My top 20 favorite essential oils

People often ask me which Young Living oils are my favorite.  This is a HARD question as in some ways it’s like asking which of my children I love the most! I’ve been working on this list for quite a while now!  Each oil and blend is unique and has so many different uses.  This is my list though.  DISCLAIMER:  It is subject to change!!!  I’ve also noted which oils are  included in the premium starter kit (PSK) as this is how most people get started with Young Living as it offers some of the most popular oils at a discount and with a diffuser. Oils labeled as “vitality” are approved as a dietary supplement.



Young Living blend with  Citronella, Lemongrass, Lavender, Melalueca, Myrtle

This one has a really strong but clean scent. It’s one of my favorites for diffusing when I want my house to “seem” clean.  I like to use it in spray bottle mixed with alcohol and water as a natural air freshener in the bathroom.  This one is also great for helping to remove mildew scents from clothes.  A few drops in with the laundry soap does amazing things!


Contains: Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Fennel, Lemongrass, Anise, Patchouli

This is a great one for helping to ease any digestive upsets.  Take a drop or two in honey or water,or  rub directly or with a carrier oil over upset stomach.  Some people think it smells gross, other think it smells like root beer but most people agree that it helps!


 Young Living Blend with Wintergreen, Helichrysum, clove and peppermint

This one is great to have around for soothing aches and pains from aging or exercise.  I don’t get a lot of pain myself but I love being able to share it with friends and family when they need it.  It  can make a person a believer!

Not recommended for children under 2

#17 RC  (PSK)

  • Cypress, Spruce, and three types of Eucalyptus (E. globulus, E. radiata, and E. citriodora) oils, peppermint and includes the naturally occurring constituent limonene.

This one is a must have for my husband.  He really loves the way it helps him to feel more clear when he’s been congested.  I LOVE how when he’s snoring at night I can send him out for some RC and he comes back smelling great and breathing better!


Some people LOVE peppermint and others not so much.  It’s not my favorite but when I need it it’s GREAT!  Peppermint has a cool tingling feeling and can be very soothing for an aching head.  I also like it for motion sickness in the car and to rub on my belly for an upset stomach.  Oh!  And a drop on the tongue is amazing for giving you fresh breath while also helping with digestion!  Win win!

Not recommended for children under 2

Use with caution when breastfeeding as it may decrease milk supply


Young Living blend with Melaleuca , naouli, rosemary and clove

I bought this one for my four year old to help ease some skin issues she has been having.  She LOVED it right from the start!  I wasn’t crazy about the smell at first but after using it for a while I find it quite pleasant.  It’s great for supporting healthy skin and for diffusing to get rid of bad smells. It’s also great for boosting immunity!  I like to rub it on my feet or along my spine for a pick me up.


Young Living’s blend of Sweet almond, Bergamot, Myrrh, Geranium, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood™, Ylang ylang, Coriander, Black spruce, Melissa, Hyssop and Rose.

A friend of mine I haven’t seen in a while sent me a message out of the blue to make sure I knew how amazing this oil smells and makes you feel.  It had been on my wish list for a while but her email me pull the trigger.  WOW!  She wasn’t kidding!  Its so soothing and one of my favorite oils to use as a perfume. (Thanks Kortnee!)



Copaiba has a gentle sweet and earthy smell to it.  I find it SO soothing to inhale.  I also love a drop in my afternoon tea to support overall wellbeing and to help me stay calm during “the witching hour” with my littles.  I like using it directly on my skin to help smooth out the texture and color.  It’s also my favorite for helping to ease sore muscles in my back when I wake up feeling stiff.  Mmmmm… it’s so good!


This is a blend of Coriander, Geranium, Palmarosa, Lavender, Ylang ylang, Roman chamomile, Bergamot,Lemon, Jasmine and Rose oils.

It was created to be very soothing to babies and children but I find it very lovely and relaxing myself!  It’s great for diffusing, rubbing on my littles feet at bedtime or as perfume!


Young Living blend of Black spruce, Rosewood, Blue tansy, Frankincense

Mmmm… this one is SO good!  It’s one of those oils that is as good in the morning as a pick me up as it is to help you relax at night!  Many people describe it as “grounding” and I didn’t really know what they meant by that until I tried it!  I find it helpful when in big crowds as it helps me to relax and stay in my body rather than getting all up in my head, you know?  I like to wear it as a perfume and just INHALE from my wrists.  I probably look a little strange with all my wrist inhaling but I don’t really care!


Cedarwood is one of my favorite oils for sleep.  I like to rub it on the soles of my feet and diffuse it.  It’s one of those oils that many people DON’T like the smell of at first.  It is often described as the smell of cat pee.  The strange thing about it though is that after you use it for a while it completely changes.  Now I find the smell heavenly!!! It also doesn’t hurt that this is one of the less expensive oils!


Great for moisturizing and cleansing the skin of dead cells.  I like to use this one when I’m getting a pimple or for cleaning out cuts.  It’s also great for helping to loosen up a splinter. Tea Tree is great for immunity boosting and deodorizing too!


This smell is just AMAZING.  Although apparently it’s not everyone’s favorite. It’s super earthy and sexy.  I like it as a perfume.  It’s also a very relaxing scent and can help with focus.

#7 JOY

Joy oil is a blend of Bergamot, Ylang ylang, Geranium, Lemon, Coriander, Tangerine, Jasmine, Roman chamomile, Palmarosa and Rose.

Joy is one of the best things I’ve ever smelled!  It’s floral and fruity, relaxing and uplifting. I often reach for this one if I’m feeling a little tense and just want to relax and have fun with my kids.  I also LOVE it as a daily perfume.  This past summer I learned how helpful it can be with summer skin issues too!  My whole family used it this summer to help soothe out skin from bug bites, poison ivy and general itchyness.  I’ll never be without Joy!


Blend of Copiaba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea, and Lavender.

The starter kit comes with a roll on attachment and I immediately put it on my bottle of Stress Away and have done the same with each replacement bottle I buy.  It’s the PERFECT oil to keep in your bag.  It’s my favorite for on the go de-stressing, especially when driving because it is simultaneously uplifting and relaxing.  I swipe some on my wrists and the back of my neck and it helps to ease tension in my neck and the overall mental strain of a long drive. I also think it smells great!


Blend of Tangerine, Orange, Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Northern Lights black spruce, Matricaria, Vetiver, Cistus, Bergamot, Cassia and Davana oils.

I actually like this one more than the original Peace and Calming!  It’s great as a relaxing perfume and is awesome for helping kids during tantrums.  I keep a roller ball filled with this and a carrier oil on hand to run along my kids backs when they start to lose it.  I’m never without my Peace and Calming II!!!


Lemon is a simple but amazing oil. It’s cold pressed from the rind of the lemon so it’s not as acidic as lemon juice.  I love to add a few drops to my water with a pinch of mineral salt.  It’s a great way to start the day.  Citrus oils are amazing at breaking down petrochemicals which is a good thing but don’t put citrus oils in plastic bottles for this reason.  Lemon is great for cleaning and is a non toxic version of goo-gone for stickers and labels. It has  also been studied for it’s effects on immune function as well as mood. Here is an article that explains this more. 

CAUTION: Citrus oils should NOT be applied to skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight or ultraviolet light within 72 hours.



Lavender is known as the Swiss Army knife of essential oils because it has so many uses.  When in doubt use Lavender! Many people find that applying it over their sinuses helps with seasonal allergies.  It’s also very soothing to kitchen or sunburns as well as bee stings or other itchy bites.  I like to apply it to my face at night to help me sleep and to support healthy skin.  And of course, it’s a great for helping you to relax and sleep!


Blend of Clove, lemon, cinnamon, Eucalyptus radiata, rosemary

Thieves blend is known to be great at supporting immunity. At the first sign of a cold I put a drop on my tongue.  The effects are really great!  Of course, it’s strong and not everyone enjoys the “hot” feeling of applying it directly to sensitive skin.  Putting it on the soles of your feet is a great way to get some thieves love into your system during cold and flu season.  It also happens to smell like cookies so it’s great to diffuse!  Young Living has a whole line of Thieves products including toothpaste and a cleaning concentrate that I love!



Oh Frankincense… Where to begin?  I love the history of this oil.  It’s just so amazing to me to think about the many ways humans have used it since the beginning of time.  I’m always learning of new uses and studies being done on it’s amazing properties.  Like lavender I tend to reach for this oil for EVERYTHING. Got a bruise?  Let’s put some Frank on it!   Feeling stressed?  Inhale some frankincense!  It’s gentle but powerful.  One of the first uses that made me crazy for it was as a meditation aid.  Inhaling it along with prayer or mediation has been done for thousands of years for a reason!  It really helps my brain to go to a place of relaxation and inspiration.  It’s also an important ingredient in many of Young Living’s facial care products as it can help to smooth fine lines and improve the radiance of healthy skin.


So there you have it! My top 20 favorite oils.  I’m pretty essential oil obsessed  and have lots of other articles about how and why I use oils in my daily life on my blog. I only use and recommend Young Living oils as due to the level of purity and the company’s beyond organic and sustainable farming techniques. They have a “Seed to Seal” promise and have been the industry leaders for over 20 years.

Here’s the link to how to get started with Young Living for yourself. It’s been a really fun and life changing experience for me learning about and using these beautiful oils and I hope this has helped you to better understand why!

So which oils are your favorites?  Any that I missed?


Soothing poison ivy naturally

My husband and I both recently got poison ivy rashes.  I’m usually pretty good about immediately washing any areas that come into contact with the weed but it seems like my tendency towards overdoing it in the garden got the best of me this time.  He seems to get it without even going in the woods. The silver lining to our affliction was that we got to test out some natural remedies.

The first thing we tried was Young Living’s Joy essential oil.  It’s one of my favorite scents so I was happily surprised to hear that it was helpful for poison ivy.  Joy is a blend of Bergamot,Ylang ylang, Geranium, Lemon, Coriander ,Tangerine, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, Palmarosa and Rose essential oils.   It smells amazing and was very soothing and calming to our skin.

We both experimented with using Young Living Lavender oil next.  It didn’t cut the itching as well as the Joy but was very soothing on the second day of when it was more of a burning sensation.   I’m a huge fan of Young Living oils and we use them for EVERYTHING but this was one of the more profound experiences I have had using them!

A few notes on safety. We applied these oils “neat” or undiluted but if you are worried about skin irritation I would suggest using a carrier oil. Young Living’s oils are extremely pure and high quality so they can be used in ways that many other brands of essential oils cannot.  I would NOT apply any other brand of oils to my skin.  Also, Joy contains citrus oils and as with any citrus you should avoid direct sun exposure after applying.


Plantain leaf is a  medicinal plant that grows wild in most yards and is considered a weed. I’ve had success using it on bug bites and also on another patch of poison ivy that popped up on my finger (I just can’t stay out of the woods!) The way I use it is to chew it up a bit to release the oils then secure it in place with a band aid over the itch.  I know people make salves with it but I haven’t tried that yet!  Here’s a photo of it growing in the yard followed by one that shows plantain leaf close up.


Also an extreme close up of my hand.  How many times must I have creased my hand to get all of those amazing lines?

Another natural remedy that I tried out was Jewel Weed. This lovely plant is considered the natural antidote to poison ivy and is said to grow near where poison ivy is found.  We are lucky enough to have a little patch of it in the yard. It is usually found in shady and moist conditions.  This one worked really well too!  I used the same method as I did with the plantain leaf on yet another patch that popped up.  When I took the band aid off about an hour later there was NO itch or sting and the pain didn’t come back!  The first photo shows what the plant looks like in my yard in June. The second shows the flower that blooms later in the summer. I would have had NO idea what it was if I hadn’t seen it in bloom last year though!  Prairie Moon Nursery  sells Jewel Weed seeds for anyone interested in cultivating some yourself!

IMG_1117jewel weed

Overall the essential oils were easier for covering large areas but the jewel weed and plantain leaf worked well too and were great for smaller areas.  I’m so happy that we have figured these out!  I’ll continue trying to avoid it but I’m glad to know these just in case it gets me again!

If you would like purchase some Young Living Joy or Lavender for yourself send me an email at or read this post to learn more about getting started with essential oils.

What has worked for you when you had an encounter with poison ivy ?


DIY drainage swale using a reverse hugelkultur

FullSizeRender (8)Last year we had our our back yard cleared of invasive brush in the fall and then planted with low mow grass in the spring (some conventional grass seed as well, which I regret).  Over the course of the summer I couldn’t resist and put in my first attempt at at hugelkultur to house the many tomato plants that had seeded themselves around the garden.

This year I decided to take down the hugelkultur and put in a larger garden bed in it’s place.  It’s the one part of our yard that gets full sun but unfortunately it also has a bit of an underground stream flowing through it that becomes a problem during rain storms.

We got some HUGE quotes from local landscaping companies to deal with the drainage. Um, no thanks, I don’t want to spend 16k to make my back yard pretty! I’d much rather keep our money and just have a stream!

But then I started thinking about using a swale.  I’m kind of obsessed with permaculture but actually incorporating it into our landscape is an ongoing challenge.  Basically a swale creates a holding tank for excess water that will then slowly release into the land below.  Conventional drainage just moves the water away to the side of the yard or whatever.  This allows you to still USE the water for the garden!

I had made a small swale as part of my hugelkultur last year but it didn’t quite do the job. I decided to expand it to cover almost a quarter of the 20×10 garden space.


I dug a hole about 18inches deep.  Deeper would have been better but getting through the clay and rocks was a challenge.  The water quickly filled the area, delighting my kids but somewhat frustrating me!

I tried my best to keep it in line with the grade of the slope.  I want it to really hold the water rather than just funneling it away.

While digging I was sure to separate out the topsoil from the lower levels of clay. The best part though was dismantling the hugelkultur and finding tons of worm castings and nicely broke down compost!  When I put it up last year I had said, worst case scenario it will be a big compost pile and I can use the soil for my new garden.  Score!

I decided to fill the trench with rotting wood.  In the same way that a hugelkultur uses rotting wood like a sponge to hold water above ground, this should do the same under ground.  Well, I hope it does…  I looked it up again in Gaia’s Garden to make sure my line of reasoning made sense and it seems like it should work!


I just can’t help myself.  I LOVE the idea of a closed system where you just use what you make and make the things you use.  I’m REALLY far from that reality but I do have lots of rotting wood so I figure it’s worth a shot!

After I filled the trench with rotting wood I had a chance to see how it performed before covering it fully.  After a full day of spring rains I could see that it was holding a lot of water but some was escaping out the side.  I decided to go with that and create an overflow drainage ditch that is higher than the rest of the ditch so the runoff will go where I want it to.  I also caved and just bought a drainage pipe to use in there. I couldn’t figure out how to keep it open enough to move the water while also having it be just shallow enough to just catch overflow?  Maybe one of you knows?

I then filled in the crevices with some smaller sticks to help keep space for air and water.  IMG_0003

I separated out the dirt, soil and compost to rough in what will be the garden beds.  The local tree guys fortuitously called to ask me if I wanted more wood chips the week before so I used those to cover the swale and the garden paths.  They had pine, which apparently isn’t so great for plants but I’m hoping it will be fine since I’m not planting directly over it.

A traditional swale would usually have a raised mound directly down slope from the ditch.  I’m not doing it that way though. Sometimes I like to just half follow directions and see how it goes.  And when I say sometimes I mean usually.  But anyway, I’m hopeful it will work!

Next I covered the swale with wood chips which will serve as the pathways for the garden.

I also put in the beds.  I used large rotting logs to create the boundaries of the bed on the lower level of the garden.  I kind of love dragging big rotting trees from the forest! My hope is that they will help create a barrier for weeds, store extra water and break down over the next few years to eventually add more biomass to the garden. I was lucky enough to find a whole pile of rotted wood that crumbled into soil as soon as I picked it up. I filled up several wheel barrows with this and mixed it in with the soil I saved from digging the swale.  Again, rotting wood from around the property serves as a great free recourse!  And don’t worry, there is still PLENTY of rotting wood out there to feed the forest floor!


Now all I need is to put in a fence and add some extra compost and amendments to the soil.  I’m planning to break down a few more rotting trees to enrich the soil too. I hope it all works!

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“Mama, I love nature.”

“Mama, I love nature.  I love nature more than anyone else loves nature!” said my four year old daughter as I was putting her to bed tonight.  Obviously my heart melted.  And it gave me the feeling like I’m doing something right!

Today we went for what is becoming a weekly walk with friends through the forest.  We dress the kids up for wet and muddy play.  That usually means Bog boots, waterproof rain pants and jackets.  Then we just let them free.  They climb, they run, they jump.  They WALK in streams and mud.  They draw lines in the mud with sticks then use those same sticks to stir in the stream.

IMG_3475Today they surprised me by climbing up a huge rock outcropping.  I watched as my little girl scanned the area for the best path up then carefully climbed with her hands and feet to the top.  At one point I couldn’t help myself and so I shouted up, “do you feel safe?” To which she answered, “yes!”

These are the moments I dreamed of before becoming a mother. Giving my kids the space to explore their own limits and the world around them.  It just doesn’t get much better!

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My Hugelkultur

After dreaming of having one since I first learned about permaculture last spring I finally built a hugelkultur! It’s basically a big pile of rotting wood covered in rotting leaves, dirt and compost. The wood is supposed to act like a sponge, to keep the soil moist and healthy. It’s not the prettiest thing but I was happy to have a place for all the baby tomatoes that kept popping up in my garden!


I built it on a whim one day while my baby slept and my toddler played nearby.  It did what it was supposed to as far as giving my baby tomatoes a place to grow.  Unfortunately I didn’t have much of a gardening budget at the time so I used a super cheap “fence” and T posts.  The deer were able to push up the fence to come in every few weeks and eat whatever had grown.  The wind knocked the poor fence over a few times too.  Plus my husband hated the whole thing.  It was a fun experiment though and it felt good to break ground on what will someday be a new garden bed!

How to get started with Young Living Essential Oils

semicircleSince falling in love with Young Living essential oils I have felt compelled to share their awesomeness with friends near and far.  Getting started can be a bit confusing so I figured I would make this post to explain the process of getting started with Young Living essential oils…

The way that Young Living works is you can sign up either as a “retail customer” or a “wholesale member”.  Wholesale members get to buy oils directly from Young Living at 24% off of the retail price for LIFE!  Most people get started by purchasing a Premium Starter Kit which is $160 and includes 11 of the most popular oils, an essential oil diffuser and a bunch of samples, including samples of the NingXia Red supplement, which so many YL users use daily and LOVE!

The Premium Starter Kit includes:

  • 5 mL bottles of the following essential oils:
    • Lavender (for skin irritations, soothing burns and relaxation),
    • Peppermint (for muscle soreness, digestive support, fresh breath),
    • Lemon (for uplifting, cleaning and great in water),
    • Frankincense (for youthful skin and spiritual connection),
    • PanAway (for pain and discomfort),
    • ​R.C.(for ​respiratory clearing)
    • Thieves (for immunity and well-being),
    • Purification (for stinky trash, cleaning​, bug bites & bug repellent​)
    • ​Copaiba (for supporting skin health, respiratory support & soothing pain)
    • DiGize (for aiding healthy digestion- can vary based on availability)
    • Stress Away (Relaxing yet uplifting blend; great for using in the car!)

I HIGHLY recommend the Premium Starter Kit as it allows you to really start USING your oils.  There is something in there that can help with almost any ailment or mood and having the diffuser is awesome!  I don’t say this to be “salesy” as much as I’ve seen how much more the people who start out with the kit learn to USE and LOVE their oils.

It’s hard to know which oils are going to be your favorite and it can be frustrating to buy a few at retail and not really like them much, although if you choose to go the retail route I would be happy to help you pick some out!   If you have any particular concerns you would like to address using Essential Oils I would love to help you find the right oils or products for that too!

Young Living has been around growing and distilling most of their own oils on their 9 farms around the world using BEYOND organic and sustainable practices for over 20 years. Essential oils is an industry that is largely unregulated and companies can pop up overnight and make lots of claims to purity on their labels, so it’s really important to order from a company that has stood the test of time.

Becoming a member also gives you access to our members only Young Living Facebook group which is an invaluable resource and community for learning all about using EOs.  I’ll also make myself available to you to help you on your “oily journey”.

Does that all make sense?  I’m including my link below but definitely let me know if you have any questions! I LOVE discussing oils and getting other people to fall in love with them is my favorite thing! I’m always happy to help no matter which route you choose 🙂

Leah O’Donnell- Young Living Star Distributor # 3365922


Why sustainable and joyful?

12440606_10154161360189203_5728918624181701933_oA while ago I got to thinking about what it is that I really want in life.  What do I truly value that should be my guiding mantra?

Living a life full of happiness always seems like an important goal! Even if that happiness isn’t being felt in the moment, I want to strive to have a high level of contentment and lots of moments of pure joy. Who wouldn’t, right?

I am a person who can tend to be a little serious and definitely INTENSE at times, so a reminder to always seek joy is a good thing for me.  I want to laugh from my belly everyday.  I want to take time to play. All too often at the end of a long day at home with the kids I realize that although I may be content with the day I didn’t take the time to be silly and really PLAY.  Tomorrow is a new day though, and I hope I can approach it just slightly differently…

The drive towards sustainable living is something that just keeps building in me.  It’s one of those things where the more you learn the harder it is to ignore.  According to climate change researchers, “Reducing consumption and achieving more sustainable lifestyles represents the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions”.  This idea is so powerful yet most of us struggle to minimize our own consumption.  It’s also the source of so much of the seriousness that keeps me from being more joyful.  Like everything REALLY does matter!  Because if one person can do something different one time it MATTERS. And if I can inspire ONE person to do something in a way that is better for themselves it can make a difference!

Somehow I’ve never outgrown the idealist part of myself that emerged as a teenager  and won’t stop believing that change is possible. I think the belief that every little thing matters is what makes that sort of belief at all possible.

Because it DOES!  Anytime I think about a choice for myself I think, what if everyone made this same choice? How would it affect things?  Would it make the world healthier and happier or not? You know, the whole butterfly wing thing just keeps me driven.  If I can’t imagine and do it myself how could I expect other people to do it?

Of course this tends to lead me into perfectionism at times… but that has gotten much better for me over the years!  I allow myself to make mistakes and to occasionally not separate out the compost from the trash.  But it kind of hurts me to do that!  It’s just part of who I am I think.  I NEED to take it seriously.

I also want and need support in trying to live this way.  To live better and to love the world better.  I want to create a place where people can come together to discuss ways that they are working towards consuming less and striving for a more minimalist approach to life.  Once you start opening your heart and mind up to questioning the status quo and trying to live mindfully (rather than mindlessly consuming  mainstream values and habits) it is hard to unlearn and unsee the truth.

So, I’ve created a Facebook group to support these goals.  It started out as a place for friends to support each other on our KonMari journeys but has evolved as we have evolved.  Using KonMari to get in touch with what REALLY matters and sparks joy in life is an AMAZING step.  But let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other as we move towards our visions of living simple happy lives filled with joy where we are truly AWAKE to our affects on the world around us.  What’s working for you?  What’s challenging?  Let’s talk!

Here’s the link to my Facebook group if you want to join!


(Source on causes of climate chage)