The pine tree is a popular symbol of the new year around the globe. It signifies renewal, power, and longevity. Many cultures believed that it made one youthful and it helped to ward off illness and disease. I can certainly see the association when I see the tall, strong, evergreen pines among the winter landscape when all it’s comrades look like puny shadows of their former glory. When the days are dark and the going is tough, pine trees stand out majestically…as if to say “Nothing keeps me down!”
Turns out that the the qualities of pine go far beyond looks however and those ancient cultures were quite wise. Pine is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiviral, and stimulant. Booyah!
To celebrate the renewing power of a new year why not try a pine bath? They are spectacular all winter long but in the first few weeks of the new year they seem particularly fitting. Renew your personal goals, renew your health, and stimulate your senses to achieve everything you desire. Pine revitalizes the mind and the body and its protective qualities help keep you well when everyone around you is getting sick.
How to Use Pine in the Bath:
Tie some pine branch tips together with hemp cord or muslin. Put it in your bath water while it heats or tie it underneath the spout while the tub is filling. Add 4-6 drops of pine essential oil to a 1/2 cup of epsom salts, pour into the bath water (this helps dilute the oil). Light a pine scented beeswax candle or diffuse some pine oil in your diffuser. Diffuse alone or with some complimentary oils such as lavender, lemon, clary sage, or grapefruit.
Divine! Here is to a great new year!
One of the foremost things that attracted me to green and eco conscious living was the direct correlation to self sufficiency and personal responsibility. Going green is largely about taking control of your spending, your habits, your wastefulness, and YOUR contribution to the pollution of our planet. To live a more eco conscious life and reduce your impact on the planet I think you need to develop your skills set. We need some mad green skills. ;)
This is good news in my mind as I am and will always be a student of life. Learning new things is one of my greatest passions and I loved college more than anyone should I think. I still often think about going back to college to pursue my interests. Classes of any sort whether they be at a college or at my local community center make me stand up and take notice. I LOVE to learn! My hubby and I both enjoy “how-to” books and own a many of them. We subscribe to magazines that discuss self sufficiency and homesteading. We are very interested in expanding on our existing skills all the time and with the economy the way it is and the planet in the condition that it is…I think this is important. Instead of the skills to pay the bills maybe we need the skills to avoid paying the bills. Aka the more self sufficient we are the less likely we will need to rely on other people and services to get by. How can we reduce our consumption and rely more on the sweat of our own backs to get by?
In Mother Earth News awhile back they shared a survey they did of farmers and over 60% of the farmers they interviewed felt they were in a better position than other people in the country to rough it through economic hardship. Why is that? Cause they have skills.
So what kind of skills can save you money and help you reduce your environmental footprint at the same time? Here are some of the front runners in my mind:
Grow Your Own: I think it is incredibly important that people learn to grow their own food. Our conventional food growers use pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and all sorts of chemical nasties on the food they grow. We can opt to reduce the amount we buy and therefore reduce support to such industries. It is also entirely possible to grow all your own food if you want to. All it takes is hard work and the dedication to build new skills. Grow in your front and backyard, patios, decks, balconies, window sills, etc. Join a community garden if you have absolutely no place to grow. Start a freedom garden movement in your community.
Sew Your Own: Sewing is a lost art and one we need to revive. In this day and age of slave labor and cheap Wal-Mart clothes and goods it is easy to decide that sewing your own is too costly. But sewing your own clothing, bedding, bags and totes, home decor, toys, etc. is just to rewarding and empowering to ignore. And you can pick up very low cost fabric at yards sales and estate sales all to often as well. I have often bought entire bolts of fabric (40-100 yards) direct from the manufacturing companies so that I can keep costs down on sewing projects. Get good at sewing and you also have a marketable skill. I made good money selling hand sewn goods online for several years. I still love to buy hand sewn items from other moms and do so all the time.
Make Your Own: Why not try to make your own bread, soaps, candles, cleaning supplies, etc? Cook your own food and make your own dog/cat food. How much of the “stuff” you buy can you make yourself? Not only can this save money it is really rewarding to be able to make your own stuff and not have to shop for it. Right now I am reading the Outlander series and in a nutshell the heroine decides twice to to go back in time and live in 18th century Scotland where she and her family have to grow their own food or starve, make their own candles in a week long process and harvest the beeswax themselves, make their own clothes, build their own shelters, and set their own broken bones. It is a really fascinating read and every time I catch myself wondering why on earth she would CHOOSE to live that way I am reminded just how strong and self reliant this character is…yet you will NOT find a sub heading here called “Set Your Own”. :) Please don’t try to set your own broken bones.
Entertain Your Own: The biggest budget killer for my family is entertainment. I grew up in an affluent family that traveled a lot and generally just spoiled me. If I wanted something, I got it. Hubby and I ended up passing on a lot of that to our own kids and we had to back peddle. If we didn’t watch it, the kids would talk us into a bunch of worthless toys and large entertainment expenses. Now we invest in season passes to educational places like the zoo and the Science Museum. We buy second hand books and do a lot of reading. We do crafting and painting. We listen to audio books. We search out our community for free or low cost events. We create fun outdoor play areas at home and we take them hiking and camping. Sometimes in lieu of traveling to warmer places in the winter we get a cheap local motel room with an indoor pool and let the kids spend the whole weekend in the pool. There are so many low to no cost entertainment ideas out there. It is a skill for many to get creative and entertain themselves.
Build Your Own – This is my hubby’s favorite learning area. He reads DIY books on building and carpentry with abandon. By developing building skills you can do home renovations yourself, you can build raised beds for your garden, build furniture, an aquaponics system, etc. The possibilities are endless. My hubby and I both want to pursue education and training in sustainable energy and building systems. We want to learn how to install solar panels and grey water collection systems.
Reuse Your Own- It is both frugal and green to reuse everything as much as you can. You can use egg shells, old rain boots, and milk jugs in the garden. Old wool sweaters and t-shirts can be turned into cloth diapers and covers. Torn clothing can be used to make rag rugs. Glass jars can be turned into candle holders and vases, or you just drink out of them. That is what we do. One of the greatest cost savings opportunities available is to use and reuse what you already have.
What green skills do YOU want to pursue?
Lavender is known as the swiss army knife of essential oils. It can be used for so many different things. This gorgeous regal flower is well known for its abilities to soothe (body and mind), help us find relaxation and calm, support sleep, and provide us with a fantastic flowery aroma. When a child is restless out comes the lavender. When my skin comes into contact with a hot pan in the kitchen, out comes the lavender. I use it for so many things that I carry it in my purse.
Lavender oil has many therapeutic uses but it can also be used for cleaning in the home. Generally when you think about cleaning with essential oils there are some other contenders that usually top the list…melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree), eucalyptus, a Thieves blend, and rosemary. Some of these oils have a strong medicinal scent though and lavender makes a great addition that will give your homemade cleaning products a flowery scent that everyone will enjoy. I grow lavender flowers in my backyard to use around the house for cleaning and I keep lavender oil on hand and at all times for cleaning uses.
Cleaning and Deodorizing Carpets and Mattresses with Lavender Oil
Lavender is antibacterial which makes it a great cleaner and germ fighter it is own right. It also deodorizers with a powerful flowery aroma. It is perfect for cleaning in areas that tend to get stinky. Carpets for instance, tend to harbor stinky bacteria. To deodorize and freshen up carpets and rugs just add 10 drops of lavender oil to a cup of baking soda, mix well and sprinkle on the carpet. Let sit for an hour or more and then vacuum up. Your house and carpet will smell amazing and the lavender oil will continue to fights germs in your carpets. I have also been known to add lavender oil to a small bit of unscented castile soap and then add that mixture to my carpet cleaner.
For mattresses you do the same, sprinkle the baking soda and lavender mixture on your naked mattress. Leave it on for an our and then use the house attachment on your vacuum to clean it up. This makes your mattress smell good, it draws away moisture and dirt, and it helps deter dust mites. The lovely scent might also help you get to sleep faster. Bonus!
Disinfect Surfaces With Lavender Oil
The antibacterial properties of this oil make it just as efficient for surface cleaning. Use it to clean countertops, tables, stoves, and other surfaces. Take two cups of white vinegar and 3 drops of lavender and 2 drops of lemon. Spray surfaces and clean as usual.
You can also make this same cleaner by soaking lavender flowers and lemon peels in vinegar.
Clean Laundry With Lavender
Never buy fabric softener or dryer sheets to make your clothes smell nice. They are loaded with chemical nasties. Try lavender instead! Add a few drops to your washing machine and a few drops to a dry washcloth or dryer ball and place it in the dryer. You can also use dried lavender flowers in a muslin sachet. When the scent starts to die away I add a few drops of lavender oil and keep using it. My clothes smell amazing!
Keep Bugs Away With Lavender Oil
This oil is a great pest repellent. Add lavender oil to a cotton ball or reusable cotton round and place in drawers, cupboards, under beds, in closets, etc. Very helpful if you have moths and other bugs that like to congregate in these places.
Freshen the Air With Lavender Oil
You can make a DIY room spray with lavender oil. Mix an ounce of witch hazel with a couple ounces of distilled water and 10 drops lavender oil. Or try 5 drops lavender and 5 drops lime. Yum! Spray as needed.
An even better way to freshen the air though is with a diffuser. You add water and oils and the diffuser does all the work. You can make your home smell amazing in minutes!
Perfume is a big business. Sadly, it is also a largely unregulated industry and perfume companies can put nearly any chemical they want in their formulas and get away with it. They can lace their perfume with hormone disrupting chemicals and chemicals that could cause allergic reactions such as asthma, wheezing, headaches, and dermatitis. I know personally I cannot wear conventional perfume without suffering from headaches. I can’t even walk into that department in a store without the same and I almost never get headaches…perhaps 2-3 a year under normal circumstances. Long ago I wore perfume every day. After years of clean living though it seems I cannot tolerate conventional perfume anymore.
My body clearly tells me I need to stay away from these toxic concoctions but almost everyone likes to smell nice right? Well, that is where essential oils come in. Thanks to these lovely plant essences I can wear scents again and instead of harming my health…they actually enhance it. They just make better sense for ladies (and gents) concerned about their health who still want to smell all pretty. What could be better?!
Essential Oils You Can Wear As Perfume
Let’s start with the basics. Many essential oils can be applied “neat” or as-is and undiluted. Others are more potent and should be used in a carrier oil. A carrier oil also “carries” the scent to a larger area of the body and thus disperses the scent more. I personally like avocado oil. It is not greasy and has no scent of its own. I prefer to add my oils to avocado oil inside of a glass roll-on bottle. This makes for super easy application and they are small enough so that I can take them with me everywhere…for their scent and for their therapeutic value.
Here you can see a photo of what I am currently carrying in my purse. I have a little satchel that I use to carry oils, lip balm, and deodorant. Right now I am rockin Thieves (clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata, rosemary), lavender, and DiGize (tarragon, ginger, peppermint, juniper, fennel, lemongrass, anise, and patchouli). I carry these around for therapeutic reasons but they all happen to smell fantastic as well and I get compliments when I wear them.
Here are some lovely smelling essential oil singles you can wear for their luscious scent. Pick according to your preference be it spicy, woodsy, citrus, resinous, floral, or herbaceous.
These are just some of your options. You can mix and match as well and create blends. If you need help figuring out what scents work best together I highly recommend the book Mixing Essential Oils for Magic. It goes into great depth discussing how to blend oils by botanical family, by scent group, and by perfume note. It also contains profiles of most essential oils and carrier oils.
There is also an easier way if you don’t want to make your own blends and you want to wear something that smells like perfume does. Young Living has done all the work for us and made quite a few blends that smell amazing. The wonderful thing about these blends is that they may contain small amounts of oils that you might find it too expensive to buy on their own such as rose or melissa.
Build Your Dream
Magnify Your Purpose
My favorites are Valor, Abundance, Sclaressence, Highest Potential, and Believe. I wear one of these daily (on my body and in a diffuser necklace) and if I need to reapply I put some in a tiny 2ml amber bottle (pictured below). I don’t want to risk the entire bottle breaking or leaking in my purse. These smell better than any department store perfume anywhere AND they make my cells happy. It’s a total win, win.
Valor – Spruce, rosewood, blue tansy and frankincense in a base of coconut oil.
Sclaressence – Clary sage, peppermint, sage lavender, and fennel.
Abundance – Orange, frankincense, patchouli, clove, ginger, myrrh, cinnamon and spruce.
Highest Potential – Australian Blue, ylang ylang, cedarwood, blue tansy, and white fir, Gathering essential oil blend, frankincense, sandalwood, lavender, cinnamon, rose, spruce, geranium, and jasmine.
Believe – Idaho balsam fir, coriander, bergamot, frankincense, Idaho blue spruce, ylang ylang, geranium.
Want to get your hands on Young Living essential oils? Find out how HERE.
It’s the New Year! Have you made any resolutions? Do any of those resolutions involve your home? Well, they should. Your home is your castle. It is the place where you find peace and a place to recharge. Making your home a reflection of the person you hope to be this new year will make reaching your goals even easier!
Here are four New Year’s resolutions for home decorating to help you get started.
1. Clear the Clutter!!!
A clutter free home is an important step to clutter free fitness, finances, parenting, marriage, you name it. When we clean up the physical mess we are also cleaning up our attitude and outlook without even knowing it. When is the last time a messy, cluttered kitchen made you happy? Never, you say? Well, do something about it! Clear out clutter.
Resolve to clear clutter in steps. It’s indeed overwhelming to look at your whole house and imagine tackling it all at once, not stopping until it’s finished. Instead, approach it on a room-by-room basis, resolving to clear the clutter from, say, one room a month. You could even begin with corners of rooms to make it even less overwhelming – say, clear the clutter from one corner of the living room every Saturday for four weeks. Then move on to the next room or area.
2. Organize Your Stuff
You won’t be throwing away or donating everything – there will be “stuff” you’ll need to organize and store in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing. Here are some suggestions.
* Baskets are definitely your friend. Baskets can be used to hold items like shoes by the front door, CDs, DVDs, remote controls, and all those adapters for cell phones and computers. Plus they can be bought second hand. My local thrift stores are swimming in baskets.
* Decorative boxes are also handy. They can be slipped onto shelves and look like decorative pieces but they’re actually holding stuff.
* Metal baskets with an without canvas liners are awesome on shelves.
* Luggage can be a great place to store things when it is not being used to travel. Vintage luggage might even look nice enough to keep out as part of your decor.
* Check out my post on Plastic-Free Storage Solutions!
3. Healthy Decorations
A good goal for this year is to bring in houseplants. They are not only beautiful; they detoxify indoor air. Sources say this is even more important if you have a lot of electronics in a room. Another beautiful item that can increase the health factor of your home is an essential oil diffuser. Diffuse therapeutic essential oils in your home to keep you well and to enhance your health. Plus they make your home smell incredible!
4. Go Minimalist
Clearing clutter is important but not bringing it into your home in the first place is a preemptive step. It is also easier and less stressful to live with minimalism in mind. A big trend in books and media has been getting back to a simplistic, minimal lifestyle. Many want to have a life that is free of complications; a life that has been pared down to its most basic and fundamental needs. Minimalist decor is no muss no fuss. Get rid of all those couch cushions. Get rid of all those knick-knacks. Pair down to one bookcase full of your absolute favorite books. Stream videos instead of buying them. Stop buying toys!
Declare that this year will be the year that your home becomes a reflection of your hopes and dreams. When it does you will see that your dreams look more attainable.