I recently asked the followers on my Natural Family Living Facebook page for some insight into what essential oils they use and what they use them for? I wanted to see what some common uses were and if any creative and new-to-me ideas popped up. I was so impressed with the range of answers that I have decided to share the info here. There are so many every day, practical uses for essentials oils it blows my mind! The power of plants indeed!
My question was “What’s the last essential oil you used? What did you use it for?”
Some of the answers…
Peppermint for headache
Lavender for homemade baby wipes
Rosemary for homemade dish soap
Lavender for a stuffed nose / head cold
Melaleuca in the nostrils to prevent a cold
Sweet orange mixed in baking soda to freshen carpets
Lavender to help mom and child sleep
Tea tree for cleaning
Lavender for a cooking burn
Lavender for seasonal allergies
Clove oil for a toothache
Roman chamomile for relaxation
Tea tree oil for acne
Eucalyptus for cleaning
Peppermint for homemade toothpaste
Lemon to fill a diffuser
Oregano oil to combat a cold
Geranium in the steam room at the gym
Peppermint for lotion and scenting sheets
Eucalyptus for clearing sinuses
Lavender for teething
Eucalyptus in the bath for aches and pains
Rosemary and tea tree for an all purpose spray cleaner
Rosemary and black pepper for muscle aches
Clove oil with vinegar mopping the floor
Thieves for a cold sore and to freshen breathe
Rose hip seed in moisturizer for an anti- aging omega boost
Peppermint in my homemade all purpose cleaner
Patchouli for the wash
Thieves oil on the feet before bed to combat a fever
Lavender to relax in the tub
Lemon for cleaning
Thieves and eucalyptus for a chest cold
Lavender for homemade body butter
Eucalyptus and coconut oil on feet at night to helping with coughing
Teat tree in the cloth diaper bin
Wild orange in the diffuser for calming
Orange to keep the cat off the bed
Peppermint and tea tree to soak cloth diapers in after a rinse, but before the wash
Peppermint for nausea
Lavender in the dryer, instead of using dryer sheets
Thieves for disinfecting after illness
Tea tree for athletes foot
Orange oil to make hand soap
Peppermint and eucalyptus in a rock fountain to freshen air
This is the time of year when you will begin to be bombarded with magazine articles and blog posts about spring cleaning. I certainly understand the idea and full support it because after those long winter months cooped up in the house I am more than ready to start fresh and clear the cobwebs. Spring is my favorite season and I am so energized by it that even cleaning is bearable…and seriously, by then I really do have lots of cobwebs to clean.
There is a step that comes before spring cleaning though, at least for me. I call it winter nesting. It begins in early to mid February. The thrill of the holidays is well past gone and the long, dark days are starting to get to me. I am ready for spring but it is still a long way off, or so it seems. I have to get ready for spring gardening and indoor planting. The urge to start cleaning is strong also but logistically I need to declutter and purge first. How can I clean the kitchen when the pantry, the drawers, and the counter tops have all become collection grounds for all manner of items? How can I clean the cobwebs out of the cupboards when things are falling out on me? Yes, this is when the urge to purge comes in.
Before I even think about scrubbing my baseboards with a toothbrush I need to think about how to get rid of the clutter. This year in particular it has bothered me more than usual and I have been asking myself lots of tough questions. Do I REALLY need this? Have I used it or wore it within the past year? Does it enhance my life in some way or just sit there unused and unappreciated? My children have to answer these questions as well. What clothes do not fit me anymore? Can they be passed down to a sibling? Since I haven’t used it in over six months should I sell my 3DS? Kids tend to have a lot of clutter and it is good to teach them to let that go.
Here are some ways to declutter before you get to the deep cleaning…
Wardrobe – Evaluate what you REALLY wear. If you are anything like me you tend to wear the same stuff over and over again, washing it as needed. If you have some good quality basic items then you don’t actually need a whole lot of clothing and you can still look stylish. The No Brainer Wardrobe ebook is a quick read that teaches you how to do this. I highly recommend it. If you haven’t worn something in a long while or you consistently look at some items and then choose something you like “better” then let them go. This goes for clothing you bought in smaller sizes too, hoping that you would lose weight and they would fit someday. Don’t give up on your fitness goals but don’t hang on to clothing you cannot wear either.
Papers – It is tax time so when you are going through papers, receipts, and documents to get them ready for your taxes go a step further and purge the stuff you don’t need. You probably don’t need utility bills from three years ago or user manuals for products that have long been broken or donated. Go through your filing cabinets and desk drawers and do a major purge. Scan some of your receipts and other documents that you need to keep so that you can store them digitally from now on and let go of the physical clutter.
Electronics – We tend to hold on to pricier household items even if we don’t use them anymore. Yet if we use our iPhones and a sounddock to listen to music then we don’t actually need that stereo anymore. If you find it easier to use your phone as an alarm clock then the actual alarm clock can go. Find a place where you can resell these items and earn a small profit. Try places such as ebay and Craigslist. You might be able to earn enough to pay for a professional cleaner to help you with that deep cleaning come spring.
Pantry/Kitchen – Once again it is all about how much you used the items you choose to store in the kitchen. Don’t use the dehydrator or yogurt maker? Let them go. I just let go of my dehydrator and my back up crock pot because they were just dust collectors. I never used them. Go through all your pots, pans, and baking items and see if it makes sense to keep them. Do you need two stock pots? Do you need three muffin tins? Do you actually use all of the spatulas, tongs sets, ladles, and serving spoons you have? It is easy to think that “someday” you may need them but think about it. That is what you say EVERY YEAR and yet another year has passed and you didn’t use them. What does that tell you?
Books – I KNOW how hard it is to get rid of books. You always imagine that you will read them again or need to use them for reference but years pass and they never get read again and you didn’t even touch them. With excellent public libraries at our disposal though there is no reason to hang on to fiction books for years and years that you think you might someday read again. If you truly do want to read it again, you can borrow it. If it is a recipe book go through and see how many recipes you actually cook. If you actually cook 3/4 of the meals found inside it, then keep it. If you only use 2-3 recipes then copy them down (or scan them to your computer) and let the actual book go to a new home. Amazon is is excellent place to sell used books. I sell there frequently.
What tips do you have for decluttering your home? I would love to hear.
Kombucha is pretty expensive to buy and yet it is so delicious, healthy, and great as an alternative for those of us who are tempted by soda that it becomes an easily justified expense. Well until you realize just how easy it is to make yourself that is. We have now established a pretty efficient brewing method in our home and we have gone from spending $4-5 dollars per bottle at the store to home brewed Kombucha for about .17 cents a bottle. Plus we are reusing all the Kombucha bottles we bought. So yummy, so good for you, and now…so cheap.
For those that don’t know, Kombucha is fermented tea made with tea, sugar, and a SCOBY or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. It is full of probiotics and other healthy amino acids, has been consumed for thousands of years, and has been used medicinally in many countries and cultures. The image below is a SCOBY…the grayish, whiteish blob that goes in the tea and causes the fermentation process.
Not real attractive I admit, but the finished product tastes divine and I don’t even like tea. I cannot stand iced tea (I call it dirt water) and most hot teas don’t tempt me much either. So imagine my surprise when my husband got me to take a sip of his Kombucha and I discovered that I loved it. It was fizzy, sweet, and very much like a soda pop with just a hint of a tea taste. The flavors were abundant and some were even swimming with yummy chia seeds. I was hooked and if you buy it in stores then you know well why one would want to brew it at home…it’s expensive!! I quickly decided that if I wanted to keep myself stocked with Kombucha I had to make it myself and lucky for us it is actually very, very easy.
The process did not start out smooth though. The first two batches ended up going down the drain because mold formed. The first batch we had out on our kitchen counter, next to the stove and the second batch we put in a cupboard that was drafty and dusty. Both times I think that foreign particles got inside the jar and caused the mold. For our third and subsequent batches we put our ferment jars in our upstairs linen closet where there is no dust or dirt floating around, the temperature is warm and stable, and they don’t get disturbed. We also switched jars from a huge one that had a spout to a smaller one that did not. We have had no problems since.
We currently use re-purposed gallon size pickle jars to brew our Kombucha. We bought them from Wal-Mart, threw out the pickles (because we only eat Bubbies brand), and that is what we now use, along with cheese cloth on top of each jar, secured with rubber bands. There are Kombucha Home Brew Kits available but we wanted a super cheap set up so we went with repurposed when we could and we bought our SCOBY on eBay.
We have been using an ice tea blend for the tea because that is what we had on hand for the tea drinkers in the home. Every Thursday we harvest and bottle two gallons of Kombucha and start two more brewing. We use a funnel to pour them into the bottles we have left over from commercial Kombucha and we also have several Bormioli Rocco Giara Bottles in various colors that we use. It is important to us to have bottles that seal so that the tea stays fizzy.
Some we drink as is and others we flavor with juice (cherry) and we add chia seeds to the majority of them. We all love the texture and it is added nutrition. Not a whole lot of work but the rewards are great. Once you have the jars, bottles, and a SCOBY you only need to buy tea, sugar, and anything optional that you add to the finished product like chia seeds and juice. You may also need to buy water unless you have a really good filter for your tap as chemicals and other common water contaminants can kill your Kombucha and SCOBY. You can harvest new SCOBYs for other batches from your original one. Pretty soon you will be giving them away and composting them as you get a new one with each batch. You will also grow to love the process…
Stuff You Need:
A one gallon glass jar
Glass bottles to pour the finished Kombuchas into
Tea (organic black tea or a blend of black and green)
Sugar – Regular granulated sugar, no natural sweeteners (they won’t work)
A cloth cover (I use a flour sack dishtowel)
Rubber bands to seal it closed and keep bugs from getting inside
Brew about 8 bags of tea with 3½ quarts of purified water. Add one cup of regular white sugar and allow to cool. Don’t worry about using white sugar either. It is not for you it is for the scoby to feed on and the sugar content at the end will be very low. Pour into your brewing jar, leaving room at the top for your scoby and for 1-2 cups of Kombucha leftover from a previous batch. If this is your very first time making it then use whatever liquid came with the scoby you purchased.
Cover the jar, secure it, and put it aside in a warm place (70-75 degrees) where it will not be disturbed for 7-20 days. Taste test after 7 days and see how you like it. If it is still really sweet and not very bubbly then let it go longer. Our sweet spot is about 14 days. Pour into small bottles rather than large ones or pitchers, this will cause your brew to lose its fizziness faster. Enjoy!
This yummy juice recipe can be found in The Juicing Bible. Insanely delicious! Even the kids, two of whom don’t like bell peppers, liked it. Just juice 1 carrot, 2 celery stalks, 1 apple, 1/2 of a cucumber, 1/2 of a zucchini and 1/2 of a red bell pepper. Refreshing and ever so slightly sweet.
It has been quite awhile since I breastfed my little ones but even so it is one of those subjects that I am still deeply passionate and opinionated about. From the time my youngest was born I knew I would breastfeed and mostly that was because my own mother had. I recall her breastfeeding my younger brother well into his toddler years and she talked about the joy of breastfeeding so enthusiastically that I knew I had do the same when I became a mother. This made me the odd one out among my friends and peers but I also found that I truly enjoyed the whole breastfeeding experience and I fed my oldest child this way until I had to return to work, about four months after his birth.
Weaning him so early became a big regret for me when he developed health problems a short time later. His health problems were so severe that that I waited three years to have another child and I was determined from the get go that this child would be breastfed exclusively and for an extended period of time. I had plenty of time to research all the reasons why breast is best and I wasn’t going to let modern life get in the way of of feeding my child the absolute best food. Not this time, no way. I quit my job and really never looked back. That was nine years ago this week. I breastfed my daughter for 2.5 years with the last 6 months of that being done in tandem with her little brother. Every moment breastfeeding her was special and joyous just as my mother described. I like to think that all the time she spent at the breast gave her a great start in life. It makes me so sad that many mothers and babies do not experience this and that so so many cultures are not supportive of this all important aspect of raising children.
BREAST IS BEST. By now this should be a widely known fact and all women should be be educated about why breastfeeding is not only 100% normal and natural but also extremely important for the health of their children. I will be honest that I get more than a little peeved by prevailing attitudes about breastfeeding in the US but I just have to hope that most of it is lack of education and that it can someday be remedied.
This is why a new report from Save the Children was of great interest to me and I want to share it here. Quite simply it highlights the fact that breastmilk is superfood for babies and that it saves lives. The report talks about the ‘power of the first hour’ and they estimate that 830,000 infant deaths could be avoided if every baby were breastfed within the first hour of life. Much of this has to do with colostrum, which is the first milk. It is the most potent natural immune system booster known to science.
Other stats from the report:
* An infant given breast milk within an hour of birth is up to three times more likely to survive than one breastfed a day later.
* Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia and 11 times more likely to die of diarrhea than those who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.
*An estimated 1.4 million child deaths in 2008 were as a result of ‘sub-optimal’ breastfeeding, where babies were not exclusively breastfed and where breastfeeding did not continue into the second year.
* The baby milk formula business is worth $25 billion (or £16 billion).
* Breastfeeding rates have actually stagnated around the world over the last 20 years – and remain below 40% globally.
* Four major barriers to breastfeeding around the world: 1) cultural and community pressures 2) the health worker shortage 3) lack of maternity legislation, and 4) aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes – or formula.
* Only 6.7% of U.S. births occur in designated 154 “Baby-Friendly” facilities that meet international recommendations for supporting breastfeeding, and the U.S. has the weakest levels of maternity legislation in the industrialized world.
This shows without a doubt how powerful the act of breastfeeding can be and how it impacts the health of our children. It also shows why we must get better about educating women about what it actually means when they choose NOT to breastfeed and how the formula industry is working against their interests and against the health of their children. Here in the US part of that education process needs to be about making breastfeeding culturally normal. When you live in a society where restaurant or store employees ask breastfeeding mothers to leave these places of business and imply they are doing something gross or socially unacceptable by feeding their children, then we have HUGE problems. We must also make the work environment more family friendly so that working moms do not have to choose between being able to work or being able to feed their infant the best food available.
Other cultures have other issues. In India they believe that colostrum should be expressed before any breastfeeding can occur. This is a cultural practice that goes against science and best practices for health. It needs to be addressed. Other areas are affected by a health worker shortage. Even if you believe in home birthing and few, if any interventions, you are still likely to have a midwife and/or doula. Having health and birth workers around is so beneficial and often times they help young moms get established with breastfeeding because it can be a bit tricky sometimes. In developing countries this is even more important.
On addition to distributing this wonderful report, Save the Children is calling on Secretary of State Kerry to recommit to the 1,000 Days Partnership that expires in June. Since 2010, this international partnership has already helped countries such as Indonesia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Tanzania develop strategies around fighting childhood malnutrition through supporting breastfeeding and other important steps. It is set to expire unless we speak out and demand that the breastfeeding support and education continue. I signed the petition and I hope you will to.
I would also love to hear form you. What do you think we need to do to increase breastfeeding rates worldwide? Comment below if you want to share. Also be sure to check out the video below of how Brazil has had tremendous success with a breastfeeding initiative. It is such a powerful message and brought to us by actress Isla Fisher. I knew I really liked her!!