Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Researching Essential Oils

It seems like blog posts about essential oils (from one brand or another) have been popping up all over the web for the last year or so!  If you're like me, you probably have been confused about what essential oils are actually, how they can help improve your health, and where to buy them (so many companies!).

I started writing this post in January of this year, but I put a pause on writing it until I had more personal experience with and knowledge of essential oils.  (I didn't want to write a big post about EOs, and then stop actually using them myself!)

At the beginning of this year, I started researching essential oils and trying to determine which company was best.  Young Living, doTerra, Spark Naturals, Plant Therapy, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Native American Nutritionals were all companies that I looked into and compared.  One thing I knew was that I didn't want to become a sales rep for a company.  While it looked fun, I just didn't want the pressure to sell, and I didn't like that most of the MLM companies pretty much required you to sell for them in order to get prices that were anywhere close to decent.

Here are the main things I was looking for in an essential oils company (your personal list may look different):
-high quality oils
-good prices (but not so low that you question the quality)
-good reputation of the company/integrity in the EOs community
-reasonable shipping costs and quick shipping
-variety of oils
-excellent customer service (not just with orders but with EO education and answering questions)

I poured over blog post after blog post and read tons about each company.  I emailed friends, and I emailed companies.  Finally, I made my decision.

I decided to place an order with Native American Nutritionals.  (This company has merged with Rocky Mountain Oils, and while they still have different websites and you place orders separately, they are now the same company and sell the same oils.)

NAN/RMO met (and exceeded!) all of my criteria and I had such a good experience with my first few interactions with the company and with my first order.  (And my subsequent transactions as well!)  I heard back right away from my emails with questions, and my order was shipped almost immediately after I ordered.  Another bonus I've been excited about as I've been a loyal customer of NAN/RMO is the specials and coupon codes that they offer!  They have different oils on sale periodically, and coupon codes come up on occasion as well.  It's great to be able to knock 10-15% off a big order!

Here is some more info on Rocky Mountain Oils (from the company directly):
Rocky Mountain Oils has been in business for over 7 years. We are dedicated to bringing the most pure essential oils to customers around the world in the most convenient way possible. We test every oil with a GC/MS test to ensure it is the quality that we demand from our farmers. If an oil doesn't meet our expectations, we get rid of it and do not sell it to our customers. This means our customers can rest assured that the oils they get are high quality and are not being skimped on in any ways.
One thing that makes us unique from other essential oil companies is that we work with small farmers from around the world. We carefully work with small farmers because we believe that they produce the highest quality plants. The healthier (and happier) the plants, the higher quality that the oil becomes. As you would expect, plants coming from small family farms are taken better care of, and are healthier than the large corporate farms used by our competitors.
In addition to that, our plants are only grown in indigenous regions of the world for each plant. Essential oils are their strongest when they are grown in healthy plants and plants grow healthiest in certain parts of the world where the plant was originally grown natively. For example, Lavender grows better in a humid climate like Bulgaria and Hungary than it does in the very dry climate of Utah, USA (where another company grows theirs). While it costs us more money to get our oils from different parts of the world, we truly believe our customers can tell the difference through the quality of the oil.
We also have the largest selection of single oils and blends available anywhere.
Since January, not only have I used my essential oils regularly, but I have also read several ebooks on EOs and taken an online course called Essential Oils and Natural Health.  (Great course; definitely recommend.)

I am more on the cautious side when it comes to using essential oils.  I use them medicinally (always diluted for topical use), and I don't advise going through bottles like crazy and dousing your whole body in oils several times a day.  Essential oils are very potent and you don't need to overdo it!  Especially when dealing with children, I am extremely cautious about how frequently I apply them and at what dilution.

All that to say... I won't be doling out medical advice here.  I'll be sharing several oils that are proven to work (yep, I've got scientific studies for you) for various ailments.

Before we go any further, I want to make these promises to you:

1) I am not going to let essential oils take over my blog/Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram/etc.  I know how annoying it is when someone you follow starts only posting about EOs.  There will still be tons of other great content on this blog and on my social media accounts, though I will mention essential oils here and there.  If EOs aren't your thing, just skip over these posts.

2) I am not going to make crazy claims about the properties of these oils.  They are fantastic and very useful, but they don't work miracles. For serious medical conditions, I always advise consulting your physician!

3) I am not going to start a "brand war" on this blog.  I know many of you probably use a different company for your EOs, and I am glad you have found a company you trust.  I definitely am not saying that NAN/RMO is the only place to buy essential oils, just that I love this particular company for all the reasons listed above!  I encourage you to do your own research.

Later this week I'll share with you my top three essential oils I recommend you buy if you're wanting to get started using EOs.  (And... I'll have a special coupon code just for you! Yay!)

Disclaimer: I have personally purchased every single essential oil I own. I have not been compensated for this review. I have used affiliate links in this post, so if you choose to make a purchase through one of my links, you will be supporting my family and this blog. Thank you. Once again, I am not a doctor, so please talk to your physician if you need medical advice.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Five Year Bloggiversary

We started this blog when we got married, so this little blog is now five years old!

A whole lot has happened in five years!  When I read some of the early posts, I realize I had NO IDEA how quickly five years would go.  There were certainly seasons that went by at a rate that was painfully slow, but it's still surprising to me to realize that I've been both married and blogging for five years!

Some days I can feel like few people are reading any more, but my stats say otherwise.  I now have more readers than I imagined I ever would, and the blog is still growing every day!  Some of you must just be comment-shy!

One thing I would absolutely love is if you would just leave a comment and tell me how long you've been reading Feathers in Our Nest, and also, share a little bit about yourself!  Let's get to know each other better.  I always read every single comment and it is SO FUN to connect with readers.  I also love getting emails!

Thank you for being a community to me during the times I didn't have one, and a source of encouragement to our family through many different circumstances!

Here's to many more years of blogging ahead!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five Years

Tad and I have been married for five years today!  We decided to share five things we've learned in five years of marriage.  (We wrote these separately and didn't read the other person's until we had written ours. Fun, right?)
Five Lessons We've Learned in Five Years

From Tad:

1) I have learned to think before I speak
I naturally have no filter. None. Do you want to know what I am thinking at this exact moment? Just listen to me speak. If I am not speaking I am probably not thinking. This gets me in lots of trouble, and over the course of the five years we've been married, I have learned to not say everything on my mind, and to also think through how I phrase things so that what I say is not offensive.

2) I have learned to ask forgiveness
When I have done something to hurt my wife (or anyone else for that matter) immediately asking for forgiveness is a good idea.

3) I have learned to be more patient
I want things my way, and I want it my way right now. There are three kinds of ways something can be done. The right way, the wrong way, and the Tad way (which most people believe is
the wrong way, but faster). I have learned that being patient with others is key when two people are living life together.

4) I have learned that marriage is hard work
Life is not a romantic comedy that ends with a happily ever after after the couple say their vows. Living with and loving a person unconditionally is not easy, not matter how awesome they are. It is constant learning experience, but the joy is that you do not have to do it on your own. I have an amazing partner in my wife, who is with me every step of the way. Each challenge we face is one we take on together.

5) I am learning how women think
Okay, this is not actually true. If I knew how women think, and I could explain it to other guys, and I would be as rich as Bill Gates. I do not understand women, but I do seek to know and care for my wife.

From Aliesha:

1) Prioritize personal growth
First and foremost, if I'm not growing in my relationship with the Lord, my marriage will be struggling too.  I have learned that being in God's Word daily is vital to being a good wife (and mom)!

2) Communication is key
The times I have felt like our relationship has been rocky have been the times when we haven't communicated very well or very often.  It's easy to slip into bad communication habits, but in order to thrive in your marriage, you have to talk through things with one another!

3) Speak their love language
It's great to do nice things for your spouse, but make sure you're speaking their love language! I enjoy showing love to Tad through his primary love languages, and he does the same for me.

4) It's harder than it looks
There are ups and downs in any marriage, and there is a lot of hard work involved.  It's so wonderful as well!  Until you get married, though, you don't know how hard it can be or how beautiful.

5) Marriage is sanctifying
Our marriage is one of the primary ways God is sanctifying me and changing my heart to be more like His!  Marriage exposes weaknesses, polishes off raw edges, strengthens skill sets, and knocks down pride.  Marriage makes you realize every single day how much you need the gospel.  I'm thankful for Christ's sanctifying work in me through my marriage to Tad!

Happy fifth anniversary, Tad!  I love you and look forward to celebrating at least 60 more anniversaries with you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

7 Meals from One Pork Loin - Did It Work?

I was inspired recently by this post to create a week's worth of meals from one pork loin (that's an awesome blog, by the way)!  We followed all the recipes last week, and I wanted to share the results with you!

(The recipes and the full "plan" can be found in the post I linked to above!)

Meal 1 - Pulled Pork on Biscuits with Coleslaw (Monday dinner)
This was leftover from the first night.  (I cooked about half the pork loin the first night.)
Meal 2 - Mexican Carnitas with Mexican Slaw in Tortillas (Tuesday dinner)
(I cooked the other half of the pork loin the second night.)

Meal 3 - Barbeque Pizza on Honey Wheat Crust (Wednesday dinner)
As you can see, I put a decent amount of meat on the pizza!  No skimping here!
Meal 4 - Leftover Barbeque Pizza (Thursday lunch, 2 adult servings)

This was how much meat was left from the first half of the pork loin after it had been used for two meals.

Meal 5 - Mexican Shredded Pork Bowl over Rice with Biscuits (Thursday dinner)
We had this much stew leftover!

Meal 6 - Same as Meal 5, served for Lunch (Friday lunch)

Meal 7 - Baked Potato Bar with Pulled Pork (Friday dinner)
I made both white potatoes and sweet potatoes.
 I had just enough pork leftover to freeze to make a sandwich for Tad one day on another week!

Meal 8 - Shredded Pork Nachos (Saturday dinner)

Meal 9 - Leftover Mexican Stew (Sunday lunch, 2 adult servings)

And that's all, folks!

So to answer the question in this post's title... YES! It worked!  We actually got NINE meals out of this pork loin (serving two adults, a preschooler, and two toddlers).

The pork loin was around 5.5lbs. and cost $16.98 at Aldi.  I had most of the ingredients on hand to make all these meals, but I did spend an additional $8.04 to buy the other things I needed.  (That wasn't all I spent on groceries for the week, of course.  I bought other produce, dairy, and a few other pantry staples.)  This "plan" really helped me spend less money on groceries last week!

Pin it for later!

What are your favorite ways to stretch meat?

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Backpack Solution: Why I Don't Carry a Diaper Bag Any More

When we go out as a family (with our three kids four and under), I need to take these things with me:
-three sippy cups
-three changes of clothes (one child is recently potty trained, plus we usually drive 45 minutes away from home to go anywhere)
-diapers for one child (yay! only one in diapers!)
-small wet bag for holding cloth diapers

If we're going to church, I also need:
-two Bibles
-two notepads and crayons
-three snacks

For life group, when we'll be out waaaaay past bedtime, I also take:
-three pairs of pajamas

Occasionally I also have to add:
-a teether
-other food items

Can you imagine how big my diaper bag would have to be to carry all this stuff??

We've found a solution that works for our family!

Each of our kids has their own backpack, and as soon as they are able to, they carry it themselves!  The girls each carry their own backpacks, but Jude doesn't yet.

It's great that when we drop anyone off for childcare, their bag is with them, has everything they need in it, AND is labeled with their name!

Also, you can just throw these in the washer/dryer when they get dirty!

Now I don't have to lug around all their stuff, AND they are learning responsibility for their belongings!

(My sweet friend Andrea gave Vera and Jude their backpacks for their first birthdays.  We got CC's for her at that age too!  You can find personalized backpacks like these by searching for "Stephen Joseph Backpacks" on Etsy.)

Share the love and 

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Sauder Experience: Sideboard Restyled

Sauder recently challenged me to take one piece of furniture and style it in three different ways! This was easy, and so fun!

If you remember from this post back in the summer (where you can read about my experience shopping for and assembling the piece), I selected the Shoal Creek Soft White Dresser from Sauder. This is what it looked like then.

Three months later, I still love it! I've been using it as a sideboard in my dining room when entertaining, and it is so great to have the extra surface to set things on other than the table!

We used it at Vera's birthday party (see here and here), as well as pretty much any other time we've had lots of guests over! We had a sandwich buffet on it one weekend, and another time we used it for holding all the dishes we served family-style. I also like being able to decorate it seasonally.

Here is one new way I styled it recently... for an autumn brunch!

The next way is a bit outside of the box, but I wanted to show the versatility of this piece! Many homeschooling families I know do their school work in their dining room, so I styled this as a practical piece for educational use!

As we start to do more "official" school stuff in the future, it will be great to be able to have all our supplies in the dining room so we can work right at the table.

Think about how many school supplies you can store in those drawers! Perfect for keeping everything conveniently within reach, yet also hidden out of site!

I love using this Sauder dresser in my dining room! I can't wait to use it in many other fun ways in the future.

For more ideas for ways to use furniture in new and unexpected ways, check out my Pinterest board: Furniture Repurposed!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Jude's One Year Portraits

The lighting was perfect last night (and we were going out on a walk anyway), so I took the chance to finally take some one year portraits of Jude!  (He turned one on September 13.)
"I wonder if Mommy will notice this small acorn I found..."
"I wonder what acorns taste like..."
"Hey! I found a leaf!"

"Sophie is my best friend."
"Just kidding... Mommy is my best friend!"

Love that sweet boy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homemade Sausage

Have you looked at the label of a roll of fresh breakfast sausage recently?  One brand I checked had "sugar," "corn syrup," and "monosodium glutamate" on the ingredient list!  We completely avoid MSG at our house, so making our own seasoned sausage is our best option!

This recipe is quick and easy to make, and you can easily make twice what you need and freeze the rest!  We toss this into all kinds of dishes, and it really amps up the flavor.  Sausage is a great way to add a ton of flavor without using a ton of meat!

Here are some ways we like to enjoy this sausage:
-as a pizza topping
-in an overnight egg bake or mixed into scrambled eggs
-in Zuppa Toscana
-in other soups
-as a topping for baked potatoes (so good!)
-in sausage gravy served oven biscuits (special treat!)
-formed into patties (pre-cooking) and served with breakfast (see tip below)

This sausage is mild (good flavor, but not spicy) when made as written.  If you want it to be spicier, just add more cayenne pepper!

Homemade Sausage     (Printable recipe here.)
    adapted from a recipe in Better than a Box

1 lb. ground pork
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. ground fennel
1/2 tsp. whole fennel
1/2 tsp. black pepper
dash cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a skillet and stir together well while browning the pork.  Drain, then use as desired!

Tip: To make breakfast sausage patties, combine meat and seasonings in a bowl.  Add 1/3 cup buttermilk and mix well.  Form into small patties, then cook in a pan, turning once.  (You can freeze these, too!)


For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here!
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Thrifted Finds - My Huge Haul!

Over the weekend I slipped out during nap time to shop at an estate sale!  I didn't know what to expect at the sale, and I actually went looking for chairs.  (I didn't find any, but maybe next time!)

I was so excited with the huge haul I came home with!  I found a lot of cool things.
First, I found this sweet little wooden frame with a great texture.  I also found these little birds nests and eggs (they were a craft kit, so the eggs aren't glued in place yet).  The girls love playing with these (with supervision).
I grabbed this Acme glass jar as soon as I saw it.  It will be great for fresh flowers!  I always snatch up vintage silver when I find it, such as this very tarnished butter knife.
I thought this little sheriff pin was so cute and would be adorable as part of a costume for Jude in the future.
Tad likes black and white art, so I got this matted drawing of the Golden Gate bridge.  I'll frame it and I think it will look really classy!
How cute is this aqua planter?  I love everything - the shape, the color, and the raised dots!
I bought these books purely based on their covers.  I like decorating with books, and I thought the colors were great!

I am IN LOVE with the two vintage measuring tapes I got.  The yellow one is so fun and the blue one is pretty cute too!  And who can resist some vintage rick rack?
 This large wooden bowl is so nice and will be a handy serving piece.
And... scarves with birds.  Totally me.
There was quite an extensive Christmas section at the sale, but this is what I ended up buying: red and white gingham fabric, red velvet ribbon, plaid ribbon, and vintage rick-rack in red and green.  I'm planning on using it to tie up Christmas packages (like this)!
Last but not least, I scored this vintage leather crossbody bag!  The tag inside says "Genuine Leather | Made in India."  Love it!
This sale was one of those where nothing has a price tag so you grab everything you want and then ask, "How much for all this?"

I walked away paying $20 for everything featured in this post!

Have you found anything fun at a yard sale or thrift store lately?
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