Baby Garden

Happy Friday!! We have started a baby garden.  Like my mom, I really like to eat veggies out of my own garden.  There is something amazing about seeing where your food comes from.  My dad built me these garden boxes about a year ago and they have been waiting to be used all that time!!  We decided, now that the weather is cooling off, to go ahead and get everything set up.  Our yard is slightly sloped away from the lawn so we had to dig one side of the box down a little bit to level it out.

     

Then we added organic raised bed soil and amended it with mushroom compost to feed the plants.

   

After the beds were ready  we just had to decide what to plant.  The obvious choice is things we actually like to eat.  Then it is important to consider what time of year it is and what will do well in this season.  Phoenix in fall is still pretty warm so our growing season is off from everything you normally see on the internet.  With that in mind I am taking a chance with a few more traditionally summer plants; tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant.  Then I also planted more fall plants; peas, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach and kale.

    

We also have an herb bed that we can hopefully keep year round as we have such great weather here!! The separate pot is for the mint as it will take over the entire box if not contained.  We also have rosemary, parsley, cilantro, sage, thyme, oregano and lemon balm.  Herbs are awesome because not only can they be used in food, a lot of herbs can be used for medicinal purposes as well!!

 

Lastly, we have a nest in the bird house.  I have been seeing a little bird family go in and out of there for a while now, super exciting!!

Happy Gardening!!

XOXO -Amber

Natural Kitchen

One  of the reasons I like gardening is because I know what I am eating.  It’s real food with no pesticides grown in good soil with natural fertilizers.  Over the last few years or so I have been moving toward a more natural life.  Essential oils are a big part of the natural life but I’ve wondered , ” What else can I do?”  I decided  to try to be more natural in the kitchen.

Petrochemicals are everywhere and I don’t think we can escape them completely but I’ve taken a few little steps to reduce them.  Here are four ways I’ve reduced plastic and toxins in my kitchen:

Wooden cutting boards 

These are better for your knives and eliminate plastic.  You aren’t adding micro particles of plastic to your food.

Glass bowls for leftovers  

The leftovers can go right into the microwave when I remove the lid.  They have plastic lids but I NEVER put plastic  in the microwave or dishwasher. NEVER!!!

No nonstick pans

I’ve read a lot about the teflon coating on cookware.  I just decided to give it a try.  I put my nonstick skillet and pans away for a month.  It took a little bit of practice but by using heart healthy oils, I don’t need nonstick.  Does it add calories? Yes, but I think the elimination of a possible toxic material is worth it.

Natural dish soap

I’m now using natural dish soap.  I was slow to convert because it doesn’t create as many suds.  When I decided to give it a try, I bought one that said natural, all plant based.  I didnt read the label until I got home (I had left my reading glasses at home).  It had SLS, a toxic chemical I don’t want.  So be careful.  If you search, you can find truly natural soap.  Thieves dish soap is one you can trust.

None of these cost much money.  I’m not saying I never use plastic but I have been successful in reducing the amount it is in my kitchen. I hope this gives you a simple way to be a little more natural.

Be well,

Cathy

A Day in the Life of Gelsey

Hello Oily Shenanigans! I am Gelsey, Amber’s daughter, and I am very excited to be writing my first oily blog post. This will be our third installment of the “Day in the Life” series, in which I will go through my day and talk about how I use essential oils on a daily basis. Something that I find so awesome about oils is that they are so versatile and there are so many ways one can use them on a regular basis, which means that everyone’s routines are so different, which is the beauty of this series. So let’s get into it.

Rise and Shine

The morning time is probably the time of day when I use the most essential oils, they really help me to start the day off right and get me in a good mood. One product I LOVE and use daily is the Young Living Orange Blossom Face Wash, it is so great and a little goes such a long way. Another oily infused product I use on my face regularly is the Young Living Savvy Minerals line; I’m particularly a fan of the powder, blush, and multitasker. I’m not a huge makeup wearer, but if I do decide to I like keeping it minimal, and I love that I can use these products with full confidence that they won’t irritate my skin or break me out or anything, but in fact they are good and beneficial for my health.

The Theives Toothpaste is also something that I use on a daily basis, and there are multiple varieties of this toothpaste but the one I am currently using is the one that tastes cinnamony. I recently started using Young Living deodorant, which I’m so happy about because I feel like deodorant is one thing that is hard to find a non-toxic version of. I had actually been trying to use up the last of my deodorant for so long before switching, but I go through deodorant so slow that I got really antsy. One last thing I wanted to touch on was a recipe I saw on Young Living’s Facebook page for homemade, non-toxic, oil-infused dry shampoo that I ended up trying out. So I have a little insert below if you’re interested in checking that out. I really like it but I’m still trying to figure out a good way to store it because I currently use it out of an extra cleaned out bottle I had and it doesn’t come out very well, so if you have any ideas, that would be appreciated, haha. Now, the straight oils that I use on myself kind of depend on the day, but I am actually a junior in high school so most days I am just going to school and my absolute favorite combination for school is Stress Away mixed with Inner Child. I also occasionally, if I feel in extra need, will mix En-R-Gee and Peppermint and rub it on the back of my neck. And when sickness is spreading in school a little Theives goes a long way. This part of my oily routine changes all the time, but this is pretty much the norm. I really try to load up before school, because at school I really don’t have a lot of opportunities to be oiling up.

Homemade Essential Oil Infused Dry Shampoo https://www.youngliving.com/blog/diy-essential-oil-infused-dry-shampoo/

Daytime Oiliness

So as I said, I don’t use a ton of oils during the day, however a couple things I like to have with me is a small Thieves Hand Purifier, because obviously at school I’m around a lot of people all day and I eat at school, so I find I do end up using it, as well as my Stress Away Roller Ball. Aside from being at school during the day, I am also an active Tae Kwon Do practitioner, for which I sometimes like using Peppermint Essential Oil as well as the Amino Wise exercise supplement. I don’t use this supplement every time but on nights when I know class will definitely be extra hard, and it really gives me a little extra boost.

Bedtime Oily Shenenigans

Ahhhh, finally night time! The night time is probably my favorite time of day, especially when I get my homework done at a reasonable time and I have time to just get ready for bed and have some down time. So a lot of the oily goodies I use at night are the same as what I use during the day, such as my face wash, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. However, there are also some distinct differences. I personally am a night time shower kind of person, and in the shower I am currently trying out the Young Living Shampoo and the Body Wash as well. They both smell great and do the job, which I am very pleased with.

One thing that I am in LOVE with is mixing my own oil-infused facial serums, I discovered this a while ago and am now obsessed. I start with 100% pure Argan Oil, but the beauty of this is that it is so customizable that use can choose any kind of carrier oil that you prefer. From there I can just pick whichever oils I want to add in, depending on what I am looking for it to do. I keep mine pretty simple, and I love the combination of Frankincense, Lavender, Copaiba, and Manuka (you can add in as much or as little as you like, I generally do 15ish drops). And voila, acustomized oily serum! Some nights after that I also use straight Tea Tree oil on any problem spots. Lastly for my oily personal care products is the Genesis Hand and Body Lotion, I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this lotion is, it smells wonderful and works amazingly well, I’ve tried the Lavender one as well which is also great. For bedtime diffusion I use all sorts of combinations, depending on my mood or what I feel like smelling. Below I have some bedtime oils I love.

Well, that’s about it, after writing this I am realizing just how much I actually use essential oils, and that is more than I thought, haha. I wanted to mention one last thing that is definitely not daily but once a week, and that is church!! Before church often times I rub a drop of Frankincense over my chest which is very grounding and focusing, and something I like to save and enjoy for church. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, have a great rest of your Monday and a fabulous week.

XOXO, Gelsey

 

Do you have a Ninja?

 

Amber and I talked about what a day in the life of an oily family looks like.  I admit I was surprised when I started really thinking about it. THERE’S A LOT!  Today you will get how Paul and I use supplements, oils and products for home and beauty.

Supplements

We start the day off with our Ningxia Red.  Paul calls it his ninja.  I was going to correct his pronunciation but then I realized that he’s right. It’s a ninja!!  Ningixa Red, multigreens and Omegagize help with sustaining our energy levels and overall health. At night we take Essentialzymes-4 and Life 9 to support a healthy gut.  Two supplements that I take are for middle aged athletes, Sulfurzyme and Agilease, give me the support this older body needs for taekwondo. 

Oils

Diffusing oils is a regular part of our life.  My favorite for everyday is Orange and Rosemary.  At night I like Cedarwood and Lavender but we change it up regularly.  I also like to wear oils.  Joy is my favorite for everyday. I wear peppermint to taekwondo. I recently got Jasmine oil.  Oh my gosh, it is amazing. The oil I wear daily depends on what is going on that day.

Home and beauty products

I have purged our home of toxic cleaners and only use Thieves cleaner.  I have three different strengths for all levels of cleaning. We also use Thieves toothpaste and body soap.  I keep Thieves hand cleaner in my purse.  I NEVER use hand sanitizer.  Sandalwood moisturizer and Genesis lotion go on my face and skin.  One last thing, Lavaderm after sun spray is great for helping soothe the itch of mosquito bites.

Well, here it is.  I use lots but my day is a bit different than anyone else.  That’s one of the things I learned this year.  Essential Oils are so flexible they can support whatever your needs might be.

Happy Oiling,

Cathy

Winter is Coming

I might be one of the very last people to watch Game of Thrones. The idea that Winter is Coming is throughout the first season and a few of the characters are paying attention but most are not. Of course that has nothing to do with the garden but seems more interesting than the old ant and grasshopper story.

In the garden we are aware that winter is coming so today was all about harvesting and “putting up” for winter. There is nothing that I like better than to be able to make chili, soup or spaghetti sauce on a cold winter day with tomatoes I’ve saved from the garden. We are so used to having plenty of tomatoes all winter that we forget how yummy they are until someone is here for a meal and reminds us that those tomatoes we saved from the garden make an ordinary meal something special.

I just wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. I cook them on low heat until they start releasing juice and I turn them up to medium-low. I mash them every ten minutes or so and cook until everything is soft. I put the cooked tomatoes and juice through a food mill to got rid of most of the skins. I put about 3 cups of cooked tomatoes into a plastic container and freeze. A day or so later I remove them from the containers and put them I a bag that can be vacuum sealed. This saves that fresh garden flavor.
We also harvested Anasazi beans. They are yummy and we like them better than pinto beans. After they are shelled we spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry. It only takes a few days and then they go into a jar in the pantry.

Squash and okra went into the freezer today too. We are happier with the texture of these two vegetables if we don’t blanch them first. The general rule of thumb is to use them within 6 months. We use a vacuum sealer so we don’t have any problems. I cut the okra first since this is how I will be using it. I put it on a parchment lined pan in the freezer for about an hour and a half. This helps it not get crushed in the vacuum sealer. The squash just goes in the bag freshly cut and then vacuum sealed.

Paul even made pickled peppers. He says they are very tasty but hot. I don’t do hot so I’ll let him enjoy those.



Paul’s Pickled Peppers
Makes 2 pint jars.

1 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
3/4 cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, sliced vertically In half
1 T sugar
1 tsp sea salt

Heat ingredients until sugar and salt dissolve. Liquid should be very hot but doesn’t need to boil.

While this heats, put 5-6 jalapeños in each clean pint jar. They should fit as tightly as possible. Pour hot liquid and garlic into jars. Each jar gets one of the cut pepper pieces. Don’t be surprised if the peppers start to float. Put on the lids. Let the jars cool a bit and store in the refrigerator. These are not processed in a water bath so be sure to keep them in the fridge.
Loving my garden,
Cathy

A Day in the Life – Amber

Hello!  We are starting a new series called A Day in the Life.  We are going to be talking about what we use and how we use oils and supplements each day.  Everyone has their own routine when it comes to how they use oils and we all have different needs. I will kick it off for us this week with my routine around here.

To kick-start the day I use a lot of toxin-free products to get ready for the day.  I LOVE the orange blossom face wash like no other face wash I have ever used!! If I could only recommend one skin care product it would be that one!!! I also use the ART intensive moisturizer which I add one or two drops of manuka oil to.  Not every day but about every third day I use the mint facial scrub to smooth my skin out.  The Young Living deodorant is really nice!  It is important to not use antiperspirants with aluminum because they have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.  I love the hand and body lotions and usually use the Genesis scent.  I also like the Thieves mouthwash and toothpaste.  Lastly, I use Progessence Plus on my ankles morning and night to help balance my female hormones and frankincense on all of my scars.

Before I send my kids off to a germ filled school I use an immunity blend rollerball on both of the younger ones to help ward off the crud.  The immunity blend has frankincense, oregano, Thieves, lemon, and tea tree oil with fractionated coconut oil as the carrier oil.

Just about all day every day we run the diffusers in the house.  Frank looks like he’s going to cry but really he’s focused on discerning the blend!!  If you want some diffuser blend recommendations check out our previous post: Why You Should Toss Your Candles…

We have ditched and switched the toxic laundry soaps and especially the super toxic fabric softener!! We LOVE the Thieves detergent,  it’s amazing how powerful just one Tablespoon is on tough kid stains!! We also use wool balls instead of fabric softener.  I was able to get the wool balls for not very much $ on Amazon.  I keep them in this canister with all of my empty oil bottles to infuse them with oily goodness.

At bedtime we faithfully use our diffusers.  Josh and I usually diffuse Peace and Calming but when we run out of that we diffuse a blend of lavender, cedarwood and vetiver.  In the kids room I diffuse equal parts lavender and Thieves and I use a sleepytime rollerball (lavender, cedarwood, vetiver) on their necks as well.

 

There are some supplements that are indispensable for me!! Every single day with no exception I take Life 9 and Essentialzyme-4 before bed! We also take Ningxia Red and Omegagize daily.  I love the Aminowise to help with muscle recovery after a workout.  I also really like Super C when I hear anyone mention the crud as well as Super B for increased energy!

I also like to use oils instead of perfume.  Some of my favorites are Joy,  Inner Child, and Jasmine.  There are tons of different oils that would work as perfume, even Stress Away!!

These are the things that I use consistently.  There are a lot of other oils that I like to use, especially in the diffuser!! The more time you spend in an oily lifestyle the more comfortable you get trying new things and creating healthy habits!!

Hope all is well!!

-Amber

Do You Kombucha??

While kombucha has been around a really long time, I think it has only really gained such widespread popularity in recent years due to the Paleo diet and other whole food lifestyles making a resurgence.  I remember the first time I tried kombucha, I was skeptical about it.  The smell is not what I would naturally lean into and that other funky stuff in there honestly didn’t exactly have me licking my lips.  I did try it though and it was better than it looked.  Since then I have tried more different store bought flavors than I can remember.  Let’s be honest though, at $3-$4 dollars a bottle it’s not exactly something I am picking up every day.

Drinking kombucha on a regular basis is a really good idea though.  The cultures in the kombucha are incredibly beneficial to your health!!  The probiotics are a major necessity for your gut health. Not only that but it also has a plethora of other benefits.  It’s full of healthy acids, enzymes and helps to detoxify the body.  Kombucha is a slightly carbonated beverage that is a great alternative to sodas as it is slightly sweet yet, when properly brewed, it is low in sugar.

So how do you incorporate this health boosting drink to your day without breaking the bank?? Brew your own!  A good friend of mine suggested this to me and gave me a SCOBY, which is a symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast.  These SCOBY’s can also be purchased on Amazon if you don’t have anyone making one available to you.  It looks super funky!! Kind of like a super dense booger if we’re being honest, but a magical one!

So, how do you do it??  It starts with a super dark brewing of black tea, about 16 cups.  I boiled 8 cups of water and added 12 bags of black tea and left it covered for over 10 minutes.   Then add 1.5 cups of sugar and mix until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Then transfer the sweet tea to a large glass jar (it must be glass so it does not interfere with the fermentation) add the remaining 8 cups of water and wait until the tea is cooled to room temperature.  Then add the SCOBY along with about 1 cup of plain kombucha and cover with a tea towel or cheese cloth and secure with a rubber band.  Place this jar in a dark, room temperature place where it won’t be disturbed for at least a week. Be patient!  After 7 days you can take a peek to see how things are coming along.  The SCOBY will have grown significantly and the whole mixture will have that unmistakable kombucha smell.  There will also be yeast tendrils coming down from the SCOBY which is good!!  Mine wasn’t ready until day 9.

     

At that point the first brewing of kombucha is complete.  You will need to remove the SCOBY and place it in a jar with about 1 cup of the kombucha so you can start again.  There will also be a SCOBY baby which will look like what you started with.  Place that in a jar with a cup of the kombucha and pay it forward to an unsuspecting but certainly grateful friend.

Now you can either drink the kombucha the way that it is or you can go for a second brewing.  I immediately went for a second brewing because I was excited about the option for adding different flavors.  The idea is that you portion the kombucha out into smaller glass containers and add fruit juice or other sweet flavorings and continue the brewing process.  The kombucha will continue to feed on the sugar of whatever flavorings you put in with it causing it to ferment further and also to carbonate!! It’s pretty amazing to see how that happens.  The drink stays low in sugar because the bacteria feeds on the sugar in the fruit juice using it up.  The variations that I did were blueberry and basil, watermelon, mango, and Ningxia Red with honey.

Here are the instructions that I followed for a more thorough explanation.  They are very easy to follow and he also has a follow up video about the second fermentation process.

Don’t delay, get your home brewing on!!  Hope you all are well!!

XOXO -Amber

Move That Body

How do you exercise?  Do you have something that is the norm for you? Is it something that is fun or is it drudgery?  My regular exercise is taekwondo, I do it several times a week, every week.  I love it, and it doesn’t usually feel like exercise but rather like fun.  I have met some amazing people there and it has become a really happy place for me!  I also regularly do yoga at home.  I think that yoga is a great supplement to taekwondo (and probably most sports) as it builds strength as well as flexibility and is not difficult to do anywhere.  For a long time that has been the entirety of my exercise regimen.

   

This summer I have been challenged to try some new things.  I think it is important to challenge your body to do something it isn’t used to.  I had the opportunity to attend a few classes at Cyclebar at the urging of my daughters.  Indoor cycling is very different than taekwondo in that you are literally stuck to the bicycle (the shoes you wear lock to the peddles) and you use the same muscles for an entire hour without ceasing.  There is also a very different dynamic, with music blaring and the lights are dimmed so you can’t really see around the room, it’s just you and the bike.  I don’t know that it will become a regular thing for me but I definitely enjoyed trying something different and can see the appeal it has to people.  I think my favorite part of the whole experience was something one of the instructors said “Be happy that you have the ability to come in here and sweat, there are many people who would love to use their body in this way and aren’t able to” It really is great to celebrate what your body can do.

On that note, my second chance to challenge myself was at a middle school summer camp this year.  One of the activities that the kids do is climb a 35 foot rock wall so they can take a zip line down through the trees.  It is really beautiful and for some it was a massive challenge!!! When all of the kids were done the adults had a chance to try it.  Obviously I was first in line!  I haven’t tried to climb a rock wall in at least 10 years and even then I can’t remember being all that gung ho about it.  This time I was excited to see if I would be able to climb the wall.  It was also a very different way to use my body but I was up and over that wall with relative ease.  This was so awesome because it was the result of the exercise I have done over the last several years.  It was like a reward and a challenge all in one to have a tangible way to see that my body is strong.

It doesn’t matter how you do it, get out there and move your body.  Challenge yourself and see what you can do.  Even if it looks like going to the park with your kids to run around or taking the dog for a walk, get up and move your muscles!  If you are a seasoned exerciser, I challenge you to break the mold you are used to and try something out of your comfort zone.  If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!  Hope you are all well!!

XOXO -Amber

Go to the Gym? Why?

Lots of people love going to the gym.  I’m not one of them.  My husband started going to the gym for the first time this summer.  A few weeks ago a friend asked him why.  He had a simple answer- he wants to improve his golf game. Now that his gym buddy has left for school, he wants me to go.  I’m not too thrilled but Amber reminded me that it would help with taekwondo.  I’ll do all kinds of stuff to be better at taekwondo, even go to the gym.

This made me wonder why other people go to the gym, so I asked.   Lots of people want to lose weight, get slimmer and have more energy.  Other replies included: I have nothing better to do, get a nice body for a trip, to stay fit and to feel healthier. One lady told me it was included in her insurance so she decided to try it.

I loved the reply from Eddie, a retired policeman.  He had been a runner years ago but was trying to get back in shape after knee replacement surgery.  He told me his wife was his encourager. When I talked to her she gave him the credit for getting her running in the beginning. Going to the gym together works for them. I liked that several people gave credit to someone else for spurring them on.

So….. do you go to the gym or is there some other activity you enjoy? Sometimes they just go together.

Cathy