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NEED IT: Cold remedies


Nope. It doesn’t matter how much internet trawling I do, I just can’t accept the whole ‘there’s no cure for the common cold’ thing.  My personal plea to medical science is to please, please get a move on and sort this out!

If, like me, you have problems with your sinuses, having a cold is not a trifling inconvenience to be shrugged off like some, it’s having someone pour concrete into your head, punch you in the back of the nose and then repeatedly scrape your throat with sandpaper.

So, having tried numerous miracle medical products and plently of old wives’ remedies over the years, this is my ‘Hall of Fame’ – those items that help get me through the whole uncomfortable experience.


Gotta be the ultra-balm type or I’m gonna rip my nose to shreds.  I get two boxes so that one is always in easy reach and be sure to throw used tissues in the bin.  However tempting it is to blow like a trumpet player, I have to remember to blow gently or those nasal passages will quickly get inflamed.  Keeping those passages calm and chilled-out is the name of the game here.

Staying hydrated…

Staying hydrated helps to stop mucus thickening up and thick mucus leads to blocked sinuses and encourages bacterial growth.

Apparently, viruses set up home in your nose and throat and they don’t like changes in temperature so I alternate between hot and ice cold drinks, avoiding dairy products as they are mucus-forming (which is a shame because I love a cup of milk tea!)

Hot drinks

Hot honey, lemon and thyme.


Simple and effective.  I throw a couple of slices of lemon and a sprig of thyme into a cup, fill with hot water and let steep for three to five minutes.  I generally pull out all the bits (or use a tea infuser if I can find one) and stir in a heaped teaspoon of honey.  I add some cinnamon or grated ginger or sometimes, in extreme and desperate circumstances, some grated garlic. (Ah mais oui!)

I mix it up a bit with some other herbal teas.  Most of them smell nice but taste of practically nothing so I only bother with peppermint or hibiscus, both sweetened with honey.

Cold drinks

Iced water, iced water and iced water.  Forgetting all sugary, carbonated, caffeinated stuff, cordials or fruit juice.  I need to limit the sugar intake to offset the vast quantities of honey in those hot drinks!


Using salt water or a couple of drops of tea tree or lemon oil added to a glass of water, (stirring between each mouthful to keep the oil suspended), and spit, swallow, repeat.  This keeps those pesky viruses jumping through hoops.

(Hot cold, hot cold, hot cold.  Ha!  Take that you little villains!)

If my throat is really sore, I gargle with dispersible aspirin in water but again, spitting not swallowing.

Keeping the nose clear..

It’s swollen passages that block your nose, not snot, so I do everything in my power to stop them swelling up.

Saline rinses Colds17If I were to give you one big tip it would be this:  Get thyself a neti pot or a saline rinse kit!  (Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, of course).  It’s flushes out your sinuses and takes only some pre-boiled cooled water and some buffered salt sachets.  No chemicals and no nasties.  This was a absolute revelation for me.  Keep that nose clear!

Call in the anti-inflammatories…

Colds18Paracetamol is best; it’s cheap and reduces fever, helps with headache and sinus pain and is gentle on the stomach. Take it as Lemsip if you can tolerate the decongestant ingredients. I try to avoid them as I find after the initial relief, they make the snots last much longer for me in the long run.

Chicken soup

Proven to be anti-inflammatory (although who knows quite why). I make my own if I can drag myself out of bed or press my lovely husband into picking up some up at the supermarket.  Fresh is better than tinned.

Ice pack ???????????????????????????????Whenever my nose feels like it might be blocking up, I place an ice pack wrapped in a flannel on the bridge of my nose.  Ahhh, that’s soooo nice.

Essential oils Colds16I use a couple of drops of Olbas Oil on a tissue and inhale or mix three drops each of eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint oil into two teaspoons of coconut or olive oil and use it as a chest rub.



Hot showers twice a day.  It’s easier than the ‘towel over your head’ thing.

Getting some sleep…

Easier said than done but I find these give me the best chance.

Combatting that dry air 

Colds12I try to get some moisture in the air at night.  A humidifier is the best bet but a wet towel on a warm radiator helps too.

Sleep on your back

Hmmm.  Not an easy one.

I set up my pillows so that I can sleep on my back with my head higher than my chest.  Not exactly so I’m sitting upright but rather that I’m propped up without getting a horrible crick in my neck.  Keeping your head in this position is supposed to help drain your sinuses and stop mucus ‘pooling’ (eek!).  If you suffer from blocked ears after a cold, (grumble, grumble, grunt, what was that you said?) this helps avoid that really unpleasant after-effect.

Opening the airways 

Colds08My second top tip would be to buy some nasal strips baby!  Honestly these little fellas are amazing!  They actually work and keep my nose clear while I sleep.  This has stopped me from having to use those bloody awful nasal decongestants that work for a bit then leave you with sticky glue-like nastiness in your head for weeks and weeks after the virus has gone.  Did I mention the blocked ears thing?

Don’t pass it on…

A plea.

Please stay away from work.   We,  your cold-prone-stuffy-headed colleagues would much rather cover you for a day or two than have you infect us with the evil lurgy.   Don’t be a hero.  Please.

A word on supplements…

Now I know people swear by them but they just don’t cut it for me.  Taking Vitamin C, Zinc or Echinacea supplements only relieves the pressure in my wallet, not my nose and until someone comes up with some proper scientific evidence to prove their effectiveness, I’m going to save my pennies and stick to what I know definitely helps.

Visiting the Quack…

If things get really bad or last longer than a few days, I get myself to the doctor in case there’s an infection that needs medical attention.  There are some pretty horrible complications out there and I’d rather let the doc decide whether or not I need antibiotics.

Best of luck with the cold season!

(Any of your top tips gratefully received.)






It’s that time of year. Leaves have fallen from the trees and Bonfire Night is round the corner though it’s very odd this year to have such high temperatures. 20 degrees in October? Unheard of. I’m almost impatient for some colder weather so I can get my hat, scarf and gloves out!

Here’s my little pumpkin fella all carved up and ready to perform tomorrow night.

And here he his getting in some practice by scaring his mate…

Have a fun time over Halloween and don’t have nightmares!



NEED IT, MAKE IT: Zippered pouch



This zip-up bag (or zipper pouch) is another easy project which has a multitude of uses.  I have a few of them scattered around the house keeping various objects neat and tidy.

This week,  I was getting repeatedly annoyed trying to find those little things every girl keeps in the bottom of her hand bag.  You know the ones – that loose lip balm, packet of tissues, mints, compact mirror etc.  so I decided to make a little zip-up bag to keep them all handy.

I found some left over denim – nice and sturdy, some pretty fabric left over from an apron I made for a friend and a zip I recycled from something that had seen better days.

I cut the fabric the same length as the zip and deep enough to hold my various bits and pieces.  Two bits for the outer and two for the liner.

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I took one piece of each of the two fabrics and lined them up (right side to right side) with the zip facing down in the middle against the outer fabric.  I pinned the three layers together and then opened it up to check that it was all the right way round before I sewed it up – very irritating to have to rip things back!

Having checked that it was correct, I attached my zipper foot to my machine and happily sewed them together.  I then pulled back the lining fabric to check again. Paranoid?

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All good.

I  did exactly the same with the other two bits of fabric using the other side of the zip.  Again I pinned it first to check it was the right way round and sewed that side too.  (Trust me, I’ve done this wrong too many times!)


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So far so good.  Outside and inside attached to the zip.  You’ll notice the edges were slightly out of alignment so I just trimmed them off so they matched.

Next I pinned the two inner sides together and the two outer sides to each other, right side to right side, with the zip in the middle.  (It’s really important to remember to open the zip before you pin and machine the sides otherwise you won’t be able to turn it inside out!)

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I always use big fat pins to mark areas I shouldn’t sew and these ones mark an area on the lining side large enough to use to turn the project the right side round.


Then it’s just a case of swapping back to your normal footer attachment and sewing all the way around the whole oblong from one marker until you reach the other.

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Then you can trim the seams if your fabric is bulky and then turn it inside-out.


I pushed the point of my scissors right into the corners to get a nice sharp edge.


Then, I hand-stitched the liner opening closed.

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Ironed everything good and flat.


And that’s it.  For the purpose of the photos I grabbed a few things from my sewing box to fill it with but it’s currently sitting in my handbag holding all those little girlie bits and pieces which are now a great deal easier to find in the depths of a big black-lined handbag.

It also means I can swap handbags much quicker in the morning (if and when I can be bothered to match my bag to my outfit!)

So many uses, – pencil case, makeup bag, wash bag, hairgrip tidy, dog treat and poo bag holder, laundry bag…

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