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.

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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. 

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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.

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  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.

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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. 

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 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 Familiy 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".  

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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.     

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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.

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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. 

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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".   

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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!

NAILED IT!

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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.

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.

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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.  

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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.......

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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

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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. 

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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. 

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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)
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 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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

Emotional Dead Weight

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At some point in your life, you have found yourself in the presence of a personal growth vacuum.  Maybe it's someone you have known for a long time, or maybe it's the mailman who brings your packages to the door and all of his baggage as well.  When this happens, what do you do?  Do you offer an ear to bend and little time and patience?  Maybe you take a moment to lend sympathy to someone in need. But, when is enough actually enough?  Do you give until you have compromised your own growth?  Over the years I have found that for myself, I haven't always been able to walk away from something when it feels like it's leaving my emotional tank on "E".  I would continue to let it deplete me and leave me feeling dissatisfied when in actuality, I know I have such magic in my life.  I've always considered myself someone that is connected with living things not just based on time spent with them, but more on the fact that as living creatures, we all are connected.  I'm the one that sees a stranger in need and offers them my help or a mother that is frazzled so I offer an extra hip for their child to rest upon while she checks out her groceries.  The drawback of this is that often times I tend to absorb other peoples negativity and make it my own.  I have ultimately found that when life shows you what it has to offer and you aren't digging it. Turn that shit loose!  With that being said, my husband is currently stomping around the house (on his good leg due to a bum knee) because he can't seem to find clean underwear. Now,  I'm not going to turn him out to pasture because he is pissy. I'm just going to keep on enjoying my coffee and bringing life lessons to you guys because we all know that his underwear is hiding in the ever elusive closet.  Of course, everyone has a bad day from time to time and will find themself in need of someone to lean on, myself included.  The problem begins when they lean so hard that it begins to alter the way you grow.  Have you ever been hiking through the woods and see a mature tree that has managed to grow leaning completely to one side like the Leaning Tower of Pisa?  You think to yourself, how does this happen and why isn't the tree just collapsing under the weight of its own canopy?  The reason is that its roots are planted deep and firm,  and while the weight of outside forces caused it to lean, it doesn't fall but instead alters its growth.   As adults, we allow outside influences to keep us from achieving our full potential and we allow them to suck the nutrients right out of our personal soil.  Sometimes I look around and think about how grateful I am for the handful of friends that I have that are near and dear to my soul because we support each other's growth, no matter the direction, and we allow one another to remain upright without compromising the foundation.  Surround yourself with those that support your growth, and leave the bullshit at the door.  This is your journey, and deep roots will support you so long as the weight isn't too great.  If you need to let things go, it's ok to do that.  It's not being selfish to allow yourself nutrient rich soil in which to grow.  If you are a giving soul, just imagine all of the wonderful things you could do, if only you saved enough of yourself to allow for growth and stability.  We could do amazing things with an unwavering sense of who we are and begin to make magic happen.  Goodness knows we need a little more magic in the world.