Essential Oils, Health & Wellness

What’s All This Stuff About Essential Oils??

I have posted several times about the use of essential oils in my home, both here and on Facebook, and I’ve gotten many questions – mostly asking me just what these things are! In my area, these things are exploding as a ‘new’ way to care for and promote wellness within our families, and everyone seems to either love them or shun them. I was once one of the latter, myself! What changed my mind? I actually tried them, and they made a huge difference in our lives. Now they’ve replaced many items I used to have in the medicine cabinet, and I feel like I have a much better handle on my family’s health.

What are they?
The dictionary says they are: a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.
What does that mean? It means they are an extract of a plant, pretty much. Found in nature, extracted, and placed into bottles. Sounds simple enough, right? But they’re also quite powerful, so you want to make sure you get *good* ones, not just any old oil off the grocery store shelf.

What do they do?
They can do a great number of things. I have a Quick Reference Guide that I just love to use when we’re struggling with something in our house. Google is also pretty great. Just last night I looked up ‘bloody noses’ and found that my daughter could breathe in (aka – smell) a combination of lavender and lemon oils to stop her nosebleed (and guess what? It did!) We also use a combination to help with allergies. We use a homemade cream with essential oils for skin troubles. I also have a blend I made to help with tummy yuck, and one I use when I’m having muscle pain. So, if I can do so without sounding cliche, I’d say the better question is what don’t they do! Because, seriously, we use them all the time around here.

Where do I get them?
Honestly? If you just want plain old essential oils, you can go just about anywhere. If you want the good stuff, go to Young Living. You can sign up as a customer and try any number of wonderful oils at your leisure, but the better bargain is to sign up to be a member (also called a distributor.)

Wait – You want me to sign up for something?
No. Well, not just for the sake of signing up, anyway – I want you to get the most for your money, and simply buying bottle after bottle of oils is not the best way to do that. I am a researcher. I spent weeks looking at the cost of oils from different places (as well as the credentials of those places – if they had any), and what I came back to was the Young Living Premium Starter Kit.

starterkit

It’s an up-front investment of about $150 (plus tax & shipping), but you receive an amazing value for that money. Nowhere – not even the cheap places – can offer you a diffuser worth nearly $100 and 11 different oils and oil blends, in addition to some lovely samples and reading material for anywhere near this price. And with Young Living, you get the SeedtoSeal guarantee — meaning you know you’re buying high-quality, unadulterated, undiluted essential oils.

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If you want to see all of the amazing ways our family has begun using Young Living Essential oils, check it out here. Here are some other pretty amazing uses for the oils that come in the starter kit:

Young-Living-Ditch-Drugstore-Medications

Like I said – some pretty amazing stuff!

Additional Resources:
Anyone who buys their starter kit from me will be mailed a Quick Reference Guide. This is such a great resource for learning how to use your oils, that I think it would be a disservice not to provide it to you! You’ll also be invited to a Facebook Group where you can ask questions about your oils and get advice when something comes up. In the meantime, the Oily Families Facebook group is a good resource to get your questions answered or just to see testimonies of how Young Living Essential Oils have helped others!

Want In?
If you’re ready to join, click here and fill out the form. If you mark yourself as a “Distributor,” you’ll get immediate access to buy one of these great kits, plus you’ll get a 24% discount on every oil you order for the rest of forever. No – you don’t *have* to buy anything else, and you aren’t going to be made to ‘keep up’ a membership to get that discount. If you go a whole year without ordering anything, you’ll have to order $50 of product to get the discount again – but that’s not hard. You’ll probably wind up restocking every few months. Pretty sweet, right?

Have Questions?
If you’re wondering something I haven’t covered here, just ask below! I’ve really enjoyed getting a handle on my family’s wellness with the use of these oils – and I’d love to help you do the same!

**disclaimer: I am not a doctor, just a mommy learning to care for her family the best I can. I speak from experience, but not medical expertise. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s health, consult a medical practitioner. If you are just looking for new and helpful ways to continue caring for the ones you love, I hope you find my ideas useful in that endeavor. Thanks!**

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Dye-free living, Health & Wellness

The Truth about Food Coloring

I’ve shared our journey to living a life free of synthetic food dyes, but I realize that, apart from my son with the allergy, it can be unclear why these products are bad and should really be eliminated from our diets – and lives – entirely. There are a multitude of resources out there regarding this topic, so I’ll give you a break down and then some links so you can dig deeper if you so desire.

The Basics
Synthetic Food Colors are found in just about everything. I talked about it here, but it is in many many things. Add to that the general lack of knowledge of how awful it is, and you’ll find that it’s in ‘natural‘ products, as well. It is completely chemical, made in a lab from petroleum derivatives, and several variations of it have been pulled in the last few decades because they were proven to be carcinogenic or otherwise toxic. Very little testing was done before these lovely things were approved to be put into our food, so many of the side effects weren’t discovered until much later.

The Truth about Food Coloring | LearningtoLiveIt.com
It’s anything but harmless, trust me.

The Risks
As you’ll read in the links below, the UK and several other countries have decided that the benefit of these products (they’re pretty), does not outweigh the many risks of using and consuming them. A European study showed that synthetic colors (specifically Red 40 and Yellow 5 – the two we use the most in the U.S.) caused severe hyperactivity in children. In a double-blind test, the children who were taken off of food dyes showed improved behaviour during the elimination period, and a drastic change once dyes were re-introduced. (I personally attribute the fact that my son skipped the ‘terrible twos’ entirely to artificial food coloring having been out of our diet for the better part of a year.) It’s been shown in other studies that these synthetic dyes cause allergic reactions, and proven in yet more studies to be cancer-causing, neurotoxic, and even to cause chromosomal damage! It’s my personal belief that the increase in the use of artificial dyes (we use 5x the chemical dyes today that we did 50-60 years ago) contributes to a large number of medical, behavioural, and societal issues we face today that were almost non-existent in previous generations.

Sounds delicious, right?

The Proof
If you like reading super technical stuff, here is a copy of the actual study done in the UK that initiated their banning/increased labeling standards of synthetic dyes, and here’s a breakdown of what it says.

You can also find some more fun food coloring reading at family gone healthykitchen stewardship, red40.com, and a wonderfully enlightening read by Robyn O’Brien at AllergyKids. If you’re a fan of infographics, I’m particularly fond of this one.

And last but not least, here are some sources for natural food dyes:
DIY: here or here
Buy It: here or here

The process of eliminating synthetic dyes from our diets has been a fairly arduous one, but I’ve found it to be worth it. If you or your children are suffering from ADD/ADHD, Migraine headaches, Eczema, food allergies, etc., I would encourage you to look at the ingredients in your food and consider that there could be a correlation.

Simple Stewardship

Tips for Searching the Grocery Ads

Grocery shopping is simple, but when you’re trying to save every penny, it can feel overwhelming. I remember wandering the store in the beginning of my marriage on a near-nightly basis buying each ingredient for the meal I’d be making that night. It wasn’t until after my couponing journey that I realized how much I was probably overpaying for my groceries. Not only was I buying processed junk that is way more expensive than making things yourself (not to mention full of random, unnecessary ingredients), I paid no mind to how much things cost from day to day – I just paid what the shelf said. Since beginning my grocery stewardship journey, I’ve discovered that you could be paying double from one day to the next!

GroceryAdslong

So, in an effort to help you save as I’m learning to do, I’ve put together a few tips for getting the most of your time spent hunting through the ads. Now, you can use this to price match at Walmart, or you can use it to make several trips to local stores. I do both, regularly! Though, I typically try to buy my meat and produce at Kroger or Market Street where it tends to be fresher and higher quality – but I’ve also bought meat at Walmart more times than I can count and it’s great, too!

Tip #1 – Know Your Local Stores

In my area, we have three major grocery chains where people do their shopping – Kroger, Tom Thumb, and Albertson’s. We also have our big box stores (Walmart and Target), and the discount stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General), Health Food Stores (Sprouts, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s) and pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens). All of  these places sell groceries. You should also be aware of the smaller stores in your area, though. Just a little bit of driving (sometimes just a street over from where I’m already traveling on a daily basis), and I am not far from an Aldi, an Elrod’s, a Carnival, a Sack N Save, and a Fiesta. These would probably never become my main store, but for a good enough deal, I would definitely make the trip – so I don’t feel bad price matching these stores. Not to mention, they run some amazing sales on name brand groceries. It’s definitely worth a little extra searching to find out what your local stores are, and what their sales are for a given week!

Tip #2 – Know Your Pantry

Every family has different ‘staples’ – things they use for almost everything. This is something that was brought to my attention during the year we stayed at my in-laws’ house. I would search high and low for beans, corn, and tomato sauce and find myself faced with cans of soup, spinach, and boxed potatoes. All fine foods, but not the stuff I was used to cooking with! It was a great lesson to learn, though, because I was trying to learn what our family’s staple foods were, and this definitely brought it to light. What your family regularly uses will likely be different from what my family uses, but shopping and ad-browsing will be infinitely easier as you gain an idea of what that is.
Another way in which you need to ‘know your pantry’ is to have a pretty good idea of how much of a given thing you have, and how much you’ll probably need in a month’s time. A whole month? Yes. That brings me to tip 3!

Tip #3 – Sales are cyclical, so you’ll usually get the best price on your groceries by buying a bunch at once, then waiting and buying again when they are cheap. There are four types of prices for any product – an ‘everyday’ price, a ‘good’ price, a ‘bad’ price, and a ‘stock up’ price. There’s a standard or everyday price for just about everything you buy, and you want to try to buy it for less than that. So, a good price is less than everyday, and a ‘stock up’ price is when the price is considerably less than everyday.

Tip #4 – Just because the product is listed in the ad at a certain price does not mean that it is a good price. This kind of goes along with knowing the prices on products, but I’ve seen so many ads with a huge photo of an item advertised for up to $1 more than the everyday price. I can’t overstate the importance of being generally aware of prices for things (the Cheapster app is great for this, and it’s the most intuitive and inclusive app I’ve found! If you find something better, let me know!). At least be aware of what you pay for your staples. Know that the going price for milk is $2, and eggs are .10/ea, and a family size box of cereal should never be more than $3. (The prices are different for different areas, but this is basically true for my area.) It will make everything easier!

Tip #5 – Check Online Ads

I used to receive the paper and I thought that was the only way to get the weekly grocery ads. Then, I decided to check online – and I’m so glad I did! For one, I can sit down and look at everything in one sitting. I also don’t have to try to juggle a piece of paper that’s 3x the width of me just to see how much meat costs. I have a list of the links to local ads, and I just click through. As an added bonus, I can click on most ads and have it email me my list with prices! Then I can just compile the lists together and put them in whatever medium I’m using that week for my list (though I’ve been enjoying the use of Reminders for this, because it’s shared with my husband and we can both shop that way.) Another great thing about online ads is that I can see what prices are at multiple stores! I walked into the Albertson’s near my daughter’s school once and found the ground beef there to be on a better sale than at the Albertson’s near my house where I had seen the paper ad! It’s usually pretty similar, but it can’t hurt to look.

Tip #6 – Know when to shop

In my area, Grocery store ads for most stores go Wednesday-Tuesday. Big Box stores, Pharmacies, etc. run their ads are good Sunday-Saturday. This is important to know, because the ground beef might be $4.19/lb. today, and $1.97/lb. tomorrow! If we ‘need’ something and it’s a Tuesday and there are no good prices on it – I’ll wait it out a day and see what changes. That’s my personal preference – we’re pretty good at throwing together a meal out of what’s in the pantry in a pinch… even if that means breakfast for dinner AGAIN (which is super cheap and the kids absolutely love, anyway.) So, there isn’t a specific day to shop, but being aware of the timelines of ads in your area is certainly helpful.

Tip #7 – Some weeks are duds

Sometimes you’ll look through all the ads and there won’t be good prices on anything. Other weeks, you’ll have a page-long list at every store. I’m sure there’s some marketing ploy here, but the point is – don’t worry about it. It’s still worth the look. Some grocery stores are typically more expensive than others, but it’s still worth a peek at the ad because there are occasional surprises. I had nearly written off one store because their advertised prices are always higher than everyone else’s – till one week all their produce was $1/lb. less than the other major stores!

Tip #8 – Be like Santa. {{Make a List & Check it Twice!}}

Lists are your friends. Make a list of what you need and a list of what’s on sale. If you see that potatoes are extra crazy cheap this week, it might be worth adjusting your meal plan to take advantage of that! If you absolutely need ground beef this week and no one has it on a good sale, still put it on the list – just don’t buy more than you need. Compile the needs and the sale lists – with prices and quantities – into one list before you go to the store. I made one that fit my needs and laminated it to take to the store with me each week. Just like my meal plan, I fill it out with a wet erase marker and reuse!

Tip #9 – Don’t Stress

This all might sound like it’s going to take forever – and it might, the first week or two (if forever is like, an hour.) But as you get used to it, it will take less and less time. I used to get headaches looking at the ads and feeling ignorant of what I was looking for and I don’t want that to happen to you. Just look at them. Absorb what you can. It’s a process, and it is worth it, so just breathe through it and you’ll get there. (Gosh, I could be describing parenting, labor, marriage – basically anything there…)

Tip #10 – Use Whatever Resources Work for You

I have read countless blogs and articles telling you what you must use to be effective – and that’s just plain silly. The reason my tips are fairly general is because this is something I think is best figured out on your own to an extent. I can tell you what I use and love, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you. If you hate technology, you probably aren’t downloading an app. If you hate paper, you’ll probably never pick up a physical ad. Make the process bend to you. There is no exact science – and the more you adapt it to fit your needs, the more stress-free your money-saving efforts will be 🙂

Happy Shopping!

Do you have a certain strategy when you hunt through the ads?

Simple Stewardship

Costing Meals

CostingMeals

My husband and I love to watch reality TV shows about entrepreneurship. It’s silly, but it’s our thing! One of our favorite shows is Restaurant Impossible. Chef Robert Irvine goes into these small (failing) mom-and-pop restaurants and helps them turn the business around. Sometimes their food is awful, sometimes they just need more presence, but fairly often it comes down to messy finances. The #1 mistake these failing restaurants make is that they don’t cost out the prices of their meals. That is to say, they have no idea what it costs them to make that burger and fries they’re putting in front of you. Without this, there is no starting point for how to make food into a business.

Since kitchen stewardship is one of my main ‘job functions’ in my home, I took this principle and applied it to my family’s meals. I’m not trying to turn a profit, though, so I worked backwards. I looked at our monthly food budget, then divided that by the number of days in a month, and the number of mouths I had to feed. At the time, this gave me $2/day per person. I split it up into 3 meals and decided to start watching closely how much we spent for each meal I prepared. (If you apply this to every aspect in your life, it might drive you crazy, so I don’t recommend it – but it is a definite help in the kitchen!) This has been a really good way to ensure that I know exactly what I am spending on certain meals. It means we eat some meals less often (bye bye, steak) and some meals more often (mmm, beefy potatoes w/ eggs!). It enables me to be sure my family will be well-fed, even when the alternator goes out and our household budgets all shrink a little. I think the thing it has done more than anything is to put a major amount of perspective on a dollar. (IE: I can feed my whole family for a day for less than I can get lunch at Panera. Cry.)

Here’s how it works. I look at what I spend on an item, and what I use in a recipe. Then I add up the costs of those items, and divide it by the number of people I know it will feed. I’ll show how I ‘costed’ lastnight’s dinner (the afore-mentioned beefy potatoes w/ eggs):

Potatoes: $1.29/10 lb bag (Crazy deal, right?!) = .129/lb.
Eggs: $1.80/18 = .10/ea.
Ground beef: 2.095/lb.

We used 1 1/4 lb. ground beef ($2.62), 7 eggs (.70), and about 2 lbs. of potatoes (.26).

So, the total spent on this meal was $2.62+.70+.26 = $3.58. My husband and I and our three children all ate and were full, so not including leftovers, this meal cost 71.6 cents/person.
(I don’t cost out spices, which may be erroneous, but we buy them so infrequently that it isn’t practical to do so. We spend maybe $10 a year on new spices? So it seems like unnecessary work, IMO.)

If this all seems a little bizarre, I totally understand. I will post some recipes, along with the cost per serving, as time allows me to do so. In the meantime, budget bytes is a great source for pre-costed recipes.

Do you have goals for food spending? Have you ever worked out the precise cost of your meals? Weigh in below!

Faith

Letting Go of Perfect

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In the time in which we live, the pressure to be perfect is greater than ever. We have so much opportunity to be connected to one another – which often results in watching the highlight reels of our friends’ lives on Facebook. We have the world at our fingertips – which means Martha Stewart and her cousin Pinterest are in front of us, begging for our attention. And of course, as Christian women we have the almighty Proverbs 31 woman as an example of how to live. In many women, these things breed discontentment and even contempt for the aforementioned wonders. So much hate goes out for social media, the Proverbs 31 woman, and Pinterest for the ‘expectations’ they force on us. Personally? I don’t get it.

I’m not sure why, as women, we picked up the mentality that we have to do it all perfectly, or else it wasn’t worth trying. I don’t know where it became necessary to compare ourselves to the loftiest of goals or the most professional of homemakers, and see ourselves simply as failures. I can’t understand why we can’t see the greatness that’s out there as inspiration, and allow it to shape us and grow us piece by piece, rather than allowing it to turn our hearts toward loathing. We don’t treat our children that way. I don’t know of any woman who looked at her three year old swinging a bat and thought “Well, he isn’t Babe Ruth, so I don’t even know why he tries.” or looked at the meal her husband lovingly put together for their anniversary and said “He isn’t Wolfgang Puck, so I’m not eating it.” I certainly don’t know of any mom who watched her daughter twirl through the living room and began hating the Russian Ballet as a result. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? So when it comes to us – our home management, our parenting, our crafting, our wifing (totally a word), our bible studying, we can’t seem to give ourselves the grace to do simply enough. To put ourselves out there and do just what we can today, without the worry that it won’t be perfect, and then do the same tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

If I’m honest, I’ve been guilty of this. I fear sitting down to write, or to share what I’ve done. I know I’m not the best that’s out there, and I let that hold me back from being out there at all. There are sewing projects I haven’t even attempted because I didn’t know I would walk away with an amazing finished project — in fact, more often than not, I put it off until I can’t fight the desire to try any longer, and end up at my sewing machine at 2 am because that’s when the courage finally hits me. There are books I haven’t cracked the spine to because I can’t be certain I would be able to finish them, ‘so why even start?’ But isn’t that how you finish a book? You begin. Each year, there are crafts that sit on my pin board, and my mind dances around how much fun my children would have with them, but then I think of the mess, and the fact that I can’t guarantee that I’ll finish the craft without my chest getting tight over the fact that turkeys aren’t green and rabbits aren’t purple and those jewel things were supposed to go on the top and not the bottom and I just might end up yelling so I should probably just leave those crafts on my pin board and maybe we’ll try it one day when I’m more patient. But you know what happens when I do attempt one of those crafts? We sit at the table, and I explain it all, and I walk my 7 year old through how it works, and she inevitably does something creative that wasn’t in the directions, and sometimes I yell, and sometimes I get so frustrated that she just. can’t. follow. directions. and sometimes, there’s about a 5 minute stint mid-craft that is not fun at all. But she doesn’t remember that part. She remembers me getting the project out, and laughing with her at the poorly written directions, and she remembers finishing it off and having me display it proudly and showing off to people just how talented she is.

She’s already let go of the perfect. Maybe I should simply follow her lead.

In the time in which we live, the pressure to be perfect is greater than ever. But girl, it’s all you. Let go of the pressure to be perfect, and just live in the joy of the crazy. You might blow up. You might burn the pumpkin seeds. You might be late to dinner and have one kid show up without shoes. But this will pass more quickly than you know, so enjoy it. Imperfectly.

Simple Stewardship

Simple Stewardship – Grocery Budgeting pt. 2

How to Save Money on Groceries

The other day I shared tips on ways to save on your groceries. These are things my family has done that have really slashed our grocery budget. Every family is different, and many of these tips are very basic — but when I started, each of these shocked me with the amount of money I was able to save! If you missed last week’s post, check it out here. Then move on to the next 5 tips!

6. Ditching cans and boxes can save TONS of money. This isn’t one everyone has time for, and I totally understand that. However, if you’re like I was and you have a little more time than you do money, this is most definitely worth it. One of the biggest things I stopped buying was Creamed Soups. I have seen countless pins where people tear down the canned soup because of the unpronounceable ingredients in it – and I get that, too – but that wasn’t our family’s reasoning. For us, it was just crazy how much we could save. In recent weeks, I’ve seen name brand cream soups for sale for as little as 50 cents! Yes, I bought some for when we’re in a time crunch. For the most part, though, I can make these for less than 5 cents. Butter, flour, milk, and 2 minutes of your time is all it takes to have a much yummier, much cheaper substitute! Many things are this way. We no longer buy bread crumbs – we save the heels from our bread loaves and freeze them. When we need bread crumbs I either hand them to a kid to crumble, or I pop them in the food processor, then I season them however I want. Way better than spending $2 on a tube of them. Other products that are better made than bought are chicken broth, shredded chicken, pizzas, and lunchables. One day I’ll try pasta, as well, but I’m not quite there yet!

7. You don’t have to use every teeny thing the recipe calls for. When I began meal planning, I bought a thing of capers because a recipe called for it – even though I didn’t know what they were!. When it came time to make that meal, we were busy and did something else instead. I still have those capers. I’ve since learned that cooking is much less of a science than baking. (Casseroles count as cooking in this comparison, btw.) If I’m cooking, and I need buttermilk or sour cream, I use lemon juice and milk. It bakes just fine, every time, and always tastes just as good – if not better. Don’t spend money on ingredients you don’t use regularly, and don’t run to the store in the middle of dinner prep before you’ve made sure there is absolutely no substitute already sitting in your kitchen. Oftentimes now, if I’m not making several meals in a week that need a specific ingredient, I won’t even put it on the list. I can’t even calculate how many tubs of sour cream and cartons of buttermilk I would have thrown away if I hadn’t learned this trick. (It applies to many other things, as well! If you’re looking to substitute something in a recipe, Google is your friend!)

8. Planning ahead of time will save you money every time. There are a crazy number of benefits to meal planning, which I’ve outlined in this post, but in brief? Plan ahead. When it’s 5 o clock and afternoon fatigue hits and you just want dinner to be on the table already, you’re in no shape to think up and put together a meal. You’ll end up with chicken nuggets and tater tots for dinner – and not only is that not the best nutritional option (though better than AIR in a pinch!), it’s also way more expensive than a wholesome, mom-cooked meal. Take the time once a week, or twice a month, or once a month to sit down and write out what you’ll feed your family. There are subscription services for this, as well as bloggers who share their meal plans for free, but I prefer to do the planning myself – mainly because I know what my family will likes to eat. And while you’re at it, make a list of groceries you need. Not only will this save you from having to stop and grab groceries during the day or cancelling a meal, it’ll cut down on those wasted moments in the grocery store wondering if you have enough potatoes to make tonight’s casserole.

9. Buy when it’s cheap – and buy a lot. This is another one that not everyone can do because it requires space, but I made it work with my family of 4 1/2 in a 1K square foot apartment, so it’s possible if you make it. The biggest challenge was meat – it was also the biggest money-saver. For a season, we had NO frozen convenience foods or ice cream. We bought a ton of chicken when it was $1.49/lb and a ton of beef when it was $1.98/lb and we saved at least $1/lb for meat every single time we ate. It was well worth the sacrifice, especially since, for my meat-eating family, meatless meals are really not much of an option! We apply this with most of our non-perishables, as well. Pasta, canned veggies, tomato sauce, canned soups (for a slightly quicker, less inexpensive dinner in a pinch), breakfast cereal, oatmeal, beans, etc. It also works for some refrigerated foods – especially if they freeze well, like cheese.

10. Ad hunting and price matching are worth the effort. Last week my husband did the grocery shopping – with three kids in tow. He went to Walmart, bought the items on my list, and matched the prices for nearly every item he purchased. I bragged on him a bit on Facebook and a friend remarked that they ‘never do that.’ Let me tell you, even with the stress of doing it in that environment, it was well worth it. We saved a LOT of money. Here’s how I do it each week. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time (it’s way less time-consuming than couponing!), and it isn’t stressful at all. I encourage you to look at the ads for your area – armed with your list of standard prices (even if it’s a mental list!), and begin bulk-buying your foods to save money.

A few bonus notes:

– The prices in the ads aren’t always good prices. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an advertised price that was significantly higher than the standard/average price for that item!
– Don’t let this process stress you out. It’s best to do one or two or three things at a time, and add on as you can. If it makes your chest get all tight, scale back. Saving money will relieve stress long-term, but learning how to do it does take work.
– Don’t beat yourself up every time you spend an excess penny. I totally did this when I started (still do now and then), and it led me to tip two regularly!

Remember that it isn’t yours to start with. God is providing you with whatever money you have, and stewarding it is an act of worship. Enjoy the process just as you would any other!

Are there other grocery budgeting tips you have used? Share below!

Essential Oils, Health & Wellness

Best Skin Cream Ever!

I’ve been using this skin cream on my son now for several months. His eczema was as bad as ever and I was so very tired of topical steroids that only seemed to prolong the problem rather than solve it. My son is sensitive to petroleum-based products and can’t use anything scented or colored, so we tried the few store bought lotions that didn’t contain those things, and still nothing helped. Finally, I reached out for help on Facebook. A dear friend messaged me and wound up bringing me samples of two essential oils she had read were very effective for this type of issue when combined with coconut oil. After numerous recommendations and testimonies, I decided it was worth a try.

Everything Skin Cream!

Y’all, this stuff was amazing. We fought an uphill battle and some steroid detoxing for the first couple days, and then his skin was moist and like new. It didn’t prevent itching or breakouts, but it moisturized his skin and fought potential infections while doing so.

The more I researched essential oils, the more I realized this wonderful mixture was capable of. When my daughter came home from school with a mysterious rash on her arm, I slathered her up and she woke up with her arm back to normal. I’ve used it time and again for diaper rashes, and it soothes my baby’s bottom the instant it touches him! I’ve also loved putting it on my son because it gives me the softest hands in the west — even after a day of doing dishes when my hands can feel like total sandpaper!

So what is this awesome stuff? I’m glad you asked, because I’m about to give you the simplest recipe EVER, and you’ll have this lovely stuff in your arsenal for everyday use.

EVERYTHING cream:

1 cup coconut oil
10 drops lavender essential oil (I only recommend Young Living – learn why!)
10 drops Melrose essential oil blend

Mix coconut oil with essential oils and lather on generously!

That’s it! I’ve seen people recommend whipping it, and that can lead to a beautiful texture — just toss it all in the mixer and let it do all the work! I usually just put the coconut oil straight into a jar and stir the oils in with a spoon because I hate washing my mixer lol. I have also let the coconut oil melt by putting it next to something slightly warm (preheating oven, fireplace, sunlight) and dropped the oils in the melted CO and shaken. That’s super easy if you have lots of time before you *need* the oil, and it will solidify again at room temperature.
Tips:
-No matter which method you use, it will get hard if it gets cold. Rubbing the jar between your hands is usually enough heat to soften it up some, or you can just dig it out with your fingers – I’ve done both.
-Use a jar or container with a lid. The essential oils will evaporate and you’ll be left with nothing but a pretty-smelling lotion if you don’t close up the container between uses.
-If you are using the cream for eczema, apply often. Moisture is a huge key in helping eczema skin heal, and unlike a prescription – you can’t put this stuff on too much!
-It will have an oily texture on your skin, but unlike olive and vegetable oils, it isn’t going to leave oily splotch stains on your clothes. That said, I usually apply it to my son on a towel because it’s just easier that way.
-As versatile as this cream already is, it can be even moreso! I’ve added Thieves oil for additional protection against infection during the worst eczema flare-ups, Peppermint to help ease itching, and Valor when my son was complaining about growing pains (since I was rubbing this stuff all over him, anyway!)

If you try this, let me know how you liked it!

**disclaimer: I am not a doctor, just a mommy learning to care for her family the best I can. I speak from experience, but not medical expertise. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s health, consult a medical practitioner. If you are just looking for new and helpful ways to continue caring for the ones you love, I hope you find my ideas useful in that endeavor. Thanks!**