Favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

Halloween prep is in full swing around here. You guys, I LOVE Halloween. Our annual Halloween Bash is coming up in a couple of weeks so I am determined to get this place looking spooky. The food, though? That may be my favorite part. Here are a few of my favorite Halloween Party food ideas that I’m loving at the moment…

Five of my favorite Halloween Party food ideas!

  1. Slushy Punch Recipe – I love this! This is such a visually fun way to serve a Halloween punch to kiddos for a party.  I am totally adding this to our Halloween party this year.

Halloween party punch made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

2. Halloween Monster Apples – Fun and kid friendly apple treat for Halloween. I think my kids are going to love giving these a try! Not the scariest on the list of my favorite Halloween party food ideas but definitely one of the most colorful!

Halloween monster apple treat made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

3. Jack the Pumpkin King Pie – I wish I knew who to give credit to for this awesome idea but my Pinterest pin is a dead link. This is so cool! I think I may actually give this a try closer to Halloween with my favorite pot pie recipe for a spooky dinner treat!

Jack the Pumpkin King Pie made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

4. Avocado and Wasabi Deviled Eggs – WHAT?! A creepy deviled egg? Yes please. My kids love them some deviled eggs. Probably harkens back to the days when we were overrun with chickens in the backyard and more eggs than we knew what to do with. But, these look too fun not to try.

Halloween Appetizer Deviled Eggs made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

5. Creepy Brain Dip – This one is grown-up friendly, right? Classy-ish? I mean, as far as Halloween appetizers go it seems to be a good option. And I am always looking for an excuse to break out the $10 brain jello mold that I never seem to use. (Am I the only one who hates to make Jell-O? Ugh.)

Halloween appetizer cheese dip brains made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

Looking for more fun Halloween ideas? Check out my Pinterest board full of Halloween inspiration!

 

Clean Start: A FREE eBook

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Our family has been pursuing a more natural lifestyle for several years now. (Remember my chicken years? Oh, how I loved those!) Part of the process has been changing our food sources to more natural, local, and organic ones. We’ve changed our spending habits to be consume and waste less. We’ve tried to green up every area of our home from replacing plastic with glass to changing our cleaning products to more natural ones without toxic chemicals.

And, if you’ve followed me for more than, oh, I don’t know, FIVE MINUTES you know I’m fully in love with essential oils and what they have done for our family.

I’ve mentioned before that it took me a couple years to work up the courage to fully get started on essential oils in our family. We dabbled here and there but I just lacked the courage to dive right in. When I finally did start integrating them into our daily life I realized how easy it is and how much I had wished we had started using them sooner.

I am such a huge believer in what they have done for our family that I wanted to make things easier for others to get started so I put together a simple eBook to share some tips on getting started. Inside you will find recipes for diffusers, health & beauty products, and roller bottles that  all of your kids can help make and use. This is truly a fun and exciting journey for the health and wellness of your family and I am super excited to share it with you!

Check out the eBook here! I hope you enjoy it!

My top 5 homeschool hacks.

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I’m not a great homeschooler. Really. When I imagined homeschooling I pictured my family sitting on blankets in a field on a prairie reading Anne of Green Gables and eating homemade bread and jam while we absorbed the beauty of the knowledge in the stack of books we had brought with us.

Okay, so I am a bit of a romantic. Also, possibly delusional. Whatever.

The truth is in this particular stage of life homeschooling looks a lot more like us scrambling to find sharpened pencils and desperately trying to get as much school done as we can while a very very very busy toddler takes a nap. It’s not generally pretty. But we get it done. Mostly thanks to a few things that work for us. They aren’t necessarily revolutionary but they work for us.

  1. Online free curriculum – We use a lot of online tools in our homeschool. Kahn Academy is a fantastic resource for math of all grade levels and we love using it. Starfall has been a staple for the little kids for as long as we’ve been homeschooling and it helps to entertain them and make them feel a part of school when they are too little to do much on their own. Homeschool curriculum is not cheap and any freebies we can find help take the financial burden off of the process. Sites like Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool are also an excellent source of 100% free homeschool curriculum. This particular site breaks everything down in days using free links to web content that allows the student to be self-directed. We love it as a supplement to the other things we do but many families use it for their entire school curriculum.
  2. Single focus days – We’ve done this during different seasons of homeschooling and it is still one of my favorite ways to homeschool. Basically we just assign a subject to each day and focus solely on activities that surround that. For example, Monday = Bible, Tuesday = Science, Wednesday = Literature, Thursday = History, Friday = catch up on all the things that didn’t get completed on previous days. When we were doing this we would do math each day just to try and keep things consistently moving in that subject since it is our least favorite/weakest subject. The beauty of this method is that it is kind of like unit studies in that each subject really covers composition, spelling, reading, critical thinking, handwriting, etc. The kids think they are doing less work (always a win in this house!) but really they are doing the same amount of practice in all of these areas it just feels less noticeable since each day they are working on new subject matter.
  3. Ted Ed videos – Do you ever have one of those homeschooling days where everything goes wrong and you need to clean oatmeal out of the carpet and somehow throw food in the slow cooker before you get everyone to ballet/boy scouts/whatever activity you foolishly agreed to participate in and then on top of that you have the pressure of oh, you know, EDUCATING your child? Me either. But if I did have multiple days a month like that then I would surely use Ted Ed to help fill in the gaps when I need to fill those sweet little brains with info and run a household. All kidding aside, Ted Ed is a great way to learn things that don’t fit into traditional homeschool curriculums. They’ve learned about how the band-aid was invented, the paradox of value, and whether spotty fruits and vegetables are safe to eat. I know, I know, not exactly Common Core aligned stuff here but what I love is that it fuels a love of learning. Each lesson includes a video, a quiz, an opportunity to dig deeper into the subject, and a format in which to discuss it. The world is a big place and by learning about some of the more random parts of it my kids have discovered a love of knowledge that I think can sometimes be tricky to impart when you’re hammering them with tests and quizzes.
  4. Outsourcing – We utilize a homeschool hybrid once a week as well as a once-a-month co-op class in teaching the kids. Maybe you think it’s a cheater’s way to homeschool. Maybe it is. The thing is I find outsourcing a great way to help the kids learn from others without giving up my ability to help meet their individual educational needs. Once a week the kids spend 3.5 hours at an arts-based hybrid learning things that I would never have thought to incorporate into our schooling. Kai is working with other students on a student film. Ivy is learning Calligraphy. Each of them is working in a group with friends and enjoying being a part of a classroom experience one day a week. Then once a month the homeschool group we are a part of holds an enrichment day that allows the kids to learn about different subjects each month. One month the kids participated in a Shakespearean drama and had a feast to go along with it. They’ve built volcanoes and met geologists and enjoyed learning about cultures from people who are experts in a way I will never be. Each time they come home filled with information and enthusiasm about a subject they hadn’t previously interacted with and it fuels their desire to pursue knowledge about it for the rest of the month.
  5. Year-round School – We officially start school every September but the truth is we try our very best to “school” the kids year round. The first year we did school we stopped at the end of summer and when we got back to school-time in the Fall getting the kids motivated to learn again was a nightmare. They enjoyed the summer and didn’t feel like diving back into school. The more I thought about it the more it bugged me that we were basically telling them they got to spend 3 months not learning and that they could stop pursuing the study of the world that we were trying to tell them was so important for the other 9 months of the year. The second year we tried not breaking for summer. We changed the pace of our lessons and did lots of unit studies with the kids. We explored different subjects and cultures and found ways to take unexpected field trips and just kept the learning going. Then by the time Fall rolled around we just jumped right back into “regular” school and no one complained. And we felt like we were reinforcing the idea that learning is a forever thing. Not something to take a break from. It’s been a win-win scenario for us.

So, there you have it. Five homeschooling hacks that are working for us! I would love to hear what works for you and yours when it comes to educating the kids whether it is homeschool, traditional school, unschooling or some combo of different styles. There is so much to be learned and shared with others on this journey and I love storing away great ideas for when we need to change things up!

Tutorial: How to make DIY all-natural cleaner. With a 7-year-old helper.

**This post contains affiliate links that provide me with ice cream money to bribe my kids. Thank you in advance for their good behavior.**

Traveler created a super cool cell phone tripod for me to record videos on and we decided to test it out on a FB live post. So, I thought I would post it here to share! Traveler was quite proud of himself.

For those who want to make a recipe like this, here’s what you need:

1.5 C Water

1/3 C White Vinegar

15-20 drops essential oil (we used Young Living Purification.)

Mix together in glass spray bottle. And enjoy!

Natural Lice Repellant Spray

**This post contains affiliate links that provide me with ice cream money to bribe my kids. Thank you in advance for their good behavior.**

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I’ve had some friends asking about this since they’re seeing these fun little critters crop up in their school and friend groups. I don’t want to jinx things and say we’ve never gotten lice but, well, despite several times of close exposure we haven’t.

Knocks wood and furiously sprays kids hair with this spray because I’ve just tempted the universe to send them my way!

Once after a play date (where every other kid there ended up with lice) we discovered we had been exposed and I made a tea tree oil and coconut oil hair treatment just in case and I totally credit tea tree (aka Melaleuca) oil for our ability to avoid. Now we’ve started making this spray to use on school days or other times when we might come into contact with creepy crawlies.

If you would like more info on essential oils and why we use them and love them check this page out!

DIY LICE REPELLANT

2-4 Ounces Distilled Water

5 drops Lavender Oil

5 drops Peppermint Oil

5 drops Rosemary Oil

5 drops Melaleuca Oil

4 ounce spray bottle

Add oils to bottle. Fill remainder with distilled water. Spritz on hair in mornings before school.

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist.

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There are probably worse things to wake up to than a cat peeing right beside your face, but right now I can’t think of too many. When your day starts out like that it’s a sure sign that it is going to be a doozy.

And, yesterday did not fail to live up to that standard. In fact, considering the fact that my day ended with a snarky nastygram from an anonymous neighbor demanding that I “mow the grass and edge the lawn!” I think I can safely say that the cat pee on my head might have been the least jarring part of the day.

It’s not like anything catastrophic really happened yesterday. It was mostly life stuff. But some days you seem have two weeks of life stuffed into 12 hours and it is exhausting. Some days it just feels like I will never catch up. Never add up. Never measure up.

Life is like that right now. Holding up all the expectations of all the people in all of the areas of my life has been a real job. But this past weekend, thanks to some amazing family friends, Thomas and I got a mini break from that job. We dropped our kids off Friday evening and picked them up Sunday afternoon and took off to be tourists in our own city. It was a much welcome break from our responsibilities.

It’s funny what happens when you have a break from the constant chaos of kids. We got to talk and sleep and eat meals without having anyone climb on us or spill anything and it was pretty wonderful. It’s amazing, though, how much you get to think when you are without kids for a few days. I thought a lot about what our future holds as a family. What my future holds outside of my kids.

Most days it is impossible to believe that this stage of my life isn’t forever. I can’t imagine a house that isn’t a constant mess. I can’t picture not having to clean up a broken dish or toy or collectible once a day. I can’t imagine having a moment without the din of kids running, playing, arguing, laughing, crying. It seems a hundred years away.

One of the things that has come out in my therapy lately is just how much I fear being perceived as a bad mom. It triggers more anxiety and panic than nearly any other thing in my life. The thing is that particular trigger is lurking behind nearly every moment of my day.

Running late to pick up one of the kids from an appointment? Neglectful mom.

Lose all of your daughter’s ballet paperwork? Disorganized mom.

Fall asleep nursing the toddler and didn’t finish folding laundry? Lazy mom.

It doesn’t help that I have the image of the Proverbs 31 woman in my head all the time. She is the ever present measuring stick for every Christian mom out there. She looms over us like some holy mother we will never live up to. She’s the inspiration for countless mothering books, magazines, and websites. Seriously, who is this lady? Could she have set a more impossible standard?

[a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.

You guys, my husband had to wear swim trunks under his suit the other day because his wife of noble character forgot to put his underwear in the dryer. That’s not going to earn me any praise at the city gates.

14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

Does the Zaxby’s by the Publix count as bringing food from afar? Because if so, then I’m winning at that part at least.

15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

Last week my kids all shared two leftover brownies for breakfast because I had been up all night with a sick baby and they were too lazy to make cereal for themselves while I slept. So I guess I can’t check that whole “gets up and provides food thing” off the list either.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.

So, I’m not sure that my trading is all that profitable but the good news is if my lamp not going out at night means my power bill is always paid then I can check yes on that. Though there was that time I forgot to pay the water bill and my kids woke me up at 6:30 in the morning to ask why water in the sink was broken…

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

Most days I am clothed in a thrifted black dress covered in sticky toddler handprints and I think we can all agree that whole dignity ship set sail about 3 kids ago. 

26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; (Proverbs 31: 10-31, NIV)

My tween calls me lots of things lately. Blessed doesn’t happen to be one of them. Though she did gently caress my cheek the other day and say, “I never realized how wrinkly you are, mom.” so that’s something I guess.

The more I think about her the more I wonder if even she would recognize the woman in these verses? Would she have been flattered to read this tribute to her abilities? Or exhausted at the thought of keeping up such an reputation? Since, as far as I know, there is only one perfect person described in the Bible she must have had at least a few flaws. Did she wake up grumpy in the mornings? Did she have to nag her kids to help her? Did she ever forget where she put something for 2 months and only find it after she had gone out and bought a replacement? Did her three-year-old ever repeat a swear word in perfect context after hearing it yelled loudly in traffic? (okay, I’m probably pushing it there. I’ve never known anyone who has had that happen. Certainly not me. And certainly not with every. single. one. of my kids.)

I guess my point is that even the woman who is the gold standard for Christian femininity had to be imperfect at some point. She had to question how well she was doing her job. She had to have moments where she wasn’t the best version of herself. And, yet, the parts that are memorialized are the best parts. The days when she did her very best. The days when her family was proud.

My prayer lately has been that God will meet me where I am lacking. That He will give me His love for my kids. That He will fill the gaps that I leave with His perfect love so that they will never question their worth and their value. I am a recovering perfectionist. I want things to be perfect. And they so rarely are. But I am seeing that perfection isn’t what I am called to. I am called to love. I am called to give compassion. And I am called to trust in God to fill the needs of my children. Some days that is harder than others but thankfully His mercies are new every morning.

The Lord loves us very much.
    So we haven’t been completely destroyed.
    His loving concern never fails.
23 His great love is new every morning.
    Lord, how faithful you are!
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is everything I will ever need.
    So I will put my hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24 NIRV**)

I’m counting on the freedom of that promise. And I am thankful for the days to come.

**The last translation I just used was from the NIRV which is the kids’ version of the NIV. If you haven’t ever read that translation I would encourage you to check it out sometime. I’m no Bible scholar so I don’t know how it stacks up against the others but I do know it is written in simple English for kids and new English speakers and sometimes the beauty of the simple wording is exactly what I need to hear. It is often one of my favorite ways to read a verse that I am using to speak to my fears or inadequacies.

20 uses for your Young Living Premium Starter Kit

**This post contains affiliate links that provide me with ice cream money to bribe my kids. Thank you in advance for their good behavior.**

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This month Young Living is giving away an addition oil (YAY for Cedarwood!) in their Premium Starter Kits making it a total of 12 awesome oils in the kit! That’s in addition to the diffuser, samples, literature, and extra roller bottle top and small bottles to share with friends. It is a super exciting month to grab a kit!

The Premium Starter Kit was how I started with Young Living and I started using mine 5 minutes after I brought that box in the door. I was so excited to get into those oils! Since then we use ours every single day and I thought I would share just how useful those sweet little oils are by making a list of 20 awesome uses for your kit! If you have things to add to the list I would love to see them in the comments or join our FB group The Seed & Soul Collective and share with us there!

Here we go:

  1. Diffuse them! This one is obvious but it is so awesome. The first thing I did when I opened my kit was plug in the diffuser and drop about 8 drops of Stress Away in there to help calm the chaos of my crazy house. Some other great combos for the diffuser that can come just from the starter kit are:
    • Purification and lemon – great for ridding your home of odors. I diffuse it when I’m getting ready to clean house!
    • Cedarwood (this month only!) and Lavender – probably my favorite combo of all. This one melts away all the stress. So grounding and good.
    • Thieves and Peppermint – smells delicious and promotes focus and immune support.
    • Lavender and Stress Away – my oldest daughter diffuses this every night before bed.
    • Copaiba and Lavender – another nice chill-out combo. (I’m sensing a theme here. We must crave more chill in the Loving house!)
  2. Make your own bug repellant. I use a 2 oz. bottle like this one and let each of my kids have their own but you can always adjust the ratio for a larger bottle. I fill the bottle 1/2 with water, add a bit of witch hazel (just eyeball it until the bottle is 2/3 full) and then 10 drops purification, 10 drops lavender, and 10 drops peppermint.
  3. Create a sleepy-time roller bottle. My kids each have one of these and they use it on their feet every single night before bed. It’s like nighttime magic for them and they love having the calming smell of lavender as they go to sleep. I use roller bottles just like these and fill 2/3 with fractionated coconut oil or Young Living’s V-6 Oil and then add 15 drops of lavender or 10 drops lavender and 5 drops cedarwood. Then I inevitably steal their bottle after they sleep to help me relax before bed, too! 🙂
  4. Make a tummy remedy. Another great roller bottle recipe! I make a roller bottle with Peppermint and DiGize to help support my family on those days when we are struggling with tummy troubles. Peppermint is great for nausea and the blend of oils in DiGize makes for a great calming support to your digestion.
  5. Replace your Poo-Pouri (bathroom) spray. We love the Poo-Pouri spray for the bathroom. With 7 people in the house, though, it gets a little expensive to keep buying the store bought version. And when I started using Young Living I hated the thought of creepy yucky toxic chemicals so I set out to make my own. It’s easier than you think! The tutorial here is what I used. It’s great stuff!
  6. Make an awesome massage oil. PanAway was the last oil I opened in my kit. I didn’t really think I would need a muscle rub because I am not an athlete and don’t exactly strain my muscles on a daily basis. But, oh how wrong I was. PanAway is fantastic! I use a 10 ml roller bottle filled 2/3 with coconut oil and add 15 drops of PanAway and 5 drops of Copaiba and apply it to my sore muscles and recruit a volunteer (a.k.a. husband) to massage my aching neck! I’m obsessed with the stuff now!
  7. Replace your household cleaner with a green alternative! I love making homemade cleaners and have been using Vinegar around the house years. Thomas complained that the house started to smell a little bit too much like the Olive Garden so when I started using essential oils a household cleaner was definitely on my list.  I use a 16 oz. glass spray bottle like this one and add 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup distilled water, 30 drops of Thieves oil, and 10 drops of lemon. Shake it up and use all over the house!
  8. Make a carpet freshener. To a mason jar add 1 cup baking soda and 20 drops Purification. Mix it up and sprinkle onto carpet and let sit for 30 min to an hour before vacuuming.
  9. Make a refreshing eye oil. I love adding Frankincense to my beauty routine. (Did I just say beauty routine? HAHAHA. I mean my basic mostly-daily face washing. Nothing fancy here.) I add a drop of Frankincense to a few drops of Argan oil or Fractionated Coconut Oil like this one and apply it around my eyes. It smells amazing and my face looks refreshed and soft!
  10. Create an “After Sun” spray. I’m a redhead and despite my best efforts I still burn nearly every time I go out in the sun. This summer I got a particularly nasty sunburn and found that if I filled a 2 oz. spray bottle 2/3 with water, add a couple splashes of witch hazel, and 10 drops of Peppermint + 5 drops Lavender it made a really nice after sun spray. I used it on my skin every time my skin felt tight and painful and by the next day my skin felt so much better!
  11. Make a refreshing air spray. One of my absolute favorite combos to have on hand is Purification and Lime. Now, Lime isn’t in your PSK but Lemon is and it makes a great pairing with Purification as well! I add about 8 drops Purification + 7 drops Lemon (or Lime) to a 2 oz spray bottle filled 2/3 with water and a splash or two of witch hazel. It makes for a really nice spray to refresh the air, your sofa, or even to spritz on your face on a hot and sweaty summer day. I carry mine with me and spray the kids and myself off throughout the day.
  12. Make a “deep breathing” roller. I have always been an anxious person (even as a kid) and a couple of my kids suffer from the same tendency toward anxiety. I love that Stress Away comes with the PSK and we have created a few roller bottles for the kids to have on hand. Plus, the kit comes with an AromaGlide roller filament which allows you to transform your bottle of Stress Away into your own personal roller bottle. Just the act of taking a deep breath and inhaling the scent of that oil can be therapeutic since it forces you to stop, be present, and take a nice deep breath. It works so well for the anxious folks in my family.
  13. Make a non-toxic homemade chest rub for respiratory soothing during colds and the flu. I love having this on hand going into the fall and winter months when we tend to get the majority of our colds and coughs. Homemade Mommy has a great tutorial that we love.
  14. Use to help with headaches. Peppermint can be a great support to those days when your head seems to pound non-stop. I like to dillute a drop or two (or make a roller bottle to keep on hand) and rub it onto the back of my neck and on my temples to help me shake a nagging headache.
  15. Make a milkshake or smoothie. Did you know you can add the Vitality oils to your food to boost flavor and give you the benefits of those oils? I love adding Peppermint to a chocolate smoothie or Lavender to a homemade batch of Lemonade like in this recipe.
  16. Make a fruit and veggie cleaner.  Add 1 and 1/2 cups filtered or distilled water, 3/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp baking soda, and 10 drops of Lemon to a 16 oz glass bottle. Use to spray on and clean your fruits and veggies before cooking.
  17. DIY Toothpaste. My husband was a little apprehensive about this one. But I like it and I think it is a great way to get the benefits of Thieves oil on a daily basis. You need 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup baking soda, 10 drops of Thieves, and 10 drops of Peppermint. Mix together and enjoy!
  18. Refresh stinky smelly shoes. Okay, so with 5 kids who play outside all day long we have a lot of stinky smelly shoes around this place. Adding a drop or two of Purification to the inside of my kiddos shoes makes sure they don’t stink to high heaven and makes me a happy mom.
  19. Make a Thieves hand purifier. I’m not a huge fan of hand sanitizers and my kids always ask for one to use when we are out and about. I’ve started using this recipe (though I also add some Peppermint to it) and they love it!
  20. Wear in a diffuser necklace. My kids and I all have a few different diffuser necklaces (even Trav has a “manly” leather one he loves!) and wear them during the day so we can enjoy our favorite oils and blends everywhere we go.

So, that’s it. My 20 ways to use your Young Living Premium Starter kit. There is literally not a day that goes by that we don’t use an oil or blend from our kit and I love knowing I’m helping to support my kids’ health in a natural and non-toxic way. If you have other questions about how we use oils, why we love them, or how to get started please feel free to message me! I love talking about this journey that we are on and why it has been so valuable to us!

Want to shop oils? Check out Young Living HERE! Enter Sponsor/Enroller #3885942 to connect with me and my team!

Essential Living Class Starting!

imageI’m starting a new online essential living class on Wednesday, August 17th. Learn the basics of using essential oils, how to make safe cleaners for your home, and how your whole family can enjoy the benefits of these natural oils!

This will be an all online FB class with videos and helpful info that you can do at your own pace! The cost for the class is $5 and you will receive two rollerball bottles of essential oil blends to try and enjoy. Message me to sign up and I will drop your bottles in the mail this weekend!

Tutorial: Creating Cocktails with Essential Oils

I love using essential oils for all the great health benefits but I also love to use them in cooking and entertaining. I did a little tutorial over in my FB group for oils and thought I would share it here. Thomas’ big idea was that every time I said the words “essential oils” I had to take a shot. I’ll let you see for yourself how that turned out!

 

Want oils? Buy some here!

Storms.

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When I was a child I was terrified of storms. I was an anxious kid anyways, but the threat (real or perceived) of a storm was enough to throw me into a panic. I knew the phone number for Civil Defense by the time I was 9 and would call them anytime I heard thunder to see if there was threat of a storm coming our way. It’s probably a very good thing that I wasn’t a child in the age of internet.

Now though? Oh, I love a good thunderstorm. Give me a stormy night at home any time and I am a happy girl. I will snuggle up under one of my million thrifted crochet blankets and turn on a good movie and rest peacefully in my house while listening to the raging storm outside.

Because somewhere along the way to this point I learned that the house I am in is stronger than most storms we are likely to face. Are there some that can shake the foundation of this house? Sure. Are they likely to hit me here where we live? Not so much.

Now my kids aren’t quite as frightened by storms as I was as a child, but they do get nervous at the sound of an approaching storm. The look at me to make sure we are safe and I always reassure them that we are safe as houses under the cozy blankets in our living room. And whether they are completely reassured or not they seem to believe my confident assurances and try and ignore the storm that rages outside their windows.

And I find myself thankful that I’ve grown up so much that I’m not scared of storms anymore.

At least not those of the meteorological variety.

But I would be lying if it didn’t occur to me recently that the little girl with Civil Defense on speed dial is still inside trembling at other storms that come her way. I’ve been thinking lately about what storms have replaced those thunderstorms of my childhood.

Losing my husband?

The health of my children?

Seeing people I love suffer?

Juggling the bills that never seem to end?

The older you get and more you have to hold on to the more terrifying it seems to see the possibilities for things that can take the people you love away.

I’m trying to remember more lately how strong the foundation of my house is. I’m trying to remember that just as I am caring for my children there is Someone who is caring for me. That I know Him. And that He loves me.

I don’t want Viola to be the only thing I ever write about on here because I don’t want to give the impression that her disability dominates our life. It doesn’t. But God is using it to teach me so much. Like who she belongs to. And who I belong to.

Viola’s diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech has meant lots of intense speech therapy. And that therapy is not covered by insurance. So, we’ve got an unexpected expense of nearly $700 a month that we are dealing with to give her the help she needs. Outside of all of the other medical expenses for her and the other kids. For a  one-income family of 7 (with two kids in braces) it is not an insignificant expense.

And I remember the day I booked her appointment for an evaluation and was told the cost was $450 for the initial visit and $160 per hour thereafter that I had no idea where that money would come from. But Thomas and I decided to step out in faith and book the appointment and take it on a week by week basis.

So, every week I ask God to supply the money for her therapy outside of our usual budget. And, so far, every single week He has.

Mostly, the money comes from selling things that have stacked up in our home unused. But, I also make things. And go to antique shows. And sell essential oils. And somehow in between it all it has covered every session.

Last week I was pulling out all the stops to avoid dipping into savings for her session. By Thursday I was taking loose change to Publix to add to the fund for Friday’s session. (How on Earth did we accumulate $30 in change?!) The night before her session, I was $35 short.  And my faith wasn’t shaken. I knew I would  be able to dip into our reserve to pay for her session this time. And then the next morning about 15 minutes before I got to her session I got an email from someone who wanted to buy a couple of the dream catchers I made and it filled in that gap. I was so very thankful for that provision.

I wasn’t thankful because I didn’t have the $35 we needed to cover the remainder of the payment. I was thankful that God provided for His child in that way. And I was thankful for the eyes to see that it was His provision.

Now, does that mean we won’t ever struggle to cover this expense? Of course not. Does it mean I will never worry? Don’t I wish.

However, it does mean that I am praying for the eyes to see those moments of provision and to see them as God’s love for me and for Thomas and for our children.

A friend posted a picture the other day of refugee children playing in a bathtub filled with water in a pile of rubble. Their father had provided a small bit of happiness and relief for them in a very dark and difficult situation. At the time it made me realize that my struggles in the north Atlanta suburbs (while not unimportant to me) are often in much need of perspective in the grand scheme of things. But, as I have digested that image it also made me realize that sometimes God provides us moments of peace and joy and relief in what feels like the rubble of a difficult situation. Just as that father gave his children a moment of joy in the midst of a great struggle, so has my Father given me joy. If only I have the eyes to see it.

And that is what I really want to remember. That seeing those moments, those gifts, are completely up to me. God, my Heavenly Father, has provided untold gifts in the midst of turmoil that I have likely been too closed minded to see. If only I could have seen this sooner. But, if I fail to look around now and to be aware I may miss some of the most beautiful moments of my life.

The smiles on the faces of those children were such a wake-up call to me. Joy comes from inside. Joy in the midst of rubble, of destruction, of sadness and even death is a possibility. Lord, please do not let me be too short sighted to see this here on this Earth. Let me see Your beauty in everything. Let me see every small and big thing as a gift. Let me cherish these breaths, these struggles. Because You are here with me. And in every moment let me realize I am not alone.

I don’t call the Civil Defense anymore when I am scared. But I do still find myself scared and trembling in the midst of the storms of life. However much we change and grow in our lives there is still that small child inside who longs for reassurance that we are safe. Perhaps without that fear we would never reach for the hand of the One who can give us peace.

Lord, give me that peace and the wisdom to see where it comes from.

 

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