Category Archives: Natural Living

Six Natural Immunity Boosters

Every fall, I am reminded of sickness season when I take the kids for their checkups. It seems that I have to ward off flu shots left and right! However, even the onset of spring and summer doesn’t mean we’re exempt from catching a bug. No matter the season, there’s always a need to arm ourselves against common ailments.

Simple, effective ways to boost your immunity!

 


Our family’s personal preference is to boost our immunity naturally as possible. Over the years, we’ve developed an arsenal of preventative measures to fight common colds and bugs. While we still occasionally fall ill, we’ve found that following a precautionary regimen can help ward off sicknesses before they come- and curtail them if we do happen to catch them!

Here’s how we work to prevent (& fight) sicknesses in our house:

1) Adequate sleep. There’s nothing like a good night of shut eye. It turns out that lack of sleep actually can suppress the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Also, losing sleep can make your body less effective at fighting sickness, so you’re left feeling worse for longer. (Source.)

One of the best habits we’ve formed since the start of the new year has been getting up at the same time every morning. Not only does the early wake up time help us to start our mornings off right, the regular sleep schedule has really helped both of us to feel better in terms of energy and overall wellness.

2) Overall good nutrition. There’s a lot of articles out there on what to eat and what not to eat to boost your immunity, but most say that the immune system is so complicated that it’s difficult to tell how much your food affects it. Here’s my theory: nourishing foods help your body function at its best. If your body is functioning well, you’ll be more likely to be able to fight illnesses. (I am not a doctor. This is merely my hypothesis. 😉 )

3) Avoiding excess sugar. Too  much sugar can seriously hinder your immune system. According to Dr. Sears, “Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of about two cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent.” (Source.)

Have you ever noticed that kids tend to get sick just after Halloween and Easter? It’s not that the candy itself makes them sick. However, all that sugar consumption significantly reduces their body’s ability to fight germs. We are all more likely to fall ill when we binge on sweets.

This has been really challenging for me over the years. As much as I love real food and all that jazz, I also really love chocolate! However, another major change that we’ve been working on over the past month or so is largely eliminating white sugars from our household. This is definitely one of those imperfect journeys.

4) Elderberry syrup. This is one of my favorite anti-sickness tools, and our kids love it too! Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting flavonoids. We tend to take a spoonful most days throughout the winter, and then up our intake to several times daily at the first sign of sickness.

Studies haven’t confirmed whether or not elderberry syrup is effective as a preventative measure. However, it has been shown to significantly shorten the course of the flu- as much as by 50%! (Source.)

For the past two years, we’ve made variations of this recipe from Wellness Mama. If you don’t have the time to make it yourself, you can easily purchase syrup online.

5) Chicken soup (& other chicken broth concoctions). It’s actually a real thing- chicken soup can help you feel better. Carsonine, a compound found in chicken broth, helps your body fight sickness. The steam from the soup can help clear congestion & improve your cilia’s function. (Those are the little protective nose hairs that keep out the bad guys. Source.) Add to that the goodness of garlic, onion, and all those veggies, and you’ve got a complete, delicious immunity booster. Here’s how I make my chicken stock.

6) Fermented Foods. How do fermented foods help to keep you from getting sick? In short, fermented foods help to promote good bacteria and probiotics in your gut- and having a healthy gut means having a healthy immune system! Here’s an interesting article on how a healthy gut flora influences your overall heath and immunity.

Read more on fermentation here.

Now, if we do actually get sick, we kick these preventative measures into high gear. Then we go to town with garlic, ecinacea supplements, catnip tea, ginger root & lemon tea, apple cider vinegar, and some various essential oil usage. But that, my friends, is for another post.

Simple, natural immunity boosters that you simply must try!

How do you boost your immunity and avoid sickness? Share below in the comments!

All-Purpose Homemade Cleaner (Kid-Safe & Food-Safe)

I remember the day I sprayed some kitchen cleaner on my counter top and then went to knead bread on the same surface. I paused for a moment before turning out the dough, and picked up the cleaner bottle to read the back.

What did I see? CAUTION: Not for internal use. Eye irritant. Call a poison control center immediately if ingested. Keep out of reach of children. Etc., etc.

I got out a cutting board for my kneading my dough.


How to make a safe and easy cleaner for all your surfaces!

But as a non-crunchy, uninformed young girl in my first apartment, I had no idea what to use as an alternative. Natural homemade cleaning products weren’t even on my radar. For a while, I just wiped down my counter with a wet rag and dish soap.

Somewhere along the line, I was introduced to the world of homemade cleaners. What a novel idea! My sister-in-law emailed her recipes, I searched the blog world, and eventually came up with a cleaner that works just fine for multiple surfaces in our household.

I know there are 30 gazillion homemade cleaner recipes out there, but I figured this might help some other first-apartment newlywed who had never heard of a homemade cleaner before either. Here we go:

Fill an old spray bottle halfway with vinegar and halfway with water. Then add about 10 drops of essential oil of your choice. (I like using orange EO for some yummy citrus freshness.) And that’s it.

It’s cheap, it’s simple, and it’s completely safe for food surfaces and kid usage.

If you’re not going to use it for food surfaces, you could also add some tea tree oil for an anti-bacterial effect. Usually, however, I make the cleaner without it, and just add a splash of tea tree in the toilet before scrubbing. That way, my all-purpose cleaner stays all purpose.

Go now, and scrub without worries. 🙂

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How to make a SAFE and easy cleaner for many surfaces!

 

 

Plant Therapy Giveaway!

I don’t know about you, but March gives me so much hope. It may still feel like winter, but I know spring is coming. In like a lion, out like a lamb!

How about we celebrate the onset of March with a nice big GIVEAWAY?

Plant Therapy Essential Oils & Diffuser Giveaway


Some of my Homestead Bloggers friends and I have partnered with Plant Therapy to bring you a really awesome prize.

This week we’re giving you a chance to win an Essential Oils Kit and AromaFuse Diffuser valued at $110.00! You can view more details about the essential oils kit HERE, and the diffuser HERE at Plant Therapy.com. Plant Therapy has graciously provided this essential oils package as a prize so that YOU can get a jump start on your health and wellness this spring!

You should know that I’ve gotten Plant Therapy oils before as part of my previous Healthy Living Bundle purchases and they are fabulous. While I don’t hold a particular brand loyalty when it comes to EOs, I do love that Plant Therapy offers quality oils at a very affordable price.

Let’s take a look at the prizes in this giveaway:

The Essential Oils

The 7&7 Essential Oils Kit features fourteen of Plant Therapy’s most popular oils. 7 single oils, and 7 blends or synergies- hence, 7 & 7. 😉  This would be a great set for someone who is just starting out with essential oils and would like to try several out, OR for someone whom is well-versed in essential oils and is running low on the essentials!

The Diffuser 

The AromaFuse diffuser, with its sleek, modern style and programmable lights & timer, would be an excellent addition to any room. The large reservoir will allow you to diffuse your favorite oils for several hours for all of the added benefits of essential oil aromatherapy.

 

Meet the Bloggers Involved

They’re Not Our Goats <—You are here. 😉 

 

Terms and Conditions

This 7&7 Essential Oils Kit & AromaFuse Diffuser Giveaway is sponsored by Plant Therapy, and is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older and who lives in the USA or Canada. This giveaway starts on Wednesday, March 1st at 7:00 am (CST) and ends on Friday, March 10th, 2017 at 11:59pm (CST). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone!

 

Enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win a 14 oil set and diffuser from Plant Therapy!

Tick Bite Prevention (Naturally!)

I don’t remember ever getting a tick growing up. But at our house, we get ticks on us almost every single time we go outside in the spring or fall. Literally. No ticks is a rare occasion. After knowing several people with Lyme disease, the commonness of deer ticks in our yard gives me the heebie jeebies.

Tick Bite Prevention (Naturally!)Photo Credit

(This post contains affiliate links.)

The typical advice for avoiding tick bites & diseases? Don’t walk in high grass, spray yourself with DEET insect repellent, wear clothing treated with permethrin, and then check yourself after coming in. If you have a tick bite, get on antibiotics pronto.

However, our property has ticks everywhere- not just in high grass. And while I think it’s unlikely that the occasional use of bug spray and insecticides will kill you, it’s certainly not something I want to rub on my kids or wear on a daily basis. (See here and here for some reasons why.) Same with antibiotics- I am all for using them judiciously as needed- but can we be on them almost constantly without health repercussions? Certainly not.


Thankfully, we have found some alternative tick prevention methods over the past year or so that have proved to be fairly effective- without the theoretical risks and worries that come with regular chemical application. Here are some of the methods we use:

1) Homemade anti-tick spray: I don’t know where this recipe originally came from, but thank you to whoever published it! You will need:

  • 2 C white vinegar.
  • 1 C water.
  • 10 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, OR citrus essential oil. All of these serve as a tick repellent. (I like orange, personally.)
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil (another tick repellent- plus it’s antibacterial).

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and apply to clothing and skin before going outside- particularly to the socks and pants. It’s a little stinky, but no worse than bug spray- and it doesn’t have the same toxicity concerns.

2) Look dorky. Wear sneakers instead of flip-flops. Tuck your pants into your socks. You might look silly, but it will keep ticks from crawling up your legs. Just a thought.

3) Get chickens. If you have a tick problem in your yard, consider getting a few chickens. Besides all the other awesome reasons to have them around, they are also great at reducing the tick population. Last spring, without chickens, we were overrun with deer ticks. This spring, with a small flock, I have only found one so far. Obviously, it’s too soon to tell whether it was the chickens or just a different year, but I’ll take anything that helps.

UPDATE: We do still get ticks, even with chickens, so maybe it was just the year. However, I know that chickens like to eat ticks, and anything helps– so I’m keeping ’em.

4) Do a tick check. Every night during tick season, we do a full check of ourselves and our kids. Even if you do have a tick bite, catching it quickly is key to avoiding tick-transmitted diseases. So scan everywhere on your body- particularly in armpits, behind the ears, in your hair, and other hard to see places. Showering soon after coming inside can help rinse off any non-attached ticks. These guys can be really tiny, so do be thorough.

tick on pennyPhoto Credit

If you DO get a tick bite:

1) Remove it quickly. You can find instructions for removing ticks with tweezers, but I have always been nervous about accidentally leaving the head in. I personally like using the Ticked Off tool, because it’s simple and I’ve never had a problem with severing the tick. It’s cheap too.

UPDATE: We have had a few ticks break when using the Ticked Off tool. We’ve since switched back to tweezers, but will still occasionally get a head stuck in the skin. We just purchased these fine-pointed tweezers for hopes of a better success rate. I will update again after we’ve tried them to let you know how they perform.

2) Disinfect the area. My husband always does this with a bit of alcohol. Ask your healthcare professional for recommendations.

3) Consider whether or not you need treatment. We have spoken to five different doctors on the topic of routine preventative antibiotics for tick bites. Two were for it, two were against it. The fifth prescribed it to my husband because of a questionable rash and illness after the removal of a tick we didn’t catch very early. We use antibiotics when we feel they are the safest choice, but not as a matter of course- simply because of the frequency of tick bites in our area.

UPDATE: My daughter got Lyme’s this past fall, complete with an atypical rash. We did a course of antibiotics for her. It reminded me of the need for due diligence in preventative measures– because even as the author of this post, it’s easy to get lax and neglect taking simple precautions.

What should you do? Please inform yourself on Lyme’s Disease and talk to your doctor to decide what course of treatment is best for you. If you are concerned (especially if the tick has been in your skin longer than 24-48 hours), save the tick if possible to be taken in for testing.

This post is mostly about tick & Lyme’s prevention. I cannot begin to cover all the details of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, nor can I recommend a medical course of action. Here are some other helpful articles for your further research:

Remember, ALWAYS check for ticks after time outdoors in tick seasons.  (I’m preaching this to myself as much as to you.) EVERY TIME. That’s the best preventative measure you can take.

It’s worth it.

I am not a healthcare professional. This post should be used for informational purposes only.

Take five minutes to learn simple, chemical-free ways to avoid tick bites this season.

 

 

 

 

Why Use Herbal Soaps?

Soap is one of those things that we all use in some capacity. Maybe you like to find it as cheap as you can. Maybe you like to make your soap as “natural” as possible. You might even view your soap as an opportunity for promoting health as well as cleanliness!

Why Use Herbal Soaps2

My real-life friend Corinne began making her own soaps in pursuit of a healthier alternative to conventional soap. I bought a bar from her because I wanted to support her mom-trepreneurial endeavors through her new business, Metta-Physical.


Corinne’s panna soap is made of all organic honey, jasmine-infused sweet almond oils, jasmine essential oil, and dried jasmine buds. The honey provides lots of moisture for dry skin, and jasmine is said to be both anti-bacterial and an anti-depressant.

My panna soap smelled delightful- like a floral garden in spring bloom, surrounded by the warmth of gooey honey. It was smooth and soothing on the honey side, and exfoliating and refreshing on the jasmine bud side. It was perfect for a quiet bath after the kids were in bed.

And besides, isn’t this thing gorgeous?

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So, the soap is lovely. But what exactly is better about an herbal soap over a conventional soap? Why use essential oil in soap instead of regular fragrance? Why should I buy a fancy bar over the cheap stuff at the store?

I wanted to know more about Corinne’s ingredients and her soap-making process. I asked her a few questions so we all could learn more.

Abi: First, tell us what made you interested in making your own soaps.

Corinne: I never would have thought I would be making soaps, until I started my oiling journey. I was skeptical about a lot of information out there regarding essential oils and it took me some time to even start using the Young Living Essential Oil kit that I bought that sat on my counter for weeks. For some reason, people like to make it sound a lot more difficult than it really is. So I took it upon myself to start learning more. After all, what would I have to lose?

After implementing and then experiencing a healthier dynamic, both mental and physical, I become very intrigued to learn more. I started by taking all the processed soaps, bath products, lotions, cleaning chemicals out of the equation and trying to formulate my own through research. My soaps are progressing with time but one thing that remains true: I will never use a store brand again.

A: What kind of ingredients do you use in your homemade soaps?

C: I have been experimenting with many exotic ingredients and many basic herbs as well. Since the start of my oiling journey until the peak of my interest, I decided I needed to further my education in aromatherapy, anatomy and physiology. Experimenting with some exotic ingredients is cool….but learning how to fully utilize them for maximum benefits is another thing.

For example, Metta Physical’s Arhat “Lavender-Sage” Bars include an ingredient called Arjuna Bark Powder. The bark powder of the Arjuna tree that we put in the soaps at Metta serves as an astringent, and a sweet, cooling expectorant with Vitamins C & E for your skin!

A: What exactly is an herbal infusion?

C: We take all of our herbs and infuse them in Sweet Almond Oil for all of our soaps. (We use Sweet Almond Oil for its many skin care benefits.) The process of infusion can take 10 hours or as long as 6 weeks.

We gather our herbs and place them in a Mason jar, leaving enough room for the Sweet Almond Oil. For the slow process, we let the herbs sit on the window sill for six weeks until the oil gathers all the beneficial properties from the herbs. For quicker infusion, we can create a hot bath for the herbs and heat them for 10 hours to produce the same results. After this process we strain all the oil from the herbs and we are left with an even more beneficial and therapeutic oil for our products.

A: How can herbs in soap benefit the user?

C: After doing research on different cosmetic soaps, I was pretty shocked at the chemicals we are not aware we are using on a daily basis. A lot of these chemicals can be drying and lead to skin allergies as well. Aiding infections and exacerbating skin diseases, these chemical soaps also clog the pores of the skin and hamper the cells from breathing. Moreover, chemical soaps have animal fat and lack the essential oils from plant extract which give a natural and pleasing aroma.

My herbal soaps are 100% organic and offer plant extracts that soothe the body and the mind, relieve stress and tension, all while providing some intoxicating aromatherapy. You will see a difference in your skins appearance if you have battles with eczema and psoriasis. Even if your skin doesn’t need soothing from either, you will notice how emotionally balanced you will feel after using natural, herbal soaps.

A: I noticed you also use essential oils in your soap. What is the advantage of using essential oils in your soap over conventional fragrances?

C: Conventional fragrance oils are synthetic and do not contain any therapeutic benefits. Many people are even allergic to fragrance oils and they can cause skin irritations. Fragrance oils are also made up of a long list of various chemicals– often including essential oils with little regard for the natural qualities that make these oils so precious. I am more aware to the fact that sometimes we just do not know the extent of the chemicals used to produce a product and that is very scary.

Each true essential oil, on the other hand, comes with its own therapeutic benefits. Essential oil benefits come from their antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Since I have incorporated the true essence of essential oils, our immune systems have been the strongest this cold and flu season yet!

A: What’s your favorite part of soap-making?

C: My favorite part is knowing I am completely free to concoct something that will make someone else feel good or knowing I can help with a certain aliment someone might have by placing the right herbs and essential oils together. Sometimes I feel like I am in the kitchen cooking dinner when I am creating soaps…..except when I am done, I cannot lick the spoon!

Panna Bar

It was such a pleasure talking about the soaps with Corinne, and I learned a few new things myself!

Why use herbal soaps? Here’s the recap:

  • Each individual herb and essential oil has unique benefits for the user.
  • By using a soap with healthy ingredients, you are avoiding the risks associated with long-term exposure to mystery chemicals.
  • If you’re buying from an individual like Corinne, you are supporting a small business!

Metta-Physical is currently working on developing a website, but until then, you can order your own special herbal soap (and check out other awesome herbal products!) from Corinne here on her Facebook page. 🙂

Why you should make the switch to an herbal based soap instead of one using fragrance oils.

 

Things I Love About the Healthy Living Bundle

Do you ever feel like you’re lost in a jungle instead of growing a garden?

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Do you feel frustrated that you have to keep trying to feed your kids good choices?


IMG_0200Tired of deciding which essential oil you should use?

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Feel like all your chickens are plotting against you?

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Puzzled by wild foods?

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Okay, okay, so I’m being a little silly. But if you’ve ever tried to live a healthy lifestyle and felt frustration along the way, I get it. I’m right there with you.This is one of the only times I am super, over the moon excited about an online product. One of the only times I will go on and on about why I’m buying something (and why you should too). One of the only times I will unapologetically spend $30 on something “just for me”– even though it’s quite clearly for my family too. It’s Healthy Living Bundle Time! (This post contains affiliate links.) 

What is the Healthy Living Bundle?

The bundle is a collection of e-books, e-courses, printables, and product bonuses from some of the best bloggers and companies across the web. Each resource focuses on a different aspect of healthy living to help address a wide variety of reader concerns, questions, and goals. The bundle is a super deal (less than $30) offered for a very short amount of time (cough, cough- the deal ends Monday at 11:59).

Here’s some of what I love about the Healthy Living Bundle.

1) It’s got a gazillion resources that you’ll actually use. 

A gazillion actually means 80+, but hey, that’s something like a gazillion when you’re only one person. The bundle covers topics from healthy eating to fitness to alternative health and essential oils. It’s got sections on gardening, homesteading, and healthy kids. For the ladies, the bundle includes a section on pregnancy and women’s health. No matter what your natural health interests, it’s got something for you.

2) It’s cheap. 

If you bought all the e-books, courses, and bonus products that come free with the healthy living bundle, do you know what it would cost you? $2,669.53. Do you know what the cost of the bundle is? $29.97. I don’t know about your math skills, but to me, that seems like some pretty serious subtraction. If you were eyeing up only one or two of these resources, chances are the bundle will pay for itself VERY quickly.

3) It’s inspiring. 

I’ve always wanted to be skeptical of gimmicks, courses, challenges, and life-fix-it courses. While I’ve kept a healthy dose of realism (no product is going to change my life in 3 easy steps), I have come to accept that resources like the Healthy Living Bundle truly help inspire me to reach my goals. I can’t help it- When I have a list to check off, I tend to be more productive. When I have a great new cookbook, I’m going to try a new healthy recipe. When I have a garden planner, I want to make next year’s growing season the best it can be. The bundle gives me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track. Whatever works, man.

4) The bonuses! 

The bundle comes with over $250 in free products– just pay the shipping to get it to your house. Examples of some of the bonuses included in your bundle cost are:

  • Free Meyer’s detergent & fabric softener ($32.66)
  • Free Trilight herbal formula ($15.00)
  • Free organic maca powder ($15.44)
  • Free “Dirty Mouth” tooth powder from Primal Life Organics ($15.97)
  • Gift certificate to Perfect Supplements ($15.00)
  • Free eyeshadow trio from Orglamix ($18.00)
  • Free 6 month membership to Meal Garden, a meal planning service ($35.70)
  • And several MORE, including a kombucha tea blend, liquid probiotics, skin care products, and a health magazine.

5) It’s risk free. 

If for some reason you buy the Healthy Living Bundle and you really don’t think it’s for you, you’ve got a whole YEAR to return it and get your money back. That is a serious guarantee, and one you will rarely find in any online product.

6.) It’s supporting small business owners everywhere. 

Bloggers everywhere are supporting the Healthy Living Bundle, first and foremost because it’s a great product. But you should also know that when you buy the bundle through my site, or any other blogger’s site, we receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

I try to keep my sales posts rare and worth your time, and only promote products I really believe in. The products I promote are ones that I think my readers will find useful and affordable. The Healthy Living Bundle meets this criteria spot on.

When you buy through my site, you are helping to put dinner on our table and keep our lights on. Literally. Thank you in advance for supporting us in this way!

In short, this bundle rocks. 

Even before I blogged, I would drool a little over these bundles and wonder if they were really worth it. Once I finally bought one, I never looked back. The Healthy Living Bundle is worth every penny.

By the way,in my usual procrastinator style, I have waited until the last possible day to write a post about this. The Bundle is only available until 11:59 EST on Monday, September 26th. Check it out before it’s gone for another year!

Coco’s Herbals Lip Balm & Salve GIVEAWAY!

Several weeks ago I was thinking I really needed some new lip balm. I also just happened to see that my friend Colleen from Grow Forage Cook Ferment was selling her own homemade version. What a perfectly timed discovery! I ordered a set and awaited their arrival.

First of all, holy fast shipping! These balms traveled across the country in just a few days. They came wrapped up in a homey patch of burlap, accompanied by a hand-written note. That’s not to mention that they smelled delicious.


I was so happy with my balms, I wanted to share them with my lovely readers. Colleen, being the generous lady that she is, also offered me a sample of her herbal salve in exchange for my honest review. Besides that, she’s also giving away some of her awesome products to THREE of you! Better keep reading- you don’t want to miss this. 😉   (Giveaway is over now! But be sure to use code SPRING2016 to get 20% off any order over $10 on her Etsy site through 3/31/16.)

Colleen is a self-taught herbalist and home crafter of herbal products. After blogging for just over a year, she recently took the dive to open her own Etsy store, Coco’s Herbals. It makes my heart happy to support small businesses and give someone a chance to pursue their craft. Maybe it does for you, too!

Coco's Herbals Review & Giveaway

 

Here’s what you need to know about Coco’s Herbal’s products:

Lip Balm- Colleens’ lip balms, made by hand, are made with a mix of organic olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax. The Cocoa Mint flavor smells delicious with the addition of cocoa butter and peppermint essential oil. The Orange Spice balm (my personal favorite) is spiked with orange, clove, and cinnamon essential oils.  Lastly, the Vanilla Lavender features shea butter and the lavender she grew in her own garden last year!

These lip balms are great for dry or chapped lips, but are really perfect for anytime usage. They are soft, smooth, creamy, and pleasantly moisturizing- but not at all greasy. I find myself using these throughout the day regularly. Men, lest you think these are too girly, you should know that my husband uses these, and my kids are always asking me for “lip bomb” now! 😉

Herbal Salve- A salve is a multi-purpose, topical semi-solid cream of sorts that can be used to help heal and soothe various skin ailments. (See “What is a Salve?” for more details.) Colleen’s herbal salve is made with calendula, yarrow, plantain and comfrey, all of which are known to have healing properties. It can be used on dry skin, chapped lips, scrapes, bruises, and minor cuts and burns.

I am quite willing to be a testament to how effective this salve is. My lips are usually almost raw in the winter time, but after three days of consistent salve application they were much relieved. My hands are often cracked in the winter, but they’ve stayed moisturized with the preventative use of this salve. This stuff is really great.

Here’s my top five reasons to buy from Coco’s Herbals:

  1. I understand the ingredients. You won’t find any long, unpronounceable words on these labels. With clear ingredients like organic oils and herbs, I feel no worries about using the products on myself or on my kids.
  2. They use plants! Speaking of ingredients, I love that Colleen is using herbs for their intended purposes. My amateur forager’s dream is to go out, pick plants, and make something useful out of them to use year-round. This is exactly what Colleen has done with her herbal products.
  3. They’re completely homemade. With so many factory-made beauty options lining the shelves, it’s easy to forget that there are real people who know how to create quality products themselves. Unfortunately, mass production can leave little rationale for individuals to take the time and pains to craft something from scratch- even if they would really like to do so. Purchasing homemade means enabling someone to keep doing what they love to do!
  4. They’re reasonably priced. I found Colleen’s prices to be comparable- actually, less expensive- than store-bought options. For example, Burt’s Bees .12 oz chapstick is $2.99 at my local store, and Coco’s Herbal’s .5 oz lip balm is $4- actually making Coco’s Herbals less expensive per ounce. Best of all, you still get to support a real person pursuing her passions. Win/win!
  5. They actually work! Ever wanted to love a handmade product but ended up letting it go by the wayside because it just didn’t cut it for you? I’m happy to report that Coco’s Herbals’ products have been very effective for me!

 

Snag your own herbal goodies at Coco’s Herbals shop here. Remember to use code SPRING2016 through 3/31/16 at check out for 20% off any order over $10!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Make Catnip Tea

Tis the season… we were finally been hit with our first straight up cold. I was writing this post with blocked ears, a foggy feeling head, achy muscles, and maybe a low-grade fever. (Do forgive me if you find typos.) The cold was not a major illness by any means, but I do like to try to feel better when I can. One of our favorite ways to support our bodies through the common cold is by drinking catnip tea.

How to Make Catnip Tea

I’m not a doctor or an herbalist. I’m just an amateur who likes looking up information on plants. The following post is for informational purposes only, and is not for medical purposes. This post contains affiliate links


Catnip looks and grows like a member of the mint family, with square stems and leaves with a serrated edge. It also puts off lovely pale flowers (as seen in this photo) that can be almost overpoweringly fragrant when in bloom.

While catnip is known to make felines crazy, it actually has a calming effect on people. It’s most commonly known for its sedative properties, and is used to help with insomnia, anxiety, headaches, cold, flu, and stomach upset. It’s also sometimes used to help bring on menstruation.

As with most herbs and supplements, there are some precautions that should be taken with catnip. Click here for more information. Catnip isn’t meant to cure, treat, or prevent any disease, but it does have a long history as a traditional herb in many cultures.

Ready to make tea?

If you have catnip in your yard or your tea garden, you’re in luck- harvesting and drying is simple. Cut the plant at the base of the stem and either hang it to dry over a couple weeks, or follow the guidelines for your dehydrator. Break the leaves off of the stem and either grind or run through a food processor to turn it into tiny tea leaves. Next, store the leaves in a mason jar in a dry place. They should last you all winter. Catnip tea can also be made from fresh leaves.

If you don’t easily have access to catnip, the most economical option is to purchase it in bulk. You can get catnip from Mountain Rose Herbs here.

catnip

(Image from Mountain Rose Herbs, used with permission)

For hot tea, brew- 1-2 tsp of dried catnip per 8 oz of water for about 10 minutes. We like to enjoy it with a scoop of raw honey!

For more information, visit these pages:

Why I’m Glad I Bought The Healthy Living Bundle

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard some mention of the current Healthy Living Bundle. I’ve been talking about it, readers are talking about it, writers all over the blogosphere have been talking about it. I’m sorry to say, I’m going to mention it again because today is the LAST day it’s available and it’s such a super deal that I’d hate for you to miss it. (This post contains affiliate links.)

What is exactly is bundled together in this deal? It’s over 90 resources (e-books, e-courses, and physical bonuses) on all things health, food, and fitness at a super low price. Topics range from essential oil usage to real food recipes to natural remedies to exercise routines you can complete in your own home. It’s a dream package for the crunchy natural health nut, but also a great resource for anyone who is interested in taking a more active role in their own health.

Without further ado, here are seven reasons why I’m glad I bought the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle:


1) I have a secret relationship with junk food- and I’d like to leave it behind. Sure, we make most of our meals from scratch, I rarely add sugar to anything I bake, and I’m all about preserving the harvest and getting nourishing stuff in my body. But when it comes down to it, I still love me some good junky snacks.

While I don’t think the occasional donut or stop at the fast food joint will kill us, I definitely don’t think it should be the usual. I need real food and real snack ideas that aren’t going to stress me out with exotic ingredients or extensive prep time. I’ve been loving all the cookbooks included in the Healthy Living Bundle for that exact reason. (There’s over 30 of them, for less than the cost of one dinner out!) Freezer meals, crock-pot meals, chicken dump recipes, healthy snacks, kombucha, fermentation, and culturing recipes- all in one complete library. I keep visiting this section of the bundle again and again.

caveman2) Because my husband’s a caveman. Actually, just kidding. He isn’t. And we’re not on the paleo diet either. But for those of you who are, the bundle includes an entire selection of paleo cookbooks, as well as an allergy-free section.

smellyfeet3) I’ve somehow turned into a smelly hippie. (E.g., my natural remedies are sometimes rather strong! 😉 ) One night at the end of my last pregnancy, I was feeling pretty sick and miserable. I put a homemade garlic-mullein oil infusion in my ears for an ache, an essential oil blend called “Breathe” on my chest for congestion, and a soothing nighttime essential oil blend on my feet. Tim came into the bedroom and declared, “Hi, hippie! What do you have on?”

I’m not usually slathering myself in essential oils, but I do enjoy using them as needed for natural remedies. The Healthy Living Bundle includes five major essential oil resources that cover the use of EO’s for cold and flu, family needs, and of course- their safety! Included in the cost of the bundle is also a free three-oil set from Plant Therapy. Just pay shipping and receive 10 ml bottles of lavender, lemon, and peppermint. That alone is worth half the cost of the bundle!

Even if you’re not into EOs, the bundle also includes a large selection of natural remedies for common ailments and natural home care. I’m always looking for ways to reduce the need for drugs and chemicals in my home, and the Healthy Living Bundle offers the knowledge and community support I need to achieve that goal. One bundle resource that I am absolutely thrilled about using is a year’s membership to the Herbal Academy of New England’s Herbarium– and that alone, at the usual cost of $45/year, is worth more than the cost of the entire bundle!

babywearing

4) I’m totally a bohemian mother. Okay, okay, kind of kidding. I do wear my baby, breastfeed, make my own baby food, and cloth-diaper part time. And I did have my kids naturally at home. BUT in reality, I’m very flexible on these choices. I have may friends who do things very differently, and we get along just fine. 🙂

However, my inner natural-mama gets excited to see e-books on natural pregnancy and conception, breastfeeding, and morning sickness remedies in the bundle. (Oh, morning sickness. Why didn’t I have this during my last pregnancy?!?) From nourishing baby food to cloth diapers- and even going diaper-free- this bundle covers all the info you need to help give your baby a healthy start.

chickens september 001

5) I’m actually a clueless homesteader. I know what I’m doing in the kitchen- well, usually, anyway- but I’m actually pretty clueless with the rest of the homestead. Sure, I help with the garden occasionally, but my hubby is the main plant man. I feed the chickens and collect eggs, but you don’t see me writing articles on complete chicken care, do you? And the goat? Well, she’s been a fun experiment for sure, but I’ve got a LOT to learn.

Good thing this bundle includes a homesteading section to help a girl out. There’s info on controversial chicken practices, gardening, food preservation, and even urban farming for kids! The authors want to help you create a more self-sufficient lifestyle wherever you live, be it in the country or the city.

Sleeping with I

6) I’m lazy. By nature, I would rather sit down than get up and work- and this is particularly true about exercise. While there’s several diet and fitness books included in the bundle, there’s three resources I’m particularly excited about:

  • Love Your Body: The Imperfect Girl’s Guide to Positive Body Image from Elizabeth Walling. I haven’t read this one yet, but in light of my recent post on loving your postpartum body, I thought this would be an appropriate and encouraging read.
  • The Healthy Moving Core Workshop, from Jennifer at Healthy Moving. (Normally $79.)
  • The Thrive 90 Fitness Program- a 90 day program of short workouts that can be done at home, geared towards busy parents. Now that sounds up my alley! (Normally $47.)

These resources will help give me the motivation I need to exercise in the time that I have- and hopefully improve my overall health and energy level while I’m at it!

7) I’m cheap. I don’t like to buy things. And until this year, I’ve always drooled over these bundles, but kept myself from diving in because I don’t usually make unnecessary purchases.

If purchased separately, the various e-books, courses, and bonuses included in the bundle would cost you about $1900. If purchased in the bundle, it costs you a grand total of $29.97.

Did you read that? Here’s a visual in case you missed it:

How in the world is it this cheap? Well, the folks who put together the bundle made it possible by only offering it for a week. That’s one week out of the whole year- and today is the last day it’s available.

There are so many resources in this bundle at such a low price, it almost seems silly to pass it by. Even if you only use a handful of the many resources included, it pays for itself easily. For under $30:

  • It’s cheaper than one nice dinner out, but includes recipes and meal plans to keep you eating healthy all year.
  • It’s cheaper than a gym membership, but includes several months worth of fitness challenges.
  • It’s cheaper than any one of the many classes and memberships would cost on their own. An herbalism membership ($45), a cultured foods course ($147), a free Craftsy e-course (up to $60), and several more are included in the cost.
  • The bonus products alone are worth 7 times the cost of the bundle!

The Healthy Living Bundle is a great investment for anyone who wants to be an active participant in their health care. I love this thing because it’s filled with good stuff that I’m passionate about, and because it is a REALLY good value. And I pretty much don’t buy anything unless it is.

Check it out to see if it’s for you. If you buy it and decide it really wasn’t worth it, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can return it with no problems.

But…. my guess? That probably won’t happen. 😉

When you purchase the Healthy Living Bundle, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. As always, I only promote products that I have experience with and truly value. Thank you in advance for supporting our family in this way!

My Secret Confession (& A Jamberry Giveaway!)

If you know me, you know I’m not really a girly girl. I don’t wear make-up except for when I’m singing. My hair is a low-maintenance long cut, because- heaven help me- I can’t do my hair to save my life. My beauty routine consists of showering twice a week. (Hey, I’m a mom of two young kids. No judging.) I’ve usually got dirt under my nails from getting into things outside. Call me unkempt, call me a hippie, what have you- but that’s just the way it is.

All that being said, I have a confession to make:

I love having cute toes in the summer.


My Secret Confession... And A Jamberry Giveaway

But once again, my difficulty with effectively executing beauty tricks comes back to bite me. (A beautician once told me I had “enough cuticle to make a carpet.” Sigh.) I’m not good at applying nail polish. Three times in my life I worked myself up to spend the money on a pedicure, but I always found it hard to relax while I was thinking of how much money was going down the drain. And besides, the various harmful chemicals in polish are frightening (especially as a pregnant woman). I pretty much gave up on even trying to paint my nails.

So when I first heard of Jamberry nails, I kind of rolled my eyes. Another girly girl thing I didn’t need, and it probably wasn’t any better for you. And most likely expensive, right?

When my friend Maureen starting selling them, I started asking some of the common FAQs- and what I found out is that Jamberries are much longer lasting than polish, far cheaper than a pedicure, and completely free of toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, and DBP.

Well, that certainly sounds a lot nicer than conventional nail polish.

What’s more, these are just more fun than regular nails. Jamberries are known for their myriad of patterns, mixing and matching, and lots of room for individual tastes. Here are just a few examples:

Fun Jamberries- and a giveaway!

 (All photos credited to Daniel Arnal, used with permission.)

Okay, okay. I give. They’re cute. I decided I would give them a try, just to support her.

I won’t lie- it did take some practice to get the hang of getting the nail “wraps” on- it’s kind of a new skill- but practice makes perfect. Once I got the hang of it, I found I actually… cough cough… Well… I really liked them.

Let me introduce to you to my pal Maureen- my BFF from childhood who I’ve known for 21 years now, she’s as lovely inside as out. She’s going to give you the scoop on all things Jamberry.

After you read Maureen’s story, be sure to scroll all the way down to find out how you can enter to win a fun mini-prize- a Jamberry accent sheet, or $25 to Maureen’s Jamberry shop.

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“What are these nail wrap things?” and “Why would I ever want these?” I found myself wondering this, just 3 months ago. My Facebook friend was having a Jamberry party and invited me to attend. She even offered me a free sample! I had no idea what Jamberry was, but a free sample? Yes, please! I love anything with the word “free” attached to it!

I received my free sample in the mail, but it didn’t look very impressive to me. My friend had sent me one tiny little “sticker,” what was I supposed to do with that? I set it on the side of my desk and forgot all about it. Until my friend messaged me “hey, did you try out your sample?” Then I felt guilty. She was kind enough to mail me a sample and I hadn’t even tried it yet. So when the baby was napping I read through the instructions on how to apply my “sticker.” I cut it in half and applied it to 2 of my nails. Then I painted the rest of my nails to really “test” how the Jamberry wrap would do against regular nail polish. I had to admit, these things looked pretty darn cute on my nails!

My baby woke up from her nap and immediately noticed my nails. Her reaction was so adorable, that I could sense myself already getting hooked to these things! She grabbed my fingers and kept making little baby exclamations, clearly enjoying the fun patterns that had replaced Mommy’s usually-boring nails. Did I mention that I never used to do my nails? I hate the smell of nail polish, the expense of salons, and the fact that polish chips so quickly. Plus, who has time to let their polish dry when you have a baby constantly demanding attention?

Now my curiosity was finally piqued, and I went back through my friend’s party posts to see what else I could learn about them. My first question was how much do these cost? As a stay at home mom, I just can’t justify spending a lot of money on myself.  I learned that one sheet of wraps costs $15, but that one sheet will give me enough wraps to do at least 2 full manicures, 2 pedicures, and a few extra wraps for accent nails. Most of the sheets are also buy 3 get 1 free, so they really only cost about $11.25 per sheet if you buy 4 at one time. Not bad for 2 manis & 2 pedis! Not only that, but they last! A salon manicure only ever lasted me a few days before it started chipping and looking bad. My Jamberry wraps can last me anywhere from 10-14 days on my fingers and up to 6 weeks on my toes! And they don’t chip (or smell!) at all, because they are made out of vinyl.

I learned a few other things that made me love Jamberry even more. All of their wraps and lacquers are made in the USA – awesome! Jamberry products are non-toxic, vegan, and never tested on animals. There is also no dry-time since they are vinyl and not paint. Baby needs a diaper change right in the middle of my manicure? No problem! Jamberry was started by 3 sisters who loved spending time together at the nail salon, but wanted a new way to do their nails together at a fraction of the cost. So they came up with these vinyl nail wraps after seeing a similar product being sold in salons only (for $60!). They chose to sell their product through direct-selling because they wanted to empower other women by giving them the opportunity to have their own business and work from home should they choose!

The more I learned about Jamberry the more I fell in love with both the product and the company as a whole! It was then I decided I didn’t just want to buy more wraps; I wanted to sign up to be a consultant! I’ve been with the company for a little over two months now, and I’m absolutely loving it. As a stay-at-home mom, it’s been so wonderful for me both socially and financially. I connect with other girls on my team everyday via Facebook, and I also get to throw some really fun Facebook parties! I’ve been making enough money with Jamberry every month that I can take my daughter to music classes at Gymboree, and she loves it! My only complaint? Every time I try to say Jamberry and Gymboree in the same sentence I get myself all tongue-tied!

I encourage you to give Jamberry a try too, and be more open-minded then I was at first! I’d love to give you a free sample just to try it out and see if it’s for you. If you decide you like it, maybe take advantage of our buy 3 get 1 deal for an affordable way to have beautiful fingers and toes all summer long! If you decide you are in love with Jamberry and there are way too many beautiful patterns to choose from, then I’d LOVE to host a Facebook party for you! They are super fun, and you will earn some great free products from Jamberry. And if you’re like me and you‘ve been looking for a fun way to earn a little extra income, then I’d be so excited to have you join my team! Feel free to reach out to me via Facebook or email anytime!

Maureen2

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Ready for the giveaway?

Maureen’s enthusiasm is catching, and I’m happy that she is sponsoring my first ever mini-giveaway here on the blog. Enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win a Jamberry accent sheet- five different nail wraps for you to try- mixed and matched as you please.

Want a chance to win even more Jamberry goodies? Join and participate in my Jamberry Facebook party this week for a chance at a $25 gift card! The first 20 people to RSVP get 10 bonus entries into the drawing.

Despite my initial hesitation, Jamberry turned out to be a perfect solution for a mom like me who is looking to reduce my toxin exposure, save money, and still enjoy a little (secret) indulgence every once in a while.

Don’t tell anyone, but this chicken mama might just have sparkly toes the next time you see her.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Maureen

Maureen is an Air Force wife and prior Air Force nurse who is currently a stay-at-home mama to her sweet one-year-old girl. You can support Maureen’s Jamberry business by visiting her website here. If you love Jamberries and want more information on hosting an online party or starting your own Jamberry business, Maureen can be reached at MalysManis@gmail.com.

 

Note from Abi: As usual, I only endorse products that I know and enjoy on this blog. None of the above links are affiliate links, but I will receive hostess rewards as a thank you for hosting the Facebook party. Thanks in advance for supporting my habits. 😉