Category Archives: healthy

Gramma Nettie’s Toothpaste 1

Why do I make toothpaste?


1880s Dental Ad GraphicsFairy

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I started brushing my teeth with oily dirt.

Well, bentonite clay, to be exact.  Which comes from the ground.  Dirt.

I had been using my daughter’s homemade concoction, which seemed to stop the minor toothache.  She was trying to make a home business work out, and I started buying some of those things she made that I could use for my family (which now consists of u

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s two old codgers).  The first couple of little jars came in 1/2 pint mason jars and were a little expensive, but I will do things like that to help out family as much as possible.  About every third month we would order two more jars, one for each of us.  I can’t stand sharing germs and you have to dip your brush into the paste, so simple solution is to provide individual personal jars.  We go through the exact same amount, so why not?


It had a gritty feel to it, not at all like commercial toothpaste, and it didn’t foam in the mouth.  It also was flavoured with orange essential oil, which didn’t taste right.  But, I reasoned to myself, my toothbrushing palate had been trained by years (and years and years and years if I’m to be honest) of commercial, white, heavy minty chemical-laden versions.  I really liked that her ingredients lable was only two lines long.  She said she could see that my teeth looked whiter after a few weeks of using the stuff.  Life was going great.  Mostly, though, I kept buying it because my minor toothache went away.

But then my dealer stopped supplying my habit.  My stash dried up.  Well, was used up, actually.  In point of fact, I had started using that commercial stuff again.  It felt like old home, even comforting in a way.  Oh, I worried about the chemical factory ingredients, but at least I was doing something, right?  wrong.  My minor toothache came back after about three months of withdrawal.  I had to learn how to make my own product, to start my own laboratory, to become my own cooker, dealer, supplier.  I was hooked, and I had to get my fix.  But, I am also (sometimes) cheap and I couldn’t see myself paying those outrageous prices to anybody other than my family.  So I did some research, found lots of recipes out there in WebLand.

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Now, I have to say that you do not NEED toothpaste of any kind for dental health.  Brushing your teeth with a soft brush and water on a regular basis, and flossing regularly and as needed gets the job done quite nicely.




And your saliva “helps buffer the pH…” — The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).  But, homemade toothpaste has some remineralizing benefits that you may want.  This is the primary reason I started myself.

 In fact, if you’re using toothpaste mainly as a mean of removing plaque, you may be surprised to find that a review study done last year found that using a toothpaste when brushing didn’t provide any extra plaque removing abilities (Valkenburg C, 2016).    — The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).

I will include here a description of the proper method of brushing and flossing, with or without paste.

While it is normally suggested that you brush your teeth multiple times a day, I think the most important thing is to have at least one thorough brushing session each day, preferably right before you go to bed. … I have a hard time going to sleep without getting in that all important thorough brushing session at night.

When doing a thorough brushing session, you want to make sure that you brush each tooth surface completely. You want to brush with small, circular motions following the contour of your gums, or guide an electric toothbrush to gently massage your teeth and gums at the gum line.

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Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. You should be brushing for at least 2 minutes, which is normally the programmed time for an “alarm” of sorts on electric toothbrushes.

After that thorough brushing session, it’s the ideal moment to floss between all teeth, and behind the last teeth in your mouth. You want to gently bring the floss down along the side of each tooth, gently pushing down past the gum line, and pulling up any trapped food debris and leftover plaque accumulation on your way back up.  — The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).

DISCLAIMER: This post is meant to be informative only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition. While I use this homemade toothpaste recipe myself, I also recognize that there are many dentists who will only approve of fluoridated toothpastes with the ADA seal. (The ADA will only place their seal on toothpastes with fluoride in them.) Keep that in mind when choosing what toothpaste to use. — adapted from The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).


My recipe is adapted from Weed em and reap blog (Wolford, 2018).  Her toothpaste uses filtered water, but I used my unaltered well water.  She also added baking soda which I left out for reasons listed above.  I didn’t have trace minerals so I left that out.  And I changed up the sweetener.  Other than that, it is exactly the same!


New sample book of cut and gummed druggists' labels.

Graphics Fairy

  • 1/2 c water, hot
  • 1/4 c bentonite clay
  • 2 TBS calcium/magnesium powder
  • 3 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 drops trace minerals (optional)
  • 20 drops OnGuard essential oil or theive’s oil blend
  • 10 drops Peppermint essential oil
  • 3 heaping 1/2 teaspoons Pyure sweetener, sweeten to taste (use half as much as sugar)


  1. Heat water to hot.
  2. Put all other ingredients in the food processor, add the hot water and pulse until smooth (no more bumps).
  3. Store in a glass mason jar or a silicone squeeze tube for up to 3 months.


My experience with this is that the taste is okay.  The texture is smooth with no lumpy chunks, slightly gritty, and pasty like commercial stuff, but it is grey.

Cacao_Droste_Adv_Card_550.jpg  And gritty.  As long as I don’t chomp down my teeth together for about five minutes or so, I can live with it.
I think I will add about another 5-10 drops of OnGuard and another 5 d

rops Peppermint in my next batch.  It isn’t as oily as I originally thought.  I’d heard of oil pulling and couldn’t actually do it.  I don’t like overly greasy stuff in my mouth.  But this is not oily feeling.  I’ve been watching for that.


The first impression is grit and OnGuard.  It is not hard even in the dead of winter, because of the water and the clay worked up in the food processor into an emulsion, the same way the hand lotion is.  After about 30 seconds of gently brushing and another surprising feel developed.  It is a squeaky feel, somewhat astringent.  I like it as it feels clean.  I only use a pea-sized glob, and I spit excess down the drain.  I run hot water as I spit, and I don’t see it getting oily in the water, either.


With the next post, I will provide some rationale for each ingredient in toothpastes, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.



Ariza, T. (2013-2017). Natural Homemade Toothpaste Recipes & Tips from a Dentist. Retrieved from Oh, the Things We’ll Make:

Watson, K. (2010). Thursday is Request Day — Apple, Fountain, Teeth, Bulldog. Retrieved from Graphics Fairy:

Wolford, D. (2018). Homemade Remineralizing & Whitening Toothpaste Recipe. Retrieved from Weed ’em & Reap: Urban Farming, Healthy Living:

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Posted by on 22 February 2018 in DIY, Grandmothers, healthy


Skinny Gramma Nettie

My scale must have lied to me.  For a week.  I didn’t feel any different, but I keep almost daily track of my weight.  I know some women are obsessed in an unhealthy way, and weigh once a month.  When I did that myself, I found I felt great but I had gained back everything I’d lost and took two months to get back to the new starting point.  When I weigh almost daily, I can easily relate any weight gain with eating habits, like this bag of potato chips I really want to finish off.

So far, I’ve been busy blogging, not munching.

But my weight it’s Now thirty pounds off.  That’s more than a sack of potatoes.  That’s a one-year-old child.  I’ve decided that my weight loss is best described by a term I’ll steal from evolutionary biology – Punctuated Equilibrium.  Things are all the same for two or three months then BAM!, five pounds gone.  Everything is once again the same for four months then SHAZAM!, ten pounds gone.

This Trim Healthy Gramma wants new clothes for every five pounds gone.  I am overdue for six items of clothing.

The disappearing Gramma!  Started January, 7 months mostly on plan, 31 weeks.  Just about a pound per week.



BadBird’s Bad Back

BadBird’s Bad Back

I have 16 days left before my new hip arrives and is installed.  Five more shifts in two weeks.  At least that’s what my calendar says.  

My husband has had a bad back for the last week and a half.  He has a history of back pain which is sometimes debilitating.  He misused his back when he was in high school and played football.  Then he damaged his back when he worked in the wrecking yard lifting small engines single handedly.  

When he tested with a local police department 25 years ago, they told him then that he had the back of a 65 year old and they couldn’t hire him.  Now that he’s 65, it is worse.

Typical back pain means two weeks of ice, muscle spasm meds and pain meds.  Mostly ice.  This time it is different, with pain radiating down the front of his thigh and weakness to the point of falling to the ground.  The ice and The meds don’t work.  He walks hunched over with a hiking stick or walker.  Three visits to the Emergency Department later, we finally got his MRI.  Normally, insurance won’t authorize an MRI until the patient has been on nsaids and six weeks of physical therapy.  For us, PT would start six weeks down the road.  Not very helpful for someone who is in agony right now.

After the imaging and a rest at home, we visited the PCP.  “It’s a good thing we pursued the MRI,” he said.  One disk bulges into the spinal column impinging on the nerve and on the nerve root where the nerves branch out of the spine to provide the electrical power to the leg.  The pressure from the misplaced disc slows down the electricity.  Think of a garden hose going full blast.  That is your healthy nerve bundle with electricity flowing like gangbusters.  Now, park your Ford F150 on the hose and see how much flows.  The truck represents the disc blocking some of the nerve’s power, making the leg weak.

What makes this an emergent problem is that a part of the disc broke off and has traveled UP the spinal column.  It must be removed by surgery.  Soon.  Maybe next week.

This is not the best timing, since my own surgery is two weeks away.  I briefly thought to postpone it, but I don’t have much more to work with.  Just walking through Wal-Mart too fast caused me so much pain.  I’m still able to work, thank you, Father.  

So, both of us will be laid up.  Momma asked if he would be well enough to drive me to the hospital, and I couldn’t say.  I didn’t have enough information.  Our original plan was to rent a hotel room the night before, and he would stay there during my stay, driving me back home upon discharge.  Now I don’t know.  I told Momma what she told me so many times as I grew up: We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.  It is wonderful how my mother’s words have become so much wiser as I have grown older.

My oldest daughter and her husband arranged the downstairs to make it more manageable for me post surgery.  Now, it appears it is not for me after all, but for my husband.

Ok.  I don’t know what the future holds, and I don’t know how laid up we will both be at the same time.  I do know that God has a plan and that I trust Him.  I have a calm faith, the same as I did when he was in ICU on a ventilator because of a massive PE, a blood clot in both lungs.

A nice non-scale victory is that as I was At work to tell My boss in person, one co-worker came by and told me I was a Skinny Minnie.  Of course she was joking.  My daughter also told me that I must have lost more weight.  No, I know I didn’t.  But I checked the scale, and it still says “more than 20 pounds” off. My BMI shows me still obese, but not morbidly so.

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Posted by on 29 July 2016 in family, healthy, surgery


Bionic Gramma Nettie

​I have an important announcement.  My family already knows this.  I have been scheduled for a hip replacement August 15th.  I am ready for this.  So so ready.  Those who know me see how I walk funny.  I’ve been fighting this for about two years and it just got much worse in the last six months despite everything. 

 The surgeon said I don’t have much mileage left on it.  I had to stop walking extra, stopped the elliptical.  Now that the date is less than a month out, I’ve doubled up on those exercises, doing two sets each.  I can feel the muscles work.  Doing this allows me to continue working.  It is like duct tape and glue keeping the pelvis and hip working together somewhat.  The exercises also are to get muscles moving that have not moved properly in years, preparing for the rehab I’ll have to do later.

At first I suspected something in the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan caused the exacerbation and worsening of the arthritis.  I thought this because it seemed to get worse beginning about the same time I started THM in January.  Every pound I lost should have made the joint move better, but instead it seemed to have an atypical response, the pain got worse.  

I posted on the THM page a question about this, if anybody else had a similar cause and effect.  Before I got an answer, my post was removed for being inappropriate.  Again I posted asking for response.  They have such a huge data base that SOME one else had to have an answer for me.  As before, my post was removed for the same reason.  I was asking questions, not blaming.  Shutting down my post that quickly gave me NO answer, instead it made me think the founders have something to hide.  I think we need to know the rosy goodness that is THM, but also the not so good things too.  This program probably had side effects, and it behooves the mama to know them before starting out.  In the medical field it is known as “informed consent.”

Again, I wasn’t blaming Trim Healthy Mama.  One admin was more helpful and directed me to the THM allergy group.  Here I leaned that dairy may cause increased inflammation and pain, and I learned how to start an elimination diet to find out if I am similarly affected.

I did some research in medical journals and found that osteoarthritis (OA) can lumber along quietly for years and decades.  Then, suddenly, it explodes and you are debilitated within a matter of months or weeks.  Mine started the explosion about the same time I started THM.  A coincidence of the greatest order.

So, what to do now?  Now, I have to have a new hip joint.  I ordered one from Amazon, and it will be installed August 15th.  Yes, I have hip replacement surgery, and I should be out of work for about two months.  Ooh, don’t get me wrong!  I will have my (rehab) work cut out for me, but it will mean I will go back to work, and whup arse!  I’ll have to get over the idea of needing help.  I’m a tough, independent old bird … And my kids are the first to agree with me.  Gramma Nettie becomes bionical.


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This is a call to Grandmothers out there.  Encourage your daughters and other girls in your life who are of child-bearing age to avoid all forms of alcohol.  Even the small amount of social drinking can cause mental and physical disorder called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Remember when we young women were advised to take folate to prevent Spina Difida?  This is just as preventable as that!  Why take any chances?  Grammas of the world, we have our work cut out for us.

Dr. Carl Bell, a psychiatrist in Chicago, began sounding the alarm about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder four years ago.

Source: This Chicago doctor stumbled on a hidden epidemic of fetal brain damage | PBS NewsHour

This Chicago doctor stumbled on a hidden epidemic of fetal brain damage | PBS NewsHour


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Gramma Nettie seeks the treasure!

Children need to explore their surroundings.  Gramma Nettie needs a way to do this.  Here are a couple of free activities for families to get into some outside activities.  By using some free apps on my smartphone, I can take the grandkids out to explore their environment.



The first one I got involved in was GeoCaching.  According to the website,

“Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt ….”

Players hide containers in hidden locations, and upload GPS coordinates to the website.  Finders use the website ( to search the map for nearby caches. You can use the coordinates on any GPS device or smartphone to get near the location.

But eventually, the player has to stop looking at the device and start looking at his surroundings.  He has to start thinking about where the cache might be.  He has to look high.  She has to look low.  This video explains how it is done:

Be sure to take some sort of small item to trade.  It could be a coin, or a bracelet or those rubber bands in the shape of an animal.  But don’t put food in, for obvious reasons.  Also, take a pen to sign the log book.

This is a very VERY popular sport with about 2.5 million caches worldwide and over 6 million players.  Yes, worldwide.  I have yet to be in an area without a cache.  And to think they’ve been hiding around you all this time!

As an example, check out the Argo Gold cache hidden by one of the counselors.  I haven’t found it yet, but I intend to try again soon.

You can take GeoTours in several continents.  A few that caught my eye was the Bigfoots Search in Bonneville Washington, the Santa Fe National Historic Trail GeoTour, the Schatzheuterin GeoTour in Germany, the Washington State Parks Centennial GeoTour, Thingsites GeoTour, Dinosaur Train GeoTour,  I won’t get to all of them, but they caught my eye none-the-less.

One GeoCacher suggested we adopt a secret hand signal to indicate we are fellow cachers.  Read what he has to say here:


Another growing sport is called Munzee.  I know, it is an awkward name.  It is a variation of the German word for coin, but with an extra “e” added at the end.

This is also a treasure hunt, but without the treasure.  Instead, the player uses a free app on her smartphone to find a hidden QR code.  She then scans it, which gives the distinctive — and satisfying — “ding” and voila! you have just earned five points.

There are not as many Munzees deployed.  In fact, in my own county I have pioneered all but three of the deployments.  It is a lonely job, but somebody has to do it.

An interesting Munzee is the Galerie Trinitas near the campus of Great Falls University.

As a player, you can generate QR codes on the website, print them out and laminate them to deploy.  Or you could purchase some generic sticker munzees to place out and about.  It is a cheap hobby, and I have some of each.

When I deploy munzees, I try to choose a site of interest, or has fascinating history involved.  In my city, there is an old hotel, an old bank and other historic buildings.  There are also lots of old mining campsites in the mountains.

I have placed munzees at the top of mountain passes, and at some photography sites at the wildlife refuge.  All of these are great places to deploy munzees, and then add the historical description on the webpage for everyone to learn.  Again, great activity to get the grandkids out and about.

Choose one or choose both, and get out there for new adventures! — Gramma Nettie



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Gramma Nettie helps change the world

Grandmothers!  Do you know how important reading is?  No, I don’t mean the mamby pamby stuff that we do because it keeps the kids occupied for a time.  I mean real reading.  Real books that cause children to think, to learn and to try new things.  This is the stuff geniuses are made of!

RedBoy learns about sharks

RedBoy learns about sharks. He is happy. Really!

Jim Trelease is a retired school teacher.  His research has become very important.  He discovered that Phonics is the “how-to” mechanics of reading. But children tend to stop reading for enjoyment before they are even graduated.  Our job is to instill the “want-to” joy of reading. His brochure “Why Read Aloud to Children?” is a great tri-fold primer to get started.  The link is here.

Suzuki’s method of teaching violin is to have the kids listen to music over and over and over before they even touch a musical instrument.  Trelease, without realizing it, says essentially the same thing.  The child learns to speak by listening to words over and over.  The child learns to read by listening to books read to him over and over.

Did you know that the children lose interest in reading for enjoyment about the same time the adults stop reading aloud to them?  This happens about middle school.  But this is when reading aloud SHOULD continue! Children read books at one level.  But they understand books at about two levels higher.  Reading upper level books gets the kids used to the different way the language works, and introduces new words they would never hear, otherwise.

Trelease cites the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study which found that those Kindergarten children who had been read to at least three times per week were at least twice as likely to score well in reading readiness. Did you know that a good childrens’ book is three times richer in vocabulary than the spoken word?  Reading aloud gets those words into the kids.

The Huffington Post had an article about the American Academy of Pediatrics policy on promoting literacy.  AAP wants Pediatricians to encourage parents to read aloud to their children, calling it critical they do so. Gramma Nettie can help by offering books that are designed for parents and grands to read to children of all ages.

The Usborne Lady


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