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!
Winter is here. Wah Wahhh. Time for cold fingers and toes, figuring out how to exercise the dog, taking 30 minutes extra to suit up the kids only to walk to the car and suit down to buckle up. I am trying to embrace it, trying to see the dusting of snow that covered the yard this week as gorgeous. Trying to laugh at my daughter touching every snowy surface the other morning with her gloved finger and then licking her finger. And trying to know that following every snowy and cold winter there is a glorious and green spring. I am trying.
And I am mentally escaping… I mean coping. In doing this I like to think about growing and life and green.
Lately I can pretend I am growing. My mom recently got me a pre-winter, birthday gift of a sun lamp. It helps me to feel like a plant- absorbing all the sun needed to become full and green. It is really nice to sit at my desk and feel bright and warm. The lamp is called a Sun Box and it certainly is as bright as the sun. The goal is that it can provide light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is research on the positive effects of using properly made sun lamps.
“Researchers have two main theories on why light therapy works. One is that it affects the biological clock in the brain. There’s some evidence that depression, like jet lag, occurs when the biological clock is out of sync, and light helps to correct that, Lam said.
SAD isn’t something I have diagnostically struggled with- though my opening introduction to winter may cause you to think otherwise! However, I can say that our house gets very little direct sunlight in the areas where I tend to hang out and that can be a little sad to me. I remember designing a dream house in an introductory Computer Aided Design class in college. Budget and reality weren’t an issue and modesty was apparently not on my mind, because the whole thing was made of windows. I like natural light. I do often want to bathe in it. Now I can. My goal is to integrate the Sun light into my morning yoga routine (that routine I have done for three mornings in a row- yes, that makes it a routine!).
In addition to feeling like a plant, I am also growing a plant. Last birthday I asked for a citrus tree for my gift. It came, about 2 feet tall and green. I am not blessed with a green thumb. But it is a goal of mine to paint it green somehow. And this fall I almost jumped up and down and called everyone I knew when that tree finally had blossoms. Seriously. The blossoms smelled great all fall and they were really pretty. I have gifted the plant with one of the few windows of the house that gets sun. It is happy. And it has fruit on it! So now I can patiently wait and hope that some of those teeny tiny clementine’s will become delicious. And that I don’t freeze off my green thumb. Seriously I want to build some planters and try growing a little garden this spring. I pray I maintain this glimmer of an ability and the Clementine doesn’t go the way of the Money Tree, Rubber Plant, Wandering Jew and all the other lovely green housemates I have neglected over the years.
Smelling the sweet citrusy buds on my clementine got me feeling creative and desirous of smelling that scent more often. But I didn’t want to stop at tangerine, I needed to smell like all the citrus. That feels like it should be a hastag: (#allthecitrus). Maybe it could be the name of this delicious body butter. I also thought Citrus Grove was fitting. I have made a few different kinds of body butters. In perusing recipes to determine what helps make it wonderful, I like the ones with the least possible steps (no emulsifying needed), basic ingredients and pure scents. There are a few basic butters out there that I have tried but by far Mango butter has become my favorite. It is soft to the touch once whipped, non-greasy and doesn’t have any smell. Shea is good in that it’s soft and not too greasy (though I think it’s slightly more buttery than mango which is a little more powdery soft) but I can’t stand the smell of it and it doesn’t allow the essential oils in the recipe to come through purely.
When I make a homemade lotion, I like to use a food scale to measure my ingredients- mainly because some of them are in large chunks and figuring out how to make that work with measuring cups makes my math brain hurt. This recipe is all in ratios- that way I can make different amounts in the future based on the amount of ingredients that I have on hand. I prefer non-technical recipes. And my goal is to empower people to realize that you can play around a little. This isn’t baking, your body butter won’t “fall” if you have too much coconut oil in it. It may be a little oilier but you can balance that out by adding more shea or mango butters And it’s not that big of a deal breaker. I promise. Just try it, have fun and feel moisturized and fresh, like a Citrus Grove in California. A bucket list place I’d like to go: California in January.
Citrus Grove Body Butter
Ingredients and the Ratio amount for Body Butter
Four : Mango Butter. I get it Here.
One: Coconut Oil. The only question is how much you want to stock up on.
One: Shea Butter. I get it Here.
One Tenth: Beeswax. I got mine in bricks from a local beekeeper.
One Tenth: Sweet Almond Oil I get it Here.
18-36 drops of Essential Oils These are the ones I use.
How to use the Ratios: If you have 4 ounces of Mango Butter(one fourth of the bag that I get), use 1-ounce Coconut Oil, 1-ounce Shea Butter, .10-ounce beeswax and .10-ounce Sweet Almond Oil. This will give you about one cup of body butter- since whipping it will add volume.
Melt the Beeswax in a DIY double boiler: AKA a Jar in a pot of water on Low. (if in a chunk, break this up while it’s melting to speed process)
When melted, Add Mango Butter, Coconut Oil and Shea Butter. If you don’t have Shea, you can just add a little more mango or even cocoa or other butter- honestly it may not even be all that needed to have that extra bit. You can also add these in smaller chunks if possible so that they melt quicker. Stir as able to get them melting and mixed in.
When it's mostly liquid- it’s ok if there are little bits of butter chunks. Take glass container out of the pot and pour liquid into a mixing bowl. You can place this in the fridge and check on it. You want it to start to get thicker. I will check on it and start to whip it with an electric beater. I don’t use anything fancy. I am not fancy.
After this mixture cools, you can add your essential oils. With Citrus oils sometimes you need to add extra for lasting scent. I added about 3-6 of each of these oils: Stress Away, Lime, Orange, Tangerine, Lemon and Grapefruit. There is no exact science in adding essential oils. Citrus essential oils are distilled from the rind and have a more subtle scent when added to lotions. But you can use what you have and the best part is you can try it out while you’re working to see if it is scented to your preference and add more as you go along. Citrus oils can cause some sun sensitivity- of course in the winter months this is not so big of an issue but they are best to avoid where the sun is shining the rest of the year! I am using these oils to embrace their emotional influence. I call them “happy oils” as they all have properties that enhance positive feelings. If you’re looking to support the condition of your skin, here are some other options: Lavender, German and Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Elemi and Frankincense.
Make sure to whip this into a stiff consistency. If it’s not doing that just keep refrigerating and then taking it out and whipping it more. It also stiffens when it sits. I accidentally over refrigerated one batch but just sort of let it warm under a light and then whipped it. Whipping adds air to it and allows you to be able to get a good scoop of it when you're ready to use it.
In making my own lotions and lip balms I’ve noticed that the longer they “Cure” the stronger the scent will get. The viscous oils seem to absorb the essential oils more. Also DIY lotions can take a little longer to absorb into the skin and some people find them oily. I feel like this body butter is the right balance of moisturizing and oily and a little bit can go a long way. It is also always good to give your skin a little time to absorb the lotion before putting on clothes- depending on how harsh winter has been on it! My feet can use this slathered on like butter on a fresh baked roll. I say slather away and become one with the citrus grove.
May we all be able to mentally escape the winter as needed. And may I learn to love licking snow.
For now I will be sitting in the "sun" sending positive thoughts to my tree while slathered up with Citrus Body Butter.
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!
"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! 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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