Eliminate Toy Clutter and Boredom in One Fell Swoop

Reduce Clutter and Bust Boredom with the Activity JarSounds too good to be true? Well, I guess maybe it is a *little* bit overstated. If you have kids, I don’t think there’s anybody on earth crazy enough to guarantee you the permanent absence of either toy clutter OR boredom… so I’m not going to go that far. However, I will say that my little system I’ve taken for a test drive recently has really proven to significantly reduce the toy clutter AND the cries of “I’m boooorrreeeddd” around our house.

A little back story first: this past September, my husband and I both began full-time jobs for the first time since having kids. Whoa! That was a total adjustment we’re still working through. Suddenly, we found ourselves with a lot on our plate and not enough time to do it all. All our routines required some tweaking, but the one that has given the most trouble is the house-cleaning.

Gah! Those of you who always have immaculate houses can just skip this entire post, but for the rest of you… can I get a witness?! The Boyz (ages 6 and 4 currently) can wreak havoc in the place in mere seconds, but the clean-up process takes hooouuuurrrssss. They wake up between 6:00-6:30 most mornings and promptly get out their toys. What I really mean by that innocent statement is that before I’m even up in the morning, there’s an avalanche of toy cars, Legos big and large, and who-knows-what-other-random toys filling their bedroom and spilling out into the dining room and living room. And then, when we come home from school in a mad flurry of homework and dinner-making, more toys somehow magically appear. A few more toys (a metric ton) join the happy chorus after dinner, so by the time Mommy and Daddy announce, “OK it’s time to clean up!” there’s a veritable disaster area. Just what we want to face at the end of a tiring, busy day.

And, of course, our delightful children are more than happy to quickly and cheerfully pick up all the toys they played with during the day and return them promptly to their rightful place.

Ha! Excuse me while I snort coffee out of my nose.

Ahem. As I was saying, clean up doesn’t go as smoothly or as quickly as one might like in these circumstances. And repeating these circumstances every day was starting to get a little old.

So one day I sat down next to my husband and said, “It’s time to get drastic“. Disregarding my theatrical drama (he’s good at that), he listened carefully to my plan – and to my surprise – readily agreed that we should implement it ASAP.  Probably he was tired of hearing my lengthy monologue (repeated at least weekly) about how I was tired of cleaning and how I hated that the house never felt neat despite the fact that I was constantly cleaning it. Anything to put an end to those diatribes!

My Toy Clutter Reduction Plan

My plan was this:

  • Institute a new rule for The Boyz: No Toys During the Week. See what I mean by drastic? I hear a collective horrified gasp from my audience, but hear me out: we come home from school/work at 4:30 at the earliest. Right away, I start making dinner while The Boyz do their homework and/or Daddy checks their homework. Piano practice theoretically occurs at this time as well. On a good night dinner is ready between 5:30 and 6, after which we commence dinner clean-up. We try to spend time with the boys playing a game or reading books, and then before you know it, it’s after 7 and the 8:00 bedtime is quickly approaching. My point being: the whole evening passes very quickly with little time for toy-playing anyway. In fact, most of the time, the time it took them to clean up the toys was much longer than the amount of time they actually played with them. On weekends, they are free to play with whatever toys they want.
  • Create a “Morning Toy Box”, so called because they could get it out in the morning. In this box, I put all their favorite toys (which can be switched out in future) and they have permission to play with them whenever they have free time. So see? Not as heartless as it sounded initially.
  • Finally, create an “Activity Jar”, filled with slips of paper suggesting a variety of activities. They each get to pick one activity a day in their free time either before or after dinner. The activity suggestions cover a wide variety of options: art projects, games, Lego building suggestions, ideas for playing with specific toys or toy sets (like their Angry Bird set-up games). The catch with this one is they MUST clean up from their activity, promptly and with a good attitude or they forfeit Activity Time the next day.

Reduce Clutter and Bust Boredom with the Activity Jar The Activity Jar

While the No-Toys-During-The-Week rule eliminates the toy clutter that frustrated me Monday through Friday, the Activity Jar eliminates the potential boredom that would ensue. I first got this idea when I was de-cluttering their toys and art supplies after Christmas (an annual project for me!) and realized how many activities they had but didn’t ever use. Although I got rid of a few of the unused things, I saved the best and came up with the Activity Jar as a fun way to make sure all those toys and supplies were actually put to use instead of languishing in drawers, boxes, and closets.

The Activity Jar has other side benefits, not the least of which is the creativity it inspires in them. While most kids are naturally creative and imaginative to one extent or another, a little focused activity and a nudge in the right direction helps them to explore their creative imaginations in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. For example, my children don’t often pick up a paintbrush or box of coloring pencils of their own accord, but when they’re directed to draw a picture of their favorite season, suddenly their mind starts churning and the creativity is sparked, and skills are learned in the process.

Here are a few of the activities from the Activity Jar:

  • Build a ship out of Legos.
  • Paint a picture of your family.
  • Make a card and write a note to someone.
  • Make an Angry Birds setup using Jenga blocks.
  • Make a picture using stickers.
  • Put a sticker in the middle of a page and draw a picture around it.
  • Draw a picture of the pet you wish you had.
  • Choose a coloring or activity book and finish at least one page in it.

The beauty of this Activity Jar is that it can be highly personalized to each family. You can create your own activities based on the toys and art supplies you have readily available in your home. You can also take into consideration your children’s abilities and interests and adjust accordingly. Older children can do more complicated things, of course, like draw an illustration for a scene from a book, or design an imaginary machine that does their least favorite chore for them.

Toy Clutter Eliminated

I admit that even though I came up with this drastic plan myself, I was honestly a little skeptical that it would actually work. Having completed our test drive, though, I have to say it was a lot more successful than I thought! Old habits die hard, and we’re still training The Boyz not to get out toys that aren’t in the Morning Toy Box, but for the most part, they don’t anyway. It’s usually just an absent-minded thing and hasn’t involved more than a toy here and a toy there. They didn’t really balk at the whole idea either, which kind of surprised me. I think the promise of fun activities was enough to ease their mind on that score, plus the promise of playing freely with their toys on weekends. Besides, they aren’t so keen on toy clean-up, so I think they also appreciated any effort that reduced that particular chore!!

And the Activity Jar has been a hit! They love choosing the activities and have really enjoyed getting creative with the art projects especially. I’m sure I’ll have to keep it fresh by periodically creating new activities, but the ones currently in our jar will keep them happy for a while! Next time, I might even have them help me dream up the activities.

I have to say our new toy/activity system has really reduced the clutter, stress, and tension in our house, especially in the evenings. We have more time to simply enjoy each other’s company instead of constantly fighting the clean-up battle.

What do you think? Would such a system work in your family? Would you want to give it a try? What do you do to reduce toy clutter and the resulting stress? 

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FREE Guide to De-Cluttering Your Home in 10 Minutes a Day

De-Clutter Your Home in 28 Days, 10 Minutes a Day

Is your house overwhelmed with *stuff*? Do you find organization difficult? Do you have trouble straightening up because you just don’t know where to put things? Does the clutter in your home leave you feeling stressed out and overwhelmed?

You’re not alone, friend! I find myself in that exact same position fairly frequently. I’ve discovered that the solution is a periodic cleansing and purging of all that *stuff*, to give you room for what’s important and give you space to breathe.

But where to start? Sometimes the sheer magnitude of clutter c728x90_28daysombined with a serious lack of time (and, let’s face it, motivation) induces a kind of paralysis that keeps us from accomplishing anything, allowing the cycle to continue and the problem to intensify.

Take heart! A guiding hand and a gentle little push in the right direction are all you need to get you started on your de-cluttering journey. With one hand guiding and the other giving that little shove, I’ve written a little eBook that will help you de-clutter every single room in your house (and your vehicle!) in just 28 days. (And hey! February is coming up and guess what?! 28 days! Serendipitous, yes?)

And what’s more, you’ll only need 10 minutes of each of those days to accomplish big things. (Although I might as well warn you that once you get started, it’s kind of like eating chips… hard to stop. So get ready for some super cleansing and invigorating lengthy de-clutter sessions coming your way soon!) You can handle ten minutes a day, right? 

Normally, this fantastic little de-cluttering guide is $3.99, which is a great price in my opinion (of course, because I priced it. Ha!); but from January 19-23, it’s completely 100% absolutely FREE. Yep! FREE! 

28 days. 10 minutes a day. You can do this.

I love free stuff. But only if it’s helpful, practical, useful, and what I actually want. So yep, I love THIS free stuff. 

Grab your free copy of 28 Days to De-Clutter here. 

But Wait! There’s More! 

I say that tongue in cheek, but really, there IS more: subscribe to my newsletter and receive completely FREE a printable pack that coordinates nicely with the eBook. Not only does it have matching graphics (oh so important), but it has printable charts and checklists to go along with the de-cluttering assignments in the book. Neato, right?

So to recap: De-Clutter your life in 28 days, ten minutes a day, by grabbing the FREE eBook here, and the FREE printable pack here.

Happy printing!

Happy reading!
Happy De-Cluttering!

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Want What You Have

want what you have

This evening, My Certain Little Someone, Tiger Cub, and I ate a late dinner at La Madeleine (love that place – don’t eat there very often!) while Daddy was at work. As we were situating ourselves at our table, I happened to notice a lady in the corner enjoying (at a very leisurely pace I might add) a book along with her soup and salad. I have to admit, I was struck momentarily with a pang of envy. 

“Wouldn’t it be lovely?” I thought to myself, “to have an hour or two to myself to sit down at a restaurant and immerse myself in a book with some coffee and a pastry on the side?” (Notice the lack of soup and salad in my scenario.) I even started pondering how I could go about arranging such a beautiful morning (or afternoon or evening… I’m not picky), and I was pretty sure my sweet DH would be happy to indulge me.

Then I started to consider that it really wasn’t fair for me to have time all to myself and not to give the afore-mentioned DH his own time off. But when pressed, that dear man always insists that he’d rather spend his free time with his family than on his own, so he almost never indulges in solitary pleasures.

And then I looked back at my own table, at the rambunctiously adorable and so-very-earnest faces that looked animatedly at me and at each other as they exchanged an excited conversation (and a few noises and loud bursts of song). And my conscience pricked me. (Actually, I’m pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit with a little dose of conviction.) Really? I was envious of a woman eating by herself with her nose in a book when I had all this wonderfulness right in front of me? Two little companions who were actually behaving quite well, all things considered (a shocking turn of events, to be sure), and were just as delightful as any old book could ever be? Actually, much more so!?

As Tiger Cub once again burst into a loud rendition of “Everything is Awesome!” – literally at the top of his lungs – and I uttered yet another “Shhh! We’re in a restaurant! You have to be quiet!”, I mentally overhauled my attitude and gave thanks for the beautiful blessing that was right there with me. Reading a book with coffee and a pastry on the side (hey, I’d even take the salad and soup) is a lovely pastime to be sure, but so is enjoying sandwiches and fruit with my two little all-boy-boys. And the one reaps benefits long into the future and even eternity while the other is just a fleeting moment that passes when it is gone.

I’m choosing to thrive in the moments God has given me, and this was one of them. If I wallowed in what I could have instead of what I actually had, I would totally have missed out on the joy of it.

Here’s to wanting what you have… and finding you have everything you want!


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Disinfect Your Home with Thieves Oil

Thieves disinfect #yleo #essentialoilsRecently, my family has gone through a bout of various illnesses, and I have declared myself DONE with it! I have no idea what brought on this sudden onslaught to our immune systems, but we’ve run the whole gamut of diarrhea, vomit, coughs, runny noses, fevers, and sinus infections. DONE, I say! We are done with all the germs. 

Henceforth and therefore, I went on a rampage through the house with my bottle of Thieves and an assortment of other tools, determined to ban the sickness from our house for good. Or at least for a good long while.

Disinfect Safely

Most people grab a bottle of a bleach-based product, or perhaps an antibacterial spray, when they embark on a disinfecting mission, but not me. I’ve found a much better alternative recent years: not only does it smell better, it WORKS better.

Why is Thieves Oil so much better than bleach? It contains two antibacterial powerhouses: cinnamon and clove oil. A study confirmed that they were among the list of the top ten bacteria-inhibiting essential oils, eliminating 23 out of 25 types of bacteria. There’s no need to resort to a chemical such as bleach, when you can use a perfectly natural – and perfectly safe* – alternative. 

Disinfect With the Right Tools

The only tools you need to completely disinfect your home are a spray bottle, vinegar, water, rags, and some Thieves oil. It’s especially effective if you have a diffuser as well, and a small cobalt or stainless steel spray bottle is useful as well.

  • Thieves Cleaning Spray: Grab a 24oz spray bottle designed for cleaning solutions, and fill it with half water and half vinegar. Add 5-10 drops of Thieves essential oil; shake well.
  • Thieves Sanitizing Spray: Fill a 2oz or 4oz glass spray bottle  about 25% with rubbing alcohol (or vodka). Add 5-10 drops of Thieves essential oil, and then fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. Shake well before using. The advantage of this sanitizing spray is that it evaporates fairly quickly into the air due to the finer mist of this type of spray bottle and the inclusion of alcohol. Thus, you can let it air dry without wiping it off, and you might even be able to use it on some upholstery and other fabrics (test a small spot first).
  • Diffuser: Use an ultrasonic diffuser such as this one to really get the bacteria-nabbing oil into the air. This type of diffuser works by filling the small chamber to the fill line with water, then adding a few drops of oil. Replace the lid and turn it on.

Disinfect Your Home

There’s a lot of surface area in your home that qualifies for a good disinfecting spray and rubdown, but don’t get overwhelmed. Follow this process and you’ll have the whole thing done in a couple hours. I’ve started with the areas that have the highest concentration of germy traffic, and went from there.

Before you start: If you have a diffuser, set it going with Thieves oil in one room of the house. Every ten or fifteen minutes, move the diffuser to another room to help eradicate the germs there.

1. Start with the Bathroom. Germs are flying thick in there! Spray the toilet and sink liberally with the Thieves Cleaning Spray and let it set for a few minutes before wiping dry with a clean rag. I like to use a fresh rag for each new area so I don’t carry germs from one spot to another. Sweep the floor, then spray it with the cleaning spray and wipe with a rag. Spray light switches, door knobs, and any places that are frequently touched by either big or little hands, then wipe dry. Finish off the job by spraying with the Thieves Sanitizing Spray on all the “hot spots”: toothbrushes, faucets, toilet flush handle, light switches, door knobs, cubpoard knobs, etc.

2. Next, the Kitchen. Once the basics are taken care of (dishes and food cleaned and put away), spray all the countertops, cupboard doors, and appliance surfaces with the cleaning spray. Allow it to set, then wipe dry. Pay special attention to anything hands touch frequently: faucets, buttons, keypads, soap dispensers, cupboard door knobs, light switches, handles, etc. Don’t forget to give the trash can a thorough wipe down! Sweep the floor and clean it with the cleaning spray.

3. Since the dining room is likely right near the kitchen, let’s attack that next. Spray the table and chairs with the cleaning spray and wipe down immediately, so as not to harm the finish on the wood. If you’re really concerned about the wood finish, you can also spray the rag itself and wipe it on the table. Vacuum up all the food and other assorted crummy stuff off the floor.

4. Doors & Lightswitches, of course. Beginning with the door you most frequently use to enter the house, begin spraying them with the cleaning spray, letting it sit, then wiping dry. Follow up with a spritz of sanitizing spray, which you can leave to air dry.

5. Finish up with the Living Room. I like to spritz my couch pillows with the sanitizing spray occasionally; you might want to test a small patch first before you try, just to make sure it doens’t harm your fabric. Spray a little cleaning spray on a rag and gently wipe the remote controls. If you have small children, you might want to spray their toys with sanitizing spray as well.

6. Don’t forget your Vehicle! As I was driving my sick son home from school, it occurred to me that we spent a lot of time in our van, and as such, it was bound to be rife with germs. Accordingly, once I was done disinfecting the house, I grabbed my tools and headed outside to tackle the van. It’s the same process as disinfecting your house: once you’ve cleaned out the clutter (what, no clutter in your van? I don’t believe it.), spray all the hard surfaces with the cleaning spray, let it set, then wipe it dry. Focus particularly on the places your hands touch most frequently: the steering wheel, console, door pulls, gear shift, control knobs and buttons, etc.

7. Finally, the Laundry. If you’re anything like me, by the time you’ve finished with this process, you’ll have used up your entire supply of rags! On top of which, you can’t forget that used sheets and towels harbor all sorts of germs. Strip all the beds, get all the dirty towels and wash cloths out of the bathroom, get the dirty wash rags and towels from the kitchen, and don’t forget about that pile of rags. Wash them all in hot water, adding a few drops of Thieves oil to each load.

Ahhhh…. Breathe in the fresh, uncontaminated air! Now, go relax and enjoy!

*Note that essential oils, especially strong ones like those contained in Thieves oil, should only be used a few drops at a time and well diluted.

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Teacher Appreciation Gift

teacher appreciation card summer funI’ve been a teacher of one kind or another for most of my adult life, but it’s been a new experience for me the past couple of years to be the parent of a student. Having been on both sides of the equation, I know the importance of a thoughtful gesture that shows appreciation for the hard work a teacher does throughout the school year.

At the same time, I’m not exactly rolling in dough! Quite the contrary; every penny counts around here. So as the end of the school year rolls around, I have to put my thinking cap on to come up with a teacher appreciation gift that will be appreciated but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This year, my Certain Little Someone helped me out with his own ideas and his own special flare. He’s only 5, but I thought he put together a great gift with only a few minor suggestions and input on my part.

An Inexpensive Teacher Appreciation Gift

teacher gift summer funHe was quite insistent that he wanted to buy his teacher a beach towel, which at first I thought was rather an odd gift until it rather grew on me. I mean, what could be more perfect to herald the start of the summer (and the end of the school year!)? So from there, we came up with a perfect summer-themed gift, including a card that he helped me design. He wanted to be able to color part of it, so I made one with black and white flip flops that he could color in himself.

I thought his little gift turned out so well that it deserved to be shared with the world at large, so I’ve created two PDF printables of the teacher appreciation card we designed: one that can be colored in and one that is ready to print and give. There are 2 cards on each page, so you can use them to gift multiple teachers. You can personalize the card with a note on the back.

I recommend printing on card stock, but you could also print them on regular copy paper, then cut out and glue onto scrapbook paper for a little more pizzazz.

The 3 R’s for Teachers

Click on the images below to get your free printable teacher appreciation cards!

teacher appreciation card summer fun teacher card

There are lots of great summery gifts that go perfectly with this little card! We chose a beach towel and some flip flops, but the possibilities are almost endless:

  • a brightly patterned beach towel
  • cute flip flops
  • trendy sunglasses
  • sunscreen and/or aloe gel
  • a swimsuit cover-up
  • a breezy beach hat
  • a picnic cooler
  • a gift card/certificate covering the entrance fee to a local pool or water park
  • beach reading material (Walmart carries an inspirational line of clean – if sappy – romance novels. Not what I would read on a regular basis, but perfect brain candy for a relaxing day at the beach!)
  • an insulated cup
  • or all of the above in a beach bag!


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5 Questions to Ask Your Essential Oil Company (Or, How to Find a Reputable Source for Essential Oils)

5 Questions You Need to Ask your Essential Oil  Company #essentialoils #youngliving #ylessentialoilsTo say that there is a lot of confusion out there about essential oils is sort of like saying that Niagara Falls is kinda big. In other words, it’s a gross understatement. No matter your query or how it’s worded, any internet search about essential oils is bound to bring up conflicting information, making it extremely difficult for a novice to sort through it all and find the kernels of truth hidden in all the hyperbole.

One of the most difficult questions to settle is the most basic: how do I know if the essential oils I’m using are quality oils? One fact that is uncontested in the aromatherapy world is that essential oils are notorious for being adulterated, and even experts admit it can be difficult for them to determine for certain if oils have indeed been adulterated. If even the experts have trouble, where does that leave the rest of us?!

I have been researching this question (and many others regarding aromatherapy) for the past couple years; and although I haven’t come up with any “foolproof” way to determine the quality of an essential oil, my research has taught me what I should look for in an essential oil company, and what kinds of questions I should ask when considering a purchase.  My growing knowledge of essential oils and essential oil quality has only confirmed for me that I made the right choice in my source of essential oils, and I hope to help others achieve the same confidence! So many people are curious about the oils and interested in using them, but overwhelmed by the options and the questions that abound.

Companies throw around terms like “therapeutic grade”, “natural”, and “organic” to the extent that those terms have become almost meaningless, so it’s difficult to sort through the marketing hype and find out what’s really going into the bottles they sell. Any company trying to sell you some of their oils is going to insist that theirs is the real deal, and unadulterated, but clearly they’re not all telling the truth. If you’re searching for a reliable source of pure essential oils, I have a list of 5 questions you need to ask any company that you are researching to determine if they really are selling the real deal or not. 

5 Questions You Need to Ask your Essential Oil  Company #essentialoils #youngliving #ylessentialoils1. Do the oils come from indigenous plants?

Plants are living things, and the essential oils that come from them prove that by their widely varying makeup. A lavender plant grown in France will produce a very different oil from a plant grown in, say, Canada. The reason is because the compounds in the essential oil are developed specifically for the protection, nourishment, and propagation of the plant they come from; and the needs of the plant will vary depending on a lot of factors including soil, climate, and pests. Aromatherapy has developed around the concept that certain plants have certain therapeutic properties… but those properties aren’t guaranteed to exist in a plant that has been grown outside its natural habitat. One oft-recommended essential oil company sources many of its oils from India, which is fine if you’re in the market for jasmine oil (actually an absolute), but not so fine if you’re looking for eucalyptus, which is native to Australia.

2. Do you own any of the farms or distilleries?

The majority of essential companies out there are merely distributors and not producers. This is an important distinction, because the further removed the distributor is from the process, the more opportunity there is for the oil to be adulterated. And the less a company has control over the essential oil production, the less they even know about the possibility of the oil being adulterated. Their sources may swear to the integrity of their oils, but how can a distributor know that for sure unless they are involved in the daily production process? I am much more comfortable purchasing from a company that has their hands in the process from beginning to end; and I’m extremely confident in a company that controls the process from beginning to end. 

3. What kind of tests do you run on the oils?

Most companies will boast that they run a GC/MS (Gas Chromotography Mass Spectrometry) test on the oils, and that’s a good start. Much has been made of the GC/MS test in online circles in recent years, but honestly, that particular test doesn’t really tell you a whole lot about the oil. It can tell you if there are any chemical solvents added to the essential oil, and it can tell you if the oil has the generally expected number of various chemical compounds that it should… but it can’t tell you if each of those compounds are natural or manufactured, and it can’t tell you if they all came from the same plant or were pulled from a variety of different plants.

An essential oil can pass the GC/MS test and be declared 100% natural when that might not, in fact, be the case. It’s entirely possible (and actually happens all the time according to chemists and aromatherapists in the know) for an essential oil to be labeled as “lavender”, for example, when it’s really compounded from several different other (cheaper) plants. The problem is that when the oil is pieced together like this, it doesn’t work as it should for therapeutic purposes, because – as I mentioned at the beginning – plants are living things. Genuine plant oils cannot simply be manufactured from this and that; an effective essential oil is the oil in its entirety.

4. What quality control measures do you have in place?

This question ties in directly to the last 2 questions. Because most companies are merely distributing an end product, and not actually producing said product, the only quality control measure they can take is on the back end. Their control over the seeds, cultivation, harvest, and distillation is minimal at best because they have no actual say over the production process. Their only option is to accept or refuse the final product based on their own observations and/or tests. And typically, the only test they run is the GC/MS test, which as I have shown is limited in its scope.

Having said that, there are a few companies that either own the farms and distilleries producing the oils, or they have an ownership investment of some kind (almost like share-cropping) in the farms and/or distilleries. Those companies are the ones that can actually control the production process to one extent or another, and those companies should have some quality control measures in place. Such quality control measures should include things like the choice of seeds used for planting (Heirloom? GMO?), quality of soil, pest prevention measures, harvesting procedures, distillation standards, etc. The more a company can tell you about the measures they take, the more confident you can be in their final product. 

5. Are the plants grown organically?

This is a no-brainer, really. You don’t want chemical pesticides ending up in your bottle of therapeutic essential oil! Organic labeling gets complicated, though, with the vast majority of oils being sourced internationally with different countries regulating “organic” in very different ways. So it’s better to ask some pointed questions about how exactly the plants are protected from insects and disease. The best oil companies use organic and natural planting methods that do not leave any kind of chemical residue on the plants that could make its way into the essential oil. 

As I mentioned in the beginning, the more I learn, the more confident I am in my own personal choice of essential oil brand. I’m sure there are other reputable and reliable brands out there, but to date I have not found any that answer these questions more satisfactorily.

Edited to Add: A fellow “oiler” actually did her homework and called a bunch of different popular essential oil companies, and asked them these and other questions. Here is a chart she made showing their answers:

questions to ask an essential oil company

If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, how they are made, how they are adulterated, and how you can use them medicinally, I highly recommend the book “The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils” by Kurt Schnaubelt.  (That’s an affiliate link there; you’ve been warned!)

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Find a Community That Fits

Pssst: Enter to win an Ice Cream Maker bundle (Worth $120+) below!!

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Ice Cream Giveaway!

As women, and as Christians, we are called to be in community with one another. We are to be in fellowship with other women, always growing, always learning, always serving. As homemaker’s and Christian women, we should be striving to exemplify the Titus 2 model:

”Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” ~ Titus 2: 3 – 4

Introducing the Christian Homemaking Community

As a blogger, one of my main goals is to connect with other women. I love that I can hop online and find other like-minded Christian women that I can learn from and grow with! So I’m very excited to share that we are introducing an all new Christian Homemaking Community on Facebook!

21 bloggers have come together to create a place where we can chat, learn from each other, grow, and find fellowship among other Christian Homemakers. You can request to join our private Facebook group HERE.

You will also get to connect and chat with your favorite homemaking bloggers including:

Why Join Our New Community?

Each week you will have access to all the latest posts, articles, videos, and discussions from all your favorite homemaking bloggers! No more having to hunt through Pinterest or Facebook for good things to read. You will find encouragement, motivation, tips, recipes, photos, and more!

Come on over and jump into daily discussions such as what is the best way to clean out your fridge, how to do freezer cooking, favorite recipes, and more! You will also have exclusive homemaking content not available anywhere else – and the best part? It’s totally and completely FREE! Join our Facebook group here: The Christian Homemaking Community.

Our Free Gift To You

In celebration of launching our new community, and as our free gift to you , the 21 homemaking bloggers have come together to offer you an amazing eBook: Sweetly Summer ~ Beat the Heat with Yummy and Refreshing Treats – totally FREE! Just join our private Facebook group and you will get instant access!

You will get instant access to some amazing summer treats including: ice cream recipes, how to make whip cream, smoothie recipes, yummy sides, energizing snacks, sweet treats and more!

Free Summer Treats Ebook!

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Oatmeal Crepes {Can be Gluten-Free!} #BakingMyHeritage

Oatmeal Crepes #bakingmyheritage #glutenfreeI continue to explore recipes from my little gem of a cookbook called The Finnish Cookbook, a nod to my heritage, and to a largely ignored but delicious cuisine. The more I cook from this cookbook the more convinced I am that people should explore Finnish cuisine for themselves! 

This particular recipe is one I have now made more times than I can count; it’s that good. Cuz trust me honey. I almost never make the same thing twice. And if I make it more than twice, you know it’s a good recipe.

So here we go: Oatmeal Crepes, using only oat for the flour, so they can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free oats.

Oatmeal Crepes #bakingmyheritage #glutenfree

Traditionally, these Finnish crepes are served together with a bowl of cream and a bowl of cinnamon sugar: you dip the crepe in the sugar and then in the cream. I haven’t actually tried that, although it sounds absolutely fabulous. No, I usually just drizzle mine with maple syrup, fruit sauce, or fresh fruit, and then top with yogurt or whipped cream. Pretty heavenly that way, too!

For more posts in this series, see:

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5 Home Remedies for Pink Eye

5 remedies for pink eye #conjunctivitis #essentialoils #youngliving #homeremediesPink eye (or Conjunctivitis) is one of those annoying little illnesses that is more inconvenience than anything, especially since anyone who sees anybody (or hears of anybody) who has pink eye seems to think that the Black Plague of Death is nigh at hand and reacts with horror. Henceforth and therefore, one is required to sequester themselves away from all society until doomsday has passed and the eye is no longer shedding icky goopy stuff…. which can take up to a week. Like I said, an inconvenience.

It’s not life-threatening. It’s not dangerous. It’s just annoying. Totally no fun at all.

Recently, both of The Boys got to experience the bacterial version of Pink Eye (as opposed to the viral kind, which usually accompanies a cold, and has happened around here once or twice, or the allergy kind which we haven’t had to deal with yet), so I got to experience the fun of treating it. Yay me! What I discovered was that home remedies are more than adequate to stop Pink Eye in its tracks… if you apply them repeatedly and frequently until the symptoms stop. 

Tiger Cub was the first to get it, and unfortunately, I was not as faithful to his treatments as I should have been, so his case kind of dragged on for a few days. When my Certain Little Someone got it (wasn’t it so nice of the brothers to share?), I determined to try every home remedy readily available to me, and apply them repeatedly through the course of the day. His case was knocked out in two days! Who needs antibiotics? 

1. Lavender Compress

The first thing I did with both boys was a lavender compress, which is very easy to do and requires only a bowl, lavender essential oil*, a washrag, and some warm/hot water. Place a drop of lavender oil in the bowl, and fill it with hot water. Put the washrag into the water until it’s thoroughly wet, then wring it out. Place it over the eyes (keep them closed) for as long as the kid can stand it. For my Tiger Cub, that was about 30 seconds. My Certain Little Someone made it to a few minutes. Ideally, it should be at least 5 minutes, but that wasn’t happening around here.

I tried to apply the lavender compress at 3 different times throughout the course of the day, but especially at night.

2. Eucalyptus Radiata Essential Oil

Eucalyptus* is another essential oil that’s very good for conjunctivitis and is  safe for children. Dilute 1-2 drops of the oil in a teaspoon or so of carrier oil, then apply in the following manner:

  • Dab just a bit of the oil on your finger – just enough to moisten it – and carefully run your finger across the brow. Repeat with the other brow. Be sure there’s not enough oil on your finger to drip onto the eyelid, because… ouch! If you do happen to mistakenly get the oil too close to the eye, use some carrier oil (olive, coconut, etc.) to remove it, don’t try to rinse with water as that will make it worse.
  • Dab just a bit onto the temples, rubbing in a circular motion.
  • Massage a bit of the oil onto the pads underneath the 2nd and 3rd toes of each foot.

You can also diffuse Eucalyptus Radiata. Once again, I applied the oil approximately 3 times a day.

3. Honey Wash

Add a teaspoon or so of raw honey to about a cup of warm water. Stir until it dissolves. Making sure it’s not too hot, apply it to the eye in any of the following ways:

  • Use an eye dropper to drop it into the corner of the eye.
  • Use a small medicine cup and pour it over the eye, beginning at the inner corner. To facilitate this process, have your child lean over the sink with their head to the side and tilted slightly up.
  • Dip a cotton ball in the honey wash (use a clean cotton ball for each eye) and firmly swipe it across the eye, once again beginning at the inner corner.

No matter which method you use, you’ll have to follow up with wiping the eye clean and dry. I applied the honey wash rather frequently through the course of the day, maybe as much as 5 times.

4. Tea Wash

For this remedy, many people recommend chamomile tea, but I didn’t have any, so I used black tea. Based on what I’ve read, you can use pretty much any kind of tea, but if you have chamomile, that might edge out as the best. 

For the tea wash, all you have to do is make a strong cup of tea (I used 2 tea bags) and cool it to a safe temperature before applying. Some people stick the tea bags right on the eyes, but I knew my guys wouldn’t go for that, so I opted for the cotton ball method described above. Works just as well, apparently!

The tea wash I also applied pretty frequently – I alternated this and the honey wash throughout the day.

5. Breastmilk

Now this wasn’t an option for me, but everybody and their brother will tell you that breastmilk knocks out pink eye like nothing else. If you have access to it, go for it! Apply it in much the same manner as you would eye drops.

Of course, it goes without saying that I’m not a doctor; I can’t diagnose illness, and I can’t prescribe medication. I’m just telling you what worked for us and if you decide to try it, you do so at your own risk. 

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Teaching with Heart – Printables from Love. Laugh. Teach.

20% off #teachercreated resources #printablesA couple years ago when I was doing preschool at home with my Certain Little Someone, I came across an amazing resource that I wished had been around back in the day when I was teaching K5. And now that I’m once again teaching preschool (K3 this time), I’m ever so grateful I live in this age of internet technology when I can access creative printables and other teacher tools at the drop of a hat… without dropping a ton of money! 

Teachers Pay Teachers

The resource I speak of is Teachers Pay Teachers, and I love the concept: all the material available is developed by actual teachers who’ve actually used what they’re selling. It’s totally a win-win all around, because the teacher who developed the material gets a little money on the side for all her (or his) hard work, and the teacher who purchases it receives a high-quality resource that does exactly what she needs without costing an arm and a leg.

Another thing I love about Teachers Pay Teachers is that the majority of what is available is very specific, so instead of buying a big huge $20 book full of printables, and using only a few pages, you can find – and pay for – only exactly what you need and only what will work for you.

So far, I haven’t created a lot of my own printables to sell on TPT, but my sister, who teaches K4/K5, has her own store on TPT where she offers printable worksheets for math and phonics. She currently targets a K5/1st grade level with the various worksheets she has available.

file0001694774604Love. Laugh. Teach.

Each of her sets focuses on a particular skill – patterning, for example, or consonant blends – and drills through that skill in a progressive fashion, starting with easier tasks, and continuing until the student achieves mastery of the skill in question. Because of their targeted focus, her printable sets are perfect for anyone who needs extra work on a particular skill, or to use as supplementary seatwork or homework to really internalize a concept.

One of my favorite resources she offers is Simple Addition Word Problems for Beginner Readers. What I love about this one in particular is that it is uniquely designed for emerging readers who are just figuring out how to sound out simple words – I don’t think I’ve ever seen word problem practice worksheets written with that skill level in mind! It’s perfect for your student who loves math but isn’t so great with reading, and/or your little kindergartener/first-grader who could use a little practice with word problem skills but can’t quite read the more complicated ones.

My sister’s store on TPT is very appropriately called “Love. Laugh. Teach.” Since my class is right next door to hers, I can attest to the fact that she loves her students and they love her… and there certainly is a great deal of laughter going on! Follow her on Facebook here.

From now until Tuesday, April 8, you can purchase any product in the Love. Laugh. Teach. store for 20% off! No coupon code or secret handshake necessary. This is your perfect opportunity to check out the wonderfulness that is Teachers Pay Teachers, while supporting a teacher at the same time… and getting a good deal for yourself! I tell ya, win-win all around.

Whether you are a homeschooler or a school teacher, trust me, you’ll love what you find at Teachers Pay Teachers. So what are ya waiting for? Go check it out!

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