Summer Plans

I love days that don't start with the blare of the alarm clock. Well they still sort of do because hubby has to get up for work but luckily I get to roll back over and go to sleep. I feel like we have been in survival mode since January so its going to be nice to catch up on things but also to just relax and enjoy our time. June has somewhat been a crazy month and I'm desperately wanting to slow down and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Here is a list of what I am hoping to do this summer! Some are fun and some not so much but they need to get done.

Our Summer Plans:

1. Take the kids to a drive in movie
2. Have a water balloon fight
3. Trip to New Orleans just me and the hubs
4. Go see a ballet
5. Go see a play
6. Go to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
7. Spend time at our camp in MS
8. Read all the books on my bookshelf
9. Start writing an ebook
10. Deep clean and organize the whole house
11. Finish dry wall work
12. Fix outside trim
13. Paint the house
14. Go to a canvas painting class
15. Have a girl's day with my best friend
16. Make jelly
17. Go to a reading camp
19. Put all pictures in a photo album
20. Take a spontaneous road trip
21. Take a girls trip to the Dallas Art District
22. Sell our remaining curriculum
23. Lounge at the pool
24. Go to a water park
25. Slip-n-slide
26. Set up a lemon aid stand
27. Work on my blog to do list
28. Learn something new
29. Enjoy a do nothing day
30. Go fishing

What have you been doing this summer? What do you plan to do?


When Healthy Living Becomes an Idol

Last night I got in somewhat of a Facebook fight with some random lady. I'm totally ashamed I allowed myself to get sucked into that situation. Anyway she was totally misinformed with what PCOS actually is. She was making wildly ridiculous comments. She basically said to just suck it up and deal with a little discomfort (basically she kept referring to hot flashes in a topic about PCOS) and that if we ate an all organic diet the symptoms would just go away. Oh how I wish that were true! Sadly she chose to degrade and talk down to those who were commenting about dealing with the disease.

I just want to take a minute to address a few things. First of all we live in a fallen world, sickness and disease is part of our world and always will be. You can eat an all organic diet, never ever have touched sugar or fast food but that doesn't mean you'll never get sick or deal with a chronic disease. You may do everything right and still get cancer. Sadly that's just the fallen world we live in.

Secondly never become so obsessed with eating right and always making the right choices when it comes to food and exercise that it damages relationships with people. No I didn't have any type of friendship with this lady, she was a total stranger. But never ever ever talk down to someone who is dealing with symptoms of a disease. Would I have PCOS is I ate better my entire life? I don't know. Can my symptoms be eased with making better diet choices? Yes but not always.

Remember when you are sharing with others about diet and health information not to tear them down in the process. You can share and educate people in a loving way but ultimately its their choice. Some will read the information and choose not to do anything about it and that's not your problem. Don't destroy a relationship with someone because they choose to eat at McDonalds.

Yes food plays a major role in our health, but our mental health plays a major role in what our bodies do. If you are tearing down someone and calling them fat and telling them that its their fault that they are dealing with the health issues that they have do you really think that's going to be helpful?

Don't get so wrapped up in your healthy lifestyle that you constantly judge other for not being where you are. I love when people get excited about taking charge of their health, but just remember when you are sharing with someone to do it in a way that's kind and not tearing away at the person they are.

Don't let being healthy become an idol where you push people away.

Are you judging the mom that brought cookies for the class treat instead of organic fruit? Are you rolling your eyes as the larger girl in the doctor's office is complaining about low energy and her weight? Are you criticizing the moms who choose to sleep longer instead of getting up before the kids to get in some exercise time?

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. Me, I'm fighting Adrenal Fatigue, Hashimotos, and PCOS. That means I have low energy, gain weight easily and have a hard time getting it off, adult acne, facial hair, and many other symptoms.

What are your thoughts? Do you think healthy living can become an idol?


Make Money To Write About Your Kids Book Review

I came across this awesome book on Facebook. I started following the Facebook page, and then I saw that the author, Kerrie McLoughlin, had posted that she had some hard copies at home that she was selling and would autograph and send them out. I contacted her about ordering and told her I was a blogger and had a link party that featured books, so she sweetly offered to send me the book. I was so excited and couldn't wait to get it in the mail, read it, and then review it for ya'll. The day I got it in the mail I sat down and just absorbed it!

Let me just tell you how eye opening this read was! I had no idea what all went into to writing for magazines. This is something I have always wanted to do so I couldn't wait to dive in and learn. I was totally ignorant to the whole process. I just thought you contacted the editor and sent them the article and that was it!

"I want to share everything I've learned with you and save you the time and effort I've already spent. This book is the fast-track way to get published! I want you to enjoy the success (and paychecks!) I've enjoyed the last few years and continue to enjoy. Imagine writing just one 750-word article that takes minimal research and minimal time because you have personal experience with the subject and plenty of parent friends to offer you quotes, and then selling 20 times and getting checks in your mailbox on almost a daily basis."

Kerrie breaks down the process in an easy to understand way. She gives examples and offers lots of resources. I read with a highlighter in one hand and a notebook on my lap so that I could make notes and any questions I had. The great thing is that any questions I had in one chapter was quickly answered in the next one. Kerrie is sweet and approachable, so if you had any questions that you couldn't find the answer to in the book you could email her.

I love that this book is written in a positive and encouraging way for new writers like me. I cannot wait to start working on writing articles and submitting them to magazines. If writing for family style magazines is something you are interested in then Make Money To Write About Your Kids is a must read!

You can order your copy of the book on Amazon. You can find Kerrie at The Kerrie Show, Get Published in Parenting Magazines, Twitter, and Facebook.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get published in a magazine?


Summer of the Turltes

Since we have had so much rain here in Texas this year turtles are everywhere! My kids have really enjoyed catching them and bringing them home. So far we have name 3 of them; David, Goliath, and Tortuga.

My husband introduced them to a tradition from his childhood. When he was kid they would catch turtles, then paint their shells, and turn them loose. He said it was so fun seeing them days later walking down the road with their artwork on their backs. My kids have really loved doing this!

My posts the rest of the summer will probably be shorter and more focused on family fun as I am trying to step back from the computer and enjoy my kids being home.

Do you and your kids catch turtles? If you do, do you paint their shells?


Information Overload

I remember when the internet got to be really big and everyone was constantly calling it the information highway. Everyone was so excited about the unlimited access to all sorts of information. Anything you wanted to know or entertain yourself was right there at your finger tips. But today with the internet every growing and the many different avenues of social media we are now at information overload.

Every where you turn there's a new article or post telling you how to live your life. Found an awesome new diet that's raved about? Here's 30 articles contradicting it. You want to save money on your kid's birthday party, here's 50 articles about making everything from scratch on a budget. But guess what moms don't have to live up to that Pinterest perfect standard, lets now find 175 different articles stating so. Do your kids believe in Santa? 4,500 reasons they shouldn't and oh wait there's 3,000 articles telling you how to keep the magic in Christmas.

The internet constantly contradicts itself. I'm so over it. Sometimes I just want to totally unplug and turn all the voices off. Is it just me or is parenting in this information driven world overwhelming. Every decision you make for your family there seem to be millions supporting and millions against. Post of pic of your smiling family on vacation? Then someone hops on Facebook griping about people showing off and pretending to have the perfect life. Vent about a crappy day on Facebook, then you've got people criticizing for being so whinny.

IT NEVER ENDS!!! Why do we in this day and age feel like we need to constantly insert our opinion into others lives and tell them how to live? Is it because we somehow feel safer hiding behind a screen?

Maybe I was just blind, ignorant, or too young to realize but was the world like this before the internet? Is it just me? Have I become bitter or is anyone else annoyed?

I don't have a solution to this problem, just that I feel like it is a problem. I guess this is where discernment comes into play. Take everything you read with a grain of salt, hold onto the things that are helpful and encouraging, and let go of the things that aren't.

Now that's off my chest lets all hold hands and sing kumbaya.


Feeding Your Kids' Interest

This past weekend we went to the zoo. I realized that I spent more time observing Nathan than I did the animals. Watching his face light up as he saw each animal and that he could identify each one without looking at the plaques just amazed me.

He didn't just identify the animals as a tiger, bird, etc he knew specifically what they were. He was constantly saying things like "Oh this is a <insert proper name here> (I'm not so good with remembering all of them) bird and its my favorite type of bird. Did you know it can fly x miles an hour?". Or he would say "Hey mom these penguins are a seals favorite prey".

We give him lots of books and watch lots of stuff on the Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic. We watch shows like Wild Kratz as a family. I love to bring him new books especially about predators those are his favorite. I listen when he tells me all about a new animal that he has learned about.

Learning about animals has become a passion of his and at 9 years old he talks about possibly being a Biologist or Zoologist some day. Now I know that this will most likely change over the years, but as of now we are actively feeding his interest.

I feel like as a parent its so important to let them pursue things that they are interested, not only let them but to encourage them. Find what they love doing and help them by giving them books, watching movies based on the topic, and even seeking out opportunities like lessons or taking them to exhibits. I want my kids to know that they can do anything and that I will be there to support them weather they want to go to school to be a lawyer or be a starving artist I went them to live out their passions and talents.

What do your kids get excited about? What do you do to feed their interest


What's On My Bookshelf

I thought I'd give ya'll a peek at my bookshelf since I just organized it and its all pretty. I just went through and got rid of several books that we have already read and probably won't read again so now that just gives me room for more books. I have this viscous cycle of getting rid of books and buying more, and over and over it goes. My too read list seems to be longer than my have read list.

I like how I have them organized at the moment though I know when the kids get a hold of it, it won't stay this way for long.

Top shelf is our Bibles, devotionals, and Bible study material. This includes:
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, The Sportsman Bible, NIV bible, John MacArthur ESV Study Bible (not pictured), Comforts from Romans by Elyse Fitzpatrick, My Father's World Bible Reader, I Have Been Born Again-What's Next? by Charles Brock, The Action Bible, NIV Adventure Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, Jesus Calling for Kids by Sarah Young, Life Application Study Bible, Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson, and KJV Bible.

The second shelf contains informational books and family photo albums. The drawers at the bottom of the book shelf hold TONS of pictures that need to be put in albums so bad. Anyway my informational books are The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D, The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan, The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine, It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, and The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook For Everyday Wellness by Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele.

The third shelf contains classics, popular novels, young adult literature, and Christian fiction and non-fiction. These books are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Pollyanna y Eleanor H. Porter, Children's Stories by J.C. Ryle, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Duel in the Wilderness by Karin Clafford Farley, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, Stuart Little by E.B. White, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Perks of Being a Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky (not pictured), Lies Young Women Believe by Nancy Leigh Demoss and Dannah Gresh, A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers, An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers, As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers, David Livingstone by Janet and Geoff  Benge, George Miller by Janet and Geoff Benge, Gladys Aylward by Janet and Geoff Benge, Cameron Townsend by Janet and Geoff Benge, Nate Saint by Janet and Geoff Benge, The Antelope in the Livingroom by Melanie Shankle, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, The Hiding Place by Carrie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson, Desperate for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae, Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson, Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge, The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur, Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst, Radical by David Platt, The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian, and The Power of the Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian.

The last shelf has books that where my kids favorites when they were smaller, some of their just for fun books, and a couple of series. These include When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthis Rylant, Chester's Birthday Surprise by Mitzy McNease, The Kissing Handy by Audrey Penn, Aesop's Fables by Jerry Pinkney, Michael Hague's Treasured Classics, The Bear that Heard Crying by Natalie Kinsey-Warmock and Helen Kinsey, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Miss Rummphius by Barbara Cooney, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess, The Night Before Christmas by Cleme C. Moore, Island Boy by Barbara Cooney, The Jalapeno Man by Debbie Leland, Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess, The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, The Usborne Living World Encyclopedia, Global Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter, Predator VS Prey by Lee Martin, The Great Animal Search by Caroline Young, Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan, The Blue Hill Meadows by Cynthia Rylant, The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh,The Book Report from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler, Magic Tree House The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne, The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit, Minecraft Combat Handbook, Minecraft Essential Handbook, Minecraft Redstone Handbook, Minecraft Construction Handbook, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpey Kid The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney, The Wimpey Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney, Night at the Museum Night of the Dragons by Michael Anthony Steele, A to Z Mystery The Invisible Island by Ron Roy, Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures: The Flying Chinese Wonders by Jeff Brown, Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures: The Great Egyptian Grave Robbery, The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus.

As you can see we clearly don't have enough books and hubby needs to build me another bookshelf!

What's your favorite book that we have? What is on your bookshelf?



What to Do When Your Kids Won't Stop Fighting

Mothers work hard daily to teach our children how to deal with others. I mean one day they will grow up, be out of our home, and have to learn to deal with the world themselves. As mothers we teach our children how to be loving and kind and how to deal with those that annoy us.

But we are 3 weeks into summer and my kids WON'T STOP FIGHTING! Every little thing is an argument and I just about can't take it anymore. My kids usually get along really well so this is just honestly getting annoying and I'm over this phase. So here is my suggestion on what to do when your kids won't stop fighting.

1.) Hide in the bathroom

Now this is only a solution that works when you just need a 3 minute break. Any longer than that and they will find you and sit outside the bathroom and talk to you and ask a million questions until its no longer worth trying to hide.

2.) Make them go outside

This helps by running out their energy, but the summer heat has already started so this only works if they wake up early and can go out in the mornings. Of course they can go out later in the evenings and that's helpful but at this time they get packed off by mosquitoes. You do what you got to do to let them blow off some steam though. I know some moms suggest doing crafts and fun DIY projects, but in our house if I want to have a great relationship with my kids we need to avoid those activities cause momma and got no patience for crafts. I mean I don't care if they do them but this really can't be a family project for the well being of everyone.

3.) Dish out chores

If you've tried the first two things and those haven't worked dish out chores. This seems to make everyone mad at mom and not each other and I'm ok with that. They get over it really quick. It usually gives us a fight free home for at least two blissful hours.

4.) Cry and eat your secret stash of chocolate

First let me say every mom needs a secret chocolate stash. EVERY ONE! If you have some kind of dietary issues that keep you from chocolate, then find an alternative cause girl sometimes all you can do is eat your feelings and have a good cry. Does this resolve anything? Nope just makes you feel slightly better. Oh and secret mom chocolate has no calories.

5.) Go bat crap crazy

This is the one that gets my kids attention most. When we have talked and talked about loving others, dished out chores, played outside, and I've hid and/or eaten chocolate and cried, this is all that is left in me to do. When they have days where they just will not stop fighting I lose it. Not on them but just in general. Stand in the middle of the living room and scream at the ceiling or what ever makes you feel better. The key those is to look like a crazy lady, because nobody messes with crazy. Everyone is slightly afraid of crazy and I mean everyone. I have reenacted there arguments in a dramatized way and they laughed like crazy but you could also see the confused bewilderment in their eyes and they straightened up.

Hope you enjoy your summer and your kids enjoy summer break and you don't have to turn into the crazy lady!

What do you do when your kids fight? Do you have any real and practical tips?


Material Girl

For Mother's Day the fab fam got me a gift card. They new there were several things I had been eyeing for a while but didn't want to buy for myself. I always feel guilty buying stuff for myself. Well I haven't always had this problem, I think this is just a mom thing. As a teen I had no problem whatsoever spending money on myself ha. Anyway I wanted to share my awesome loot!

1. Books
I bought The Outsiders, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness. I have read both novels before and have loved them. The Outsiders I read in school (next week I'll post a review on this one). Perks of Being a Wallflower I recently read on my Kindle App but knew this was one that I needed to own in book form. A review on this one is coming soon. The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Handbook has been on my wish list for a while. Its great and contains so much information and recipes.

2. Converse
I have wanted a pair of Converse for FOREVER! But the fact that they were $50 is what kept me from getting them. I usually only spend roughly $30 at the most on any type of clothing or shoes for myself. I got them at Academy and picked them up and walked around the store with them then decided to put them back cause I just couldn't rationalize spending $50 on shoes. Finally hubby convinced me to go get them so I did and I'm extremely happy. Now I need a pair in red, white, turquoise, navy, or just one in every color would work too :)

3. Face Wash and Moisturizer
A friend of mine is a Posh rep and had let me try some samples. There were some products I immediately fell in love with and this face wash is definitely one of them! It gently scrubs my skin and smells amazing! Combining it with this moisturizer has done wonders for my skin! I wish I had taken a before and after picture. As I have said before I have PCOS which causes my face to break out really bad. I never had problems with this until just a few years ago. Even as a teen I had really clear skin. My face is looking sooo much better! This is definitely a product that I'll continue to use.

4. Diffuser Necklace
I found these extremely cute diffuser necklaces on Instagram. This was my first purchase with my gift card and it was the hardest decision to make. I could not for the life of me decide which one I wanted there were too many cute ones to choose from! I love this one and the first oil I tried in it was Lavender. I got so many compliments the first day I wore it, and lots of weird looks when I would reply "Thanks! Want to smell it?".

5.Messanger Bag
I love this bag! I discovered a couple of years ago that I only like cross body style bags. I love this one because its big enough that I can put my tablet and my blogger planner along with my other everyday items. I also love that its hand made! Not only is it extremely cute but its thick durable material. I bought it from Homespun Happiness!

What fabulous things have you bought recently?


The Outsiders

The Outsiders is a novel by S. E. Hinton. When I was in junior high we read it but I just didn't really pay any attention to it. It has been on my to read list, I'm going back and rereading a lot of books I did read or was suppose to read. One day recently I was subbing for the junior high and the 7th grade was reading this as a class so the next weekend I ended up buying the book.

Oh my I loved it sooo much! I think even if I had really read it in school I still wouldn't have fully understood or appreciated it. When I was subbing I asked the class different questions about the book and could just tell they didn't fully get the depth.

If you have never read it, its definitely a must read! The Outsiders is a young adult fiction. Its narrated by the character Ponyboy and is about two rival groups, the greasers and the socs (or the socials). This book touches on social and economical dynamics, family dysfunction, friendships, and a young boy trying to figure out the world he lives in.

I just love Ponyboy and his ability to see the world for how it is, how it could be, and how it should be. He learns to see past the social dynamics we are often put in and see each person as an individual. This book is such a treasure! Even though its a young adult book I think everyone should read it. This is a book your kids or grandkids will be reading in school and is a great way to open the door to discuss deeper things with them.

I'm working so hard to teach my children to be the unique individuals they are and I think literature like this helps to express that.

If you haven't read it go out and get it ASAP! If you have, what's your favorite part of the book? What did you take from it?


Plus Size Shopping Blues

Recently I wrote about learning to love my curves. Its true that I am coming to appreciate what my body is going through with dealing with PCOS and Hashimotos, but plus size shopping just sucks.

This Friday I get to go out and have a girls night and I am really excited about it. This past weekend I went shopping to try to find something to wear. I ended up leaving the store mad, upset, and empty handed. I couldn't find anything to fit me that I actually liked. I mean the bigger sizes seem to have 4-6 items and they're all so frumpy and unflattering.

Most of the time when I do find plus size stuff in stores it looks like something someone twice my age would wear. I'm in my late twenties, I don't want to dress like I'm 16 but also don't want to dress like I'm 50.

Is it really that hard to find cute and trendy clothes for someone who is in plus size?

Dear readers I need your help! I need recommendations on where to shop! I am so beyond frustrated with stores right now. I shouldn't be on the verge of tears every time I try to get a new piece of clothing.

It feels like stores are body shaming just as bad as the magazines. Its almost like they are saying because you're bigger you can't wear cute clothes, you just get whatever we can throw together. I know I am not shopping at the right stores but I honestly don't know where to shop!!!

I love piecing together new outfits but lately I just don't even want to go searching for something. I want what I wear to make me feel confident but lately it just doesn't.

If you experience the same dilemma as me please tell me I am not alone! If you have any expert shopping tips I'd love to hear them!


When Natural Health Can Be Dangerous: Part 2 an Interview with Lea Harris on Proper Usage and Education

I am so excited about Part 2 to When Natural Health Can Be Dangerous! You can read part 1 here. My goal with these posts are not to discourage you from using natural remedies, but to encourage you to do your research and thoroughly learn about these tools before you begin implementing them. Before we begin, I want to take a moment to say I am not bashing anyone who chooses to work with an MLM company when it comes to using essential oils. This is such a hot button topic. But I do want to encourage people to please please please do your research and make sure you are using oils or any other natural remedy properly before using them and teaching others how to use them. I have become extremely passionate about this topic and making sure people are understanding information and approaching these remedies safely.

Ok so back to the actual post. I was beyond excited and went all fan girl squealing when Lea agreed to let me interview her. I even called a friend squealing like a little girl. Lea is so awesome and a wealth of information, but she is very approachable and wants to share her knowledge.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Lea Harris, and I started blogging back in 2006 with my natural health website, Nourishing Treasures. I became a Certified Health Coach in 2012 through Beyond Organic University. In 2013 I launched LearningAboutEOs.com and worked my tail off to become a Certified Aromatherapist, graduating from Aromahead Institute in July 2013. I founded the ever-growing Using EssentialOils Safely facebook group in December 2013, which currently has over 66,000 members. In February 2014, I became a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist after graduating from Aromahead's Scholar's Program.

Not to limit myself to aromatherapy, I also educated myself in the herbal world. I completed both of the Herbal Academy of New England's (HANE) Intro and Intermediate courses, graduating as a Certified Herbalist in April 2014.

I am currently a volunteer for the Alliance of Aromatherapists publications committee, and a contributing writer to HANE's website, as well as the Natural Herbal Living magazine.

In March, I launched UsingEOsSafely.com to match up with our FB group name. You can also find me on Pinterest,Twitter, and Google+.


What does and herbalist and aromatherapist do?

Both herbalists and aromatherapists help to guide people on natural remedies. Herbalists are trained in the proper and safe usage of herbs for remedies, while aromatherapists are trained in the safe and proper usage of essential oils. I feel blessed to have the background from both worlds, as both herbs and essential oils have much to offer when it comes to helping the body heal, elevating mood, relaxing after a stressful day, and many other areas.

Some people question the validity of aromatherapist and whether they are actual experts in the field. What are your thoughts on this and what would you say makes you an expert or gives credibility to your advice and teaching?

 Well let's start with the "some people" part of your question. I am going to assume that the kind of people that would want to discount hundreds of hours worth of training are one (or more) of the following: not trained themselves; promote unsafe practices; involved with a company which promotes unsafe practices; are a company which promotes unsafe practices.
Next, let's look at the word "aromatherapist." Anyone can call themselves an aromatherapist. A hobbyist or enthusiast can technically call themselves an aromatherapist. In order to use the title Certified Aromatherapist, you have to have specific training from an approved school, such as Aromahead Institute, where I graduated from.  Aromahead specifically teaches uses of essential oils based on proven sscientific research. You also learn proper dilution guidelines and safety recommendations based on research from true experts in the field. Aromahead also teaches anatomy and physiology, which is essential to knowing how essential oils work in the body. There is a LOT to learn. Certified Aromatherapists have received 200+ hours of training from a reputable school approved by Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) or NAHA (although the NAHA requirements are not as strong). I personally have gone though the Scholar's Program from Aromahead Institute, which allows me to use the title of Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, according to the guidelines set by AIA, as one with 400 hours of education through Aromahead. Not all schools are reputable, so if you're looking for one that is, be sure to check AIA's list
Now let's look at the word "expert." To me, an expert is one who has not only formal training, but experience as well. I share what I have learned with many on a daily basis, and some have called me an expert, but this is not a title I am personally comfortable with and is certainly not self-described. Perhaps in a couple of decades you can call me an expert, but it feels odd to call me that now :)
To wrap up before I address the question specifically: just because someone runs an essential oil company does not make them an expert on essential oils. Their primary goal is to run a business and make money. They can be very good at sales, and perhaps they even use essential oils themselves for a long period of time. But unless they are properly trained, they will not know the safety side of essential oils, and they are doing their customers a disservice if this is the case. Taking the time and making the investment to get official certification from a reputable school will be an eye-opening experience.
 Finally, to address the point of your question: why should anyone listen to me? I do have hundreds of hours of training from a reputable school that is highly respected, and I am not a sales rep who pushes one brand of essential oils, making up more and more reasons to use essential oils every which way possible so you will use your products more quickly and come back to order every month or week. I provide educational information from my training and own personal research from highly respected veterans in the field and I answer dozens of questions daily in the safety group (when you know better, you do better!). If I don't have an answer, I will find one for you. And if I don't know, I will be humble enough to tell you.


What is your favorite herb and essential oil and why?

This is not easy to answer! There are so many wonderful choices, and depending on the need, there will be different answers. But since I have to choose just one, I will go with Elderberry for the herb, and Tea Tree for the essential oil. Elderberry's usefulness for shortening the duration of a virus is impressive – and elderberry syrup tastes good! As for Tea Tree, it is the first essential oil I used, and it is excellent for combating a range of bacteria, fungal, and viral microbes.

What resources do you recommend for people just now beginning to use natural remedies?

I wrote a book, “Using Essential Oils Safely,” which was basically the final report I submitted as part of the requirement to graduate from Aromahead. I offer it for free when you sign up for my newsletter at UsingEOsSafely.com. I also offer on my website a list of educational resources and books that I personally have and love.

As for herbs, I have a list of resources in my herbal facebook group, LearningAbout Using Herbs Safely which include recommendations for the Herbal Academy of New England, Learning Herbs, and Natural Herbal Living. We have over 8,500 members who are very helpful.

How do you decide if a situation calls for using an herb or essential oil and how do you use these in conjunction with one another?

That is an excellent question. I have been asked this so often, I actually wrote apost about this very subject It really depends on the situation and what you have on hand. Generally speaking, herbs are most effective when consumed, where essential oils are best when inhaled or used topically. Often they can be used together, and I will give you some examples here:

For a virus, I would both consume elderberry syrup, and diffuse anti-viral essential oils such as Tea Tree to help kill the germs, and/or keep them from spreading.

For bumps and bruises, arnica (herbal remedy) is a great option for unbroken skin. Helichrysum essential oil is an option as well.

For insomnia, you can consume chamomile tea, as well as diffuse sedating essential oils such as Cedarwood, Sandalwood, and Vetiver.

Here are some examples when herbs are preferred:

Pink eye is definitely an example of when to use herbs and not essential oils. You never want to use essential oils in or near the eyes. Using a dampened chamomile tea bag over the closed eye can provide anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine actions to provide relieve and reduce itching.

Lavender flowers can be infused in an oil, strained out, and the oil can be added to a bath for a relaxing night's sleep. This is as, if not more, effective as essential oils, and much safer.

Digestive issues are best alleviated with the ingestion of herbs such as peppermint or chamomile, made into a tea.

For adrenal issues, consuming adaptogens such as astragalus, ashwagangha, and licorice can help your body fight stress and actually help the adrenals to heal. Calming essential oils can make you feel better, but won't actually help to heal the adrenals.

For young children, such as those under the age of 6, herbs are probably going to be the most common tool you are going to use.

Now for the aromatherapy side. Here are some examples when essential oils are the best choice:

Bug bites can be relieved by applying a mixture of Tea Tree and Lavender in a carrier oil. I have a recipe here: Bug Bite Soother

For inflammation, anti-inflammatory essential oils can be added to a lotion to provide relief. My recipe can be found here: Anti-Inflammatory Lotion [http://www.usingeossafely.com/noflames]

Scars can be greatly reduced by the topical application of diluted essential oils. I have had many people tell me my Anti-Scar blend has worked well for regenerating skin cells.


The popularity of using natural remedies are on the rise. There is so much information out there especially on line. There are tons of blogs out there like this one that try to teach others about using natural remedies, the only problem is that like myself they most blog writers aren’t experts but moms looking for better ways to help their families. Not that that is a bad thing I am just seeing more and more bad information out there. I want to discuss some of these things with you and clarify some of the misinformation and discuss some of the dangers that can come with misuse of natural remedies.

I totally agree. I started out as a “mommy blogger” and so I totally get being in that place of having a platform and an audience to speak to, and still not having all of the answers. Wanting to know the truth and have the right answer to properly educate myself, my family, and my readers, is what pushed me to get my certifications. I don't want my family to be guinea pigs.

What should you be cautious of when reading information online? How do you determine if the information you are reading is reputable?

Follow the money. Yes, bloggers need an income, and affiliate links are expected. But if the blog posts are mostly sales pitches, and not informational, obviously making a buck is a huge priority. Not to discount  bloggers who have no certifications, as I know from experience that being self-taught and having experience is not meaningless, but see what qualifications they do have. Find out where they are getting their information from. If they are a sales rep of a company, and they are using the marketing materials from the company to provide health advice, stop reading. This is less of an issue with herbalists, as there are not multi-level marketing herbal companies, and the research for herbs is far more extensive. But for aromatherapy blogs, if the writer is a company rep, go somewhere else for your information on essential oils. Unless the rep has taken it upon themselves to get certified, they are not going to have the knowledge needed to properly educate you on safe usage. Aromatherapy certification takes hundreds of hours to complete, and the goal is safety and usage, not sales.

What do you need to know before purchasing herbs and/or oils and what things should you look for in a company? What about companies that claim that there products are pure and therapeutic grade?

Look for companies that have lots of information about their products. Not just promoting their products as wonder drugs, but those which are honest with you about safety issues. Make sure that there are warnings not to use if pregnant or breastfeeding, for young children, and other applicable advice. This is less of a problem with herbal companies. With essential oil companies, safety information is key. I recently published a blog post “How to Tell if anEssential Oil Company is Worth Purchasing From – just by checking out theirwebsite”. The same applies to the question of which blogs to read.

Do essential oils really cause detoxing?

This is a myth to explain away adverse reactions. If you are applying essential oils to the skin undiluted and develop a rash, this is not detox. This is an allergic reaction. Herbs can detox, essential oils – not so much.

Do you recommend using oils or herbs daily? What about boosting your immune system with natural remedies?

I recommend using anything “as needed.” If you need something daily, there is probably a more chronic, underlying issue that needs to be addressed. So generally speaking, nothing should be required on a daily basis long term.

If you are going through a season of stress and you find yourself needing those adaptogenic herbal teas each morning – by all means, consume them. But also consider why your body needs them. Perhaps you need to lighten your load, get more sleep, go to bed earlier, stop chugging the caffeine.

We all go through times where we may be using things daily. Cold and flu season might have us consuming echinacea or elderberry. But this shouldn't be a year-round daily habit.

Essential oils you have to be more careful when using on a regular basis. Diffusing isn't as much of an issue, but topical dilutions should be used no longer than 3 weeks at a time, then rotated out with another essential oil, to lessen risk of sensitization. High dilutions should be used far less often.

Explain the difference in immune boosting and immune stimulation and how these can affect people with an autoimmune disorder.

Immune supporting herbs are gentle enough to use, but for those with autoimmune disorder, stimulating the immune system is not advised. Definitely discuss this with your doctor if you are unsure what you can/can't use.

Are there any oils or herbs that shouldn’t be used on children? Why or why not?

Children's immune systems take a couple of years to fully develop, so there will be herbs and essential oils that will need to be avoided. Generally speaking, with herbs you just give them less than you would for an adult. Due to their concentration, there are essential oils which do need to be avoided around children. I have a list of those here and it includes Clove, Eucalyptus and Peppermint.

What about people with medical problems? Are natural remedies ok for them?

Generally speaking, there is always going to be a natural remedy that can help in some form or fashion. At the same time, medical issues can be contraindicated for certain herbs and essential oils. For example, if you are on blood thinners or about to have surgery, there are some essential oils which may inhibit blood clotting and should be avoided. You can find a list of there here: EssentialOils Which May Inhibit Blood Clotting.

Always do your research before using an herb or essential oil to be sure it is safe for you.

Is it safe to use essential oils and herbs in conjunction with prescription medications?

Yes and no. Some herbs and essential oils can be used safely along with prescription medications, but some are not safe when used together. If you aren't sure, ask your doctor or health professional. Some doctors, however, are not trained herbalists or aromatherapists and may not know. Do your research.

Essential oils and herbs are wonderful tools and I love having these alternatives but is there ever a situation in which you feel you should use traditional medication instead of natural remedies?

Yes, there are going to be times where mainstream pharmaceuticals are going to be preferred. My children are 7 and 11, and I have yet to come across a instance where they needed traditional medication. But if something traumatic occurred that required them to need to go to the ER, I might find myself in a situation where medications might be temporarily required.


What are your thoughts on ingesting oils?

My thoughts are that essential oils should only be ingested while under the supervision of a trained aromatherapist. There are times where ingestion is acceptable, but more often than not, inhalation and topical use are going to be the preferred methods. All aromatherapists trained by reputable schools receive training that acknowledges the three methods of using essential oils (inhalation, topical use, and ingestion), and we respect ingestion as a method that should be used sparingly. If ingesting, adding drops to a capsule (along with a carrier) is preferred, or using internally via a suppository – but never added to water where the concentrated essential oils float on the surface and hit the insides at full concentration. Know that whichever way you ingest, your liver has to deal with the load.


What worries you the most with so much bad information being promoted when it comes to natural health and wellness?

My worry when it comes to essential oils is that people are hurting themselves due to listening to marketing myths and gimmicks which are unsafe. They are ingesting by adding essential oils to water, and giving themselves ulcers and reflux. They are consuming supplements containing essential oils and burdening their liver. They are using essential oils without dilution on their children, causing their skin to burn or become sensitized. Essential oils are concentrated, so it doesn't take much misuse to have an adverse reaction. At least other natural health options aren't as concentrated and the damage isn't as serious as it is with essential oils.


To conclude what tips and advice would you like our readers to know?

Research, research, research! And when you research, please consider the source. Companies who sell essential oils are not usually also educated in proper, safe, essential oil usage. Most companies who sell a product have one goal: to make money by selling more product. This means they might not care as much about safe usage. If you use the essential oils properly, you will use much less. You will not ingest. You will dilute when using topically. Your bottles will last much longer. This means you are spending less money on product.

Finally, if you don't know anything about the product you are using, whether an essential oil or an herb, or whatever it may be, don't use it yet. Learn about it first. Learn what its uses are. Learn what the safety issues are. Then you can use it, armed with the knowledge of how to safely and effectively use it. :)
Did you learn anything new from Lea today? Is there more you'd like to know or understand? Be sure to check out her Facebook groups! What essential oil or herb are you hoping to learn about and try first?
Please consult your doctor before trying any of these remedies. Consulting an expert such as an aromatherapist or herbalist is also a wonderful resource.