Well, it’s here, the official peak of “flu season”... otherwise known as a perfect breeding ground in lifestyle and climate for germs. The CDC map shows that this week in the United States, only the District of Columbia is holding out from stopping the flu from being widespread (last week West Virginia was too). Of courses we can count Hawaii and the Virgin Islands where the sun wants to still shine - and two places I would gladly like to book a flight. Maybe that needs to be my “home away from home” remedy.
Alas, I think having actual home remedies on hand is more practical. And since living in a bubble (or Hawaii) isn’t an actual option during the high flu and cold times of year, why not use tools available to you to help you body create it’s own immunity bubble.
Before modern medicine existed, people found support for ailments in nature. Modern medicine also uses nature, but often it is standardized and manipulated for measurability. I happen to believe that sometimes we manipulate it a little too much and then we lose sight of the resources God gave us. We also tend to fall for the “party line” when it comes to conventional products. I used to get the name brand peanut butter because that’s what I had growing up. Guess what?! The generic tastes great and has less sugar added. I also used to have advil in the home and grabbed two when i had a headache or cramps because that’s what I had always known. Then I gave myself an ulcer in my 20s when I was taking advil throughout the days at work. Huh. Hadn’t really known that was such an easy thing to do. I also used to give tylenol or ibuprophen at the first sign of a fever in my little ones. The most obvious downside was they would start bouncing around playing like normal- and the minute the medicine wore off the fever was back and they were back to being lethargic. When I kept this up, fevers could last for days and they often got congested in addition. These days we often can skip using OTC medicine to treat what I now know to be helpful responses of the body.
A headache and a fever are protective mechanisms of the body. They are communication tools. If we silence these, we prevent our body from getting the help it needs. Headaches can come from a variety of causes. And due to the cause, we may need to address it in different ways. If you have chronic headaches it could be really important to understand the cause so that you don’t over use over-the-counter interventions and cause liver and kidney damage. If tension in life is a cause of headaches, learning how to manage that tension in various ways could be the “cure.” If your headaches are caused by poor sleep health, then learning ways to get better sleep could provide long term support. My philosophy is that taking OTC medicine without addressing the root cause doesn’t do your health justice. And it ignores your body’s way of trying to communicate with you.
A fever even is going one step further and not just communicating an infection and need in the body, it’s also the body’s way of treatingthat infection. The temperature makes the body less attractive to the infected cells and more attractive to immune cells. Remember in my last post about how I talked about the flu germs being transmitted in cooler situations better- same goes for the body. The germs multiplying can be minimized with ahotter internal temperature AND the immune system strengthens to also attack infected cells!
When we want to intervene to help our health there are two philosophies that I try to adhere to in our family:
1. Avoid doing more harm. Know the risks and the benefits.
2. Be proactive instead of reactive.
Natural options can accomplish both of these. We integrate them into our daily life to focus on keeping us healthy. When we take our vitamins and supplements regularly, eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods, have healthy sleep patterns and minimize the pollution in our homes and bodies, we give our body more opportunity to keep a strong immune system. If any of these get out of balance,our bodies have to work harder to pick up the slack and then can’t maintain energy in the immune system. For example, a tired body getting exposed to germs has less of a chance than a well rested one! A poorly nourished body doesn’t have the vitamins and minerals to help organs and body systems to function and it can also bring on illness.
A FAVORITE KITCHEN STAPLE
It's that simple. And scientific.
It’s proven by science and our bodies.
I love it when I can find scientific support for my home remedies. Personally, I don’t really need it when I can feel and see the effects of using them. But it’s always confirming to know that we aren’t getting a placebo effect. Though, can I also just acknowledge that a placebo effect working is not really that big of an issue when IT WORKS! Wouldn’t you rather trick your brain and feel better than mask your symptoms and possibly hurt your internal organs. Just me? I mean, even my kids like a quick kiss to the bumped knee over any other form of treatment (IE. Placebo effect).
So back to the science. There have been a few peer reviewed studies over this simple berry either in syrup, capsule or gummy form throughout the years.One study had 60 participants between 18 and 54 years who, when they got the flu, took 15ml (one tablespoon) of Elderberry syrup 4 times a day for 5 days. Their symptoms cleared up 4 days earlier and with less “Rescue” meds than those who had the placebo. Another study of 312 economy class passengers traveling from Australia to an overseas looked at cold symptoms and durations. They took elderberry capsules 10 days prior to travel, during and after travel. There was a difference between the placebo and treatment group in how many colds were acquired, but it was not great enough for research significance (17 in elderberry, 21 in placebo). The greatest significance happened in the duration and intensity of symptoms. The ones taking the elderberry recovered in half the time as those taking placebo. In addition, they rated their symptoms at 50% less intensity. In other words, consuming elderberry made sure that people got over their colds faster and with less severity! Yes, please. When studies have been done in vitro (meaning in agar plates and not in humans or animals) results show elderberry liquid extract to decrease the activity and growth of bacteria and flu viruses!
The conclusion of this study is that it’s worth better understanding of how to take elderberry and also exploring how combining elderberry liquid extract “with additional ingredients with the goal of increasing its effects might also be considered, just as it is possible that various natural ingredients could be used in combination with the extract for different kinds of therapeutic applications.”
So guess what?!?!
That's exactly what I do when I make my Elderberry Syrup!
When you buy elderberry syrup at the store, they will often have added preservatives and are sweetened with sugar. I have a problem with these sugar sources- that are often glucose syrup or other synthetic forms. These are not natural and aren’t processed by the body in the same way as whole foods. They can also be harmful to the body and cause the liver to have to work to remove toxins. In addition, they are often from GMO corn sources. Making your own elderberry syrup eliminates this altered sugar form. It also only includes whole foods. Simple DIY Elderberry recipes often include elderberries, Cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, honey, cloves, water and simmering. I prefer making anything I do have magical superpowers with minimal extra work so I here’s why I use what I use!
Raw honey is first of all, a whole food. It’s easy to digest and break down the natural sugars. It’s also GREAT for the immune system. Raw and unfiltered honey and has a high antioxidant level and is known to be antibacterial and antimicrobial. Honey helps your brain, your immune system and the digestive system. When you are consuming a local honey, you’re also consuming local pollen and helping your body build immunity to allergens and reduce seasonal allergies. Also, little known fact- it’s helpful for getting to sleep at night! So taking the elderberry syrup right before bed maximizes it’s time in your system, and can help you sleep better on top of all it’s doing for your body.I LOVE the farm where we get our honey from. I have talked to the bee keepers and learned more about their practices. I trust them and also use their beeswax for all my DIYs!
In our home we use Young Living essential oils as supplements. We consume them internally as well as using them topically in lotions and in our aromatic diffusers. I have found that adding essential oils to my elderberry syrup can make the flavor amazing and it can also support our immune system. There are a few complementary choices when adding essential oils including Thieves Vitality, Cinnamon Vitality, Lemon Vitality and more. Two of our favorites are Clove Vitality and Orange Vitality. Clove Vitality essential oil can promote a healthy immune response and support general wellness. Orange Vitality has antioxident properties and cleanses the digestive system. All of these are amazing additions to elderberry- because we often are using it to help our immune system and our digestive system.
Using Elderberry Syrup in a lot of ways
Home Remedies for everyone
Hopefully Elderberry syrup can be one of your go to remedies this season and in years to come. If you would like my recipe and tips for making it, along with 10 other home remedies and techniques, text “Home Remedies” to 412-748-0406. It's not hard to make and I'd personally love to help you learn how to!
I love teaching about this topic in person and virtually so always feel free to reach out with any questions. Let’s all arm ourselves with tools that help us to feel empowered and ready to take on this seasons germs. It’s amazing as a mom to no longer have that helpless sinking stomach feeling that doesn’t come from getting the flu but from watching one of your kids come down sick. You can do more. Science and I both know so! Plus, with a superpowered elderberry-wolfberry-essential oil-honey infused hot toddy in hand you can do anything. Cheers to our health!
Being sick is the worst. We all like to joke that Mom’s do not get sick days. But what we do get is to take care of all the other people's sick days. As a mom, taking care of the sick people I love ranks up there with one of my greatest privileges. It used to be one of my biggest anxieties and burdens.
Last week my son came down with an abrupt cold and fever. On Valentines day and 3 days before his 10th birthday. We had work to do. We were both disappointed about the change of plans and schedule but we also knew that we had resources at our disposal. We were on a mission to get him healthy for his party. And we did. It took lots of different tools and a good amount of rest. But it all worked out and Nerf fun was had by all!
Most days, in our house, we focus on staying healthy and not letting the ick take us down. My daughter told me the other day that my job with Young Living was "to help other people stay healthy". And she isn’t wrong. I love my home remedies. I am constantly telling other people about them. If you hear me casually mention things like wet socks and elderberry syrup and detox salts, I’m not talking gibberish. I am talking science and natural health. Yes, those two do actually go hand in hand.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I love modern medicine. It saved my life 10 years ago when I was pregnant and pre-eclamptic. It has saved the life of my family members and it has its time and its place. AND I also can’t help but think that we are also losing our roots and awareness that the earth does give us ways to help our bodies stay healthy and get healthier. I’m proud of the fact that my kids don’t know a lot of the over the counter medicines. But they can give you a great explanation of Wet Sock treatment. And they do know to ask for elderberry syrup and they are regular essential oil users. My daughter realized this school year with some confusion and surprise that not all of her classmates use essential oils- or know what they are. I think she wants to help them learn more. So do I.
Starting with educating myself and my family on natural home remedies began a little over 4 years ago. I was no stranger to gargling with salt water when I had a sore throat but I had no idea all the amazing tools available to me in my kitchen. I definitely remember the frustration as a pregnant and then nursing mom with the general clueless-ness of the medical professionals on what I could do to help my sinus infection. I learned about the Neti pot and apple cider vinegar then. And then I discovered the importance of eliminating toxins in the house to give our bodies a chance to stay healthy. I also learned that there are tools that exist to keep our immune systems strong. As we integrated these into our home, I started to teach others on how to do the same. To have some simple places to point others, I wanted to write a series of articles on home remedies for cold and flu “season.”
Did you catch those quotes? If we were in person I would have totally thrown up some air quotes! I don’t really believe this to be a time of the year when colds and the flu virus must exist so much as it’s a time of the year when our body isn’t able to remain fortified naturally and our behaviors work against us. People can get colds and flu in May and they can get sick as a dog in August. Up here in the United States and specifically, the Northeast US we see an epidemic of this half of the year as a season for germ breeding. If we break it down and re-frame it we can also see it’s a season for physical and emotional turmoil and a season with physical temperature, social behavior and emotional fluctuations.
We are indoors more, not getting as much sun-borne vitamin D stimulation. We tend to congregate indoors if we do get together at places like schools, stores, malls and churches. We are sharing a lot of the same warm, dry air, allowing for easy transmission of germs. Our heating systems also blow around all this well used air and dries out our nasal passages- putting them at a deficit of doing their jobs. It’s also important for us to recognize that modern indoor air can be one of the worst places for pollution. The indoor pollutants such as artificial fragrances, toxic air fresheners, soot carrying candles and more can depress our respiratory system and our internal filtration (ie. Immune) system. Research done on the optimal breeding ground temperature and humidity for flu virus showed that low humidity in both 40 and 68 degree spaces allowed for 100% transmission of the flu virus. In addition, research on candles and chemical toxins in cleaners shows that we are creating our own indoor pollution.
During this time of year we often are more sedentary and more isolated in our lifestyle- kids aren’t out running around at recess, we tend to not be as social and it can be hard to want to be active in the short cold winter days. The shorter, grayer days also influence our mood. And when we feel less positive, we often feel more distress or stress or can't handle stress as easily. It’s also not a coincidence that some of the most stressful holidays land smack dab in the middle of the "flu season" too. Stress does a significant number on our immune system. Going hand in hand with the holidays is our increased consumption of sugar and treats and a decrease of fresh fruits and vegetables that are no longer in seasonal abundance.
So when we put it this way, it’s really not surprising that a whole season allows viruses to flourish.
I want to touch on all of these “Seasonal” deficits and what to do about them over time but I hope this sums up why it’s really important to be proactive in staying healthy.
Home remedies are not just for remedying the cold or flu someone is going through. They are also able to remedy the situation that encourages germ transmission and a weakened immune system. I don’t have time for sick and I would rather spend the time staying healthy in as many ways as possible. Some of the simplest rules for helping to keep a strong immune system are universal:
And the big add: Have lots of great physical immune supports integrated into your kitchen and personal care products. I can’t wait to share more about these! First up, because it’s an ancient and well known natural remedy: Elderberry Syrup. Have you used Elderberry or other home remedies? We love using this one to stay healthy and recover from colds faster. And there is some great science to back it up.
It was just Tuesday. Two days ago. I remember driving. Being in the car at a very specific traffic light and making a right turn on the way to karate. The kids were in the back seat and either they had just settled down, stopped bickering and were quiet or I was thinking about how nice it would be if they did that. I remember also coming to that light after having a thought and having a subsequent thought of: that was meaningful. That was important. Other moms could relate to this. I need to write this down and think about it more. But there I was: driving. To karate. With bickery kids. With nary a pen or keypad in arms reach. (Or maybe quite a few in arms reach under a pile of bags and papers and normal car debris. I just wasn’t reaching for them as I was, of course, at 10 and 2 and definitely not about to drive with my knees.) And so. Now. Two days later. That thought is just completely gone. The original impressive, wise, thought. In its place is this awareness that I am missing my thought. The wisdom I had evaporated or it got buried under 3 to-do lists and laundry or maybe it absorbed. Maybe I no longer need to write it down because it’s a part of me. Let’s go with that.
For the past two days I have felt the discomfort of missing it- like if I retrace my steps (er, drive) I will find it again. It’s frustrating to know something was really important and now I can’t have it. It’s not as though this is an unfamiliar feeling. Missing seems to come as a typical part of motherhood. We have plenty of missing socks, missing remotes, missing books. And we have missed opportunities and missed stages. If I let myself I can find myself missing motherhood of prior years. The times when fork was not pronounced correctly because “r’s” didn’t exist. And the times when I worked for gummy grins. The times when babies sleeping on me brought warmth and soft dimpled hands to stare at and stroke. So many of these warm fuzzy times.
It’s ok to miss it. It’s ok for things to go missing. They have absorbed into you. These are the parts of my babies I hold on to. And it’s funny how some of those memories can resurface right when you need them.
And so when I went to bed tonight with that nagging feeling that I still can’t remember that amazing wisdom, I decided to not miss this opportunity and all it means. Recognize it. Take it out, write it down and examine it.
And suddenly, right now: I feel really conscious of all I still have. Of all the future times ahead of us. It’s worth writing down how just yesterday my five-year-old marched into the kitchen and said “Guess what mom!” … “what, Love Bug?” “I Love you!” And just last week my 8-year-old wanted to get some extra reading time in before lights out so I grabbed the other novel he had just finished and snuggled in to read “together.” Silently reading next to your kids who love to read is amazing. Seriously. I will never miss reading out loud… “In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon. And three little bears sitting in chairs and two little kittens and a pair of mittens…” Those words are taking up way too much space in my brain- maybe that’s why there’s not room for wisdom-while-driving moments! I will not continue the memorized recitation but I do have to say- WHY DOES A BUNNY SLEEP IN A BED but the MOUSE doesn’t? And why does a Bunny need a brush? AND a comb? And what in the world is mush?
Yea, no. I won’t miss that strange book! Instead I will recognize that motherhood has brought me so much. So much opportunity. So much laughter. So much newness. So much purpose.
The thing is- if you know me- you know I am not prone to sugar coating it either. It HAS brought exhaustion and sacrifice and change. It’s not easy. Babysitting was easy. Your identity didn’t change. Your schedule was your own. And, your brain didn’t turn to mush. (See, now THAT is an appropriate use of “mush.”)
I guess it’s fitting I stayed up way past my bedtime tonight to make this claim on motherhood as Mother’s day is just around the corner. I resolve to not miss out. Things will go missing. Things will change. But there is so much more momming to do.
And so tomorrow: I mom.
I may not savor every minute of it and I may have to juggle a few other CEO of the home tasks but I am going to get out of my head, off my screens and stop worrying about always marking time and capturing wisdom and just love those kids. I also give myself permission for that to come in the form of quiet time if needed as tomorrow is a preview of summer and a day off of school!
I am putting this in writing right now. Publishing this to the whole wide interwebs without worrying about pretty, candid photo accompaniment (just follow me on Instagram for that). This way when, by noon, I am ready for a break or for my shift to end (they do get up at least by 7 so, I mean, yea that’s 5 hours), I remember that this is about having. Having time and having each other.
I am so grateful to have my family. I am so grateful to have the time to be home with them. That is meaningful. I want that knowledge to stick and fill up that open space. (and maybe also help absorb the Goodnight Moon brain area!)
May motherhood be a well balanced journey of missing and having for you too, mama.
According to most every person NOT living with mini people we are supposed to be enjoying this journey, cherishing these moments, appreciating them while their small. Seizing the day? Most days it feels more like surviving. It's just the truth. It sounds melodramatic. it sounds whiny and a little pathetic out of context. But it's true. I mean, consider the context. Your hours are not yoru own, your space is not your own, your dietary and sleep schedules and preferences... are... not... your... own. Some days I just want to lay down on the floor, borrow a page out of their pouty little tantrum playbook and just say "NO! I DON'T WANNA."
And I am pretty sure it's okay to feel that way. I mean, I know it's okay to feel that way. So often there is this pressure in social media society to put on your instagram worthy selfie smile, post on Facebook about how #blessed you are and serve up Pinterest worthy meals. But, while there may be a time and a minute where that is a reflection and a reality of real life, it doesn't account for the the other 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day.
That life where the poop hits the fan. Or the floor. That life where those pinterest worthy meals are whined over or the smile was preceded by a clenched teeth "Look at the camera and stop shoving your sister."
Parenting is hard. I mean, sometimes it is HA-ARD. Disaster and illness and trauma HARD. And other times is dull, heavy and blah hard. It's ok to acknowledge that. It's when we put this insane pressure on ourselves to love every darn second that it all just gets unbearable. When we say feeling disappointed, sad and exhausted isn't ok, we pile on more pressure. And as if there isn't enough pressure already. That women's lib movement is a good one in that women ought to be paid the same for the same work and we should have an opinion equal to any man. But I'll be darned if it hasn't conditioned my generation to feel like we are supposed to be doing it all. Just because we can- does it mean we should?
This has been something weighing on me lately. And it's not something I have answers for. I just kinda wanted to put it out there. To all the Mamas who feel like they're not enough. You are. You are enough in the moment even if you want to be more. You are enough even if for this moment you need to step away and fill your cup. You are enough and you can give yourself permission to not do it all. Doing it all doesn't make us "more." Being content and mindful and REAL. That makes us more. More equipped to fail and then rise. More equipped to say what we need and find support needed to make it happen. More Mom than we can dare imagine.
So Mom, who looks around at all the cluttered surfaces and counts the minutes til bedtime and squeezes in work in the open spaces. I get you. You are doing really well. You are doing what you can. You don't have to love it all. But you are loved. They love you. And this sisterhood of moms loves you.
whoa. It's like spring here the past few days. In February. My body can't catch up with it! Whenever the weather swings out of control my sinuses do too! So, today I whipped up a batch of one of my favorite home remedies. A few months ago a friend and I compiled some of our favorite home remedies and now I feel like I have a really useful mental list to run down when I feel like I am about to completely nose dive into a pile of tissues and blankets and not want to come out!
Here is a useful and delicious recipe that you could enjoy any time!
GUMMIES! Yes, I have posted about gummies before. We love gummies in our house and this is the basic guideline for making them:
But right now I am completely enjoying a bowl full of gummies with a different twist! I can’t not have a thing of gummies in the fridge on a regular basis so as a result I tend to get creative with them. The kids polished off Gummie Carbonite frozen Han Solo last weekend for the birthday celebration. Gummis are a great way to sneak in immune boosting juices and essential oils or to use things like chamomile tea or vitamin C powder or elderberry syrup and integrate them into a healthy snack. With kids you will want to add extra honey to make it sweeter and use more juice instead of water. .
Tonight's recipe is just for adults though! It comes from the old remedy of drinking a hot toddy. I have a sore throat bordering on a serious cold. so I have been using #allthehomeremedies. These gummies are something that can nourish my body with AND help my cold. Here is how I made this throat soothing snack.
I made 1 cup hot tea (I LOVE this wellness echinacea tea) and honey (I use local Raw Honey but also love this Raw honey and if you have never had spreadable raw honey you NEED to try it) and steeped ginger and lemon juice (use real juice for more benefit “Real Lemon” brand isn’t real- 'nuff said). Take about 1/2 cup whiskey though you *could* make them stronger and 1/2 cup ice cold water or cold Kefir or Kombucha- just make sure it equals one cup of cold liquid. Add one drop Young Living Thieves essential oil or one drop Clove, one drop Copaiba and one drop Lemon and/or Orange essential oil. (I recently did Clove, Copaiba and Lemon and love it!) I use these high quality option when making gummies: Great Lakes gelatin or Zint Gelatin
Follow the directions on the graphic above!
BUT WHY these ingredients?? Well, there is scientific basis for a Hot toddy. Number one- it can help you get some sleep. Number two- the alcohol can help to fight off an infection. Whiskey can help to dilate your blood vessels and make it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection. The benefit of these gummies is that you can slowly dissolve them in your mouth like a cough drop and when they are cold they can help with the inflammation. Of course, while you’re enjoying these makes sure to also have your Vitamin C water nearby and make sure you aren’t getting dehydrated! OR a second cup of echinacea tea as I am doing!
They aren’t meant to be devoured to get sloshed. That’s what wine gummies are for when you’re feeling WELL ;-).
Want to learn about more great home remedies? Join our Facebook. group where we share about wellness and essential oils!
I have an obsession. And it’s an ironic one. I love making bath bombs. I don’t, however, take baths more than 4 times a year. If that.
And yet, these have become one of the easiest, most frugal DIY projects ever! Very little clean up, pretty basic ingredients that are all non-toxic and the kids can enjoy making them and gifting them! We made a bunch around Christmas as a way for the kids to participate in making and gifting to their teachers, babysitters, aunts and uncles and cousins. It’s important to us to let the kids be a part of the gift season but it’s also pretty sweet to be able to give practical and unusual gifts beyond the coffee mug, Christmas ornament and candy.
And we used Christmas cookie cutters as molds- which was very festive, fun and to be honest, the only action my cookie cutters saw this season!
After using different recipes to make bath bombs I have found the trick to making them solidify without intense crumbliness is to not add too much moisture. Therefore, these are really kid friendly steps until you get to the very end where adding too much liquid could be a problem (a problem that grownups can make and learn from too!)
After you combine your wet ingredients, drizzle these on your dry ones and then blend it with your hands.
Side note about this recipe: One recipe I read asked for 2 tsp of essential oil. That’s crazy- unless you’re using low quality, not super concentrated and pure essential oils. I would never in a million years need 5ml of essential oil for this recipe! That’s about 85 drops! And that’s a LOT of essential oil. Every time I have made this I have stuck in the range of 20-30 drops and it smells great. My house and hands currently smell amazing from using this much in our most recent batch. So if you’re using high quality essential oils, you’ll be fine with this much, I promise! Don't waste your money on mass quantities of oils, use ones that require less and are more potent (and more quality!)
As far as other supplies go, you have choices on bulk or smaller quantities. I tend to go bulk to get a greater discount. I especially did that this time because almost everything in this recipe can be used in the kitchen or for other simple DIY projects!
I wish I was a mom who made time for a tub. I think it would be nice. But I tend to only get in the tub when I am needing a massive immune support or a muscle soak. Otherwise, I am all about the foot soak. Bath bombs CAN be converted into foot soak bombs. It just doesn’t sound as lovely, does it? If you’re a foot soak kind a gal, just make smaller disks or molds! It’s also a great way to still get some relaxation in without drawing up a whole tub! OR if you’re like me and want to make the most out of bathing your kids, take off your socks and soak your feet in their tub! Epsom Salts and all the ingredients in this bath bomb are great for kids. Be strategic about your essential oils and you can support their immune system or help them to wind down before bed. Yes, Please.
This version of Valentine’s Cupcake Bath bombs will be sweet gifts! With a Cherry Tag on top!
And guess what, they are SO FRUGAL. Do you know how you can pay $10 for a luxury bath bomb? Guess what. This whole batch costs less than that. I’m not kidding. You pay less than a dollar per bath bomb cupcake. >mind blown< Just another opportunity to burst the "Healthy is expensive" myth. Because these are most definitely healthier than fake fragrances and fake dyes and who knows what else. You can do it! I did use these simple to shrink wrap gift bags since I had them from Christmas time. But you could use a sandwich bag and a piece of twisty tie to package them!
You could make a batch for as little as 2.55 plus your essential oils of choice. I made two batches (total of 18 cupcakes) for about 6 dollars and then got 20 loofahs for 5 dollars!! The biggest thing you're giving here is the gift of your time in giving them something to help them to relax!'
It was so much fun to turn these into cupcakes, cause I needed to be creative. And I plan on giving these to a group a sweet mom's who could use a little pampering. If they promise to use them, then I will promise to take a break and put my feet up and maybe even get a luxurious soak in too!
Happy Valentines Day.
If you want to see what I am making or learn more about other easy, healthy DIY crafts and how we go natural and have fun, join my Facebook group and follow me on Instagram!
I have been MIA. Well here, at least. I have been very present on Instagram (follow me at creativendeavors) and in my Facebook group... I love sharing health and fun times. But I have also realized that I have missed cataloging my adventures and thinking out loud on here. I have also been super busy in real life!
Maybe something that took the wind out of my sails was last May I learned that the special needs school that I worked at was closing. It was sad. I loved my part time Art Therapist gig. It was right up my creative alley of helping kids and making art. I knew I was going to miss it. And I wasn't sure what I was going to do to fill my time. Oy, the things we can worry about.
My time has so quickly been filled! In lieu of kids who can't cope in school, I am now spending my day with new moms and their babies. And it's been so wonderful. A local pediatricians office in the Pittsburgh area has a free support group for new moms. If you're looking for a way to connect with local new moms, Kids Plus Pediatrics, New Mom's Coffee is a great resource!
It's the most brilliant of ideas that I wish I could have found back when I was on the other side of momming. Back when I felt home alone with a silent or not so silent fragile, mystery baby. Back when I was trying to figure out what was normal and what was okay. Back when I read every. Darn. book. about.... wait for it... getting sleep! Because pretty much every mom faces these challenges at some point. I was lucky that my sister was only 9 months behind me, but at the time of having my son, I did not know many other mamas and none in my area. It was so very isolating. So now, I sit in a circle of new moms starting out on this journey and watch them empathize and share and get to know that they are not the only ones whose child hates tummy time or whose kid is learning how lick everything in their ever expanding path. And I kinda love being able to assure them that momming is wonderful and complicated and not one size fits all. And, babies- babies talk back a whole lot less than the kids I used to work with!
Another wonderful opportunity that has filled my days- and some nights- is working at another wonderful local community resource. Parents in Toto is an autism resource center. It is a non-profit that is a place where families and individuals affected by autism can come and find community. It is also a unique and creative gem in the area. I have been working on integrating my art therapy background into it and have loved that. Working with kids on the spectrum is something that I have done for over a decade and it never is same-old same-old. Individuals with autism are so unique, creative and have so many wonderful strengths. We had an art show and auction in August that was fabulous and we're going to do another one in May! I can't wait. If you're local, I would love for you to come! I will pour you a glass of wine!
So life has certainly been busy, 'cause you know in the midst of that I am momming an... almost EIGHT and FIVE year old. What? How is THAT possible?
We have had a fun past year. And my hubby was great with adventuring with the kids this summer while I started working more. I am still in limbo on being a sahm mom and a wahm mom and a working mom. (is that a WM?) Transitions are hard. The kids are cute though when they ask- are you going to mom's group or Toto today? Keeping them on their toes, just like they've been doing the past 8 years!
So, now that I have finished up this "Yes, I am still here" post, I will proceed to post in the near future about some of the fun we've been having and the things we've been making! As always, we've been keeping it creative and having fun! Hope you are too. And as always to stay in touch with the day to day, follow me on Instagram and join my FB group!
Every year I face an annual ritual of reflecting on how in control I am- as in NOT in control. I shared about that here a few weeks ago. It was helpful to write a little bit about the beginning of that journey called "parenting." And every one could most likely agree that it is an ongoing process in the journey we call "human" to really learn to relinquish control. Maybe because it's a balancing act. We can't be so irresponsible that we stop encouraging our kids to eat their veggies or we stop paying our bills or we stop showering. Yea, we do have useful, necessary control over some things. But how do we know when to "let it go and let God" and when to make it happen?
One of my main sources of guidance these past few weeks is a study by Priscilla Shirer on the Armor of God. Last week I was reading about and learning about taking up the Shield of Faith. The battle tool that is cumbersome, requires training and strength to put to use and is a source of much needed protection in a time of need.
Faith- a word that's so flippantly tossed around or sung about- but just think about being in battle and trying to toss around one of those ancient Roman shields! They were about 20 lbs and large enough for a soldier to crouch behind. Flinging it easily wasn't going to happen. Not to mention you wouldn't have wanted to toss it- you'd need it right up next to your body and firmly in your grip to make it functional. Kind of like Faith in God. Faith means that you are taking action to fortify your movement forward- your are moving in the belief that you're heading in the right direction.
I often falter in having faith to follow a plan placed on my heart. Sometimes I am just plain confused on which plan is my human one and which is God's. And other times I know what God asks and I let fear, doubt or insecurity get in the way. I don't know about you, but those can be some pretty crippling emotions and thoughts. I don't think that it's any coincidence that the concept of mindfulness and meditation crossed my path in the past few months. These are tools that can be used to silence your heart and your mind to prepare a place to hear. And since the dull roar of my emotions and my thoughts can try to drown out my faith, this is a practice I want to work on.
And it is one that is NOT EASY with small children in the house.
Last week I went to hear Ann Kerion speak about Neuroscience and Contemplative Practices- discussing the act of finding God in the mundane, practicing quiet reflection and exploring how we can rewire our brains through contemplative practices. One of the main things that struck me was how I am so bad at remaining in the present. My mind is a wandering mind. I am usually jumping around from task to task. I have even mentioned how I love to multi-task a lot of times on this blog. Being mindful and focused is something I need practice! I think I have known this for some time. This concept of focusing on the present and focusing on the miraculous is something I have always contemplated. I remember reading this quote in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn during high school and wanting to write it everywhere:
It is this awe and appreciation for all that is around me that I seek to hone- to put aside the things that are a distraction. This is a foundation for faith- to be able to focus on God's word and His creation and His calling. When we do that then we can more fully understand His miraculous, mysterious power. His ability to take even the tiniest seed of faith and grow it into something rooted in Him.
When God places something on your heart it can be so easy to doubt that it'll work out or that it will be the right thing or that it's even possible.
Recently my friend, Kristin felt called to take a step of faith and donate her time and energy and go. And she's going all the way to Haiti. While there in April she will be working with a local organization to do what is needed: tutoring, construction, education and other forms of support at orphanages. She is acting in Faith because she knows that God can use this opportunity. I am sure that doesn't mean she hasn't felt anxiety, uncertainty or stress over the logistics. But it does mean that her Shield of faith in God's plan and faithfulness is a better source of protection that any of those arrows of doubt.
It is really exciting to witness other people responding to God's call and having the opportunity to do good works for him. To shine His Light. One theme that God has been placing on my heart is the desire to be more financially responsible. This past year has been one of change and opportunity. I have been working to build a business helping others increase wellness in their lives through life style and using essential oils in their homes. This opportunity has been awesome and fulfilling simply by being able to educate and empower people on ways to grow healthier. I am feeling the tug of God to also use this opportunity to serve Him in my daily life and in finances. Money is one of those things that can make me anxious, fearful and stressed. God doesn't want any of that for me - or anyone else for that matter. He doesn't want us to be anxious about anything. He wants us to use what we have to sew seeds for him.
This month Kristin and I are helping each other follow God's plan. As people get started using essential oils described on the "March Mission" page this month, 100% of my profit will go toward Kristin's trip. It's wonderful to have the flexibility to do this through this business and it's also wonderful to partner together to take a step of faith and serve others. Walking by faith with shields linked is even more powerful progress than doing it alone. And we can rest in the assurance that "the Lord is good; His love endures forever and HIS FAITHFULNESS continues through all generations."
In an effort to review non-biased research, I got the book “Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils” (2011). In it, Kurt Schnaubelt (a leading scientist and author who is not affiliated with Young Living) discusses how the essential oil industry, much like other consumer industries, can be driven by trying to reach a desired price point for consumers. "An ocean of processed oils lies between the seeker and a comparatively minute quantity of truest authentic oils." So the question is how can authenticity be proven and does it influence the effectiveness of an oil if it is not authentic?
The number one way to know if an oil is authentic is to know it's source. Where is it grown? How is it grown? Which vendor sells it? How do they distill it? Take a look at these videos to get some insight into the process choices.
Did you notice how Young Living’s oils were processed in a clean environment? Did you also notice that the other brand of essential oils were distilled in mud and then stored in old plastic containers?? Gross! The Young Living promise of authenticity also means that these oils are organic, pesticide-free, and chemical-free. They’ve been cared for from Seed to Seal.
In addition to poor distillation techniques, adulteration can influence the activity of the essential oil. Adulteration is when an oil has been altered, either through the low quality distillation method, the addition of another element or a less expensive essential oil. For example, Lavandin is a form of Lavender that is not as hard to source, grow or distill. It also doesn’t have the same properties as Lavender but it does have a similar smell. Most “lavender scented” products you will buy will be made with Lavandin or even a completely fabricated fragrance. It won't have the health benefits of Lavender. It is possible to add these low molecular components to an oil by using half of the actual oil along with the other less expensive substances. This results in crowding out the pure components and reducing their presence in the final bottles of oil. The oil still has some of the same elements, although it isn't easily detected as changed. It's not as if they added alcohol (though that can happen too!), but they industrially tweaked the balance in the oil to make it "cheaper" for consumers, using the lower quality components to bulk up the oil.
I view it as buying Velveeta. Is it cheese? Or isn't it? They used to market it as cheese and they still call it a "cheese product." It can melt and make things "cheesy" and I am sure some of the same ingredients in Velveeta are found in cheese too. And sure, you get a lot of bang for your buck when they add all the cheap fillers into that big brick.
When they made Velveeta they aimed to make imitation cheese which was cheaper and they wanted it to go farther in a day and age when food was less affordable and less available.
The issue is, Velveeta may look like and smell like cheese to an unaware person (or a small kid who doesn’t know any better). And yes, it's sold in the cheese section of the store. But I am going out on a limb here to let you know...
It's not cheese.
People aren't getting anything health benefits from it. It's not fueling their bodies well. In fact, it’s actually causing their bodies to work harder! All of the processed elements in it cause your body to have to do a lot of extra work to digest this substance and attempt to find some nutrition in it!
Velveeta is not just milk and cultures (you know- the healthy parts of cheese!).
Likewise, an essential oil can look and smell like it's plant source. It can still be a "plant product" and not providing the same level of effects as unadulterated, organically sourced oils. "Most importantly, the complex effect- the properties emerging at the level of the whole organism expressing the characteristic qualities of a specific species- are woefully absent from doctored oils" (Schnaubelt, 2011).
A little while back I sniffed oils at a local health food store and couldn't believe how odd they smelled- certainly not as pure or real as the ones I have. It’s almost off-putting how gross they smell. (Once you’ve had delicious sharp aged New York cheddar gracing your cracker, Velveeta just won't do.) If you have used these types of oils, you may think “they don’t work.” Well I agree- they don’t. They can’t have the same ability as an oil that has been sourced from a healthy, organic seed and then farmed and distilled with the least invasive and most effective process!
Some people may settle for imitation health sources. But I'll be over here savoring the best of the best while getting the best results. Join me on a journey to authentic (*delicious*) health! And if you want to stay in touch and get to know my friends and I more, here is our Facebook group where we announce classes and learn more!
This is kind of a big week. Annually I find this week one of serious reflection, a little melancholy and emotion. I haven't been the same since this week passed seven years ago. This was the week when our first baby was born. And it was a heck of a week. I look back on it with anxiety, fear and gratitude- that we all survived. These aren't really the types of emotions one usually has when they reflect on their baby's birth- are they? And yet, I don't think that "usual" is really a thing when it comes to birth- not any more at least. Every birth story is unique, different and intense. That intensity can come in different ways. It can be intense activity, pain, joy, excitement or love. And really, it can be all of these and then some.
When I was about 6 to 7 months pregnant I started to show signs that pregnancy was taking a toll on me. I was swollen. My wrists were swollen, my hands were swollen and my ankles were swollen. Looking back on it, I really don't think there was a part of me that wasn't affected. And yet, I wasn't due for a few more months. It's not that I didn't try to address these issues. I brought it up at check ups and had my blood pressure checked regularly. I had my pee tests done with every check up too (pregnancy is so glamorous). I wore hand braces when I had carpal tunnel. I cut back on sodium to minimize swelling. I did what I could to handle the daily inconveniences. But nothing was a typical red flag. I did once have elevated blood pressure- the week of Christmas! So it was an easy flag to shrug off when it went back to normal the following week.
And yet. There was something that wasn't on point. We didn't, however, find out until this week seven years ago. It was a busy week as we traveled the PA turnpike to see family for the baby shower. On the way back west our truck broke down. We had to get it flat bed towed the rest of the way home (and my hubby got to take one for the team and ride in it like that with the dog- shhh don't tell anyone since I don't think that's legal!). Then we had to unload all the baby gifts from it and get home. I remember that I had a head cold that weekend too- 7.5 months pregnant and sick is memorable!
About 30 hours later in the EARLY morning I woke up feeling paranoid and not quite right. The first 6 months of this pregnancy were, aside from my swelling, pretty normal. I felt the baby at the typical times. I had energy and lack there of at typical times. But that night did not feel typical. I couldn't "wake" the baby. I didn't feel him react to me. It was concerning enough to cause me to call my midwives at the hospital and wake my hubby and head over there. Luckily I trusted my instinct and wasn't trying to "Power through."
It was an insanely windy morning and the roads were empty as we drove down town at 5 am. We even joked that it was a trial run for the real deal (a trial run in which I didn't bring a suitcase - mainly because I didn't think I'd need it and I hadn't packed one yet!)
This pregnancy didn't have the rush to the hospital in labor "typical" scene (it would take three more years to experience that!). No, we went in, explained our concerns and I got strapped up to monitors. For good.
Four hospital days later involving many doctor exams, ultrasounds, 24 hour urine analysis, blood work, heart monitors and blood pressure cuffs, this was my Facebook update:
Prayer request update
I annually reflect on that assurance that God put on my heart that week- That our coming and going from this world is meant to be out of our control.
It's the daily surrender that trips me up. It was almost easier to give this medical challenge to God (and the medical professionals) than to remember he is also present each day. Being a mom has definitely shown me that I have not mastered this. I also still think about this experience seven years ago with "what should I have done differently" mentality. After writing this status at noon, my organs started to fail and by that evening while visiting with my friend and husband I started feel sharp pains in my side. My liver was shutting down and upon further tests it was evident that my blood platelets were getting extremely low. I had developed not only pre-eclempsia but I was officially in the diagnostic category that everyone kept saying they didn't want to see: HELLP syndrome. The "treatment" was that baby needed to be delivered. That night we started induction. The 15th. He was born on the 17th. It was not quick or easy. And it took me a while to give in to getting an epidural. I am stubborn when it comes to the whole "I'll do it myself" mentality. I ended up asking for the epidural because I wanted to give my coaches- my mom and husband- a break! It was a much needed break.
Here is what did happen two days and lots of medical intervention later:
He was a blessing. He is a blessing. I work to remember that even when he is a pain- it happens, let's be real here- we can all be a pain sometimes.
I think one of the reasons that I reflect back on this whole experience with emotion is not only because it was intense and emotional (and the birth was only the beginning- the roller coaster ride that is getting your baby out of the NICU is harder) but also because it's so easy to accept that I am not in control and that God is. It's so easy to take for granted all that you have and to try to control it all again.
Today I was working through a study on the Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer and one of the pieces that we are told to put on is the "Breastplate of Righteousness." Heh. Good luck with that. I'm a mom. I am not righteous. Luckily I read more closely because that is exactly what God knows and assures us of- there is no one righteous. Phew. Well, okay. I can do <not> righteous. As explained in the study- trying to chase perfectionism prevents us from chasing God. Yes. This. I need to repeat that as a mantra: Trying to be perfect prevents you from chasing God. Another phrase that I recently heard was EGO stands for Edging God Out. *Punch to the gut*
When we focus on self, there isn't room for focus on God.
I look back at my pregnancy and my labor with our little one and wish it had been perfect. I feel envy for those who had perfect deliveries and I feel fearful of not being able to be perfect. Well I need to let that go. We mom's can all let that kind of stuff go. I am not going to be perfect. I am not going to be a righteous mom. It just isn't going to happen. In this world I am going to be the "Oops, I messed up again, please forgive me" mom... well that's what I am aiming for because asking forgiveness is a no joke challenge for the ego too.
God can be righteous and his Son can be perfect. I am working on accepting that this is the gift given to me. And I can remind myself that giving up control is the closest I will get to righteous. If you have a burden as a mom that you are carrying around- whether it's trying to compare yourself to other moms who are doing it all or compare your kids to other kids who are doing it all, or striving for perfection based on the world's standards- feel free to drop that weight off here. There is no one perfect. The Perfect One has come and gone ahead to prepare a place for us.
While it's emotional and a little draining, I am grateful that I can use our son's birthday to remember that this is a life long lesson. And so begins day one of continuing to work on that lesson.
When the kids aren't acting the way I would like. I need to let go of control. When my house is getting destructed while I am cleaning, I need to let go of control. When I am tired and T.V. watching is about all I can organize, I need to let go of control. When my kids channel their inner cats and dogs and the din makes me want to hide like a bunny, I need to let go of control. When dinner is blah and not at all the Cooking channel inspiration it was supposed to be, I need to let go of control. It doesn't mean it's all going to go to chaos. But it does mean I don't need to get upset, angry or envious when it is chaotic.
This is still real life. It's the life where God wants us to be faithful and loving and kind and truthful and NOT perfect. We need him for that gift of righteousness.
God knew I was going to need to keep learning.
And so I lay down my regrets and feelings of shortcoming and acknowledge that God is in control and I am just a mess that needs to be cleaned up. I can handle that and so can He. *deep sigh of relief*
So be human, be kind and loving and keep trying even when you're not!
You are loved regardless.
I am an eat, play, work at home Mom- a part time new-mom's support facilitator- full time dreamer of clay- an all the time thinker- a trained art therapist- and a home biz empower-er who never has enough minutes in the day, clay in my hands or ideas in my brain to create all the things! Also: I am mildly invested in our families health using nature's tools! Just kidding. That's my passion and message for others: Your life is essential. Take back your health!
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