Sniffles and a neti pot

Neti pot, baking soda and sea salt

Anyone that know me well knows that I am the worst when it comes to a stuffy, sniffly nose. This past week was terrible, as I caught a bad cold right before the holidays.

A few years back, I caved and decided to try this weird device called a neti pot. I hesitated at first… The process sounded kind of gross. Now after seeing the benefits, and on further thought, I love it and now think it’s kind of gross to not wash your nose. Don’t we wash the rest of ourselves?

Neti pots are used for nasal saline irrigation which basically means you rinse your nose with salt water. Doing so helps thin and flush out mucus (yuck). You can buy a pre-made saline rinse or I started making my own of equal parts pure sea salt and baking soda (1/4 tsp each).

Tea tree, lavender and easy air essential oils

Since introducing more essential oils into my life, I’ve been adding a drop of pure tea tree and/or lavender essential oil to my neti pot rinses every now and then. I have definitely noticed a difference in the effectiveness of the rinses.

Another thing I do to help with the stuffiness and sniffles at night is to put a drop of essential oil on both bottom corners of my pillow (I turn around a lot). I normally use eucalyptus but this time I tried “easy air” and it worked even better for me. In fact, once the aroma wore off, I woke up in the middle of the night all stuffed up. I put a few more drops and fell right back asleep until morning. Easy air also works well in the diffuser.

Obviously, I follow this routine when I am sick. However, I will sometimes do the neti pot as a preventive measure (i.e. after taking a flight or train ride or during allergy season).

Hope this helps!

M.


Simple skin care routine

Basic skin care ingredients: water, aloe, Dr. Bronner's soap, xylitol, baking soda, witch hazel, jojoba oils and essential oils

After switching to my DIY deodorant, I then revamped my skin care routine. The title of this post may seem deceiving because there are a lot of products in the picture, but it’s pretty basic. These are just various options I go through.

I started my transition to natural skin care with the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), which means I washed my face with oil (e.g. coconut, argan, castor, sweet almond oil – or a mixture!). This seemed counter-intuitive (and like an overall bad idea) considering I had oily skin. The first few days were rough – and I did break out – but my skin then regulated itself. On blemishes, I used a mixture of equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and water or tea tree essential oil.

Over the years, I gradually moved away from daily OCM and am now mainly washing my face with water. If I wear make-up, exercise heavily or need extra moisturising in the winter, I will use the OCM or wash with diluted Dr. Bronner’s castile soap before going to bed. After washing my face, I moisturise with jojoba oil mixed with a few drop of helichrysum essential oil. Jojoba is currently my favourite oil for the face since it is similar to naturally-occurring sebum and does not clog pores (I’ve used coconut and argan oils in the past). Helichrysum has amazing skin benefits (you can also use frankincense or lavender).

Oh, and the aloe vera plant in the picture is not just decor. I do, every once in a while, clip a piece of it and rub the gel on my face.

About twice a week, I will use witch hazel as a toner on my t-zone. I also try to exfoliate once or twice a week with xylitol (which I grind to a finer texture) or baking soda (rubbing very gently since it can be irritating). I also treat myself to a weekly face mask.

I guess I call this simple because there are no fancy products involved…

To recap, here are the steps:

  1. Wash with water (0r natural cleanser)
  2. Use toner (witch hazel or rose water is another option) 1  – 2 x per week on t-zone
  3. Moisturise with jojoba oil (or argan oil or coconut oil or even aloe vera gel!)
  4. Exfoliate 1 – 2 x per week
  5. Weekly face mask

Remember, everyone is different… I recommend you test out a few options to see what works best for you. Also, please be patient. Your skin will need a bit of time to adjust to whatever new routine you introduce.

Hope this was helpful!

M.

 


Best ever granola recipe

Cranberry coconut granola

Trust me, it’s quite good…

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found online. I made some modifications to it, including omitting the almonds because I am allergic (you can add those back in if you want!). I’ve tried using different types of nuts but my favourites are the two below plus I sometimes switch it up with macadamia and pumpkins seeds.

I would really like to use coconut oil instead of olive oil but, when I tried to, it didn’t quite turn out the same… going to keep looking for another alternative.

Ingredients

  1. 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
  2. 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  3. 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/3 cup raw cane sugar
  7. 1/2 cup olive oil
  8. 1/3 cup maple syrup

Instructions

Preheat oven at 325F. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Spread mixture on a pan but avoid spreading all the way to the sides. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes (granola should be golden brown and bubbly in the middle). Store in an air-tight container after cooling.

I hope you like it!

M.


Dealing with dreaded cellulite

Mini trampoline, gelatin, dry skin brush, cypress essential oil and fractionated coconut oil

Well this is an embarrassing subject…

Many of us women struggle with cellulite as we mature and, unfortunately, I’m no exception to the rule. However, I have noticed significant improvements by adding a few simple steps to my daily routine.

Here are the 5 steps I take on a regular basis to minimize the appearance of cellulite.

  1. Rebounding: this involves bouncing on a mini-trampoline. It is a great way to encourage lymph drainage as stagnant lymph is a contributing factor to cellulite. I normally rebound for about 15 minutes.
  2. Dry brushing: this is another great way to encourage lymph circulation. I use a soft, dry bristle brush and add a few essential oils (e.g. peppermint and lemongrass). Always brush towards the heart (here is a great tutorial). I then jump in the shower and moisturize.
  3. Essential oils: I moisturize by massaging problem areas with coconut oil and cypress essential oil. Cypress helps with blood circulation, fluid retention and eliminating toxins from the body. Lemongrass also has anti-cellulite benefits, which is why I also include as part of my routine.
  4. Collagen: I make sure to include collagen in my diet by adding the dry powder form to my smoothies or making homemade organic bone broth. It also does wonders for hair and nails!
  5. Water: drink lots and lots of water! I consumer 3 to 4 liters per day. You can also boost the beneficial effects of water by adding lemon.

I have to admit, I’m not good at doing all of these every single day. Sometimes I do forget to take the time to rebound. I might skip on collagen consumption a few days a week but I do make a point to do the brushing, oils and water daily.

Consistency is key – even small changes done regularly will lead to improvements.

M.


Henna-tinted hair mask

Henna, aloe, indigo and non-metal mixing utensil

I remember dying my hair for the first time when I was 16 years old. I got blond highlights.

From there on, I continued to dye my hair various colours until I had my son and started reducing my chemical exposure. I’ll provide more detail on my transition out of commercial hair-dying in a separate blog post but I wanted to share this henna-tinted hair mask I am doing today.

(Shameless plug: subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos like this)

Please note this is for natural brunettes – if your hair is dyed blond, I don’t recommend trying it. Also, if you plan on dying your hair with commercial dyes in the near future, do not try this. It is a commitment.

Now that the cold weather is upon us, I noticed my scalp is getting very dry. Plus, since I do not use commercial shampoos, it’s important for me to moisturize regularly. And, since those pesky grey hairs keep showing through increasingly with each passing birthday, I find myself needing to dye my hair more often. So sometimes I combine the two!

Ingredients

  1. Aloe vera gel
  2. 2 – 3 tbsp of henna
  3. 2 – 3 tbsp of indigo*
  4. Essential oil of your choice** (lavender, peppermint, rosemary, clary sage and geranium are good ones for hair)
  5. A dash of salt
  6. A squeeze of lemon
  7. A non-metal stirring utensil
  8. Glass bowl
  9. Water

*I add equal parts indigo to get a medium brown hair colour.

**optional

Instructions

Mix henna and indigo each with water to make a paste with a ratio of about 1:1 (adjust as necessary). Add a squeeze of lemon to the henna mix and a dash of salt to the indigo mix. Let henna and indigo sit for about an hour to release dye. (You would normally let henna sit much longer if using for the main purpose of dying your hair. I find even letting it sit for a bit gives colour back to my greys.) After an hour, mix all ingredients together in a glass bowl using a non-metal stirring utensil. It is important not to use metals to mix the ingredients as they will interact!

In the picture above, I had just mixed the henna and indigo so you will notice they are green. The henna will eventually turn brown and the henna will turn a metallic purple/blue colour.

I normally use lavender in my mixture but today I am trying geranium. You can also adjust all quantities based on your hair length. Mine is very long – more than halfway down my back – so I tend to use a lot.

Enjoy!

M.


Sweet hibiscus kombucha tea

Finished hibiscus kombucha tea

A new habit I recently incorporated into my lifestyle is making homemade kombucha tea.

Kombucha has a host of health benefits but I take it primarily for digestion and gut health. I make sure my 6-year old son drinks one glass a couple of times per week. He loves it! You can learn more about why it’s so good for you here and here.

There are a variety of ways to make it – my personal favourite is to customize with hibiscus. Hibiscus has its own benefits, plus a great taste! You can use black, white or green tea for this recipe. However, I usually stick to green tea.

Ingredients

  1. 6 cups of water
  2. 1/2 cup organic white or coconut palm sugar
  3. 2 tbsp green tea leaves (or 7 tea bags)
  4. 1/3 cups of dried hibiscus leaves
  5. 1/2 cup starter liquid from a previous batch
  6. Kombucha SCOBY
  7. Glass container
  8. Cloth or towel
  9. Rubber band

Instructions

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat and mix in sugar until dissolved. In a fine-mesh strainer, place tea and hibiscus. Sit strainer in the pot, ensure the liquid covers the leaves and let sit for 10 – 20 minutes.

Brewing hibiscus kombucha tea

Remove the strainer and let cool completely – do not let hot liquid come in contact with your SCOBY. Once cooled, pour the tea into a glass container with the SCOBY and starter liquid. Cover with a clean cloth and secure with the rubber band. Let the mixture sit in a dark place for a minimum of 7 days.

I was lucky enough to get SCOBY from my aunt, along with the 1/2 cup starter liquid from a previous batch which is required for the recipe. You can also buy a SCOBY kit online to get started.

Once brewed and ready to drink, I love to add a drop of lemon doTERRA essential oil which is safe for internal use.

Enjoy!

M.