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.

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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.

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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!

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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 LMKOLENDA@gmail.com 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 ?

 

The REAL reason why choosing organic matters

I can trace my health and wellness journey back to my teen years.  It was then that I was struck by the reality that I felt bad about animals being killed.  A friend had hit a chicken with her car and was really upset about it and so was I!  But the irony of sharing these tears over chicken burgers was not lost to my fourteen-year-old self.

My struggle toward mindful living could be seen in those early years but continues to be a major theme even now over twenty years later.  It’s SO hard in our culture where mindless and passive consumption seems to be the norm.  Just don’t think about it…

We all know that organic food is good for us, but is conventional “bad”?  Is it really such a big deal if me or my kids eat something that has been grown using conventional pesticides?

Well, on an individual level, no, it’s not terrible, I don’t think?  As a mom I’ve enjoyed taking a middle ground where we TRY to eat mostly organic but don’t stress about it too much.  And I REALLY want to avoid making our food into a stressful thing.

But…

What is the TRUE cost of “conventional” farming?  A few years ago I read this article and it kind of blew my mind.  Somehow the full effect of conventional farming was something I hadn’t really grasped before – the effect that crop dusting has on the farmers working the fields, the families living near by, the ground water and rivers that provide drinking water to the community, the nearby ecosystem of endangered animals, livestock that provide milk, cheese and meat to people. PEOPLE.  FAMILIES.  CHILDREN.  Woah…

It just made and makes me sick to think that this is what is considered normal.  Spraying toxic substances with KNOWN cancer causing chemicals onto our food and onto farmers and nearby families.   And THIS is “normal” and “conventional”?  And I’m the weird one for wanting to seek out organic?

In the past year or so I’ve been thinking more and more about where “stuff” comes from too. Discovering Konmari was super inspiring for me in this regard.  The fact that consumption is the leading cause of global warming rather than just population is a very interesting and upsetting reality. Somehow I had managed to go 34 years without thinking about the environmental impact of manufacturing and the impact of manufacturing on the people who work in the factories, the families who live nearby and breathe in the pollution from the factories, the animals in the surrounding areas…

I think for most people (myself included) there is a disconnect between what it actually MEANS when we buy something.  What is the impact on a broader scale?  Where does the cotton for my new t-shirt come from?  Who picked it?  What was the factory like where it was made?  What sorts of toxic chemicals were used in the growing, harvesting and manufacturing of it? The effects of GMO cotton seeds (Monsanto!!!) on the PEOPLE  of the villages is upsetting for sure.  Here’s a good recourse for seeking out ethical and fair trade clothing companies, and my favorite for affordable and ethical basics here.

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The idea of “Fair Trade” being a thing you can choose is baffling to me too.  Why is this a choice?  Why is unethical treatment of workers “conventional” and we have to seek out clothes and food that were manufactured in ways that allow people to retain dignity and a minimal quality of life?  Organic manufacturing tends to be better in this regard too, which is a good reminder to me when I’m feeling temped by low prices.

When my first baby was born I really tried to only put her in organic clothes.  My reasoning behind it was that her skin was so delicate and I didn’t want chemicals seeping into her sweet little body.  People thought that was strange.  I’ve tried for years to buy mostly organic food to keep my family healthy.  I always justify it with the idea that I am voting with my dollar and the more people who demand organic, the more affordable it will come for everyone.

I never thought about the REALLY important reason to choose organic though.  The unseen and unheard PEOPLE who quietly work in the farms and factories.  The FAMILIES who live nearby.  I want to choose to support their health and quality of life too.  Call me idealistic, I don’t care.  That’s a compliment to me for sure.  Because I WANT things to be better.  I NEED to see the world start to heal from years of mistreatment and neglect. Our children NEED to grow up as gentle and mindful consumers.  This is the REAL reason why choosing organic matters.

This is the kind of stuff that just screams “sustainable and joyful” to me.  I really want to feel truly good and joyful about the choices I make as a consumer.  Yes, it’s more expensive to buy this way.  But what if we all just bought less? And I take it one day and one decision at a time.  Because EVERYthing makes a difference.  Even the smallest change matters.  That being said, I’m far from perfect on this stuff.  Sometimes convenience just wins out.  But I’m trying!

What are your thoughts on this?  Any good recourses for living a more mindful life as a consumer?

 

DIY essential oil bug spray

It’s Spring, which means that in addition to the amazing rebirth of flowers and leaves, the bug are back too! Essential oils can be a great all natural way to help deter pesky and dangerous bugs.  The list of oils that serve as insect deterrents is long so I picked out a few of the ones I’ve seen most commonly listed to make my DIY tick spray.  I used equal parts of the following Young Living essential oils:

Geranium

Eucalyptus Globulus

Lemongrass

Cedarwood

I put about 10 drops of each in a spray bottle with some high proof alcohol to help them disperse and filled with water.  I’m sure boiled or distilled water would be best but I just used tap.

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I’ve been using this mixture sprayed directly onto the back of my cats necks in the morning for the past month. I’ve only found one tick, which is better than during the same time period last year using a conventional toxic treatment.  The added bonus is that this blend smells great and from an aromatherapy perspective is very uplifting and relaxing!  I’ve done a LOT of research on essential oil brands and I only trust Young Living oils to have the potency and purity necessary to be effective and safe.  You can read more about this here.

This mixture is also nice to spray on your legs or clothes when going into area where you are expecting to find ticks.  I also make it a habit to shower and do a tick check within an hour of returning from the woods.  Removing ticks quickly is the best way to prevent them from transmitting disease but there is plenty on that available elsewhere on the internet!

If you are more concerned with mosquitos using the Purification blend in a similar way would be a good place to start.  It contains Citronella, which has been historically used to keep bugs away.  Purification contains Tea Tree though, which is one to be avoided on cats so I didn’t include it in this spray.

Good luck and let me know how this works for you!

 

SUPER simple non-toxic air freshener

I used to be a big fan of scented candles and incense. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to go to a college that didn’t allow you to burn incense in your room!  Haha.   I bought conventional brands because they were cheap and smelled nice.

That all changed when I got pregnant for the first time all of a sudden I had a HUGE aversion to scented anything. It was like my body instinctively knew that they weren’t good for me.   I even ditched my perfume collection because I just didn’t have the stomach for it anymore.  I avoided that said “fragrance” after learning it was usually just a nice word for synthetic toxic chemicals that happened to have a smell.

Many air fresheners contain “phthalates which are hazardous chemicals know to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems”.  The really crazy thing is that since these products are food the manufacturers don’t even have to list that on the label! They can even call the product “unscented” or “all natural” and still be full of toxic chemicals KNOWN to cause cancer.  But if you are breathing something in, you are consuming it.  It’s getting into your blood and your cells.  That’s just how it is. See source here. 

Discovering essential oils has been a reawakening to the world of scents for me. Finally I found a healthy way to scent the air and myself! Diffusing true therapeutic grade oils smells great and you are getting the health benefits of the oils at the same tine.  I have a cool mist diffuser that we use daily and LOVE.  I like diffusing calming blends in the afternoon and sleep enhancing blends in the bedroom at night. If we feel any sickness coming on I choose blends that boost immunity.  It’s all SO lovely!

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But my inspiration for THIS post is my SUPER simple non-toxic bathroom air freshener!  Young Living’s Purification blend is PERFECT oil to use if you are making this for the bathroom as it really helps to clean the air and has a fresh scent but you can have fun and experiment with different oils! I have one for the bedroom that has lavender.  It’s so nice to spritz over the bed before getting in or on the sheets when I change them.

The supplies you will need are:

  • Glass spray bottles
  • Alcohol
  • Essential oil of your choice
  • water

Glass spray bottles are best to use since essential oils  can break down petrochemicals and therefore degrade the plastic over time.  I bought my spray bottles here.  Pour in a few tablespoons of alcohol. I used vodka but any clear alcohol should work.  Then about 10-20 drops essential oils.  I’m way into my Young Living oils as you may have noticed.  If you want to hear more about why check out my post on “My Essential Oil Obsession”.

But anyway, just combine the alcohol, essential oils, water and shake before using.  That’s it!IMG_0147

Purification just smells CLEAN to me and I love how it makes my house smell like I’ve been scrubbing the floors even when it’s been a while since that actually happened! Another added bonus of Purification spray is that it doubles as a bug spray since one of the main ingredients in Purification is Citronella!

So I have my Purification foaming soap and the air freshener in the bathroom at all times and LOVE them!  I hope you do too!

 

KonMari really is magic

KonMari is a method of home organization created by Marie Kondo and I’m joyfully obsessed with it. And coincidentally so are lots of my friends. I hadn’t seen two of my good friends in months and when we got together we were happily surprised to learn that we were all into it and a little obsessed. It was nice to be with my people who get it when I go a little glassy eyed talking about something that I’m all amped up about. Because, it really is magic.
I wouldn’t say I was ever a hoarder. A person might say that about me, but I tend to view myself as just really creative in imagining the uses a thing can have. I can conjure up the story of a time when any item I own would be just the thing I need. So, in that spirit I have been holding on to tons of stuff “just in case”.
Marie Kondo, or MK as many of her follows refer to her, cuts right through that thinking with her ingeniously simple criteria for whether or not an item should remain in our possession. Does the item spark joy? If not, thank it for it’s service and “release it”. Woah. Why didn’t I think of this myself?
How is it that so many of us have been led so far astray from what truly brings us joy in life that such a simple question seems trivial at first? How did I mindlessly live with so many items that I neither needed or really enjoyed? A sense of guilt for acquiring them forced me to hold on even after their useful period had long since ended. I feared letting go of the “stuff”. But why, when letting go means releasing the item so that it can spark joy for someone else who really needs or wants it? Right?
There is this attitude that donating stuff means giving it up forever and that that’s a bad thing. But jeez, that MK has helped me to see that donating things is SUCH a good feeling. “Releasing” items to go on and live their own lives feels right. And yeah, MK sees objects as animate, which seems strange at first but the more I did it the more I realized that it’s exactly what I had been unconsciously doing when I held onto old t-shirts from my 20s for sentimental reasons. The idea of thanking objects seems pretty hokey at first too. But… um… it is seriously part of the magic! It feels wrong to just throw out things that had meant so much at one point, even if they are being donated, so this helps with the transition. It’s like a little ceremony in my head.

For me Konmari has felt like the beginning of a new way of living and being. It really is spiritual tidying. Konmari is the tool but the way of living that it inspires is more. The physical purge of decluttering has allowed me to get back in touch with what I truly value in life and how I want to live. It has helped me to cut through the mental and physical clutter and find the things that truly “spark joy”. I’m finding ways to have natural rhythms in my days and weeks that helps me and my children to have a feeling of comfortable control over our lives. I’m buying less through intentional consumerism. KonMari has given me space in my mind, my home and in my days. And it’s been SO good. I think it all comes down to appreciating what we do have and doing more with less.
Marie Kondo’s book, “The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” is one of the most life changing books I’ve ever read. She can talk you out of keeping anything that doesn’t spark joy with her simple and clear outlook. She wants us to live our lives surrounded with the things in life that matter and bring us joy. It is so refreshing and just what I needed.

(Our tidy play area… I REALLY should have taken a before picture! hahaha)

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