Thursday, March 20, 2014

Getting Started with Esential Oils

I've been using essential oils for about a year now. I eased into it one oil at a time at the beginning.

I started with Melaluca for cuts and scratches.

I added Oregano about 4 months later when our daughter got an ear ache. A drop on a cotton ball placed over her ear and a swipe down the side of her neck with it and she was better within an hour.

Then Peppermint because I heard that it was a good bug repellent. I had started running and couldn't handle the bugs around my face in the summertime heat. I put a couple of drops in the palm of my hand with a light carrier oil and put it on the back of my neck, across my temples, and on my shoulders. Bonus: the cooling effect of peppermint in the wind! I would also drop a couple of drops in my sweet tea in the summer for a change of pace.

All of these were of the generic variety. Then a friend of mine introduced me to doTerra oils. At that point, I jumped in with both feet.

I use the Lavender to help me sleep each night and use it an effective but bite and burn soother.
I drink the Lemon oil or the Grapefruit oil in my water everyday. I put the Citrus Bliss on my wrists and the back of my neck as a little pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon.

But my all-time favorite, hands down, is the OnGuard. I use that in so many things. When I had my four wisdom teeth extracted, I swished with OnGuard in my water. I put it in a spray bottle with Shaklee's Basic H to clean my kitchen. When I feel a cold coming on, I put three drops of it along with Oregano and Lemon in a capsule and knock that junk out. But my absolute favorite way to use it? In my tea. I make a cup of tea and put one drop of OnGuard in it. The clove, orange, and cinnamon flavors are the perfect addition to the hot tea. It's simply delicious. It's the perfect wintertime treat. It's also delicious in a blueberry smoothie with spinach, yogurt, a frozen banana, and raw honey.

Get creative with oils. You will be pleasantly surprised with what they can do.

If I had to live with only 5 oils for the rest of my life it would be Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, OnGuard, and Oregano. 

I can't imagine my life without them.

The ways that I can use them, both separately and in combination with each other, can help just about any common issue my family has.

What about you? Have you ever tried them?  What are your favorite oils?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Life. Interrupted.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NIV

This is the only verse that kept coming to mind when the email came that my dear friend needed my help at her inn in Lenox, MA for three weeks. My life was planned. My family had things on the calendar. Our daughter's goats were almost ready to give birth. We have a school schedule to finish. Co-op to attend. Bible studies to go to. Weekly piano lessons. Baby chicks to start. Our son's baby turkeys for 4H were in a box in the kitchen. (we have a tendency to put poultry in our kitchen. Doesn't everyone?)

But that email...I needed to drop everything and be there, or here, as the case may be, for my friend. She needed me. And I love her. End of story. 

So, in the end, our daughter decided to stay home and keep watch over the livestock on our farm as well as keeping the house running for my husband. Our son and I piled into the car and drove 12 hours, 1/5 of the way across the US to be here. For 18 days. Where God wants us. Where He determined our steps to go long before I ever wrote a single event on my calendar.

And you know what, I don't want to be anywhere else. I would rather be inside the will of God and outside my comfort zone than outside the will of God and inside my comfort zone.

I'll be rather quiet for the next few weeks, but I'll be back to my regularly scheduled life soon enough. And I won't regret my time spent here serving the Lord and my dear friend. Outside of my comfort zone.

In the end, it's all good....

Catch you all on the flip side.

And while I'm here, this is my workout routine. It's easily doable in my room, doesn't take a lot of space, and is comfortable to do on my yoga mat (which I brought along!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Simple Granola

I'm getting ready to take a trip and am putting together my list of "car snacks."

It's funny how the snacks I think of for traveling aren't even close to the snacks I think of when staying home. On my list: Money Munch, granola, apples, vanilla wafers, gummi anythings...

Three of those five items haven't been purchased by me since the last trip I went on! But for some reason, they show up on the list during the planning stage.


I love making granola. But it never turns out the same way twice. If you stick around this blog long enough,  you'll discover that I tend to think of recipes as guidelines rather than rules. This granola recipe fits into that mindset perfectly.

It's basically a ratio mixture:

5 cups of oats or bulk (rice crisp cereal, rolled spelt or rye...)
1/4 cup of oil (coconut, sunflower...whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup of sweetener (honey, pure maple syrup, brown sugar, sucanat, agave, mixture of any or all)
pinch of sea salt
1 t seasonings (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice...)
handful of nuts (sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp, chia...)
handful of dried fruit- if desired (dried cranberries, dried apple slices, dates, apricots...)

As you can tell, there is a very good reason why my granola never tastes the same twice. TOO.MANY.OPTIONS.

This time, I used Wheat Montana's 7 Grain Cereal as the biggest part of my oats/bulk mixture with the minority being plain rolled oats.  I used organic, lightly filtered coconut oil, sucanat, and pumpkin pie spice. Instead of nuts, I used hemp seeds and no dried fruit.

I absolutely LOVE Wheat Montana's products. I will go out of my way to purchase their products if I need grain and I will make special purchases if I come across their products outside of my regular routine. I purchased their whole wheat berries to grind in my own grinder and it made the absolute best bread ever. *This might sound like a sponsored post, but I assure you-they have no clue who I am* 

If you get adventuresome and are into essential oils (like I am), you can add in a couple of drops of doTerra's OnGuard, cinnamon, wild orange, or ginger into the wet mixture. It adds a wonderful kick to the flavor!

I mix the oil, sweetener, salt, and seasonings together and pour over the oats/bulk.

 Spread onto a foil lined cookie sheet and cook in a 300* oven for about 20 minutes. 
 Stir it every 8-10 minutes. (If you want clumps of granola, DO NOT stir it)

Cool and store. 
I use these gallon size glass jars with metal lids for all my bulk foods.

Even with the Wheat Montana grain, this still only cost about $3 to make 6 cups of granola. I don't think that's bad at all. Especially when you take into consideration the fact that you know each and every ingredient you put in there and can pronounce it. Expect for sucanat. I'm still working on that one rolling off my tongue. 

I don't think I need to tell you how to eat this stuff. It's good on yogurt, as a cold cereal, over fruit...the options are endless. Personally, my favorite way is over fruit with a drizzle of our own raw, unfiltered honey.

A side note- I have become addicted to a teaspoon of coconut oil in my coffee. I can't seem to get enough of it. It's heavenly.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chickens and Memories

We have raised chickens before as the meat/egg breeds. Those were a lot of work, but fun. You get the eggs for two years, but then comes the butchering part. The processing of them would fall to me, and I just didn't want to do it anymore. It's a lot of work for a little bit of meat. 

Then we got started in broilers for meat and realized that pound for pound, week for week, feed for feed, the broilers were worth more to us than the layers were, meat-wise.

We have raised different breeds of chickens for many years and decided two winters ago to get Golden Comet chicks. This was a new breed for us. I’ve heard many people will only raise Golden Comets for eggs due to their consistent egg laying, feed-to-egg ratio, docile nature, and their final slight size.

I got the call from my post office that our day-old chicks were waiting for me. We got them home and settled in their box near the woodstove. 

Aren't they cute!?

They spent some time with us in the house near the woodstove for heat, but by the end of March, it was warm enough, reliably, to put them in the chicken coop. By that time, of course, the kids had grown attached to them. The chickens had become pets. They had become friends. Never mind that their life-plan was to lay us eggs, eat our kitchen scraps, and scratch our garden looking for grubs until that fateful day when they would say goodbye to this world and venture to that Great Big Chicken Run in the sky.

However, one chicken in particular, decided she liked the ‘human life’ a little too much. She would join us in the wood pile, right at our feet scratching for grubs, hopping up and sitting on the kids’ laps while they ran the handle for the log splitter, riding on the rack of the four-wheeler as we moved the wood into the woodshed…she was always around us. My husband, who would be running the chainsaw, would have to stop what he was doing to pick her up and set her down on a log that would be crawling with bugs, worms, and grubs.  Our family became so attached to her, that we named her “Fri-hen-d.” 

Yes, this chicken is in our house. 

She also received a blue zip tie on her left leg so that when it came time to butcher the chickens, we wouldn’t accidentally butcher her. (This foray into the kitchen is what prompted to blue zip tie- so it's not on her in this photo)

She lives the good life now- when she hears the back door open, she runs up on the deck hoping that we will be hand-feeding her something tasty. When it snows, or is too cold outside, she comes up to the back door and will peck on the door asking for admittance. Once, we took pity on her and brought her in and warmed her up by the woodstove. She plopped herself right down in the warmth and sat there for a while.  She comes when she’s called- like a dog does. 

Our family has enjoyed her antics and will allow her to be free and safe from The Ax.  The memories she has given our children will live on long after she’s gone. My husband and I are in the process of creating for our kids their ‘Good Ole Days.’ These are the days and times that the kids will look back on and remember with fondness.  Besides, what more can a mom ask for but memories to cherish close to her heart when the kids have grown up, and those same memories that they can take with them to pass along to their children. One day, they will be sitting around the table at a Thanksgiving dinner after their dad and I pass on, and they’ll say, ‘Remember that chicken we had when we were kids that mom and dad let us bring in to the house? What was her name again?’ And they’ll regale their families with stories of Fri-hen-d and growing up on a farm. And their memories will be tinged with gold and warmth and love. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Naming a Blog

This might fall into the "*Just in Case You Wanted to Know but are Afraid to Ask" category.

I think it's almost as momentous a decision as naming a child. Almost. Try to consolidate the composition of your life's symphony into 3 to 5 words. That are available as a domain name. That don't accidentally spell something inappropriate when typed with no spaces (example: Como Depot. I saw this the other day and laughed out loud. When you type that all together without spaces it's comodepot. Comode Pot. <-- That's what I was meaning about the accidental inappropriateness...)Tough stuff, I tell ya.

One must take into consideration all that one loves and likes. Where one wants to go and where one has been. What one believes and what one doesn't believe. How one perceives the world and through what Lens. How spiritual one lives or doesn't. How helpful does one want to be or doesn't. How motivating does one want to be or doesn't.

Or maybe not so much. The title of my blog actually came to me by way of my husband. "Our" song is an oldie, but a goodie, Forever in Blue Jeans by Neil Diamond. He sang it to me while we were dating. He sang it to me at our wedding.  And after nearly 19 years together, if it comes up on Pandora or iTunes we'll tune the kids out and turn the music up. And sing it to each other. (*We're Neil Diamond fans, by the way. Just file that under the same category as mentioned above.)

Have you ever paid attention to the words?

Money talks
But it can't sing and dance
And it can't walk
And long as I can have you
Here with me, I'd much rather be
Forever in blue jeans, babe

And if you pardon me
I'd like to say
We'll do okay
Forever in blue jeans, babe
And long as I can have you
Here with me I'd much rather be
Forever in blue jeans, babe  

*"Forever in Blue Jeans" is a song by Neil Diamond which was co-written with his guitarist Richard Bennett.

The fact that my husband and I didn't build our marriage around money, careers, or the things of this world that are currently passing away has been an incredible blessing to both of us. And to our kids.

The "Homemaking" part of the name seems fairly self-explanatory. :)  

I am so happy to be married to this man and I know that we'll be okay, forever in blue jeans.  

So there you have it. Naming a child, naming a blog- it's all the same. I'm totally kidding. Naming a child is more difficult. 

Naming our first born was almost comical. We didn't officially know what gender we were having, but my motherly instinct 'knew' the child I was carrying was a girl. We never talked about boy names. It just wasn't a boy. So, we agreed, or I thought we had agreed, on a name that was a combination of our two grandmother's names. Ellie (it was a variation on my grandmother's maiden name, Ellis) and Rose (his grandmother's name). Ellie Rose. Beautiful. Simple. Innocent. Meaningful. We referred to the bump as Ellie. We talked about when Ellie would arrive. The baby was Ellie. (Please don't ask me what would have happened if the baby had been a boy. We don't talk about it.)

Our baby is born, yes, a girl, laid on my chest, tears are being shed, love is being expressed in words and touches, and the nurse comes over and asks, "What name goes on her birth certificate?" I look at the nurse with such joy that can never be contained and reply, "Ellie Rose."

My beloved looks at me with that same joy that can never be contained and puts his hand on my shoulder (<--I took this as a sign of solidarity.) and says, "Honey, I hate that name."

So. Naming. It's a challenge. We officially didn't name our first born child until about an hour before we left the hospital. ALL of her papers, name band, everything, say either "Baby Girl" or "Princess." 

By the way, God totally nailed the naming of our children. We jumped the gun and tried to name them in our own strength. But trust me, their God-chosen names are so completely perfect for them that I can't imagine ever thinking that we could have done a better job.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Herbal Horse Healing

Living on a small farm means being ready for just about anything. 

Reader discretion is advised.

A few weeks ago, one of my rescue horses got a huge wound on his right rear quarter. The wound was about 7" in diameter and about 2" deep. There was nothing to stitch together. (We're still not sure how he managed it).  I am not a vet tech nor am I really good around ouchies, but he needed tending and it's what one does when one lives on a farm- no matter what the size of the spread.

I was able to clean it out and get all the foreign material out of it- dirt, hair, whatever else a horse gets in a rear end wound- with warm water, paper towel, and persistence so that I could expose some raw edges. Healing has to start from the inside and not cover over dirt and yuck. <-- Life lesson #1 of this situation.

Thanks to the willingness of my good friend, Char, from LiveLifeLoveOils, she was able to hold his head and scratch him behind the ears at the north end while I worked on the south end. The deeper I got into this wound, the more I knew that this was going to be a beast to heal. <-- Um, yeah, we'll call that Life Lesson #2.  Great. I didn't want to stall him because I wanted him to walk on it and keep blood flowing and his joints from getting stiff. I needed to keep him healthy, which is tough with an older rescue horse in the easiest of times. Add to this the combination of record-breaking cold, dangerously low windchills, snow that kept coming, and this wound, and I knew I was in for a doozy of a battle.

We're not a big bunch of panickers around our house. We have been using essential oils for almost a year now and have never looked back. I love the doTerra brand due to the fact that they can be used internally, but there are a few oils that I will buy from other sources. One such oil is Lemongrass.  Knowing that it can speed healing and is a powerful pain reliever, I added it to a bottle of Herbal Solution sample that I had picked up from my local granary. The ingredients followed along our 'first try nature and God's offerings' mentality <-- #3: aloe, myrrh, comfrey, goldenseal, cayenne, and elder, in an isopropyl base, and decided this would be a good option to start with. After I got it all cleaned out, which took a very.long.time, I applied this mixture to him.

Pardon the quality of the iPhone pic.
It was so cold my hand was shaking.
Twice a day, I would head out there to do a wound check. It was so cold that the seepage from the wound was freezing before it could get out of the wound completely. So, I had to continuously pull off the frozen seepage. Multiple times a day. And apply the solution. Multiple times a day. And pray. It seemed as though he was getting worse for about the first week. I had to increase his feed, add in about 8 cups of rehydrated beet pulp, and about a cup of corn oil just to keep him going. His body was using so much energy to heal and keep warm that I was afraid that it wasn't going to be able to do both sufficiently.

After about 10 days, the healing started to occur. The seepage eased, his energy came back up, and the wound started showing signs of health. I wish I had a photo of him today, but he went to his forever home about 3 weeks ago.

I will have this Herbal Solution in my barn forever now. It's worth it's weight in gold. Or vet bills.

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