Uses for the Essential 4 Pack from Spark Naturals

When it comes to essential oils, things can get very overwhelming, very quickly.  I remember when I first started looking into adding essential oils to our green cleaning and health routines.  Scrolling through pages of information on the internet, browsing hundreds of oils and blends and their uses, I had a bad case of analysis paralysis.  It gave me flashbacks to my early days of looking into cloth diapering- pre folds and covers vs. pockets vs. all in ones, wool vs. PUL, bamboo inserts vs. microfiber.

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It took quite some time and some trial and error to find the best cloth diapering method for our family.  The same is true of essential oils.  I started off with a set of 10 popular essential oils.  I had already been doing some research, so I felt pretty comfortable with the set.  And in the following months, I ordered many more oils.  This was mostly due to my involvement in an auto ship program that had minimum requirements to earn points and commission, more so than a true need for more oils.  While there is no inherent problem with that system, it didn’t align well with our goals of intentional purchasing of only items we really love, need, and use.  All told, it was a good learning experience and helped me to truly see how we would use oils in our home and which oils we would use most frequently.

So after nearly a year of using oils, the most frequently used oils in our home are also some of the most versatile.  When you consider that each essential oil has multiple uses, having even just a few oils in your collection to start can go a long way.  The four oils we use most often in our home are lavender, lemon, peppermint, and melaleuca (tea tree).   Here are just a few of the ways we use each of these oils in our home:

Lavender– (often called Swiss Army knife of oils) soothes minor cuts, scrapes, and burns, calming, add to spray bottle with water for a toxin-free room or linen freshening spray, combine with lemon and peppermint for seasonal allergy relief, soothe insect bites, promote restful sleep, aid with anxiety and depression

Lemon– (my favorite cleaner) amazing degreaser, add to toilet bowl with baking soda and melaleuca for natural toilet cleaner, add to spray bottle of water for natural counter spray, diffuse with peppermint to lift mood and purify air, add to dishwasher for sparkling dishes, ease a runny nose, clean scuff marks

Peppermint- (tummy tamer and more) ease upset tummy, diffuse to help with focus, calm a headache, help bring down a fever, ease nausea and car sickness, add with lemon, baking soda, and water to make a tub and sink cleaning paste

Melaleuca- (natural anti fungal, antibacterial) help cold sore heal quickly, athlete’s foot, head lice prevention, clean insect bites or scrapes, dandruff and dry scalp treatment, great acne fighter, all-purpose disinfectant (especially when combined with lemon), control diaper bag odor

Each of these oils has even more uses, but these are the ways we’ve used them in our home. I love that Spark Naturals offers these 4 powerhouse oils in the Essential 4 pack.  The set is available in 5 ml or 15 ml size bottles and it’s perfect for new oil users or just an economical way to purchase some the most popular, most frequently used oils. In addition to the powerful oils, the kit comes in a dark plastic case, protecting your oils from moisture, air and light, which all negatively impact the life of essential oils.  There is also a small usage card that tells you the English and Latin names for each oil, safe usage guidelines, and some common ways to use each oil.  It’s like a mini reference guide. You can see the case and card in the picture below.

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The Essential 4 Pack is the Oil of the Month for January.  For this month, you can get these oils for just $15.99 (which includes the shipping and tax). It is a great deal to jumpstart your journey to fewer toxic chemicals in your home. The Oil of the Month Club is a great way to build your oil collection. Each month, you are sent a 15 ml size oil for $15.99 (January being the exception with the 4 pack, so you get 20 ml of oil!) You can find a list of the oils for each month here:

http://sparknaturals.com/index.php/oil-month-club/oil-of-the-month-club.html/?id=5142

In addition to the already competitive prices, you can use my coupon code SEARCH4SIMPLE at checkout to receive an additional 10% off your entire order, every time you order.

Remember that making changes to your health and home require research, time, and patience.  Give yourself plenty of all three and make the decisions that are best for you and your family.  Have a happy, healthy day!

-L

A word for 2015

I have always been a lover of words.  My nightstand is constantly a precarious tower of multiple books being read at a time, permeating my life with words and stories, facts and fantasies.  I kept all the flashcards I made for the GRE and still like to look through them from time to time to see if I remember the meanings of the words.  I love when you find just the right word to convey a meaning, like flabbergasted instead of just plain surprised.

Sometimes just one word can carry so much weight.  Birth, death, love, divorce, family, cancer, friends…I am sure you can think of many more.

I had heard of the idea to use one word to help define your goals for the New Year.  I have always been one to set goals in January. A new year feels like a fresh start, a time to dream big. My goals are usually quite specific, as it’s in the details that goals are made to be attained.  But I liked the idea of having all my goals linked to one word.

So I decided to give this one word idea a try.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  What one word would keep my goals fresh in my mind, grounded when things got in the way?  My first thought was “contentment”.  The word certainly aligns with my goals in many ways, but it wasn’t quite right.

After lots of lists and words struck through, I found it.  Focus.  It’s defined as a central point, as of attraction, attention or activity.  Here is what focus means for me in 2015:

To look into my children’s eyes and focus on their words when they speak.  To focus my heart on hearing what they have to say, really feeling their tender touches.

To focus on my marriage by spending quality time with my husband, loving him as my best and most trusted friend, and serving him in making our house a home.

To focus our home education by carefully choosing curriculum and materials that both suit our family and honor God.

To eliminate distractions like phone alerts or unproductive internet time to focus on tasks and people at hand.

To focus on the many blessings I’ve been given each day, eliminate excess, and make my overabundance a blessing for others.

To eat mindfully and give thanks for my meals rather than eat rapidly while checking emails or news.

To pay attention to the needs of my body and mind, giving it rest, leisure, and work when needed.

To focus on my true passions, like writing, reading, spending time in nature.  God has given me these unique passions for the purpose of bringing him glory and I want to honor that.

Ultimately, I choose to focus on Christ.  For when I focus on my creator, savior, redeemer, all these other things listed above will happen as He reveals His will for my life. I pray that this year of focus will more closely align my heart with His in ways that will delight and surprise me.

I encourage you to find your own word and to join me in a year of focus.

-L

Spark Naturals Essential Oils

Happy New Year!

While I love the holidays and all the joy they bring, I really look forward to January with its fresh starts, new goals, and blank pages to be written. One goal from last year that carries over to 2015 is finding natural alternatives for cleaning and wellness.

Last year, I was introduced to the world of essential oils and it was love at first use.  Essential oils have drastically changed our cleaning methods and dealing with minor health concerns.  My cleaning routines and shopping lists have become shorter, simpler versions of their previous selves due to the versatility of essential oils.

After spending most of last year using oils from another company, I eventually started looking into other options for essential oils.  I was looking for a company with high quality products that promoted accessibility to oils for all budgets and needs without the complex business structure or need for annual membership for the best pricing.

I had heard of Spark Naturals oils and was anxious to try them.  Last fall, I ordered Spark Naturals Essential 4 Pack of Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint and Melaleuca. These are the oils we use most in our home for cleaning and they are some of the most versatile oils, period. (Post coming soon about how I use these specific oils) I was very impressed with the oils from Spark Naturals and have continued to order their oils.

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Why I love Spark Naturals:

Quality: Spark Naturals sources their oils from plants grown in their indigenous regions.  This is important to me as plants grow best in their home environments.  The high quality of plants can lead to a higher quality oil.  In my research on essential oils, I have learned to look for the Latin plant name, country of origin, and distillation methods ( i.e. cold pressing for citrus oils, steam distillation for other oils) as markers for quality.  Spark Naturals provides that information by oil on the website. All Spark Naturals oils are tested for composition and quality.

Accessibility: Spark Naturals’ commitment to accessibility is evident in their business model.  They offer all oils in 5 ml size, making trying oils more affordable. The 5 ml size is perfect for those new to essential oils, on a limited budget, or just trying a new oil or blend for the first time. There are no memberships required to get the best pricing.  The Oil of the Month Club is a great, economical way to build your essential oil collection.  For just $15.99 per month, you will receive a 15 ml oil.  AND for January 2015, the Oil of the Month is actually the Essential 4 Pack featuring a 5 ml Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca, and Peppermint! It’s a fantastic value for those just starting their essential oil journey.  (A full listing of the Oil of the Month for 2015 is available at http://idevaffiliate.sparknaturals.com/idevaffiliate.php?id=5142 )

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In addition to the already great pricing, you can use my coupon code SEARCH4SIMPLE to receive an additional 10% off your order at checkout!  This code is good for use every time you place an order.  Plus you can get free shipping on orders over $55 in the continental U.S.  Lots to love :).

Integration: When first learning about essential oils, you learn two things. First, there is so much to learn and lots of research to be done.  Second, there are many tools that will make using your oils safer and easier.  Spark Naturals offers usage guides, diffusers, carrier oils, roller bottles, oils cases, etc right on the website to help you in using your oils well.  It’s great to be able to get everything I need at one place.

If green cleaning, fewer chemicals, and natural alternatives are among your goals for the New Year, give Spark Naturals a try!

-L

Beans in the Crockpot

With the New Year here, many people make resolutions or goals of eating better, cooking at home more, eating less processed food, etc.  One of my favorite tools to accomplish all of these things is the crockpot.  Oh how i love my crockpot.  In fact, I have two large ones that we use several times a week.

A few years ago, I wanted to make refried beans for dinner and realized I was out of the canned variety that we used to keep in our pantry.  I had dried pinto beans on hand, so I decided to look for a recipe to quick cook the beans on the stove.  I have not had the best luck cooking beans on the stove, but didn’t think there was another way.  My results with beans on the stove had been inconsistent.  Sometimes the beans were too hard even after soaking overnight and cooking for hours.  Others times they were over cooked.

While Google searching for the ingredients I would need to cook the beans on the stove, I ran across a recipe for cooking refried beans in the crockpot.  I was intrigued and figured it wouldn’t be any worse than how my beans usually turned out on the stove.  I was pleasantly surprised when the beans were the perfect texture after cooking in the crockpot.  And the best part…no soaking overnight required (there are definitely some benefits to soaking beans, but we have had great results without soaking as well)!  I have tweaked the original recipe over the past few years and the result is a family favorite.  Here is our recipe for Crockpot Refried Beans:

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Crockpot Refried Beans

Cook time :5-6 hours

Ingredients

2 cups dried pinto beans, washed

1 large yellow or white onion, coarsely chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (We like garlic so I opt for 3 cloves)

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1.5 tsp salt

5 cups of water

Add all ingredients to crockpot, set on high and cook approximately 5-6 hours, stirring half way through cooking time.  Beans may be finished in as little as 4 hours as the high temp on crockpots can widely vary.  Scoop finished beans into food processor and blend to desired consistency.  Use as a side dish, in burritos, on nachos, as a dip, or any other way you can think of.  A great variation is to add chipotle pepper for a richer flavor.

The crockpot method is also great for black beans and garbanzo beans. We will be enjoying these today as we hopefully cheer the Steelers on to victory!

-L