Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A More Natural Lifestyle : Essential Oils

Let's talk essential oils. Yes, I know. Everyone's using them right now. The thing is, though, they work. It's not a new fad. They have been used, and have been proven to work, for thousands of years. Why? Because they are natural, God-given remedies for everything from sickness to cleaning and everything in between. They are referenced in the Bible as being used for everything from washing feet and preparing foods to healing ailments and masking odors. Frankincense and myrrh anyone? They are very powerful and potent, not to mention better for you than man-made chemicals that we put in our bodies everyday.

On my path to a more natural lifestyle, I was introduced to essential oils by a number of people. I was initially only intrigued with the idea of making homemade cleaners with them or making my house smell good. Adding lemon to a recipe for dish soap or spritzing some peppermint in my room at Christmas time seemed normal enough to me. I wasn't ready to replace my medicine cabinet with them or anything, but I figured it was worth looking into these natural remedies for their many uses.

It is, coincidentally, the part of this lifestyle change of which Craig likes to make the most fun. He calls me a hippie, an alchemist, or a witch doctor pretty regularly. The one thing he hasn't called me regarding these oils? Wrong. Because despite how it seems and how it looks, it works.

What I am learning about these oils truly amaze me every day. Now, I know there are a couple of big company names in this industry today and you are likely being bombarded with either of them pretty regularly. So let me just let you know : I am not trying to sell you anything. I simply want to share one more facet of my "more natural lifestyle" with you and I feel like this is a huge part of it. I did a lot of research and found that there are a ton of companies out there that are selling them. Several of my friends use oils from "competing" companies* and I researched the heck out of all of them. I finally decided on doTerra because I like that the oils come only from plants naturally grown where they are intended to grow - such as lavender in Provence, France - instead of in a lab or "secure facility". I also loved the idea that they could safely be taken internally and used for children or pets without harmful side effects.

*Note : I do not like the term "competing" companies, in this sense. The thing about oils is that you have to find what works for you, your lifestyle, and your family. I don't care which company you use, and I am not here to judge anyone who uses a different one from me. 

The coolest thing about oils is that they aren't a "miracle drug" or anything like that. They are simply extracts from plants - and nothing else - that help your body do what it is naturally supposed to do. That cold that you are trying to catch? If you arm your body with oils like Frankincense, Melaleuca, or Oregano you will give your body the stuff that it needs to fight that cold quickly and naturally instead of just masking the symptoms with over-the-counter meds. For example, Canon started at a pre-k program a couple of weeks ago. We all know what that means, right? Kids bring sickness to school and my child brings it home. Story of our life. This go-round, though, I have been armed with my oils. I began diffusing a blend of oils like the three mentioned above as well as Lemon and OnGuard {a doTERRA essential oil blend} and his runny nose becomes nothing more than that! Even that is gone within a couple of days. This is the kid that, upon catching a cold, would immediately spike a fever. The cold would move to his chest within 24 hours and we would have to begin breathing treatments with albuterol for days to keep him out of the doctor's office.  I am telling you, this stuff works.

On the flip side, the hardest thing to remember is that they aren't a "miracle drug" in that your ailment isn't going to miraculously disappear after one dosage. Don't get me wrong - you will immediately notice relief and see the different they make - but you will not upon simply touching the oils become completely healed from the flu. They are not Jesus, after all. Your body will, however, begin to heal itself faster and more completely than if you were to pop OTC drugs that contain a bunch of other crap that you probably shouldn't be ingesting anyway.

So that's all great and wonderful, you say, but where do I start?! There are a ton of oils out there. Which are the most versatile - the ones that will give me the biggest bang for my buck?! Well that, my friend, is what we are going to talk about today. Now, I have a small arsenal of oils that I use every single day. I put them in a veggie capsule every morning and take the allotted dosage to help my body get into fighting shape. I would suggest, for someone who just wants to test the waters, that they begin with just a couple of oils to see their many benefits. Keep in mind that the examples that I give are not all of the uses of these oils. I am simply listing a few that you could use in your everyday life.


Lavender is one of those one-stop-shop oils. Think of it as the everyday workhorse. It can do it all. The soothing fragrance will calm you when you want to relax. I put this on Canon's feet and back at night to help him go to sleep. It doesn't put you to sleep, it just helps you to settle down long enough to drift off. It also relieves itching and helps heal minor scratches, scrapes, and rashes. Anything from insect bites to skinned knees - and everything in between - are immediately soothed with a bit of lavender oil. {Moms of little boys, can I get an amen?!} Trust me, we have used it all summer. In fact, while visiting my grandmother one month, she ended up with something that was itching her forearm so badly that she would scratch until it broke the skin. I broke out the lavender oil and she was so amazed with the results that she ordered some for herself. I used it when, on our Labor Day trip to the beach, a couple of my brothers got sunburned. I applied it to both of them a couple of times during the weekend. It took the sting out and neither of them peeled at all. Lavender is also good for allergies, odors, or even used as soap. Like I said : one-stop-shop.


Lemon is a fantastic oil, not only for it's health benefits, but also for it's use around the house. Add it to your dish soap and not only will your dishes smell fantastic but they will also be so clean that they sparkle. This oil is great for detoxing your body of things that are harmful to it, be it bad foods or alcohol it will help to clean your system out. I drink at least 5 drops of lemon in my water every single day. It is great for healing cold sores and soothing coughs or other respiratory issues. It can give your hair highlights with just a few drops and the sunlight. It can help to preserve any leather that you have as well - couches, jackets, etc.


Peppermint oil is great for headaches. Trust me, I know! I have my fair share of headaches so when I feel one coming on, I dab a little on my temples, forehead, and the back of my neck to rid myself of the pain. It is also a great oil for cooling yourself down. This goes for anything from fevers to just being outside in the summer heat. Rub some on the back of your neck for instant a/c. Toothaches, tummy aches, and allergies {especially when mixed with lemon!} stand no chance against this oil. Also, spiders hate the smell of this stuff {winning!} and ticks can be removed so easily with it. Oh, and if you are dragging, peppermint helps to wake up your body and increase oxygen intake. 


Melaleuca is one of nature's most powerful anti-fungals, which makes it invaluable against everything from the herpes virus {like canker/cold sores} and fungal infections {like athlete's foot} to diaper rash and acne. Eczema and other irritated skin conditions don't stand a chance. Dude, even staph infections can be healed with it. I mean, really healed. It is extremely effective against lice, cavities, earaches, and even in removing warts.

This group of oils represent the most basic, versatile oils that you can own - at least in my opinion. Of course, knowing all that I know now they are simply the tip of the iceberg. Alas, I always feel that it is imperative for people to do their own research and form their own opinions about things, so don't take my word for it. Give these "voodoo concoctions" {as my dear husband would say} a try. You won't regret it.

It is very important to note that you should dilute these oils in something like fractionated coconut oil when applying topically. This is two-fold. First, if you applied the oils directly to your skin without using a carrier oil, you would lose the benefit of some of the oil because a large majority of it would evaporate. The other reason is because some {though not all} of the oils, for instance Oregano, are especially potent and could feel "hot" on your skin.

Another very important note : not all companies' essential oils are safe to take internally. I love doTERRA essential oils mainly because they are safe to consume. My thoughts are that if they are safe enough for even my child to take internally, then they are a fantastic thing. 

Like I said previously, I use essential oils everyday. My lower back pain? There is an essential oil for that. Stress Reliever? Definitely an oil for that. Sleep aid? You guessed it. I even take them on our hiking adventures and vacations because...you never know. I have found them to be an invaluable tool in my journey towards a more natural lifestyle.

As I stated, I am not trying to sell you anything, but if you would like more information on these oils, please contact me or visit my doTERRA site. It has valuable information throughout, including the history of essentials oils and an insight into the oil extraction process itself.

Monday, September 29, 2014

An Introduction to Our New Hobby

I previously introduced you to the amazing gift that my brother has for acquiring things {legally!} for free. In this post about our Labor Day weekend adventures, I mentioned that he was given two kayaks. Because he has a two year old and a baby on the way, he graciously allowed us to bring them back to Georgia with us to play with until further notice.

A few weeks ago, we decided to take advantage of these toys and took them to Lake Allatoona for a spin.

We decided to break up the afternoon into equal parts swimming and kayaking - per Canon's request of course. Of course, Canon really wanted "equal parts" to mean mostly swimming but in the wise words of Mick Jagger : "you can't always get what you want".

My little budding photographer is getting pretty good at not cutting off heads, don't you think?

Craig and I took turns chauffering Canon around, but Craig was so hardcore that he actually made Canon paddle in some cases. #noheart

Canon is an avid rock collector and adds to his stash pretty much every time we leave the house. This trip was, of course, no exception. In fact, I think we came home with about 5 rocks this particular day.

We have been so excited to see the colors changing already and spent a good chunk of the day pointing out the reds and yellows all around us.

Apparently, Canon was doing such a good job of getting around that Craig decided that a nap was in order. To be fair, it was ridiculously relaxing out there.

Whereas the kayaking was relaxing, the swimming was full of Craig trying to eat his son. It happens in some species, you know...fathers eating their young. Oh perhaps they were just playing and being silly.

Can you tell that he is used to having his picture taken?

My little dude loves to pick up flowers and leaves for me. This was no exception. He found this red beauty for me, which is currently housed in my kitchen's window sill. Not quite so red anymore, but still just as beautiful, if only because he picked it out just for me.

We already knew that we loved this lake, but we really realized just how much we love kayaking during this trip. I mean, really love. So you can expect to see more of these types of trips, because we are definitely going to be taking them!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Weekend in Blue Ridge

Ah, Blue Ridge, GA. This is the second time in just a few months that we have visited this beautiful, quaint, mountain town. You see, my father-in-law and his girlfriend are looking to buy a cabin there for the family to enjoy. That translates to them coming up to tour homes, and us spending time with them in the process. Win win, as they say, right Craig? #hehatesthatsaying

During this particular trip, we actually stayed in Mineral Bluff, GA, which is so close to the North Carolina line that if you miss your turn into the residential neighborhood and go about 3 minutes down the road you will end up in the Tar Heel State. Not that we know that from experience or anything.

The cabin that our hosts rented for a few days was called High Expectations, and I made the joke upon driving in that it better live up to mine. Well, smart...butt, it did.

This is the view from the porch. I mean, it's not that bad I suppose. If you don't have high expectations or anything. Har!

The cabin was absolutely beautiful, with natural wood and rustic decor throughout. The owners thought of everything when it came to outfitting their guests to ensure a comfortable stay. Well, except for salt and pepper. #random They did provide board games, though so that was nice.

Sherie {my father-in-law's girlfriend's sister} and Canon really bonded on this trip. She has a son who is now a marine and said that Canon reminded her of her Michael. Whatever the reason, their personalities just clicked and it was really sweet to watch.

Though we didn't really hike on this particular trip, we did venture up the paved road on the mountain where the neighborhood was located. Canon did a really good job, but began to get tired on the way back so of course Daddy's shoulders were the natural spot to land.

Even though we were "hiking" an actual road, there were so many beautiful plants and flowers along the way that I stopped to take them all in. I don't know what any of them are called though, so if you know please share the wealth.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous all weekend, but on Saturday the clouds were especially cool. They came in, hugging the tops of the mountains, rolling like fog. It was so cool to witness.

We drove in to Blue Ridge on Saturday for a walk around the town and the first thing that Canon saw was this big moose. Being my child, he said "Hey mom check it out! Take my picture with it!". He did call it an "it" because he didn't actually know what "it" was. He did, however, know how to pose.

Andrea {aka Grandma - on the right} and Sherie got in on the photo shoot action, but Canon never broke character. He continued posing just like a good little model. With zero prompting from me. It was hilarious.

The same was made for this pig at Blue Ridge Mountain Bar-B-Q. We ate lunch here, and from what I hear the ribs and bbq were wonderful. I can only attest to the goodness of the sides {and they were} since I don't eat bbq. Regardless of what we ate, I think we can safely assume that Canon enjoyed this pig the best of anything there. He hung out with it for quite a while - until we finally made him get in the car.

So pretend you are a small insect and you get stuck in this web. You are struggling to escape when you see what appears to be a gigantic monster with white fangs come at you. But then, wait. That's actually the monster's butt. Ok, that may be even scarier.

This little guy was hanging out on the decking of the cabin. I don't know his story, but those black patches of mohawk hair are seriously rockin'.

We saw a ton of different kinds of mushrooms and Canon asked if we could eat them - every single time. While I tried to explain to him that he should never eat mushrooms unless he gets them from the store or restaurant because they could make him really sick, Sherie tried explaining what a bad trip was. Not exactly what I had in mind in terms of safe nature education, but whatever works I guess.

Andrea and Sherie's mother was with us too, but is anti-photos of herself so she didn't join in our group shot. Bummer!

We had a wonderfully relaxing time that weekend and enjoyed the company of our family so much. Blue Ridge is quickly becoming a favorite place to unwind and we are already looking forward to the day when "Grandpa and Grandma" have a cabin where we can all meet for fun family times.