How to Grow Your Instagram with Instagram for Success

instagram for success

This post may contain affiliate links.

Some of you may have heard me raving about Instagram lately and how important it is to use as one of your social media platforms. Instagram is the social media platform with the most dedicated engagement so it makes sense to use it as a part of your business, blog or even personally. Plus it’s pretty, lol. I love all the gorgeous pictures that get posted there and often scroll through just to enjoy the beauty.

But until recently, I had heard of Instagram but really knew nothing about it. It wasn’t a social media platform I used. I didn’t understand hashtags, I got frustrated with finding and keeping followers and I didn’t think that I could in any way shape or form come up with the gorgeous photos that I was seeing posted by other people. Plus it felt like work to add one more thing to my social media plan and because I didn’t understand it – so I needed someone to convince me that it really was worth my time and effort.

In comes Helene Sula of Helene in Between. I had connected with her in one of my Facebook groups (as I am an avid worker of FB) and she was talking more and more about her program Instagram for Success and how you could use it to drive traffic to your blog and even make money! She referred to the fact that Instagram was the most used social media platform, that there was a huge reach and tons of potential. She also talked about her personal success with Instagram and how her success on this platform allowed her to move to Germany and live her dream of travelling while still generating an income. This intrigued me.

Her online course Instagram for Success, is being relaunched this week and you can join the course now until July 26, when the doors close. This online course is a go at your own pace with lifetime access. It includes 33 videos and 16 worksheets and downloads, not including the bonuses. Plus you receive the updates as they come out, straight to your inbox! And as a course participant with lifetime access you automatically receive any updates to the course and new content or changes. There’s also a 30 day money back guarantee, so if your not happy with the course she guarantees your money back.

I don’t know about you but I like the words online, own pace and lifetime access. This totally takes the pressure off to get it done – and then I find it fun and move through the course because I want to, I like it and I’m excited about it.

What is Instagram for Success exactly?

Instagram for Success will help you grow your followers, engagement, make money, learn how to edit like a pro, and so much more. It is a very comprehensive course where you’ll learn everything from how to set up your account and create an engaging bio, to finding your own voice and style, how to gain followers, decipher the Instagram algorithms, finding your ideal followers, mistakes to avoid, how to make the best use of hashtags (how to find the ones that fit for you) and how to take and edit great photos (this was the best piece for me!)

This course is for anyone (whether you are a beginner or an Instagram veteran) who wants to have more of a presence on Instagram and make money. Whether you’re a blogger, website, store or business the techniques you’ll learn in this course will benefit you and create more success on your Instagram.

instagram for success

I also love Helene she is such a vibrant, alive and passionate, fun person that you can’t help but like her. She tells it to you straight but also really encourages you to make your Instagram account your own. She shows you how to create your own voice and style to make your account stand out from the rest and not some cookie cutter recipe that makes your account look the same as everyone else’s. Yes she gives you general tips and guidelines to get you started but they are a template that you start with and create yours from there. This I found invaluable as I don’t want to be another cookie cutter.

She’s also super helpful and responsive. If you have a question, you can email her and she’ll answer you fairly quickly. I love this about her as I hate it when I take a course and have questions but can’t find anyone to answer them. I like having the support of the community and the instructor at my fingertips.

How I Was Successful With This Course

I was in a space where I was ready to take my blog to the next level (as well as working as a VA). I was curious about Instagram and I really wanted to move the blog out of the hobby phase to a spot where I could generate an actual income. (Cause honestly I love to write and share but it takes a lot of time and work and I would love to do what I love and make a living too). I also knew this knowledge would really benefit me as a VA and could be another skill that I could add that would benefit my clients.

I was a complete newbie to Instagram. I knew absolutely nothing. I didn’t even have my own account yet, but I took the leap and signed up. And I was not disappointed.

I grew my Instagram following, found hashtags with ease and have a very good understanding of how Instagram works and how to make it work for me. I have had great success in growing my own account as well as the accounts of many of my clients. We’re getting tons of engagement and growth all around and it’s very exciting!

The other thing that’s really improved is my photos. I learned tips on how to take a better photo (without the fancy camera, just my phone) and how to edit them to make them even better. I learned the art of creating flatlays – I find those quite fun – and love playing with different layouts. It gets my creative juices flowing and now I’m always on the lookout for flatlay ‘props’ and ideas. It’s allowed me to step up my game in a way I never thought I could and to do it easily. Yes I said easily, cause honestly who wants it to be hard? I’m all about ease.

When I first heard of and started with Instagram I felt really lost understanding how it worked, but with Helene’s course she provides lots of details on how to do and find stuff, tips and tricks to make it smoother, easier, faster but still professional and creating the kind of engagement that you want. She also makes it fun, which is another reason why I love doing Instagram not only for myself but for my clients!

When you sign up, you’ll join hundreds of Instagrammers just like you, ready to grow. And you’ll find a community that will support you and help bolster your Instagram. Following her method you’ll have wonderful success and engagement and you’ll have fun doing it to. Register before July 26th and take your Instagram to a whole new level. Don’t miss out!

Top 10 Uses of Peppermint Essential Oil

peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil is one of the most commonly known and used essential oils yet many people do not fully realize the benefits of this fabulous oil. Personally I love peppermint, well all things mint really, I’ve always loved the freshness of it and the invigorating smell that peppermint provides. I’ve used peppermint in many things from smoothies to chocolates but until I embarked on this journey learning about oils I honestly thought that that was about all it could do. Sure it smelled nice but that was it right?

Wrong! Peppermint has many uses and health benefits to support us in our health and wellness, plus the smell is fantastic! In fact, many of them I now use daily to support my own health (can we say muscle tension after sitting all day at the computer?)

Benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil

  1. Invigorating and energizing – if you’re experiencing that afternoon slump or just need a pick me up, peppermint essential oil will do the trick. Place a drop in your palms and rub them together then loosely cup your hands over your mouth and nose and breathe deeply. Within moments you’ll feel energized and refreshed. You can also diffuse peppermint with wild orange to enhance the effects and keep you energized all day.
  2. peppermint essential oilSupports digestion – add a drop of peppermint into your water to support healthy digestion. This is also very effective if you’re experiencing digestive discomforts to alleviate those as well.
  3. Reduces heartburn – eliminate the discomfort of heart burn within minutes. Put a drop on your hand and lick it off or add to your water and drink.
  4. Alleviates headaches – place a drop on the back of your neck or on the temples to assist in eliminating headaches. Be careful when placing it on your temples not to get it too close to your eyes.
  5. Relieves muscle tension and stress – ok I didn’t think this one would work but my shoulders were feeling so tight one day I tried it. Put a drop on the area that is bothering you and give yourself a nice little massage 🙂 not only will you immediately notice the cooling sensation which is nice in itself, but it will start to release and relieve muscle tension (my shoulders say thank you).
  6. Supports breathing – peppermint clears the airways and opens things up for good clear breathing. I have a friend who’s having some breathing issues, having a hard time taking a full breath and constantly coughing. She started drinking peppermint tea on a regular basis (1 drop peppermint oil in the bottom of your mug, then add hot water and approach the mug respectfully) which has reduced her cough and opened up her airways so she can breath more deeply.
  7. Freshens bad breath – add a drop on the tongue or to your toothpaste for fresh clean breath.
  8. Improves mental focus and clarity – place a drop in the palm of your hands, rub them together and then cup your hands gently over your nose. Breath deeply, this will bring you back to a place of focus and a clear head.
  9. Natural insect repellant – there are many bugs who do not like peppermint. Ants, spiders, ticks, mosquitos and even lice will be repelled.
  10. Allergy relief – because it is highly effective in opening up the nasal passages it can clear out the muck and pollen during allergy season. Taken in combination with lemon and lavender essential oils this can be a very effective method of clearing allergies during allergy season (In fact, we recently went camping and soon after we arrived at the site my daughter got red itchy eyes and her face started to puff up. I gave her the lavender, lemon, peppermint combination and within 20 minutes she was clear and comfortable).
  11. Anti itch – any time my kids get a bug bite we immediately put on a drop of peppermint and lavender which cools the redness and soothes the itch.

peppermint essential oil

Ok so that was 11 but I thought I’d throw in a bonus one. I also use peppermint essential oil in my homemade chocolates as well as many of my smoothies. It works great in a pinch when I don’t have any fresh on hand (be aware though one drop is likely all you need).

We love peppermint and use it daily in supporting our health and wellness. Give it a try and see how peppermint essential oil benefits you and your family.

*One thing that is important to note is that not all brands of essential oils are safe to ingest. Not all oils are created equally and many store brands have synthetics and fillers in them. If one brand gives you a headache this could be why, so try another brand.

Make sure that your essential oils are 100% certified pure essential oils. I trust the doTERRA Brand Essential Oils because they exceed the highest quality standards and many of them are safe to ingest. They are clearly labeled and indicate whether or not you are able to use them internally. They are also highly potent oils because they are 100% pure and of such high quality – so you will be using less oil for the same effect compared to other brands.

Want to learn more about essential oils but don’t know where to start? Check out the Top 5 Essential Oils for Beginners.

Tips for Taking Kids to the Calgary Stampede Parade with Ease

calgary stampede parade

Kicking off “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, the Calgary Stampede Parade is a world famous parade that showcases floats, bands, riders, cultural entries and much more. Led by the World Champion Stampede Show Band this two hour parade is not one you want to miss and is an important part of the Stampede experience.

Calgary Stampede ParadeWhen I first came to Calgary I was scared away from going to the Calgary Stampede Parade (attended by up to 400,000 people each year) by my boyfriend at the time. He told me horror stories about how you had to get up at 5 in the morning to go downtown and claim your spot so you had a decent place to view the parade – which started at 9. The whole idea of going down that early and waiting around for the parade for hours just did not appeal to me, no matter how much I loved parades, so I never went.

And I definitely could not imagine getting up that early and doing that with kids! So it’s ironic that it wasn’t until I had kids that I started going to the Stampede Parade. My oldest was 8 the first time we went, and the twins were 2. I really wanted to go and I was tired of waiting around for someone to come with me and being scared by the prospect of not being able to find a spot to sit.

The Magic Formula

Calgary Stampede ParadeA few years earlier my sister had been in town and had gone to the parade with her girlfriend who lived here in Calgary. Her girlfriend had discovered a ‘secret formula’ that allowed her to go down to the parade at a reasonable time and still get a decent spot to sit and view the parade – with her kids and without fighting the crowds; so I took a chance and tried her method to take my kids to the parade without having to go down for 5 am (which honestly is ridiculous). Sure you can purchase bleacher seats and show up whenever you want but these tend to be expensive and few, as 80% of the route is free seating.

It worked beautifully. Not only did we get super spots, right on the curb to view the parade, we only had to wait for an hour or so before the parade came our way (and there is pre parade entertainment starting at 7:30 am) – so it was super easy to keep the kids entertained and engaged until the parade started. Honestly it was fantastic, the kids loved the parade and I was so glad that I had taken a chance and went.

Now we attend the parade every year using this technique that well, yes I am going to share with you, as well as these 6 other tips to make your Calgary Stampede Parade experience with kids not only memorable but easy and fun for all.

7 Easy Tips for Taking Kids to the Calgary Stampede Parade

Pack a Healthy Lunch & Snacks – a well fed kid is a happy kid and you are a happy parent. I always pack lots of snacks and a lunch for everyone so that nobody gets cranky from being hungry. Yes there are places downtown where you can purchase food, but the pickings may not be the most healthy and lines will be long. If you bring your own not only can you choose foods that you want your kids to eat (and they enjoy) but they can eat when they’re hungry and you don’t have to go chasing after food or make them wait.

Calgary Stampede ParadeBring Folding Chairs – you may find these a bit challenging to carry with the kids but believe me it is worth it (and as they get older they can carry their own chairs). Watch the parade in comfort as sitting for two hours on the curb can make your butt pretty sore. The kids will likely be up and down from their chairs but that’s ok, still make sure everyone has their own as everyone will be more comfortable. They are also great space markers if you have to zip to the bathroom or run and grab something and don’t have another adult to leave behind to ‘guard the spot’.

Get into the Spirit of Stampede (and get the kids excited about it) – dress for it! Grab cowboy hats and boots, jeans and button down shirts and wear them to the parade. Kids gear is not that expensive or you can buy second hand. The kids will love dressing up and it’ll build their excitement and interest in what’s happening.

Bring Hats, Suncreen and Water – it can get very hot along the parade route and you are sitting there for at least two hours. Make sure you have full water bottles for everyone, hats (cowboy style of course) and sunscreen. Some places along the route provide some shade then turn into sun or vice versa so be prepared.

calgary stampede paradeDress in Layers (or at least bring a sweater and raincoat) – my mother always taught me to be prepared and that you never go out the door without your raincoat, even when the sun is shining brightly (we all know how fast Calgary weather can change). It also tends to be cooler in the morning as you are waiting and the parade starts and much warmer by the time the parade is over. If you bring a few layers it allows you to put on and take off as needed so that your body temperature is comfortable during the parade.

Pick Your Spot at the end of the Parade Route – this is what I do every year and we find a really good spot curbside for the kids. We drive down and park near the end of the route, getting down there by 9 in the morning, and we never have an issue getting a spot. Now this year they have thrown me for a bit of a loop because they have reversed the parade route – going backwards to what they usually do – so this throws a bit of a glitch into my plan, but the same concept will apply. We find our spot at the end wait maybe an hour for it to start (doesn’t that sound way better than 5 am) and the parade is finished on our end by noon.

Bring backpacks and/ or a wagon – you’re probably wondering how you’re going to carry all this stuff. When the kids were smaller I would bring a large backpack that I put everything in and a wagon for the chairs. As they got older though they would bring their own backpacks and carry their own chairs (seriously start them early and it will become second nature to them – when we went to Florida this year there were times I carried nothing because everyone could carry their own stuff, it was fantastic).

The parade really is a wonderful experience and can easily be enjoyed with kids and by parents with these easy tips (one tip for parents if you want coffee bring your own the line ups for this coveted beverage are crazy!)

Calgary Stampede Parade Combo

It is not one to be missed simply because you’re concerned about the crowd or getting a spot, these can be easily navigated. Really everyone is down there to have fun and enjoy the parade. So as long as everyone is mindful, patient and polite the Calgary Stampede Parade can be added to the memory books as a positive experience and one that is enjoyed year after year.

Calgary Stampede Parade

Have a tip you use when taking your kids to the parade? Share in the comments below.

Thinking of taking the kids down to Stampede grounds? Check out these tips to get the most out of your day, have fun and keep everybody happy.

Top 10 Essential Oils for Brain Fog

Have you ever had one of those days when you just couldn’t concentrate? You had a mountain of things to do but just couldn’t focus? It is literally like we are in a fog and we can see to the other side but can’t get out. The good news is we can do something about it. Recently my colleague and friend, Krista Strayer of Flourish Yoga, wrote a fabulous piece on the Top 10 Essential Oils that can be used to clear brain fog. Read on below to discover how you can get focused and get the job done quicker! And comment below with your favorite essential oil to lift the brain fog.

brain fog

Essential oils support brain function on many levels from oils that stimulate the brain, calm the nervous system to relieve the fight or flight response, to oils that help reduce inflammation throughout the the body which can also lead to brain fog.

The Powerful Sense of Smell

sense of smellEssential Oils directly access the brain through the olfactory bulb which is strongly linked to emotional state and memory function. The olfactory system is connected to the hippocampus, brain stem, auditory cortex and many other areas of the amygdala. This means that through our sense of smell we are able to positively influence thought processing. Going beyond the scent of Lavender reminding you of your Grandma it will also help to calm the brain stem and assist with auditory learning.

Crossing the Barrier

Another way that essential oils assist with brain health is through the blood-brain barrier. The brain has a unique built-in protective system that prevents toxins and harmful substances from affecting the brain. The blood vessels are lined with endothelial cells that create a barrier between the blood system of the brain and the rest of the body. Many drugs are not able to cross this barrier to help heal the brain. Essential Oils have this ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and act quickly to reduce inflammation and assist cellular regeneration.

My top 10 Essential Oils for Brain Fog to keep the brain healthy, reduce stress and focus better.  Mix and match these essential oils together to create a brain and focus blend to use in your diffuser and roller-bottles with the oils you have in your cupboard. Don’t use oils internally unless they are CSPG Certified such as Doterra Oils.

The Top 10 Essential Oils for Brain Fog

 

1. Peppermint – Invigorating and Stimulating

brain fogPeppermint is a versatile oil that helps with everything from indigestion, bug repellent, and improved athletic performance. It’s most widely known though for its ability to perk us up and keep you alert. Spritz peppermint on your child’s shirt, sip it in water or inhale from the palms of your hands with a drop of wild orange and frankincense to improve mental clarity and focus.

2. Rosemary – Refreshing and Clearing

brain fogUsed in ancient times by scholars to increase focus but wearing rosemary leaves around the neck. Rosemary contains the chemical carnosol which  reduces inflammation and helps nerve tissue growth. Apply diluted rosemary to the back of the neck or bottoms of the feet to boost memory and brain function. Or diffuse with frankincense and peppermint and while studying.

3. Vetiver – Exotic and Grounding

This grass root harvested in Haiti is known for its ability to ground and soothe emotions. brain fogDiffuse or apply topically with Lavender to the feet, spine or back of the neck to improve focus and concentration. Combine with Melissa and diffuse or apply to pulse points to decrease anxiety and severe stress.

Click here for full article and the other 7 brain fog essential oils…

8 Tips for Gardening with Kids

gardening with kids

I love getting outside with the kids and digging in the garden. They love getting out there and putting their hands in the dirt, planting their seeds and then watching attentively each day waiting for that first bit of green to come up.

They get so excited when it peeks through and though I sometimes have to tell them things like not to overwater their plants, they love the experience and enjoy the success of producing their own flowers or food.

Benefits of Gardening with Kids

mud activitiesGardening with children provides many benefits and learning and you can start involving them at a very young age. It builds upon their innate curiosity to learn and ask why, learning by doing and of course nurturing their love of playing in the dirt (playing in the dirt is actually good for you!)

It teaches them responsibility, environmental awareness, patience and developmental benefits such as fine motor skills and planning and organizing. There’s even scientific and math concepts that you can teach through gardening which I always find so amazing how nature can teach us just by being involved with it. Plus it’s a fabulous bonding experience and it’s fun! Not to mention that your outside getting exercise and soaking up the sunshine.

Gardening with kids can be super easy and with these tips you’ll have success in no time.

Tips for Gardening with Kids

Give them their own spot – this is the most important thing. The kids need to feel like they have their own spot that they can garden in and that you are ok to relinquish control over! You should certainly work with them and guide them on what to do, but you really want to allow them to do it and try a few things as that is how they learn. It’s ok for them to plant a seed too deep and have it not come up or to over water an area. Yes you want them to experience success but it’s also ok for them to experience something not working. Then there’s the opportunity to discuss and explore why. And if you don’t have a lot of space try container or pallet gardening.

IMG_0900Give them their own gardening tools – set them up with their own kids size gardening gloves, garden shovel, knee pad, etc. which are easily found at your local garden center or online sites like Amazon. When they have their own tools to work with it makes them feel more important and that they have more control. Also make sure their tools are durable and strong, invest in the metal ones, not plastic that can break easily.

Start from seed – one of the best learning experiences in the garden is to start right from the beginning. I know in some climates the growing season is short and it’s easier to buy seedlings and plant those. Children will learn more by seeing the growing process right from the beginning – plus they get so excited when they see that first shoot of green peeking through.

In those situations start your seeds earlier inside and then transplanting them to the outdoor garden once it’s warmed up (here in Calgary rule of thumb is nothing until after May long weekend). You could do a combination, some from seed and a few of seedlings, which is what I tend to do, which provides both experiences.

Let them pick what they want to plant – if they get to choose what plants they want then this not only empowers them it gives them a more vested interest in what’s happening. As the parent give them choices that would work in your garden space and that will provide the kids with the most success. Choose from this Top 10 list of Crops for Children which are easy to grow, have short growing seasons and are fun to harvest.

gardening with kidsLet them decorate their garden – let the kids add a little bit of their own flare to the garden by making their own garden stake or scarecrow. Adding a fairy house or some other decorative item to a corner of their garden. Let them be creative!

Show off their work – when showing off the garden – either physically or through pictures – make sure to highlight the kids garden. This will ensue a sense of pride and accomplishment and creates a motivator for them to continue.

Encourage them to work it right to the end – work with the kids to see the garden season all the way through. Get them to help care for the garden even after the fruit has been harvested and teach them how to prep it for the winter and next growing season. This is a valuable lesson in teaching them the importance of all the steps and how each step supports the fruit that they produced and enjoyed. As well as all about the circle of life.

gardening with kidsModel what you want them to do – the easiest way to get them started is to be gardening yourself. Kids watch and learn from the adults in their lives so if they see you doing it they are going to want to do it to. Encourage them when they come over and ask questions, give them small tasks to get them involved and take time to answer their questions.

When I was little my aunt had a huge beautiful garden (and still does) that she worked and enjoyed every year. I loved going to her place and helping her, asking questions. Even as a family we had a small garden plot – and as a result all 3 of us girls love gardening and do so in our adult lives.

Starting with these simple tips will ensure the most success for gardening with kids. As you get going and the kids get older, with more experience you can then introduce concepts like rain barrels and why they’re beneficial, planting specific plants to attract pollinators like bees, humming birds and why that’s helpful to the earth. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about them now (as you are likely doing some of those things in your garden already) but you can use them as ways to expand and build on their knowledge as they go and so as not to overwhelm them with a lot of information at once.

The best tip though is to enjoy yourself! Get out there and have fun with the kids and reap the benefits as a bonus!

gardening with kids

Have some great tips for gardening with kids? Share in the comments below.

DIY Mother’s Day Gifts with Essential Oils

diy essential oil gifts

Pamper Mom this Mother’s Day with these easy DIY Essential Oil gifts. These gifts will not only relax and pamper her but she’ll appreciate the love that was put into them when they were made specially by you.

Mother’s Day is another holiday where we can go a little crazy with the spending and the gifts (average spending in Canada is about $100) because we want to show Mom how much we love and appreciate her. Of course as we Mom’s deserve it! We do a lot and we work hard. But if you’re looking for a loving gift for Mom that shows you appreciate her and that’s easy and affordable then try one of these DIY Essential Oil gifts that she’s sure to love!

Not only are these gifts a great way to pamper Mom and tell her that you love her, the essential oils in them provide many benefits that will support her physical and emotional health, naturally.

DIY Essential Oil Gifts for Mom

Gardener Hand Soap

If Mom loves to putz in the garden then this is the perfect gift for her. This easy-to-make Gardener’s Hand Soap exfoliates, cleanses, and moisturizes all in one use! Clary Sage is an oil that has relaxing and soothing properties that help with rejuvenation and calming of the skin. While Melaleuca known for its purifying qualities, is also good for cleansing the skin and promoting healthy immune function.

diy essential oil gifts

Lavender Myrrh Cuticle Cream

A homemade cuticle cream is a great way to bring moisture and health back to your nails. Add a little extra to your gift for Mom and help her apply it with a mini hand massage! This cream can also be used on your hands, lips, or anywhere you have dry spots. If you choose Lavender to add in be ready for calming and relaxing benefits, if you choose Myrrh it’s soothing to the skin and promotes emotional balance and well being.

diy essential oil gifts

Essential Oil Body Wash

Help Mom wake up her senses in the morning or calm them down at night with a scented body wash. Using essential oils can provide valuable nourishment to your skin, if it contains the right ingredients. For an energizing body wash choose oils such as Peppermint, Grapefruit or Lime. For a calming body wash choose Lavender, Bergamot or Roman Chamomile.

diy essential oil gifts

Ginger Lime Brown Sugar Scrub

Mom can exfoliate and soften her skin with this easy to make body scrub. The Ginger essential oil creates a balanced, grounded and feeling of empowerment, as well as supporting healthy joint function. While Lime purifies the skin and positively effects mood.

diy essential oil gifts

Strawberry Lime Sugar Scrub

If Mom likes to smell like dessert than this is the body scrub for her. Super easy to make and with all the uplifting benefits of Lime essential oil.

diy essential oil gifts

Essential Neck Wrap

Help Mom relax and soothe sore muscles with this easy to make neck wrap. When used with essential oils, they can provide additional relief and benefits. Incredibly easy and affordable, just add in your favorite essential oil.

diy essential oil gifts

Fizzy Bath Bombs

Bath bombs are a fun gift as they add excitement to your senses and a little entertain as you watch it fizz as it dissolves in the water. Add your favorite essential oil to invigorate – like Wild Orange and Spearmint or relax like my favorite Lavender, Cedarwood or Frankincense.

diy essential oil gifts

Lavender Bath Salts

These bath salts may be the easiest of our do it yourself gifts for Mom. Simply take 2 cups of Epsom salts and add 10-15 drops of Lavender essential oil – mixing them together in a glass jar or bowl. If you want to get fancy add some dried lavender pieces (I’ve seen them at the Bulk Barn) for a little added color. Store in an airtight container, wrap a bow around it and give it to Mom! Have her add it to her bath to soothe the skin and relaxation.

diy essential oil gifts

Lime & Mint Foot Soak

This easy to make foot soak will energize, uplift and refresh. Let Mom soak her feet and take it easy for a bit. Maybe even bring her a nice glass of wine or coffee to sip while she soaks.

diy essential oil gifts

Orange Creamsicle Lip Balm

No list of pampering for Mom would be complete without a moisturizing lip balm. A common must have this natural lip balm is full of health benefits and yummy flavor! The fresh, sweet scent of Wild Orange is energizing and provides immune support.

diy essential oil gifts

No matter what gift you choose to make for Mom this Mother’s Day, she’ll definitely know that you love and appreciate her! Whether you make one or two I’d recommend you make enough for yourself to either join in with her or enjoy yourself later, might as well. I know for myself that I love the scents of essential oils and when I’m working with one of my favorites I can’t get enough! Plus it’s a great excuse to go take some me time later – can’t waste what I’ve made. May you enjoy your day as a Mother or spending time with yours in some way. Happy Mother’s Day!

Interested in learning more about essential oils or have a question? Drop me a line I’d love to chat with you.

 

Intro to Essential Oils – Top 5 Essential Oils for Beginners

essential oils

When I was first introduced to essential oils it was through an aromatherapy session, an optional add on during a massage I was having a few years ago. At that time, I didn’t really think that it would do much for me other than smell nice and add to my relaxing experience. Since then I have been introduced to essential oils in so many different ways, through chocolates, cooking, energy healing – reiki sessions and used to clear chakras and blockages and now everyday use, prevention and healing.

In fact, as I was slowly introduced to and learning about essential oils and what they could do for us, I was absolutely amazed that there was so much they could do and didn’t understand why I was not using these in my life. There were natural substances, extremely effective and had been around for centuries.

History of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by many cultures around the world for centuries. Their uses varied between cultures from religious purposes to healing the sick. Though it is hard to pinpoint exactly when essential oils gained notoriety as effective healing agents there is early evidence of their use in Lascaux, France dating as far back as 18,000 BCE. Medicinal plants were used in everyday life and had many uses and benefits.

Somewhere along the way, we lost the knowledge of essential oils and they did not see as much use as they had in the earlier centuries. Now we are rediscovering their uses and benefits to aid and support our health and well being – as well as fantastic healing properties.

The Next Step in My Journey

essential oilsLast year when I started learning more about essential oils and their uses I took a look at what I wanted to adjust in my life and which oils would best support that. For me sleep was a huge issue, being able to go to sleep quickly but not being able to stay in a deep restorative sleep through the night. I woke up each morning exhausted.

So my colleague recommended that I rub lavender oil on the bottom of my feet each night before I went to bed (you rub it on the bottom of your feet because it has quick absorption and delivery to the body). I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical but decided to give it a go. I was amazed at the results – they weren’t immediate that night – but within a week I was already sleeping better, deeper and feeling more rested in the mornings. This was enough to propel me forward in my learning and exploration of essential oils and their uses (other than diffusing it and it smelling nice – though diffusing is highly beneficial as it puts the properties of the oil into the air and you benefit through inhalation).

Top 5 Essential Oils to Get You Started

Now there are so many oils out there and there is so much to learn. So when you are just starting out it can certainly be overwhelming! As a result I have put together my top 5 list of essential oils to start with, play with and learn about, which will provide you with a good foundation of knowledge and how to work with the oils.

Lavender

 doterra lavender One of the most popular essential oils in the world, lavender I thought that other than helping with relaxation/ sleep and that it smelled good was as far as it goes. But then I discovered that lavender has many other benefits such as

  • Reduces anxiety and emotional stress
  • Heals burns and wounds
  • Restores skin complexion and reduces acne
  • Slows aging with powerful antioxidants
  • Improves eczema and psoriasis
  • Alleviates headaches

The one I found most fascinating was that it heals burns. A coleaugue of mine told us a story about how she had badly burned her hand one year making Thanksgiving dinner and instead of running cool water over it, as many of us have been taught, she went straight to her lavender oil and rubbed that all over her hand. By the next day it was as if the hand had not been burned at all. Since then if I burn myself I go straight for the lavender as well and have experienced phenomenal results.

Lemon

essential oilsOne of the most versatile oils, lemon is commonly recognized for it’s fresh scent and non toxic cleaning. It is also known to have many cleansing and digestive benefits for the body (you know that glass of lemon water they recommend you drink in the morning?) The downside of the real lemon in your water is that too much lemon can cause deterioration of the gums, while using the essential oil instead you reap the cleansing benefits and are not in danger of bleeding gums (this is because the oil is extracted from the outer peel and not the inner fruit). Lemon is also

  • Very uplifting and energizing
  • Improves mood
  • Can be added to food to enhance flavors of desserts and other dishes
  • A Thirst quencher
  • Provides cough relief
  • Nourishes the skin
  • Provides Immune support

Melaleuca or Tea Tree

essential oilsMy first exposure to tea tree oil was when my kids got head lice and I wanted a more natural alternative to the toxic shampoo they recommended. I learned that tea tree was not only effective in getting rid of lice but was also a great preventative measure to avoid getting lice. I also knew that this oil was effective in managing acne but that was about it. As with all my other explorations I learned that Melaleuca could do so much more

  • Effective against infections (fungal, bacterial)
  • Anti-microbial laundry freshener
  • Insect repellant
  • Natural deodorant
  • Acne face wash
  • Removes foot order
  • Removes mold
  • Household cleaner

Frankincense

essential oilsEvery time I hear about Frankincense I think about the 3 Wise Men who brought the gifts to the baby Jesus – and up until recently that was about all I knew about it. It turns out that Frankincense is one of my favorite oils, not just because of what it does, but I love the scent. There’s just something about that woody, spicy scent that I love. Bonus is Frankincense has many healing properties

  • Supports healthy cellular function
  • Promotes feelings of relaxation
  • Reduces the appearance of skin imperfections
  • Anti-aging and wrinkle reducing
  • Helps relieve inflammation or pain
  • Supports wound healing
  • Is grounding
  • Eases digestion
  • Natural cold or flu remedy
  • Works well with other oils

Oregano

essential oilsMy first introduction to oil of oregano was when I had a horrible sore throat and was told that oil of oregano would knock it out of the park quickly. All I can remember was how horrible this stuff was, but I took it anyway because it seemed to work. What I have now discovered (not all oils are created equal) is that there are much better ways to use this oil and in a more comfortable manner (the oil of Oregano you purchase from the health food store is also not the same as the pure essential oil). Oregano essential oil is often used in cooking but is also

  • Powerful cleansing agent
  • Antioxidant
  • Immune Boosting
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Prevents and treats infections
  • Natural insect repellant
  • Relieves muscle and joint pain

For many people often times the smell can determine which oil they will use – as many of the oils have common properties and not one oil fits all. And sometimes a blend of different oils together will provide even more benefits to you and dampen the smell that you may not like as a single oil. So if you can’t stand the smell of lavender but need support for sleep do not despair, there is another oil to try or a blend that will do the trick.

Another thing that is important to note is not all essential oils are created equal. Make sure you purchase high quality oils as many drugstore and mall brands contain synthetic derivatives and additives which do not have the same properties. They may be less expensive but you are not getting the same quality and may need to use more. With pure essential oil you only need a drop or two to make a difference.

What is/ are your favorite essential oils to use? Share in the comments below

Easy Healthy Chocolate Fondue

healthy chocolate fondue

Chocolate Fondue is one of those easy fun desserts or treats that everyone can get into. Dipping fresh fruit in chocolate (or other yummy things like rice krispie bits, cake, pretzels, marshmallows) is delightful and delicious.

A lot of people find though that chocolate fondue can be a little messy and a little bit too much of a sugar rush – with the chocolate burning if your fondue pot is not just right, or it getting too thick to dip in. Not to mention all the sugary treats you are dipping into an already sugar filled chocolate.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way – you can create a healthy chocolate fondue with the yummy treats for dipping (also healthy) and no burning or thickening of your chocolate. And it’s super easy! even the kids can do it.

healthy chocolate fondueYears ago I learned how to make raw organic chocolate, made from cacao butter and cacao powder, then naturally sweetened with your sweetener of choice. It is quick easy and very good for you. Cacao is an ingredient that is considered a superfood, as it is very high in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron and zinc, vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9. And it is super high in antioxidants, healthy fat, fiber and protein. Plus when you use a natural sweetener you are now adding in the benefits of that natural sweetener as well (like honey, pure maple syrup, stevia).

You might think well I can just use cocao it’s the same – the fact is it’s not. Though both cocao and cacao come from the same bean they are processed very differently which is why one product (cocao) is stripped of most of it’s vitamins and minerals, while the other (cacao) preserves them.

When you’re making raw organic chocolate, you use a double bowl where you place boiling water in the bottom bowl and place another smaller bowl (that sits on the rim without falling into the bottom one) on top. You simply make your chocolate in the top bowl, using the heat from the water underneath to do your melting and create your chocolate. It’s like a double boiler method without using the stove and creating the risk of burning it!

Once you’ve made your chocolate, you simply keep it in the liquid form for your fondue (as opposed to putting it into molds or a pan to set), by leaving the top bowl on top of the hot water. Place it in the middle of your table or serving area and voila! you are ready to dip and indulge. You do have to be conscious of the lower bowl being hot though and advise those who are sharing the fondue to not touch the bottom bowl (especially important with kids). The chocolate will stay liquid as long as the water is hot and will not burn. As the water starts to cool, the chocolate will set, but all you have to do is add fresh boiling water to your bottom bowl and the chocolate will melt and return to liquid quite quickly. One thing to note is you do need to be careful that you do not get any water into your top bowl with the chocolate as this will ruin your chocolate, so just be aware of that when you’re moving things around.

Otherwise, grab your fork and favorite dipping items and enjoy!

Healthy Chocolate Fondue (this will make enough for 4-6 people and ready in 10 minutes!)

3/4 – 1 cup Cacao butterhealthy chocolate

2-6 tbsp. Cacao powder

1 Vanilla Bean

2 tsp. to start Natural Sweetener of choice (honey, pure maple syrup, etc.)

  1. In a medium metal bowl add boiling water about halfway up the bowl. *a metal bowl is best as it retains the heat well but can get hot to the touch Place second smaller metal bowl on top of large bowl so that it sits on top.
  2. Put desired amount of cacao butter into top bowl. Cacao butter will start to melt.
  3. While cacao butter is melting slice vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the inside seeds with a spoon. Put seeds into melted cacao, it is ok if cacao butter is not completely melted yet. Stir.
  4. Sift cacao powder into a separate bowl. Once cacao butter is completely melted add 2-4 tablespoons of cacao powder. Taste for desired level of chocolatey-ness. If you’d like it richer add more cacao powder.
  5. Once satisfied with amount of cacao powder add natural sweetener of choice. Start with 3 teaspoons and mix. Taste, if desired level of sweetness has not been reached, add 1-2 more tablespoons and taste again. Once level of desired sweetness has been reached you have your base chocolate.
  6. Leave in liquid form and bowls on top of each other and serve. Use pot holder or oven mitt to transfer bowls if moving to another spot.

*Be very careful not to get any water into your chocolate as it will not work if you do. If your second bowl sits nicely on top, this should not be an issue as you do not need to lift the second bowl off the one with the water in it until you are done making your chocolate. 

Items for dipping:

Basically you can dip whatever you want into your chocolate (some people love chocolate dipped bacon 🙂 Fruit is the most popular and the quickest to prepare as it is most likely on hand – but if you’re feeling adventurous or just want to change it up a bit try out these other options – which can be healthy and sugar free too! below

Fresh fruit of choice – banana, apple, orange, strawberries, pineapple, cantalope, etc.

Pretzelshealthy chocolate fondue

Healthy sugar free marshmallows (yes these can be healthy to! make your own here)

Sugar free cake bits

Sugar free rice krispie square pieces

Nuts

Make sure you have forks or other utensils to facilitate dipping without items being lost in the chocolate. Fondue forks work great but are not required as regular forks work just as well.

This is super super easy to do with kids and is always a hit. I did it with my Mini Chefs class, 3-5 year olds and they loved it! There were many chocolate faces that day and I did not send them home to parents on a sugar high.

I’ve also succesfully done this with adults many a time and I usually have someone licking the bowl at the end 🙂 The nice thing is you can make as much as you want and if you run out you just make more!

Ok I’m off to make my own chocolate fondue now… all this talk about it is making me crave some…

What are your favorite things to dip in chocolate fondue?

Earth Day Crafts for Kids

earth day crafts

I love taking kids outside and teaching them about nature. It’s so simple too, especially when they are young. They love being out there anyway and I love to nurture that wonder and curiosity, fostering that appreciation for the world around them.

It’s one of the reasons I really like celebrating Earth Day – though I believe we should be doing things every day to save and protect the Earth, it’s a great opportunity to enhance that experience and perhaps expand on it a little more.

One of the things I like to do is find ways to create natural or environmental crafts that either highlight nature or are created from recycled/ reused materials to demonstrate that there are other uses for things we have around the house.

I also find that it encourages them to expand their mind and look at things a little differently. Like I need a watering can but don’t have one. What can I use that I have or create in order to meet that need? Or how can I take this natural item and turn it into something else, learning a little more about it at the same time?

Plus it reduces our impact on the planet by reusing things creatively (and teaches children to do so as well).

Try these Earth Day Crafts from Recycled Materials

Children of all ages enjoy making crafts, and it is an excellent way to teach them about reusing and recycling. Make these fun and easy crafts with items from around the house.

Plastic Jug Watering Can

What is needed:earth day crafts

  • 2 litre plastic milk jug
  • small nail
  • hammer
  • stickers

Wash milk jug out thoroughly. Using nail, poke holes in the lid of the milk jug; this should be done by an adult. Have the child decorate the jug with stickers. Child may also decorate by painting the jug or gluing on buttons, beads or yarn instead of or in addition to the stickers. When finished, fill the jug with water, put on the lid and show the child how to tip the jug to water the garden.

Ladybug Rocks

What is needed:

  • smooth, round, oval rocksearth day crafts
  • acrylic paint in colors of choice
  • 2 googley eyes per ladybug
  • black sharpie marker
  • acrylic matte sealer
  • white glue

Wash and dry rocks. Paint the rocks in desired colors, let dry. Paint 1/4 of the rock black for the head and let dry. Using the black sharpie, draw a line straight down the center of the rock. Dip the paintbrush in black paint and paint dots on the back of ladybug. Once paint is dry spray with acrylic sealer. Glue on the eyes when the sealer is dry.

Coffee Ground Fossils

What is needed:

  • 1 cup of used coffee groundsearth day crafts
  • 1/2 cup of cold coffee
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • wax paper
  • mixing bowl
  • some small objects to make impressions in dough
  • empty can or butter knife
  • toothpicks
  • string to hang fossil, optional

Mix together coffee grounds, cold coffee, flour and salt. Knead dough and flatten it out on to waxed paper. Use the can or knife to cut out circles of dough large enough to fit “fossil” objects. Press objects firmly into the dough. Take object out. To hang fossil, poke holes into the edge to hold string. Let fossil dry overnight.

Paper Plate Earth (makes a nice keepsake)

What is needed:earth day crafts

  • small paper plate
  • blue paint
  • green paint
  • red construction paper – cut in shape of heart
  • white paper
  • paint brush
  • marker

Place the white piece of paper on table or counter. Make sure they child will be able to reach it easily. Paint one of the child’s hand green. Have them place their hand on the white paper, press down and then lift straight up to make a print. Let the hand dry.

Paint the paper plate blue, covering it entirely, so it looks like the Earth. Write the name of the person making the craft on the heart (if the child or person is old enough they can write their name themselves). While the paint is still wet place the heart on the left side of the plate – the wet paint will act like glue and it will stick. Cut out the green hand print in a circle shape, stick the hand on the blue plate on the right side. Let the whole thing dry.

I also recently found this Stained Glass Earth and Earth Day Balloon Stamping that I really enjoy. In fact, love the balloon stamping! Can’t wait to try it with the kids.

earth day crafts

Whatever you choose to make the kids will love it, and though they may not connect all the dots today about what it’s all about, an impression will have been made and you’ll be surprised what they remember and appreciate! And if your child’s not the crafty type you can always try out some of these great Earth Day hands on nature activities.

What are your favorite Earth Day or Recycled Crafts?

Blueberry Pancake Mini Bites

pancake mini bites

I really didn’t think a pancake mini bite would be a big hit. What was the big deal it’s like a small bite of a pancake and wouldn’t you rather have a whole one? But that’s just it! It’s a small bite of a pancake – and you can have just a bite not waste a whole one!

Now there are tonnes of recipes for pancake mini bites, from maple bacon (I am definitely going to try that one) and pumpkin chocolate chip to your whole wheat and more traditional pancake. I decided that a blueberry one would be a great place to get started.

I honestly whipped these things up in 15 minutes, they are super easy to make, and I adjusted the original recipe slightly – as I like experimenting! At first I thought they looked just like a mini blueberry muffin and that they would simply taste like a muffin, but they do not taste like a muffin at all and definitely like a pancake. Besides I don’t know how many muffins you are dipping in maple syrup!

These are also a fantastic on the go breakfast. Super easy to grab and take with you, more so than a regular pancake. They’d be fun in kids school lunches as well for a little variety.

Blueberry Pancake Mini Bites

1 c. flour (I used white the first time I made them as honestly I wasn’t thinking, but could easily use whole wheat instead to make them more healthy)

pancake mini bites1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. coconut sugar

1 beaten egg

1/2 c. almond milk (or other non dairy milk of choice)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread, melted

1/2 c. blueberries

Dash of cinnamon – optional

1/2 tsp. ground flax meal – optional

Pure maple syrup

In medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and coconut sugar. In another bowl, stir together egg, vanilla, almond milk and Earth Balance.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. In a well greased mini muffin tin scoop a tablespoon of dough into each hole. Bake for 10 minutes at 375F or until slightly browned.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then gently remove bites from muffin tin. Serve immediately with a side of pure maple syrup.

Makes about 20 mini bite pancakes

pancake mini bitesThese are also easily frozen ready to grab later or on those mornings you’re a little rushed. Freeze in an airtight container with a piece of wax or parchment paper between layers.

The fun thing about these mini bites is you can basically take any pancake recipe and simply put it into a mini muffin tin and bake it. And if you want to play with shapes a little and make them round, you can use a donut hole pan, which is super fun, like little mini donuts.

And like anything, there’s so much variety for what you can do! Because I don’t know about you but even though I like the traditional pancake I do like variety every once in a while. It keeps things interesting.

Have a favorite pancake recipe? Share in the comments below