Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions. I understand why people make them -- the beginning of a new year makes for a convenient time to start something new or make a change (just like a student plans at the beginning of the new school year to make it the best school year ever). All that to say, 2014 was a lot about me and my transformation -- completely unplanned, but amazing. Now, I want 2015 to be about other people. God has blessed me in amazing ways this past year and taught me so much and I want to reach other people this coming year and help to transform their lives. (Ive got some cool ideas in my head that I hope I can pull off.)

I want to help people learn how to make healthier choices.
I want to help people learn more about essential oils and their amazing benefits.
I want to help people learn how to eat correctly and supplement...and create a healthy lifestyle from the inside out.
I want to help people get the "crud" out of their systems and their environment.
Most importantly, I want people to see Jesus through me and be drawn by his love and grace.

I would also like to be able to pee alone. ;)

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for an amazing 2014. I can't wait to see what's next in 2015! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

DIY Recipes

Okay, here are the recipes for some of the items I have made recently.

1. Homemade Deodorant (my favorite)

The original recipe calls for Castor Oil and Beeswax, but we heard that the beeswax can stain clothes so I made it without it and it works fine.

2 1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I recommend Wildtree coconut oil)
1/8 cup Arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1/8 cup Baking Soda
Essential oils -- I did 8 drops of Lavender and 8 drops of Melaleuca Alternifolia (tea tree oil)

Put the coconut oil into a saucepan and melt over low heat. Remove from heat and add the Arrowroot powder and Baking soda. Stir until it is dissolved. Add the essential oils and stir to combine. Using a funnel, pour the mixture into a clean deodorant container. Put container in the fridge to help it firm up.

This recipe makes one stick of deodorant. I usually double/triple it and make more than one stick at a time. When using the deodorant, you only need to apply a thin layer under your arms. If you roll it up too much, it'll end up making a mess. ;)

2. Homemade Hair Gel

This is SUPER easy to make. You must keep it in the refrigerator and is good for two weeks.

1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (
1/2 cup hot distilled water
4-6 drops essential oils (I used lavender)

Add the water to the gelatin in a glass bowl and stir until dissolved. Put bowl in fridge for around three hours. Remove from fridge and add oils. Using a funnel, pour into container. I used a glass spray bottle. The recipe is thin enough to just spray it onto your hair. If you prefer something thicker, you can used 1/2 teaspoon gelatin (instead of 1/4 teaspoon) and put it in a glass jar.

3. Homemade Shampoo

Still not sure what I think about it, but feel free to try it for yourself. If you live near me, I can even lend you the ingredients!

This is the basic recipe. I added some peppermint oil and tea tree oil to mine.

1/4 cup distilled water
1/4 cup liquid Castille soap (I used the Dr. Bronner's unscented baby mild -- shockingly, I found it the cheapest at Whole Foods!)
1/2 teaspoon JoJoBa oil (or grapeseed oil)

Mix all the ingredients in a bottle. Shake before using. This shampoo is thinner than commercial shampoos, so you can just pour the shampoo right on your head.

4. Homemade Conditioner

This is basic, but the idea is that it balances the pH in your hair from the homemade shampoo.

1 Tbsp raw ACV (apple cider vinegar)
1 cup of water

Mix together in a squirt bottle. Shake well before applying to hair. Gently massage into hair and scalp for a minute or two then rinse it out. The smell rinses away -- don't worry!

I hope you have fun trying these out. I'm having a blast creating new things with my oils and other natural ingredients. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

My DIY Adventure

I've mentioned before how I started making my own deodorant and love it. Well, chemical-free hair products can be expensive, so I decided to start looking for a cheaper way to have safer products for my hair by making my own shampoo, conditioner, and hair gel. Yep. All three. (This time last year, I would have been rolling my eyes if someone said they were making their own hair products, yet here I am now -- oh the difference a year makes!).

First up: Homemade Hair Gel

My husband is actually the one who put the idea in my head to try making my own hair gel. I've talked so much about getting rid of harmful chemicals that he asked me if he thought the gel he was using was bad for him. Next thing I knew, I was looking for homemade hair gel recipes, saw how easy they were to make, and decided to go for it!

The results of this gel  are great! The gel is thin, so I put it in a glass bottle with and spray top (got it at Whole Foods). Sprayed it all over my wet hair, scrunched it up (I have naturally wavy/curly hair), and let it air-dry. It was light, kept the curls together, but didn't look like I had product in it. As my nieces have said to my sister before: "why does Aunt Dana's hair always look wet?" No need to worry about them saying that now (unless they see me just after I do my hair and it is still wet. ;) ). Plus, it has Lavender essential oil in it, so I get to take my essential oils with me. :)

I'm going to make another batch with more gelatin so it's a little bit more thicker and put it in a glass jar for my husband to try out. I'll let you know what he thinks (if he actually tries it out. God bless that man -- I've made him try so many different things this year).

Second: Homemade Shampoo and Conditioner

I figured that if I was going to do the hair gel, I might as well see if there is a more affordable way to wash my hair naturally.

 I'm still working this one out. The homemade shampoo looked fine with my curly hair that I let air-dry, but when I brushed it out before bed, it definitely had a greasy feel/look to it. I don't think it's actually grease as much as soap/oil left in it. The conditioner is just a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle (to help balance out the pH after doing the shampoo). Used both products for the first time yesterday. Today, I did my Arbonne shampoo (no chemicals/all natural) and the homemade conditioner. My hair felt great. I think I need to tweak the shampoo formula a little bit, mix it more before putting it on my head, and use a little less around the crown of my head and it should work better. I will keep you up to date on how it goes.

Anyways, it's been fun trying to make new things and SO affordable. It is so incredibly cheap to make your own products and get the unnecessary chemicals out of your house. I can post the recipes I used in future posts if anyone is interested. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

36 Years of Blessings

When I was in Junior High, High School, and College, whenever I would think about the future, it always stopped at age 24 -- I imagined that by 24 I would be done with college, have a job, and married. I clearly remember sitting on my bed at my parents' house and crying on my 25th birthday -- I had finished grad school six months earlier, moved home to save money, just quit the job I got after grad school, and was dating no one. In fact, I had few friends in my life. I wasn't crying because I wasn't where I thought I should be, but because I had no idea what would come next. I had NEVER imagined life past age 24. I remember praying that God would just lead me and show me where to go because I had NO CLUE.

Now here I am at age 36 and I could never have imagined how amazing my life would be. As much as I imagined falling in love and meeting the right guy, I never knew how wonderful it would be to be married to an amazing man of God who sincerely loves me and cherishes me (it was worth waiting to find love until I was 27 and getting married at 28). I always knew I wanted children, but had no idea what a mother's love was until I became one five years ago.

I've mentioned a lot in my blog posts recently how my life has changed this past my facebook wall filled with Happy Birthday messages yesterday from friends old and new, I was blown away at the number of people who have come into my life the past year and call me a friend.

God has filled my life with numerous blessings over the years. At times, it seemed like I was going in a different direction every day (ask me how many times I changed my college major, etc.) and there were times that trusting God's guidance was a real struggle, but I am where I am today, because God has lead me, molded me, held me, and never left my side. Our God is real and powerful and loving. God has never promised us an easy life without hardship or pain and I know those times will always be there in the future, but I cling to these blessings and to a God who loves me so much that he sent his son Jesus as a baby (Merry Christmas) to grow up and save me from my sins. Nothing compares to the blessing of Jesus as my Savior.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life recently or years ago. I treasure you and I look forward to seeing what God has in store for my life this next year.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

RESETing My System

Last week I completed a 5-day nutritive cleanse and detox through USANA called Reset and it was AWESOME! I felt great and had so much energy. I still have so much energy. If you have ever done a cleanse or are doing one and you feel might want to try something different.

Here's how it works: I had a Nutrimeal shake (Dutch Chocolate is my favorite -- Dairy-free and gluten-free) for breakfast with a set of supplements called a HealthPak (includes a Mega Antioxidant and Chelated Mineral, Active Calcium, and an AntiOxidant booster for additional protection) and a Hepisal (to detox the liver). These supplements help to provide the nutrition and protection needed while resetting the system. 2-3 hours later I had a low-glycemic snack (usually an apple with 7 almonds or celery with natural almond butter). The typical USANA Reset kit comes with bars that you can eat for snacks, but I'm picky about bars, so decided to do my own snacks. Lunch was another Nutrimeal shake with a Hepisal. I had another low-glycemic snack 2-3 hours later. Finally, a Nutrimeal shake for dinner with another HealthPak and Hepisal. I also drank over 12 glasses of water a day.

It's amazing how getting the "yuk" out of your system and filling it with good things (the supplements) can give you so much energy. Testimonial to the energy: I love my church, but with a lack of sleep many days from staying up late and my kids getting up early, I often struggle to stay alert and awake during the sermon. This past Sunday, I was completely engaged during the entire sermon (which was fantastic) while still functioning on less than six hours of sleep.

Even if you don't want to do a cleanse, I highly recommend the USANA vitamins. They are simply the best. And the Nutrimeal! I drink them for breakfast every morning. Want more info? I would be happy to get some for you. I love helping people create a healthier lifestyle and environment. :)

Monday, December 08, 2014

Top 10 Essential Oils

As promised, here is a list of my top 10 favorite essential oils and how it use them:

1. Peppermint

I use peppermint for so many things. Peppermint wakes you up and keeps you more alert. I put it in my morning Nutrimeal shake, put it on my wrists and behind my neck before/during long workouts, and inhale it to relieve any nasal congestion. I also put it on my stomach for any abdominal discomfort.

2. Lavender

This is the utility knife of oils -- it does SO much. I'll give you a quick testimony: a couple months ago, my 3-year-old daughter had a large board fall and hit her on the head. She obviously was crying and as I held her, I noticed that her head was bleeding. I quickly put Lavender on the wound to slow/stop the bleeding. The cut was only about a 1/2 inch long, but was split apart. I kept applying lavender and then applied an invisible liquid bandage. After an hour I did the lavender and bandage again. Since it was getting close to her bedtime, I took her to immediate care to have them look at it, just to make sure it was okay. They cleaned the area and the doctor said it looked great and that if I had taken her straight there and not done anything, they would have given her 1 or 2 staples in the head! So glad I used my lavender!

3. Thieves

I put a drop of Thieves on my kids' feet every morning before we head out the door to help boost their immune system and ward of the germs. I also diffuse Thieves in my house whenever there is illness to help get rid of the germs in the air.

4. Purification

I love diffusing Purification to get rid of any poopy, gassy, or bad dog smells. It totally gets rid of any bad odors in the air without leaving a strong odor behind.

5. Raven

I was diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma a year ago. I love using Raven for my Asthma. Usually, if I started having an asthma coughing fit, I would take my rescue inhaler and all would be good. Now, if I have the cough or feel my chest tighten, I simply rub a few drops of Raven on my chest and I instantly feel better. LOVE it. I also put it on my chest before exercising to help me breathe.

6. Lemon

I put lemon in my water every morning to help detoxify. It is SO good. Also, when I got stung by a bee this summer, I put lemon and lavender on it right away and probably 15 minutes later there was no sign that I had every been stung.

7. Aroma Siez

When I was struggling with Achilles Tendinitis this Spring/Fall, I used Aroma Siez and it brought me instant relief. As soon as I feel an ache there or the beginning of Plantar Fascitis, I apply a drop of Aroma Siez and the pain dissipates.

8. Stress Away

This is constantly on me. Kids are arguing, I put on Stress Away. Stuck in traffic, I put on Stress Away. I have to go to the grocery store, I put on Stress Away. SOOO GOOD!

9. Deep Relief

A few months ago, I somehow tweaked my neck/upper back. I couldn't move my head at all without shooting pains traveling down through my neck, shoulders, and spine. I instantly began running Deep Relief all over the area and the pain started to dull, I continued to apply it until I went to bed that evening. The next morning, I was a little sore, but no pain. Yea!

10. Melrose

Melrose is a natural Neosporin. It is great for cuts and also numbs. When I have a canker sore, I apply Melrose to it first to numb the area and then apply Thieves to help heal it (Thieves alone on a canker sore stings like crazy!).

So, those are 10 of my favorite essential oils, but there are TONS more great ones that I use. What are some of your favorite essential oils?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Top Ten Things I'm Loving Right Now

Top ten lists seem to be pretty popular these days, so here is a list of my top 10 favorite things right now:

1. Young Living Essential Oils -- these have totally changed how I approach illness, injury, etc. I will do a top ten list of my favorite oils (and why) in my next post.

2. USANA Nutrimeal -- I am currently on day two of a 5-day cleanse and detox with USANA called Reset (great name since you are resetting your system to make better food choices, etc.). I researched a lot of different cleanses and this one came out on top. Why? First of all, their products are the best out there -- tons of legit research (and my kids actually like their vitamins). Secondly, I LOVE their Nutrimeal and have been drinking it for breakfast for months. I am picky with drinks, etc. and can't stand any form of artificial sweetener. USANA uses fructose as a sweetener, which is the natural sugar found in fruit, so it is tasty and low-glycemic. I drink the Dutch Chocolate Nutrimeal (with a drop of Peppermint essential oil) which is also dairy-free and gluten-free. Everyone should try it and I am loving the Reset so far! :)

3. My Norwex Dry and Wet mop -- okay, I actually love everything about Norwex. Have you heard about Norwex? You clean with JUST WATER! It's a great way to get the chemicals out of your house. I'm kind of addicted to these products, but I decided to just highlight one. I used to get on my hands and knees to clean my hardwood floors, now it's quick and fast and no pain to my knees. Yea!

4. Wildtree Alfredo Extraordinaire -- Wildtree products taste fantastic, are mostly organic, and a healthy way to spice up your meals. The Wildtree Alfredo Extraordinaire is by far my favorite (and I'm not a big Alfredo sauce person).

5. Lifefactory glass water bottle -- I love adding citrus essential oils (lemon, grapefruit, etc.) to my water. It's important to use glass when dealing with pure essential oils as they can affect the materials in plastic. I bought mine through, but they also sell it at Whole Foods.

6. My homemade deodorant! Yes, it works great and it was SOOOO easy to make. If you want the recipe, just let me know and I can send it to you...or I'll just make some for you!

7. I have to add another Norwex product -- the Fluff and Tumble dryer balls. They work amazing to dry clothes, without using dryer sheets that have TONS of harmful chemicals on them. Plus, I just add a couple of drop of essential oils to the balls after the clothes are dry (then run on air dry for ten minutes) and my clothes smell great too!

8. Our new Kenmore vacuum that we just got during the Black Friday sales (online). It has great suction, a dirt sensor that tells you when you need to focus a little bit more on a certain area, the ability to lower the top almost completely flat to the ground so that you can get under beds, and other great features. So glad it finally went on sale and we could get it!

9. My church. I love my church. Yes, it's the church I grew up in. Yes, it has changed a lot over the years. But one thing has never changed -- it's beliefs. I have been involved in different ways over years, met my husband working with the high school ministry there, and continue to serve through the choir and worship ministry. If you're ever looking for a solid community of people check out Naperville Presbyterian Church:

10. These people. My family are my life and mean the world to me. I thank God everyday for giving me such an amazing husband and children. I don't take them for granted a single second. Be thankful everyday for the people God has put in your life. I am also thankful for a wonderful extended family (parents, etc.) that I love to spend time with and constantly encourage me and care for me.