see how I’ve gotten through it and am stronger because of it. I chose to believe that God was still good. I chose to believe that He had things under control, even though I desperately wanted to be in control sometimes. I chose to believe that He was who He said He was, and that I was who He said I was.

Our trials, our circumstances, our hardships…they are all opportunities to grow our faith, to know Him more. I was the girl with the plan, set out to live my best year yet. But I believe that His plan was better. His goals for me were better. A lot of the things I wanted for myself still happened - embracing the season I’m in, being more honest and vulnerable, living well, living authentically, being present and more intentional, being healthy. Those things happened. But not because of me. Because of Christ in me, the hope of glory.

As I get ready to step into 2019, I’m still dreaming and hoping for things. There are goals both in my mind and written on paper. But He’s taught me to hold them loosely. He’s asking me to step alongside Him as we walk out this year together. Surrendered to Him and His plans, trusting Him as we go. I’m hopeful for the year ahead. I’m expectant and excited to see what He will do and where He will bring me. I’m anticipating knowing Him in new ways, and I’m praying I will continue to believe that His way is better than anything I could dream up. I’m praying that for you, too. Let’s set goals. Let’s dream big dreams. Let’s step into our callings. And let’s not forget who is the author of our stories, and whose ways are higher than our own.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

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2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Somehow it’s already Thanksgiving week, and my brain can’t quite register it! This year has flown by, y’all. And believe it or not, Christmas is coming. So that means it’s time for a gift guide!! This year I wanted to focus on smaller businesses rather than big corporations, so you won’t be finding any affiliate links here today. I love supporting small and local! All of these businesses are also run by women! That makes me even happier to support them, because nothing is better that a woman stepping into something she feels called to do. Check out my top picks, and then make sure you scroll to the bottom for a GIVEAWAY! One person will when an item from each of these shops!

Small Business Gift Guide coldcoffeehotmess.com
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This shop has the most beautiful journals that would all make perfect gifts. The Motherhood Journal would be such a thoughtful gift for any new mamas in your life. It’s a three year journal, with prompts and lined pages for each week. The Me+You Journal is a correspondence journal that encourages hand written letter writing and story telling. There are so many ways to use this journal! The Heirloom Recipe Journal is another great gift, one that could be perfect for your mother, MIL, or grandmother! I think it would be a sweet newlywed gift as well. It’s a journal you use to compile your favorite recipes, along with any stories and history behind them. Be sure to check out the lunch box love letters as well! I can’t wait to use these in the boys’ lunches!

*Use the code THANKFUL from Friday at midnight through Monday 11/26 for 25% off your entire order.

Leisure Lane

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I’ve never seen such a practical but also stylish and classic apron until I found Leisure Lane. Their aprons are “made for the cook, the home keeper, the farmer, the fashionista, the artist and the little people in our lives.” The Crossback apron is so versatile and simple to put on, and it’s made with high quality and carefully sourced materials. I love the neutral colors and the linen fabric. It’s very easy to put on - no string attached! There are even aprons for your littles (junior and mini sized) - because we know they like to help us out in the kitchen! You could easily pair this with the Recipe Journal mentioned above to make an incredibly thoughtful gift.

*Be on the lookout for 15% off you order Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Dear Mushka

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I have been slightly obsessed with Dear Mushka’s jewelry for a while now. Gifts with meaning behind them are my favorite! Every piece is inspired by scripture and comes with a verse card. The Eclipsed locket would be such a sweet gift, especially if you include a special picture inside for the recipient. The verse that pairs with this necklace is Jeremiah 33:3 - “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Beautiful, right? There are endless gorgeous and meaningful options that would make such a precious gift.

*Black Friday deals will be announced to their newsletter subscribers on Thanksgiving day, so if you want to be the first to know, subscribe here!

Little Chick Love Letters

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My friend Sarah recently started her business Little Chick Love Letters, where she makes the CUTEST little personalized crayons. I have gotten each of my boys’ names made and they’ll go in their stockings this year. My kids are crayon-obsessed, so I know they’re going to be so excited to get these. They are thick and sturdy, which means they won’t snap in half within 30 seconds like most crayons do. You could get them personalized, get some fun shapes, or even the entire alphabet. These are also perfect for your nieces and nephews, grandkids, or for your kiddos to give their friends. You can contact her through her facebook page to order! She ships and also has local pick-up.

Love Life Soap Co.

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Skip the big chain store soaps full of who-knows-what and check out Love Life Soap Co. Their soaps are made with natural ingredients (always ethically and sustainably sourced, and locally sourced whenever possible - from local farmers, her own garden, and honey from a friend right down her street), no artificial fragrances or colors, and handmade in small batches. She’s got bar soaps (try the Pale Ale for hubby or dad - they’ll be excited about a soap made from beer), body butter bars, lip butters, and a soap and balm perfect for the babies - she nearly guaranteed me it has magical ingredients to help your kiddos go to sleep easier ;) ! The price point on all of these products makes it easy to stock up for teachers, friends, and hostess gifts. The gorgeous packaging doesn’t hurt either.

*free shipping and free body butter bar with every order on Black Friday, no code needed! 

So Yaya

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If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know my love for So Yaya products runs deep. I swear by their oil cleansers and serums! They also make the best all natural mani & pedi balms that would make a sweet and easy gift! I’m thinking stocking stuffers, teachers, neighbors, friend gift exchanges! You could easily pair it with some cozy socks or your favorite nail polish if you wanted. Get the mani/pedi set or buy them separately: mani balm, pedi balm.

*They’ll be offering free shipping through the holidays as well as some sampler gift sets!

cold coffee shop / Hannah L FINE Art

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I can’t leave my own shop out of this list, can I?? Check out the Cold Coffee Shop for a lot of fun options to gift this Christmas! I’ve got notepads and mugs that would make great teacher or friend gifts, as well as art prints! Art is something everyone can appreciate, and it is one of my favorite things to gift. Be sure to check out original artwork I have available, or commission something special with me at Hannah L Fine Art!

*I’ll be offering 25% off in the Cold Coffee Shop from Black Friday through Cyber Monday with the code THANKFUL25. And be sure you’re following along with Hannah L Fine Art on Facebook and Instagram for some deals as well!

Need more ideas? Check out the 2017 Gift Guide here. And be sure to check back to this post for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday deals. I will update the post with info and discount codes accordingly.

And now for some fun…I’ve collaborated with all of these shops to bring you a GIVEAWAY! One person will win the following:

gift guide giveaway coldcoffeehotmess.com

Use this form to enter

The * denotes required for entry, others are optional for extra entries!

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Be on the lookout for my posts on Instagram and Facebook for even more ways to enter! Giveaway will run until November 27th. I will contact the winner and get their info on where to send the prizes! Happy shopping, friends!

Special thanks to each of these shops for sending items to me to able to give my honest review and recommendations, as well as items for the giveaway.

How My Village Got Me Through My Double Mastectomy

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Apart from when I had each of my three children, I’ve never needed to be on the receiving end of major help. After my surgery, I suddenly found myself organizing childcare for my boys, deciding the dates I wanted to sign up for a meal train, lining up grocery pick ups and errands to be run. When you’re the mom, you are the one making all these plans and decisions for other people. You’re the helper. Switching to the role of “helpee” was harder than I anticipated, solely due to my own mama-pride, not due to anyone’s lack of wanting to help me…

Continue reading this guest post I wrote over on Komae’s blog.

Komae is a an app that makes finding a sitter so easy! It is the easiest way to coordinate all of your sitting needs for both your kids and your pets within your circle of trusted friends, family, and paid sitters. They call this your village. In fact, Komae (ko’-may) means village in Greek! Whether it’s a sit-swap with your friend, a favor from Grandma & Grandpa, or cash to the teenager next door, Komae’s got it handled. Find out more about them here.