Favorites of the Week

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Just some quick links, cause somehow it got to be Sunday evening already!

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to make:

Reading offline: A TON. I guess this week I will post about what I read in April. I just zoomed through First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen, and started reading The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle.

What have you been up to this week? I can’t even begin to explain the giant, crying, bundle of emotions I have felt like lately. See: When You Think You Are Too Much. Wednesday I texted a friend and told her I just desperately needed to see someone over the age of 6 that day. I ended up going to a Bible study with her, and it was really a wonderful choice and a great experience.

5 Favorite Uses for Therapeutic Lavender Oil

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FDA Disclaimer:  The information, advice, statements, and testimonials made about the essential oils, blends, and products mentioned on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The information on this site and the products listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, nor are they intended to replace proper medical help. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any regimen with essential oils.

I have to make a confession: I don’t really like the scent of lavender. I never have. I’m just not into floral scents; I like things that smell like food. Vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, apples? Sign me up!

Even when using the essential oils, my favorite scents are ones reminiscent of food: the lime-vanilla scent of Stress Away, citruses like Lemon and Grapefruit, and the mints like Peppermint and Spearmint. It took me some time to get adjusted to the more floral Joy and even Frankincense, even though I love them now.

But although I find the scent of lavender to be a little off-putting, I can’t deny that it has become a favorite essential oil for me.

5 Favorite Uses for Lavender Oil

Tiffany and I did an event yesterday, and something she said struck me. It’s easy to go to Walgreens and get a headache medicine, an acid reflux medicine, or a sinus medicine. When you look at a couple bottles of essential oils, there’s nothing on them to tell you USE THIS ONE FOR HEADACHE. Partially that is because not every oil is going to work the same for every body. It’s some because there are many, many different oils you can use to relieve some of that headache discomfort, depending on the type of headache it is and just what you’ve found works for you. Oils can take some trial and error (safely!!) to see what brings relief to your certain issues.

But you also can’t go into the drugstore and buy a medicine that helps 14 different things. Which is why an essential oil can actually be an amazing money-saver as well as a natural, detoxifying way to help some issues.

Today I’m going to talk about my favorite uses for Lavender. I have often heard Lavender called the “Swiss-army knife” of oils – it just has a bunch of uses. When in doubt … try lavender! (Please keep in mind these are just my experiences and NOT medical advice!)

The Essential Oils Pocket Reference says lavender can be used for “respiratory infection, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, menstrual problems/PMS, skin conditions (perineal repair, acne, eczema, psoriasis, scarring, stretch marks), burns, hair loss, insomnia, and nervous tension.” Here is how I’ve used it personally.

  • First and foremost, SLEEP. I started my Young Living journey by diffusing lavender oil in Libbie’s room, because Kayla said it helped her daughter actually sleep through the night and sleep in later. Libbie still gets up before the crack of dawn, usually, but I believe the lavender helps her calm down and fall asleep much easier than she used to. I also use the Magic Sleeping Potion bath for myself when I am wound up and need to be able to go to sleep quickly. Here is what my friend, Blair, said about the Sleeping Potion: “I tried this last night and it was heavenly!! I was having trouble falling asleep and it was 3 am and I still wasn’t tired. So I made this and took a bath and it worked like a charm!!! Thank you for posting this!! I might just do this every night!”
  • Burning or raw skin. Rubbing a little lavender oil on a burn or on raw skin that feels like it’s on fire brings a wonderful cooling sensation and really helps. Try soaking a cotton ball and cooling it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes, too, and then putting on the ouchy area. Ahhhh!
  • Allergies. Lavender is an anti-inflammatory, so along with Lemon and Peppermint it can be a wonderful aid in relieving those seasonal allergies. I don’t know how they are where you are, but around here the pollen is NUUUUUTTTS right now. My David has bad allergies, so I diffuse this trio in his room about every three nights. It seems to help his congestion and cough tremendously. If you don’t want to use Peppermint around your kids, you can do Spearmint instead. I don’t feel like it’s quite as potent, but I love the scent and it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Sinus issues. This is probably my favorite use for Lavender, because I get awful sinus headaches. I don’t have a lot of runny nose/cough type allergic reactions, but mine present as painful sinus headaches behind my left eye. Before, nothing seemed to help except trying to sleep it off, which is hard to do when you’re working or the stay-at-home mother of small children. Now, if I wake up with one of these pounding headaches, I rub Lavender oil over the bridge of my nose and along my sinuses on the side that hurts – above the eyebrow and below the eye. Almost all the time, this is enough to ease the headache. If I let it get too bad, there’s no stopping it. But really, it has just been one time that I’ve eventually reached for some pain medicine (and still been in pain even with those, just giving in to sleeping it off).
  • Cramps. So this is my newest discovery. When I was having some lovely cycle-related pain last week, I read that Lavender could ease cramps. Huh?? Well, worth a try, right? I rubbed it on my abdomen and waited. And truly, it made a big difference in my pain level. My book tells me it is a relaxant, so maybe it just helps relax those muscles? I don’t know. I do know it helped me, and I was thrilled with that!

So those are my 5 current uses for Lavender oil. I’m sure I will keep discovering more as I keep learning and talking to other people about oils. And even with all that? I have only gone through about two-thirds of a 15ml bottle of Lavender since November.

Lavender is one of the easiest scents for companies to replicate. That is why it’s easy to get your hands on lavender oil that smells great and is cheap. But, as the Pocket Reference warns, “True lavender is often adulterated with hybrid lavender (lavandin), synthetic linalol and linalyl acetate, or synthetic fragrance chemicals like ethyl vanillin.” If you want to get the therapeutic benefits of Lavender, not just a good smell, you will have to get a high-quality, unadulterated oil. I stand behind Young Living because I have heard about their processes, know they inspect their products from Seed to Seal, and will not approve an oil that doesn’t have the highest therapeutic benefits.

So there you have it: why I love an essential oil I don’t even like the smell of. 

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Favorites of the Week

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Favorite picture: Libbie in her Bushbaby headband project for school.

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to make:

Reading offline: I recently abandoned Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward – just too graphic and icky for me. Last night I picked up When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson. I thought it might be just another so-so mothering memoir, but I am really enjoying it so far.

When You Think You Are Too Much

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In MOPS yesterday, we talked about the topic “Courage to Be Too Much.” Too much. Those are some loaded words for me. Upon hearing the topic, my first reaction was NO. Why would I want to be too much? 

But as our leader, Michelle, read the devotional from the book, I identified a little too much, tears running down my face. As the other girls listened politely, I tried to not shake with sobs.

Because, man, I feel like I am too much.

I’ve always felt not-normal. Now I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but when I was 12 and spontaneously burst into tears in choir class when I didn’t make All-County Chorus, I was beyond humiliated. I’ve always seemed to have more emotions than I can hold in one body.

I don’t have fears. I have things that bring on full-on panic when they cross my mind. When I feel joy, it is wonderful, and I remember those feelings a very long time. But I remember my lows, too. I remember pretty much every time I’ve ever said the wrong thing and hurt someone – on accident or not. I can find myself swimming in the guilt and shame of something that happened 15 or 20 years ago now.

Never a girl with lots of close friends, I’ve been thrilled to have one dear friend during every phase of my life. I’m too scared to unburden me on friends. Will they still love me if I truly expose the mess I am? If I cry way too early in our relationship? If I confess the depression journey and the foreclosure and the other reasons I carry around pain? What if she thinks I should feel more shame about these things I’ve become adjusted to and acquainted with?

Since I hit 30, I like to think I’ve become more accustomed to myself and more accepting of my own body, emotions, and life. I still feel like a mess. But I easily acknowledge that I am a mess and that most other people are, too. We just vary in our skill at hiding it; I have none.

And I’ve stopped trying to hide it at all. Nothing makes me feel more uncomfortable than trying to have a real conversation with someone whose life seems perfect. My tribe is women who will admit they struggle, they panic, they fear, they sometimes want to lock the door of the bathroom and eat a Snickers. We need truth. And we need each other.

There’s nothing worse than a world where you never hear, “Me too!”

There's nothing worse than a world where you never hear, "Me too!"

 

It takes courage to be OK with yourself. To be willing to be a “stranger and alien” in this world for your beliefs, or to accept your wild frizzy mess of hair and lack of style and say, I AM STILL A WONDERFUL PERSON. (And by your, I of course mean my.) It is brave to share your vulnerabilities with someone and face rejection. It is wise to let this happen gradually instead of with, say, the woman at the drive-thru window. But in order to hear, “me too,” you have to share some “me.”

Let’s go forth and be brave with our messy, lovely selves.

Outback Bread {Secret Recipe Club}

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Outback Steakhouse's Brown Bread

It’s been about a million years since I ate at an Outback Steakhouse. But when you eat there, one of the best parts is the dark brown bread that comes before your meal. It’s kind of sweet … and really, I am a fan of any warm bread with butter.

But let’s rewind first.

This month for Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Morsels of Life. CJ started her blog when she found herself with extra free time, and now she loves to share simple food with easy-to-find ingredients. I eyed the Sesame Chicken Sauce, Banana Bread Muffins, and Lentil Sausage Soup, but in the end I was craving that wonderful yeast-rising scent and settled on Outback Bread.

Outback Bread

I was slightly worried that this bread would be really dense, because it only rises once. (You may remember my favorite, 100% whole wheat bread, has a triple rise!) But it wasn’t. It’s a lovely flavor, with the honey and molasses and touch of cocoa, with lots of craggy nooks to sop up butter and jam.

It may not be quite as brown as that Outback bread (probably due to lack of food coloring), but I will highly recommend you try out this recipe for a lovely, dark, honey whole wheat loaf. With minimal kneading and only one rise, it’s the perfect recipe for a beginner bread-baker, too.

Outback Bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Outback Bread

This honey whole wheat loaf is similar to what is served at Outback Steakhouses. Adapted from Morsels of Life.

Ingredients

  • 1 T molasses
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 1/4 c. warm water
  • 2 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • cornmeal

Instructions

In your mixer's bowl (or another large bowl), stir together molasses, honey, and warm water.

In a small bowl, cut butter into the whole wheat flour, until it is interspersed throughout. You can use a pastry cutter, two forks, or just your fingers.

Add the whole wheat flour mixture, yeast, and cocoa powder to the wet ingredients. Stir until uniform.

At this point, if you're using a stand mixer, you can start it on the number 2 (kneading) setting with the dough hook attachement. If not, continue stirring with a wooden spoon; you may have to knead a little with your hands.

Add all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time, until it is all incorporated. Knead with the dough hook or hands for 2 minutes, just until it is uniform. Shape into an oval and roll lightly in cornmeal.

Place loaf in a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm place. (My kitchen is cold; I turned on the oven and set it on top.) Let rise until it is about 1 inch above the lip of the pan. This took mine 1 hour 15 minutes.

If you haven't already, preheat the oven to 350. Bake loaf for 30 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you tap on it in the center. Let cool in pan about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/04/outback-bread-secret-recipe-club/


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Do you have a favorite restaurant copycat recipe?

What I’m Into: March 2015

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I’ve always loved Mary‘s What I’m Into posts, so I thought it was high time I joined along. This carnival is hosted by Leigh Kramer.

We finally rented Big Hero 6 from Redbox. Our whole family loved it! We’re searching out a great deal to buy it now, so if you hear of one, let me know! Mr. V and I also watched Divergent and Birdman. I think I may have liked the Divergent movie better than the book. But – hate me if you must – I didn’t like the books very much and never even read the third one. Still, the movie was well-made. Although I like Hazel Grace and Gus better as love interests than as brother and sister. (Or I just liked TFIOS better, and then it was weird seeing them as siblings.) I have to say the acting in Birdman was very good, but I am not sure I “got” it.

One of the only shows I miss watching on cable is Top Chef, so I was excited to see it on Hulu Plus. I’ve been watching Season 11, New Orleans, and getting my foodie TV fix. I also started watching Jane the Virgin on Hulu Plus and LOVED it, but they only had the first four episodes and then the last few that had aired. Bummer! I’m hoping I can watch the whole season this summer on Netflix or Hulu. Silly CW. I really don’t watch a lot of TV, but I’ve decided what I love other than food shows are quirky shows with narrators (see: Pushing Daisies, A to Z).

You can see what I read in March here. My favorite book was The Nesting Place, and it really got me thinking about making our little apartment a truer home. I’m ready to settle in after three years here; the longest we’ve ever lived in one home before this was 3 1/2 years, so maybe I am just afraid of having to leave again. (Which is always possible, given that we live on a campus and everything.) But even if we were to move out in a year, I want our apartment to reflect us. Even if that involves having to drill into cement walls (my main decorating obstacle). You may be seeing some room re-do posts here, if you’re interested in them. (Decorating for Dummies?)

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As for family news, a lot of our March was spent planning for and traveling for my dad’s heart surgery on March 19th. He had one valve replaced and one repaired, and I was very glad to be able to be in Greensboro with my parents, thanks to some kid-shuffling between my husband, my in-laws, and my aunt and uncle. Dad is recovering really well, which is, of course, wonderful.

For Spring Break, we stayed in Chattanooga and did some practical stuff (shopping, haircuts, rest) as well as some fun stuff (Creative Discovery Museum, the zoo). We played games, took naps, read books, got outside. It was nice. For Easter, we went to church, then quickly tripped to Nashville and back to celebrate with the same friends we’ve had Easter with since 2006.

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A few random things that I am loving.

I found this tea infuser at Hobby Lobby one day. I have a tea ball, but I’ve always had trouble twisting it apart after use and thus just had loose tea hanging around in my cupboard. This one is much easier to clean, and I’ve been enjoying some loose tea I bought at The Salt Table in Savannah last summer!

I love my essential oils more every day, and in February or early March I started using Progessence Plus, which has natural progesterone in it. My mood has totally changed for the better, and I am thrilled with the product so far! I also did a little Facebook class on essential oils and emotional health, and I was really happy with how it went. If you are looking for that info, let me know, and I can send you my document.

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Beefy Enchilada Soup

Because of Spring break, family stuff, and the fact that Joshua’s pretty much stopped taking a nap while David is at school, I didn’t blog very much in March. But here are some highlights.

What’s one interesting thing that happened to you in March?