Thursday, July 27, 2017

Back to School Jitters

I feel like I've said this every year since I can remember..."It's back to school time already?!" It doesn't help that it creeps earlier and earlier each year! But that's beside the point. The point is, it is, in fact, upon us once again!

This year is a big year at our house. My firstborn is off to Kindergarten and my little one is starting preschool! I've already started to strategize schedules in an attempt to give each child the attention they deserve, while mentally preparing for the nightmare adjustment phase. My 5-year-old still naps pretty reliably. She is apparently unique, and will now be at school from 8:20-2:50! At home my son goes for a nap by 2 and is in bed at least 2 hours, sometimes 3! (yes, and thank you essential oils for keeping the sleep train cranking!) His naptime at preschool: 12-2.

 This schedule change is just the tip of the newness iceberg! Any school is new to my little guy. He has a full-time stay-at-home mama he's very attached to! Of course, I left him with babysitters, and he's always done great, but I'm fully expecting a bit of separation anxiety on both ends.

As for my little Kindergartener... I remember her first day of preschool so well. She was in a phase where she only wore pajamas. Like, 1 outfit from 1 bath to the next. She also brought her best buddy, a classic Tigger, everywhere! We were so concerned about her attachment to it we bought, and actually still have, a backup Tigger stashed in my closet.  But, no buddies allowed at school. The first day went ok. It was the second week of school that she got nervous. She knew what "going to school" meant and she told me her tummy hurt on the way to school.

Her new school is a big school--K-8 in fact. 1500 students! It's terrifying to drop off your little 5-year-old at such an intimidating labyrinth! We went for the tour this week and took turns peeking in classroom windows. Parents are allowed to walk them in on the first day, but then, it's on them. All by their little selves, finding their way through the (only 2) halls to their respective classrooms (of 9!). I'm getting anxious just thinking about it!

Bottom line is, I want ALL of us to be prepared! How do we do that?  What could you possibly do to calm nerves in little kids?  In part by planning and preparation, like our tour this week. But also, lining up my favorite oils for calm and confidence! With that in mind, I've made us a few roll-ons, cause you never know which blend is going to be best for which kid!

I love roll-ons, especially for my kids. Even my 2-year-old can apply oils himself with these, and loves to do so! For the kids, I use 5-10 drops of the oil of my choice in a recycled 5mL bottle, and top with V6 carrier oil, or other liquid carrier oil. I love the YL roller tops, since they are stainless, and help me reuse old empty bottles!  Here are my favorite calm-and-confident combos, featuring some of my favorite gentle, kid-friendly oils:

Roll-on #1: Frankincense and Lavender. This is a powerhouse pair! Frankincense is well known as a grounding oil, promoting comfort. Lavender is soothing and calming. Simple, easy, and reliable.

Roll-on #2: Valor (or Valor II) helps promote courage and self-esteem, and overcoming fear. It is a blend that includes Frankincense, among other things, to support feelings of self-control, peace, and balance. Just like the name says, right?!

Roll-on #3: Peace and Calming + Joy is a fulltime staple in my house. I always have this combo roller in my bag for my kids and myself.  I think the names of these blends give you a lot of insight in to them. P&C, as you could infer, is designed to promote feelings of peace and calm, of course! It has bright citrus oils and balancing florals and helps to ease stress and tension. Joy has some citrus and florals as well, which is one reason I like to pair them and find them complimentary. These blends are both full of positivity: Jasmine promotes confidence, rosewood promotes gentleness, ylang-ylang restores feelings of self-love, and rose helps brings balance.

Roll-on #4: Stress Away + Frankincense. Stress Away is, yet again, a blend whose primary purpose is built in to the name. It has copaiba and cedarwood, which are both excellent to combat nervous tension, calming lavender, and bright, uplifting lime and vanilla, so it smells amazing! I love adding the grounding frankincense to it for those added feelings of comfort and security.

For application, you have a few choices: the soles of the feet are an easy one for a kid to do himself. Add socks and shoes, and you're good to go. What if you forget? Or the mood changes en route? Simple! Target any pulse points and concentration of blood flow. The neck and wrists/forearms are perfect. Otherwise, if the child feels they need it somewhere else, it's hard to go wrong. I mentioned that my daughter said her tummy hurt on the way to her second week of school. It took a few questions to figure out she was feeling nervous and was too young to identify that. I put oil on her wrists, but also a little on the tummy for good measure! Listen to your intuition, and your kids!

I will note here that I use Young Living essential oils exclusively on my children. Their quality and purity guarantee gives me such peace of mind that I am not using any contaminated junk on my babies! Plus, they have the biggest selection of oils and blends, including exclusives like copaiba, giving us a one-of-a-kind Stress Away. Learn more about getting these awesome oils 24% (or more!) off!

Here's to a happy and healthy school year!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting Slique in the Summertime

I am forever grateful for good genes/good metabolism/whatever it is that makes weight not a huge issue for me. I'll admit I am moderately fit and reasonably trim. But, I've had babies and been through seasons ebbing and flowing in how well I eat, mostly landing on the poorer side of that spectrum!

We moved several months ago. We were in transition for about 2 months and it was the holidays and it set up some not so great habits. We are eating out way too much, and I have a knack for grabbing a bite of something sweet way too often throughout the day.  Since that move, too, my husband has had an erratic work schedule, sometimes being off on a weekday, other days working through dinner. Oh yea, and did I mention, I've had babies? I think you see where this is going...

I have acquired that pesky "spare tire" to the point where my shorts from last summer are snug and the button is uncomfortable to sit down. So, I'm going to try Young Living's Slique Maintain package. Young Living launched their "Slique in 60 Challenge" earlier this year with 4 different levels, depending on your needs: Maintain, Assist, Advanced, and Complete. The Slique Maintain level is designed to help maintain a healthy weight and support healthy dietary habits--let's be honest, it's the latter one that's killin me!

Slique Maintain is 2 parts: The Slique Essence essential oil blend of mostly citrus oils, plus stevia, to help manage hunger* with a very pleasant taste; and CitraSlim capsules which may support the breakdown of fat, increase metabolic activity, and support energy levels.* I have added, as needed, the Slique Tea, which is an oolong tea that also helps manage hunger. I bought the tea first, and I really love the taste! In my opinion, it tastes better than Slique Essence (I'm not a big fan of the stevia taste!)

Here is the Slique in 60 Challenge:
"If you purchase any qualifying Slique kit once a month for two consecutive months and use the products faithfully and according to directions for 60 uninterrupted days, we promise that you’ll see a change for the better! If you’re unsatisfied at the end of the trial period, we’ll give you a product credit equal to the amount of your purchase.
You’ve got nothing to lose but inches and pounds!" You can find complete information HERE!
With Young Living in the picture, I am confident I am getting clean, safe, non-toxic ingredients to support a healthy body! Each of the Slique products is infused with their top quality, therapeutic grade, and delicious Vitality essential oils.

I'm in! Actually, I've been in, starting this week! Not really long enough to measure results, but long enough to notice that these products do what they are advertised to do! I immediately noticed a drop in my sugar cravings and snacking. Like, the very first day! That has to get me somewhere, right? I've also noticed a curbing of my appetite. Not to an unhealthy level or anything. I'm just eating a bit less when I do eat throughout the day.

I wanted to write about this here, one, for the review, but also for the accountability. If I put it out there, I have to document it. I can measure changes. And I'll feel like I owe it to the blog to see it through with an honest effort. With that in mind, here is where I am now, as well as my SMART goals:

As of Day 1: (This is about what my face looked like at hearing my 5-year-old see this picture and say "Look! It's mama when I was in your tummy!" Yeah, I need this!)
On my scale: 133lbs
Bust: 37 inches
Waist: 35 inches (ouch--that can't be right!)
Hip: 40 inches

On an aside, have you heard of SMART goals? It's something like this:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A – Achievable
R - Realistic
T – Time based

With that in mind, here is my plan:
1. Follow the CitraSlim capsule directions, 2 capsules morning, 2 capsules afternoon, for the duration
2. Have tea or Slique Essence daily
3. Hit, at a minimum 3, ideally 4 dots on my Fitbit (set to 10,000 steps)
4. Create a dinner menu weekly, so we don't default to a quick answer in the evenings
(Please note that my plan doesn't exactly fit the Young Living Challenge. I am confident in the company, and therefore in the product. Like I mentioned, I very much prefer the taste of Slique Tea to Slique Essence. They achieve a similar purpose.)

My hope is this challenge will help me to reset those bad habits, reducing sweets and eating out, and therefore trim that spare tire so my shorts fit well again! I'm really excited and I can't wait to see where this takes me!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Diffuser Blends

Spring is finally here! After Mother Nature's little cold-snap surprise last week, it really feels like the cold is behind us and the warming trend is here to stay! And with that in mind, I've been playing with different essential oil combinations in my diffuser to literally put some spring in the air.

I really prefer my diffuser to commercial air fresheners for lots of reasons. One, I can change it up all the time without having to buy an entirely new product, making it more economical. I just use oils I already have on hand.  Not to mention, those aerosol air fresheners are all synthetic chemicals designed to "smell good" (and that's debatable, if you ask me!)  Why spend more to fill my home with something that is so bad for you??? Finally, essential oils in my diffuser pull double duty with their therapeutic value. Not only do they smell great, they are actually doing great things for my body and my family!  Citrus oils are purifying the air, peppermint is refreshing our respiratory systems, ylang-ylang is putting everyone in a good mood.  I love a multi-tasker, don't you!

So, in honor of the first day of spring, here area few of my fresh, spring-inspired favorites!

Want to get your hands on a great diffuser and some of the best all-purpose oils to go in it?  Check out this page!  Happy Spring!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Build Your Own Body Scrub

There are few luxurious, indulgent beauty products quite like a good body scrub. Retailers and spas have been cashing in on this fact for years!  Exfoliation is recommended 1-2 times a week to scrub away dead skin cells, encourage cell turnover, and keep your skin looking fresh and youthful. They make great gifts too, and can suit any budget. And that's the secret!  It doesn't have to cost you big bucks. I'm here to set you free! Free to customize and design your very own body scrub for that silky soft skin that has always seemed so expensive to come by.

Making your own body scrub is very simple--taking only 2-3 ingredients you probably already have--not to mention it's economical! 

All you need to make a body scrub is a coarse solid plus a carrier oil, and if desired, essential oils to target skin care, or other embellishment. I have found a good ratio is the following:

1 tablespoon of carrier oil 
1/4 cup of solid base
2-6 drops of Essential Oils

That give you a nice, spreadable texture and enough oil to condition and moisturize your skin, without being so much oil that it seems soupy.

Now, on to customizing!

The first thing you need to choose is which scrubby base you want. Choose one that meets the quality and texture standards you are looking for.

Salt Scrubs:
  • Himalayan pink salt--pretty, course, and filled with minerals that are great for your skin! It is a little more expensive and would make a really lovely gift.
  • Epsom salts--So accessible, aka, affordable! Moderately coarse, made of soothing magnesium
  • Straight up table salt-- cheap, most fine salt texture 

Sugar scrubs:
  • Sugar in the Raw--most coarse sugar, more like salts, but sweet smelling!
  • Cane sugar--More coarse sugar, although finer than -in the Raw and most salts
  • Brown Sugar--sweet smell, rich color, fine texture
  • Powdered texture--Super fine texture, making a very gentle scrub for sensitive skin

Coffee Scrubs:
IMO, coffee is the most luxurious scrub! Remember to pair oils cautiously, since it has such a strong and distinctive scent on its own.
  • Fresh coffee grinds--full of antioxidants; caffeine can (temporarily!) reduce the appearance of puffy eyes and cellulite; you control texture with the grind
  • Used coffee grinds--some of those good qualities get filtered out in to the coffee you drink, but this is a good way to upcycle

Don't forget you can mix and match, ie, coffee + cane sugar or Himalayan salt + brown sugar--get creative!

A carrier oil is a clean, ideally organic and cold-pressed, plant-based oil. This step may take a little trial and error, especially for a facial scrub, to see which one best suits your skin type. All of these oils have some comedogenic risk (aka, they could clog your pores), but the right one for you will work with your skin, not against it! I have combination skin that has been acne-prone for more than 20 years and my sweet spot is grapeseed + coconut oils. Keep in mind that the skin on your body is different and probably much more tolerant than the skin on your face.

Here is a conservative list of some more economical, easy-to-come-by carrier oils, but don't be afraid to branch out from these!

Coconut Oil:
  • Widely available, has its own cleansing properties, but a higher comedogenic rating
  • Can feel heavy, but moisturizing for dry-normal skin
  • Beware for texture! Its melting point is around 75℉, so if it's cold where you are, it may turn solid
  • Fractionated coconut oil is an option, and has been altered to stay liquid at cooler temps. Keep in mine coconut oil has a relatively strong scent, if that factors in to your choice!

Grapeseed Oil:
My personal favorite for my face.
  • Thin and light, ideal for normal-oily skin, with some nice cleansing properties and Vitamin E
  • Sometimes available in grocery stores

Jojoba Oil:
  • A perennial favorite for normal skin
  • Gentle and often preferred for sensitive and/or aging skin 

Olive Oil:
  • Widely available (probably already in your kitchen!)
  • Moisturizing for dry skin

Similar to carrier oils, there is no shortage of choices for essential oils to use in a body scrub. You could simply choose your favorite smell, or explore their therapeutic properties to choose one that meets your needs. Again, here is a very brief list suggestions for essential oils with both a pleasing fragrance and excellent therapeutic value for skin care.

  • Pretty, floral, slightly spicy scent
  • Go-to for all things skin! You really can't go wrong with a good lavender body scrub!

  • Rich and spicy, luxurious and indulgent
  • Excellent for skin care, especially dry or aging skin

  • Bold, floral scent
  • Balancing for all skin types (one of my preferred favorites for my combo skin)

  • Clean, refreshing scent from lemongrass, tea tree, and rosemary oils
  • Cleansing for oily and acne-prone skin

So, what kinds of combinations can you make?
How about Epsom salts with coconut oil and lavender? Maybe sprinkle in a tablespoon of dried rosemary for color, texture, and aroma...
Or maybe mix up organic brown sugar with grapeseed oil and geranium?
I know! Fresh, fine grind coffee with light jojoba oil and frankincense! See, the options really are endless... 

I hope this will spark your creative juices to whip up a body scrub that is just right for you! Go raid the pantry and get to work!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Non-Toxic Oven Cleaner

My family is wrapping up moving. Like big time, across an ocean moving! With moving comes great responsibilities--mostly cleaning, BOO!

Every time we do this--and we do this more than most as a military family--I swear the next time I'm just going to hire someone!  But then, every time, we think about what we need to do and how much time we have to do it and we convince ourselves "It's really not so much," and "We can spread it out," and "We got this." And every time we end up slaving and sweating in to the night, cleaning ceiling fans and base boards for the first time since we moved in, while roasting ourselves out with the oven's self-cleaning cycle stinking up the house burning off 2-3 years worth of stuck on grease!

This time, I'm happy to report, was different!  Well, a little different.  We came close to hiring someone, at least to clean the windows. Mind you, we live in Hawaii and we had 30 sets of jalousie windows. Don't know what those are? Check these babies out (I count that as 2):

Now, we do have a pressure washer, but those little slats just can't quite get a seal, so unless you want water spraying inside with all the gook it's supposed to be washing off, each one is going to need to be wiped down by hand! But, my husband's "let me just see how long 1 takes" turned in to me demonstrating a suggestion to make it go a little faster, magically evolved in to both of us and our 4 year old knocking out 80% before dinner! So, no we didn't hire anyone!  I mostly covered the mom stuff and kept the kids out of the house while the hubs cranked out most of the cleaning, a lot of which he finished while the packers were there and you can't do much else anyway! This was a great opportunity to put my clean cleaning products to the ultimate test and they didn't disappoint!

However, after several days of transition craziness and sleeping in strange beds, while largely on exclusive parent duty, I was begging for my turn in a quiet, empty house, even if it meant until I was scrubbing until I was sore! One of my tasks included the oven... so thanks for sticking around through the epilogue to finally get to the good stuff!

Now, like I mentioned before, we are leaving Hawaii, so even though it is December, it was still 80 degrees outside and our house had no air conditioning. The self-cleaning cycle is, let's just say, less than appealing. Plus, I didn't have the time to wait for it to cook and cool so I could wipe it out. That seriously takes 5-6 hours!  And nasty oven cleaner?  No thank you!  That aerosol can of chemicals won't come near my home again!  I whipped up a magic solution and was done in no time!

1/2-1 cup baking soda (less baking soda for a dirtier oven!)
1 capful Thieves Household Cleaner concentrate
a splash of water, 1 TBSP or so to thin it out and combine

Mix ingredients, scrub on with scouring pad, wipe off with a damp rag. DONE!

*Extra degreasing, deodorizing, stain fighting power of lemon essential oil or Citrus Fresh essential oil blend would be a nice touch here! 8-16 drops should do the trick.  I simply didn't have any on hand this time and it did a very good job!

OMG, this was SO super easy!  Even with the self-cleaning cycle, you still have to wipe it out. This method really required very little elbow grease to just wipe the gunk away.  There were a few spots I had to do twice, but even the tough spots went down! I was so blown away by how easy and how effective this was.  I may or may not have gone on Facebook right in the middle of the job to share how amazing it was! You can catch my video here and watch the magic in action!

The baking soda is an excellent, gentle abrasive and a great little deodorizing scrubber all on its own.  It makes for the perfect base for this product.  The Thieves Household Cleaner concentrate packs an incredibly strong degreasing punch! Not to mention, it's completely plant-and mineral based, non-toxic, and smells great! It is a Young Living exclusive and you can learn how to get it wholesale here. Check out these before-and-after pics. I think they speak loud and clear:

I will admit this is obviously more labor intensive than the self-cleaning cycle, simply due to the effort in covering the surface area. But it was really worth it to me to not have to run that cycle or use a harmful product. The labor involved really wasn't bad. And, in the end, I can confidently say that no brain cells (or any cells, for that matter) were harmed in the fantastic, get-your-security-deposit-back cleaning of my oven! And the rest of the house looked pretty good too ;)