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One of the things I’ve noticed about those in the natural health world is that often proponents of holistic living tend to be big on fear. They talk about how you are going to get cancer from all the things that surround you, lecture you on whether or not you eat organic and generally keep throwing things in your face about how you are doing it wrong. I don’t find any of that incredibly motivating.

I started looking at natural living stuff because of this fear in the beginning, but that has not been the motivation behind maintaining it. I realize that this lifestyle is something I’ve decided I will do the best I can and that will be good enough for me. If I am to cut out all things that might give me cancer, I will have to live in a bubble.

However, there are a few things I can do that will help lessen my family’s exposure to some of the carcinogens, and that is worth it to me. My husband is a firefighter who is on the Hazardous Materials Team at his department. Firefighters are already at a much higher risk for cancer than the average person, and the additional exposure he has by being on that team makes it even worse. I will not let the fear of the “what-if” dictate our lives, but I can do a few things at home to help lessen the carcinogenic exposure for him.

I also want to keep my kids on as natural a track as possible, and this has incredible benefits. We generally visit the doctor once per year for their annual checkup, and that’s it. My oldest is in public school and exposed to all the usual things, but he doesn’t get sick very often. My youngest gets sick more often than her brother, but she gets over illnesses much more quickly than most kids.

I attribute this to attempts at limiting the destruction of helpful bacteria (no hand sanitizer at my house), focus on unprocessed food to aid in good digestion (many say health begins in the gut), addition of helpful vitamins and minerals (daily multivitamin and probiotic), use of immune-boosters to prevent sickness (elderberry syrup is our go-to when we feel like we are getting something) and focus on natural cleaning and home products.

Now, that said, my kids still get sick and they still could get cancer. I hate it when parents with sick kids feel that they are to blame—we already beat ourselves up enough as parents, right? My hope is that in trying some of these things, I’ll give them the best chance of avoiding some of the hard illnesses, and the rest I leave with God.

So, why not give some of the natural living a shot without participating in the fear-mongering? It frees you up to sometimes do dinner out of a box, to sometimes buy a cleaning product instead of making it and to sometimes use Advil. And this makes me much more likely to stick with all the other things I’m doing to help because the standard isn’t impossible!

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Mothering is important business, and it usually comes with a side of housework that can make your head feel like it’s always spinning. I have tried so many different techniques to sort out the cleaning in my house, and read countless blog posts, books, courses and such to try to get a handle on it. So, in honor of all the research I have done on the subject, I am sharing my current cleaning plan for the overworked, overstressed mother who is just trying to feel less like a failure. Isn’t that a sales pitch? Here’s how it works:

  1. Analyze your cleaning list (even if that list is in your head) for the major things each week that have to happen to maintain your sanity. This will probably be pretty specific to the individual. Mine are clean bathrooms, vacuum carpets, sweep and mop wood floors, trash and laundry. Now, if it were a perfect world and I had endless time, I would probably do a lot more cleaning (not true, actually, as in a perfect world I would hire someone to clean for me) but this is what I need to do to keep things sane around here and to keep me from feeling super stressed.
  2. Analyze your cleaning list for the major things that need to be done each day. I have slowly trained myself (after much kicking and screaming) to make my bed, clean off the kitchen counters, wash all the dishes and pick up things as I walk around the house. These are my everyday things, and they keep my sanity to a normal level. I protested them at first because I thought it sounded too hard (I sound like a real whiner, don’t I?), but I’ve realized I’d rather do them throughout the day and not have to get up in the morning and start a whole pile of things I wished I had done the day before.
  3. Assign a day each week for your major weekly duties. Here’s how mine looks:

Monday: Clean bathrooms and gather all trash

            Tuesday: Sweep and mop wood floors and put trash out on curb

            Wednesday: Vacuum carpets

            Thursday: Laundry

            Friday: Pick a chore (dusting, deep cleaning a room, reorganizing or decluttering a room, etc.)

Now, the key to this is that if I miss a day, it’s ok! This week I did clean the bathrooms on Monday, and I swept on
Tuesday, but I vacuumed on Tuesday as well because I had an extra minute. Now, I don’t worry about too much
on Wednesday because I’m ahead of the game. Or, if I have a big day of work on Monday, I’ll try to fit the
bathrooms in later in the week—Friday is very helpful because it is a day to catch up as well.

  1. Start requiring yourself to do your daily duties every day. I hated it at first, but after a while it became habit and now it feels weird not to do it. I can’t believe the reduction in my stress level when I wake up to a clean-ish house, though! And every time I walk in my bedroom throughout the day, I see the bed is made and realize I have at least had one accomplishment today! We are aiming small, people!
  2. Remember that for your season of life right now, you may have to reduce your standard a little. My bathroom cleaning is not deep cleaning every time. I only clean the bathtub every other week (if that) and I vacuum the upstairs carpets every other week or so as well. The downstairs carpets need vacuuming at least once a week, so that’s what I focus on. If there is very little time, I will pick the piece of the cleaning task that really needs to be done and focus on just that. So, maybe it would be nice to mop the floor but if I at least sweep it, things will be better—so I do that. This is about your sanity and what you feel needs to be done. If the dusting is the thing that bothers you more than anything, make sure that is done every week. That is so not my issue, so I focus on bathrooms and floors. Figure out what works for you and what helps you to feel more relaxed in your home.
  3. Reevaluate as you go and make sure this isn’t adding to your stress. My loose cleaning schedule is something that I’ve realized helps me to be better prepared when people come over (of course, my close friends have just learned to deal with my house in whatever state they find it) and it leaves me feeling very productive even if things are not perfect. My standards have been lowered, but I can still keep my house somewhat clean without cleaning for hours at a time or stressing myself out constantly about it.

Hope this makes it easier to get through the cleaning and allows you to relax more in the place you call home!

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Essential oils can be such an overwhelming and trendy predicament. You have to figure out what the heck they are, where to buy them (and everyone has a scary story about that) and how to use them. I don’t work for an essential oils company, so I feel I can talk about them without a bias. I do have affiliate links to them on Amazon, but I am not particular to one brand as you will soon find out. So here we go!

What Are Essential Oils?

They are a highly concentrated form of the oil from a plant that has many great uses for health, beauty and home.

Where Should I Buy Them?

Ok, you probably have four friends who are selling different brands, and they all get a little crazy about how their company is the best, purest, most amazing thing that ever was. I have used a lot of different brands, and there are some I can tell a difference with and some I think are about the same. So, really honest truth here, most oils seem to be pretty good and try to be diligent about purity. I started with Edens Gardens on Amazon. I don’t think they are the best as I haven’t seen the results I have had with others, but if you want to start slow they are cheaper.

I love Rocky Mountain Oils (most of which you can find on Amazon), Doterra (also on Amazon), Young Living and Plant Therapy. They all seem to be very high quality and work well. There are probably lots of other brands that do as well—these are just the ones I’ve tried.

The issue I have with a lot of essential oils companies is that they make you buy into the membership somehow to gain access to cheaper prices. Why can’t they just let you buy them, I ask? I did the Doterra thing for about a year and finally got sick of feeling like I had to buy stuff all the time. This is why I go back to Rocky Mountain Oils often (free shipping and no membership!) and buying on Amazon if I want Doterra.

How Do I Use Them?

You can diffuse them (check out this amazing deal on this cute diffuser here) in your bedroom, living room, office, kitchen, etc. You can put them on your feet or other body part depending on the use, and often you need some sort of dilution with another oil.

Remember these are super concentrated, so you don’t want to go overboard. Some people use them orally but I haven’t done that besides the one time I threw back a drop of On Guard from Doterra and felt like my throat was on fire from inside—please don’t do that. Listen to what the bottle tells you about how much to use. Don’t go crazy here as a little is all you need—often just a drop or two.

I also make several beauty recipes with essential oils including miracle skin serum, body wash, shampoo and conditioning rinse.

Some Favorites of Mine

I know you didn’t ask, but I am always happy to offer my perspective on the best ones for the job. I love Deep Blue for muscle aches and headaches that start in your neck. I get the premade lotion because it’s just easier than mixing drops of the essential oil with something else. I use On Guard or Immune Strength for when I feel a cold descending on our house and am trying to get rid of it (usually by diffusing). I love Balance from RMO—it’s my perfume and it makes me so happy. On particularly stressful days you can watch me sniffing my wrists like an addict to find some stress reduction. I have used Ginger to alleviate motion sickness (mine is terrible if I’m not driving and I’m riding in a car up in the mountains) and just sniff the stuff the whole time I’m in the car so as not to…well, you know. I use Lemon in cleaning products that I make and it lends its lovely clean scent and helpful cleaning powers to them. Another favorite is Serenity which I use on the bottoms of my feet whenever I can’t sleep deeply (although my magnesium oil has made that less frequent). Rocky Mountain also has these great premixed kid rollerballs that you don’t have to think about when using on your kids. They aren’t on Amazon that I’ve found, but you can get them on their website directly. I love the Tummy Rub (I get the big bottle of this too for adult stomach issues) and Counting Sheep.

An Honest Review

So, no, essential oils will not solve every problem you have. And they may not even work on you like they did on your friend who loves them. But they are definitely worth a second look, in my opinion, as they can really have some great effects and provide you another way to really do some preventative care and take your health into your own hands. With the increased costs of healthcare these days, it’s worth checking into some of these little bottles to see if they might help deal with your issues before going to the doctor. (Of course, I am not a doctor and do not offer medical advice.) So, maybe hit up one of your friends who does this a lot and ask for a little sample. Or take the plunge and buy a bottle of your own. If you are going to start with something, I’d go with Lavender. That stuff is fantastic—relaxing (put some in your bath), soothing (for burns or cuts) and delightful. Give one a try and let me know what you think!

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I don’t know about you guys but as the new year approaches I am always abuzz with my goals for the next year and what I’d love to accomplish. I can’t believe what goal-setting has done for my productivity in the last couple of years. I used to have a vague idea of what I wanted to do during the year, but without any concrete details or actionable goals, most didn’t get done. I would finish the year and think through the same things for the following year, all the while knowing it probably wouldn’t happen. That’s incredibly frustrating! Now, I don’t accomplish all my goals for the year, but there is definite progress and I finish more things because I have a plan of some kind.

If you are thinking about some of the same things as you plan for 2017, I have three great resources that are on sale for a limited time. The first is Crystal Paine’s new course 15 Days to a Healthier You. I have taken almost all of Crystal’s courses, and she is the one who really helped me figure out setting goals and accomplishing things in a better way. I am excited as this one is about self-care—something I really need to work on a little! Each of the courses I have taken of hers don’t cost much, don’t take too much time, and leave me feeling more accomplished rather than defeated. She is very down-to-earth and I never feel as though she is condescending. Check out this course and all it offers for only $15 here! It’s only open until Jan 3rd, so get on it! I’ll be doing it as well, so I’ll see you in the private FB group if you sign up.

The other amazing resources going on sale for only 48 hours are the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle and the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle. If you have never experienced one of these bundles before, you are going to be amazed at how much is included in them. You can buy one for $29.97, and they are running a special deal following checkout that you can get the other for only $15 more. You should check out what is included in these bundles—so many resources from incredibly reputable people! I was especially interested in the Essential Oils and Herbs one so I’ll be working through all the e-books and resources in the next few months. Remember they are only available until midnight on December 29th, so act quickly!

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Some of my favorite gifts to give and receive are homemade ones. When you know the person worked to give you something they thought you’d like, it’s very meaningful. If money is a little tight this year, making gifts can also be a great money-saver while still giving a quality item. I try to give gifts to my son’s teachers, the mailman, and many others—this can get very pricey if I’m not careful. So, I often do a little gift card with a homemade item for them. I also make little gift bags of homemade items to go with other gifts I can purchase for family and friends. And they claim they love the stuff I make! That may be a very kind lie, but I’ll take it!

So, here’s a list of homemade gifts that can be made in under half an hour and will make your recipients so happy. Each link goes to a recipe on my blog for you to follow.

  1. Sugar scrub. This recipe has shea butter in it. It melts on your skin and makes it so soft. Don’t make this a month in advance or it will harden. Of course, you can just churn it up and add a little more oil and it will be fine. The smells really make this stuff. Choose smells that you think the recipient will love. Essential oils give you that smell without weird chemicals and added benefits of whatever oil you choose.
  2. Lotion bars. You can buy these giant “Chapstick” tubes on Amazon that make it much easier to put on lotion and everyone loves them! I usually make a double recipe and that makes about 20 lotion bars.
  3. Miracle skin serum. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t love this almond oil serum. I put it on my face every night and have noticed a significant difference in fine lines. If you have a friend with nut allergies, try avocado oil instead. This is especially easy if you already make it for yourself or have several of the essential oils already on hand.
  4. Foaming hand soap. Yes, it sounds a little odd to give hand soap, but it’s all about the scent. People love a good-smelling foaming hand soap. Two of the less expensive essential oils are lavender and lemongrass (and you can buy them on Amazon or Rocky Mountain Oils so easily) and they smell divine together in a hand soap.
  5. Bath salts. They are delightful to give and to use! Bath salts help with stress, sore muscles and sleep. Make your own scent variation and put them in a pretty  jar or tub!                                                                                                                                                                     
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Buying Christmas gifts can sometimes be hard. You want to get your friends and family something they will love, but discovering that perfect idea can be stressful. If you have someone in your life who desires to live more naturally while saving time and money, here are some suggestions to get you started!

Griddle

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One of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts (and most-used ones as well) is my griddle. I use it almost every day for making things like pancakes, grilled sandwiches, and French toast—I even used it for hot dogs the other day when we didn’t want to fire up the outside grill! It saves me so much time because I can fit four sandwiches at a time on it instead of doing only two in a pan, and then having to decide who is the most hungry and who will wait for the next round. I can cook up to 10 pancakes at a time, which is especially helpful when I do my freezer cooking session of pancakes to prep for busy morning breakfasts. I have seen some of these griddles costs over $100, but this one I’ve had for a couple of years now and it was only $30!

Natural Makeup

Easy Beauty Routine


I make a lot of things myself for my beauty and home routines, but I have not dabbled in makeup because of all the extra ingredients that it requires. My favorite natural makeup is from 100% Pure Cosmetics and Skincare, and this makeup could be a fantastic gift. It comes in beautiful packaging as well, so it makes you feel so fancy while using makeup that doesn’t have nasty stuff in it. And feeling fancy is always important! Try the mascara, foundation or eye liner for an intro.

Food Processor/Blender

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If you are going to make laundry detergent,  or Mexican veggie soup, a food processor or blender is really necessary. I have this food processor that I received as a wedding gift (so it’s almost 10 years old now!) and it has been amazing. I also throw onions in there when I need some for a recipe, and it dices them splendidly so I have a lot fewer tears as I chop them. If you have a garden, you can puree zucchini or tomatoes before freezing them for soups, tomato sauce, zucchini bread or just trying to deal with the constant onslaught of zucchini throughout the late summer. I have heard wonderful things about Vitamix blenders also, but haven’t made the dive into purchasing one because of the cost. Amazon does have a refurbished one (with a 1-year warranty) for $360 which seems like a great deal for a blender that usually costs over $500!

Immersion Blender

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Along the same lines, I have talked multiple times about my love for my immersion blender. It’s something that is pretty inexpensive and yet allows you to not have to move hot food to a food processor or blender to puree. I use mine for easy pureeing of spaghetti sauce (you can hide a lot more veggies from the kids in there when you puree them!), applesauce and soups.

Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker

 

If your loved one doesn’t have a slow cooker, please get them one for Christmas! I am a busy mom who only survives by using my crock pot for dinners on days that I will be working all day or when I know we need a quick dinner once we get home. The joy of walking in the house after a long day and smelling a delicious dinner ready and waiting is second to none.

Bread Machine

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How about a bread machine? I received one for Christmas a couple of years ago and it has made my life easier. I love homemade bread but I didn’t love trying to do it in my mixer (and you know I am not kneading that bread for fifteen minutes by hand!!) so the bread machine allows me to put all the ingredients in and walk away. I usually do the second rise and bake it separately to the bread machine, simply because I don’t like the hole in the middle of the loaf from blade, but you can let it do the whole thing for you and have fresh bread without doing any switching!

Stocking Stuffers

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Some of my favorite stocking stuffer ideas are things like storage bag holders (which if you are freezing a lot of things make your life so much easier!), an oil sprayer (have your own oil spray with no added chemicals and for much cheaper), and whisks. I use whisks for all dry ingredients before mixing with wet ingredients on a recipe. It is almost like sifting without the pain of sifting!

Canner

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If your person is really getting into some of the homesteading skills, a pressure canner can open up a world of possibility for them to try new things. It might be a good idea to include a canning book like The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving to help them get started.

Essential Oil Storage Box

 

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I love the essential oil box I got this year. I have a lot of essential oils as I have grown my collection, and I had them all in the same cardboard box for years. My box started disintegrating and it was hard to find what I was looking for. You can get little stickers for the top of the bottles to make finding the right oil easier, and the boxes are so pretty. They make them in all different sizes so you can find the perfect one for however much of an oil junkie your loved one is. This one pictured also is tall enough to handle rollerballs, which was the reason I chose it.

Essential Oils

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Essential oils themselves are also really helpful when you are getting started. Sometimes it’s hard to fit an oil in the budget, even when you know it will last for a long time. If you want to start making face serums, hand soaps, body wash or shampoo, it is so nice to have a little collection of essential oils to start. I would suggest lavender, peppermint, tea tree and frankincense (which is the most expensive one out of the bunch but also does amazing things for so many parts of the body). I love Rocky Mountain Oils for this as you don’t have to sign up for a membership to anything to buy them and they have free shipping. Another option is to look on Amazon as they have a lot of the Doterra oils if you prefer them.

Try one of these this Chrismas and see if your natural living lover doesn’t rejoice in a gift that makes their life easier the whole year through!

 

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There are a lot of times in this blogging/work/life journey that you feel like throwing in the towel and shutting the whole thing down. Things don’t work out like you’d hope. You are tired of fitting extra work into the cracks of your already busy life. Your motivation droops and you feel as if it means nothing to work this hard. I know I can’t be the only one feeling this way about various pieces of my life, so I wanted to write for you today. You, the one who feels exhausted and ready to quit. I hope that in sharing what helps me to keep going, I might encourage you as well.

1. Remember the why. What was the reasoning behind this project? What drove you to start the thing in the first place? For me, I love helping people get started with natural living when they aren’t sure where to begin. I have so enjoyed the freedom of being able to make my own products and know exactly what is in them. There is something very empowering about the process, and I love watching people discover that for themselves.
2. Find the piece you enjoy the most. I love the writing more than anything else about blogging. It is cathartic for me to write, and I feel my brain must do it so as not to get all plugged up. The rest of the blogging stuff (social media, website maintenance, etc) is not as fun for me. I don’t hate it, but it is not what I am most passionate about. I need, sometimes, to just sit down and write so I remember how much I love it.




3. Do the next thing. If I look at all the projects I have on my plate this week, I get overwhelmed instantly. I make a list of those projects (so I don’t stress about forgetting one of them) and then triage them. What is the priority today? Do that. Start with that thing, even if it is a hard thing. You’ve reminded yourself of your love and passion for this piece of your life, and now you move forward in one small area. This will give you traction for the rest.
4. Find a group of people who get it. I have the greatest group of bloggers who “hang” out with me. They understand how tough it can be to find time to do what we do on the side. They are available for questions when you just can’t figure out what you are doing. They encourage and build each other up. I can’t share my blogging love with a lot of people because they just don’t get it. These ladies in my blogging group get it, and that helps.
5. Turn down the noise. There are so many people telling you what you need to do, how you need to do it and what results this will give you. I have made the mistake several times of trying to listen to all these people, and I just get confused and discouraged. Find a couple of people who can teach you and whose work you respect and admire. Leave the rest. You will just wear yourself out trying to do a million things that aren’t the best thing for you.

If all else fails, turn on Shakira’s Try Everything from the Zootopia soundtrack and listen on repeat. That song will get you moving!  Remember that you are amazing, and that no one can do what you do in the way you do it. Press on!


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Getting started with making your own beauty products can be intimidating. It can also seem like it will be expensive to invest in ingredients that will allow you to make your skincare—but don’t forget that these will mostly last a great deal longer than purchasing premade beauty products each month. If you’d like a list that will allow you to get started, here is what I consider the basics to start your DIY skincare journey. If you’d like more info on using them, this blog post has links to all the recipes and all the products replaced, as well as the amount of money I’ve saved making my own stuff!

ingredients

foaming soap bottles

Shea butter

Coconut oil

Cocoa Butter

Beeswax

Quality essential oil or two (I would suggest lavender or tea tree oil)

Sweet almond oil

Jojoba Oil

Castile Soap

Microfiber cleansing cloth

-Apple cider vinegar (not sure if you have King Soopers in your area, but I have found really great prices in their online store for apple cider vinegar)

Aloe Vera

Vegetable Glycerine

Argan Oil

(Affiliate links included, so I make a little commission on each sale. Please note all these products are the ones I use and love. More info on disclosure here. )


 

 

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5 Days to a More Natural HomeSubscribe to my weekly email full of helpful information on this journey towards a more natural life, and receive your free email course to get started! Every day for 5 days, you will receive an email with tips and encouragement to break down your natural living goals into doable pieces. My hope is that by the end, you will have started the ball rolling and realized how easy and affordable it is to change your home and get rid of the harmful chemicals. You and your family will benefit from your dream to create your natural home!

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