Sunday, September 29, 2013

Checking out Miessence Hair Care (review)

Dry yet frizzy at the ends. Fine and too often limp. That is where my hair has ended up - a mop of hopelessness.

So I was given an offer to try out Miessence's hair products, and I was skeptical. Sure they were made of mostly organic ingredients. Yes, they were green. But could they actually make a difference on my hair?

Surprisingly, YES. After trying out the Desert Flower shampoo and Shine Herbal Hair Conditioners for two weeks, I've seen more of a difference in my hair. It's less dry at the ends. Has a little more life to it. And I don't feel as resigned to throwing my hair back in a ponytail just because it won't do anything else.

The Dessert Flower shampoo is mild enough for daily use or use for babies and children. Ingredients include Yucca juice, organic avocado oil to hydrate damaged ends, and organic herbs to add sheen and body to your hair.

The Shine Herbal Conditioner includes moringa seed oil from Tanzania, organic herbs and organic apple cider vinegar. I loved that it didn't weigh down my hair like so many conditioners do and yet still did its job!

If you're interested in checking out Miessence, they have a great deal this September. Place a single order of $100 or more through Ely Organics (an independent representative of Miessence) and receive a 20% discount on your $100 order, 20% discount on all future purchases and member specials. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

IN Natural Harmony: A new Indy holistic maternity service

IN Natural Harmony, LLC, a new maternity and family service in Carmel, offers holistic services throughout the pregnancy journey and beyond, including doula services, Hypnobabies® and infant massage classes for new and expectant mothers in the Indianapolis area.

Founder Tahwii Porter wants to take some of the overwhelming feeling out of pregnancy, especially for those who are seeking more natural solutions.

"I think pregnancy is such an amazing time in a families life that it should be held as sacred and celebrated... I don't think it has to be a chaotic overwhelming time," says Tahwii, who opened the Indianapolis company in July. "Therefore all my services are holistic, natural, and have green approaches whenever possible.

IN Natural Harmony offers a network of classes and Indianapolis and online services that offer a greener, more natural approach to pregnancy and early motherhood.

"I have always very much been interested in working with expectant mothers using natural and holistic approaches whenever possible," Tahwii says. "I look at In Natural Harmony, LLC as the foundation of what will come in the future as I pursue schooling to eventually obtain a Ph.D. in Natural Medicine. With these credentials I hope to have natural practice working with primarily expectant mothers and being able to expand my scope of practice within In Natural Harmony, LLC. 

"I have truly never been more excited, exhausted, and happy in my life. I feel as though I'm living my life's true purpose."

Find IN Natural Harmony online at, on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Natural bug repellents that work

Natural insect repellents have come a long way from the cheap, smelling good but working poorly options of a few years back. In fact, my husband who once groaned that I bought "yet another bottle of crap that doesn't work" is now grabbing my greener options over the bottle of Off.

As the summer has finally started to cool, I've had the opportunity to get outside more, enjoying hiking trips and taking a few greener bug repellent options out for a try. They range from the homemade to off the shelf to household products. Here are just a few:

Buy it and be done:

I'll admit it. I'm the first to stop and help a vendor at the farmers market who's selling a homemade bug repellent blend. But for those needing to shop online here are a few options:

Buzz Free: Miessence's Buzz Free is a certified organic herbal extract and essential oil blend spray. It's light enough that I didn't feel sticky afterward, and works well enough that I didn't get the usual chiggers and bug bites from the early-evening soccer practices. I do appreciate that the ingredients in Miessence's body products are Australian Certified Organic and are low risk for cancer as well, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Terrashield: doTERRA TerraShield essential oil blend is the strangest of concepts. I didn't believe that you could only put a few drops on your body for insect repellent. But I took it for a test drive in an afternoon hike through the woods of Monroe State Forest and came out unscathed.

Vanilla Extract: Not the imitation vanilla, the real deal. Splurge on vanilla extract and dab it on you to deter bugs.

Make your own:

Most homemade insect repellent blends involve a blend of various essential oils (typically eucalyptus, peppermint or lavender are in the mix), with water, witch hazel or apple cider vinegar as a base.

Here are a few links for recipes using essential oils or other kitchen ingredients:
Homemade insect repellent from the Daily Green
How to make bug spray from fresh or dried herbs
Natural flea remedies
Five-ingredient blend of eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary and tea tree oils with witch hazel

Need to order small glass spray bottles? Here is a resource.

What are your favorite options or recipes for natural insect repellents?

Disclosure: This post includes an affiliate link for essential oils. Additionally, I did receive a sample of Buzz Free from Ely Organics, a Miessence independent representative. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Learning about pain management with oils...the hard way

"Mommy, it feels worser," my five year old told me the other day.

Worser. Just the word a mother does not want to hear, especially when your little one has hobbled around for a day already.

The foot wasn't swollen. It wasn't bruised. But it was worser. So I made an appointment online with my pediatrician for the next day and assessed my options. Yes, there was ibuprofen, but it only did so much.

Would oils help? Yes, I've used lemongrass, Deep Blue and peppermint for muscle soreness, and while essential oils can be used for pain management, I wasn't sure how it'd work for a little guy.

So we went out on a limb, so to speak. And the good news? It worked. For the last two days I've used the Deep Blue Rub and Deep Blue essential oil blend on my little guy's foot, and he's feeling good enough to (slowly) tag along with his buddies at extended care.

Even better? The X-ray said no broken bone. Now, I just need to teach my kindergartener that tackle football with your buddies isn't the best option for after school play!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Smoothie Saturday: Clean Eating and the Banana Bread Smoothie

smoothie tastes like banana bread
A confession: I read Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Diet that Will Change the Way You Age, Look & Feel this summer, and I found it fascinating, and also realized there are a lot of things to implement in my own life. The reality is I am so far behind the curve that I almost need pre-clean eating steps (like a Math 0001) before I could successfully tackle the program in the book!

So I am working on those baby steps. A little less junk food (lately my downfall). Sneaking in a little more fruit in my smoothie since I do so poorly at eating it the rest of the day. Adding a vegetable side dish. I rebooted my subscription to Green Bean Delivery, and I'll be sure to add some leafy greens in the weekly order as well.

One tip I will share from the Clean Cuisine  book: Dates, which I normally don't eat, add thickness and texture to your smoothie without impacting the flavor.

This recipe was inspired by the Clean Cuisine book. Yes, it includes dairy, but I am sure you could substitute any other milk. I was happily surprised to drink something that tasted very much like banana bread!

Banana Bread Smoothie
1 banana (frozen; if not frozen, just add ice)
1 c milk 
1/4 c pecans 
2 dates

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Essential Oils for Infants
I truly wish I had known about essential oils and how they could help our family five years ago. Just knowing how they could have helped would have given me additional confidence to deal with my son's colic, my daughter's croup or other minor health issues that came across.

As I've gotten to know some new moms who are interested in more natural ways in helping their children's health, I've been challenged to learn more and more about how best to use essential oils to care for infants.

Below is a summary of some of the research I've found, and I hope you can find it useful.

Cautions: Infants should not ingest essential oils. Do not put them on babies’ hands, as they could get into the mouth. Put socks on feet if applying oils there. Do not apply near mouth, nose or eyes. ALWAYS dilute oils used on babies. The recommended dilution is 1 drop per tablespoon of carrier oil. 
And finally, use your maternal judgment. This is not a substitute for seeking medical care! Always call your physician with concerns.

If you do need a resource for essential oils, please consider using my referral link for doTERRA products. My family uses them and loves them. (You can also save 25% off of retail prices by becoming a wholesale member or independent consultant - even if you just "consult" to yourself. Please email me if you have any questions about that option.) 

doTERRA essentail oils that may help ease symptoms*                   
Lavender, DigestZen blend (diluted), Marjoram, Bergamot, Ginger- use on an abdominal massage
Thyme, Lemon, Melaleuca, Rosemary - dilute 1-2 drops into 2 tablespoons doTerra Fractionated Coconut Oil 4 Ounces and massage on neck and chest
Wild orange, lemon or Roman Chamomile - 1 drop in 1 tablespoon carrier oil. Massage abdomen, lower back and feet twice daily.
Lavender - 1 drop in 1 tablespoon carrier oil. Rub on chest/back.
Cradle Cap
Lemon, Geranium – mix 2 tablespoons almond oil with one drop lemon and one drop geranium
Marjoram, Thyme, Sandalwood- dilute 1-2 drops into 2 tablespoons doTerra Fractionated Coconut Oil 4 Ounces l and massage on neck and chest
Diaper rash
Lavender, Roman Chamomile
Melaleuca, Roman Chamomile - combine 2 tablespoons doTerra Fractionated Coconut Oil 4 Ounces with one drop Roman chamomile and one drop melaleuca.  place a drop on a cotton ball and apply on ear, behind ear and reflex points on the feet
Fever (mild)
Lavender, On Guard, Peppermint - dilute 1-2 drops into 2 tablespoons doTerra Fractionated Coconut Oil 4 Ounces and massage on neck, back and feet

* Call your pediatrician for high fever.
Lavender - 1 drop lavender in 1 tablespoon carrier oil. Massage 2-3 drops on the abdomen, moving clockwise
Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Serenity, Citrus Bliss
 Clove, Lavender, Myrrh, Roman Chamomile  - Dilute the oils with one drop oil and 3 - 4 drops FCO and rub directly on the gum or rub the diluted oil on outside at the jaw line.
Melaleuca, Lavender, Thyme, Lemon, Geranium - dilute 1-2 drops into 2 tablespoons doTerra Fractionated Coconut Oil 4 Ounces and massage on location

Sources: Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils; Essential Oils for Maternity;; articles in medical journals International Journal of Nursing Practice and Early Human Development
* Using essential oils should be a complement to, not replace seeing your physician with ANY medical concern. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The recommendations above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Brownie Family of God Award Activities

Family of God Catholic Religious Award for Brownie Girl Scouts
The Family of God Brownie Girl Scout Award is one of our major projects for our troop this fall. So you may see less about "green" projects the girls are doing and more about how they're integrating faith into scouting.

This award is traditionally earned by the third-graders at our church, and this is our fall to do it. We're planning a retreat to meet many of the activities. Others will be done in the troop setting, and others (since it is "Family of God") will be done with the girls' families at home.

For those considering earning the award, there are 18 activities the girls are required to do to complete the award through the National Catholic Committee for Girl Scouts and Camp Fire. Brownies complete three activity choices under each of these six sections:
  • I Am Special to My Family
  • I Am Special to God’s Family
  • I Belong to My Family
  • I Belong to God’s Family
  • I Can Help My Family
  • I Can Help God’s Family
If that seems a bit daunting to you, many of these are smaller activities, like create a picture of your family. I thought at first it was a bit corny, but then I stumbled on an article in our diocesean newspaper this week: As part of the Pilgrimage of Families in October, children are invited to "present" their family to Pope Francis by sending a picture they have drawn electronically to the Pope. What an awesome way to tie into what might be an otherwise ho-hum activity!

Pinterest is also a great resource to find creative spins on these activities. One is an adorable family tree that I stumbled on through We printed off packets for the girls to work on at home, and we will add them to their Family of God books our pastor will review.
brownie family of god award

We are printing off these cute prayer cards from the Time-Warp Wife as part of their Family of God retreat.
prayer cards for family of god retreat for brownies

I love this idea for a prayer pail from Lu Birdy Baby for the girls' activity to choose others to pray for. Much better than a check-off list!

earning family of god award

We are also considering making Chemo Care Kits from Pennies of Time as a service project. It's dear to us because of one of our Girl Scout dads has been fighting a battle with cancer.
service project for brownies

Follow Robbie @'s board Family of God award - Brownies on Pinterest.
If you have other suggestions for projects, please link them here!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Smoothie Saturday: Peach Smoothie

I love grabbing all the peaches I can at the farmers market when they're in season, but sometimes I get a bit too many of these juicy fruits. A quick smoothie can make a sweet start to your day and use some of the less than perfect peaches up.

Peach smoothie
2 peaches
1 scoop protein powder
1 c vanilla almond milk


Blend all three ingredients together, then add ice and blend until desired consistency.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sometimes there is a happily ever after

Friday night, our children were just getting ready for bed, and I heard banging on the door. I checked the keyhole, and two strangers were at the door. But I felt a nudge to open it anyway.

It was a woman who had been kicked out of her home across the street four years ago.

This woman had been through the darkest of times. A single mother since age 16, she was raising two children alone and had rented a home. She had just lost her job, and had sent her entire tax refund to her landlord to pay ahead on her rent. Unbeknownst to her, the landlord hadn't been paying his bills, either, and she was evicted by the sheriff.

Tonight, though, it wasn't a night to troubleshoot problems. It was a time to celebrate success.

Despite all the many challenges she had faced - many of which I won't even share here - we saw a light in her. A goodness. And so much potential not yet even tapped. We were her village as she tried to raise two children. And we hated she disappeared.

But something happened along the way. One neighbor's quiet gift helped her with tuition to nursing school - and she's set to graduate soon. And she's making plans to return to our neighborhood, this time as a homeowner.

Sometimes, there is a happily ever after.