Tag Archives: Healthy Living

Growing up my mother never used dryer sheets. When our children were younger I used dryer sheets, as I loved that the clothes smelled “clean” and there was no static. As time went on and our lifestyle changed I began to experiment with making my own laundry detergent. I never thought of making my own homemade dryer sheets!homemade dryer sheets


To deal with the static I made my own dryer balls. As you might remember I got carried away and made so many dryer balls! I’m still using them! Wool dryer balls remove static cling, and also shorten the time it takes to dry a load of laundry.


To replace commercial dryer sheets I decided to try making my own. Recently I received this wonderful recipe for homemade dryer sheets from a friend of mine. Jen is also the one who has introduced me to essential oils and I think I am hooked!


Directions for Homemade Dryer Sheets


Finding some old cotton t-shirts to cut up and use as cotton fabric squares was no problem. In fact since setting our goals to de-clutter we’ve been getting rid of a lot of old shirts. The first step is to cut up squares of cotton fabric, 4 inch squares seems to work well.homemade dryer sheets


Add ½ cup of white vinegar to a 16 oz. jar, . I used a large mouth-canning jar I had on hand. Add 12 drops of Grapefruit essential oil to the vinegar. Or use an essential oil of your choice. If you do a lot of laundry this recipe can be doubled.homemade dryer sheets


Fold each fabric square and place inside the jar. The cotton fabric will absorb all of the vinegar. The vinegar smell will evaporate during drying but the essential oil scent will remain.homemade dryer sheets


Next time you throw a load of laundry in the dryer add one of these dryer sheets. Let me know how you think it works.

As spring rolls around, we start to think of being outside, enjoying the wonderful weather. Now is also the time to think about establishing your vegetable garden – it’s a wonderful way to save money, get exercise, and help your family to eat healthy. And taking care of a garden is a never-ending and rewarding learning experience.


The most important thing to consider is where your garden will be located. Gardens need sun, the more the better. Locate your garden away from any shadows cast by large trees or buildings. Ideally, you would like to have level ground; if the garden is on too steep a slope, the soil will erode and nutrients will be washed away. Ideally you want to choose the sunniest, brightest spot in the whole yard. If you are limited for space you can also grow some vegetables in containers on a sunny patio or deck. I have a friend who lines their front walk with large containers planted with lettuce. It’s very pretty to look at, convenient and you are providing your family with fresh greens.


If this is your first year gardening, you also want to consider the size. It is better to start small and increase your garden size year by year. A 15 x 15 foot plot would be a good size to start with.establishing your vegetable garden


Once you have decided where to place your garden, the next thing to consider is the soil preparation. Well-prepared soil will help you have a successful garden. However, any soil can be improved. Soil quality is determined by three characteristics: composition, pH (its acidity), and fertility. All of these areas can be improved by adding generous amounts of organic humus: compost, peat moss, well-rotted manure or processed manure. Be sure to mix the organic humus thoroughly with your existing soil.establishing your vegetable garden


  • Composition: The composition of the soil determines a great deal about its growing potential. Soil is made up of clay, sand, silt and biological sediment. If the soil is too loose and sandy, or too heavy and clayish, aeration, drainage and nutrient retention will suffer. You can determine the composition of your soil by doing this simple test. Take a shovel and dig a hole about six inches deep and remove the surface layer. Spoon about one cup of the mix into a glass-canning jar and fill with 2 cups of water. Shake it up for several minutes to fully mix the contents. Let the jar sit for 24 hours and look at it. The small clay particles will be on the top; the silt will be in the middle and the coarse sand particles on the bottom. An ideal garden soil would be 40% sand, 40 % silt and 20% clay. Here is a handy graphic regarding soil composition.establishing your vegetable garden


  • pH: Vegetables require a pH range of 6.0 – 7.0, anything above or below that and optimal growth will be affected. pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. Basically it is a measure of the amount of lime contained in your soil and the type of soil you have. An acid soil has a pH lower than 7, and alkaline soil has a pH higher than 7. You can test your soil yourself with a pH soil tester which you can purchase at your local garden center or online. Your local extension bureau will also test your soil for a modest fee. Once you have determined your pH you can amend your soil. To have your soil tested by your local Extension office you purchase a kit, which includes a mailer, sample bag, and information form. The fee for the basic test in Vermont is $14.00, this incudes the pH and your potassium, phosphorus and calcium levels as well as Magnesium, Sulfur, micronutrients, CES (carbon exchange capacity) BS (basic saturation percent), organic matter and will give recommendations for one crop. When you are filling out the form you can say that you are growing mixed vegetables. This is the best way to find out exactly what shape your garden is in and what the recommendations are to improve the soil.establishing your vegetable garden



  • Fertility: The fertility of a soil refers to its ability to supply nutrients for plant growth. Insufficient fertility cannot support healthy crops. For a soil to be healthy it must have nutrients readily available and a pH value at a recommended level for the plants that will be growing in the soil. The nutrients that should be available for the plants are nitrogen (for leaf growth), phosphorus (root growth) and potassium (overall health). In addition to the essential nutrients there should also be trace elements like calcium and magnesium. Plants growing in a fertile soil will be very strong and healthy and produce well.


No matter what type of soil you have the addition of organic matter will work wonders. Organic matter is plant and animal residues in varying forms of decomposition. Compost is an excellent way to help amend your soil. Compost is already decomposed and can work wonders in the garden. If your soil is lacking nutrients and you don’t have access to compost you can purchase various fertilizers at your garden center.establishing your vegetable garden


Now that your garden plot is laid out and the soil is ready, it is time to decide what vegetables you want to plant. Before you decide what to plant in your garden, determine the eating habits of your family. You want to grow vegetables that your family will eat. There are many sources online that will help you determine just how many rows to plant of each vegetable. One source I found is this simple seed-planting chart: http://www.humeseeds.com/seedneed.htm If you want a rewarding, productive garden, do some research to find out what grows well in your area. An excellent resource is your state’s agricultural extension office. You want to make sure you know what growing zone you are living in; when your last frost date is expected in the spring, and when the first date of frost in the fall is expected. These dates will determine when you can plant outdoors, what you should try to grow, since the days to maturation will need to fit in this last frost to first frost window, and when you should be harvesting your vegetables.


You have now decided on your garden location, figured out which vegetables and how many to grow. You must now figure out where the plants will be placed in your garden. The taller crops should be planted on the north side of your garden so they don’t shade the other plants. At the southern end of the garden plant your shorter vegetables, like your carrots and lettuce. By taking time to plan out your garden now you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest later this summer.


My first goal was to update my goal list each week.  I have to say having a post on goal setting has helped me to stay focused on what goals I want to accomplish this year.

The biggest drawback is to remind myself that I have the whole year to work on accomplishing these goals.goal-setting week2


  1. Find a new hosting site for my blog and make the site secure. Done!! Everything seems to be running smoothly. Still waiting for the site to be secure.
  2. Monetize my blog.  Still waiting to get this started. I’ve had several advertisers reach out to me recently and I’ve also had one company that wants to pay me to promote one of their posts. Now to figure out which advertisers are legit and whether or not the post promotion is real! I’ve always said if it sounds to good to be true it probably is!
    goal setting
  3. Create a cookbook! I have been writing my blog for over six year and have accumulated many recipes online. Time to make them available in a cookbook form, either as a downloadable PDF or in a hardcopy or both! This is in the planing stage and really I just have to start!
  4. Be diligent about getting 10 K steps in 5 out of 7 days each week.Still finding this goal to be very challenging. However this past weekend we were in Connecticut visiting my mother-in-law and the roads and sidewalks were clear and we actually were able to get two walks in! Haven’t made the five day goal yet but I’m getting there!goal setting week 2
  5. As we continue to prepare for an eventual house sale continue to de-clutter. Get rid of at least 250 items from the house this year! As I said this is not going to be a hard goal to reach. I pulled three books from the shelves and I now have a box going in the garage for all the things we are getting rid of. 230 items to go!
  6. Read more books this year!  Didn’t finish a book this week but I’m working my way through an interesting novel called Under the Wide and Starry Sky Not a favorite but I’m this far into it so I want to finish it!goal setting week 2
  7. Have a consistent meal plan each week and prepare ahead!  Haven’t done a lot of preparing ahead with out meals but I’ve been right on track with the planning, except that we were away for the weekend and when you stay with someone else you don’t have total control over what you’re eating. We did bring Friday nights dinner with us and planned a very special dinner with good friends. I was celebrating my birthday and nothing beats celebrating with good friends!
  8. Finish 4 3 knitting projects.  First project completed, I made a hat for my daughter. Second project has begun. Over the holidays one of our neighbors was making the cutest little sweater ornaments. I took a look at the tiny sweater and figured I could make these. What a fun gift idea for the holidays! First attempt was a little rough as I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing nor had I ever knit with #2 needles! I should get the hang of it and be able to make several of these to give away next year at Christmas.goal setting week 2
  9. Clean out our freezer. First step was to take inventory which I did. I have the inventory now on my kitchen desk so I can see what I have and plan how to use the food up.
  10. Take a few road trips and visit family and friends on the east coast that we will not see so often once we make a move to the west coast. We came up with a list of three people that we would like to visit while we’re still living on the east coast. Now to take a hard look at the calendar and plan these trips. Probably won’t happen until April at the earliest.goal setting


So we’re now into February and I’m looking at my goals and working on them. Having this post has kept my goals in the forefront of my mind. I just have to remember the key is to keep looking forward!



January is the time of the year when folks think about the year ahead and what they want to accomplish.goal setting In the past I have written down a few goals for the year ahead but I don’t keep them in the forefront and therefore don’t actually do much to accomplish those goals. So this year I decided to spend some time goal setting for 2018. Then every week I will re-visit my goals and keep track of the progress I am making. My goal setting is not just for me personally but for my blog as well.


So in the spirit of goal setting I have come up with ten goals for 2018.


  1. Find a new hosting site for my blog and make the site secure.
  2. Monetize my blog. Right now I have no ads running on my blog. I would like to start earning something on my blog instead of it just being a hobby.goal setting
  3. Create a cookbook! I have been writing my blog for over six year and have accumulated many recipes online. Time to make them available in a cookbook form, either as a downloadable PDF or in a hardcopy or both!
  4. Be diligent about getting 10 K steps in 5 out of 7 days each week.. I wear a FitBit and so often come close to this goal but with a little effort I plan to reach this goal at least 5 out of the 7 days each week.goal setting
  5. As we continue to prepare for an eventual house sale continue to de-clutter. Get rid of at least 250 items from the house this year!
  6. Read more books this year! I love to read and have a bad habit of having several books going at once. I would like to read and finish 26 books this year. I’ll let you know what books I’m reading. Be prepared for an assortment, as I like to read various topics!
  7. Have a consistent meal plan each week and prepare ahead! I’m still adjusting to going from cooking for a large family to cooking for just my husband and I. I’m pretty good about planning our meals but I need to do better. I want to create a menu of healthy meals each week and not spend so much time in the kitchen!goal setting
  8. Finish 4 knitting projects. What is it with me? Like reading several books at once I also like to have several knitting projects going at once. The problem is I have a hard time getting them done! So in preparation of an eventual move I want to finish these random projects. First up on the list is a hat! Yes I know hats are easy and I have some patterns that I can whip up in no time. However this hat is a double knit pattern that for some reason I just can’t seem to finish! It was supposed to be a Christmas present for my daughter last year and that didn’t happen. I am so close and it will be the first project to complete. Then I will look at the other projects I have on hand and keep working until I have completed 4 projects.
  9. Clean out our freezer. I have two small freezer spaces; I no longer have our chest freezer as we sold it recently. I need to use up the various frozen fruits from the garden. Before we start harvesting more fruits and vegetables I want to use up what is in the freezer. First step will be to take an inventory and go from there.
  10. Take a few road trips and visit family and friends on the east coast that we will not see so often once we make a move to the west coast.goal setting


So there we go, goal setting for 2018 has commenced. Each week I will re-visit these goals and if I manage to complete any of them before the year is out I will set some new goals. The key is to keep looking forward and accomplish what you can!

The holidays are a joyful time, full of traditions, special time with loved ones, and that special feeling in the air. However, for most of us it can also be a time of incredible stress and worry. We might not be in a financial situation to give our family the holiday that we wish we could. We might feel overwhelmed by the pressure to look perfect during family-photo season. We might find ourselves getting into arguments over petty things with people that we love, simply because we feel inadequate during the expected question sessions about how our life is going and what we plan to do next.


I’ve found that during the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to practice self-love and self-care. Why?Self Care during Holidays


It Enables Better Connections with Others


Hopefully, your holiday season is full of quality time with loved ones. However, even if it’s not, self-love is important to cultivate because it helps you become able to nurture connections with others. Once you are able to acknowledge and own your own worth, others are more likely to recognize and appreciate it themselves. This frees us from the bravado or people-pleasing behavior that comes when we’re not sure what value we bring to the table. It’s the best prevention for unhealthy codependent relationships. Instead, we can actually establish healthy, loving bonds with others.Self Care during Holidays


It Prevents Self-Punishment


The holidays are a great time to fall into the trap of self-punishment. We all know the feeling of indulging too much. For example, we might find ourselves stress eating way too much because we feel that we don’t deserve to get out of our old patterns and come closer to our ideal selves. This can come in many forms, from drinking too much to buying too much.


It Fosters Long-Term Goals


Along the same line, self-love can help us to look beyond immediate self-gratification and instead look ahead to long-term goals. You can have faith both that (1) you deserve to reach your personal goals and plans, and (2) you have the capability to reach those goals. This can help you turn aside from unhealthy behaviors, whether that’s falling into a romantic relationship that you know isn’t what you really want, or further procrastinating taking a professional risk, like asking for a promotion.


4 Steps to Self Love Over the Holidays


Alright, so you recognize the benefits of self-love. But putting it into action can feel like a different story. “Self-Love” sounds great, but it’s also so vague! Most of the time, it seems that it only has as much power to change our lives as a coin tossed into a fountain; it’s a mere wish. Well, I beg to differ. Here are three things to do this holiday season to practice self-love.Self Care during Holidays


  1. Practice gratitude in this moment: We’re wired to look ahead and behind. For the most part, this is good! It’s what makes us human. However, it can sometimes also be the reason that on January 2, we look back and wonder what ever happened to December? You don’t remember having any fun at all. This year, instead of constantly stressing about what else is on your to-do list, take a moment here and there throughout the day to be grateful for that moment. Even if that moment consists of a long stretch of work that you wish would just end, or if you’re waiting in line at the store, or if your children are whining… there’s always something to feel grateful for. Stop waiting to be happy when this or that is done. Appreciate right now! Smile at the person next to you in line. Remember that you’re grateful for your family. Appreciate the fact that in your office, you are comfortable and well in a heated building. In order to practice this more, you might want to set an alarm on your watch or phone once or twice a day. When the alarm goes off, take three quiet breaths and then say a prayer of gratitude.
  2. Avoid arbitrary, materialistic expectations: It’s so easy to play the comparison game during the holidays. Are your children getting as nice of gifts as their friends are? Is your holiday bonus as good as last year? Are your holiday decorations as good as your neighbors’? Is your family Christmas card and accompanying progress report something to be proud of? Well, maybe it’s time to stop worrying about all that. In fact, you’ll find yourself amazingly free once you realize that this Christmas, you don’t HAVE to bake cinnamon bread for everyone who comes to visit. You don’t NEED to host a party, or attend each one that you’re invited to. You won’t really lose much if you miss that sale. Re-evaluate your holiday goals; those things that are the most important to you. These things might be quality time with your family, a walk in the snow, kind words to a stranger. Your holiday doesn’t have to look like all those commercials!
  3. Indulge in moderation: One mistake we make when trying to avoid unhealthy decisions over the holidays is to deprive ourselves. We forbid ourselves to eat any sweets, or to buy anything new for ourselves. And then we feel so guilty and ashamed when we break one of those harsh rules. Often, that shame and disappointment in ourselves leads to the MOST unhealthy behavior. Instead, come to terms with the idea that you should be able to treat yourself this holiday season, as well as others. Give yourself permission to buy one thing for yourself when you go out to do holiday shopping. Allow yourself your favorite dessert at a holiday party. Just set goals for moderation!






What exactly is an essential oil? An essential oil is a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.

Essential oils are nothing new – in fact they have been around for thousands of years, offering a variety of benefits from cosmetic and dietary purposes to spiritual and religious use. The oils are extracted through careful steam distillation, resin tapping and cold pressing; the purest essential oils are far more powerful than the botanicals from which they come.essential oils


How do you use essential oils? The three most common practices include aromatic diffusion, topical application and dietary consumption. These three methods bring the purest essence of healthy promoting botanicals to your home, family and life. You could say I’ve dabbled in essential oils, I haven’t used them so much in dietary consumption, but I have used them often in making products for topical application. Recently I was approached by a small company called Aroma Foundry and was asked to review some of their essential oils. At Aroma Foundry, they take the adage “My Body is My Temple” seriously. they work really hard to deliver an incredible oil you can trust, only sourced from their native locales which are famous for each respective crop. They’ve put together a collection of oils with quality, purity, transparency and consistency you can trust.essential oils


The quality of their oils is impressive. They are hand bottled in California, in small batches to maintain quality control. You’ll never find synthetic additives in Aroma Foundry essential oils; all the oils are 100% pure and all -natural. When you smell the Aroma Foundry oils, you can be sure you are experience the essence of mother nature.essential oils


I was so impressed by their packaging. Each bottle was contained in a small box and well protected for shipping.


One of my favorite uses for lavender essential oil is making a hand lotion. Living in Vermont my hands get very dried out in the winter. I am constantly looking for a decent hand lotion. With only three basic ingredients plus water I can make a wonderful hand lotion that not only smells nice but also keeps my hands soft. It’s too thick to use as a body lotion but works perfectly for my hands. When you first put it on your hands it seems a little greasy but it soaks in in no time. My favorite essential oil to use is lavender, but you could use whatever you want. I had the olive oil on hand and purchased the emulsifying wax from Mountain Rose Herbs. I used the bottle of lavender I received from Aroma Foundry to make the most recent batch of hand lotion.

essential oils

Hand lotion cooling


Next time I’ll have to find a recipe for making a homemade beeswax lotion as we have our own beeswax. I poured the lotion into a wide mouth pint jar, which I now keep by the sink.


Homemade Hand Lotion



1 ¼ cup hot water
¼ cup emulsifying wax
¼ cup olive oil
15-36 drops of essential oil



In a Pyrex measuring cup I combined the olive oil and emulsifying wax and microwaved it on high for 1 minute or until the wax is melted. The temperature is about 155 degrees.


I then removed the wax – olive oil mixture from the microwave and heated up the water in another Pyrex measuring cup for one minute. While the water was heating up I added the essential oil into my melted wax-olive oil mixture. I only used 15 drops of lavender essential oil.


Then pour the hot water slowly into the wax-olive oil mixture and watch it turn milky white. At this point the temperature is about 125 degrees. I then poured the hot lotion into my wide mouth pint jar and let it cool over night.


I was a bit skeptical that it would thicken, however the next morning the lotion was a nice thick consistency.


I could have used more essential oil but I really like the gentle fragrance of the lavender, it is not overpowering at all.essential oils


I have also used essential oils to create a bug spray that works quite well! We have an abundance of biting insects here in Vermont and this bug spray works every time!essential oils


Making my own lip balm is another way I have used essential oils in the past. I make this lip balm almost every year and give it away as a gift, keeping enough for myself of course!


There are many ways to incorporate essential oils in your everyday life. You can use a diffuser to enjoy the medicinal fragrance of the various oils. Essential oils should never be applied directly to your skin but can be diluted with coconut oil.


Popular Uses of Grapefruit Essential Oil


  • Diffuse to sharpen focus while studying or reading..
  • Diffuse or apply topically to help clear congested areas.
  • For performance Stress, add to bath water, drop several drops in your water.
  • Add 2-3 drops to a glass of water after a night drinking to support the detoxification systems of the body.

Popular Uses of Rosemary Essential Oil


  • Diffuse Rosemary to help reduce tension, stress, and fatigue.
  • Add a single drop to the hands, rub together, and cup over the mouth and nose to flood the senses for up to a minute to assist with transitioning.
  • Add a single drop of rosemary essential oil to the hands, rub together, and cup over the mouth and nose to flood the senses for up to a minute, in order to help alleviate the nerves.


Popular Uses of Bergamot Essential Oil


  • Diffuse in the classroom, at work, or at home when stress levels or tension is high.
  • Use with Fractionated Coconut Oil for a calming and relaxing massage.
  • Add one to two drops to your favorite skin care product for added cleansing properties.
  • For SELF (worth, love, acceptance), inhale directly from a pendant or diffuser.
  • .essential oils

Caution: Keep essential oils out of reach of children. Eye irritant, avoid contact with eyes. Possible skin sensitivity, do not use undiluted on skin. If pregnant or lactating, consult your healthcare practitioner before using. Not for internal use.


Aroma Foundry sent me four bottles of essential oil to write a review. The thoughts and comments are mine. I was not paid for this review.

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