Friday, March 13, 2015

treat yo'self.

As we're nearing the wedding date [14 days from today, ahhhh!], I am finalizing all of the little details for the wedding--everything from making sure the Groom has wedding day appropriate dress socks, to ensuring that the envelopes for the vendors are the right size to hold a monetary tip [because yes... I am totally the person that stresses over the size of the tip envelope!].

Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I realized that it might be time to treat myself to a new clutch purse to use on the big day, and well... just for the heck of it. With the exception of the [very plain, but very efficient] black satin clutch I purchased on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, to take to a wedding this past weekend, I have been using the same "evening bag" since... wait for it... you really won't believe it... eighth grade.

WHAT!??! Yep, I said it.
8th Grade, people. 
The year of Teen Spirit, "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It", and the only time in your life your popularity hung in the grips of whether or not you owned a pair of Doc Martens.
True. Story. 
[My hometown peeps will get that last reference].

Anyway...

Yes, it's true. I have been using the same, silver, beaded seashell bag since it's inception at the eighth grade dance. From that day forward, I used it for all three proms I attended, the homecoming court celebrations my senior year, to countless weddings in college.

The thing is a little beat-up to put it nicely... and wasn't 'all that and a bag of chips' to begin with.

Sorry... still reliving the year 2000 over here.

I could not / would not / should not use the well-loved Little Mermaid trinket bag for my wedding. I was out shopping this afternoon when I stumbled upon this pretty, Tiffany blue clutch... WITH A BOW. Has anything ever called my name so much in my life? I think not!


One thing crossed my mind: treat yo'self. It's OK to splurge a little on yourself... even in the midst of wedding planning. I snagged this cutie little credit card holder, too.

Can't wait to use these pretties on the big day!

Speaking of... I'm signing off until then. Will see you all again... when the monogram changes! ;)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

[essential oils] and me.

I've had a lot of questions lately from curious folks who are interested in knowing more about essential oils. I referenced them in this post, but was pretty vague and didn't go into a lot of detail. Sooo... I'm writing an utterly long post today about essential oils [EO's for short] and how I use them! If you're interested, stick with me. It's a long post, but there's a lot to say about what oils can do for you!

a peek inside my oil bag! my 'oil arsenal' as we've lovingly coined it.

How I got Started Using EO's

Like most of you, my first encounter with EO's was via social media. At the time, there were not just a whole lot of people talking about them, but the ones that were REALLY sang the praises. I specifically remember looking at Instagram photos of women claiming them to be "amazing!" and I just couldn't buy it. I didn't know what it was, or really even care at that point, so it was pretty easy to just breeze past.

What really peaked my curiosity though, was that simultaneously--and while in completely different states, mind you!--my boss and my mother were planning to attend an essential oils class. Let me be the first one to go on record and state that I completely expected this from my boss, a "crunchy granola person"... but I was honestly a little surprised that my Mom was going to an essential oils class. I anxiously awaited feedback from both parties.

As it turned out... they both came back full of information and shared success stories, and after attending a class on my own, I was hooked and knew I had to check it out.

So... What are EO's and How Do You Use Them?

Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. If you have ever enjoyed the gift of a rose, a walk by a field of lavender, or the smell of fresh cut mint, you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils provide plants with protection against predators and disease and play a role in plant pollination. [via] 
Essential oils are used for a very wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends depending on user experience and desired benefit. Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally as dietary supplements. [via] 
Basically, how I respond to the "how do you use them?" question is to simply say--for whatever medicine you need to take, whatever cleaner you need to use, or whatever candle you wish to burn... there's an essential oil for that instead. Whether it's rubbing Peppermint oil into your temples to help ease a headache... washing your fruits and veggies with Grapefruit oil... placing a drop of On-Guard oil on the bottoms of your feet at night to help ward off sickness... to cleaning your countertops with Wild Orange oil to naturally [and safely] clean and disinfect... to sprucing your metabolism and aid in digestion with a drop of Lemon oil in your water.. to placing a drop of DigestZen into your bellybutton to help with indigestion and upset tummy... to diffusing Lavender in your bedroom to help with calming and restful sleep.

There are a few different companies that sell EO's, but my personal favorite and the one that I purchase from is doTERRA. All of doTERRA's oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade [CPTG], pure, and safe to use as they're free of pesticides and chemical residues.

There are three ways to use essential oils:

[A] Aromatically | Inhaling, or by the use of a diffuser.

[I] Internally | Mixing with water, placing a drop of oil under your tongue, or using in a capsule.

[T] Topically | Placing on a specific body region, or using a carrier oil to massage into skin.

our favorite little petal diffuser brewing away! this one is the BEST!
night light option turns on and off, and brews for 1, 2, or 4 hour increments.
Essential oils can be used on any age, and even on pets! Always read the label to find out how to safely use the oils... some oils are for aromatic use only, while others can be used for all three methods. Some oils are considered "hot" and when applied on the skin, can cause a burning sensation. When trying a new oil topically, dilute it or use a carrier oil [my favorite is fractionated coconut oil] or olive oil works, too! My favorite way to topically apply oils is on the bottoms of my feet. I learned that the pores on the bottom of your feet are the biggest, which means that the oils can be absorbed best through the bottoms of your feet.

There are two types of oils you can buy: oil singles and oil blends. Oil singles are just that--the oils extracted from one specific plant [ie, lime, peppermint, lemon, grapefruit, etc.]. Blends are created by mixing any number of single oils to create one, super oil [ie, one of my favorite blends "Breathe" is a proprietary blend of laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemon, and ravensara]. You can also use single oils to create your own custom blends [for uplifting, energizing, and generally "happy" smells I like to diffuse Grapefruit + Lime + Wild Orange. I make my own "blend" by adding 3-4 drops of each to my diffuser].

How Have EO's Helped You?

While there are definitely some people out there who could write a book on the lengths that EO's have taken them with their health, we are definitely a little more on this side of "normal". We have, however, taken immense strides to rid our house of unnecessary chemicals and live cleaner. Here are a few of my favorite EO uses.

  • Lavender: This one is by far our favorite! I swear, lavender does it all. I've used it to help with everything from allergies to healing cuts [as a replacement for Neosporin]. Lavender is our favorite to diffuse at night--it brings a sense of calm and helps with restful sleep. For a really good night's sleep [for instance, if I know we have to catch a flight at 6 AM the next morning], I will apply to the bottoms of our feet. Both of our pets LOVE when we diffuse lavender. They like the smell, and a veterinarian told me years ago that lavender is particularly calming for dogs and cats. 
  • Peppermint: A favorite for allergies and energy boost. I also use it to flavor my coconut oil for oil pulling every morning to aid with sinus relief. [I'll save oil pulling for another post!]
  • Lemon: A lovely digestion aid and metabolism boost! I like to add a drop or two to my water. 
  • On-Guard: I always diffuse this one whenever anyone at work has been coughing or sneezing. When I am starting to notice the slightest symptoms of feeling under the weather, I apply to the bottoms of my feet or place a drop under my tongue. This one is a must on my list!
  • DigestZen: You can get rid of your TUMS collection. If Pepto-Bismol covers it, so does DigestZen! We place 1-2 drops in our bellybuttons to help with heartburn and indigestion. This one can also be taken internally with 4 oz. of water. 
  • Deep Blue [Oil and Rub]: This one is a must for Spencer! He has chronic neck and back pain and is constantly messing up one or the other. Deep Blue comes in an oil as well as a rub [like Bengay]. Both work about the same... for the oil, massage into skin with a carrier oil. The rub works the exact same way, except that it's pre-mixed and like a lotion, so it's just one less step. When I started my workout routine, I was lifting a lot of weights. Deep Blue was a life saver!
  • Melaluca: The Mother of all skin oils! I use this one whenever I have a blemish.
  • Frankincense: I don't think there's anything frankincense can't do! The running EO joke is "when all else fails, use frankincense". Seriously... it's so true. Everything from cuts and rashes to mouth ulcers, I use frankincense. It's incredibly effective, but their most expensive oil. I don't ever diffuse this one just because of the cost! One drop daily under your tongue is incredible for health benefits. PS--I was born with an ear tag (skin tag) on my left ear. I have seen pictures, heard success stories, and been told that applying frankincense daily will drastically minimize to remove this ear tag I've lived with my whole life. I'm almost 30, and my ear tag is truly what I consider to be a part of my identity, so it doesn't bother me to have it. Should I ever reach a vanity point in my life where I want to remove it, I will definitely reach for frankincense first, before considering having it frozen off or removed in any way. 
  • Grapefruit: I LOVE grapefruit! It's one of my top 5 favorites... hands down! It is such a happy and uplifting scent, so I like to diffuse it during the day. I also love washing my fruits and veggies with a drop of grapefruit oil and water. Works better than any spray wash I have purchased and smells so nice. 
  • Wild Orange: Another must have for me! Seriously, my stainless steel appliances have never been so clean.
I am also a BIG FAN of the entire On-Guard line of cleaning and hygiene products. The On-Guard toothpaste and concentrated cleaner are two of my favorite things ever. The cleaner might be my #1. I use a couple of tablespoons with water and spray from a glass bottle on to my countertops [*note! Always use GLASS with essential oils... whether in a glass bottle or whether you're drinking flavored water. EO's are so potent, they will go through paper or plastic]. I love the cleaner because it's safe, natural, and chemical-free. I could *literally* lick the countertop after spraying and not have to worry for a second about ingesting anything I shouldn't. 

Why doTERRA?

The simple answer is that I started with doTERRA and that's what I know, but the complex answer is that I did my research and can appreciate what the company stands for. Firstly, they're 100% safe and I know this, because all of their oils are CPTG--free of fillers and artificial contaminants. I literally would not have to worry about accidentally drinking an entire bottle. Secondly, all of their oils are extracted naturally [meaning, they don't plant anything not native to the region simply for the benefit of extracting oils]. This ensures that you are getting the purest oil you can find from the purest and most fertile places in the world to source the product. Lastly, they give back to the land and the plants from where they farm--building schools and water systems. An added benefit I recently learned about is that they use two third-party companies to verify the purity of their oils, to maintain an ethical and responsible practice. doTERRA has not, in any way, compensated me for my opinions--these are all my own, and based on my own experiences and information gathered on their products. 

Where can I buy doTERRA products and what should I start with?

Here is a link to all of doTERRA's product offerings. My recommendation for beginners wanting to get into / learn more about oils is to start with the Introductory Kit. It contains three 5 ML bottles of my favorites--lavender, lemon, and peppermint and an audio CD which goes into further explanation about essential oils. If you have seasonal allergies, these three will be your best friend--I promise! I started with this kit before graduating to the Home Essentials Kit [see below]. 

Another way to get the most bang for your buck is to purchase an Enrollment Kit. My personal favorite is the Home Essentials Kit. This one comes with ten (10) oils--every single one is awesome!--AND a petal diffuser. The petal diffuser is hands down my favorite diffuser on the market, and I've used a LOT. It's the most cost-effective one doTERRA sells [bonus!] and I really feel like it works the best. There are several essential oil diffusers on the market--you can purchase through a variety of websites--doTERRA or not, this one is hands-down my favorite. I recently purchased another [expensive!] diffuser from doTERRA, and while I really like it... I kind of wish I'd just gotten another petal diffuser. I love it that much!

the 'home essentials kit' includes everything you see here!
all of these oils are amazing!
One last word about the oils... can I be honest? By now, you've probably looked at the prices. They're not cheap. It might be difficult to shell out a couple of hundred bucks for a couple of handfuls of oils. I get it! But I will say please--please!--do not pay the retail prices on the website. If you are ordering at least a $35.00 order, talk to me about getting a wholesale account, or if you purchase an enrollment kit [like the Home Essentials Kit I discussed] you will automatically be signed up for a wholesale membership for life. I love saving a dollar and I love a deal even more, and I would never-ever pay retail prices for good quality essential oils! Lastly, I don't sell these oils. There is certainly a business aspect to it, and you can make really good money doing it, but I just like using them. :)