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Safe Practices of Essential Oils

Essential Oils are a hot topic right now. It seems like EVERYONE is buying them, selling them, or both. My sister first introduced me to essential oils probably, about 11 years ago. I felt they were expensive for such a tiny bottle so it took me a few years before I started purchasing them. And at the time, I had no clue on how to use them in my everyday life. I began buying them here and there to use in my homemade cleaning supplies but that was the extent of my usage. It wasn’t until, I would say probably about 5 years ago I really started to look into them for medicinal uses.

Why I started using Essential Oils

I feel the need to write this post because these companies are promoting unsafe practices. It really bothers me that many people are being led blindly. Many of the popular essential oil brands are advising MANY to use their oils unsafely. Why? I don’t know but one theory is it could possibly be so their consumers use the oils up faster which equivalents to more profit. Just a theory.   Some have paid the price for not being taught properly to to safely and effectively use essential oils. And not everyone experiences the side effects right away. It can come about after the oils accumulate that can cause sensitization.

Before I go on, I feel essential oils are beneficial to the body if used properly and safely.   About 8 years ago, I began learning about the harmful effects from chemicals, processed foods, etc. I decided to try to eliminate toxins from our home and food/water. During this time, natural cleaners were just beginning to catch on so they were not readily available. They were also generally very expensive. So I began to create my own cleaning supplies and of course, I wanted it to smell good. The natural alternative was *ding ding ding* essential oils. Another reason for my intrigue with essential oils was the biblical background. I honestly believe God’s medicine is far superior than man made medicine. Now on to the point of my post.

What is Neat?

Neat applying an essential oil without using a carrier oil. Basically, you take an undiluted essential oil and apply it directly to the skin. 99.9% of the time, you should not apply an essential oil neat. Peppermint seems like a pretty harmless essential oil since it is derived from peppermint. It takes about 16 pounds of peppermint to create an ounce of peppermint essential oil. While essential oils are natural, they are extremely potent. This is one of the main reasons you generally don’t want to apply the oil neat. If you have sensitive skin, even the oils that are generally safe, it is best to dilute the oils. Rule of thumb for children, always dilute.  Continue reading

Read This Guide Before You Buy a Baby Stroller

It’s been months since baby was born and now you’re ready to get active again. The easiest way to do so is to get outside with baby in a jogging stroller. But with so many brands and models out there, how do you know which one is the right jogging stroller for you? We’re here to help you make an informed buying decision.

Types of Baby Strollers

The options can be perplexing. Our handy overview will help you figure out what’s out there and what would work best for you.


Umbrella strollers are extremely popular with on-the-go parents because they fold easily and fit into tight storage spaces like car trunks and overhead compartments. Featuring curved handles (hence the name), umbrella strollers offer less comfort and features than larger strollers but are ideal for caregivers who travel often by bus, train or car since they occupy less space and can be easily folded and tucked away.


While there is something to be said for a sturdy, heavy stroller that will last for the duration of a child’s need, the practicality of a lightweight stroller cannot be undermined. And lightweight strollers no longer describe the basic umbrella stroller either. Indeed, today there are many lightweight strollers that offer some of the same features as larger strollers, including storage space, multiple reclining positions, adjustable handlebars and stylish accessories.


If you’ve seen a period movie set in England and that involved babies, chances are you’ve seen what a pram looks like. Traditionally, these old-fashioned baby carriages feature large spoked wheels and a bassinet-style sleeping space. Prams are ideal for newborns, since they need to lie down when they ride around. Beautiful and offering a certain classic vintage image, prams are safe for babies up to three months old.

Today, many modern strollers offer a bassinet attachment that provides your baby with a similar pram experience.


Popular with new parents, these traditional strollers include a detachable color-coordinating infant car seat carrier. Instead of waking baby to take him out of a car seat and put him in the stroller when you leave the car to run a quick errand, the travel system lets you easily pick up the carrier and attach it directly onto the stroller. While practical in the first few months, many parents complain that travel systems are heavy and impractical for folding and storing in the trunk of a car.


Similar to a travel system, a convertible stroller grows with your child from the newborn to toddler stage. Convertible strollers feature a seat that folds back so the newborn can ride flat. The seat back can be folded up at around six months when the baby can sit upright. Though these strollers can be on the pricier side, keep in mind that you will be able to use it well into the toddler years. Continue reading

All About Vitamix Blender and My Experience With It

The VitaMix blender is a great kitchen tool, but it is expensive, so it’s not a blender I recommend for everyone. In this review, I discuss why I bought the Vitamix blender, how I use it, what the pros and cons of the VitaMix are, and what you might buy instead of the VitaMix blender.

Plus, I’ll share a few of my favorite VitaMix recipes. First some background: As a food writer, I give all of my kitchen tools quite a workout. But I don’t use them all every day. And some are kitchen tools I wouldn’t own if it weren’t for my job.

By contrast, the VitaMix blender is something I bought originally just for me. Now, however, I find that I use this blender almost every day for everything from fruit smoothies to sauces.

That’s why for me, this was a low-cost investment (expensive yes, but on a per-use basis, it’s actually cheaper than my gravy boat, which gets used about once a year). Read on to see if the Vitamix 5200 is worth your money.

Reason for Buying a VitaMix Blender

Vitamix 5200

My no one reason for buying a VitaMix blender was making fruit smoothies. I probably make a fruit or vegetable smoothie at least 4 days a week. Plus, I am always creating new smoothie recipes in my work as a food writer. The secret to a great smoothie is using frozen fruit. Yes, you can add ice, but it will make the smoothie taste watered-down. The only way to get that frosty, milkshake-like texture is to use frozen fruit.

And despite what other blenders claim, they won’t crush frozen fruit well. Even the blenders with ice-crusher features don’t do the job. Because I was going through blenders at a rate of one every three months or so (and most didn’t work well when I had them), the VitaMix ended up being cheaper for me.

I’ve had my VitaMix blender for about 8 years and the motor has never burned out or slowed down, and it crushes anything I put in it, including whole oranges, perfectly.

How to use Vitamix blender

Ok, so making smoothies was my #1 reason for buying the VitaMix blender. But I have found that I use it for many kitchen jobs, just as the infomercial promises, including:

  • I use the VitaMix blender to puree soups, like my famous broccoli soup (I think it rivals the best restaurant broccoli cheese soups). This way, I don’t have to use cream to thicken my soups. Just pureeing the vegetables makes the soup thick and creamy, like a bisque.
  • I use it to make bread crumbs, graham cracker crumbs or crushed gingersnaps for my pumpkin cheesecake recipe. I also use it to make pretzel crumbs for my pretzel crusted chicken breasts. Takes just a second, and it’s so much cheaper than buying bread crumbs or crushed graham cracker crumbs.
  • I use the VitaMix when I need to blend something quickly, like the batter for my dutch baby pancake recipe. I can just dump all the ingredients in, blend in 2 seconds, and pour it into the pan to bake.
  • I use the VitaMix to make some sauces and salad dressings, but I think a food processor works better for some of these tasks

What I dislike about Vitamix Blender

The VitaMix commercials and web site would have you think you can throw out every other kitchen tool you have, because the VitaMix does everything from chopping onions to making peanut butter. While technically it may be possible to make those things in the VitaMix blender, I don’t recommend it.

For onions and vegetables, you won’t get a clean, even dice with the VitaMix. You’re more likely to get onion shreds or onion puree. I would prefer Blendtec blender for this. You can learn more about the difference between Blendtec and Vitamix blender here. Continue reading

Juicing Fasting the Safe Way

Juicing veggies and fruits and drinking the extracted liquid is a superior way to getting an abundance of enzymes and complex chemical compounds, vitamins and nourishing substances into your body. Without any fiber in your diet, the human body consumes less energy in the digestive process. However it is very important to know a bit about therapeutic fasting, the advantages, disadvantages and the health benefits.

A lot of energy is utilized for digestion. If you consume three meals every day, there is no means to focus your energy and purify your body. Unwanted acids stay in the body that could result in possible disorders. The more it will be important to opt for cleansing to help resolve health issues such as obesity, skin problems, low energy, bad temper, diarrhea and constipation.

The problem is that juice fasting is frequently misconstrued. In fact, it can cause more harm than good if not handled properly. Do not embark on a so-called fasting program without extensive preparations, adequate knowledge of the process and how to cope with expectations. By doing this, you can look forward to a safe and positive fasting experience.  Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should use a good masticating juicer instead of a centrifugal juicer.  Since most of the nutrients are lost when you use centrifugal juicer.

If you believe that it is time for you to do a juice fast to clean and detox your body you should start by going on a ‘transition diet’ by cutting out heavy protein foods and eating an abundance of hard fruits and green vegetables for a minimum of two weeks prior to starting the juice fast.

As much as possible, choose fruit juices that are low in sugar and do not overindulge in fresh fruit juices to prevent any disproportion in your sugar levels. The best options would be grapefruit, berries and green apples with some lime and lemon.It may be suitable to make the juice sweeter by adding a dash of fruit or carrots, bell pepper and red beet.

If you know how to juice fast, you can look forward to enhancing wellbeing, clearness and cleansing your body systems. The method of juice fasting entails that for a specific duration, you can only consume liquids, particularly water, herbal tea, fresh juices as well as filtered vegetable broth. You should avoid a lot of liquids such as coffee, carbonated beverages, milk, diet drinks and protein powder concoctions.

Variation in Lifestyle

Will there be a need to make adjustments to your current lifestyle? This will depend on the quantity of juice that you are consuming during the fasting process. Still the bottom line is to give your body the chance to rest to obtain maximum beneficial results.

Avoid social activities for the meantime and concentrate on relaxing pursuits such as leisurely walking, light stretching, reading inspirational books, watching good movies and meditating. By fasting, you also allow toxins to get out of your body.

The good thing is that by focusing on how to juice fast, you will discover that the unwanted substances will get out through perspiration, expelling glut mucus that surrounds your membranes and elimination of bowels that cleanses your colon.

By integrating juice fasting into your lifestyle, you acquire a marvelous cleansing and therapeutic vehicle. There will be no adverse effects if you skip solid food for several days. On the contrary the effects will be highly beneficial for you.

Hiking Boots – Is it essential for hiking?

If you are planning to go for a hiking trip where the climate is hot and humid – it’s better to take a good pair of hiking boots. Hiking boots are not same as your ordinary shoes . A quality hiking shoes have a special outsole which gives  much better traction on hilly terrain and tight grip to prevent slipping when you are climbing or descending.

Types of Hiking Boots

Before your purchase a pair of hiking boots, it is important that you understand some facets about hiking boots because these boots are completely different from general shoes. Some of the important aspects you need to know the different types of hiking boots available today.
Mountaineering Boots – These type of boots are used for mountain climbing. They are very strong and tough and have hard soles to protect the ankle and give support.

Trail Shoes – These types of shoes are for hiking in dry climate on less rough terrain. These are best for a one-day or an hour trip. Low-cut trail shoes with flexible soles are great for short hiking trip. Many backpackers prefer trail-running shoes for also long-distance journeys.

Trail Hikers – Trail shoes are best for muddy paths and vertical inclines. These types of shoes are designed to carry heavier loads. Most have a high cut that wraps above the ankles for excellent support.

Functional hiking shoes are so good that you don’t feel that you are wearing any different type of shoes. Their main features of functional hiking shoes include shock absorption and comfort. They are also durable and light weight.

Hiking and backpacking tips

The first thing you want to make sure of is that your park your car well off the road and away from anyone’s private driveway. If you can find a public spot for use with the trail that would be best, or simply live it back at your home base. Once you get on the hiking and backpacking trial, stay on it. No matter how enticing a cutoff looks it can put you in a dangerous position.

Stay away from smooth surfaces, and make sure that your hiking boots will have excellent traction. This is important, as it is easy to slip if they do not, and obviously you do not want to risk injury just because your boots were inadequate. If you suspect that your boots will build-up with ice and snow underneath (thus getting rid of the traction) then it is best to try spike chains, which attach onto your boots or shoes and they adjust themselves to virtually any surface to create the perfect traction and grip for you.

A tent shaped shelter may be built by running rope down the center of the poncho between two trees and staking the sides into the ground with sharp sticks to create an A-frame. A one-person tent may be built from tree branches without even using rope. The prime concept is to make a frame and then wrap a cover overhead and to the sides.

Is Gas Powered Leaf Blowers Better Option?

Are you getting blown away by the huge amount of yard work that seems to crop up every autumn? The autumn foliage looks great on the trees but once it starts falling onto your yard, it can be royally annoying. The leaves have to be raked, bagged and tagged for disposal or even mulched to create manure for the next season. Nonetheless, gathering those leaves can be a real backbreaking prospect every year. But this is where a really great gas leaf blower model can ease your pains. There are a huge range of really great gas leaf blower models in the market that work very well but just how do they work and how do you choose the right gas leaf blower for your needs?

Working of a gas leaf blower

All gas leaf blower models work on a centrifugal type fan. This fan will spin the air around a fan and then spit it out at high speeds. This creates a lot of pressure. Some of the better models of gas leaf blowers can create wind speeds of 250mph but you will require pressure as well as speed to get the leaves moved to the right place. Along with pressure, a few gas leaf blower models also have vacuum attachments that will suck up the extra air and leaves and allow them to be bagged inside the machine itself. This will really help you in cleaning out your yard. If you have larger area to clear then it is best to buy gas powered leaf blowers.

Cost of a gas leaf blower

Most gas leaf blower models are heavier as they need a container to hold the gas and oil mixture that starts it off. These models will also cost slightly more at about $200-$400. You will even have to factor in the cost of gas replacement canisters and oil changes to calculate the eventual cost of using the machine. There are many brands and companies that make gas leaf blower models in the market at present like the Ryobi, Homelite, Tanaka etc.

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Exercise Bikes – The Best Fitness Equipment

Exercise bikes are great for maintaining your fitness and daily cardio. They are alternately referred to as stationary bicycles, indoor bikes or studio cycles. Whichever label you prefer, exercise bikes continue to be among the most popular home fitness equipment.

The real beauty of an exercise bike is the fact that you can use it almost anywhere. Whether you’re in front of the TV, listening to music, reading a book or watching over the kids, an exercise bike allows you to squeeze in an effective home workout. Of course, since exercise bikes are so popular, there are a lot of them to choose from, which can make selecting the right model for you a difficult task.

Types of Exercise Bikes

There are several different designs of exercise bikes, including the upright bike, the recumbent bike and the spinner. The upright exercise bike perhaps best mirrors the style and ride of a traditional road bike; you sit on a small seat, back unsupported with the pedals positioned directly below you.

A recumbent exercise cycle features a larger, upright lounge chair-style seat that provides support to the lower back, with the pedals situated in front of you rather than below; as a result, the seated position is similar to the one that you use to drive a car.

The third notable type of exercise cycle is the spinner, which is popular in health club spinning classes but is less widely used as home fitness equipment. There are also several exercise bike models that offer simultaneous upper-body workouts.

Buying an Exercise Bikes in UK

It is important to shop wisely for any home exercise equipment, in order to insure that it is something you will use on a regular basis; as such, you should avoid trendy or cute equipment. Aside from cost, the most important feature to consider when selecting an exercise bike is comfort; if it isn’t comfortable, you are very unlikely to stick to a regular exercise schedule.

The seat of the upright exercise bike should be adjustable and comfortable. If you are buying recumbent exercise bikes, then make sure seat is lock securely in place. If you are looking for top quality exercise bikes in 2019, then go Schwinn model. They comes in lot of features and durable, lasting for many years without any maintenance.

The only way to ensure that an exercise cycle is comfortable is to try it out. If you intend to share the exercise cycle with other household members, have them try the bike out as well; what is comfortable for you may not be comfortable for others.

Benefits of Exercise Bike

There are various benefits of using exercising bike, other than providing fitness and greatly improving your immune system.

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Hushed Tones

when i picked up our romantic, valentine’s day manufactured holiday dinner from a favorite local bistro last night, i struck up a conversation with a fellow pregnant woman. she was dining alone and a piece of me envied her quiet solitude. like me, she had roughly 9 weeks left in this pregnancy. also, like me, she has another child at home, and therefore had forgotten about the fact that the last 2 months of pregnancy suck your will to live. we chuckled together and then she was seated at her table.

we wished each other luck and went our separate ways.

a longtime friend and confidant texted me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that she is taking the time to read my blog in its entirety. she most recently finished reading through 2013, which only solidified the decision i made back then to not share the video footage we had taken of our then infant son’s wretched feedings on this blog.

Perhaps i’m hibernating. “nesting” in a way. quieting down. preparing myself for change. big change. taking inventory. reading. observing.

perhaps i’m wigging out. burying my crazy and stuffing it down deeper and deeper into the crevices from which it eventually seeps out of. people can suffer in silence. not that i’m suffering. i’m pregnant with a preschool age son and a husband shortly deploying. some people have it worse. others have it better.

perhaps i’m just listening… which is not something i am particularly strong suited to do, and certainly not something i practice often. (i think this makes people nervous. when i am quiet, others around me aren’t sure what to do with themselves. are you ok? are you upset? is something going on? is there anything you need to talk about?)

life is noisy. the abundance of sound, words, opinion, vitriol, speculation. it’s exhausting.

i am someone who loves words. LOVES. one of the things i truly enjoy the most about life is discussion. just simple discussion with people. agreeing. disagreeing. problem solving. expressing oneself with words. to me, it’s intoxicating. it’s powerful.

it’s meaningful. it CAN BE meaningful.

but it doesn’t feel that way to me right now. words aren’t feeling productive and insightful. drafts are being written without edits. submissions and speculations are being made without confirmation. words are being shared without a true sense of the message being put out in the universe. people are writing and speaking for the sake of writing and speaking. for a deadline. for cash. to be heard. to say SOMETHING. anything.

but what is truly being said?

when i find myself at a place where i am questioning words like this, i tend to quiet down.

someone needs to listen.

(this knowledge of her reading my archives also confirms my decision to not read through my own archives. ever.)

another trusted friend was emailing back and forth with me just yesterday and mentioned how quiet my blog has been lately. she’s correct (as she usually is). i have been quiet here… not for any particular reason. certainly not for lack of content. i shrugged when i read her astute observation. she was spot-on, and i had no insightful response to return. just a shrug. an acknowledgement.

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