Using Your Inner Compass

Happy Friday you guys! This week has been an amazing one, and I’m happy to have the weekend ahead of me to bring in the Fall weather and the Hunter’s Moon. I love to take the opportunity to let my harvested herbs drink in the moon’s energy overnight before I use them in tinctures and healing remedies the following day. This is referred to as Lunar infusion. As with life, plants experience the Yin and Yang of life, at which time I like to take advantage of these intense moons and the amazing energy they give. This week I have had to wonderful opportunity to help people both local and out of state take advantage of the healing properties of my Elderberry Syrup. If you missed last year’s post about the benefits of Elderberry, you can find that here. This is the first year I have made large quantities to sell, but certainly not my first year of making it. I am so happy I decided to take on this new adventure knowing that Fall and Winter wellness is on the horizon for those who I’m lucky enough to help. Over the last several years, I have taken time to study the use of medicinal plants and herbs and incorporated them into my daily life. With that being said, I want to cover something today that may be a surprise or maybe not. I want to encourage those of you who are riding the fence on Eastern and Western medicine and feel as though you have to be ALL IN or NOT IN. So, let’s go.

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As we get older and more knowledgeable about the things we put in our bodies, we start to question if what we are doing is really the right choice for us and our family. Do I want to “keep it crunchy”, try to stay away from modern medical practices, and try to heal myself with what is proved to suffice for years and years, or is all this herbalist lingo just a lot of bullshit jargon for hippy-dippy tree huggers? What if I told you that you can do both and not be judged? What if I said that 98% of the time I heal myself with herbs and oils and tinctures and teas, but in two cases in life, I leave it to the professionals to help me with things I can’t do on my own. Here’s the thing. Yes, being someone who is aspiring to be all things herbalist, I can tell you that you can ride the fence and you can heal yourself while allowing modern medicine to help you either temporarily or permanently. What I know for myself is that while I do what I can to treat my body in a holistic way, there are a couple of issues I am unable to treat successfully. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful in treating those issues homeopathically, it just means that before I became away of the power of medicinal plants in my life, I only relied on modern medicine for mental health and sleep issues that had been present since childhood. Clearly this isn’t something I feel uncomfortable talking about. I have struggled with clinical anxiety since the birth of my tiniest root and have been unable to sleep effectively through the night since childhood. What I did struggle with, however, was the fact that I almost felt as though I wasn’t being transparent to people who look to me for advice about certain things they would like to try and heal in a homeopathic way. I have given advice to people on everything from low sex drive to sore throats, but all the while I felt as though I should be trying harder to be “ALL IN”. What I realized when I started this blog was that it’s okay to do your best for the happiness and wellbeing of yourself and your family while at the same time looking to others to fill in the gaps when you fall short. This world is full of knowledgeable people whose goal in life is to help you and to heal you. I encourage everyone to not only have an experienced medical professional in your arsenal but also an herbalist or someone who has experience in holistic remedies. It’s okay to have your inner compass somewhere between East and West. We are all here on this beautiful planet to live and learn and most of all, grow roots.

Resolutions And Life Solutions

We’ve all heard the old adage, right? “New Year, new you”.  With Christmas comes the hustle and bustle of making sure everyone feels loved and appreciated.  We show our loved ones just how loved they truly are by buying them items they either roll their eyes at or don’t deserve in the first place.  Ahhh yes, the warm fuzzies of the holidays.  After the rush of Christmas has gone, we are finally able to refocus our attention to things that have been put on the back burner for the past month. What do we do then but decide on all the things we need to “fix” about ourselves?  The old tried and true New Year’s resolution.  You get a few days between Christmas and the New Year to roll around in that big pile of shit we call self loathing and come up with a few things that are in need of attention AND come up with a plan of attack.  Now, most of us can’t pull the trigger on what type of curtains to hang or what color throw pillows you need on your sofa in that short of an amount of time, but by all means, lets try and come up with some sort of psychological cluster fuck of a resolution. Oh, and try not to forget, you get one shot, and if you mess it up, you have 364 days to enter the world of shame with the rest of us screw ups until you get another shot at perfection.  Why exactly do we do this to ourselves?  Is it so bad to carry the same ole, less than perfect you into the New Year, or is it a mandated standard to make changes? With that question in mind, I want to take a bit to try and bring together my muddled thoughts on change,  give everyone an update on where I have been for the last few months, and how I’ve come to realize that there is a very big difference between a resolution and an life solution.

Let me start first by saying that when it comes to living in one place, I spent the better part of my adult life moving around.  I have never been a homeowner and have been 100% satisfied with the fact that I can pick up and move whenever a lease was complete, or pick up the phone and call my landlord and let them know when something major was on the fritz.  As I got older and expanded our family, I still didn’t have the desire to own a home, but I did know that I wanted to be somewhere for a longer period of time, in hopes that I would gain some clarity on if or when we would purchase a home of our very own.  I was ready to grow roots (no pun intended).  We have lived the neighborhood life for the past 10 years, and up until late Summer of this year, I thought everything was plugging along just fine.  We knew that we didn’t want to live in the neighborhood we were in for the entirety of our lives, but it was comfortable and it was home.  Until it wasn’t.  When our landlords decided they wanted to sell the house, it was clear that it wasn’t in the cards for us to remain there any longer.  It took me a while to let it sink in, that I went into the rental office with a request to make long overdue improvements to the house and I left feeling a heavy looming uncertainty that I didn’t see coming.  They were ready to sell and I wasn’t ready for change.  When I drove home, I realized that it wasn’t home and that I was going to have to find another home.  Even worse was the fact that I didn’t even know how long I had to relocate.  I figured maybe after Christmas. I was wrong. At the beginning of October I received an email, asking if I had had any luck on the hunt for a new house.  The truth was that I hadn’t even been looking, and now I have a sinking feeling that I didn’t have the kind of time I thought I had to make arrangements.  I was terrified.  This was a big change for our family and not only were we not prepared mentally, we weren’t prepared in any sense of the word.  Unfortunately there was very little time to dwell on our situation, because change was coming, and I needed to find a solution that we could live with, and live in for that matter.

To say that my husband is a trooper is an understatement.  Everytime I find myself pondering whether to kill him in his sleep, I just remind myself that he commutes roughly 150 miles a day to bring home the bacon.  He gets a pass on falling asleep at 8pm on a Friday night, and when he’s grumpy in the Winter months, I know that it’s because it’s dark when he leaves home and dark when he returns.  When I realized we were going to have to move, I thought that it was time to relocate to a city that would at least cut his drive in half.  I spent the better part of 3 weeks trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat, and if I’m being completely transparent here, I was trying to pull an Angora from a thrift store fedora.  I was defeated by the housing market and shocked at the cost of rental houses.  I knew that the harder I tried to close the gap on driving, the further we were getting from closing the gap on our budget.  So, with a heavy heart and a head full of doubt, I decided that I would take a week to relax my mind.  I had cried and worried myself sick.  I had yelled at my children and at my husband for things they did and didn’t do.  I found myself fighting some pretty bad anxiety and instead of smudging my way into a better frame of mind, or taking it to the mat and stretching out life’s wrinkles, I was wading shit up and throwing it into boxes.  I’m not a worry wart.  If the well runs dry, I will bathe in wine.  I’ve always been the type of person that knows that I will not go hungry (though I could stand to miss a meal or two).  “The universe will provide” is a motto that I have stuck to throughout the years and has proven true time and time again. If there were ever a time that I felt like the universe was kicking me in the balls, it was here and now.

One day in the middle of our crisis, I took the littles over to see my parents and try to clear my mind and my head.  My dad is a fantastic listener.  He offers opinions but is almost ALWAYS on your side whether he actually is or not.  My mother, while almost always rubbing me East while I trying to go West, is a problem solver to the core.  As I was walking out the door to get put the roots in the car and leave, my mother casually says “I think there is a house a few doors down that looks to be empty”.  WHAT??  I had been there for 2 hours and she was just now mentioning this?  Like I said, East and West.  So, with my roots in the vehicle which might I add was on the verge of overheating, I drive down, and outside there was a gentleman dragging limbs to the road.  I introduce myself and asked him if the house is for rent.  Without a word, he points inside.  I could tell that his focus was all the work and that inside the house would be either our salvation, or an axe murderer.  At this point I was willing to take my chances.  Lucky for us it was salvation.  She was one of those people you meet and you feel like you have known for more than just that current moment, and just like that, I went from stuffing boxes with memories to being back on the street I grew up on.  This house, these people, were what we needed, in the exact time and space we needed them. As I walked through the house once and again later with the rest of my family,  I began to look around and see all the possibilities in what would be our new place to make memories.  Now it was time for what would seem like the never ending move.


Three days before Halloween, we began our move.  At this point I had started to lose steam, as I had spent the previous two weeks priming and painting cabinets in both the kitchen and the bathroom as well as wood paneling in the dining room, kitchen, and bathroom.  In my 20’s and 30’s, I loved to paint walls.  It always seems like such an easy and affordable facelift, but I figured out that the extra stress pounds that I had acquired, as well as the new decade I was currently living in known as the 40’s, was kicking the shit out of me.  Lucky for me, the husband had help in the moving process.  Now, I could let this next part go, but I’m not.  The husband has a coworker that I had up until this point only heard her name.  Female plumbers aren’t exactly a dime a dozen but I’m telling you right now, she is a dime piece for sure.  She drove 150 miles round trip to help us move, and when I finally was able to put a face with a name, I was shocked.  I never buy into stereotypes, but I’m not going to lie, I sort of a expected a female plumber that resembled something like a young Roseanne Barr.  Full of piss and vinegar and with a sailor’s vocabulary to boot.  Boy was I wrong.  She was a sweet, mild mannered, petite woman that if I had to guess, could work circles around most men.  I stood VERY corrected. She not only helped with everything from the fridge to the couch, she literally never stopped until everything was transferred from one house to the other.  I’m sure you are wondering where exactly my lazy ass was during all of this.  Well, I was unpacking boxes and directing traffic, touching up paint, cleaning, and preparing to spend our first night in the new place.  We had a bit of a system going, so don’t judge me, okay?


As the sun set, we were still missing a few items, one of which was weighing pretty heavily on my soul.  My chickens.  In August we had lost every chicken we had to a stray dog.  It was one of the major things I despised about our old neighborhood.  I had recently replaced all of them with ever growing chicks, and I needed them to be here, but moving their home was about as complicated as moving our own.  It was built by hand, and weighed more than I could possibly guess.  We pondered the situation for the entire evening and then before I knew it was happening, our loyal friends showed up to assist.  How in the world they got it onto the truck and here without getting stopped by the police is beyond me.  This must be a perk of living in a small country town where police officers see something resembling the Beverly Hillbillies, but totally know what is going on, so they turn a blind eye.  Too bad they don’t do that with speeding violations.  A whole different expense we had to endure in this process, and for sure one for a different life update.  Right, husband?  Mmmm hmmmm.

From October until now, we have been settling in. Taking our time with making it our home and filling it with pieces of ourselves.  I took some time to really let go of the old house even though it still warms my gut a bit to think of it. Afterall, there were lots of memories there.  10 years worth to be exact.  Birthdays, Christmases, vegetable gardens and several front door colors. First boyfriends, first steps, tears, and scraped knees from the time we let one of the roots build a bike ramp. I can’t begin to put into words the neighbors that have changed my life.  I met people who endured unimaginable loss and still had enough heart to melt yours as well as neighbors that while you only knew them a short time, you knew you were lost twins (you know who you are).  Our children met their very first, best friends.  Sometimes they would go out in the morning to play with them, and not return until sunset, and sometimes they would play for 5 minutes and swear it was the last time they would play with each other…. Until the next day.  It was an absolute blast watching them grow up together.


I drove out to the old neighborhood about a week after we moved and noticed my herb garden was completely gone. Sure, it’s not everyone’s thing, and certainly high maintenance, but many years of trial and error went into amazing Lavender. My front door was painted again. Boring red. Hmmm, maybe pink wasn’t everyone’s taste, and besides, it wasn’t my door anyway. It still stung a bit. The upside is that our new neighborhood isn’t so new. I have years of memories growing up here and rode my bike up down this street more times than I can count. It feels like home. Now my roots can get on their scooters or bikes and go see their grandparents only a few houses away.


Since the move I’ve hosted Thanksgiving here and our first Christmas.  It’s been monumentally stressful both mentally and financially to prepare and execute a move that we weren’t prepared for.  We are incredibly fortunate to be reminded what amazing people we have around us, each one of them  enhancing our lives in ways I can only hope to one day repay.  This brings me back around to resolutions.  Do I believe in “new year, new me” ?  Have you ever met me or read this blog?  When it comes down to who I am, I will always have my head in the clouds a bit and lead with my heart. What I’ve learned in this process is both good and bad.  I discovered that no matter how betrayed you may feel by someone, for them, it was nothing more than business, and it hurts.  I also learned that no matter how many times I am surprised by someone, I will ALWAYS believe in the good of mankind.  Not until they prove it, not if they lift me up when I am down, but just because I am forever an optimist.  Lastly, I learned that when roots are torn from the ground, they are damaged, but when you replant them, over time they heal and begin to grow again.  They repair the hurt and the trauma and become just as strong as they once were.  And so, let’s GROW.


Meditation, Mantra, And Mala

Meditation.  The idea of clearing the mind long enough to regain focus and reinvigorate the senses. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?  Absolutely, but for me, it used to feel like I was entering the land of "Ommmm, Did I turn the coffee pot off?  Ommm, maybe takeout will suffice for tonight's sustenance.  Ommmmmm, What in the FUCK is that tapping sound?". For years I desperately wanted to meditate and achieve what seemed so easy for everyone else.  At least it looked easy for those super fit women sitting on a yoga mat by the ocean waves while the wind blew their sun-bleached hair. I can do this! I mean, sure I don't have an ocean nearby, nor do I have the lovely smell of sea salt air to sweep me into a mind-clearing meditation, but I do have some pretty fucking amazing yoga pants and a halfway decent ability to not listen to my children when they repeat "Mom!  We're hungry!". How hard can it be?  As it turns out, pretty darn hard for someone like me who has a complete inability to tune anything out.  Not only am I prone to work myself into a fit of anxiety before I even realize it has been done, but I am super sensitive to sounds.  Tapping, chewing, barking dogs that won't stop.  I don't know why I am this way, but  I'm convinced that when I gave birth to each and every one of my roots, my hearing got better and better.  It's as if the "powers that be" saw fit to equip me with supersonic hearing that allowed me to hear the under the breath grumblings pertaining to meals they didn't prefer or bedtimes they weren't ready for.  If you ask any of them, I'm certain they will say that I'm the queen of "I HEARD THAT!".

Nevertheless, I can hear very well and am easily sidetracked by noise in the home. Now, I'm no genius here, but after countless years, yes you read correctly, it took me years to figure this thing out. I finally decided that it isn't normal to grit your teeth while trying to clear your mind during meditation.  Something had to give here, and I was determined to figure out what I was doing wrong and how to fix it. To the library I go.

Countless hours of combing through books on how to meditate over the years left me feeling even more frustrated. There are countless methods in which to meditate, but no matter how I tried, it just wasn't working. Despite my efforts, not only could I not drown out the noise, it seemed that my goal was even further from my grasp. Maybe instead of meditating, I could find a more suitable way to disconnect. I gave up for a while and decided that maybe I should join all my other friends in their quest to find relaxation in something a bit more common like a mani/pedi day. I mean, sure I am cheap, and a pedicure is relatively pointless for someone who loves to squish dirt beneath her feet, but for the time being, I would at least put the idea of meditating on the back burner. Fast forward a few years, a few pounds, and another root to the bunch. One afternoon I decided to pick up a book that my sister had so graciously mailed to me.  Nothing to do with meditation, but instead something of the dark and twisty variety that we both enjoy.  The tiny root is down for a nap, the middle root is outside playing with the neighbor boys.  What better time to relax and read. I can't say for sure just how long I was reading, but before I knew it, the tiny root was standing in front of me in the living room, screaming "Mommy!"  I was startled, to say the least.  I was so wrapped up in the book I was reading, that I somehow missed the fact that she had woken from her nap and for some period of time had been standing in front of me yelling my given name. I had lost all sense of space and time. Perhaps reading is my form of meditation. It has always been the one thing that allowed me to completely disconnect from my surroundings.  I could read in silence, I could read during dinner, I could even read while the gentleman (I use that term loosely) beside me coughed uncontrollably without covering his mouth. Stay with me here, I'm getting to my point. Everything I had been trying to achieve over the years, I could accomplish while reading a book. It was then that I realized that I was capable of tuning everything out, I just needed something to aid me in concentration.  Maybe I was going about this thing all wrong. In the beginning, I was under the impression that being able to meditate was exactly the opposite of concentration. I didn't want to concentrate.  In fact, I wanted to turn my brain completely off. It was time to let go of everything I had envisioned about meditation and dig a little deeper to find something that worked for me. Upon the realization that I can tune everything out while reading, a light came on in my mind and I realized that in order for me to clear my mind, I had to fill it, and the first step was drowning out the noise.

 Enter the Mantra......

You often hear people refer to a specific phrase as "their mantra".  What exactly is a Mantra anyway? As with most things, over time, our modernized and Westernized spiritual practices have transformed a Mantra into something quite different than what it originated as.  That's okay. Time changes things, and for me, it's one of those things that can be what you want it to be.  Take a chocolate chip cookie for instance.  For some, it's just something to satisfy the urge of a sweet tooth, but for others (Certainly not myself, of course) it can often be the reason that our loved ones are allowed to survive in the house with us 5-7 days out of each month.  Either way, it serves the desire to achieve something and gets the job done. Think about that.  A Mantra can be words of affirmation that are repeated during meditation either silently or aloud.  It sets the intention for the meditation either through specific words or a sound.  Most everyone has heard the classic "Om" or "Aum" sound being chanted softly during meditation.  This is probably one of the most widely used mantras.  It creates a peaceful vibration that begins in the lower abdomen and radiates through the lips.  This happens to be the mantra I use most often.  The best way I can describe it's benefit for me is to compare it to tightening all of your muscles and completely relaxing afterward.  It's very calming.  I must admit, when I first began to chant during meditation, I had a hard time relaxing into it.  Self-conscious maybe, but none the less, I didn't want anyone to hear me.  Over time I realized that the more fucks I gave away to this fact, the harder it was to set and achieve my intention.  So, my advice when using a mantra during meditation is to let go and Ommmmmmm away. You'll be happy you did.

Over time my meditation grew stronger, as did my ability to counter any outside noises with chanting. Everything was flowing well.  Until it wasn't.  Unfortunately what began to happen is that while the mantras were effective in drowning out the noise in my environment, it became less effective at drowning out the thoughts racing through my head during times in increased anxiety. I've never been one of those people who could pinpoint the root of their anxiety and avoided those situations. I have talked in previous blog posts about panic attacks and bouts with anxiety that creeped in out of nowhere just after the birth of my third root.  The last one I experienced was two Summers ago after having spent a beautiful June day walking around one of my favorite little cities meandering in and out of amazing little artsy shops.  My family and I had a delicious lunch and after returning home and lying down for a bit I began to sweat profusely and became light headed. Before I knew it, I was unable to function and for several days and became completely detached from everyone and everything. I still to this day have no idea what happened.  I can only surmise that it was a culmination of things that ended in a volcanic eruption of anxiety that had gone too far for me to rein in on my own, and there wasn't a mantra on the planet that would bring me back.  It was then that I learned of a way to meditate that allowed me to manage my thoughts and prevent anxiety from becoming unmanageable.

Mala beads by  Alchemist Treasures .  

Mala beads by Alchemist Treasures.  

Mantra Meets Mala

One afternoon I was became entranced by a new magazine that was delivered by my trusty mailman. Just when I think it will be a fruitless day where Amazon Prime has nothing coming my way, my rural mail carrier shows up with a magazine from a subscription that I managed to get as a freebie.  That day, it was the newest issue of Yoga Journal.  I absolutely love this magazine not only because it has so much useful information on how to improve on your practice, but also because no matter the size or shape, age or gender, there is something inspiring to read.  I wish I could say that I stumbled upon this new miracle to my meditation by reading something really deep and intriguing.  Nope!  I was actually coveting a pair of Yoga pants.  The kind that covers the bottom of your foot but has a cutout for the heel.  Ahhh yes,  really intellectual of me.  Perhaps these magic yoga leggings meet legwarmers come in my size.  It then came to my attention that in the next photo, the model was wearing a beautiful strand of beads.  Is that Moonstone?  I Looooove Moonstone. I was curious as to how she practiced Yoga while wearing the long beads with a tassel at the end.  I mean, as for me, I was pretty certain that if I wore them during yoga, I would become so tangled up, someone may find me hogtied and suspect foul play. Oh well, maybe I will look online and see what I can come up with, and that's exactly what I did.  As it turns out, they are called Mala Beads or Prayer Beads.  They can be used as a quick and easy way to spruce up a cute outfit, but the meaning is much more significant, and I am certain they wouldn't pair well with my t-shirts and running shorts that I never run in.  Malas are a very useful tool in meditation.  Usually a strand of 108 beads plus a "guru" bead, Malas are made of a variety of semi-precious stones, the significance of which are quite important, as they possess certain energies best suited for an individual's needs. While not all Malas contain the 108 beads, the number is something that has long been considered sacred in Hinduism, representing (1) the source or universe, (0)humility and willingness to learn, and (8) timelessness or infinity. It encompasses the wearer's needs and becomes part of you. 

The largest bead just above the tassel is your "Guru" bead and your starting point.

The largest bead just above the tassel is your "Guru" bead and your starting point.

So, how are they used in meditation?  Well, you count them.  Were you hoping for something really deep? Surely you know better than that by now.  I read a lot, I  research things, I know a little bit about a lot of shit, but for this, counting is as deep as it gets.  If you don't believe that counting is an effective way to meditate, just try it.  If you are counting, it is exponentially harder to think about anything else.  So why Mala beads?  For me its part beauty part texture, and all about the energy. During meditation, place the mala between your hands and beginning with the "guru" bead which is your largest bead just above the tassel, you work your way around the necklace, counting each and every bead and reciting your mantra. When you reach the end of your beads, reverse your direction.  I can't tell you how many times to go back and forth around your strand, because for me, it's something that I do until.  I chant and count until my anxiety clears, until my reconnect with what is real and what is beyond my power to change or predict, or until I feel at peace. It has absolutely been a game changer for how I experience worry in my life.  When I feel unsettled and I know that something bigger than I can handle is creeping into my brain, I stop, and I count.  I found my Mala Beads on Etsy.  Natasha with Alchemist Treasures was an absolute pleasure to work with.  She makes each and every strand by hand and the love of what she does shows in the quality of her work.  Mala beads can come in all lengths and some people even use bracelets for their practice, depending on what that means for them.  I was thrilled to find Alchemist Treasures because when combining semi-precious stones with something as labor intensive as creating Malas, the cost can be great. Natasha truly values the importance of what she is providing for others whether its a path to a successful meditation or a lovely accessory.


Summer Bucket List

Printable available ( here ) from  Iowa Girl Eats

Printable available (here) from Iowa Girl Eats

As I mentioned in my Blueberry Fields Forever post, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with making plans.  There is a very fine line between making plans and over-planning for me.  I tend to be one of those moms who will wake up in the morning and say, "Get your shoes on, we are going on an adventure". Often times if I plan too far in advance, my inner homebody starts to over-analyze a situation, and I will talk myself out of doing something.  Listen, I never claimed to make rational sense all of the time, but I do try to be as open and authentic as possible.  I LOVE to try new things and go on adventures with my family, but the other aspect of my personality is such that I love familiarity. This Summer, I wanted to try something a little different to push me out of my comfort zone when it comes to making plans and keeping them, so I have created a Summer Bucket List.  This list needed to be a variety of things that I wanted to accomplish with my family to teach or entertain them throughout the Summer.  My hope is that by the end of the Summer I will have created memories with my roots and acquired a new way of embracing the art of planning.

We have gotten a pretty good start on our list so far.  I'm not entirely sure why we were late to the slime making party, but we sure enjoyed doing it.  We put a combination of essential oils in ours to mimic the scent of bubblegum and I have to say it was pretty darn close.  Some of the things on my list may seem like simple tasks, but so often I overlook the little things because they are easy when in reality they are some of my fondest childhood memories.  Aggravation, for instance, was and is one of my favorite memories as a child (read about it here), and I want to make sure that it continues to be a time where we are all away from our devices and engaging one another.  Picking blueberries with the roots is what really drove me to create my Summer Bucket List.  For several Summers, the idea crossed my mind but whether it was the Tennessee heat or my over planning problems, it just never came to be. Luckily, this magical list did exactly what I had hoped it would do.  You can read all about our trip to Reynolds Blueberry Farm (here).

For those of you who have trouble with remembering things, have over planning problems, or maybe your own roots have fried your brain, You can print your own Summer Bucket List by following the link in my photo caption.  

Rolling The Dice

When I think back on my childhood, I try and remember every tidbit that I can and hold onto the fond memories that I can tap into.  You see, I have what some may refer to as the absolute worst memory ever.  Most people have a memory bank that is literally bulging at the seams with memories of family vacations and childhood friends, but for one reason or another, I find myself lacking in this area.  For that reason, I try and take the things that have made a significant impact on my life or those fleeting memories that I have of being a little girl and hold on for dear life.  When I was little, I had a pair of denim overalls.  I would wear them and wear them until my mom would finally tell me that they needed to be washed, and then I would put them right back on. One day I was jumping from the tailgate of my dad’s old truck, and I caught the butt of them on the corner of the tailgate, ripping them beyond repair.  I cried the rest of the afternoon.  Why do I remember that?  Once upon a time, my sister and I had a Family Feud board game that required the use of two triangular pieces to hold the board up.  One winter day we decided they resembled ice skate blades and attempted to strap them to our shoes and take off to the frozen waterhole in the backyard.  It wasn’t successful, but we later played Family Feud, so all fun wasn’t lost.  My sister used to dance outside with a mop.  She was graceful, you guys. I would watch her and marvel and how her hair would flow around when she and her cotton companion would spin.  I love the fact that my tiny root has that same ability to transport herself and her toys to any space and time and be anything she wants in her own imagination.  One of my fondest memories as a little girl was the time I spent and continue to spend with my grandmother doing one of our favorite things; playing games.  You see, my grandmother was raised working in fields, and there wasn’t much time for anything fun.  Back then, you had children to help with farm work.  They weren’t these over-indulged adolescent children you see nowadays with a face full of technology.  They were farm hands.  When my grandmother had a moment away from the field, her mother would sometimes sneak and play games with her, and it was a treat that she carried with her and shared with my sister and I growing up.  I’m not sure there is a card game or any other that she would turn down.  Every time I would go for a sleepover, you could expect copious amounts of Skipbo, Yahtzee, Rumicube, and, my all-time favorite, Aggravation.  She would take the time to show me how to play and even help me along on my first few rounds, but after you got the hang of it, look out!  She’s coming to get ya.  On and off for a year or so, I would find myself casually looking in the game section of department stores trying to find a replacement for our old wooden Aggravation board that, after years of making memories, had become a shell of it’s former self.  I wanted to show the roots how to play and perhaps give them a reason to disconnect from technology long enough to find that this happy childhood memory of mine could be a source of happiness for them, as well. 

The beautiful Maple wood Aggravation board by Amish Toy Box

The beautiful Maple wood Aggravation board by Amish Toy Box

One day I decided to tap into my go-to resource for all things hard to find.  Etsy!  To be honest, I am anything but a pessimist, but I went in with low expectations of finding what I needed.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Much to my surprise, I found an amazing little store by the name Amish Toy Box who made the exact Aggravation game board that I had been looking for.  I wanted a large wooden board with the classic brightly colored marbles, and that’s exactly what I found.  When it arrived I was over the moon happy with the quality of the board and the fact that the marbles were slightly larger than the ones we used as kids, making it perfect for tiny root fingers.  In the past month, we have played this game over and over.  I taught all the roots along with my husband how to play, and most nights, the boy root will ask if we are playing.

Just a friendly game of Scrabble Slam between Gran Gran and my oldest root.

Just a friendly game of Scrabble Slam between Gran Gran and my oldest root.

So often I forget the memories that I should remember.  They come and go and I try to make a mental note, but so often it’s gone forever.  Not this!  This is a staple, and one I think will last.  It gives us time to get away from everything else and focus on being together as a family.  My grandmother hasn’t seen the new board just yet, however, I have called to ask her to clarify a couple of the rules for me.  She’s 91 now, and while Aggravation wasn’t her all time fav (she’s more of a card shark), I will forever be grateful for those aged farm hands that taught me how to play and how to love, how to laugh at yourself, how to enjoy a good top shelf margarita, and how, as long as you are classy, you can spell any word you want to in Scrabble Slam.

My mother trying to keep my dad from cheating.  

My mother trying to keep my dad from cheating.  

  I recently shared a photograph of my family playing Aggravation on one of my social media pages, and come to find out, this game isn’t a secret.  Many families share this as one of their favorite past times and not only do they love it as much as I do, but they, too, learned from their own grandmother how to play.  Big love and thanks to those Gran Gran’s out there that are still with us and still remind us of how important it is to be here now with each other, absorbing all the time we can and passing it down to new generations.  Live, Love and Grow Roots

Fungus Among Us

If holistic living is your thing, you know there is always someone coming forward with a new and improved "superfood". Whether it's kombucha, kefir, kale, or quinoa, I'm always on board for trying new things if I truly believe it is something that can benefit me. Today I want to introduce you to something you may or may not have heard of, share a little of what it does, and how I incorporate it into my wellness routine. 

Who doesn't like mushrooms?  Listen, if you just raised your hand, I don't know that we can be friends anymore, but I'll try if you will. So far, I have never met a mushroom that I didn't feel deep affection for.  I have been known to sauté mushrooms, add them to some rice, and call it a meal. The mushroom I'm bringing you today isn't that type of mushroom, and while I'm certain there are more ways to prepare and consume it that I have yet to try, I am a simple gal who likes to find something that resonates with me, fits well with my lifestyle, and stick with it.  Have you ever heard of something called Chaga? Many of you may have heard the buzz, but aren't sure exactly what it is, where you get it, or how it works.  No worries, I'm here to give you a little mini lesson on all of those things now.  

Chaga is actually a type of mushroom or fungus that grows in colder climates in and around the Northern Hemisphere.  

If you are like me and Geography isn't your strong suit, you're gonna need some specifics on that.  I gotcha covered. Think northern parts of Europe, Russia, Korea, Canada, and North America.  The Chaga I purchase comes from Golden Tea Leaf Co. and is a wild harvested Chaga from the Canadian west coast mountains. Chaga grows on Birch trees which means that often times you have to actually climb the tree to harvest it.  I love nature and I love cold climates, but let's get one thing straight here.   I am not climbing trees to harvest a damn thing.  I choose to stand in awe of the wonderment of trees... From the ground and thus will continue to leave the harvesting up to the professionals at Golden Tea Leaf.

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Now that we have covered the "what" and "where", let's move on to the "how".  As with most things I post on my website, there is a large element of immune system support behind it.  What sets Chaga apart is the fact that when your immune system needs a boost, it's there to kick in, but when you are well, it slows it down when it's overactive.  Yes, your immune system can become overactive, and that's no good.  You want to fill your body with immune, but you also don't want to fight the good guys right? This takes Chaga from being not only an immune system booster but also a Biological Response Modifier (BRM), meaning that it alters the way your immune system responds to your body's needs.  Can't beat that, right?  Not just a superfood, but a smart one, as well. Chaga is also full of powerful antioxidants. If you have an issue with your LDL or bad cholesterol, studies have shown that Chaga aids in the breakdown of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. The most favorable health benefit of Chaga and the initial reason I personally decided to give it a solid chance is the support of gastrointestinal health.  I'll be completely honest.  I do my yoga, I meditate, but like most human beings, stress can sometimes be a bear.  I've been known to harbor stress-induced gastric ulcers which can be soothed by Chaga. For me personally, preventing gastrointestinal issues is 50% knowing my limits, and 50% listening and responding to my body's needs. Essentially, when my body and my gut talks, I listen.  This morning, my gut told me that last nights Super Bowl party foods were not something my tummy had been used to for a long while, but luckily I had Chaga to calm my tummy. 

 So, at this point, I'm sure you are wondering how exactly you use Chaga.  For me, the easiest way is in a tea form.  I love hot tea, and when exploring methods of using Chaga, it seemed like a win-win.  As you can see from the photo, the Chaga I have is in chunks.  I use a cheap coffee bean grinder that I use for herbs and I grind it into a very fine powder.  I then add a heaping teaspoon to a thermos and add hot water.  I let it brew for about an hour before I drink it. Chaga can also be brewed from the large chunks, but when I received Chaga for the first time, I was intrigued and wanted to see how it would grind up.  I've been doing it that way ever since.  I say if it ain't broke don't fix it.  Golden Tea Leaf Co. also sells Chaga that is already ground into a fine powder if you would rather do it that way.  So what does it taste like?  It's Earthy and ever so slightly sweet. However, if you are someone who drinks sweet teas on a regular basis, it may not be a sweetness that you pick up on.  My sister and I may be the only two Southern women that weren't raised on sweet teas, therefore, for me it's a subtle sweetness and one I enjoy.


Listen, I know I say this often, but let me just say it again.  I'm not perfect, you guys, and anyone who has ever been around me when pizza is involved knows that I don't make every step of my journey a healthy one (did I mention pizza?), but what I do now is put my best foot forward in an attempt to research, try, and put my wellness into the overall equation of my life.  I eat, drink, and live in the real world with real struggles and real temptations (, but today I know that, for today, I am the best version of me.  I encourage you all to find that happy place in life where you can balance your health and wellness with real life. Do what makes you the best and happiest version of yourself no matter the form, and don't forget to Live, Love, and Grow Roots!

Yourself On A Shelf

I have been a stay at home mother for 9 years now.  For some that may seem like the dream gig, and I have to admit that on most days I couldn't ask for a better job in life. What I have learned over the last 9 years is that not only is my home my workplace, but it's also my refuge.  I think most people would agree that their home is their happy place.  Vacations are amazing, and being away from home is always a welcomed break, but when you return, don't most of you have a big sigh of relief and say out loud for all to hear "Ugh!  It feels so good to be home!"? For a mother who lives in her refuge as well as works there, it can sometimes get to be a struggle.  I took on the job of "Homemaker" not knowing that my consciousness of the overall flow of my home would become so amplified over time.  And boy has it! When I worked outside the home, my house was tidy and clean, but I was away for 10-12 hours a day, so the fact that every little thing wasn't organized or in place wasn't where my focus was when I returned home.  I would enjoy the time I had with my family, and when I had the time once a week to clear up the organization issues from the previous week, I would.  Fast forward 9 years to where I am today.  I now homeschool my middle root and have a 3-year-old tornado.  To say that it's "all hands on deck" now is an understatement.  If you take a moment to breathe around here, the tiny root has jammed my once upon a time used mascara wand into her eye.  I have become hypersensitive to the fact that things can easily become cluttered with toys and games and my husband's baseball hats, and, to be honest, it's often a challenge for me to still consider my home my refuge.  About 2 years ago, I read a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  The idea was to declutter your home and rid yourself of things that aren't sparking joy in your life. It made complete sense.  I desperately wanted my home to not only reflect myself and my family but also not be full of knick-knacks and things that didn't make me happy.  I wanted to walk through my home without dodging things.  What I needed was a Zen-like flow to my home to match the peace that I desired in my mind.  I started small.  First, it was the two closets in my hallway.  Why in the fuck did I have a box of cold and cough medicine from 2001?  Why do we still have an Easy Bake Oven from when the middle root was 3?  We have 4 sets of curtains that I couldn't care less about and 5 blankets with holes the size of Texas.  I was bagging and throwing things into donation or trash piles.  I knew that if I tried to do a yard sale or anything of that sort, it would just sit in the garage and never leave.  You see, my husband is a bit of a hoarder if you ask me.  He would disagree, but the fact that I did most of my decluttering while he was away speaks volumes, as does the bag of cleats and baseball gear I found in our closet from when he was a kid (insert eye roll here).  To give him a little credit, he didn't fight me on much of the decluttering.  I explained to him that, when he goes to work, his work van is full of different things that are related to his work. If he is on a job, he can go out to his van and get the fitting or tool that he needs to complete the job in a quick and organized fashion. If I were to go into his work van and throw a bunch of unnecessary shit in there with the explanation that it could one day be useful, it would drive him nuts.  This house is my workplace.  I don't want unnecessary clutter bogging down our ability to get to or find things in a reasonable amount of time. I need the flow of the home to be easy and peaceful.  I will rid the house of unnecessary things, and, when it comes to decor, I will only use things that spark joy in my life.  I know I need my oils and diffusers.  I need my salt lamps and I adore shelving.  When it comes to little things to sit around in my home, I keep it to a minimal.  I love simple clean lines and also rustic earthy colors.  I wanted shelves to hold the few joy sparking items that I knew would be around for a long time.  Nothing too big or too small, just the right size to frame my lovelies, and that's exactly what I found at English Accents Co.  These simplistic geometric shelves were perfect to hold the items I cherish. As I chatted with Jason, the creator of English Accents Co., I learned that his fiance Ariana is a fellow lover of essential oils and a Doterra representative.  This is one of the reasons I love to shop with small independent companies.  You get to know them, and it’s not just about buying a product, it's about investing in someone you actually like. I have since spoken to Ariana a couple of times on the phone about essential oils and was so impressed with her sweet, down to Earth disposition and love of essential oils. I was looking for lovely shelves, and I found so much more. Talk about an added bonus.


The result of the declutter was a much more peaceful place, and my refuge was restored back to its former glory.  Right as you walk in the door, you see and smell my oils, and there, displayed on my favorite shelves, are my Buddha planter from Redwood Stoneworks, my Chakra balancing stones, and my most used essential oils.  It's a nice reminder that all things accomplished by this process thus far have been a very welcomed and needed change. Konmari really did change the way I see things not only inside my home but inside my life.  Like most people, I see things from time to time that I think "I love that!".  The difference now is that I pause and I think about how long that item will bring joy to my life and if it's something that in time I will get used to, or if it's something that I feel will bring long-term joy to my life.  I have very few items that sit around in my home, and the things that do have given me joy for as long as I have had them.  This is definitely a process that I will continue with, and I will also encourage my roots to participate in.  So often we can get bogged down in life and feel heavy in the search for peace.  When that happens, try and take a step back and ask yourself what it is that is heavy in your life.  Is it a house full of clutter, a constant desire to have more and more and more, or possibly the inability to see the glory of the joy sparking things in your life for all of the other unnecessaries.  For me, it was definitely the latter. The most important goal for me with Konmari is to not allow the peacefulness that I feel in my head and in my heart to be affected by what I see with my eyes. You can be so easily distracted from what is important and drawn back into the cycle of filling your home and life with things that you think will bring peace and tranquility, but, in actuality, only temporarily mask things.  Feel the freedom of letting go the things that don't bring you the joy you deserve.  Live, Love, and Grow Roots!

Deck The Halls...And Your Tree

Putting up our Christmas Tree is one of my favorite family traditions every year.  Typically it comes with baked goods, sausage balls, and punch while a Chrismas movie is playing.  Last year, the tiny root was 2 and decided that the tree would be best displayed in a horizontal position on the floor. Try as I might to instill at an early age that horizontal positioning both on your body and on the floor (until you are out of my house)  is not at all flattering, she begged to differ and snatched our tree over, tearing it to smithereens along with most of our ornaments.  Boooohooooo.  Can someone hand me a hanky?  Thanks.  When Thanksgiving rolled around, I had decided that despite my husband's proclamation of being deathly allergic to living Christmas Trees, I would take my chances, stock up on Claritin and roll the dice on it.  My goal was to create a lovely tree with ornaments that were made by the hands of artists that I admire and mix together my love for tradition and Earthly goodness, and that is exactly what I did!  LOAD UP, Griswalds, it's about to get festive.


One of my favorite places to go in our little town is a place by the name of Dunkin's Market.  Every Christmas they have a great selection of live trees, that of which, until this year, I have coveted from afar, but with ratchet straps and kids in tow, I wheeled in there like my hair was on fire, and within 30 minutes time, the heavens shed light on the perfect Festivus Tree to fit our available space. We made it home safely with the tree, and the roots couldn't have been happier.  The husband was such a good sport.  He brought it inside the house and didn't even take allergy medicine OR put on a respirator first.  I'm guessing that might be due in part to the fact that I would most definitely take photos and post them for all the world to see.  The next step in erecting the Rickman Family Tree is placing the tree into the stand.  This is the point at which I am starting to question everything I have ever known to be true about Christmas trees bringing joy.  In a matter of minutes, I am teleported back to my childhood.  I am quickly reminded of the first time I ever recall hearing the word "FUCK!" used, and just as quick as I was in that moment, I am snapped back to the present moment when I hear "Jess!  Is it straight?". I take a few steps back and examine the tree that is taking a hard left, and I suggest a bit of an adjustment.  The suggestion is met with several sighs and after a mirage of four-letter words, he asks again for a determination as to whether the tree is straight.  Despite what looks like an MJ Smooth Criminal gravity-defying lean, I nod.  Perfection achieved. 


When it was time to decorate the tree, I had very little to work with considering the great tree fiasco of 2016 which claimed the lives of many cherished ornaments.  Lucky for me, I had planned ahead by dehydrating orange slices and turned them into beautiful pieces of stained glass looking fruit ornaments. I couldn't be happier with how these ornaments turned out.


  I have been told that these dehydrated beauties will last for years, but while that has yet to be determined by me, I can tell you that I would do this year after year if I had to.  I love it just that much.  I also had Jane from Sweet Jane Co. send me a couple of these beautiful agate ornaments, and let me just tell you, when the light shines through them, it's stunning.  Pictures do not do these justice. There is something about the solidarity of the stone along with the fluidity of the water element that creates this amazing earthy feel.


Another thing that I wanted to add to our tree is a Southern tradition that I would love to see carried on in younger generations but it seems to be a dying art.  When I stumbled upon Wyman's Workroom , I had no idea the magical experience that I was in for.  He was a lovely man who is full of life and wise words, and along with his love of whittling, I knew this was exactly what I was looking for.  I am a bit of a sucker for gnomes and tree sprites, so needless to say, I selected a set of sprites as well as a Santa and a bird for my tree. 


 Despite having lost so many cherished ornaments last year, our mission to create a beautiful Christmas tree gave way to the creation of so much more than that.  Memories.  Live, Love, and Grow Roots.

Is Someone In Your Family Being Left Out On Christmas?

With the holidays in sight and Christmas lists submitted to the appropriate recipients, I'm certain that my roots aren't the only ones that are scampering around like they have eaten a mound of Pixie Sticks.  We have decorated the tree, put up stockings, placed a couple of outdoor decorations that may or may not be the eyesore of our neighborhood, but for me, it's all about what adds magic in the hearts of my littles and puts them in the Christmas Spirit of giving to those we love.  As we get older and families grow in size, I know for us and many of our friends, we have scaled down to only giving gifts to the children of the family.  Unfortunately, for some that have pets instead of human roots by choice or by circumstance, they are left out of the receiving of gifts. It goes without saying that Christmas isn't about receiving gifts, but you have to admit that when the scales are incredibly unbalanced, it doesn't necessarily leave everyone feeling the love, right? The purpose of this post is to remind people that when a family member has animal children instead of the human kind, be sure to include them on your shopping list and to also show you a couple of cute gift ideas with pets in mind.  They are just as loved and just as much the center of their universe.

Before we get started on the gift ideas,  I want to introduce my two nieces who are dear to my heart. My sister and brother in law have two children by the name of Jane and Annie Whore Cat.  Don't Judge!  She was a pregnant stray that they took in, and after finding wonderful homes for her kittens, Annie remained a staple in the home.  Low maintenance and a serious Fuck All attitude, Annie is the epitome of "Pet me.  Now, piss off!". Jane is...well, perfection. She's incredibly soft, listens better than most humans, she loves carrots, and when she gets excited, she does what we all refer to as "Bucking Bronco".  

Here is Jane in all of her glory.  Isn't she beautiful?  I may be biased but I could gaze into those eyes all day long.  Annie is in her usual state of "Thanks for rescuing me, now PISS OFF!".

Here is Jane in all of her glory.  Isn't she beautiful?  I may be biased but I could gaze into those eyes all day long.  Annie is in her usual state of "Thanks for rescuing me, now PISS OFF!".

Aren't they spectacular?  Okay, okay, I'm moving on.


Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what to purchase for animal babies.  Like humans, some of them have allergies to certain foods and treats, and some are either not really into toys, or they eat them entirely.  What is good for one, is certainly not good for another.  I am including several different items that aren't specific to dogs and cats.  We personally have a dog named Bruce, a Bearded Dragon named Brad, and a pet chicken named Whitney Houston (Baby).  My pets will be modeling in a couple of the gift ideas, so I would like to add that Bruce is not the most photogenic animal on the planet.  In fact, if you ever watched the episode of Friends where Chandler and Monica are trying to have their picture made and Chandler can't seem to smile without grimacing,  that is Bruce in a nutshell.  Unlike his canine counterpart, Brad loves to play dress up, so modeling was totally in his wheelhouse.  You can thank me later for that.


The first item I would like to show you is a personalized dog treat container from Susabella.  It's absolutely adorable and is sure to be something that any dog owner would be happy to have in their home.  They have different sizes available and can be purchased both directly from their website as well as their Etsy store.  Take some time to look around at all the amazing things they offer.  From Christmas ornaments to food bowls and water dishes, the only thing standing in your way is the ability to choose just one.     



The next item I have comes to you from The Landlocked Dog.  I stumbled upon these adorable pet ID tags and immediately fell in love.  While our pets are indoor pets, there is always that small chance that a mishap could occur and they slip out of their leash, or God forbid dart out of the house to chase something. Every pet should wear an ID tag because every parent knows that no matter how great of a listener your child may be, there is always that one time that they don't. Giving a pet a voice to tell people who they are and where to call to return them safely to their owner seems like a no-brainer to me, and the tags at The Landlocked Dog are definitely more jewelry than just an ordinary tag. These tags aren't just for cats and dogs.  If your pet can wear a collar, they can wear a tag, so look around and find the right one for your baby.



I realize reptiles aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I can't do a post without including our Brad. I have learned after adding Brad to our family, that there are many families that enjoy the company of reptiles and specifically Bearded Dragons.  Brad is a funny guy.  Bearded Dragons are very low maintenance and will love you just as any other pet would.  When I was looking for a gift for reptile lovers, I found not one, but two items, both of which were home runs for Brad.  The first one comes from Mother of Dragons Hammocks & Accessories.  All dragons love to bask in the warmth of their heat lamps and while he was totally satisfied with his log to perch on, I knew a hammock would be much more comfortable. When it arrived, it was amazing.  Brad loved it, it's easy to wash, and its super soft and padded for comfort.  It was easy to suction to the tank, and he spends 80% of his day in the comfort of his hammock.  If you are a Bearded Dragon owner, I would RUN over to Mother of Dragons and pick one.  Anne has amazing taste in fabric patterns so you will certainly find something to add a little happiness to the tank. 



As I said before, Brad LOVES to play dress up.  With David Crockett State Park being local to us and our town being the home of David Crockett himself, when I found this outfit for Brad, I almost croaked.  I would have never guessed as a new Dragon owner that someone out there actually made costumes for them.  Who knew, right? Before you head over to Pampered Beardies, be prepared for the most adorably hilarious dress up clothing you have ever seen.  I put this outfit on Brad and he strutted around like he knew just how amazing he looked.  Next summer when our annual David Crockett Days comes around, I will have Brad on a leash and sporting his DC attire.  If you have a family member or friend with a Bearded Dragon, head over to Pampered Beardies and give them the gift of "the strut".   



Remember earlier when I said that my Bruce wasn't very photogenic? Remember the Friends episode reference?  Okay, well, let's revisit that as I bring you the last item on my gift ideas list.  My Bruce loves nothing better than to play fetch.  The biggest problem we run into is that he is still in the puppy phase, and every rubber ball he would get would quickly meet its demise when he sunk his little puppy teeth into it.  This ball from Amanda Lynn Crochet is Bruce's go-to ball for play fetch.  It's easy for him to pick up, and when he grabs it, it doesn't pop!  This is a fabulous idea for dogs and is also available in a small size that I'm sure would be just as entertaining for cats as well.  Amanda is great to work with and very prompt in response time, which, in my opinion, is running low in most big-box retail stores these days.  Now, I want to share with you the photos that I attempted to take of Bruce with his ball.  I would like to add that I DID NOT have the flash on.  He was deliberately "Chandler Bing-ing" the photos because he was pissy that I wanted him to leave the ball alone just long enough for the photos.  Enjoy!




I hope that this post was not only entertaining but also brings home the deep love that pet owners have for their children. Roots can come in all shapes and sizes, all breeds and backgrounds.  It's our job as a family to honor each and every one that helps us grow into what makes us who we are.  Don't forget to honor those who may have a different lifestyle than you, because while it may be something different from what you have chosen, the love that circles their home is all the same.  Live, Love, and Grow Roots.

Stylin' With Swap

Over Thanksgiving, I had lots of conversations with my house guests about parenting styles and how different families focus their attention on different areas of parenting.  It is my belief and my overall opinion that none of us really know what the hell we are doing until it's done.  You may get a "do over" with child number two or three, but even then, you really are winging it with the knowledge you have acquired and just holding out hope that you don't screw it up.  One of the areas I choose to focus attention on is the individuality of each of my children and allowing them to develop their own sense of style.  With my oldest root who is now 20, I royally screwed that up.  I literally chose her clothing until she was entering the 9th grade, and even then, I had the largest influence on what she wore.  Now, maybe she just thought  I had great style, or maybe it was her "people pleasing" attitude that made her so agreeable, but she complied with 99% of what I chose.  I was a young mother when I had her, and I literally had no clue what I was doing.  By choosing her clothing, it, in my opinion, set her up for not feeling very confident in other areas of decision making.  She always has made very responsible decisions, but looking back I feel like I should have encouraged her own individuality and embraced it when she developed her own style.  When the middle root came along, I knew immediately that he was a VERY strong-willed child. If I didn't think it could get any more strong-willed, the tiny root was born and I swear she looked up at me and raised her eyebrow as if to say "You ain't seen nothin yet".  As a now 3-year-old, the tiny root wants to do a wardrobe change as often as I will allow, and the middle root has a VERY specific style that includes no button up shirts, no cargo pants or shorts, and everything must be heavily steeped in an athletic vibe.  With all of the wardrobe changes and the ever climbing retail prices, I decided to seek out an alternative.  Shopping is literally the bain of my existence.  That, and throw blankets in the living room.  I know it may seem odd, but that's me and a totally different subject, so let's stay focused, shall we?  I have never enjoyed shopping, and with the internet at your fingertips, it's just too easy to forgo the crowds and dressing rooms and instead shop from home.  Another thing I have learned as a parent is that second-hand doesn't mean that you are giving your child something that is "less than".  We have several large local consignment sales each year, and for children, you can so often find unworn clothing with the tags still attached for a fraction of the cost of retail.  Have you noticed the expensive nature of athletic gear?  Holy Crow!  Under Armour, Nike, and Addidas will literally break the bank at full price, and as much as I detest the middle root's need for name brand athletic gear, it's more important for me to facilitate his desire to be who he is.  So, while online one day, I stumbled upon Swap. An online consignment store that allows you to take advantage of the same prices as you would find at a local consignment store, but you are spared the other moms that are also trying to elbow their way through a good sale.  I'm not going to lie, I was skeptical because I had tried a different online consignment shop in the past, and the results were very mixed.  I found that there was a very low level of consistency when it came to the quality of the items I chose. I waited for a bit and followed the reviews of other parents, and finally, I pulled the trigger on my first order.  When the box arrived, I quickly opened it and I found that each and everything I purchased was as described and fit perfectly.  Soon after, I placed a second order, and then a third.  I can tell you first hand that this company is definitely on the up and up, and they 100% stand by what they do and what they offer, which is a unique online consignment shopping experience.  I have been able to nurture my children's individual styles and at the same time, stay on a stay at home mom budget.  Another awesome thing about Swap is that they also have women's and men's clothing and a variety of home goods as well.  My oldest root has now developed her own sense of style, and I am proud to report that my Frugal McDougal is a consignment shopper as well, but she no longer needs mom's input.  What can I say you guys, when you know better, you do better.  Nurture your kid's individuality, no matter if they wear cowboy boots and shorts, or dress like a hobo.  It's who they are and your acceptance is the mirror in which they see themselves.  If you are on a budget, or you just want to see what Swap is all about, I suggest you do so.  Use the money you save to enroll them in a fine arts class or a sporting league.  You won't be sorry.  Until then, Live, Love, and Grow Roots.

Here my tiny root is wearing a black and white stripe GAP turtleneck and a pair of 1969 GAP high waist sailor jeans.  This outfit set me back $12 and came new with tags.

Here my tiny root is wearing a black and white stripe GAP turtleneck and a pair of 1969 GAP high waist sailor jeans.  This outfit set me back $12 and came new with tags.

This Hannah Anderson dress that tiny root is wearing was advertised as "Like New" condition.  Leggings weren't necessary, but she likes to wear jeggings and in the Fall, it keeps her little legs warm.  The cost of this dress was $10 which is a fantastic price for Hannah Anderson quality and you couldn't tell that it had ever been worn.  She seems to like it!

This Hannah Anderson dress that tiny root is wearing was advertised as "Like New" condition.  Leggings weren't necessary, but she likes to wear jeggings and in the Fall, it keeps her little legs warm.  The cost of this dress was $10 which is a fantastic price for Hannah Anderson quality and you couldn't tell that it had ever been worn.  She seems to like it!

The middle root is my sporty fella.  He is wearing an Old Navy long sleeve tee with a Puma zip front jacket.  He's picky about pants but loves jeans so we found this pair of Old Navy jeans.  All of these pieces were new with tags and the overall price for all three pieces was $18!  

The middle root is my sporty fella.  He is wearing an Old Navy long sleeve tee with a Puma zip front jacket.  He's picky about pants but loves jeans so we found this pair of Old Navy jeans.  All of these pieces were new with tags and the overall price for all three pieces was $18!  

This adorable flannel plaid Cat & Jack button up was a whopping $3 and new with tags.  We LOVE Cat & Jack.

This adorable flannel plaid Cat & Jack button up was a whopping $3 and new with tags.  We LOVE Cat & Jack.

4 Weeks Of Wellness With Eden's Garden *Week 3*

I'm late! I'm late!  To a VERY important date!  I've never been one to find myself punctually challenged, but with the Thanksgiving holiday having snuck up on me and bitten me in the behind, here we are.  Unfortunately, I can't find it in my heart to apologize because my sister was here from Georgia, and I hadn't seen her in a year.  To say that Georgia was on my mind was an understatement, to say the least.  It was also time to celebrate the tiny root's 3rd birthday, and I had some preparing to do.  So, while I regret having not brought this post to you sooner, their presence in my home and spending time with family was super important. You understand right? I knew you would.  For this week's post, I am bringing you a synergy blend from the Eden's Garden OK For Kids line.  

This is a photo of my sweet middle root with his first ever migraine.  It resulted in a trip to the emergency room and several scary tests.  This photo is before we discovered Head-A-Sore-Us.

This is a photo of my sweet middle root with his first ever migraine.  It resulted in a trip to the emergency room and several scary tests.  This photo is before we discovered Head-A-Sore-Us.

I want to give you a quick synopsis of how Eden's Garden helped us in our HUGE time of need.  A year and a half or so ago, our middle root came down with a headache that lasted for a number of days and ended with us taking a trip to the emergency room.  What started as a minor headache evolved into a full-blown migraine, complete with light sensitivity, nausea, and that certain thing that follows nausea, but I never say out loud or even write about because it's the one time that as a parent, I completely check out.  Let's just say, it rhymes with Haley's COMET.  Moving on.  Anywho, after lots and lots of food and activity logs, we determined that he had a major sensitivity to food coloring.  We all know that food coloring is in so so many dishes and packaged foods, but over time, I have learned exactly what to look for.  Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to educate ourselves and the middle root on what he can and cannot consume, inevitably from time to time, it creeps in and we find ourselves in a situation that requires a quick call to action, which is where Head-A-Sore-Us by Eden's Garden comes in.  After migraines became part of our life, we would know that they were coming and do our best to soothe him, but ultimately it would end in disaster.  Ibuprofen was the last resort and didn't work, Tylenol wasn't an option for us, and stronger pain medication wasn't something I wanted to entertain if I could find another way.  I had tried the classic peppermint oil and several other combinations, but for one reason or another, it just wasn't helping.  I personally find that, like many conventional remedies, it's not always a "one size fits all" situation, and this was certainly the case with the situation at hand.  As a final Hail Mary attempt at a  natural remedy, I got online and ordered Head-A-Sore-Us. I can't tell you how many times I have since then allowed my mind to wander and think of what we would have done had I not given it one more last ditch effort and found this particular blend.  It has without a doubt been a game changer for us.  As a mother, and I'm sure I'm not alone here, I am very in tune with the look, sound, smell, and behavior of my children.  I know that when the middle root begins to squint his eyes when entering a well-lit room or gets a bit dark under the eyes, soon it will be followed by him saying his head hurts. Before it gets too bad, I grab my bottle of Head-A-Sore-Us and I put it in his personal diffuser as well as the household diffusers in common areas of the home.  I then take my bottle of Head-A-Sore-Us mixed with coconut oil and I apply it behind his ears and massage it down his neck.  For reason's unknown to me, none of the mixtures of oils I had tried before Head -A-Sore-Us were any match for what was coming down the pike, but now, when I catch it early, it literally stops it before it evolves into a migraine and..well...COMET.


So what is in Head-A-Sore-Us?  Let's get down to the meat and potatoes of it all.

  • Frankincense-  This is one that wasn't even on my radar.  Typically used for wounds, inflammation, bronchitis, coughs, fevers, nervous conditions, and tension,  Frankincense has maintained a revered status for centuries.  Perhaps it's the ability to fight inflammation combined with the ability to relieve tension that makes Frankencense one of the triple threat oils in this blend so effective.
  • Lavender-  It goes without saying that Lavender is the staple oil in any home whether they are a newbie or a seasoned essential oil user.  Among a myriad of other things, Lavender has the ability to relieve inflammation and nausea, thus preventing a possible COMET situation.
  • Chamomile- This oil was one that I tried on its own, as it is often used alone in the treatment of migraine pain.  Chamomile is great for relaxation and anyone who has suffered from even a minor headache knows that sleeping it off is often one of the quickest ways to get relief, however, it's often hard to relax when pain is a factor. 

As I said before, this blend was critical in our treatment of middle root's migraines.  The truth is, no matter how much we teach them, there will be a time that you aren't there to monitor everything they put in their body.  For so long, I was a nervous wreck when the middle root would go to birthday parties, sleepovers, or even when he was at the ballpark and kids in the dugout were passing out gum.  Now, if there is a misstep, we have something to help us make it better for him.  Eden's Garden has a complete line of OK For Kids oil blends, and the ones I have used are great.  It takes the guesswork out of trying to determine which oils are safe for use in children. As I said in previous posts, I'm not a doctor.  What I am is a mother who wants the best for her roots and their long-term health.  We are in no way against the use of modern medicine when necessary, and it's always a personal choice as to when you need to pull the plug and seek medical attention. I'm lucky to have a very close relationship with our pediatrician and he is steadfast in his trust for me as a parent and where my gut feeling leads us.  A special thank you to Dr. Robert Pappas and Sylla Sheppard-Hanger for their expertise in formulating blends that are safe for tiny roots everywhere.  I hope this helps other parents who have tried other oil alternatives and have yet to find the blend that works for them.  Don't give up, follow your gut, and don't forget to Live, Love, and Grow Roots.

4 Weeks Of Wellness With Eden's Garden *Week 2*

We meet again.  Last week I had an amazing time answering questions and emails about the featured synergy blend Gal Pal from Eden's Garden.  The response was overwhelming and I couldn't be happier to continue on this 4-week journey with everyone.  As some of you may know, this past weekend I went on a girls trip with my bestie to the great state of Michigan.  If you missed out on our adventure, you can catch up here, but the moral of the story in relation to this weeks featured synergy blend is the fact that when we left Tennessee, it was a sunny 55 degrees, but by the time we made it to our destination, it was 19 degrees and windy.  With the sudden shift in temperature and the wood heat from the cabin, I not only brought amazing memories back to Tennessee but also a stuffy nose.  Lucky for me, my home was already equipped with what I consider to be one of the most vital essential oil synergy blends to have in your arsenal, Fighting Five.  


I use Fighting Five in my home diffuser year round, and when cold and allergy related issues are at their peak, I mix it with a carrier oil (coconut) and rub it on the bottom of our feet before bedtime.  Its ability to combat airborne bacteria is vital for cold and flu season, and during the Spring when environmental allergies are at their peak in our home, we want to try our best to keep the sneezing fits from turning into a respiratory infection.  This particular blend consists of all your essential oil heavy hitters. With the combination of Lemon, Cinnamon Leaf, Moroccan Rosemary, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus Globulus, and Eucalyptus Radiata, Fighting Five will not only keep your immune system in tip-top shape, but will keep you feeling like the powerhouse you are.  By now you probably know the drill, so let's get into what makes this weeks synergy blend amazing.

  • Lemon- Lemon essential oil is a great for respiratory issues, acting as a phenomenal decongestant.  The aroma of Lemon is uplifting to the spirit which is half the battle when you aren't feeling your best.  When added to vinegar and water, Lemon Essential oil makes a fantastic addition to your cleaning regimen. 
  • Cinnamon Leaf- Cinnamon Leaf oil has been used for centuries for the treatment of digestive, circulatory, and immune system deficiency related problems.  It has anesthetic, antiseptic, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, making it a germ fighting superhero.
  • Moroccan Rosemary - Rosemary oil is a warming oil which makes it great for cold and flu season.  It helps to ease aches and pains as well as increases circulation and helps to relieve nausea.
  • Clove Bud- Clove oil is used to treat a variety of things from toothaches and headaches, to muscle aches, coughs, and asthma.  The aroma of Clove is so pleasant, and for me is the most noticeable fragrance in the Fighting Five blend.  I absolutely love it!
  • Eucalyptus Globulus- STUFFY NOSE, BEGONE!  This essential oil is great in the Fighting Five blend to relieve you of a stuffy nose, but alone can be fantastic when used in a hot bath or with steam inhalation.
  • Eucalyptus Radiata- Also good for inhalation, the difference in this species of Eucalyptus is that its particularly cooling sensation makes it ideal for vapor rubs.

For those of you who are looking for something to diffuse in your home that will not only make it smell amazing but will also be doing more than triple duty on keeping you healthy and at your best, Fighting Five should be your go-to blend.  With holidays rapidly approaching, you need all the help you can get to be your best version of you and with social gatherings going on, you never know what could be coming your way.  Follow this link and be prepared by giving your immune system the boost it needs in advance so you can focus on the joy that the holidays bring.  Live, Love, and Grow Roots!


4 Weeks Of Wellness With Eden's Garden

I am so excited about today's post, you guys!  For several weeks, I have been gearing up to do a series of posts during the month of November and today is the first in the series.  As most of you know, I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of essential oils, and this month I have partnered with Eden's Garden to bring you a different synergy blend each week for the entire month.  Many of you are interested in using oils but are often unsure of what oils to blend together, so I have chosen 4 blends that most of us would find helpful in their life at one time or another and eliminate the guesswork from the equation.  You can thank me later.  Now let's get started!

Before I introduce today's blend, I first want to tell you a little bit about Eden's Garden.  Eden's Garden was born out of the realization that so often, what we need for wellness has been provided for us in the form of Earth's bounty.  What is often untouched by man, can prove to be a source of great healing and create a wholeness within.  Eden's Garden CEO Grace Martin started her the company with the dream of giving people access to quality 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils.  One of the things that I find incredibly magical is that Eden's Garden has never spent money on marketing but rather allowed their products to speak for them in the way of amazing feedback and continued use by new and devoted customers.  I have tried many different brands of essential oils before finding Eden's Garden. For me, it's about finding that perfect balance of quality and affordability, and I have found that with this company.  Now, time to bring on the first blend.  Drumroll Please.......


I would like to introduce you to every ladies best friend for at least a week out of each month, Gal Pal.  I picked this blend to introduce first because it's one of my all time favs.  When PMS is an issue, women can use all the help we can get, right?  When I started using Gal Pal, my husband was a fan of the scent but wasn't yet a believer in essential oils.  As time went on and he began to notice that each month he became less and less fearful that his life was hanging in the balance for a few days every month and soon became a believer.  Gal Pal is a blend of Clary Sage, Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Fennel, Carrot Seed, Palmarosa, and Vitex.  The beauty is that diffusing it into the air brings a calm to that fire in your gut that is just hoping that someone pisses you off so you can rip them a new one (I'm sure there is a different blend for that), and at the same time when mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the abdomen is a very cooling feeling that makes you less inclined to want to rip out your uterus.  All kidding aside, in the past I used Clary Sage alone for PMS related issues, but when I discovered Gal Pal I realized there is power in number and the mixture each oil brings a whole new level of Zen to my life.  What role does each of these single oils play in the grand scheme of things?  I'm going to tell you.  

  • Clary Sage-  This essential oil is one of the top oils used in the support of balancing hormones.  When applied topically it can relieve menstrual cramping and also aids in the relief of hot flashes.  If I had to pick a single oil for the purpose of combatting all things associated with PMS, this would be my go-to single.
  • Lavender-  We all know that Lavender is a staple in anyone's essential oil collection because it is great for so many different things.  Lavender is very calming and relieves the mind of stress and anxiety which can come in abundance during pre-menstruation.
  • Bergamont- The citrus smell of Bergamont has a natural uplifting aroma and aids in the overall sense of wellbeing.  As with Lavender, it aids in a restful sleep giving way to a more focused and less foggy start to the day.
  • Chamomile- While Chamomile calms the body and decreases stress, it also contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce premenstrual pain.  
  • Cedarwood- The Earthy aroma of Cedarwood is helpful in keeping you grounded during a time that can often feel like you are internally going haywire.  Cedar trees are known for their strength, and as women, we sometimes need to be reminded of the strength within.  
  • Ylang Ylang-  This essential oil is often used to treat depression and mood swings.  I don't know about you guys, but I'm a Moody Judy during PMS.  Just ask my husband who is thrilled to not find himself chopped up in my freezer this month.  I kid!
  • Geranium- Here is your water weight hero!  Geranium essential oil stimulates the lymphatic system to reduce the build-up of fluid called edema.  This fluid can cause swelling and breast tenderness which can be extremely uncomfortable for some.  
  • Fennel- Also used as a diuretic, Fennel will also aid in relieving fluid retention as well as balancing hormones.  In additional to PMS, Fennel is often used to treat menopausal problems. I personally use Fennel during meditation as well.
  • Carrot Seed- Provides an overall uplifted feeling and when added to a carrier oil is fantastic for stressed skin.
  • Palmarosa- The citrus meets floral scent of Palmarosa can be helpful when dark moods hit for no apparent reason, or for good cause, as it helps to balance the nervous system.
  • Vitex- As someone who feels pretty knowledgeable in regards to essential oils, I have to say that Vitex isn't something I had in my single oil repertoire.  It is said to aid in restful sleep as well as assist in overall balance.

Listen you guys, PMS is a pain in every sense of the word.  As women, our systems are very complex, and we all experience different symptoms during our cycle.  Think about it.  We are many things to many people every day.  In the course of a day, I am a mom, writer, housekeeper, nurse, therapist, and wife.  Sometimes wearing that many hats can be very difficult, and we need a little help to keep us balanced.  I encourage each one of you to put yourself first from time to time and put your overall health and wellbeing at the front of the line, because if you aren't feeling your best, who else is going to wear those hats for you?  You are important and well worth it.  Live, Love, and Grow Roots. 

Cooking Up Memories


When you were a little kid, do you remember being in your mother's or grandmother's kitchen?  Did they let you help roll out the dough, stir something on the stove, or clean out the bowl that held a magical batter?  The smells and textures that you find in a kitchen are magical to a child and hold memories that no other room in the house will ever hold.  My grandmother was an absolute pro at having the patience it required to show me how to make snickerdoodles and even at 91 years young (this month) she still has the patience to show me how to make her coconut cakes that, until now, she would make and sell every single Christmas to the same loyal fans.  My children have always loved to help me in the kitchen and when they do, all of the fond memories of helping my grandmother swirl around in my mind and I am 5 years old all over again.  Is it easy to have children in the kitchen with you?  Of course not, and sometimes if you are in "go mode" it can be something that can become less than a delightful event.  My advice to parents is that when this happens, make that the time that you opt out of letting them help.  My middle root has always been the "egg cracker".  There is something about cracking eggs on the side of the bowl that makes him happy, and the fact that we have our own chickens makes it even better.  He can go out to the coop and grab a fresh egg or two and, if he is lucky, it might just be a double yolk.  The tiny root is my waffle batter mixer.  She loves a whisk better than any child I have seen.   Listen, guys, they make a mess, and yes it is extra work. It takes twice as much time to clean up the waffle mix on the counter and dig out the broken pieces of eggshell that most every time has fallen into the bowl of cracked eggs, but when the alternative is a kitchen without memories, I'll take the mess any day of the week. One day I had scooted a chair over to the counter so that the tiny root could help me mix up her favorite nutmeg and cinnamon waffles and right in the middle of mixing, she lost her footing in the chair and fell like a sack of potatoes into the floor.  Luckily, she is apparently made up of primarily piss and vinegar and didn't get hurt, but after a few more falls over the course of weeks, I started trying to find an alternative to using a kitchen chair or narrow stool.  After all, I want our magical cooking memories to stay pleasant and less bruise-inducing, but where was I going to find a stool with a seatbelt?  One afternoon while I was surfing Pinterest in search of a recipe for stone soup, I happened upon a photo of a child standing happily at the kitchen counter helping her mother prepare a meal.  She was standing on a step stool that was unlike anything I had seen before.  I quickly abandoned Pinterest and made it my mission to find out where I could find the stool, and where it had been hiding.  It didn't take long to find out that the elusive stool of perfection was hiding at Fisher's Hand Craft.  Mike Fisher established his Etsy shop in 2015 and has been making cooking with little roots easy for moms and dads everywhere with his amazing safety toddler stool.  This stool allows the child to quickly and easily climb into the frame and up the steps, right into a frame that allows them to feel secure with rails around all 4 sides.  The best part is that as the child grows, you have the option to adjust the height, making it comfortable for your child as they grow.  When I contacted Mike to ask him a few questions regarding the stool, he was more than helpful to help me, and when it arrived at my doorstep, I quickly opened the package with tools in hand ready to assemble, but low and behold, it was FULLY ASSEMBLED.  Now listen up.  Lean in really close because I'm about to fill your brain with a little knowledge about me, and I don't want anyone else to know.  Assembling a product is the bain of my existence.  Yup!  I suck at it.  I blame it partly on the fact that I am incredibly left handed and no matter what the directions look like, I always seem to do it backward.  I blame the rest on the fact that I am often so impatient and ready to get to the finish line, that I never open the instruction booklet, and instead, I wing it by looking at pictures on the front of the box.  I want you to take that information and stuff it deep down inside, and try your best to never access it again.  M-kay!  I pulled the safety stand out of the box and sat it at my counter and within seconds, the tiny root was in it and having lunch at the bar. 


It is super sturdy but very lightweight and easy to move around.  I would venture to say it even weighs less than my dining room chair and also lessens the chance of a traumatic brain injury by at least 90%, which in my opinion is a selling point all by itself.  Needless to say,  it made the process of making lasting memories with my children in the kitchen much less worrisome that someone would fall and get hurt, and we could focus more on the togetherness that cooking with one another creates. Let your kids in the kitchen with you.  If they put too much salt in the dish, they will notice it and learn from it.  If they create a mess on the floor, try and remember that it's nothing that a broom or mop can't fix.  The messes can be wiped away but the memories of happiness are a gift that lasts a lifetime.  Live, Love and Grow Roots!

Tinctures Aren't Tricky

Have you ever heard the word "tincture" and wondered what it was?  When you hear the word tincture, do you think of some voodoo practicing nerd in the basement of their home, chanting over something that looks like a makeshift distillery?  Well, stuff that preconceived notion deep into the "never to be thought of again" crevice of your mind because this is one of the simplest connections you can make to help cure what ails you.  Let's be honest here.  We all have at least one friend who's child could have all the colors of the rainbow streaming from their nose, and they would still bring their little slimy ass over to your house to visit.  They come up to your front door hacking and coughing with snot bubbles and a dust cloud of day-old death lingering like Pigpen from Peanuts.  Because you are a great friend you let them in, but the entire visit you are trying to hash out in your mind whether you or your little roots will end up with SARS.  This is when a tincture could come in handy for many reasons.  Health benefits being first of course, and secondly, it's made with Vodka which you will need to survive the visit (I kid).  In all seriousness, tinctures are a great way to deliver what you need into your system relatively quickly, and without having to drink a lot of anything in order to do so. 


What is a Tincture Exactly?

A tincture is a liquid extract made of herbs that are usually made with some form of clear alcohol.  I use Vodka, but some people use Gin.  An alternative would be apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin but I personally do not have experience in using those, so I'll stick with telling you what I know.

What You Need To Get Started

  • A dark glass bottle or jar with an airtight lid (UV rays aren't good for herbal remedies)
  • Vodka, Brandy, Gin (Clear alcohol) 
  • Herbs, roots, berries (depending on what you need)
  • Time (the key here is to do it before you need it)

 I'm going to start with a simple recipe to boost your immune system just to get your feet wet, and once you feel comfortable, try making something for nausea, the sniffles, headaches, or something that you may feel you need on a regular basis.  The shelf life of tinctures is LONG, so it's good to have what you need on hand.  Turn your kitchen into your own little tincture lab if you want.  Now let's mix it up, shall we?

  • 3 Tsp dried echinacea
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup dried elderberries
  • 80 proof Vodka (your alcohol should always be at least 80 proof)

Combine all of your herbs into an 8 oz jar.  Fill the rest of the jar with Vodka and seal tightly.  Put your future tincture in an area of your kitchen that doesn't get direct sun and let it sit for 1 month.  Strain out your herbs and return to the same container or if you prefer to add it to smaller containers so you can share your magic with others, it's entirely up to you, so long as it's airtight and dark in color.

Dosage: 1/4-1/2 Tsp for Adults and half of that serving for kids.  Now, for parents that don't feel comfortable giving their children 1/4 tsp or less of alcohol-based tinctures, the glycerin or ACV may be something for you.  It's a personal preference for everyone.

If you have any questions about tinctures for different ailments, feel free to email me and I will do my absolute best to help, and if I can't, I'll send you in the right direction.  The good thing about kitchen witches is that we always have a posse.  I want those of you interested in making your own tinctures and herbal remedies to feel the power in being able to create something that can keep you well.  Empower yourselves with knowledge and put that knowledge to work. Live, Love, and Grow Roots!





Diving Into Waldorf

When I created The Braided Root, I began posting things that made me feel fulfilled in my life.  I love to share with others anything that brings joy to my life, whether it’s a simple recipe, an herbal tincture, or a trinket that just makes me happy.  Over the past several months, I’m repeatedly asked the same thing; “What Homeschool Curriculum do you use?”.  This is almost immediately followed by “What is Waldorf?”. There are times that I try my best to explain, but the truth is it is VERY difficult to convey to others in a supermarket setting all of the brilliant anthroposophical methods that Rudolph Steiner created years ago and why we follow them to the best of our ability in our home today.  So let’s dive in and learn who Rudolph Steiner was, what Waldorf education is, and what some of the things are that we find to be essentials in a Waldorf inspired home. 

Who was Rudolph Steiner?

What a loaded question.  While I could write for days about who Steiner was, what I think of him, and what some others think of him, I’ll try my best to stick to the basic information.  Rudolph Steiner an Austrian philosopher, author, and artist who lived between 1861 and 1965.  He was the founder of Anthroposophy or “Spiritual Science”.  I’ll give you a moment to sound it out.  It doesn’t necessarily roll off the tongue easily.  I will cover Anthroposophy a bit later in “What is Waldorf Curriculum?”. In 1891, Steiner received his Ph.D. from Rockstock and made his way to Germany after being offered the position of editing the natural scientific works of Goethe, which he completed in 1987 when he moved to Berlin.  Fast forward a bit to 1918 when a revolution began to take hold not only in Russia, but also in Germany, and threatened to destroy their social structure.  Steiner had what he thought was a solution in a threefold movement.  It focused on cultural freedom,  political and legislative equality, and solidarity of economic life.  Soon after, Steiner was invited to provide a series of lectures to the workers of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory which led to the very first free Waldorf school opening within the factory and providing education to the children of factory employees.  Fast forward again to today where Waldorf schools have grown to around 150 in North America and over 1,000 globally.  For those of my readers that live nearby, we have a wonderful Waldorf school in nearby Nashville.  Rudolph Steiner definitely made his mark, to say the least, and his pedagogy is still very much alive in the homeschooling community.

What is Waldorf Education?

Rudolph Steiner based Waldorf education and it’s principal philosophies on the belief that nurturing the WHOLE child, heart, mind, and soul, would result in “individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives”.  Pretty profound words by Steiner if you ask me.  Ultimately as parents, we want our children to be comfortable in their own skin.  For me personally, I want my roots to grow up with confidence and with a soul that isn’t fragmented.  Someone that, in the future, can confidently contribute amazing attributes freely and with independent thought.  What I found to be beneficial for us as a family is that the curriculum is very broad and is a balance of academics, art, and practical life skills.  I freely use arts and activities as the driving force behind the academic aspects of what I teach, and by doing so, it creates a love of learning.  In a nutshell, it has taken away what was a serious disdain for education and replaced it with a much more enjoyable experience for us. No pressure to perform, no huge stacks of prefabricated worksheets to complete each night, and the ability to communicate needs to one another so that we can better be of service to each other.   One of the aspects of Waldorf that differs from traditional education is that Academics are de-emphasized during early years.  Kindergarten is KINDERGARTEN.  Or at least more like what Kindergarten was years ago.  Even as the child enters first grade, there is minimal emphasis placed on academics proper and more on the cultivation of “pre-academic skills”.  What is often considered extracurricular activities at mainstream schools such as art, music, and gardening, are the foundation of early education with Waldorf.  I began homeschooling Charlie in 1st grade after he failed to “measure up” in public school.   For the first two years, I used only artistic mediums to introduce subjects to him.  Generally speaking, I think that children respond better to this approach than with lecturing and monotonous worksheets.  There are no textbooks.  You read correctly.  From grade 1-5, we have a main lesson book that we fill throughout the year with lessons we cover.  Essentially, Charlie makes his own textbook filled with experiences and things he has learned throughout the year.  Early education with Waldorf in non-competitive, meaning that grades are not given at the elementary level.  How do I know he did well?  Because I’m his teacher and it’s my job to make sure that he succeeds both emotionally and educationally and it’s not something that is rated on a scale of A-F.  The last thing I want to cover is the use of electronic media.  There isn’t any.  ARE YOU KIDDING?  How will our children survive without that tablet or tv?  I won’t say that our television never comes on, or that Charlie isn’t ever on a computer, but in a Waldorf centered home, it is discouraged.  We do have a TV, and we do have Netflix, but regular cable isn’t a thing in our home because when we did have it, the result wasn’t favorable.  Charlie loves TV.  He would sit in front of it entirely too much and his mind would literally be on cruise control. When it was turned off, he became so overcome with an abundance of energy that he hadn’t been using while watching TV, that he was very easily irritated, which in turn made me irritated.  Not a pleasant environment for anyone.  When the children entertain themselves with a more natural focus, their imagination runs wild and they are left feeling satisfied.  Proper reading lessons begin in grade 4.  Until then, we focus on imagery found in folk and fairy tales.  As I said earlier, we are in the process of the cultivating the love of learning and this includes reading.  Most children in a Waldorf setting begin reading on their own before grade 4, but it’s an organic process and one that is enjoyable for them.  Charlie is in grade 3 now and is reading well above his “level”, and while we aren’t set to begin reading as a subject until next year, he does it on his own for pleasure.

Waldorf Essentials In The Home

As I said before, we discourage the use of TV or media.  So you may be wondering, "What do you guys do?".  Well, this leads me to the most entertaining part of my favorite part of this post because I get to show you some lovely things and how they work to enhance your child's imagination and spark joy in their soul.  Steiner believed that playthings and school materials should be beautiful to behold.  The goal is to nurture children in a beautiful environment, and their playthings should be beautiful as well.  By surrounding a child with simplistic beauty, it instills within them a sense of aesthetic awareness. Toys that are made from natural materials, with rich, natural hues,  are inviting, and contribute to a child’s “sense of life”.  Textures are very important to the development of a child l, as well.  Take soft merino wool, for instance.  We have several toys as well as clothing items that are made from soft wool, and YES in the Summertime we still wear wool.  Think about it,  the temperature in your home is typically the same year round, so the idea that wool is for Winter is just a notion.  Later I will show you a Summer option for wool jammies. When my tiny root gets ready to rock at night, she immediately goes to those items to choose one to cuddle as well as a specific pair of wool crochet booties with sheepskin insoles. A child is much more likely to feel reverence for a beautiful handcrafted toy and care for it accordingly than he is for a plastic mass produced toy.  How many times have you purchased a matchbox car or a baby doll that within the week had either become lost or colored on?  A child knows when they are in the presence of beautiful materials, and treat those things accordingly.  We keep lovely open-ended toys that cause the imagination to run wild.  When I refer to a toy as being "open-ended", what I mean is that you can take that toy and with your imagination, it can be many many things.  Stay with me because I'm going to show you a few things that are played with daily at my house.  

Play Silks


Most definitely at the top of our list would be Play Silks.  When you bring a silk into your home, you bring in hours and hours of play time.  Just yesterday, the middle root was pretending to be a superhero with his "cape" saving his sister from who knows what and five minutes later it was the landscape for playing barnyard with wooden peg dolls and Holztiger wooden animals.  The silks we use are from a company that hand dyes all of their silks and the outcome is something truly magical.  Kitchen Dyeworks artist Renee creates her silks from Habotai Chinese Silk, and then carefully dyes them using non-toxic dyes to create something unique each and every time.  I suggest even those of you who aren't Waldorf centered homes to try one, but good look getting it away from them when it's dinner time.

Woolies (warm bodies equal ready minds)


As I said earlier, Wool Wool Wool.  It comes in many different forms, with some being very light and airy and others being the GO-TO for warm piggies.  I want to start with the first thing the roots put on in the morning.  Slippers!  If my littles have cold feet, there is nothing on the planet that can fully grab their attention.  It's important that your children feel comfortable from head to toe in order for them to fully engage you.  When I first began transforming our house into a Waldorf-centered home, I thought this concept was a bit of a stretch, but I will tell you what it did for me was paramount.  It taught me as a mother how to truly hone in on how connected and engaged my children were.  When I began to make even what seemed in the moment to be the most insignificant change, the results were bountiful.  I'm not saying that a pair of wool slippers will turn your little monster into an angel, but for us, warm piggies equal happy kiddos.  The slippers tiny root wears are my absolute favorite because they are from EcoSoles and are crocheted by hand from soft wool fibers, lined with the most amazing sheepskin fur, and the soles are non-slip cow-hide.  Lori Poppe was a genius because this means that while the little is running through the house (ALL THE TIME) she isn't slip sliding everywhere.  I would also like to add that she looks so damn cute in them that I just about can't get a grip.  My favorite go-to combo when bedtime is growing near are her EcoSoles and her Merino wool base layer from TK Clothing.  The base layer is thin and lightweight which makes it perfect for Summer and definitely warm enough for winter.  What I love about TK Clothing is that she sews each one herself and it's as if she knows all of the things that drive me mad with clothing.  I need to be able to purchase a size that will last a while so I want to be able to roll up sleeves and them actually stay.  I am also a seam weirdo.  I want to know that the seams aren't going to pull apart after the first wear.  I don't mind paying the price for quality items, but if I am doing so, I prefer the items to be up to the task of frequent wear, and EcoSoles and TK Clothing are certainly measuring up.

Building Blocks


Building blocks, as well as sorting toys, are paramount in the developing mind of children.  It opens them up to endless creative possibilities, and in doing so it also allows them to develop their fine motor skills as they create.  As children get older, it organically introduces numbers and counting while they create.  I purchased a set of building blocks for Charlie when we first began to homeschool.  I was wandering through one of the many Waldorf Facebook groups I follow and stumbled upon Wiwiurka.  When I tell you that these blocks are amazing, it is an understatement.  They are made from Savage wood and painted so vibrantly with non-toxic watercolor and food coloring.  If you are a Waldorf family, chances are you already know Ana and Marek of Wiwiurka, but either way, I highly recommend them. 

Sorting Toys


When it comes to sorting, I was looking for the same qualities that I found in the building blocks.  I knew that my children loved vibrant colors and I knew that it was important to me that they were painted with non-toxic colors so that if they made it into the mouth of the tiny root, I wouldn't have to worry about what it was she was absorbed into her body.  I found all of the things I was looking for at Mama May I.  If you need some sorting toys and Jessica doesn't have it in her shop, I don't know what to tell you because she has it all.  We opted for the Rainbow Bowl because it was small enough for Frances to use and Charlie was a fan as well.  We currently use the Rainbow Bowl on a regular basis to teach colors and numbers, however, Frances also pretends that she is a doctor and is scooping out medicine.  Last night she was pretending that it was a bowl of dog food and she was feeding one of her animals.  This is the essence of open-ended toys.

Rocker Board


Balance is important from the inside out in our home.  Rocking is beneficial for a child's sense of balance and aids a child's sense of the awareness of being in one's physical body.  Because this, too, is an open-ended toy, you would be surprised to know all of the ways that children discover to use this item.  When we first received our rocker board from 2XPwood, we naturally assumed that the balance aspect and rocking would be the primary use, but as it turns out, we have done everything from creating a bridge to climb over and a slide to slide down, to a cradle for a baby and a sailboat.  What may seem like a simple tool to stimulate the vestibular system, quickly became a portal into their imaginations at the same time.

Waldorf Dolls


You may be wondering what the reasoning is behind Waldorf Dolls.  You can easily go to a retail store and purchase a baby doll for less than $10 and still reap the same rewards, right?  Not exactly.  You will notice with Waldorf Dolls that their faces are more muted in expression, some of them are even faceless altogether. This gives the child the ability to let their imagination decide what their doll looks like and also allows it to change over time.  Waldorf dolls are also made with materials that nourish the senses such as Alpaca wool for the hair and wool roving for the stuffing which gives the doll a weight that is more appealing to children. For me personally, I don't prefer dolls that wear makeup and dress like a "diva" because I feel like we have so much time to introduce those things to our children, and I want them to enjoy the childhood aspect of playing with dolls. When I chose Elfenbaum to make our first Waldorf doll, I did so because of the muted nature of the faces and because I was looking for an Ethnic doll for the tiny root.  Having "babies" of all colors have always been something that I felt was important for the development of my children. Inna with Elfenbaum is not only a gifted dollmaker, but she is a very kind spirit which is something you feel in each doll she makes.  When you place a beautiful item with beautiful materials in the hands of a child, the possibilities are endless.  As the tiny root became a bit bigger and I noticed her trying to feed her baby and put her baby to bed, we decided to incorporate things she could do with her baby.  I came across the amazing wooden swing by MumaMima Forest Tales that we could attach to our swingset outside.  Frannie spends countless hours out there swinging her baby.  It warms my heart to see her developing a nurturing nature for her doll. 

I hope this sheds some light on how we learn as a family and inspires people to find pleasure in simple things.  While Waldorf Education isn't for everyone, it was a complete game changer for the way my children learn and interact with others.  Our family rhythm changed from what felt like a techno rave on most days, to a more relaxed freely flowing Enya type of experience which I attribute that to the Steiner's methods.  As always, what works for us may not work for everyone but acceptance of each other's parenting and teaching styles still remains the best way to lead by example.  Live, Love, and Grow Roots.


2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Can you guys believe that the holiday season is literally right around the corner? Last night, I just managed to put out Halloween décor, and I’ve already noticed that businesses are all but finished with my favorite holiday before it’s even here to make way for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I must say that October through December is my favorite time of the year because it gives way to change. Change in the seasons, change in life, and time to shed the old animosities, and be with loved ones. Holiday get-togethers, families putting their busy schedules aside to reconnect, and my favorite, getting to decide who in the room will be your partner in crime and stand in the corner with you and a bottle of Vino to discuss “what in the actual fuck Aunt Claudine has done with her hair”. Lucky for me I already have that person to stand in the corner with. Good times! The exchanging of gifts is always the favorite end of Festivus event for many because you get the chance to give that someone special an item that was carefully thought out with them in mind. You also get to find out if you are sock worthy, or if you might just get the classic gift card envelope that was picked up on the way to said Festivus event. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a gift card can be nice, but wouldn’t you like to think you are worth more than a run into the local Walgreens for a card? Well, your prayers are answered here at the Braided Root today, because I have a fantastical list of “out of the box” Must Have gift ideas that may just be the perfect item for that someone special in your life.  I wish I could say that this was going to be an Oprah moment and I would be yelling “YOU GET A CAR, YOU GET A CAR, AND YOU GET A CAR”! Unfortunately, I have yet to become the millionaire diva of the blogging world yet, but should that happen in the next year, you might get lucky. Until then, I’m going to show you some of my favorite items that could be great for many different people in your life. The best part about my list is that they are not typically found in big box retail stores, but instead support hardworking entrepreneurs with a dream to have their vision come to life. Let’s get this party started, shall we?

1. Acoustic Acorn by Carved


 First up we have an item you may find on several Christmas Lists but just aren’t sure which kind to get. Well, let me help you now because this one is magic in a box. Bluetooth speakers are easy, go to gift for anyone who loves music or listening to talk radio and doesn’t want to depend on the sound quality of their phone. The Acoustic Acorn Bluetooth Speaker by Carved is one of my favorite things that I have come across in a while. Don’t let the size fool you because it puts out amazing sound and is super easy to pair with whatever device you need it for. One of my favorite things about this item is that it's not unsightly. There are many other Bluetooth speakers on the market, but this one is different in that it has an amazing design created from natural materials with a non-toxic finishing process. Even better is that it has a single button operation, so you don’t have to go through page after page of pairing instructions just to use it. You literally turn it on, pair it, and you are good to go. We take this speaker with us when we are camping and because it’s good for 7 hours on a single charge, it’s great for our trips.  Now, who gets to pick the Pandora station you ask?  ME!

2. Embroidery Hoop Art by Earthologie


As someone who loves all things handmade, this next item is a pure joy sparking item for me.  You may have noticed a recent increase in embroidered items on the market. Well, when I saw this item, it had me hook line and sinker. Earthologie is a store that is FULL of amazing work by Claire Crider. She’s a Southern gal located in Jackson, Mississippi, and she puts that Southern love into everything she does. Hoop embroidery is one of my favorite things, and it has become very popular. Embroidery and Cross Stitching used to be something our grandmothers and our great grandmothers did while we ran around playing at their feet, but it has made a comeback with fresh designs that add depth to each unique piece that Claire creates. To add to an already amazing gift idea, the packaging was super unique and beautiful, which made for a “ready to give” gift. Gifts created by hard and special, and there is no doubt that anyone who receives an Earthologie creation, will certainly feel the spirit of what went into creating it.

3. Turkish Cotton Towel by InfuseZen


Next up is an item that is literally for ANYONE on your list. If you have not introduced yourself to Turkish cotton towels, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is the most versatile item I have in my home, and will certainly be that for anyone who is lucky enough to be on the receiving end of one of these beautiful towels or throws. InfuseZen has a variety of sizes and colors to choose from, and for those who aren’t ready to fully commit to the switch from a terry towel to Turkish Cotton, they even offer one that is terry on one side for the baby-stepper. I went H.A.M., all in, on the switch and I’m telling you that if you try it, you will never go back. What’s so versatile about this item is that it can be a bath towel, a beach towel, or a small picnic blanket, or draped across your shoulders for those cooler Fall evenings. The best part is that it’s lightweight enough to roll up and throw in your bag and you still have enough room for everything else. While I myself am gushing owner of a towel from InfuseZen, I am eyeballing the stone-washed throw blanket with sniper-like precision (hint for the fam). If you have any questions about Turkish Towels or Peshmetals Michele is your go-to person for what you need to know, and their service and response time is fantastic. 

4. Personal Effects Bag by Artifact Bags


Now I’m going to show you an item that I have a history with. I am not one to purchase expensive handbags just for the sake of style. I need a functional bag that must meet some very specific criteria for me to not have a meltdown trying to locate something. Several years ago, I purchased a waxed canvas tote bag from Artifact Bags as a birthday gift to myself. At the time, I needed something that could double as a diaper bag/ carry all because I didn’t want to have to carry a purse and a diaper bag. To say that I love it is an understatement. Now that my children are no longer at the stage where I need to carry a larger bag, I used the bag for a grocery tote and a beach bag, or an overnight bag. I knew that the quality of Artifact Bags is top notch, so in looking for something to fit my current need, I knew where to go. I was looking for something that would fit all of my wallet contents, my phone, sunglasses, lip gloss, keys and anything else that was a necessity but not so big that a wristlet wouldn’t be comfortable. I don’t like a large handbag, and I need something that will prevent me from sitting it down and leaving it somewhere. In the past, I had good luck with a wristlet type clutch, but never found one that could house my mammoth phone. Until now! The Personal Effects bag is the exact thing I was looking for. What is so cool about this clutch/wristlet/dop bag, is that its built to last, I love the rustic appearance because I’m not at all fancy, and the size is perfection. I love leather and waxed canvas together, so when I saw this item and the measurements, I knew it was a match made in heaven. The only problem was that when it arrived, my husband wanted to keep it for his “man stuff” (razor, beard trimming stuff, comb). I’m not a selfish person, but in the sweetest way possible, I explained that it would have to be pried from my cold dead hands. Too much? Not if you saw this bag in person it’s not.  Artifact Bags are as dedicated to standing behind the quality of their work, as they are the detailed craftsmanship that goes into the making of each piece. They have a lifetime warranty that covers any defects in materials/or workmanship. A company willing to stand by their products for life is a company that makes sure you are getting a quality crafted item. As a gift idea for that practical man or woman in your life, I would recommend Artifact Bags time and time again.

5. Tea Towels by R&S Scullery


This next gift idea is so much fun. Everyone knows that quirky rock star person in their life that makes you laugh, adds sunshine to your day, and who appreciates when humor and functionality collide to produce something fantastic which is exactly what this next item offers. I have a strange affinity for tea towels and for companies with the ability to screen print items, creativity is all you need and boy do Sara and Phil at R&S Scullery have it! When I saw these veggie tea towels that were labeled like cuts of meat, it was all I could do to wait until they arrived in the mail. In addition to the humor and quirkiness I love about these towels, they wash VERY well, which is something I am always concerned with. Not a problem with these for sure and the colors are so vibrant and fun. What a cute gift!

6. Macrame Necklace by Gaias's Gifts To Us


What is a "Holiday Gift Ideas" post without a little jewelry? It’s not one I tell ya! I for one do not wear much jewelry and when I do find something I enjoy wearing, it has to not only make my soul happy, but it has to be something durable and fit my “crunchy mom” style. One day I was on the lookout for a macrame bracelet to replace one that I lost in an unfortunate puppy training incident. RIP favorite bracelet. When I stumbled upon this magical macrame necklace by Gaia’s Gifts To Us. As I said, I was looking for a bracelet but I knew when I saw this piece, it was meant to be.  I have always been drawn to Turquois which I’m certain has to do with my birth sign, but when balancing your Chakra, Turquoise can help you to speak your truth directly. I’ve never had a problem with speaking my truth and maybe it’s because I do wear Turquoise often. The artist behind Gaia’s Gifts To Us, Christine,  and I are like-minded souls, and when the necklace arrived, I could almost feel her good vibes washing over me as I put it on. She is a sweet soul and a super talented artist. She takes great care in securing each stone in place with skilled macramé work that you can see and feel. This shop is a soul sparker on every level.

7. Handmade Cloth Doll by Manolitas


The last gift idea I want to show you guys today is for one of two people in your life; the doll collector or the little girl who has a great love of dolls. After having three children, I finally have a child that loves “babies”. I have always loved dolls, and as an adult, my taste for dolls has become much more refined. I find such joy in passing this down to my tiny root so that she can develop a love for the craftsmanship of a handmade doll. Manolitas is a company comprised of only 3 artisans located in El Salvador. Each artist is skilled in different categories of doll making which defines their role in the production of each one of these beautiful cloth dolls. Every stitch is done with the love of their craft in mind and with vast experience in their field which is apparent in the attention to detail. From eye color to hair color and even right down to the naming of each doll, Manolitas artisans are masters of their craft. The hard part is going to be picking out a doll because they are all so lovely. I love that Manolitas has a particular collection of dolls called Around the World Collection dedicated to different cultures all over the world. I chose “Stella” from the Laces and Bows Collection for our very first Manolitas doll, but I have Cielo from Mexico on my mind for next time. Each lovely doll comes in a beautiful ribbon-tied box with a clear display front so that you don’t have to wait until the holidays to actually lay eyes on your doll. They also come with a letter of authenticity for those who like to collect and want to pass their Manolitas doll down for generations to come.