So, ya’ll know I love me some essential oils, right? (They aren’t right up there with my family, clay, dark chocolate or curling up and devouring a good book, but they are close.) The thing I love about them is that they are inspiring. They’re these little bottles of delicious smelling goodness that can also work magic in different ways! I love being able to find wellness in oils, but I also love being able to create wellness. This week I finally got motivated and got to work making some oily wellness. In the form of bars: lotion bars for everything!. But crazy enough, the bars mutated into lotion sticks and then into lip lotion sticks. It wasn’t even a lot of work or . I have been looking up recipes for making lotion bars on various websites (such as this and this) as I need to replace chemically filled hand lotions and find something fabulous to help with dry ceramic hands and coming winter scratchy hands- not to mention supporting all my body systems proactively.!
So, way back when I decided I needed to make lotion bars and I looked up recipes and gathered my ingredients, my first thought was, If I am getting all these materials and going to all this trouble, I am going to want this to be purposeful. I want these lotion bars to not all be for the SAME purpose. 'What, lotion has a purpose beyond making my skin all soft and lovely?' You Say. Well, when it contains essential oils it does. It can provide all forms of goodness. Good Skin. Good Muscles. Good Feelings. Good Immune Support. Hi, my name is Megan and I am a multi-tasking addict. But I am unashamed to say Lotion Bar Making Multi-tasking was the name of the game this week.
So after pursuing the recipes, I went with:
This made about 3.5 cups of liquid once I melted it down in a double burner- well, not a double boiler, really. It was a large Pyrex Measuring Cup sitting in a sauce pan of water sitting on a burner on medium setting. I don’t own a double boiler.
This worked out perfectly though. The spout on the measuring cup poured the melted lotion out easier and with less mess.
I used a silicon 6-cup cupcake pan, poured about ¼ cup of lotion into each cup, added somewhere between 10 and 15 drops of EOs to each cup and stirred them up with a plastic knife. I was able to make each one a different “Flavor” and give them each a different purpose.
Here are the combos I went with. They all target a different body system and their aroma benefits differ too (noted in parenthesis). If you don't already have some helpful reference materials, but want to know more about each oils' properties, get one. These oils are dynamic!
WORKOUT BAR that WORKS IN:
Wintergreen- supports skeletal system (Stimulates/increases sensory awareness):4 drops
PanAway- targets muscular system: 4 drops
Copaiba- support whole body: 3 drops
SUPER HAPPY SKIN and MIND:
Lavender (Calming, Relaxing and Balancing): 7 drops
Elemi (Grounding): 4 drops
MANLY and SENSIBLE:
Valor (Balance and Self-esteem): 6 drops
Cyress (Soothing, Helps life Flow Better): 4 drops
Idaho Blue Spruce (Balancing): 4 drops
Thieves- supports healthy immune system: 10 drops
Grapefruit (refreshing and uplifting): 7 drops
Ocotea (Increase feelings of fullness): 3 drops
DON’T MESS WITH ME OUTSIDE:
Purification- Citronella is predominant oil in this blend: 10 drops
I have since kept these in the fridge as coconut oil and summer don’t result in solid bars- and the coolness of the Super Happy (Lavender) Skin and Mind Bar felt great after a long day in the sun! I was thinking that in the future I might add more beeswax or skip the liquid oil in the warm months but on the other hand, I like the moisture of the coconut oil… sooooo. The point is- these are great no matter what. They are adaptable to different ratios and you can feel free to play around and not worry about it being exact(my kind of making)! And you could even pour them right into little 4oz jars so it doesn’t matter if they get softer. I was out of these cute little jars- ‘cause other oily concoctions have filled them!
I love doing different replacements for other products – it makes my oils pay for themselves and it ensures that I know all the ingredients and where they came from- in this case- all 5 ingredients! Doesn’t get much simpler than that!
And I got to add a BONUS step! Since I hadn't added oils directly to the whole concoction AND I had extra melted oil (if it hardens, just put the cup back in the pot of water and melt it back down), I got to make lotion sticks and lip balm!! YEA FOR MORE MULTITASKING! I added Stress Away (10 drops) and Lime (5 drops) to the left over mix and filled some empty mini deodorant style stick containers. THEN I added 3 drops Peppermint to the rest of the mix and filled these adorable clear lip balm containers. The containers had been hanging around in my oily supply cabinet for a while so I am sure they were glad to now have a designated purpose! With my left over mixture, I just poured it into little cupcake cups- it didn't melt through so I may have to do that again in the future. SO MANY CHOICES! I hope you feel empowered to try a little DIY and make your own lotion bars. What are your favorite simple oily DIY projects?
As I started to make more whole food choices, I started to hear more and more about “super foods” and gut health (even NPR is reporting on it) and how to make food work for you to increase your bodies efficiency at fighting crime and taking names. Our cells reproduce on a regular basis as I vaguely recall from Biology (this is not a science blog) and the way they do that is with the fuel you feed them. I started to really think of my whole body system as a mechanical organism- a unique and beautifully made one. I know that if I owned a fancy car (or fancy anything), I would take serious care of it. I would have to feed it the best gasoline out there if I wanted it to run optimally. Guess what?! We have some fancy bodies and they need the best fuel out there from the cleanest possible sources.
I have approached my diet with this methodology:
Step One: Say no to junk as often as you can- and it’s surprisingly often. Even as I was mindlessly eating up the leftover snacks my kids didn't finish I wuld as my self: Is this needed? Nope. Not at all. Do you really need to hit up a drive through or can you maybe hold out for 15 minutes until you can grab something at home. And if you do have to stop, give yourself an extra five minutes to sit in your car and eat a salad (minus too much cruddy dressing) as opposed to a sandwich of junk. Show up to a picnic with healthy things- other people will appreciate it too and if they don’t, I’m sure there is plenty of other ick they can eat. Just say no thank you, I’m not eating that right now. Or just don’t say anything and don’t eat it. I also always have some good snack at the bottom of my purse for emergency hunger! Making small changes is not easy, but it’s worth it!
Step Two: DRINK YOUR WATER. Our bodies are made of 80% water. Or is that the earth (again, not a science blog)?! Well, regardless of the exact percentage, water is what I think of as the “oil” for our bodies’ engines. It helps us process the fuel and function as well as we can. I aim for half my weight in ounces. So to make it easy- if you weighed 100 pounds, you’d aim for 50 ounces of water. I carry my trusty water bottles EVERYWHERE and grab it first if I am feeling hungry. I have been mentally contemplating a cute way to make a carrying case for them, ‘cause they do not necessarily look attractive. But for now, function over form!
Step Three: Contemplate cold turkey elimination. You may just have to do this. You may have to pick a timeline or a goal weight and stop eating refined Carbs (ie. breads, pastas, pastries) or Soda or Sugar. Or all three. Sometimes our bodies need serious detox. I found that getting rid of those things, letting my body’s metabolism re-set, made the biggest difference with fat burning weight loss. It also helped me learn my threshold for what should add back into my diet and what I can eat without weight gain and without guilt after I hit a goal weight. The best part: Fat is back. Yup. Healthy fats are so good for your body's carburetor (ie. metabolism ie. I am going a little far with this metaphor) so slice up that avocado, grab the cashews, enjoy that coconut oil and bring on the bacon- well clean low sugar, non-sodium nitrate infused bacon. Yea. I know it can be a little complicated. Let me know if you are interested in a structured and supportive program to help with this step!
Step Four: When in doubt get the veggies, gummies or nuts out. And put a few in a bowl. These are my go-to snacks now. Not pretzels or chips or ice cream. Just try it. If you are feeling snacky, grab a portion of these first. I put them front and center in the fridge and pantry and have a canister of nuts on the counter instead of a canister of flour. I need nuts daily- flour, not so much! What are gummies, you may ask? Stay tuned. I have some seriously fun ways I have used these lately! But the point is- if you’re hungry and water isn’t cutting it, don’t starve yourself. Your engine is sputtering and you’re about to run out of gas on the highway! Make a pit stop- just make sure it is a smart one! (Ok, now I am really driving the metaphor into the ground.)
Step Four: Pay attention to ways to replace your junky favorites in your life and try to do it with the least amount of packaging possible (if it’s wrapped up, it’s got more junk and less freshness). If you like nachos and cheese, try pepper scoops with cheese or salsa. I LOVE getting Fajita Nachos – hold the Nachos- at our local Mexican restaurant. Sure, the server may look at me a little strange when I ask them to put it all on lettuce, but it’s so yummy I don’t care how many times I have to explain it. I probably should learn how to explain it in Spanish. I also need to learn how to say: Extra Guacamole, Please. (Healthy Fats are the BEST.) If you like ice cream, try throwing frozen fruit in a blender. Thanks Mom for the YoNana thing-a-ma-jig! Go ahead and add a little cocoa powder if you’re like me and love chocolate.
Step Five: Don’t let cravings tell you what to do! Find ways to combat them before they start- maybe by planning a daily dose of dark chocolate. Yes, I love dark chocolate. And if I know that I could have a piece every day if I want, I find I want it less voraciously. As I said before, you can also finding ways to make replacements for those cravings – sparkling water as opposed to soda or popcorn instead of chips. Also, recognize that cravings aren’t in charge of you. Get busy, be productive, do something else you love to do- even splurge and do something luxurious like take a bath. Sniff Peppermint. Yup- peppermint essential oil can give you a burst of energy AND it can help your brain stop craving not so fabulous fuel. Other essential oils help with this too! I have incorporated peppermint oil INTO my gummies for a health-providing, energy-giving, craving-cutting mid-day treat. Have I mentioned that I am in love with multitasking?
Step Six: Find a buddy. It may be an online support group, it may be one person, but having someone you text, call or meet up with to talk about health helps! Actually, this step maybe needs to go earlier as all the other steps are so much easier if you know someone else is aware of your goals! I’ll be your buddy ‘cause have I mentioned I love ice cream and chocolate and it’s summer time and both of those things are everywhere!?!
Step Seven: Have fun! What?!? Have fun? But dieting isn’t fun. Oh, wait. Haven’t you noticed I never mentioned dieting? That’s right: I don’t think of being healthy as dieting. It’s just smart living. Sure, it may be challenging but so are crossword puzzles, learning new hobbies, climbing to the top of a mountain. And they can be fun. It’s all about perspective. That’s one of the main reasons I seek out creative cooking. It’s fun for me. And part of the fun is in knowing that it’s also good for me by producing healthy results. I have kept my weight off for one year and 3 months. And it feels so good. Sure, I went a lot of months not eating stuff that my brain told me to eat. But, I realized that brain wasn’t actually thinking most of the time- it was more about retraining my habits and taste-buds. Once my body was running better, my brain caught up with the game, reset itself and now I can listen to it more. As long as it isn’t always telling me to have ice cream for dinner!
Stay tuned, ‘cause now that you know I like to get creative in the kitchen, I wanted to share some of those healthy things I love in coming posts! What is your least healthy favorite food or meal and do you think there is a good replacement for it?! Let’s get creative! What is your favorite healthy food or meal?
This past year I learned about and read a really neat book called OOLA: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World. The word OOLA comes from saying OOLALA... as in that is awesome! It has inspired me to write this blog. As I was filling out my OOLA wheel I realized I needed more OOLA fun in my life and I needed to solidify my OOLA field direction. Do you stay at home mommies ever feel like that is one of the hardest things to do? Have direction? You're going in five different ones in any given moment and are not sure you're fully successful at any one thing. I miss feeling accomplished and feeling inspired- hence this site! It's exciting to do something that has a start and finish even if I don't know exactly what the big picture finish is. That's okay. Just sitting down, making a goal (write down some thoughts and add pictures) and then accomplishing that goal (posted) and it not being about washing clothes- that's exciting to me.
Making Clay Cups Fills My Cup
It's the same - BUT MORE - when I sit at a ceramics wheel or in front of a sculpture. Writing about creativity in daily life is just a wee bit less messy and a wee bit easier to do in the free minutes I get! But clay- if I had a wheel and a kiln at home, I am pretty sure my family would think it was normal to be covered in mud or dust all the time. And I am pretty sure they'd also be starving and wearing dirty clothes. And I'm even more sure I wouldn't care too much! And so, I usually go to a studio to work with clay. And I loose track of time and never feel like I have enough (And I completely empathize with my passionate-about-fishing-husband who would gladly spend a day on a stream without a glance at his watch but usually can't: family life).
When studio time is up I am so REFRESHED and looking forward to my next opportunity to get messy! Someday I will make clay the fulcrum of my field but for now, it's my fun (even when it does merge into my field) and I am so glad I found that out. Do you have a passion that you want to harness into a career? Or do you have something that fills your cup? Take the OOLA wheel survey and let me know what you learn about you!
We are dog people. We will always be dog people. Though, for a while there, I was worried we would loose our standing after not owning a dog for over a year! How did we survive? Mainly by being in the middle of showing our house, selling it, packing it up and moving and unpacking it all with two small human destruct-o-bots running around. So, there was a nice little fur-free respite in there. BUT there was also a four-legged hole in our family portrait. This winter we took the plunge, worked with an AMAZING rescue organization and found our new furry family member: Ketch (as in Catch the ball but pronounced like you're from the 'burgh and are obsessed with all things Ketch-up!) He is the dog we didn't know we needed and he is, putting it mildly, amazing. We count our blessings as he is the snuggliest, kindest, calmest black lab pup we have ever met.
But in spite of his awesomeness, he has definitely reintroduced (dog) stink to the house. And we had just got new carpets after moving in last summer, so that's not too thrilling! In an effort to retain a clean but not complicated house, I figured out the easiest, cheapest way to make carpet freshener. Baking Soda is easy to find and really affordable. But by itself it is odorless and kinda boring and not super effective! I am no fan of all the chemicals and fake scents in carpet fresheners you buy at the store. I also never felt like they worked all that well. But this recipe, works and makes the carpet smell fresh for a while! AND you save money not buying junk from the grocery store! WIN-WIN-WIN! And I am not talking save a buck. I am talking for 32 ounces of a popular name brand carpet freshener you pay between 2 - 4 dollars to sprinkle icky stuff on your floor and into your air. To make the same amount out of the listed ingredients, you pay approximately 1$ for 32 oz of generic baking soda and approximately .35 to 70 cents for oils, depending on which scent combo and how many drops you like! Lemongrass is my personal favorite and it's also the most frugal. You can make 32 oz of NATURAL carpet fresh for around 1.60. Seriously. (and please forgive my estimations, math is not my skill set. I tried, I really did. It just wasn't happening down to the penny. It's all about creativity around here, remember! Plus, it's even less if you're getting the amazing prices on the oils through the starter kit (more about that here).)
Once I am done sprinkling the mix on the carpet, I put the jar with a piece of cheesecloth over the top into the coat/shoe closet to hang out with stinky people shoes and the carpet freshener becomes air freshener. THEN, after you have let the freshener sit on the carpet for an hour or a day (whatevs), vacuum it up. (I procrastinate on vacuuming) You're also freshening up your vacuum by sucking up all that good smelling baking soda and dispersing the clean smell through the vacuum! See: Creative Cleaning!
Its nice to have a healthy option to make the carpet smell better, 'cause we are trying really hard to keep Ketch off the couch! I don't always stay strong as he does think he's a lap dog and I sometimes think I need a lap dog! Do you have any good "clean up after Fido" tricks or Creative Cleaning?
So, as I said before, I have my master's degree in art therapy. A lot of people I have met in recent "Mom" years don't necessarily know that. Even more people don't know what that is. Art therapy is a specific therapeutic modality in mental health and behavioral health where a trained therapist introduces different art forms and materials as a way to encourage clients to work toward a specific goal. The thing about this field is that it is WAY diverse. Art therapists work with Veterans, children on the Autism Spectrum, people in substance abuse programs, patients in mental hospitals and pretty much any one who could benefit from this technique for growth and therapy. Art therapists also work in a lot of different settings and, as a result of the title not being "mainstream," a lot of different roles. I used to integrate art therapy into my job in behavioral health when I worked in people's homes and I integrated it into my role as a Therapist in a school I used to work at full time. These days I am working part time as an art instructor and utilizing my art therapy training in a small school program that serves kids with behavioral needs or who are on the Autism spectrum. School is not in session right now, but I couldn't resist sharing one of our last projects we did this year. I am in love with them. They inspire me to take risks as an artist and as an art instructor.
I am sure some of the support staff in the class thought I was pushing it when I said our final project was going to be a self-portrait! I kind of thought I was a little nuts to try it! And yet, try it and SUCCEED we did! Whenever I do projects like this when I want to empower kids to make original art, I try to give them a blanace between structured guidelines and individual choices.
The best option is to START with a structured guideline. I had the kids use a pre-cut tracer shape for the outline of their heads (of which they could choose from three sizes and shapes. Then I walked them step by step through drawing each feature on their faces- we used colored pencils so that they didn't have erasers at their disposal. GASP! Drawing without an eraser?!?! Blasphemy! Well, not, actually, really good training to use mistakes and not get bent out of shape over them. Try it. Let your mistakes stick around and turn them into character. That's life isn't it?! Or maybe you have a big ole Life Eraser I am not aware of?
The support staff were great at helping the kids look into the mirror or talk a little about what their features looked like. Some kids wanted to fantasize about being a superhero or having a beard. We went with it! You probably can't tell from these pictures who doesn't have ability to hold a conversation with you or who can barely keep their butt in a seat during class. But look at their art! It amazes me every time.
"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory." -Betty Smith - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
It's easy to look back on life with "wishes" or maybe even regrets- to recognize how good you had it or to long for something different. And yet, it's more productive to learn from how life was or is and then use that as a spring board for the future. "What worked?" "What nourishes you?" "Where can you grow?" "What are you moving toward?"
In an effort to push back from "Midlife Malaise" (a term I recently read about in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Reuben) and with a determination to seek my OOLA, I am starting this endeavor: A Place to Commune in Creativity.
There is something about the word "endeavor" that calls to me: The yearning inherent in it; The strong awareness that work will be involved; The hope and positive connotation that can overcome drudgery and monotony. We endeavor in a direction we want or need to go regardless of the challenges. It's that kind of passion that I want to apply to all the areas of my life. If you sit back and think about what you're endeavors are, you might think of a job, making money, building a family, finding happiness, spiritual growth. All valuable and important life directions. And isn't that something that we are all trying to find and keep: direction?
A primary direction that I am often pulled in is toward creativity. I strive to exercise my creativity in art making(though time does not always a lot for it), but also in less obvious and more day to day ways: In parenting (yes, every minute requires thinking outside of the box), in being healthy, in worshiping my Creator, in being married, in learning new things, in managing our house... in all that makes up life.
In a recent series at church, we were challenged to examine our calling- our vocation. It hit home with me, as I don't have a "vocation" by the world's standards right now. I have a role- a lot of them actually! And I love that I can find fulfillment in them- most of the time. But lately, I have felt called to live life creatively for our Creator. Some vocation that it, huh? It's very easy to get caught in the monotony of daily tasks, to struggle through the drugery of laundry, cooking, cleaning, following everyone's sleep schedules (just making that list makes me a little twitchy). With the past week "off" from that monotony and blessed with the time to spend adventuring and relaxing with my loving husband, I was inspired to create this space. He encouraged me to do something that I have daydreamed about for a while and have let doubt, fear and insecurity stop me more than once (I signed up for this space a few months ago and have been "mentally blogging" for years ever since my sis and I tried our hands at it for two months 4 years ago! I can't believe that was 4 years and two more kids ago! How silly I was to think that one little toddler was a handful.) As this last year has gone by, I have often wished to catalog my creative finds, ideas and actual creations in one spot. These may include, but not be limited to (hey, creativity invites new and unusual options) cooking, making art, teaching art, finding health, using essential oils, tackling DIY projects, parenting, crafting. You know- the fun stuff in life!
And so this forum is intended to serve as an inspiration station for me and hopefully for you! May we keep on finding creativity in life- don't you dare try to tell this art therapist that you aren't creative! May we make the ordinary a whole lot of fun!
What is one thing toward which you have be endeavoring lately? What is your favorite way to be creative?
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - Your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering"
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!
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