April 2015


Essential Oils

Monday, April 27, 2015

I am in love with essential oils.  Since I was introduced to me this winter, I have become obsessed! Oils can be used for topical use, internal use and diffusing.  Before using any oils, you need to make sure that you are using pharmaceutical grade oils and check to see if they should be used before going all out!

I have a my little arsenal of basics, but am constantly expanding!  We use DoTerra Oils at our house.  There are several brands out there.  But we really like the quality of this brand.

The ones that we use are:

  • On Gaurd - Proprietary Blend by DoTerra
  • Breathe - Also a Proprietary Blend by DoTerra
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Wild Orange
  • Tea Tree
How do I use these oils?

On Gaurd
I diffuse this for killing air born germs throughout our house.  It is great to do this after you come home from school or being in a public place.  I add a couple of drops to our laundry to kill germs.  We even have a spay in a bottle that I use to disinfect surfaces safely.

I use this in King Diaper's diffuser in his room if he is getting congested.  I also mix it in a carrier oil and rub it into his check, back and bottom of his feet at night before bed.  It can also be added to his bath water at night.

I love to use this in water to wake me up when driving.  It is also just refreshing to drink.  It is also a good way to wake yourself up in the morning or for a mid afternoon pick me up with just a quick swipe under the nose!  Its also a great way to freshen your breath if this is in your water.  Win and win!

Also great for drinking.  I make a spray for counters and surfaces.  It is always a great scent to use in the house when cleaning or just first thing in the morning.  I also like to mix with wild orange for a nice citrus scent throughout the house.

I diffuse this at night throughout our house at the end of the day as we wind down.  I also add it to King Diaper's bath a lot to help calm him down.  We also keep this mixed in a spray bottle as a linen spray at the end of the night.

Tea Tree
This can be mixed with lavender and a carrier oil as a topical solution for rashes and skin irritations.

You can search for other ideas for making homeopathic muscle creams for sore and achy muscles to cold remedies.  Its really a matter of how widely you want to use these and what needs you have in your home.  

We have diffusers throughout our house.  I'm contemplating purchasing a travel one for when I'm on the road.  But, no worries.  Place a couple of drops onto cotton balls and spread around your hotel room, and you are covered.  I like to start the day with something happy and energizing like lemon and wild orange.  While I'm cleaning, I'll diffuse On Guard for germ killing properties.  We end the day with lavender around the house.  

Essential oils can be used for lots of different things around the house.  I love using them as sprays to clean because they are safe and effective.  Plus, the house smells great.  

If you are looking for more ideas and ways to use oils, Pinterest is a plethora of information.  I check out ideas from time to time for new ways to be healthier in our home.  Also talk to other users to find out what they are doing that they like.  I was recently introduced to a roller ball mixture that one user calls "Liquid Xanex".  Its a calming formula that can be rolled on easily and is a great scent.  She was willing to mix up a batch and sell it to me.  Happy all around.

I would not suggest to replace medicines that are necessary in your home for oils.  Talk to your physician first.  We talked to King Diaper's pulmonologist about the breathe formula.  She is fine with us using it, but it in no way replaces his needed breathing treatments.  I feel like anything that I can do to increase the quality of our life at home naturally is a good thing.

So, get your curious self out there and check out some oils.  At a minimum, they smell great and can make your house smell like a spa.  Who wouldn't like that?  Even my husband says he likes the way they make our house smell.  And this is high praise from someone who normally takes the side of "whatever makes me happy".  

Letting Go Before I Become a Hoarder! (is harder than I thought)

Monday, April 20, 2015

The pile of stuff for the consignment sale!
Good grief!  Having a small house with small closets may be the best thing that ever happened to me.  Otherwise, my amount of "stuff" would have grown to a level that is indescribable and unmanageable by now!

A few weeks ago, a friend sent a text about a consignment sale and asked if I had items I'd like to place in them.  At the time, I thought that I'd have a few items that I would send.  I started out with a simple bag that I had already placed a few items in.

Before it was over with, this grew into a large plastic garbage sack for donation along with another smaller bag.

Additionally, I had:
  • 1 large plastic bin completed filled
  • 2 cloth bags packed full
  • 2 overflowing smaller boxes
It was time.  It was past time for all of this stuff to go.  What was I going to do with it.

I had lots of great things I hated to part with, but what good was all of this stuff doing me?  After I came home with King Diaper, I faced the facts and packed up the clothes that didn't fit thinking I'd be back in the next year.  And two year later, they were still packed.  

Have I given up on those clothes and being that size again?  No.  Not really.  I have set some very specific goals for myself this year and have been working really hard to get there.  But hanging on to clothes that don't fit isn't going to motivate me to do this.  If I haven't been motivated enough in two years, I need to move on from that.  

More stuff to be donated!
Some times hanging on just weighs you down and is just that sad, depressing reminder that this part of my life has passed.  Or has it?

Not really.  My life has changed.  So has my size.  It happens to every body.  

When I get to where I'm going, I don't know what my size or shape will be.  That always seems to change for women.  Yes.  We did get that lucky!

So, all of the stuff went!  I tossed and turned over it thinking about that grey dress or cute top that maybe I would want later.  Or would I?  Do I want the clothes or what they represent for me?  

I don't know how to answer that.  But I do know that hanging on to them is hanging on to something isn't helping me.  

My closets are cleaned out and have more room.  I have less stuff and baggage.  And maybe it just represents the baggage and everything else that I hope to get rid of this year.  Sometimes life if full circle that way.  And maybe I'm just trying to not be a hoarder.  And maybe I'll end up with a little change for some new clothes.

I think the hardest part was actually seeing the clothes on the rack at the consignment sale.  It was a definite good bye to who I used to be, the size I once was and the clothes that I loved.  But then again, that life was minus one other little life that has filled our home with joy.  It isn't easy making peace with all of that.  But, it is something that I'm sorting out a little at a time.

I think any woman would be lying if she didn't say that she missed her pre baby body if it isn't what she wanted it to be.  I have seen articles recently talking about "I'm fat and happy".  I just don't know if I can or ever will buy it.  Its a concept that is good in theory but I don't think that I'm every going to settle for fat and happy.  I want to be healthy and happy.  That is my ultimate goal at this point in my life.  I don't know what those clothes, that number on the scale or that size is going to look like just yet.  But once I get there I'll know.

Either way, its a good thing.  And it is necessary.  Even if it keeps me up at night.  Because once I embrace the change and letting go, I always sleep much better!

Celebrating Two Years at Home

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Waiting at his last doctor's appointment with
"markers" a.k.a crayons
The day our son was born was not the way I had envisioned motherhood starting. There were no happy pictures of me and a new baby snuggled after giving birth.  It would be more than two months from that date before I ever held our baby.  And even then he was on the vent, and I was holding him perfectly still fearing one wrong move that could remove his breathing tube that he required.  It was not a warm, cuddly moment.  Rather, it was a terrifying feat that still makes me sad.

The day that I will probably always celebrate with more joy than his birthday will be our coming home day!  April 11 was the day that we were finally able to come home and be a family.  Its more like a second birthday for us.  Surviving 193 days in the NICU is something to celebrate!

Today we are celebrating 2 years at home.  It was day for us that I remember being racked with a flood of emotions.  I can remember being happy, excited, scared, sad, uncertain and in some ways numb.

For months, every nurse that cared for our son was our lifeline to what was going on when we couldn't be with him.  He slept in the hospital under their care every night.  He started his days with this group of nurses and doctors and knew nothing else.

On trips for regular check ups, we stop by the NICU to see the nurses that we love so much.  And until this time, he kind of sat in his stroller and starred.  This time, he leapt into their arms and let him hold him happily like long lost friends.  The sounds of the beeping and smell of antiseptic kind of makes me sick, but is strangely familiar.  While I don't want to go back, I do miss this group of care givers that were such a huge part of his fragile beginning.

King Diaper came into this world with us scared and uncertain.  I can remember the days and nights of crying at his bedside.  We made difficult decisions and watched as even more difficult events unfolded for us beyond our control.

Now, we are at home with a toddler that screams often.  He smiles, laughs and loves to be tickled.  He always wants to "make something", for us to "Pick me up" and is eager to tell us "I smell it" or "I do hear it".  And every milestone is a miracle to us.

How to each an ice cream sandwich
Yes.  We will continue to celebrate birthday's with parties and cake.  I want him to have that enjoy a day to celebrate his life.

But his mommy will alway celebrate double on our coming home day!  Each year, we are a little farther from those long days that seemed to never end.  But, I think that I will forever feel that I left a piece of my heart in the NICU.

That last night, I spent at the hospital with him in a rooming suite for mothers and babies to adapt to that transition home.  The last nurse that cared for us had cared for our son many times before.  She had been his nurse many nights when he was at his sickest and required a single nurse 24 hours a day.

On that last night, at the end of her shift, she handed me a letter she had written to him.   It is now tucked into his baby book for him to discover when he is older.  Its a memory that punctuates our lives in the NICU and reminds me of how special each person that works there is.

As we drove home that day, I still remember riding in the back seat next to him in his car seat for the first time.  I read that letter with a tear stained face and heart realizing that our lives had forever been changed by care givers just like her.  One day, he will be able to read that letter himself.

We may have missed those typical first moments, days and months, but we gained a group of caregivers that surrounded us daily with kindness and support.  

I'll never be able to thank each person that touched our lives during that time.  Nurses and doctors are truly special people.  The NICU is a whole different kind of special.  Even on the days that you are mad and frustrated to the point of no return, you will look back after it is over and think about that one moment when someone listened, helped you change a diaper or just let you cry because you had to.

Now that I look back, its easier to not wish for what we didn't have.  Instead, I wish that those who helped us during those dark days know that they were the light that brought us home.  And today, we celebrate you too!  For you were the hands and hearts that helped us through that journey.  Each year, I'll continue to celebrate you in the part that you played on our life as we watched the miracle of life unfold before us.  He arrived much sooner than we had anticipated, but perfect in God's timing.

Lighten Up Your Baking

Monday, April 6, 2015

The makings of a favorite muffin - less the oil!
I love to cook.  Now that I have a husband and King Diaper to cook for, I feel like I enjoy it more than ever.  It is a fact, that I will cook pancakes upon demand on a Sunday night if our toddler wakes up from a nap asking for them.

Applesauce is a great way to lighten up your baking that calls for oil.  I would only recommend this for cakes, breads and muffins.  I'm not sure how cookies would do.  Fats certainly affect the taste and texture of baking.

I am certainly not a trained chef or baker, but I've had great results with this in our kitchen at home.   If you use applesauce for baking, I would recommend the following:

  • Use unsweetened applesauce.
  • Make a 1 to 1 substitution for swapping oil for applesauce.
  • You can also substitute one for one minus two tablespoons and add the two tablespoons back in oil.  A little more complicated, but can yield better results in some cases.  
Why would you do this?  Well, some muffin and sweet breads call for up to a cup of oil!  Thats a lot of fat and calories that can be eliminated.  

I have a recipe for Whole Wheat Muffins from Bottletree Bakery in Oxford, MS.  It is included in the Square Table Cookbook that even Bulldogs should own.  (Even though I hate to admit that!)

This recipe is a basic muffin batter and can be customized with 2 cups of your choice of fruit.  I recently made these with cranberries.  So good!

While I'm on the topic of baking muffins, I also like to use parchment paper for my liners.  I think that they don't stick.  And this is one less then for me keep around.  In a small house I try to buy products that multitask.  Parchment paper is a wonder paper that I use for lots of things.

The beginnings of parchment muffin liners
For muffins, tear off a sheet.  Fold into thirds.  Then fold again into thirds.  This will give you 9 squares.  Cut apart.  Duplicate as needed for the amount of muffins you bake.  I just press loosely into the tin and drop some batter into the center with a cookie scoop.  This weights them.  And you can keep filling until it is the right amount.

Finally, one last swap you can make while baking is with coconut oil.  For any recipe that calls for butter, make an equal swap with coconut oil.  It is considered to be a healthier fat.  For these muffins, it can be used in the topping.  

I didn't say these had no fat!  

What does the difference in swapping oil for applesauce make in the end result?  Well, for this muffin:

Whole Wheat Cranberry Muffins
Whole wheat muffins with applesauce 269 calories and 6.1 grams of fat.
Whole wheat muffins with oil 337 calories and 14.1 grams of fat.

That is a big difference!  And I think every little bit counts.  These little swaps and substitutions can add up to noticeable results over time.  Look for ways that you can make simple substitutions in your favorite recipes and enjoy the results a few changes can make!

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