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The Value of Time

I'm a fan of transparency.  So I won't beat around the bush.  My Etsy prices went up.

I suck at numbers, I won't lie.  But when I went to pay my Etsy bill last month even I couldn't overlook the obvious.  Up until yesterday I wasn't valuing either my product or my time nearly enough.

And I want to be totally up front.  I'm not trying to get rich.  However, if an endeavor is to continue it has to be sustainable.  I have to be able to, you know, pay for my stuff, plus other expenses, plus actually make some money.  Not a lot, but some (yes, it was that bad).

I got caught up in an ideal I set upon myself- to make clean skin care affordable.  But here's the thing- I just nearly doubled all my prices, and there isn't a product I make that I wouldn't consider affordable still.

Besides looking at my numbers, I have recently (and belatedly) joined some Etsy sales groups on Facebook.  I figure I waste so much time there, I might as well make it somewhat useful.  Someone asked about a wholesale opportunity, and I clicked on the post, secretly hoping that everyone would be like "no, these are never worthwhile" and "don't do it, it's a waste of your time."  Of course I was wrong.  But pricing came up.  I won't go into details, but basically it was pointed out that we need to consider our TIME as part of the equation for figuring out a price.  I hadn't really thought of that in the past.

I didn't just blindly price my items before.  I figured out how much it cost to make each item (thanks to a super awesome spreadsheet my DH made me), how much packaging and shipping materials cost, and I added in what I felt was enough "profit."  What I didn't consider was two things- 1) there are a lot of "other" expenses when running a business.  Office supplies, business cards, shipping from suppliers (that I didn't figure into the price of each ingredient), insurance, and 2) my time.  What is my time worth?  The first was easier to figure out, although it took some time to dig up old receipts.  But my time... that was a tough one.

Running an Etsy shop on one's own takes a lot more time than you would think.  Not only do I have to come up with and make all of my products, I have to photograph them (which takes extra time for me, I am not the best photographer), edit the photos, create the listings (one at a time), manage the listings, pack and ship orders, promote on social media,... and I'm sure I'm forgetting something.   It is a lot of time.

In the end, I feel my prices are still fair.  Disagree?  First off, I'm sorry.  Secondly, I have a solution.  I know I mentioned this years ago (approximately 2 years ago, when I was pregnant)- I am going to make an ebook available that will contain the recipes for all of my most popular products, as well as some basic information on different ingredients.  Nothing earth shattering, but it will be easy, and it will certainly be affordable.  Most of the ingredients I use are readily available, and for those that aren't there is always Amazon. 

So partially because of my price change, and partially because I just really, really want to, I am going to redouble my effort to get the ebook finished.  And I hop


Budget Babywearing: DIY edition

Babywearing can be expensive.  And for people who choose to spend money on a carrier, it is fine that it is- I love (even as a window shopper) looking at all the differences in the patterns and textures of wraps (then, I am a bit of a fabric nerd).

But if the cost has been deterring you, I have some amazing news for you:

It doesn't have to be.

You can have a safe babywearing device for under $15.  Less if you are savvy (and maybe a bit more if you're picky or in a hurry...).

In another post I will go over ways to buy baby carriers for budget savvy moms.  But for now I want to focus on the DIY.

First and foremost, I want to talk about safety, which should be the first thing addressed when discussing ANY carrier.  Be aware of safe babywearing practices.  Know what TICKS stands for (Tight, In view, Close enough to kiss, Keep chin off Chest, and Supported back) or, if that is too hard to remember, try ABC (Airway, Body positioning, Comfort).  Keep baby upright unless nursing.  There is more than I can address in the scope of this post, but check out this list of resources from BWI of SE PA for more info.

A wrap can be as simple as an unhemmed length of duck or osnaburg (this one has been dyed)
No sewing machine?  No problem!

No Sew Babywearing Options:
  • DIY Fauxby (fake Moby, a stretchy wrap)- Buy 6 yards of jersey fabric, which is what t-shirts are made out of.  It helps if you have had the opportunity to feel a commercially made stretchy wrap, as you don't want the fabric to be too thick or too thin.   Cut it to about 20 inches wide (leave the length).  AND done.  The cut edges don't need to be sewn because jersey doesn't fray.
  • No Sew Ring Sling- Buy a pair of sling rings (DO NOT skimp on this bit, there are no other safe options available in the US) and use a length of fabric to follow this tutorial.  The tutorial gives basic dimensions, but I am going to add to their fabric recommendations, which are fairly vague.  They use the word "scarf" a few times which I don't care for- when I think of a scarf, I think of either something warm and knit or light an gauzy, and neither would work for this.  There are scarves that would work, but err on the side of caution until you are super familiar with safe fabrics for this application.  Some suggestions- osnaburg, duck (Walmart sells a nice, thin but sturdy duck in their Waverly line for $4 a yard, and bonus- there are a ton of cute prints), linen or linen blends (high linen or linen cotton blends are best, and you want heavy weight... not thin and gauzy), cotton tweed (harder to find, but I have seen it at Walmart lately), cotton ticking (it should feel thick though).  For this application, I would buy the narrowest available and leave the selvage (ie, don't cut the fabric the long way).  If you have questions about whether a fabric is suitable, join the DIY Babywearing group on Facebook- they love to answer questions.  Remember to allow for fabric shrinkage when you buy.  For a neater look you can either fringe the ends or buy stitch witchery (strips of iron on stuff that lets you bond fabric to other fabric) and use that to do a rolled hem on each end (obviously NOT for weight bearing seams, and I wouldn't use this for top or bottom rails, either- for one it would get expensive, but also I don't think it would be very comfortable)
  •  Unhemmed Woven Wrap- You can buy a length of woven fabric (more on what kind in a second) and use it, unhemmed, as a woven wrap.  As above I wouldn't cut off the selvage, which can result in a wide wrap, but if you cut the selvage that opens it up to a lot more raveling (which will happen at the ends, but that is far less of a big deal, or you can stitch witch the ends as I explained above).  So buy the narrowest (35-45 inches should be fine, as long as it's not too thick) you can find.  Again, the most popular choices are osnaburg (which is found with the muslin and other utility fabrics, but it is NOT muslin- it looks much coarser) and Waverly duck fabric from Walmart, but there are others- refer to the facebook group mentioned above if you have questions.  As far as length goes, that depends on the size of wrap you want.  A quick summary of woven wrap sizes (in meters):
    • Size 2- 2.6
    • Size 3- 3.1
    • Size 4- 3.6
    • Size 5- 4.1
    • Size 6- 4.6
    • Size 7- 5.2 
DIY Babywearing tutorials for those with basic sewing skills (and a machine):
This list is less than exhaustive, there are tons available on the interwebs, but these are two of my favorites (although the first pretty much encompasses most of what you need to know.
  • Jan Andrea of Sleeping Baby Productions:  Most of my go-to tutorials come from here.  I use her video tutorial for making an Eesti shoulder and, as she is the queen of ring slings, her ring sling tutorials are amazing.  Her "Basic Mei Tai" instructions I feel are both super simple and detailed, which is nice.  I have also used her pouch sling tutorial because, if you didn't already know, I loves me some pouch sling.
My Eesti shouldered ring sling.

I made this Mei Tai 17,000 years ago and honestly don't remember which tute I used, but it is similar to the one Jan has.
  • Fine and Fair Tablecloth Mei Tai- If you know what to look for, a tablecloth can provide you with quality fabric to make your carrier (and not just a MT, it could also be used to make a ring sling or woven wrap).  The most popular tablecloth is the Mahogany, which is available on Amazon in a variety of really gorgeous prints (that are reversible, even), but most 100% cotton tablecloths will do, as long as they are thick (again, not thin and gauy or lacy).  Avoid synthetic blends as they tend to be too slick and don't breath well.
  • You can also just hem a long piece of fabric (see both the woven wrap sizes listed above, and the fabric recommendations) to make a woven wrap.  There isn't much detail about this if you google "DIY woven wrap" (not that is very helpful, anyway...), because that's essentially all you do- once you have picked out the fabric and mastered ironing a hem over and sewing straight, you're golden.  There is one fabric I will mention here that I wasn't comfortable mentioning above (although FYI, it would be good for a ring sling as well).  Upholstery/Home Decor fabric (which is technically what the Waverly is).  I do this because 1) most is super wide and would need to be chopped and hemmed, so not suitable for the no sew options above, and 2) the home decor section of a fabric store is even more overwhelming, IMO, than the rest of it.  The fabric is on big long rolls instead of bolts, and there are so many different types organized not by type, but by collection, that it can be hard to find something appropriate.  If you are brave, though, look for something heavy but not too stiff (and not backed with plastic or any other kind of backing) and either 100% cotton or linen.  The very first MT I made (pictured above) was, in fact, made out of home decor fabric (outdoor canvas, I believe), but I was only comfortable using it because I knew someone who used the exact same fabric for the same purpose.
Besides saving you money, DIY babywearing can be super fun.  You can customize your carrier to suit your tastes or needs.  You can make it an expression of you and/or your child.  Or you can make something that, while not a budget project on the surface, makes something otherwise out of your reach attainable (I'm specifically thinking of silk ring slings here...).   Whatever you choose to make, I hope I have helped you see that you CAN do it, and Happy Babywearing!


Jan Andrea on the Web- Tons of DIY babywearing tutorials.

No Sew Ring Sling by Sling Rings

DIY Babywearing on Facebook

Dyed Baby Carriers on Facebook

Fine and Fair Tablecloth Mei Tai 


Choosing the Right Carrier: Pouch Slings

Pouch slings have an interesting history... and I mean recent history.

When Isabel was born they were easy to find, and there were several companies making cute, high quality ones- Peanut Shell, Hot Slings, Kangaroo Korner, and New Native, to name a few.  I believe New Native and Hot Slings still sell decent pouches, but most others have changed focus or gone out of business.
Sub optimal pouch sling use- I really needed to flip the shoulder a lot more to snug up the rails.

I think this was, in part, due to two things.  1) pouches have to be sized just right in order to function optimally, and that is hard to do when ordering over the internet (which is how most are sold), and 2) they are (unfortunately) closely associated by many to the Infantino Slingrider, which was linked to at least three infant deaths back in the mid 00's. 

I am here to tell you that this is a grave injustice.  In fact, lately I have been on a bit of a mission to resurrect the pouch sling.  Why would I do that?  For a few reasons.
  1. Pouch slings are super easy to use
  2. They are safe (and function very, very differently than bag slings) when used properly
  3. They are super cheap
  4. They are super compact
  5. They can be used from newborn through at least early toddlerhood, depending on the fabric used
As I mentioned in this post, my first ergonomic carrier was a pouch sling, but I didn't know how to use it right.  Which, you know, was kind of my own fault, but in my defense that was before my default was "google it."  Which just makes me feel old, but whatever.

My love for pouches was actually rekindled recently when I took my VBE exam.  We have to demonstrate practical knowledge of all carrier types, so I dug out my old pouch to practice with, and I was super impressed with how easy and comfortable they are when you know how to use them.

Which is half the battle with any carrier- how do I use it?  How do I make it as comfortable as possible?  How do I use it safely?  How do I pick one when I can only look online?
My SIL and my niece in an adjustable Hot Slings pouch.

Let's start with how to pick.  Here is an overview of a few available brands and why you might or might not consider them:
  • Seven Slings- This is the sling that every pregnant mom gets a "free" coupon for when they buy their first maternity clothes.  I say don't let the whole "free sling" thing win you over.  They are okay slings, but they aren't free.  They charge you $15 for shipping.  And you can very often find them at second hand stores and sales (esp. child specific ones) for as little as $1.  If you are going to spend more, get a better sling.  These are thin and cheap feeling, and fairly slick (which means harder to adjust and hold and adjustment, and also easier for baby to pop the seat and slide out).
  • Hot Slings- These fall in the pricier end of the spectrum (the sling in the above picture is a Hot Slings pouch), but they have one real advantage- they are adjustable.  So instead of making a semi educated sizing guess, you figure out which of their two sizes you need, then adjust the pouch using the straps pictured.  Biggest drawbacks of this one?  Well, IMO, besides being higher priced, the only major issue are that the straps aren't so pretty.  But if you can live with that, Hot Slings are a great option.
  • New Native- These are still available, but with super limited colors, and only from Mom4Life (which has changed hands since, but Heather, the founder, was the person who first taught me about babywearing and sold me my Peanut Shell).  These are simple, basic, well constructed pouch slings that are mid priced and come in conventional or organic cotton.  
  • The Swaps- This is a good place to start with any type of carrier.  On facebook look for Babywearing on a Budget and The Babywearing Swap (which you will see referred to as "the big swap"), to start.  As you delve into different brands of carriers or learn more about the babywearing scene in your area you will find more swaps specific to different brands or areas, as well.  Be patient, and don't be weirded out about buying used.  Most people baby their carriers (although it helps to learn what questions to ask and what warning signs to look for) and broken in carriers are often far softer than brand new.  When looking for pouch slings used be aware of the different brands, and make sure both you and the seller triple check the size.
As for comfort, safety, and use, I love me some Youtube videos.  Beware, though, anyone can make a video, and just because there is a video doesn't mean it's safe.  This video is the best one I have come across for using a pouch sling for a newborn.  I do NOT recommend a cradle carry outside of using it to nurse (and returning to the upright position) because it is very difficult to do safely.

Pouch slings can also be used with toddlers, typically in a hip carry (although I still carry 25lb Violet in the front carry, as hip carries make me feel off balance... either is safe, so do what you feel comfortable with) up until they exceed the weight limit of the sling, which is typically 35lbs.  In fact, one of the reasons I love pouch slings is because they shine from infant to toddler- for infants, they provide a nice, simple carrier without too much fabric that provides ample, comfortable support, and for toddlers they are good for what toddlers typically want... quick ups, and equally quick downs.

Pouch Sling Summary


Choosing the Right Baby Carrier- An Updated Series

I have had a carrier guide on my blog for ages, but it was horribly out of date, and if you have had any contact with the babywearing world at all in the past 10 years, you know that it changes quickly.  In the past five years carrier choices have increased exponentially, and safety regulations have changed to keep up.  As I struggled to edit the old post to reflect these changes, I realized it was just too much.  So instead, I am going to do a series.

In this first installation I will be giving an overview of babywearing and a comparison of some of the very basic characteristics of each type of carrier.  In future posts (which I actually hope to bang out in the next few days, but you know, #life) I will go more in depth on the pluses and minuses of each type of carrier, plus a few of my favorite examples.

First, my babywearing background (aka "why should I listen to this chick?").

Back in 2006, when I was pregnant with Isabel (my oldest), I bought myself two babywearing devices- a Baby Bjorn Active and an Ultimate Baby Wrap (which is a stretchy wrap, similar to a Moby but with rings at the end).

The week before Isabel was born I tried out the Ultimate Baby wrap.  I only had the directions it came with.  I didn't have a YouTube video, a helpful friend, a babywearing group... not even an overbearing relative to help me.  I got so frustrated I threw it out.  Not even joking.  I literally threw it in the trash.  Hormones, amiright?

So Isabel came and I gave the Bjorn a try.  I was not impressed- within 5 minutes of putting it on my upper back hurt, and I didn't like the way Isabel's arms and legs just kind of dangled out in space.  I was ready to write off babywearing forever.

Thank goodness for Amber and Moms Joining Moms, which is a group run by Loma Linda University's Perinatal Institute.  For starters, she introduced me to several of the topics that I eventually became passionate about and seriously influenced my parenting philosphy.  But more pertinent to this post, she introduced me to the world of ergonomic carriers.

What does ergonomic carrier mean?  Ergonomic, when applied to anything, means that it is designed to provide optimal comfort and reduce stress to the involved body parts.   When applied to baby carriers, it includes several types of carriers (many of which will be summarized in a chart later in this post).

My first ergonomic carrier was a Peanut Shell pouch sling (Peanut Shell, as a company, still exists, but unfortunately their stellar pouch sling is no longer in production).  Again, I had no help in figuring out how to use it, which was really unfortunate.  I managed to make it work, but looking back now I could have gotten so much more out of it had I known how to use it right.  Even so, I loved being able to be at least somewhat hands free while still holding my baby.  But Isabel was an extremely independent toddler, so I didn't feel the need to expand my carrier stash as she got older.

Fast forward a few years- I'm expecting my second.  I decide to use cloth diapers (this is relevant, I promise).  As I was researching cloth, I stumbled upon a local meetup group that had regular get-togethers and a very active online discussion board all about cloth diapers... and baby carriers.  That turned me on to various types of carriers and also introduced me to different local vendors I could shop from, so before Oliver was born I bought a Baby K'tan (which is like a pre-tied stretchy wrap) and a ring sling, and shortly after he was born I made myself a Mei Tai and WON a Moby.  I felt like a babywearing master- I thought I had so many carriers! (me now laughs at this thought)
I lived in my Moby, and I absolutely adored my K'tan for running errands, but stretchy carriers have one major limitation- as baby grows, they sag, and eventually they are no longer comfortable, so soon I was only using the Mei tai.  One day at a consignment sale a friend of mine was like "you know you can put him on your back in that."


I started putting Oliver on my back all the time, but I didn't like the way the ruck straps dug into my shoulders (and I didn't know about tying tibetan then, although I doubt my DIY Mei tai had long enough straps).  Eventually I finally bit the bullet and bought an Ergo.

This was a big deal.  This was before Tula or Kinderpack were nationally known- Ergo and Beco were really the only names in the game at the time, and I felt like pretty hot stuff.  Plus it was more comfortable for back carries and SO much easier to use.

I wore Oliver in that Ergo until he was nearly 4 (shhhhh... he was probably past being too tall to be in it safely, but I didn't know that at the time, and he was never a leaner thank goodness).

Fast forward again another two years.  After much, MUCH thought on the matter I bought a woven wrap.  Then I joined BWI (babywearing international, a volunteer run group that promotes safe babywearing) and the rest is history.

It is no secret that I practice attachment parenting with my own kids, but I think it is to peoples' detriment when they brush babywearing off as something only AP parents do.  Anyone can, and should, wear their baby- if only for those first few months before baby is mobile.  I could go on for hours about why wearing your baby is better than pretty much all other means of baby conveyance available.  Beyond being beneficial to both baby's development and mother's post birth recovery, it is easy, it is convenient, it is lighter than carrying around the "baby bucket," it is less bulky than a stroller, and it is far better for baby physically, developmentally, and emotionally than leaving them in any other device.  It can be as simple as keeping a pouch sling in the car for errands and as cheap as a $20 Infantino Mai Tei.  You don't need a "stash" of different carriers to choose from, you only need what works for you and your family.  Which leads to my chart (look ma, I made a chart!).

I made this handy dandy chart to summarize (and in all fairness, sometimes overly so) the major types of carriers on the market today, which should help provide at least some guidance as you navigate these waters.  Over the next few days I hope to post more specifics on the different carrier types.

That isn't even ALL the carrier types, but it is a good place to start.  The only other type I have experience with is the onbuhimo, which I hope to post about eventually (and review the Fidella onbu I recently got).

Posts on Specific Carrier Types:
Pouch Slings


Weekly Herb HIghlight: Wild Violet (Viola sororia/Viola spp)

I think it's pretty obvious I love violets.  I mean, I did name a child after them.
 Sorry, couldn't help myself.  But that's not the Violet I mean.  This is.

Violets (Viola sonoria, or the common blue violet) grow wild all over my yard.  After the dandelions they are the first pop of color in the spring, first with their bright green arrow shaped leaves and then with their cheery violet (not blue, but not purple either, but somewhere in between) flowers.  The blooms thrive in the shady spots under trees, along buildings, or next to ledges where they can get some sun, but not too much.  Violets do not love to be hot or dry- ever heard the phrase wilting violet?  The blossoms are as fragile as they are beautiful, and won't last long if exposed to heat or sun.

Another interesting tidbit about violets- they reproduced both sexually and asexually.  Because violets bloom so early in the spring they run the risk of missing pollinators altogether.  Not a great survival strategy.  But they get around this by also sending out runners to form new plants, which is why violets often grow in large clusters.  Violets (other than Viola odorata, or sweet violet, I believe) also have no fragrance, and bees and hummingbirds are less attracted to the muted violet color, so all in all it was a good idea for them to develop a backup plan.

Both the leaves and the blossoms are edible.  The leaves are pleasantly spicy and make a good addition to a salad blend, or can be cooked and eaten in place of spinach.  I use the blossoms to make a beautiful pinkish jelly every spring.  Another fun fact- why is the jelly pink?  Violets blossoms are a natural litmus test.  Add acid and they turn pink (and the jelly recipe I use calls for lemon juice), add a base and they turn green.  I've also used them to color a simple syrup you can use to make fun colored cocktails.

See, super useful, and we haven't even gotten to the medicinal uses.

(oh, btw, go easy on eating the blossoms, they can have a laxative affect)

Nutritionally, the leaves are really high in vitamin C and beta carotene.  According to Lise Wolff (who I was privledged to take a plant walk with earlier this fall during a herbal conference) 100g of violet leaf (which isn't a whole lot) contains 20,000 IU of beta carotene (4x the RDA of 5000 IU) and 264mg of vitamin C (roughly 3.5x the RDA of 75mg).

The leaves are slightly mucilaginous, which is something to keep in mind when you first try them- they will be a tiny bit slimy.  This is good for you, but also most mucilages break down with heat and time, so after cooking there should be less of a slime factor, and raw the slimy feeling is only a suggestion in your mouth as you chew the leaves.  This mucilage makes violet leaf tea excellent for sore throats.

One of the more serious uses for violet is for treatment of any type of fibrous mass, particularly in the breast tissue.  I have used it to treat pernicious clogged milk ducts (fresh leaf made into a poultice and applied to the breast, as well as drinking violet leaf tea) but others have seen success with things as serious as breast cancer (this would be an opportune time to say I am not a doctor and I'm not telling you to make any serious decisions, my only goal is to inform).

Overall, violet leaves are just good for you.  They are mild enough to give to children for things like headache and fever as they seem to aid the lymphatic system, but they are strong enough to fight tumors.  They help support several systems of the body.  It has been suggested to me in the past that they are just a weed and I should be pulling them out of my yard.

I'd rather the violets pushed out the grass, because until I get a cow grass is pretty useless to me.

Note: While I talk mostly about Viola sororia, most of this information is generally recognized as being true for all wild growing violets.

Viva Violets!  by Lise Wolff

300 Herbs: Their Indications & Contraindications, Matthew Alfs

Edible & Medicinal Wild Plants of the Midwest, Matthew Alfs

Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG


When in doubt, say something.

I've had this affliction my entire life where things I don't necessarily wholly mean (or things that I mean but that aren't kind) just tumble out of my mouth before I have a chance to think about them.  It has caused lots of hurt feelings, I am sure, and lots of sleepless nights for me as I analyze every piece of every conversation to make sure I didn't unintentionally offend the person I was speaking to.

Then for a while my defense was to say less.  To keep my mouth shut and not risk making anyone mad.  It would save me tons of stress, I told myself.  And sometimes that was true.  But not always.

The past weeks have been kind of odd for me.  Well, the past months really.  Lots of things are changing- little things, but cumulatively they are making me feel a little disoriented.   My grounding practices (namely choir practice and yoga) have been completely upended and don't feel like they are serving the same purpose for me they have in the past.  There was a confrontation in a group I am in (sorry to be vague, but I literally have to be) that I was both in the center of and outside of, and a friend was hurt by it.  And last tiny thing, but I said something on Facebook that to me sounded completely innocent but was taken the wrong way by a few people.

So, what is my point, what does this have to do with speaking up?  I don't mean complain.  I think there is far too much complaining as it is, I don't want to add to that pool of negativity.  I'm not going to complain about the changes in my yoga classes or my church choir (or my whole church, for that matter...).  I am going to try to accept them and let that experience help me learn and grow as a person.  I am talking mostly about honesty and forgiveness.  If you did or said or didn't do something that you feel hurt someone, fess up.  Explain, ask for forgiveness, and then move on.  In both of the cases I mentioned above, I did, and it at the very least made me feel better.

Another time it's not okay to keep quiet- when a friend or family member is struggling.  We've all done it, be honest.  Sometimes you feel like you have nothing to offer.  Sometimes you don't know what to do or say.  Or, lets face it, sometimes not saying or doing anything is the easy thing to do.  I say that's not acceptable.  Ask how they're doing.  Let them know you can lend an ear, at the very least.  Let them know they can ask for help, even if you don't know what to offer.  Sometimes the mere fact that you said something can lift their spirits.

And the one last time it is not okay to keep quiet- when the people around you are spouting hate and  that you don't agree with.  Whether in facebook or real life, don't be afraid to speak up.  I speak, of course, (at least at the moment) of all the hateful stuff being said about Muslims at the moment (phew, isn't it nice that I can be specific again?).  The second that you and your denomination/faith/culture can say it has never committed atrocious acts against others (hello Slavery, the KKK, the murder of millions of Jews, the Crusades, protesting the funerals of military heros... I could go on), THEN you can condemn an entire race or creed of human beings.  Here's another thing to remember- if you are condemning all Muslims, it is extremely likely you have never actually met a Muslim, like, in real life.  If you have and you can still condemn them, well then I don't think there is any saving you.  But when you have actual faces to put with an entire otherwise abstracted group of people, when you know these perfectly kind, perfectly normal, family oriented, lovely people there is no way you could condemn their entire religion because of the acts of a few extremists.  There is danger, no one disputes that, but do we run in fear and condemn thousands of refuges, some of which are children, to die needlessly?  I can't actually do anything about this, but I can speak my mind.  And so should you.


Spruce Essential Oil; or Info That Might Actually Make Your Life Better

As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on posting more.

Not blogging, for me, is not usually about whether or not I have something to say.  Once in a very blue harvest super moon, that is it, but usually it is something else: lack of time, lack of mental energy, complete inability to sit down at a computer without a toddler climbing me like Mount Everest.  But most of the time it's the lack of confidence that anyone cares what I have to say.
So you tell me... is a Spruce Christmasy enough for you or is that a part of the PC agenda too?
For example, I thought about addressing the stupid Starbucks red cup nonsense.  I have a lot of opinions on that (in a nutshell, if it bothers you you are ignorant and probably elitist and dare I say a bit un-American, and that Starbucks' decision to use a minimalist design had nothing to do with political correctness or attacking Christmas or anything except that the marketing department likes minimalism... oh and btw the CEO of Starbucks is Jewish).  But that topic has gotten enough press and I am heartened by the fact that I know no one personally who gives a rats ass what the Starbucks cup looks like.  Plus why should my opinion on that matter?  I mean it matters, in that I am entitled to an opinion, but one of my big issues lately has been with everyone feeling their half baked uninformed opinions are important, and thus worth airing on a public, anonymous, international forum.  When you're a blogger with your own opinions, that is a hard feeling to resolve with your own actions.  (and welcome to a tiny glimpse of the circular logic hell that is my brain)

I don't remember if I also mentioned I have kicked up my herbal studies as well, but I have.  I know I have posted sporadically in the past about my herbal meanderings, but I am taking a much more focused and much more methodical approach as of late.  As a small part of that, I have decided to highlight weekly one herb and one essential oil that I feel is 1) underrated, and 2) of potential use to most people in one form or another.  In light of the first criteria I won't be covering essential oils like lavender, most of the citruses, or peppermint (among others) or herbs like (again) lavender, plantain, nettle (well, maybe not nettle, I go back and forth...), elderberry, or dandelion (plus a few more). 

Disclaimer- I am not a doctor.  Nor am I a trained aromatherapist.  I am merely an essential oil enthusiast, so please do your own research before using anything claimed to have any health benefits at all, even if it is from me (ha).  Also, full disclosure, some of the info I cite below comes from Dr. Gary Young's book Essential Oil Pocket Reference (in other words, it is a Young Living publication).  I say this because there is general disdain for any information that comes directly from an MLM essential company.  I sometimes share such disdain, in fact.  BUT I think that to completely disregard the entire works of a prominent name in the field of essential oils simply because he was able to turn it into a successful company would be a mistake.  Instead I take the information from him and balance it out with other sources, like Robert Tisserand.  Full citations can be found at the end of the post.

The top of my list?  Spruce.  (which, I didn't even do that on purpose... get it... Christmas... spruce)  After lavender and the citruses, Spruce is probably one of my most frequently used oils.  The main reason for this is that it can be used safely around small children in place of oils like eucalyptus and peppermint, and in fact has many of the same effects- it is expectorant and can help open airways, as well as being antibacterial (Young).  (more on essential oils that are safe around children here, and why to avoid eucalyptus and peppermint around small children here). 

I diffuse a blend of citrus essential oils and spruce, with their strong antibacterial properties, during flu and cold seasons and any time someone in my home is sick or has been exposed to someone who is sick.

But one of the biggest reasons I love spruce is for its grounding qualities (Young).  I will openly admit that I allow my kids some screen time.  We live in Minnesota, and we travel a lot, and I have a son who wakes up at like 5:30 in the morning, and all of this leads to me, for survival purposes, allowing limited screen time.  That sometimes borders on too much.  From my experience screen time has different affects on different kids- my nine year old daughter can self regulate and I rarely see negative affects on her, but my seven year old son would play on something with a screen all day every day (and half the night) if allowed, and the more he plays the more out of control he gets.  Only out of control isn't exactly the right way to describe it... he gets cranky, touchy, emotional, entitled, and super bratty.  So when I know he has had too much screen time, aside from turning everything off and strongly suggesting he go outside, I diffuse spruce essential oil.  In my opinion, it makes a huge difference (and there is no research on this, nor have I even found it alluded to anywhere specifically, but because of its grounding affects the connection made sense in my brain and my own experience has born it out... plus everyone needs grounding and it is safe, so why not?). 

Spruce is also well known for its ability to release emotional blocks, especially those held in the throat, jaw, and chest (Young).  I have less experience with this affect, although that is kind of the purpose of this project, now isn't it- so I learn something new as well.  In fact, I have been carrying a lot of tension in my jaw lately, so perhaps I will try some diluted spruce essential oil on my jaw before I go to bed tonight.  (find dilution guidelines here)

Contraindications:  As said above, there are none known, although you should always exercise caution while pregnant or breastfeeding or if you have any medical conditions.  Essential oils specifically are prone to cause contact reactions or sensitivity.  Do not apply any essential oils topically to children under the age of two unless under the supervision of a well trained holistic health care provider.

Have you ever used spruce essential oil?  What do you use it for?


Essential Oils and Children-

Avoiding Menthol Containing Essential Oils Around Children-

Properly Diluting Essential Oils-

Young, Gary; Essential Oils Pocket Reference, Life Science Publishing, 2014
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