Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How to Use Essential Oils

So now that we've got some of the basics about essential oils out of the way, you may be wondering how to use them.

I think that one of the things that caused me to put off trying oils for so long was that I thought they were a little intimidating.

I knew that some could be ingested and some couldn't, and I knew that some of them needed to be diluted before use, and I didn't really know how to navigate all that information. I decided to just dive in and figure it out, and as it turns out, it's really not that hard.

Here's a crash course in the three methods of using essential oils. I will get more in depth with specific oils and how we use them later, so hang in there! My information only pertains to Young Living oils. If you're using a different brand, check the bottle to see if you can safely use your oil as described below. I've also listed some precautions at the bottom of this post.

1. Topical Application

Any essential oil can be used topically. I particularly like topical application for aches and pains or issues that I can visibly see like skin irritations. We also apply oils topically to support restful sleep. There are only a couple of things you need to keep in mind with topical application. One is that some oils feel "hot." For those oils, you will want to dilute them in a carrier oil (coconut oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, etc.). You'll also want to use a carrier oil if you happen to have sensitive skin. Carrier oils do not cause essential oils to be less effective, they just slow down the rate at which they are absorbed. Good quality essential oils absorb almost immediately, so the carrier oil will help you spread the essential oil out to all the areas where you want it before it dissipates. Even if you're not using a "hot" oil, you may find that you prefer to use carrier oils just to make your essential oils "stretch". The other thing is that some oils cause photo-sensitivity, so read your oil bottle before applying to see if you need to cover the affected area before going out into the sun.



2. Inhalation

You can also safely inhale any of the oils. Personally, I love having a diffuser because I can just let it run while I'm going about my business, but you can also inhale the oils straight from the bottle, or your cupped hands. I've also heard of people putting a drop of oil on a cotton ball and sticking it in an air vent. It doesn't have to be complicated. I love the inhalation method for respiratory support and for immune system support.





3. Ingestion

Many oils are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for ingestion by the FDA. I always look at my bottle to see if it's labeled as a supplement. If it is, I know I'm good to go. If I want to get an oil into my system super quickly, I sometimes put a drop on my finger and then hold it either to the inside of my cheek or roof of my mouth. You can also put oils in an empty capsule with or without a carrier oil, make a tea with them, or mix them with honey. Some oils are hot and not all oils taste great, so take that into account when determining how you will ingest them.





A few cautions:

*Use care when using oils on children. Kids tend to have more sensitive skin, so even if you don't feel an oil is too hot to use without a carrier oil, your children may beg to differ. Also, certain oils like peppermint have a 1/10,000 chance of causing respiratory issues in babies. A good resource for essential oil use in children is Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern.

*Never put essential oils directly in eyes or ears. If you accidentally get essential oils in your eyes or ears, flush it out with a carrier oil, NOT water.

*No matter how many drops your bottle of oil recommends, start with 1-2 drops and work your way up. Remember that they are extremely concentrated and less is more. Essential oils pull toxins from your body and you need to give your body time to flush them out.

*Speak to your doctor about any health concerns you have before using essential oils. Again, nothing I say here should be construed as medical advice.


Previous Posts in this Series:
Why Essential Oils?
What are Essential Oils?
Why Young Living Essential Oils?






Monday, October 20, 2014

Why Young Living Essential Oils?

There are lots of essential oil brands available, so why did I choose a Young Living wholesale membership?

I had friends who had personal testimonials of how the oils were working for their family. Aside from people I know personally, I am in a Facebook group where people share testimonials and before and after pictures of how the oils have tackled things for their families. There are some really impressive testimonials out there.

Young Living has been around for over 20 years. The folks who own the company are the pioneers of essential oil use in the US and the attention to detail they use in producing the oils is unmatched.

Young Living is the only company with a "Seed to Seal" process. Young Living owns the seeds, owns the farms, harvests the plants, distills the plants in distilleries they own, and seals up the bottles in their own facilities. There are no middle men and they welcome anyone to come tour the farms and facilities to see the process in person. Every other essential oil company in existence buys their oil from a broker and slaps their brand name on it.

In addition to the accountability involved with producing oils with no middle men, each batch of oil is tested multiple times in house AND through independent university testing processes. If an oil doesn't pass the tests, it is not sold -- even at the risk of oils being out of stock for a time.

Finally, I can look on the bottle of Young Living oil and see if an oil is labeled as a dietary supplement. Oils you buy in the store will say "do not ingest." The problem I have with that is that if it's not pure enough to ingest, why would I put it on my skin or breathe it in when I know how quickly essential oils enter the bloodstream? No thanks.

The bottom line is that I trust the quality of these oils and I've experienced first hand their effectiveness. I chose a wholesale membership over just buying them through a retail account because I wanted the 24% discount (forever and ever!),the starter kit included a good variety of oils to assist with common issues that any family faces, AND it came with a great quality diffuser. If you'd like to try out a wholesale membership for yourself, let me know and I'll guide you through it.





Previous Posts in this Series:
Why Essential Oils?
What are Essential Oils?







Friday, October 17, 2014

What are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are the immune system of a plant. When a plant is attacked by a pest or disease, the essential oils in the plant work to repair the plant and keep it alive and healthy. Because the oils are part of a living thing they adapt to fit challenges they encounter, unlike chemical medications that can become ineffective as a virus mutates.

They are made up of tiny molecules that are extracted from the plant most often by steam distillation, but they can also be extracted by expeller pressing. These molecules are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier in humans (and animals!), through inhalation, topical application, or ingestion.

Essential oils are extremely concentrated and powerful. One drop of an essential oil can penetrate every cell wall in your body with 40,000 molecules of oil within seconds.

Human beings were using essential oils for healing and immune system support LONG before modern medicines were ever invented. There are mentions of essential oils being used in the Bible (in incense and anointing oils) and in other ancient manuscripts. They're not a new "fad". They've been around as long as there have been plants on this earth!

Let me be clear and say that I do believe that modern medicine has its place. If I fall out on the floor unconscious, I hope someone will call 9-1-1 instead of thumbing through my essential oils reference book to look for a solution. I'm not a doctor and nothing I say here or elsewhere is meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or whatever your medical problems.

That being said, I do consider my essential oils my "First Aid Kit" now. They are my first resort for ordinary every day issues that we encounter because THEY WORK and I've been able to use them without experiencing some of the side effects I've had in the past from the stuff I have in the medicine cabinet. Another bonus is that these oils don't expire (lower quality brands may expire, so be sure to check your bottle for an expiration date). I don't know about you but there are some medicines that I like to have on hand because I don't want to go out to the store when I feel like garbage. Since we don't typically get sick very often, lots of times when I look in the medicine cabinet, those medicines are expired. I don't have to worry about that with essential oils.

Speaking of quality, the graphic below may help you navigate the hierarchy of essential oil quality that you'll encounter as you start comparing brands. Do not buy the cheapest brand of oil that you find at the grocery store and come back and tell me that essential oils don't work. The method of distillation matters. The temperature at which the oil is distilled matters. The scientific name of the plant the oil is sourced from matters. Quality matters.




Previous Posts in this Series:
Why Essential Oils?



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why Essential Oils?

Have you ever had something that's a totally ordinary every day occurrence start nagging at you? For me it was cleaning my toddler's high chair tray (and now his little kid-sized table). Even though we were using a "green" cleaner, it just started bothering me that we were spraying chemicals on something that he's going to inevitably drop his food on before he eats it.

Then I did some research on what "Green" actually means and it got worse because nobody polices the word "Green" or "Natural".

I kept researching and I found toxic chemicals in pretty much every personal care product we use too. Here are just a few that I was disturbed by:

Triclosan
• Pesticide
• Used in almost every anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer (It's in our dish soap!)
• Affects male and female hormones
• Contributes to MRSA
Pthalates
• Found in cleaners, lotions, body sprays, deodorants, and plastic packaging
• Carcinogen
• Hormone disruptor linked to early puberty in girls
• Banned in Europe
Parabens
• Used as a preservative and germicide
• Found in most skin care products and deodorants
• Found in breast cancer tumors
• Banned in Japan and Sweden and under review in the UK
Fragrances
• Found in soaps, cleaners, perfumes, lotions, shampoos (pretty much everything!)
• May contain phthalates, neurotoxins, and synthetic musks
• Common allergens
• Companies do not have to divulge the components of their fragrances (trade secrets)
Propylene Glycol
• Found in cleaners, shampoos, lotions, deodorants, and toothpastes
• Linked to kidney damage, liver disease, and dermatitis
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
• Found in shampoos, soaps, conditioners, cleansers, and toothpastes
• Engine degreaser and floor cleaner
• Used in clinical testing to purposely irritate the skin
• Banned in Europe and Canada

Just for fun, go look at the ingredients in your own household products and comment about what you found.

I wanted to start to eliminate some of these chemicals in our home, but I still wanted to be able to sanitize surfaces.

Meanwhile, I had several friends who were believers in essential oils. Mostly I had heard them talk about how the oils were supporting the immune systems of their family members. I thought that was interesting, but I hadn't researched it at all and it seemed overwhelming to try to learn about how they work and how to use them.

As I started to look into them more, I found that I could use essential oils to take the place of a lot of our household cleaners, and if I "accidentally" got it on my hand or inhaled the scent, it would be something that worked to nourish my body, not something that would add toxins to my body. If my toddler ingests a little bit of them, it's OK because the oils I use are labeled as a dietary supplement. I also started researching different uses for some of the more basic oils and found that they could be useful for a variety of health concerns, so I decided to just jump in and try them.

Since that time, we have used them every single day. If one of us has a headache, we open up a bottle of oil. Cuts and scrapes get an oil, wild-and-crazy-naptime-fighting two year olds get an oil! I've started cleaning our produce with oil and I diffuse certain oils that are high in phenols to get them into the air because phenols kill bacteria and viruses. (We all know it's cootie season!)



I will do a series of posts wherein I share how we use specific oils. In the meantime, if you have questions, just ask! I may not know the answers from personal experience, but I have a reference book and several good resources that I can use to gather information.

If you're ready to dive in like I did, I highly suggest Young Living essential oils. I'll get into the reasons why in a later post, but I trust Young Living to have the highest quality standards and that's why I chose to become a distributor. If you choose to make a purchase from the website or sign up for your own wholesale membership, please consider using my member number as your referral (Member #2023201) as I will receive a small commission.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Toilet Training Transition

It has been forever since I last posted! I figured that our diapering routine has evolved some through this blogging hiatus, so I'll update a little.

1. We had a little trouble with our Flo diaper sprayer (twice, actually). The second time it malfunctioned, it was totally broken and I didn't want to buy a new sprayer this late in the diapering game. So on one hand, I am not pleased that our sprayer broke twice over the course of a year and 1/2. On the other hand, I contacted the company and asked if I could buy a replacement part for the little piece that broke and they sent me the replacement part for free! My verdict on the Flo sprayer is that the quality of mine was iffy, but the customer service was good.


2. I still totally love prefolds and Thirsties covers, but just in the past couple of months I've noticed that we're starting to get some wear right under the rise snaps on the covers. It's not severe enough that the covers are leaking, but I'm guessing I should have unsnapped the rise way before I did. Maybe I could have prevented it. The size 2 covers are also starting to get a little snug around the waist for my 30+ pounder.

3. Speaking of covers, our Grovia aplix covers are now retired after our nanny made the mistake of putting The Fish down for a nap in only a T-shirt and his diaper with the aplix cover. His island/beachy/ship crib sheet will never be the same. As I was spraying it off with the diaper sprayer, I kept questioning, "Is that a coconut? Nope. Not a coconut."

4. We are now in week 3 of potty training. I hear other CD people talk about how it's so bittersweet to retire the cute little diapers. No. It's not bitter, it's just sweet. I'm sad that he's growing up so quickly, but I'm totally fine with him using the potty. I was able to get him started while I was off work for two weeks and he has done so well and is so proud of himself. I'm now only using diapers during nap/bedtime, so that's throwing off my diaper washing routine, but I'm just adjusting the amount of detergent I use and am adding extra things in the diaper laundry like his undies, the towels we place in front of his little potty, etc. So far so good! I will do a thorough strip of the diapers before I store them away, but for now this routine is just fine.

Two years of cloth diapering are in the books and even though I'm the sole poop sprayer of the house and it's an extra load of laundry here and there, I'm so happy that we went this route.

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Hope in Every Season



Friday, September 20, 2013

Cake Decorating with Frozen Butter Cream Transfers




For The Fish's birthday, I wanted to do a Dr. Seuss theme, but apparently no bakeries have the licensing to put actual Seuss-y images on cakes (at least not the run of the mill bakeries around here). I wasn't about to pay the kind of money you'd have to pay for a super custom cake from a fancy bakery when this cake was just for my 1 year old to smash and throw on the floor, so I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to tackle the cake issue.

Then I remembered that a fellow blogger and long time friend of mine had posted about using frozen butter cream transfers (FBCT) to decorate cakes. She made it sound really easy, so I figured I might as well give it a try!

Since we did a One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish invitation, I decided to use the Blue Fish as my cake decoration.

I should pause to say that I had never decorated a cake in my life. I had to Google how to assemble the little icing bag thingies with the tips and everything, and I have the shakiest hands on the planet. If I can do this, anyone can.

I whipped up a batch of Wilton Butter Cream Icing. I thought it tasted gross, so I added more vanilla extract than it called for and a little salt since I was using unsalted butter in my recipe. Then I mixed it for much longer (I had read that mixing it for a long time would improve the flavor). With those modifications, the flavor was good!

Step 1:
The first thing you're supposed to do is make a mirror image of the design you'll be using. Since I wasn't using any words in my design, I didn't do this. Basically it didn't bother me that the fish in my design would face left instead of right.

Step 2:
Tape the design down to a flat surface. It should be something that can easily fit in your freezer. I used the smallest cutting board we have. Then tape a larger piece of wax paper over the design.


Step 3:
Assemble the icing bags and practice making lines so you know how much pressure to use when you start drawing your design. I used a size 1 tip for the outline of the fish.


Step 4:
Remember that the first icing that you put down is going to be the foreground of your design. Start by outlining the design and filling in any shading/details that you need. You can see where I messed up on the outline in places and just wiped it off and started over (that's what all the black smudges are about).


Step 5:
Begin filling in other areas of your design. You should try not to leave blank spaces between your icing lines. Another tutorial I read said that you could use a small plastic paintbrush (the kind you get with cheap watercolors when you're a kid...obviously a new one) to make sure the icing is smoothed out and doesn't have blank spots. I didn't do that as you will be able to tell from the finished product in a little bit.



Step 6:
Remember that what you're looking at right now is the BACK of the design. Cover the whole back of the design with the same color icing that you will use to frost the cake. This is creating a little "podium" for your design to stand on and will help it be more stable when you pop it off the wax paper and onto the cake. You can go past the outline a little and it'll be OK because it will blend with the icing you're using on the rest of your cake. Once you've covered the whole design, use an offset spatula to smooth it out carefully. Try to make the whole thing about the same thickness.


All done, but just leave your extra icing in the bags and stick them in the fridge (see step 7). Put the design in the freezer and let it harden. I also put it in the freezer in between each icing color to make the outlines harden up. I only kept my finished design in the freezer for a few hours, but I've read that you can keep it in there for much longer for better results.

Step 7:
When you're ready to put it on your cake, undo the tape that's holding the wax paper to the solid surface you put in your freezer. Turn it upside down onto the cake and carefully remove the wax paper, revealing your design.

I did have a problem with a little bit of my outline sticking to the wax paper, so I had to touch up those spots with a little icing once it was on the cake.



Sidenote:
To get a really smooth butter cream surface on your cake, follow these instructions for tips on smoothing out the icing with a smooth textured paper towel before adding your design. Here's my cake before and after the paper towel trick.

Before:


After:


Linking here:
Feature Friday Linky Party @ Blissful and Domestic

The Homemaking Party @ Hope in Every Season

Lovely Ladies Link Up

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pinterest Picks 10

Squash Casserole
There was a near disaster with this one when I misread the recipe to say 6 squash and zucchini rather than (what it actually says) 6 cups of squash and zucchini. For the record, 1 regular sized squash or zucchini yields about 2 cups of chopped up squash or zucchini. You're welcome. :) Anyway, this turned out well. We liked it, the baby LOVED it, so it was a win-win.

Healthy Chicken Tortilla Casserole
So here's the deal...this is basically a Mexican chicken casserole but it calls for corn tortillas instead of tortilla chips. I think corn tortillas are gag worthy, so I was going to just toast some flour tortillas. But I didn't have time for that nonsense, so I tried just putting some flour tortillas in it. Slimy slimy slimy. So basically the flavor was fine, but the texture was gross. Maybe some foods just aren't meant to be healthy.

Pollo Fundido
I had never used Mexican Dipping Cheese before, and I know it's "processed cheese food", but dang if I don't like some processed cheese food. In an effort to save cooking time, I cut the chicken breasts into fajita sized pieces with kitchen shears. Delicious on a tortilla with the cheese and some Mexican rice. Yum!

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil
This was my first time making orzo. Weird considering how much I love pasta. Anyway, I didn't have enough basil, so this didn't have as much flavor as I would have wanted, but it was still good and the baby is a big fan. (But what food is he not a fan of?!)

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Pinned it, Made it! Monday @ Country Girl at Home