Do you Remember That Smell?

My grandmother wore a certain perfume – and although she passed away almost 22 years ago, whenever I get a whiff of it – I instantly remember her.  As we grow up, I think many of us could attest to the impact that our sense of smell has on us.

A newborn’s sense of smell helps him/her identify his mother and follow to his/her necessary food source.  In fact, within just a few days of birth, a newborn will show preference for his/her own mother’s breast milk than another’s, and plays a significant role in bonding between mother and infant.

Not only is smell linked to building relationships, it is also tied strongly to our memory. (Hence, the instant visualization of my grandma when I smell her perfume!)

Using Essential Oils in your home – whether you find one scent that you really love, or get creative and mix and match your own scents – can leave a lasting impression on your family members and anyone who visits your home.  While Aromatherapy is more than just burning a vanilla candle and should be left to trained medical professionals, the use of essential oils to add to the pleasant aroma of your home is easy and inexpensive!

NOTE: Some essential oils can be downright dangerous if used during pregnancy!!!  They may be simply irritating – but some can be plain toxic.  Here’s a handy list of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy – and ALWAYS consult your health care professional before using essential oils while pregnant!

Although they are derived from nature, the misuse of essential oils can be harmful.  Just because it is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe – I mean, really – Would you eat poison ivy?

On the other hand, using essential oils throughout your home in a variety of purposes, can be helpful and pleasing. For a list of benefits and uses, click here: Essential Oils Profiles

Peppermint for cleaning (at least in my home) tends to keep my brain focused on the task at hand, gives me a lift in my spirit, and really helps me think less about the “ick” factor while I’m cleaning.  The beneficial effects of peppermint are said to be: Refreshment, Stimulation.  I would have to agree.

Now, here’s a recipe for a combination of oils said the offset PMS symptoms.  I have not tried this yet – but I’m going to gather the ingredients together so I can!  Anything that helps!!!  I once bought a nighttime body lotion advertised as a help to sleep, and Clary Sage and Lavendar were two of the included scents.  I can tell you that using the cream, absolutely helped me relax and I tend to lean towards trying this from my previous experience.

That’s the great thing about Essential Oils.  You can see what works for you.  Visit your local health food store and find their selection of Essential Oils.  Take some time sampling and smelling – walk away every few minutes and find some coffee to smell if you can to give your nose a break.  Or sample some creams and lotions or soaps with scents and see what you think or how they make you feel.  I tend to avoid Lavender.  I don’t care for it a whole lot, except when it is combined with other oils…

If you decide to use an Essential Oil on your skin, it is really important to add a drop or two to another “carrier” oil – like olive oil or coconut oil.  Direct contact can be very irritating – Essential Oils are highly concentrated from plants, and if you have any allergies, you’re likely to have a reaction of some kind.  Diluting the Essential oil with another oil, provides the benefits of the essential plant, with the buffer of the carrier oil.

Here are some great online Essential Oil sources:


Mountain Rose Herbs

100% Pure Essential Oils

Don’t just take my word for it – do some research, check some books from your library – and find how if the addition of Essential Oils can benefit you!

Smell ya later!

I’m Singin’ In the Rain…

Making your home sing Mondays

Have you ever tried to actually Sing in the Rain?  Usually I’m a bit “froggier” during wet weather so I don’t sing with as much gusto, but I’m usually singing in my head at least…

I’ve found that doing my “chores” around the house is SOOOOOOO much better if I am listening to praise & worship music – or tappin’ your foot contemporary Christian music.  I get in a “groove” and if I’m singing while I work, the work seems to go by much faster.  I’m amazed at what I can accomplish in a short amount of time, if I’m thinking about what I’m singing rather than how many times I have to wash dishes every day…

I’ve also learned, that scent has an effect on my cleaning power, too.  Since I’ve been using more naturally derived – homemade cleaners, I enjoy cleaning more.  Much of my cleaning creations include a peppermint scent – which is just happy and bright – and doesn’t give me a headache!  Peppermint gives me a real boost – it’s energizing – and very pleasant.  There are other essential oils – like grapefruit, lavendar, eucalyptus – that will also leave a fresh scent that offers a bit of aromatherapy…

On a day when I’m down in the dumps or feeling depressed – honestly, if I will myself to get up and grab my homemade cleaner – not only do I accomplish something, but I actually feel brighter in spirit…

You can find more information about aromatherapy and essential oils here:

Mountain Rose Herbs

Aura Cacia

(But while we’re talking about peppermint – if you’re a big fan – check out this Holiday Peppermint Cake recipe!!!  Mmmmmmm)

Happy Coffee Day! Making Homemade Cleaners

Hello Coffee Girls!  Thanks for stopping by.  I’ve got a pot of medium-roast Breakfast Blend on (and the kettle on for you tea lovers) – help yourself to a pumpkin scone while you’re here!

A few weeks ago I wrote about making Lotion Bars among other things.  I did in fact make them, BUT because I didn’t have a great measuring system for the beeswax, I’ve had to remelt them down and grate in some additional wax.  The oil left things extra oily and the bars were more malleable in my hand than they should be.  So the re-newed batch is setting up now, and I’ll share the recipe when I’ve mastered it. LOL

I found some other household cleaning recipes that I wanted to share.  I really have been thrilled with using Vinegar and Baking Soda for many household cleaning projects.

Here are a few recipes I found in my Homemade recipe book from Reader’s Digest:

Creamy Scrubbing Cleaner

2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
4 tsp vegetable glycerin
5 drops essential oil

Mix well and store in sealed glass jar.  The shelf life for this cleaner is 2 years!  (I get my baking soda at Sam’s Club – got my Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap at Kroger’s, and my vegetable glycerin at a local health food storeIf you use a scented castile soap, it probably isn’t necessary to add the essential oil for scent…)

All Purpose Cleaner

2 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp. borax powder
1 cup hot distilled water + additional water
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
1 16 oz. spray bottle

Mix vinegar and borax in bottle.  Add 1 cup hot distilled water and shake until all is dissolved.  Add more water until almost full.  Add 1/4 cup liquid castile soap and swirl until mixed.  (I’ll just plug the peppermint castile soap as my favorite cleaning smell.  It is fresh and clean and I love cleaning with it. )

Liquid Fabric Softener

2 cups baking soda
2 cups white vinegar
4 cups distilled water
10 drops essential oil

Stir all together and store in plastic lidded container.   Use 1/4 cup per wash load.  (Plain vinegar alone is a great fabric softener, but if you would like to add a nice scent to your load, this liquid recipe may work well for you!)

Hope you enjoy these recipes.  I really enjoy using more natural products in my home and spending MUCH LESS money on cleaners and cleaning products.

Do you have any homemade cleaner recipes you rely on?

*If you’re on the fence about trying homemade cleaners – you’re not alone.  Try starting with one recipe and see how it works for you.   No need to go gung ho with switching out every cleaner until you see how one works for you. =)

Are You a Creative-Perfectionist-Procrastinator like Me?

Then YOU should meet The Fly Lady! Oh my gosh – I am SO happy to have found her again!

A couple of years ago when I first got married, I was looking for something to help me learn how to manage our household.  I knew the things that needed to be done, but getting them accomplished without sabotaging myself in my perfectionist (and therefore, procrastinating) ways proved to be very difficult.  I visited several sites, made weak attempts at their “programs” and gave up.

Then I had 2 girls.  Two girls who have LOTS of stuff and LOVE to be messy.  In very different ways.  Curly LOVES to empty her closets & drawers, pull the sheets and blankets off her bed, empty out all the toys – and then leave.  Georgie, however, is going to be my mud pie girl, I’m afraid.  The messier she can be with her food – the better.  She also enjoys emptying toys all over and then leaving them – kinda like booby traps on the floor for mommy & daddy.

Not to mention my husband.  I’m honestly not complaining here – but he just doesn’t pay attention to (or maybe he’s just not anal about) how neat and uncluttered (or messy and cluttered) our house is.  On one hand, he isn’t always harping on me to clean the house; on the other, if he can’t find a certain pair of pants or a specific piece of paper because it’s been moved,  we’re on a wild goose chase to find it.

Being a “Messie” myself, collections of clutter have been good friends of mine for many years.  But when I got married and became a mom, I think a hidden gene flipped on, because NOW I’m going bananas dealing with clutter, mess, disorganization and such.  It’s NOT that I want to be on a rigid schedule that doesn’t allow room for fun.  It’s that I want to have fun finding a simpler way of life.

Now that I’m home full-time and feel much more responsible for the condition of our house and home (by nature), I have been searching for a system that would be effective for us without entirely changing our lifestyle. So, on this journey to better myself, to improve our home and the quality of our life, I started looking again.  Somewhat hesitantly and not too eagerly to commit to anything.  I just don’t want to start again and FAIL QUIT.

I’ve always been a list maker – a pros vs cons kind of gal – making lists about tasks, chores, groceries, wishes, dreams, etc. I’m also easily overwhelmed by the vast and seemingly endless list of things that need to be accomplished.  So I usually quit before I really get started.

However, a visit to the Fly Lady and a review of her info BEFORE committing, has sparked my creativity and desire to get on the stick and be a HOME-MAKER, not just a housekeeper/maid.

The first thing she does is address PERFECTIONISM, PROCRASTINATION and CREATIVITY.  Um, HELLO anyone home here???  She actually says (in her welcome letter when you join for FREE) our imagination and creativity (which can contribute to sidetrackedness and procrastination) are our gifts.  We may not be born organized, but we can use our gifts to set a plan to help us find a better quality of life.

That stopped me in my tracks.  I don’t remember reading that when I visited with her before.  You mean, I can actually be creative and have fun getting and keeping my home and family organized and more contented???  SERIOUSLY??? Now when I started using safer products to clean my home and do my laundry, it was a lot of fun – I enjoyed it. No harsh ingredients, my skin wasn’t constantly itching, no more polluting the environment, and my house didn’t smell like a chemical plant. I have been MUCH better about cleaning in the past several months since I’ve been using these fantastic products!

So, I am getting started.  I’m taking baby steps – after all I’m a new Fly Baby. =)

I found myself questioning everything when I started on my first couple of steps (cuz that IS my nature) because I didn’t understand why Shining my Sink was going to make ANY difference in my life.  And then I said to myself, “Self.”  That’s how I talk to myself.  “Self,” I said, “don’t question.  You are desperate.  You need help.  Follow the steps and see what happens.”

So that’s what I’m doing.  This is officially Day 1, and I’m actually making progress and FEEL GOOD about it. About just accomplishing 3 things!  Woohoo!

BONUS:  She is going to teach me how to create a CONTROL JOURNAL, too!  Now, she sells them prebuilt to get you started if you want – or she can teach you how to create one day by day.  If you’re anything like me, you like control, and even if this is the ONLY thing I can control, I feel better for having it around.  I like to personalize things myself (hence my CONTROL issue), so I’m all set for creating my own.  The Fly Lady’s store has TONS of other great stuff to help anyone accomplish a cleaner, more organized home and assist in reaching one’s goals!

Hey – It’s not the New Year and I haven’t turned 40 YET, but I can still make changes, so I’ll start small and see how it goes.  Feel free to check up on me and ask me how I’m doing to keep me accountable. =)

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Don’t forget – tomorrow I’ll be posting several FAMILY-FAVORITE Recipes from Queen Martha – and later this week, we’ll review more tips, shortcuts and suggestions in keeping Holiday Preparations simple and fun!