5 Powerful Essential Oils For Opening the Heart

heart opening essential oils

The heart plays such an important role in our lives, not only is it key in keeping us alive and our bodies functioning, it is the home for feelings. It is the place we manifest and create from, the space where we give and receive love.

As you may know essential oils are a wonderful tool in supporting your physical health but they also possess an emotional and energetic side.  They help you in processing emotions and shifting things energetically. They work with all areas of the body, physical or emotional and the heart is no exception.

Often times due to the experiences of life we may shut down our hearts, guard them or close them off to love. This is natural as you may have been hurt or betrayed and you naturally want to protect yourself. This is just a part of the human experience and it’s ok, but a closed heart does not always lead the happiest life or create the best opportunities.  The key is to have the tools to safely open up the heart space again, heal and move forward. Can it be scary, of course it can, but the benefits will outweigh the risks.

5 Powerful Heart Opening Essential Oils

There are a number of essential oils that you can use to support opening up your heart. Which one you choose depends on your intuition and the qualities you are looking for. When using a heart oil choose the one that you are drawn to, it is the one you need in that moment.

Geranium warms the body and opens the heart. It supports loving yourself, compassion and self healing. It supports you to more easily let go of judgments, angers, and resentments, and move you into the experience of unconditional love. Aiding you in letting go of emotional and mental baggage which can stagnate our relationships and block feelings of connection and love.

 

heart opening essential oils

Lavender is the oil of communication. It helps you to listen what people are saying to you at a heart level. You’ll feel the spirit behind the words and speak their language. It also supports connecting to your true self as well as bringing buried emotions, thoughts and feelings to the surface (and therefore enabling you to release them and let them go)

 

 

 

heart opening essential oilsNeroli will open the heart, balance emotions and uplift the spirits. It’s soothing and euphoric in its actions, instilling comfort and strength, encouraging the release of repressed emotions fostering forgiveness.

 

 

 

heart opening essential oilsJasmine soothes the heart, is stabilizing and balancing. It can relax and uplift as well as accentuate the sensual in your life.

 

 

 

heart opening essential oilsRose helps to soothe and strengthen the heart. It helps to alleviate depression and promote a sense of peace and harmony. It opens up the heart and soul to love and spiritual connection.

 

 

 

How to Apply Your Heart Oils

heart opening essential oilsUse these heart oils by putting a few drops in your diffuser or applying topically with one drop directly on the heart space (the sternum between the breasts). You can also create a rollerbottle. Add 10-15 drops of your chosen heart essential oil in a 10 ml rollerbottle and top it with fractionated coconut oil.

Wonderful uses for heart essential oils are any time you want to open up the heart, hear someone at a heart level, or soothe and strengthen the heart. This could be during meditation, your yoga practice, before you go for a walk, having a conversation with someone or simply using it in your diffuser to support the heart while you work.

The Difference Between Boundaries and An Open Heart

Some of you may be concerned that opening up your heart too much can make you vulnerable or a person that people can take advantage of. This is not the case, as there is a difference between having an open heart and having boundaries. Boundaries are what you have in place to ensure that you are true to yourself and your beliefs. Living from your heart space creates a great capacity to love, be genuine and caring for yourself and others. Boundaries do not need to be compromised when living from your heart. In fact, you will find smoother communication with others, an ability to manifest more of what you want and be generally happier in your life.

Play with these heart oils this month and see how things open up and blossom for you.

If you would like to explore more about the emotional side of essential oils I would invite you to experience a Perfect Alignment Essential Oil Clearing. The theme for February is Love & Relationships. It is designed to open up your heart space and bring more love into your life. And this is any kind of love, not just romantic love but love with others and love for yourself. It will bring in love and acceptance, removing any barriers you may have placed around your heart and bring you into a space where you are open to giving and receiving love. Message me to connect for this clearing.

Find Your Miracle Morning

the miracle morning

A Miracle Morning. What would that be like? What would that do for you?

How many of us start out our days harried, rushed, having dragged ourselves out of bed because we just can’t get excited about the day? Trying to successfully get out the door, running through the list of things that need to get done and feeling just oh so unexcited about it.

What if I told you that you could change that? I mean really change that. Would you be interested?

The Miracle Morning

Months ago I was working with a client and she wanted me to create a banner for the book club she was running, The Miracle Morning. Of course I did that, but I was curious as to what this was all about so I looked it up. “Success before 8 am” it claimed, “Everyday will feel like Christmas”, “Not a morning person, you will be”. Really? I thought, I’d heard many of these claims before, what would make this one any different?

Even with these doubts in mind I decided I would give it a go anyway. I grabbed the book from the library and started reading. Hal Elrod claimed that even if you are not a morning person that you will be bouncing out of bed with enthusiasm each morning. Ok we’ll see, I said, I was not a morning person.

the miracle morning

The whole basis of the book is in order to create success in your life and business that you need to be working on yourself personally on a regular basis. If you want to move up to the next level, raise the bar on success, you have develop personally and you have to work on it every day. Because if you are not working on yourself personally you won’t level up no matter how badly you want it.

“Your level of success, will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” Jim Rohn

This made total sense to me. And I could see it, I love my me time, but when life gets busy, guess what goes first? Yup my me time, my workout, my reading, etc. and in fact this book was suggesting I needed to do the opposite. Protect and create that time all the more. Hmmm, made sense. All the times I have felt stuck, like I wasn’t getting anywhere, when I spent a bit of time on me, magically things shifted. Now if I was doing this on a daily basis…

The 6 Pieces

Your life is made up of a variety of components which are both external and internal. External ones are events, people, places. These things can affect you in your world, but they are not who you are.

Internal components are physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual, your inner world. And your inner world is where you create from and creates the basis for how you react or interact with your external world.

With this in mind, Hal has created the Miracle Morning so that you are working on all these internal components on a daily basis. Improving and shifting your inner world on all counts, which then in turn affects your outer world.

Hal calls these 6 internal components the Life SAVERS and they stand for:

S – Silence is one of the best ways to immediately reduce stress. Connecting you to your inner voice, gaining clarity and increasing self awareness. Silence can take a variety of forms and can be anything from meditating, prayer, reflection to deep breathing and gratitude.

the miracle morningA – Affirmations are positive statements that you say over and over in order to support changing your thought patterns, your inner programming. You know those inner voices or even critics. Focusing on changing what you say by creating statements that you repeat over and over to change that negative self talk and bring in the positive. I personally have changed my affirmations to afformations which has made an even bigger difference for me. More on afformations later.

V – Visualization is the process of picturing and focusing on what you want using visual cues, whether they be physical or within your minds eye. It is the practice of imagining specific behaviours and outcomes that you would like to create in your life. Things like vision boards, drawing what you visualize or picturing it in your mind are all forms of visualization.

E – Exercise is simply movement of your body. This can be as simple as doing 10 jumping jacks and a few push ups, some gentle yoga or going for a run. The key here is to get the body moving and the blood circulating. It’s proven that just a few minutes significantly boosts your energy and self confidence, enhances your health, improves your emotional well being and enables you to think clearer and concentrate longer.

the miracle morningR – Reading is one of the fastest ways to improve areas in your life. You can quickly acquire, knowledge, ideas and strategies to achieve what you want. You also have the advantage of learning from experts who have done it before, no need to reinvent the wheel! And it’s limitless there are many books out there to choose from.

S – Scribing (writing) is simply putting pen to paper. Capturing your thoughts, whether they be insights, ideas, breakthroughs or simply just airing things out (that has value to and can be healing). You could write that book you always wanted a few minutes at a time, write your gratitudes, dream, just the art of pen to paper will benefit.

And Your Miracle Morning is simply the first hour of your day divided into 10 minute sections for each of these 6 components. Are you with me yet? Or are you still thinking yeah right.

How It Has Helped Me

I have to admit when I first started my Miracle Morning I was keen to give it a try but I did not think it would transform me into a person who loved mornings. Or that I would bounce out of bed an hour earlier willingly and have it feel like Christmas each day. But I gave it a go because well I wanted change, and I wanted improvements and if Hal assured me that this would make a difference then I thought fine, I’ll give it a fair shake. So I began.

As I got started on my first morning I enjoyed it. I found I was very happy once I got downstairs to start the rest of my day, things that usually bothered me didn’t, and magically we were more on time that morning, in fact I think we might have even been early, then ever before. Huh I thought. Ok I looked forward to day 2.

the miracle morningThe next morning same results, and then the next and the next. And then all of a sudden I craved this daily time for me, I got mad if on the odd occasion the alarm didn’t go off and I missed it or had to delay it until after I took the kids to school. I was noticing I was more productive and efficient, happier and super excited about getting up each day. I was wondering which book I was going to choose next for my reading time and what other things was I going to bring in to benefit my life and finally move me forward. Things started to shift, stuff that seemed stuck all of a sudden started moving. I was not only hooked, I had seen proof and I was a believer.

What I think makes a big difference between the Miracle Morning and other morning ritual programs is doing all of these personal development pieces at once. I am sure many of you meditate on a regular basis, and exercise, perhaps read intellectual books, etc. but that most of you do not do these all in one shot. This, I believe, is the key, working on them all a little bit at once nurturing each part, feeding the soul completely before you start the rest of your day.

Ready to Create Your Miracle Morning?

What would it be like if you had this? Ready and willing to get out of bed each more with excitement, starting your day by filling your own bucket. How would your life change? Are you willing to try?

the miracle morningThe Miracle Morning is something you can easily do on your own. Get the book read and follow it and you are on your way. And for some people that is perfect. But for others it is helpful to have that community, that support, that accountability when trying something new. Those cheerleaders that have your back and say “You Got This”, no matter what happens. That say if you miss a morning, without judgement, don’t worry about it, start again tomorrow, we all falter sometimes, and that is ok.

Either way, you choose the way that works for you. And that’s another reason why I love the Miracle Morning, it is totally customizable. I love having my full hour, but sometimes I only have 30 minutes or less. Hal says don’t worry, you can do it in as little as 6 minutes on busy days or if you are strapped for time (you will find as you go though that you would like more time and will make the adjustments to create that). Make it fit you, make it fit your time, the key thing is to just do it.

You can also choose to extend your silence time if you want 15 minutes instead of only 10, and really 3 minutes of visualization works, while you might do 20 minutes of writing and 5 of exercise. Whatever works, it does not have to be neat little pockets of equal time necessarily. Just ensure you get in all 6 personal development pieces in your chosen time. That I believe is of the utmost importance.

The Book Club

If you are one of those people who likes to have that community and support consider this – I was so excited about what I had discovered that I knew I had to share this with other people in my life. I knew that many other people could benefit from this and I wanted them to experience it for themselves. It really was creating miracles.

So I created and led my first ever book club with a small group of people last Fall. And I loved it! I was so passionate and excited about the topic and I loved leading a group of people through it, watching their experiences. Seeing them learn and grow, supporting them in  creating their own Miracle Morning and how it was benefiting them. It was fun, it was magical and it felt good to know that I contributed to the new benefits that they were now experiencing in their lives. It was a wonderful experience and one that I love to share again and again.

Our Fall group was so successful that I am offering this group experience again starting February 6. We read through the book together and connect on live calls to support and enhance our experience. We share and dive a little deeper into the book through guided questions and reflection – taking what we are reading and bringing that to the next level. It also provides accountability as we connect with each other once we start playing with our Miracle Mornings. If this interests you, join us for this next group by registering here. I look forward to having you!

And if the group thing is not for you right now, then I invite you to seek out the book and do it on your own. The Miracle Morning is an easy read and though, like me, you may read through and go “Yeah right” give it a try for a few days and just notice what differences it will make for you. It really will create miracles.

Boost Your Immunity Naturally with On Guard

I have been a journey for awhile now to reduce the amount of chemicals and toxins in our lives. It seems that so many products we use these days, whether they be food to cleaners and even medicines we are using to alleviate or prevent being ill contain things we do not really want in our body.

As a society we have moved into using a lot of synthetic and chemical laden products which I feel not only inhibit our health but can often be the cause of illness. So I have looked to more natural ways to reduce the toxins and chemicals and support a healthy immune system naturally. Also, I have seen a lot of videos, about natural health online, which have a successful marketing campaign by the trusted social media company Marketing Heaven.

I have tried a number of different things over the years such as homeopathic remedies, using tea and honey and a few more. And though they have been helpful to some point, nothing has compared to the use of OnGuard essential oil blend from doTERRA. Whenever I feel something coming on or notice that the kids are, I start diffusing it immediately, or I will take an On Guard beadlet – and whatever was percolating does not develop or worsen. In fact, it disappears fairly quickly and we move on. And I feel good in knowing that we did it naturally.

On Guard essential oil blend is a powerful blend comprised of Wild Orange, Clove Bud, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. It supports healthy immune function and contains cleansing properties and is a must have in any family’s home to help prevent and alleviate feeling ill. Especially during cold and flu season! It is super easy to use.

Top Ways to Use On Guard Essential Oil

Preventative Uses:

  1. Place one drop on the bottoms of your feet each day.on guard essential oil
  2. Or take 2-3 drops daily in a veggie capsule.
  3. Diffuse in your home on a regular basis – add 2-3 drops in your diffuser.
  4. Make an On Guard spray and use to clean counter tops, door handles, etc. (10-15 drops in a 2 oz. spray bottle and fill with distilled water).
  5. Use in recipes such as smoothies, pancakes, your pumpkin pie, chocolate or other dishes that suit this blend. A yummy snack is to soak sliced apples in water and add a few drops of On Guard.
  6. Combine a few drops of On Guard with aloe vera and water to create a natural hand sanitizer.

If you feel something coming on try:

  1. Taking 1-2 On Guard beadlets (these are great for kids) or an On Guard Soft Gel.
  2. Diffuse, diffuse, diffuse! (especially at bedtime so it can work while your body is at rest)
  3. Use your On Guard more frequently – so if you were using it preventatively once a day, try twice a day until your symptoms have gone.

Other Uses & Benefits:

On Guard doesn’t just support and boost your immune system it also supports:

  1. healthy circulation
  2. protects against environmental threats
  3. is uplifting and energizing
  4. support’s the body’s natural antioxidant defenses
  5. can be used as a non toxic cleaner
  6. can purify the air in your home

On Guard really is a blend that our home cannot go without! Ever since we have started using this in our home, we are rarely sick and on the odd occasion that we do notice something coming on, it is nipped in the bud very quickly and does not develop further. It is definitely our go to during cold and flu season, as well as throughout the year for immune support.

The last thing I love love love about doTERRA On Guard is that it not only comes in essential oil form but has a whole On Guard product line to support all the different areas of your home – like toothpaste, mouthwash, cleaner concentrate, foaming hand soap, throat drops and much more! Click here to see the full range of On Guard products.

If you love natural products and you’re interested in bringing On Guard into your home contact me and I’ll help get you started.

Explore the World With Globalfest Passport Pursuit

Blog Explore the World with Globalfest Passport Pursuit

A unique addition to Globalfest this year is the Cultural Pavilion Passport Pursuit adventure.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this addition this year as I love an opportunity to win prizes! They call it travelling the world without leaving the city and embarking on an epic multi cultural adventure. Fantastic!

To me it’s like a mini scavenger hunt, which I love! When you enter the park you can pick up your Globalfest passport (or from the London Drugs trailer). As you explore the park and go to each pavilion there are specific questions in your passport that you must find the answers to in order to get your stamp for that pavilion. The questions are region specific and it’s as easy as asking a representative in the pavilion! Some of them will tell you the answer straight out, some of them will direct you to where the answer is, or give you a hint, which I think is kind of fun. Can’t make it too easy!

Once you collect your stamps then you can enter to win one of two prizes, which I think are super amazing! If you visit 11 pavilions and get 11 stamps you are entered into the Silver draw which is one month’s worth of parking at the Calgary International Airport, 2 guests for a 1 week stay at Montana Hill Guest Ranch, Map Town World Globe and 2 Globalfest 2019 festival passes and VIP parking.

globalfest passport pursuitIf you want more, visit all 22 pavilions and be entered in the the Gold draw which is one year’s worth of parking from Calgary Parking Authority, 4 guests for one week stay at Montana Hill Guest Ranch, $250 London Drugs gift certificate, the most innovative online video id for fraud protection and 4 Globalfest 2019 and VIP parking.

I love it as it encourages people to explore the park and interact with the Pavilion Ambassadors in each of pavilions. It’s a great way to strike up conversations with them and learn a little more about the country you’re exploring. Plus it is educational! And I am all over educational stuff and opportunities to learn about other countries. Plus I have a little bit of a competitive edge so I am determined to get to all 22 pavilions and get my stamps.

It was fun to watch everyone walking around with passports in their hands, exploring. learning and asking questions. I would say that this has definitely made a difference in getting people out and checking out the pavilions. There was an energy of fun, excitement and anticipation. It also fosters curiosity, which is a wonderful thing. In speaking with some of the Pavilion Ambassadors they said that they have definitely noticed a difference this year to, saying that it’s getting more people out and moving around the park.

It is also a wonderful activity for kids! Yes they have the Children’s Village which is a wonderful place to keep the kids occupied, but difficult if you as parents want to explore the pavilions. This keeps them engaged and interested while you look around and learn to.

globalfest passport pursuitMy kids were all over it and dashed from pavilion to pavilion to get their answers. Plus again they are learning! Have I mentioned I am all over learning about other countries. It’s just a fantastic idea.

The great thing to is that you have until the end of the festival to complete your passport (August 25). So if you’re at Globalfest for more than one night, you don’t have to worry about getting to them all, or running out of time.

Once you’ve completed your passport you simply drop it off at the London Drugs trailer to be entered into the draw. Well, and make sure you fill out the Entry Ballot at the back with your name and phone number so they know who to contact for the prize!

Have fun! And come back and share what fun facts you have learned by sharing in the comments below.

What’s Globalfest? Learn more about this explosive event here

Globalfest Lights Up the Night in this Explosive Festival

globalfest

As Alberta’s most explosive festival, Globalfest is an epic event!

Excitement builds as the sun goes down on Elliston Park in Calgary, Alberta. The view over the lake is serene and calm as the anticipation builds for the display to come. People milling about with their mini donuts and treats finding their best viewing spots on the hill.

The lights go down, the music comes up and the skies are ignited with a colliding orchestra of light and sound.

The first time I attended Globalfest I was truly in awe. Moved and inspired by the magical wonder of fireworks lighting up the sky with music to match the rhythm and movement of the display. It was amazing! I didn’t want it to end. I have always loved fireworks – the beauty, the awe, the wonder as the colord explode in the sky. When I was little I anticipated each year the local fireworks display, and couldn’t wait to get there. Always thinking though that the fireworks were often too short, never lasting long enough; wanting more.

globalfestAnd fireworks set to music is truly a wonder and delight. I admire the unique talents of matching the music to the fireworks just so. That this one explodes just as the music crescendos or sways as it fades away. A skill that I know takes time and precision to get it all just right. And makes it super cool!

This is why when I discovered Globalfest I was over the moon excited. It is 5 nights of epic fireworks presentations produced by world-class pyro musical artists that are a good 15-20 minutes long. Each night featuring a different country, different musical pieces and displays. There’s also a little added friendly competition as each country competes and is judged on different artistic requirements to win the title of best fireworks display.

I am always amazed at what each country puts together, the music they choose and how it all flows in it’s beauty and elegance. It’s especially beautiful watching the reflection in the lake of Elliston Park; as it adds a special dimension to the festival – the reflections in the water add a fluid, shimmering mirror of the show taking place above.

But this event is more than just fireworks. Now in it’s 16th year, Globalfest is an international, multi-faceted, arts and cultural festival for all ages, wonderful for families to an adult night out. In addition to the fireworks it includes the Sunbelt Rentals One World Festival. Featuring over 22 cultural pavillions that showcase their heritage dress, cultural music, incredible performances, as well as interactive activities. It’s worth arriving early (gates open at 6 pm) to wander and explore the grounds, the pavillions and all their wares. There’s also entertainment on two stages, the TD Main Stage and Globalfest Village Stage, where you can watch various cultural performances such as dancing and music.

Of course, no festival is complete without food and there’s a variety of both ethnic and traditional concessions. I personally tend to drift towards the mini donuts… but perhaps this year I’ll branch out and try something more unique to the festival.

globalfest

I am looking forward to attending this year’s festival, which kicks off tomorrow night August 16, with the Ukraine. I can’t wait to see what wonders and displays have been created by each country and decide for myself, who has earned the best fireworks display this year.

Hiking with Kids – The Fenland Trail

fenland trail

My son’s first hiking experience was the Fenland Trail in Banff at the age of 2. I had decided that I wanted to get Matthew out there, knowing that starting early with kids was the key to getting them to know and enjoy things. When introduced at a young age, it becomes natural and what they know.

fenland trailThere is also value in getting kids outdoors and nurturing their innate curiosity about nature and their connection with the environment. The Fenland Trail, which is just on the outskirts of the Banff town site, was the perfect introduction to hiking as it is a short 2 km self interpretive loop trail, that is mostly flat. There is a self guided pamphlet available at the trailhead that highlights 8 markers along the loop that teach you about the lifecycle of the montane forest. Not only does this help keep kids engaged as they are often looking ahead for the next post, but it teaches them about nature and about the environment of the trail that they are on.

fenland trailPlus the trail itself is beautiful. It winds through a white spruce forest along the eastern edge of the Vermillion Lakes marshland; and part of the trail also runs along the Echo & Forty Mile Creek. And I don’t know about you but I always love a trail that has some kind of water along the hike. It just adds something to it listening to the trickling water as you’re hiking along.

There is also the opportunity to view wildlife on this trail, as you may catch a glimpse of a muskrat or busy beaver in the creek. Elk and deer in the open fields and a plethora of songbirds chirping in the background, such as the black capped chickadee and gray jay.

fenland trailI love this trail for young kids and toddlers because even though it is about a 30- 40 minute hike, you can go at a nice leisurely pace, allowing the kids to stop and pause along the way, exploring and checking things out. Playing by the creek or sitting at one of the benches along the trail for a break or a snack. You don’t have to rush, you can take an hour or more if you want. I think the first time we went it took us 2 hours! but that was fine, Matthew finished the hike having enjoyed it and feeling successful (and yes he still had energy to burn).

fenland trailOne thing that you do need to keep in mind is because it is close to both the creek and the marshlands the mosquitoes can be abundant. So make sure you take your bug spray or natural bug repellent, so you can enjoy the trail without swatting at the bugs! (If you do get bitten you can use Lavender and Peppermint essential oils on the bites to reduce the inflammation and itchiness).

There are many benefits of taking your kids out hiking and the Fenland Trail is an excellent place to start! Once you have captured their desire to hike more and nurtured their curiosity, it will be easy to move on to longer hikes with maybe even a little bit of elevation gain.

As you do progress the kids on their hikes, remember to keep these tips in mind when hiking with kids and most of all have a good time!

fenland trail

Cool fact: Fenland refers to a wetland that is nourished by nutrient-wet groundwater

Check out other great Alberta hiking trails for kids, like the Alder Trail near Bragg Creek.

Delicious Blueberry Pie – Sugar Free & Naturally Sweetened

sugar free blueberry pie

Fresh blueberries are a popular summer treat. Those succulent little juicy berries are delicious and nutritious with many health benefits. Blueberries are one of the richest food source of Anthocyanins, a plant compound which gives it it’s blue color and it’s many health benefits. They have been shown to benefit heart health, bone strength, mental health, cancer, healthy blood pressure and are extremely high in antioxidants. Who knew these little blue berries could pack such a punch?

I often buy copious amounts of blueberries in the summer and do all kinds of things with them. From simply eating them straight to freezing them for later, to muffins and smoothie combinations. One of the things that I hadn’t done for a while though was to make a blueberry pie. I have no idea why, as I make all other kinds of pies in the summer like cherry and peach. I guess I somehow had it in my head that I should freeze them all and that they were too small to make a pie out of. (This could relate to the many summers my sisters and I would go up to the blueberry patch on the barrens to pick blueberries – with intentions of picking enough to make a pie. It took us hours to get the amount we needed and sometimes we were not able to get enough).

But this year, when I did my regular purchase of fresh Okanagan fruit I decided that I needed blueberries as well and was definitely going to make a sugar free blueberry pie! (In fact, I even went back to the fruit stand before we left Oliver to get the blueberries as I had not purchased them the day before when I got the peaches and cherries).

sugar free blueberry pieOf course, I had to create a recipe that was sugar free, which by now has become fairly easy to do after many years of being sugar free and using natural sweeteners. Honey is my favorite sweetener due to its many health benefits and being one of the more natural sweeteners (things like stevia and agave nectar are still processed and under controversy as to whether or not they are any better than using refined sugar).

I played a little bit, taking a bit of this and that from a few recipes and then combining and modifying ingredients to make my own. I even got a little fancy with the crust by creating a full top and then adding small shaped hearts on top (believe me I do not always have the time or the desire to do this).

The kids of course waited in anticipation as the pie baked. Turning on the light in the oven to check on it and see if it was ready. Chloe even remarked on the little hearts and thought that was a good idea (she likes to create other shapes and treats with the leftover pastry – you know the pieces that are left over but are too small to really do much with, but you hate to throw out?)

Once the pie was ready and we let it cool – well enough to cut anyway – we dove in! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed blueberry pie and also how much easier it is to make than other pies like cherry and peach where you have to chop and pit the fruit first. Blueberries you just wash and pour them in.

Unfortunately we didn’t have any ice cream on hand (but decided not to wait to get that organized) and fully enjoyed it anyways! In fact, the kids asked hopefully if they could have a piece for breakfast. I said I’d think about it…

Sugar Free Blueberry Pie

2 – 9 inch pie crusts

sugar free blueberry pie5 c. fresh blueberries

3 tbsp arrowroot powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 drop cinnamon bark essential oil)

1/4 – 1/3 c. liquid honey

Prepare pie crust – whether you are making your own or have purchased pre made. If you have made your own roll out crust and fit to bottom of pie plate. Crust should cover the bottom and up the sides and over the edges slightly.

Place fresh blueberries in bottom pie crust. Mix together cinnamon, salt and arrowroot powder together and sprinkle over blueberries (if you are using cinnamon bark essential oil in place of ground cinnamon omit here and add essential oil to honey before drizzling over blueberries). Measure honey (1/4 -1/3 cup depending on desired level of sweetness) and drizzle evenly over the blueberries.

Roll out second pie crust to cover the blueberries and to the edges of the crust. Leave enough so that you can press the crusts together and crimp the edges. If using pre made crust, place and fit crust over fruit similarly.

With a knife make small slits in top of crust – this is to allow for air and for juices to bubble. Place in a pre heated 425 F oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes reduce heat to 375 F and bake for another 40 – 45 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool. *Note you can cut pie while still warm but it will not have set and will likely have juices running out. Let cool completely if you’d like it set and to avoid this.

Yum! Enjoy 🙂sugar free blueberry pie

 

Tips for Hiking with Kids

hiking with kids

Hiking is one of my favorite past times, especially in the summer. It takes you to areas in nature that you would not be able to explore otherwise.

This is one of the many reasons I love sharing this experience with my children, as not only is it important to expose children to these kinds of experiences at a young age, it is another way to nurture their natural curiousity and love of the outdoors.

Hiking with children can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience, if you plan your hike well and ensure you have what is needed than your experience will be successful overall, and the kids will want to go again (Now this does not totally prevent melt downs or life mishaps but it greatly reduces them).

Tips for Hiking with Kids

Getting Started

When taking kids on a hike there are a few things to consider:

hiking with kidsPick a hike that is suitable for the child and their hiking level – so if this is their first hike ever you do not want to take them on a 10 km hike regardless of their age. You also need to consider their age. Children who are young, like 2 or 3 could probably manage a short hike of a kilometer or two with breaks and things to look at along the way. While a child who is 8 might be able to do 5 km. You also want to consider the child, how active they are and how much walking they do in a regular day.

Pick a hike that they can finish successfully. Which means they can get to the end without feeling tired or grumpy, with some energy left over, and they would like to go further. This will also help eliminate breakdowns, you having to drag them to the end or a refusal to go on another hike. For example, if you think they can do 5 km, start with 3km so that they feel successful when they are done and work up to 5 km for the next hike.

What to Bring:

Water – make sure you bring at least a full water bottle per person, more if it’s a hot day. Hydration is key to keeping energy up and fatigue down. It also helps moderate mood.

Food – bring kid friendly high energy snacks and lunch (depending on the length of your hike). When children are fed and feeling full they are happy. This also keeps their energy up.

Clothing – even if it is a hot sunny day always pack rain coat and rain pants, an extra sweater, long pants and a few extra layers. The weather can change quickly, especially if you are hiking in the mountains, and when kids are cold and wet they are not happy, and neither are you!

hiking with kidsProper footwear – now you don’t have to run out and buy the kids fancy hiking boots, especially when you are just starting out, but ensure that the kids have good sturdy footwear – so sneakers, not sandals, and socks in their runners (this helps wick away moisture and prevent blisters). You want something with a good tread and closed toes. As you go hiking more often and start doing more challenging or longer trails, then would be a good time to look at a hiking shoe that is more sturdy and supports and protects the ankle.

Backpack – it is very important that each child have their own backpack and carry their own stuff. Depending on their age this could be as simple as a backpack and their light jacket inside or their lunch (and you carry the rest). If you start teaching them from the beginning that when you hike you all have your own backpack and carry your own gear, they will just accept that that’s how it works. Then as they grow, they can start carrying more in their packs, until they are carrying all their gear. It is also important that the backpack fits them properly, so snug and close to the back, not the straps hanging loose and the pack dragging at their bum. If their pack is not comfortable that is not going to make for a happy experience.

Sunscreen – another element in protecting the skin and avoiding heat exhaustion is using sunscreen. Burning the skin can dehydrate you faster and zap your energy. It is also very uncomfortable and can make anyone grumpy. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 60 for children. You can also use an after sun spray or natural cooling mist to help keep the skin cool.

Bug Spray – protect the skin from mosquitoes and more with an effective bug repellent. No one enjoys being eaten alive or feeling red and itchy after bugs! And children seem to be especially yummy for some reason. Spray all uncovered areas prior to going on your hike and reapply as needed. If you’d prefer a natural repellent instead of those chemical mixes try out this DIY recipe using essential oils.

First Aid Kit – be prepared for bumps and bruises, small cuts and scrapes by carrying a first aid kit. Include things like bands aids, tea tree essential oil (for cleansing), lavender for soothing, mole skin for preventing blisters, correct x for bumps and bruises, tweezers, safety pins, etc.

On the Hike:

essential oils for hikersSet realistic expectations – like mentioned above pick a hike that the kids can complete successfully and enjoy. Don’t push for that big long hike, uphill the first time out.

Start early – kids are freshest in the morning (as are you) so take advantage of that and hit the trail early in the day as opposed to the afternoon, even if it is a short hike that you’ll be done by noon.

Take regular breaks – even though you may be able to go for longer periods, allow breaks for the kids. Encourage them to take a sip of water on the breaks, and at some, not all, maybe a snack. Now don’t dilly dally and stop every 5 minutes or you’ll never get to the end, but allow them time to stop a moment and let their body rest periodically. Remember they are getting used to it!

Allow time to explore – Kids naturally love to explore so allow some time for that on your hike. This could be in the form of an activity you do with them or simply stopping and looking around an area for a few minutes. It is important to be mindful though about staying on the trail as well as staying safe. Teaching them good trail etiquette is part of the experience so set boundaries and guidelines for their exploration.

hiking with kidsTeach them about plants and flowers – there is a lot along the hiking trail that kids wouldn’t normally see in the city. Learn about a few plants and flowers and show them those along the way. Take a guide book as well for both yourself and the kids to look at if they wish. Tell them what they are by the proper name, encourage them not to pick them (and share with them why – that if you pick them in some instances it kills the plant altogether, and no one else can enjoy them). Only point out 2 or 3 on a hike (unless they ask about a specific one), that way it’s unique and fun for them, plus they may be more apt to remember what you told them. It’s ok if they don’t remember the name when you ask them later, they may the next time.

Benefits of Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids provides many benefits not only for them but for yourself as well. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy some time technology free and to bond with your child. You’ll connect with them in a way that you can’t at home cause there are too many distractions. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with my kids while hiking that I would not have at home.

It gets them out in nature. The benefits of being out in nature for children (and adults too) are numerous; such as boosts your energy and immune system, elevates mood, reduces stress and improves physical health. It is also important for us as human beings to simply connect with nature.

It nurtures their natural curiosity. Children are born with a natural curiosity to figure out how the world works. Nurturing their curiosity, fosters their desire to learn and helps them to become life long learners.

It creates positive memories. I was pleasantly surprised when recently my oldest son rhymed off all the hikes we’ve been on and what the highlights were of each (he’s now 14). He even remembered some things that I had not. We have great pictures, great stories and lots of smiles. And he’ll still go hiking with me, which at almost 15 and finding it challenging to find things to do together, I totally love and appreciate.

Keeping these tips in mind and some pre-planning will help create a very positive hiking experience for kids, as well as for you! It will create wonderful memories and an activity that you can continue to do together as they get older.

hiking with kids

Stay tuned for some of our favorite hikes for kids in Alberta that will be featured over the next few weeks…starting with the Fenland Trail

Fun in the Sun – Natural Solutions for Summer Fun

natural solutions for summer

I love Summer! Those lazy days with no schedule and nowhere you have to be at any particular time. I love the sunshine and the extended time outdoors. What I don’t love is all those chemicals that we put on our skin to protect ourselves and our family from the sun and bugs. Have you ever wondered if there was a better solution?

Anything that we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream, which in turn enters our entire body. This is through a process called Dermal Absorption which is the transport of a substance (via diffusion) from the outer surface of the skin both into the skin and into the body. So no matter what we apply to our skin, whether they are chemicals or other will become absorbed into and affect our bodies. And think about it, our skin is the largest organ in our body, so when we’re lathering up with that sunscreen or bug repellent we are exposing ourselves to a lot of chemicals we may not want.

Essential oils, combined with other natural ingredients, can provide us with the protection we need without being concerned about what chemicals we are absorbing into our bodies (because they’re aren’t any). When you use all natural ingredients like essential oils, you can support your body in ways that you need and in ways that benefit and may improve your overall health and well being. Not only can essential oils and other natural ingredients protect your skin in the way you desire (your immediate need like sun protection), but you can also benefit from the other properties of the oil you are using as well, like nourishing the skin or soothing and calming benefits.

Natural Solutions for Summer

There are various combinations and recipes out there to create natural products that will protect you in the summer, but all have a basic formula of at least one essential oil combined with one or more other natural ingredients to work together for optimal protection.

You’ll notice that many of the recipes include lavender and peppermint essential oils, which are must have’s for summer time. Both oils have analgesic (may reduce pain), cooling and soothing properties which are very much needed in summer.

Natural Sunscreen

Fact: Out of 2000 sunscreens reviewed, more than 75% were found to contain toxic chemicals.

Some things to consider when creating your own sunscreen are things like SPF and waterproof ability. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor scale and is measured by a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin. For example, if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, then using a SPF sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – so about 5 hours. Also the SPF number represents the percentage of protection that particular product provides. For instance, something with an SPF of 4-5 offers 75% protection.

There are a number of natural oils that naturally have an SPF factor rating. Coconut oil for instance has a rating of 4-5 SPF and contains antioxidants that help protect the skin from harmful radiation. Shea butter has an SPF of 5-6, Avocado oil SPF of 4-8 and Myrrh essential oil an SPF of 15 – plus ultra healing properties to help take care of your skin. Now using one of these by itself is not enough to provide the sun protection you need but used in combination can create a higher SPF and protection for your skin.

This Natural Sunscreen recipe uses a combination of these natural oils as well as beeswax which gives it waterproof ability.

Natural Sun Screen

1/2 c. oilve oilnatural solutions for summer fun

1/4 c. fractionated coconut oil

1/4 c. beeswax

2 tbsp. Shea butter

1 tsp. Vitamin E oil

2 tbsp. zinc oxide

12 drops Helichrysum essential oil

Place all ingredients except zinc oxide and helichrysum essential oil into a glass mixing bowl. Fill saucepan with 2 to 3 inches of water and turn on medium heat. Place glass bowl in saucepan and stir as ingredients melt. Remove from heat and ad the helichrysum essential oil and zinc oxide. Pour into a glass jar and store in a cool place. Apply lotion to skin before sun exposure. Reapply as needed.

 

 

Bug Bite Relief

Fact: Many topical medicated creams for insect bite itching and irritation have side effects causing redness, irritation and swelling.after bite

Ingredients

2 tsp. Fractionated Coconut Oil

10 drops Lavender essential oil

10 drops Peppermint essential oil

OR

15-20 drops doTERRA Purify essential oil blend

Add lavender and peppermint or purify essential oil to 10 ml rollerbottle. Add fractionated coconut oil to top. Secure the lid to your roller bottle and shake until ingredients combine. Apply as needed.

 

Heat Protectant Spray (for hair)

Shield your strands with a heat protectant spray made with Clary Sage and Geranium essential oils. Easy to make, this DIY spray will have your hair feeling full and healthy.

1 tsp. Fractionated Coconut Oilnatural solutions for summer fun

1 tsp. Sweet almond oil

2 tsp. doTERRA Salon Essential Smoothing Conditioner

1 c. water

5 drops Clary Sage

5 drops Geranium

Small spray bottle

Pour half of water into spray bottle. Add fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil, conditioner and essential oils into bottle. Add remaining water and shake well.

To use, apply one spritz to hair and work it through until hair is lightly coated. Style as normal.

 

Natural Allergy Relief

1 drop Peppermintnatural solutions for summer fun

1 drop Lavender

1 drop Lemon

Put into glass of water and drink. May need to increase to 2 drops each depending on person. *Note: not all brands of essential oils are safe to ingest. Research the brand you are using before ingesting.

Or create an allergy relief rollerbottle. Increase the amount of drops to 4 drops each and top with fractionated coconut oil. Shake and roll on as needed across chest and back of neck.

Check out more natural DIY recipes for summer, such as after sun and bug repellent, in part 2 of our Natural Solutions for Summer Fun.

 

Dairy Free Delicious Homemade Cinnamon Buns

dairy free sugar free cinnamon buns

Sometimes it’s just a make cinnamon buns, coffee and movies kind of weekend.

I have been craving cinnamon buns for weeks. I have no idea why. I just wanted a big sticky gooey, yummy, sweet cinnamon bun. But I also wanted to respect my needs (and not feel awful after) so I wanted it dairy free and naturally sweetened. So I couldn’t just run out to the store and get one – I decided I was going to make some sugar free dairy free cinnamon buns.

Of course my biggest issue was time. When I am baking and/ or creating in the kitchen I like to have the time to do it. I don’t like to feel rushed or hurried, or that I have to get to the next thing. I just want to move from one step to the next at whatever pace I choose. Often enjoying a favorite movie in the background as I work.  I like to take my time, enjoy the experience and give myself space to do it. I also need to feel motivated or ‘in the mood’ as they say. I find if I don’t want to then I won’t enjoy doing it either and it certainly won’t turn out.

dairy free sugar free cinnamon bunsThis weekend the stars aligned and I had all these things in place, time, desire, all the ingredients (as sometimes that is a big barrier to lol). It was the kind of weekend that was just for me, doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. A soulful weekend I like to call it. A time where I can do things that I love and fill up my soul. Sure I had work to do, and other tasks that certainly could have used my attention, but sometimes we really need to take a break, get away from work and I needed this more. I needed to rejuvenate and reconnect with myself and well baking and creating in the kitchen is one way that I like to do it.

Now you have to understand what kind of undertaking making cinnamon buns from scratch was for me. Growing up I had tried a number of different bread type recipes and could never get them to rise successfully. No matter what I tried or how I did it, I just had no success. You know when they say you should let it rise til it doubled in size? I was lucky if it rose even a little, if at all, and that was after hours of waiting. Failed after failed attempt, I watched others do it successfully, my aunt did it with ease, I think even my sister managed it once, but for me it just wasn’t happening. So to even attempt a cinnamon bun recipe where rising was involved was a big thing – I had absolutely no idea if they were even going to turn out as the light and fluffy cinnamon buns I desired, or if I would end up with rocks in the garbage once again.

I was also playing with ingredients – creating a recipe that was naturally sweetened and dairy free, I put some things in and took some out. I laughed as I was telling my girlfriend about it when I went to yoga, leaving the buns behind hoping they would rise and double in size by the time I got back. Because of all the tweeks I had made I really thought it would be a miracle if they worked.

To my delight, when I returned home from a lovely yoga and essential oils class, the cinnamon buns had in fact risen and doubled in size! I was so excited I took a picture and sent it to my girlfriend right away! (I have no idea if she was as excited as me to see this but I sent it anyways).

I giddily turned on and preheated the oven, preparing them to bake. I couldn’t wait to pull them out of the oven and taste them! hoping that my cinnamon buns had not only risen but that they tasted good too.

The good news is, they did. In fact, I have had a hard time not eating them all and am grudgingly sharing them with the kids. The beauty of it is the recipe is so easy the kids could make them themselves with a little supervision. And since they devoured theirs today afterschool they announced that they are very willing to do so!

Sugar Free Dairy Free Cinnamon Buns

Dough:

dairy free sugar free cinnamon buns2 1/2 – 3 c. flour

3 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. salt

2 1/4 tsp. quick rise yeast

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk or choice of unsweetened non-dairy milk

3 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

1 egg

Filling:


3 tbsp. softened Earth Balance Vegan Spread (this softens quite quickly so don’t leave it out too long as it will actually melt)

3-4 tbsp. cinnamon

1/4 – 1/2 c. coconut sugar

1/2 c. raisins (can add more if you really like raisins)

Mix 2 1/2 c. of flour, salt and yeast together. Create a hole in the middle of the dry mixture and add the honey to the hole, but do not mix. Set aside.

dairy free sugar free cinnamon bunsHeat the water, non-dairy milk, and Earth Balance on low heat on the stove. DO NOT bring the mixture to a boil, make sure everything has melted, mixed together and is hot but not boiling. If it boils the temperature of your mixture is too high and may not turn out. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients by pouring liquid in the middle over the honey – this is so the honey will melt and dissolve into before mixing. Ensure that the honey has completely dissolved before beginning to mix.

Using a dough hook on the stand mixer, mix together on a low setting. If all the dry ingredients are not mixing as well you may stop the mixer and mix in the rest by hand, then put it back under the mixture to complete. If needed, add the rest of the flour a tablespoon at a time to form a smooth dough (I found that I did not need the extra flour but you may depending on where you live). Continue to mix for 5 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 3-5 minutes.

After you have allowed the dough to rest, use a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a rectangle shape about 1/8 inch thick. Spread the softened Earth Balance over the dough. Then sprinkle evenly with desired amount of cinnamon and coconut sugar. Sprinkle with raisins.

Beginning with the long end of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough so that you’re filing is on the inside. Cut the rolled dough into 10-12 even pieces. Place the pieces in a well greased 9×13 inch pan.

Place the rolls in a warm draft free place and cover lightly with a clean t-towel. Let rise til they are double in size.

Preheat oven to 350 F and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Now we found these sweet enough and enjoyed them without icing and honestly they really don’t need it. But if you would like to ice your cinnamon buns you can certainly do so. I have this yummy dairy free sugar free cream cheese icing that is to die for! So I am definitely going to try that on these cinnamon buns the next time we make them. If I can find it that is… I can’t remember where I put it… I’m sure it’s in that ‘safe’ place. (Once I do find it I will share it with you here).

These cinnamon buns certainly did not disappoint, in fact I may have just enjoyed one slathered with Earth Balance on it once the kids were in bed… we must try out all options of course! I will definitely be making them again. Though I would like to try a gluten free version and see how that one will turn out…maybe I shouldn’t push it…


Goji berries