Feb 10, 2016

Essential Oils Organized...Finally!

In less than five minutes I got my essential oil drawer organized! Well, mostly. I wasn't planning on doing anything with it this week as I have a lot going on, but I was in Wal Mart and those silicone ice cube trays beckoned. :) I still need to put the oils in some sort of order, but at least they're not falling over anymore!

I went from using a bamboo utensil tray and some boxes...

...to using the plastic silverware tray from the kitchen (for some dumb reason I decided to swap them around). The plastic one didn't hold the bottles upright nearly as well (they didn't fit two rows as nicely), so I was getting really frustrated. I also wasn't able to organize them by category as well. So I was on the search for something that would give the drawer some structure, hold each bottle upright, and allow me to sort in some way.

I saw these ice cube trays at Wal Mart and thought maybe they'd be the answer! They were the first ones I saw with big enough spaces for a large 15 ml oil bottle. (If I'd been thinking, these were the same ones my bestie had on her counter with oils in them!) I got red and blue, and decided to use blue for "blends" and red for single oils. I then realized I had room and a need for two more trays, so I got another red, and then a purple, which I'm using for extra oils (unopened back-ups or overstock).

Each tray had a little loop to hang it from. I cut that off to make it easier to put the trays end-to-end in my drawer.

I moved the other silverware tray to the left and am using it for diffuser pads, diffuser parts/accessories, empty bottles, labels, and small "extras" like lip balm and Thieves Spray.

There's enough room that I think I can fit one more row of two trays! They were about $4 each at Wal Mart and hold 15 bottles. Initially that seemed pricey, but it's a challenging search to find the perfect option to store oils, this one wound up being well worth the little investment! Now I just have to decide if I'm going to organize the oils within the red and blue trays alphabetically or by color...hmmmm... :)

Feb 9, 2016

Blog Changes Coming!

Well I've lost part of my life today that I'll never get back, but hopefully in the end it will all be worth it! I'm working on switching my blog over to Wordpress and I'm stumbling a bit through the process so far. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing after this! Stay tuned for info so that you don't lose me! :) I have a lot to figure out and this might take up a lot of blogging time for a bit, but I'm hoping to make this change asap. I'll keep you posted!

Feb 4, 2016

Benefits of Being an Essential Reward Member with Young Living & DIY Body Butter and Wood Polish Recipes!

Last week was a rough one for finding time and motivation so I didn't get a Therapeutic Thursday post put together...my apologies. Not sure what was going on, and I'm sure this cold weather isn't helping, but I'm slowly feeling back to normal! I promised the week before to talk about how and why to become a Young Living member, so I'm going to share that today as well as my latest essential oil DIY's! (If you missed last week's post about what essential oils are and why Young Living is the way to go, you can read it here.)

It was a year ago this month that I joined Young Living as a wholesale member. I did that not to start a business, but because it was the best deal. You truly get the most bang for your buck when you get a Premium Starter Kit, and this month you can get 10% off that kit, just like I did a year ago! If you truly want to see what essential oils are all about, I highly recommend getting a kit!

In addition to the kit contents, when you join as a wholesale member, you get 24% off your orders with Young Living from there on out. That's what made me decide to go this route, but truly the kit is a great investment in-and-of-itself. There are various kit options,but the more common one is pictured above and includes a diffuser (price varies with diffuser choice but this one is the Dew Drop that I got and I LOVE it!), 11-5 ml essential oil bottles, some oil samples and sample bottles to share with friends, and a couple packets of NingXia Red to try. The oils included in this kit are some of the most used, most loved oils Young Living sells. It's a great way to get started learning all that these oils have to offer! Essential oils support every system of the body, so why not be proactive and support your body's natural health rather than have to pay for extra doctor visits and medicine when you're sick? (That's not to say that doctors and medicine don't have their place, but since using oils and detoxing our home, those trips and prescriptions are way less frequent!)

When you sign up, you have the option to sign up for Essential Rewards. While you don't have to participate and can join the rewards program later if you decide to, since I've been doing it I can't imagine not taking part in it! I started shortly after getting my kit and I haven't regretted it once. 

Essential rewards is a great way to get free product back for ordering regularly with Young Living. For the first six months that you are part of the ER program, you earn 10% back PV (personal volume) to accumulate and redeem for free products (it increases to 15% in months 7-12, then 20% after a year!). I have redeemed points over and over in the year that I have belonged to Young Living. As soon as I'm done dealing with taxes I want to calculate how much I've gotten back by participating in rewards and from the other freebies Young Living offers, but here's an idea from someone on our group Facebook page...

I know you have expenses. I did a little research yesterday and learned that the average American household spends $588 per year on personal care products and $639 per year on household cleaning products. 
Not only that, but in 2014 Americans spent 28 billion dollars on nutritional supplements - that's an average of about $850 per person, or $3,400 for a family of 4! 
So when you do the math, on average the American family is spending $4,627 annually on cleaning products, personal care products, and nutritional supplements ALONE. 
I did some math, and learned that in 2015 my family spent $3,600 on nutritional supplements, household products, personal care products, superfoods, and essential oils from Young Living. And because we did it strategically, in return Young Living GAVE us $2,405 in essential oils and products for FREE!! 
You can do the same this year and save BIG!

I can't wait to figure out our number! Anyway, whether you stick to the $50/month commitment to participate in Essential Rewards or, like me, you get addicted to these lovely oils and find yourself replacing some and trying new things each month in excess of that $50, the rewards program helps make it more affordable for sure! The shipping rate for essential rewards members is also less...bonus!

In addition to essential rewards, Young Living offers a monthly special where you can earn free product based on the amount of your total purchase. This is the February special:

If you'd like more information, feel free to contact me or comment below! If you want to sign up to be a wholesale member, you can do that here.

Now for my latest DIY's! One of the ways essential oils help me save money AND remove toxins from our home is that I now make my own cleaning and skin care products. If that sounds like too much work, no worries...Young Living sells enough premade products that you don't have to make them yourself. But rest assured that making these products is quick and easy! Today I'll share some recipes to condition your wood furniture and your skin! (Two different recipes, in case you were confused. ;))

Getting my husband to ditch the toxins has been a tougher challenge, and a few times now he has gone to the store and purchased a cleaner that he couldn't locate in our home, unwilling to ask me what an alternative natural option would be. Grrr! Recently he got frustrated when he couldn't find wood polish, so I decided to alleviate this problem for the future by making a DIY version for him. The recipe I decided to use was from Everyday Roots and this is how you make it:

Beesax Wood Sealant & Polish (Recipe from Everyday Roots)
1/2 c grated beeswax or beeswax pastilles (I get mine here)
1 1/2 cups olive oil (I get a good quality olive oil from Costco - the Kirkland brand)
Several drops of essential oil (I used lemon)
Glass container for storage (Hobby Lobby has great options for jars and glass containers)

The original recipe says to melt down beeswax in a double boiler, but for this recipe and the body butter I prefer to melt it in the container that I'm using (less clean-up!). I put the jar in a sauce pan with an inch or less of water. I don't let the water get too hot and keep it at a medium to low heat. Beeswax takes a while to melt so have a little patience. This will last a long time so you won't have to do it again soon! Melt the beeswax in the olive oil. Remove the jar and allow to cool until it starts to solidify, then add your essential oils. Stir, cool completely and put the lid on to store. Use just a thin layer when applying to wood furniture.

One of the Young Living distributors in my upline shares recipes all the time and I have been using her body butter recipe for a long time. I was using coconut oil straight as a lotion and sometimes still do, but during these really cold winter months a little extra hydration is necessary, so I turn to this.

Body Butter
*To save time in the long run, I use a larger jar and double the recipe.
1/2 cup avacado oil (Avacado oil is very moisturizing but you can also use sweet almond or olive oils)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
1 tsp vitamin E oil (optional but I have always included it)
2 Tbsp shea or cocoa butter (optional but again, I use it...have tried both)
essential oils of your choice (I've been trying to use more ylang ylang for hormonal support, so this time around I made my body butter with White Angelica and Gratitude, both of which include that oil, but the possibilities are endless! Have fun creating your favorite scent!)

Mix all ingredients except essential oils in glass container, then put in a pot of water about an inch high on medium heat to melt. (You could melt directly into a sauce pan and pour when melted into a jar, but I like to do it this way to save clean-up. I use a heavy glass container and watch my heat, keeping it between med and low.) Stir occasionally until everything is melted (again, the beeswax takes a little bit). Once it's all melted, remove the jar and let the mixture cool until it's still easily stirred, starts to turn solid and is no longer hot to the touch. Add essential oils of your choice.

I hope you enjoy those recipes and I'll be sharing more essential oil DIY's in the weeks and months to come!

Feb 3, 2016

No-Spend Month Update and Another Snow Day!

The text came in yesterday around 5:00 pm that school would be closed another day...yay! Whether the daycare kids come today or not, hoping to join Faith (and maybe the other kids) in the snow for some snow day fun. I stayed in yesterday because I've been fighting a barky cough and figured the cold air wouldn't help matters, but I realize all the time how many days I'm missing to play with my little girl. Time goes too fast! We did manage to do some science experiments yesterday and enjoyed snow ice cream. Yummo!

I haven't given an update on our no-spend month yet and figured I better do that today. I'd been lacking the time and energy to do the final tally (because, admittedly, I got bad towards the end of the month keeping expenses recorded), and I wasn't looking forward to admitting that while we started out strong, we fizzled at the end. :( 

So after a tally this afternoon, here's the report:

Estimated income - $90 less than estimated
Estimated expenses - $170 over

I determined there were some flaws to my budget, so that and some business expenses that were reimbursed in the first couple days of February (therefore not counted as income in January), affected the overall result. I forgot that dance fees would be due, Faith's YMCA membership dues, and that we'd be registering for 4-H this month. That alone was an $88 difference. I need to get business expenses off of this budget completely, and be more realistic about our "misc" categories. Spending unbudgeted money in miscellaneous meant not putting money into envelopes that should be saved for other upcoming expenses...home repairs, vacation, medical and savings. 

In most categories I stuck to the budget well. We overpaid on credit cards, but that's largely due to paying off the first small one...YAY! Our grocery budget...OUCH. I knew it was low but we were doing really well until the end. I had set it at $336 which is a huge decrease from where we usually are. We spent $475 on groceries...still down from our $545 average from last year. I think $375-400 would be do-able. (The amount I spent doesn't include Ibotta or Checkout 51 rebates that I'll eventually get, either.) Our Bountiful Basket location had to stop pick-ups for a while because produce was freezing and a new location was needed. I do think that saves us a lot on produce and makes a difference in how I plan meals, so I'll be interested to see how low we can go with that back in February.

Probably the most disappointing was that we spent $156 eating out...I had budgeted $0 for this and I didn't even do my regular Scooters drive-thru run. I went out for coffee twice...once because I was between appointments and hadn't eaten breakfast, and the other because I met a friend this past weekend for a coffee date. Against the rules, still, but a drastic improvement in the coffee department. The rest of the eating out was pretty inexcusable. #hangsheadinshame

So what happened? My willpower was great until Brad started to cave or we hadn't planned well and needed to eat. It's also really easy to justify a spontaneous trip to Taco Bell on date night at home when the kid's at Grandma and Grandpa's. ;) In addition, the budget was lacking some categories and business expenses need to be separated. 

Tomorrow's a new day. I want to do the "no-spend month" again soon and really stick to it. We will learn from this month and use that information going forward. I'm sure we would definitely have spent way more than we did having cheated on our resolution to spend zero. For now, a new, more complete budget is in order. I'm on it!

Feb 2, 2016

Vertical Folding - Game-Changer!

We're in "snowmageddon" here today and were blessed with a snow day (yay!), so I am finally getting a chance to sit down and write a blog post for the first time in several days! We've been enjoying snow ice cream, sledding and snow forts, and I got some DIY's done, like making wood polish and body butter (will share Thursday)! The snow appears to have stopped for now but I heard we're in for another system this evening, so odds are good that tomorrow will be another snow day! I have to get taxes done before Saturday but hoping to also get some tidying done around here.

Speaking of tidying...

I don't get the opportunity to read a new book very often, so when I get into one and actually complete it, it's a good sign that it's a worthwhile book. For Christmas my sister-in-law gave me The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She wasn't aware that it was on my Amazon wish list but thought I might enjoy it...good call, Brooke! For someone who loves organizing and is building a business organizing for a living, it's been a game-changer!

Marie loved organizing and decorating from a young age, and has spent much of her life trying to find the key to tidying up once-and-for-all and avoiding the backslide that often comes with organizing. (My basement comes to mind.) While I feel like I've gotten closer to the ideas she writes about in her book, I have yet to pare down to just those items that bring me JOY, as Marie guides readers to do. Not what you've been using. Not what you plan to use. What brings you JOY. Sparks some thought, doesn't it?

After going through the home by category (rather than room...another game-changer), then and only then does Marie advise putting things away. The first category she starts going through with clients is clothing. Apparently, in Japan, where Marie is from, closets are minimally used and most clothing is stored in drawers. And clothes aren't folded and laid on top of each other as most of us are used to, but folded and stored vertically. I decided to try this with my clothes and was pretty amazed at the results!

The above drawer is where I keep my workout clothes. I swore I had a before but can't find it...and I rarely remember to do that so maybe I didn't. ;) Imagine a mess of clothes, not folded, just tossed in. I always tried to keep my workout clothes folded, but struggled in this drawer more than the others to keep it that way. Keeping stiff sports bras one place and trying to find a certain tank or pair of capris in the stack of slippery clothes was always a challenge. In my haste I would dig, grab and toss, leaving what was a folded stack in a sloppy disaster. Vertical folding allows me to see each item, keeps them unwrinkled (shockingly!), and makes it easier to take out one without upsetting the whole system. (Note: The bras are on the right side of the drawer not pictured, divided by a drawer divider and just stacked on top of each other. Works great!)

Based on Marie's advice, I also moved all of my clothes to my dresser (after going through to keep only the ones that bring me joy, of course), except for blouses, dresses, scarves and puffy vests. I have very little left in the closet, making the items that are there easier to see, and most days I'm able to select clothes just by standing at the dresser.  

I decided to try the same in Faith's room. While I was concerned (and still am a bit) about her ability to master the vertical fold, I thought it would be worth it if we could make it work. Since she goes to a private school and wears a uniform, participates in dance and gymnastics, and then has a "normal" wardrobe of clothes, she tends to have a LOT. And though she has two closets, neither is very functional. The main clothes closet is very narrow, causing all her clothes to squish, fall off hangers or get lost completely in the mess. The other closet which is situated above our basement stairway, is where she stores a lot of toys. The two rods are parallel in the closet, requiring her to step up and into it to really see what's all there (when it's full anyway). That also means more work putting things away...and she does it halfway. Clothes are often halfway on a hanger, hung incorrectly, and/or just tossed on a hook that is meant for bags and accessories. Splitting into two closets makes it tougher to remember what's where, even when we've tried to categorize. So this seemed like it might be a great solution!

After going through and taking out clothes I knew Faith never wore (with instructions to her to do the same if she saw any that I missed that she didn't love), I determined the best layout in her dresser. The top drawer is a junk/toy drawer and she had recently put Legos in half of another. I moved them up and made the other half underwear and socks. I removed the sock divider that was in there and instead vertically folded all her socks and panties. The next drawer holds her everyday clothes. On the left, school tees, sweatshirts and leggings. On the right, her nicer tops and sweaters. The drawer below that is dance and gymnastics attire, sweats and more casual t-shirts.

The final drawer on the bottom is for pajamas and I put swimsuits and a beach towel on the far left side. While it's winter here, she does take swimming lessons throughout the year.

That left very little to be hung in the closet: School uniform polos, dresses, puffy vests. We got a new shoe organizer at Wal Mart which helped with the pile-up that she tended to have on the floor. Since we didn't need as much hanging space, taking up a bit of the rod space with the shoe organizer was ok now. 

As I took photos of her room I had to "fix" some of her folding, so it's clear we still need to work on it a while, but I think this is going to be a great way to organize clothes going forward! I can't wait to dig into my husband's drawers! ;)

Jan 25, 2016

DIY Vinyl Wall Decoration For My Daughter's Room

I've been gradually making over my daughter's bedroom and finally getting around to sharing this project that I did over a month ago! I painted her room white (SW Creamy) to create a neutral backdrop to showcase fun pops of color. Some of my plans have changed along the way, but you can always count on an 8-year-old to choose things with color, so that has not changed.

Faith decided she wanted "American Girl stars" on her wall. Adding vinyl stars was a great way to add color without the need to repaint down the road if she changes her mind. We originally were going to order some online, but I decided that I'd likely be able to do it cheaper and have more freedom in the design if I did it myself with my Pazzles. In addition to the stars, I thought it would be fun to incorporate something gymnastics-related because she's really loving all things gymnastics these days. I found an image and a quote that I liked online, put it all into my software and cut it on vinyl purchased from a local scrapbooking/printing store. We went with hot pink and gold vinyl.

The vinyl cost about $28 total and I had some left to spare. To utilize most of it while cutting, I filled spaces in the gold with circles so that we can add polka dots to Faith's closet after we paint it.

One disadvantage of cutting your own vinyl is that you don't have the easy application that comes with purchasing from a retailer. In my experience (with Uppercase Living, anyway), vinyl purchased pre-cut comes on a sheet that allows you to transfer the entire design together...no need to worry about lining up letters, etc., or having a design fold in on itself. This vinyl is also thinner than what you might get by purchasing vinyl meant for a wall, so I had a couple tears during application that I had to re-cut. Applying free-hand also caused a little issue with regards to the large open stars. They were difficult to get lined up to lay perfectly flat, and in addition to a few wrinkles, one came unstuck. You can see that the big one on the left has a corner that's up, and it's just not going to stick. I may have to get a glue dot to help it along. Faith loves it, though, so that's what matters!

*Update: I realized a day after this post that Pazzles and Silhouette sell "wall" vinyl AND transfer paper to put it on all on one piece. Live and learn! I know what I'll do next time!

In the end we were able to customize our own design and color scheme, and while it took a little more time, I'm sure we saved at least 50% (if not more) on the cost of the vinyl. Faith has fun wall decor that is unique and inspirational! I hope she takes that quote to heart and always reaches for the stars!

Jan 21, 2016

What is the Big Deal About Essential Oils? {Therapeutic Thursday}

If you spend any time on the internet it's likely you have come across essential oils at some point. New companies are cropping up all over, you can now get them at Wal Mart (please don't...I'll tell you why in a bit), yet a lot of people don't know a whole lot about them. I thought I'd spend this Thursday with a little Essential Oil 101 to help get you up to speed.

First, just a little disclaimer. Essential oil quality is important and not all are created equal. I am specifically talking about Young Living essential oils and do not recommend the use of other brands without doing your research.

Second, I am not a doctor. I cannot prescribe, treat or recommend oil for specific medical conditions. Unfortunately there just isn't enough research and regulation in the U.S. so the FDA prohibits such health claims. Instead we talk about how essential oils support specific body systems. With that said...

...and note...

Not all oils are created equally and you can't trust all the wording on the labels so it's important to do your research! I'll explain more on why I chose Young Living oils in this post.

I'm sharing graphics from around the web, they are not mine. Thanks to those who have created these awesome tools for us to use!!! If at the end of this post you're interested in trying Young Living oils, I hope that you'll use the sign-up link here or contact me for more info!

What are essential oils?

"Essential oils are some of the oldest and most powerful therapeutic agents known. Most people today are unaware that they have an impressive, multimillenium-long history of use in healing and anointing throughout the ancient world." - Essential Oils Desk Reference by Life Science Publishing

More specifically, "essential oils are aromatic volatile liquids distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes and seeds." Each essential oil has a complex chemistry, some consisting of hundreds of different and unique chemical compounds. They are highly concentrated and are more potent than herbs, so a little goes a long way! The distillation process is what makes an EO so concentrated, and it often takes an entire plant to produce a single drop of essential oil. (Note that different companies use different distillation processes, and more processed distillations will not produce the same properties.) Unlike vegetable oils (corn, olive peanut), they are not greasy and do not clog pores (great news for those of us that make homemade face creams!). Also unlike vegetable oils, most essential oils cannot go rancid and are powerful antimicrobials. You can find references to essential oils in the Bible, such as Frankincense, myrrh, cedarwood and sandalwood. Other oils like cinnamon, clove and lemon were highly valued as antiseptics hundreds of years before synthetic medicines were made like we have today.

How can essential oils be used?

It may be difficult to wrap our mind around it, but we can gain therapeutic benefits from an oil simply by SMELLING it. This can be done through the use of a diffuser, but even just opening the bottle and taking a sniff works, too! You can also put a few drops in a bowl of hot water, lean over it while covering your head with a towel, and breathing in the vapors.

Not only can breathing essential oils promote wellness, but they can replace the candles, wax warmers and air fresheners that are bad for your family. As you get used to the pure fragrances of quality essential oils, you'll never want to go back to synthetic fragrances! Your house will smell so fresh and clean, and you will enhance your wellness at the same time! Here are a couple articles that delve more into the bad side of candles and other products that use artificial fragrances:

Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and everything that goes on it goes IN it. That is why I have been working to rid the chemical-laden products out of our home that put our health at risk. As scary as it is that chemicals are absorbed so quickly through our skin into our bloodstream and then to the rest of our body, that's great news with regards to pure essential oils! As essential oils have a role in regenerating a plant, the blood does the same in the human body. Because essential oils have a similar chemical structure to that of human cells and tissues, they are compatible with human protein which enables them to be readily identified and accepted by our bodies. Pretty cool, huh?!

Many essential oils can be applied topically but be sure to follow guidelines on the label. Some oils require dilution, meaning that they need to be applied with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, a good quality olive oil, etc. Young Living has a great carrier oil that you can purchase as well. If the bottle says "dilute 1 to 4", you'd put one drop of essential oil into 4 drops of the carrier oil. Kids typically need more dilution than adults. Remember, pure essential oils are concentrated and therefore strong. Do your research on which oils are safe for infants and children.

One of the best places to apply oils is the feet, but the spine is also a great choice. Essential oils are great for massage!

I apply oils other places depending what purpose I'm using them for. The more you use them, the more familiar you'll become with how, where and when to use.

This is a very debated topic but you can ingest SOME (not all) essential oils. Purity/quality is important here and you need to make sure that the essential oil is labeled for internal use. Young Livng just came out with new labeling for their dietary oils to make it easier to identify those that can be ingested internally!

I love to add citrus oils to my water (in glass cups/containers only!) but you can also use dietary essential oils in cooking or as supplements.

What's the difference between companies? Why should I choose Young Living oils?

Essential oils vary in quality due to farming and distillation practices, adulteration by adding other chemicals, and dilution of the oils, As was mentioned in one of the above graphics, the FDA allows an oil to be labeled 100% pure as long as it contains 5% of the actual oil. If you're going to be using these oils for the health of your family, quality and purity matter.

Young Living owns it's own farms and oversees every step of an essential oil's manufacture, from plant selection and farming, to distillation and bottling. The process is called Seed to Seal and this process is unique to Young Living.

There is so much more I can share but I need to cut out for today! I'll be sharing more each Thursday on the blog so check back for that! I'd love to answer any questions you may have about Young Living essential oils. Feel free to comment below, contact me with the button at the top of my blog, or go to this link here to sign up as a wholesale member! I will share more details about what's involved in that and what rewards are available as a member next week!