Lavender. It is known as the Swiss Army knife of oils, and for good reason. It’s probably best known for sleep and anxiety. But did you know lavender also helps with soothing the skin, and even promotes hair growth?
Lavender is also a main ingredient in so many of our favorite rollers: seasonal roller, face roller and focus roller!
Here are some of my favorite uses:
1. Add to diffuser along with cedarwood to promote a good night’s rest.
2. Add a few drops to coconut oil to make a soothing rub for sunburn or dry skin.
3. Make a mermaid hair spray by combining with cedarwood and rosemary. Eight drops of each these added to an 8 oz spray bottle, then fill rest of the way with water.
4. Add to diffuser along with lemon and peppermint to help support clear breathing when everything is blooming. This is our seasonal blend.
5. Apply it to back of the neck (brain stem) along with vetiver and cedarwood to help with focus.
6. You can benefit just by inhaling lavender directly from the bottle. It will help with anxiety and calm you.
If I was stranded on an island and could bring only one oil, it would be lavender. So grateful for this amazing oil!
For years, I tried pretending I was something I wasn’t. I was an introvert, but trying to represent myself as an extrovert because I desperately wanted friends. And I didn’t just want friends. I wanted everyone to like me and I wanted to please them all. It was exhausting. I always felt like I had to be “on.”
Then I read a ton of research on being an introvert and the advantages of being an introvert. I learned that being an introvert could actually be an asset. Then I decided to embrace my true nature and live life as me – a real introvert.
I’ve learned so much about myself in the past few years, and made life changes that I will most likely continue for the rest of my life. Seeking alone time each day, setting boundaries, and learning to say “no” are just a few of the changes that I will take with me.
By embracing my introverted nature, I have realized that I avoiding crowds, shopping early in the mornings, and taking lunches by myself are all things that recharge my battery. These are coping skills I’ve fine-tuned and plan to embrace my whole life. By giving myself space and alone time, I am energized and able to be a better friend and family member to those who mean most to me.
One of the most challenging skills I’ve refined is being in a conversation or group setting, having something to say, and being able to remain focused, present and still, but not need vocalize every thought in my head. I’ve learned to be comfortable remaining quiet. Before, I felt like I needed to have something to say, and being socially awkward, I would rehearse things I might say! Does that sound silly to you? Introverts struggle with jumping into the conversation because we don’t want to be rude and interrupt, and we aren’t as assertive about speaking our minds. I would find myself nervously waiting for my turn to speak instead of listening to what the other person was saying, only to find when I did speak, the other person was going to say what I was trying to say anyway, or saying the wrong thing altogether because of my social anxiety.
There have been so many things about my past year that were freeing, but I also found myself lonely. I went from feeling known and acknowledged by everyone I knew, to a life where I was alone and disconnected from everyone I had made so important. Looking back now, I can say that neither extreme is how I would choose to continue. I don’t care to go back to people pleasing and carrying on like I’m outgoing when I’m not, but I also know that living a life withdrawn from everyone else isn’t what I’m after either.
My goal going forward is to strike a balance. I know now that it’s ok to be quiet, and in the few years, I’ve had others tell me what a good listener I am more than any other period of my life. But I also know that it’s ok to take up space and speak my mind. I know that I have value and I have to remember that my voice has as much right to be heard as anyone else’s. I think that’s a pretty healthy space to be, especially for an introvert.
The Honolulu/Waikiki beaches may be more popular on Oahu, but you should definitely consider exploring the beaches in the North Shore part of the island.
Our family visited 4 beaches in one day, and each one was so unique. It’s amazing how just traveling a few miles along the coast can make such a difference in current, sand texture, types of trees, rocks, or mountain view.
The first beach we visited was the Banzai Pipeline, also known as Ehukai Beach. This was the most impressive to us because the waves were huge! We love seeing “pipeline” or barrel waves and watching how powerful they were as they crashed on the shore. Banzai pipeline is known for drawing world class surfers, and national surfing competitions are held here! My daughters and I had watched several surfing movies before coming to Hawaii so it was really fun to see some awesome surfers in real life. The sand here was soft, but there was a steeper slope down to the water than what we were used to due to the current. I didn’t let my kids get in the water here. We liked that there was a restroom and a place to rinse sand off your feet.
This was my older daughter’s favorite. The sand was soft, and the view was stunning. To your right, palm trees, and to your left, mountains. The black rocks added more dynamic to an already picturesque landscape. We came to this beach in hopes of spotting sea turtles but never saw any. It is not as well known as some of the more popular ones for sea turtles so this is the one I was most excited about. I was hopeful we could spot turtles and have a really pleasant experience since it wouldn’t be as crowded. I wish we had talked to my friend who lived on Oahu before our trip – she shared after we returned that you can easily spot them under rocks or when snorkeling. I guess we were expecting to just spot them on the beach area. We should have looked more carefully!
You can find it by entering the name of the beach on your GPS, however, the parking lot is in a very nice neighborhood where you will see a “dead end” sign. But keep driving and you’ll see it on your left! The parking lot itself looked a little foreboding with a “lock your car, high theft area” sign and the cars in the lot were very old and run down looking. You couldn’t rinse off your feet here, so in hindsight, we would recommend bringing a jug of water on your visit.
Laniakea Beach is a very popular beach known for spotting sea turtles. We drove by the day before we actually visited, and saw a huge group of people huddled together making videos with their cell phones, We assume it was to video the turtles. When we visited ourselves, there were many cars parked in the lot across the street but it was easy to find a spot close to the beach path. Be careful on your way down and along the beach. Some of the rocks are slippery. We even saw a girl slip and fall pretty hard while we were there. We didn’t see turtles, but as I explained with Papa’iloa Beach, they like to be near the rocks and we didn’t explore very long since my crew was tired from exploring the other three beaches. i would recommend allowing more time here and think we would have seen turtles if we had just stayed longer and looked more closely. I also read in a blog post that they are more easily spotted late afternoon, like after 3pm. Although there was high potential for spotting turtles, with it being so crowded and all the rocks (large and small), I wouldn’t recommend it for snorkeling.
When our family travels, one of the things we research before visiting is where to find the best grocery shopping. Lovers of fresh fruit, shellfish, good steaks, poke and really foods of all kinds, it’s important to us to procure the best food available since we tend to cook a lot when we travel.
My husband is a classically trained chef, and on the rare occasions we’ve paid major bucks to eat out when we travel, my daughters and I will often feel that dad could have made the food better and we should have just eaten at home. Hence the importance of finding the best groceries!
We have a Foodland 3 minutes away from where we’re staying in North Shore, which is super convenient for staple items and interestingly, the best tuna poke. But when you’re on Oahu and looking to do the most of your shopping, you’re best bet is to go to Honolulu.
In Honolulu, we were delighted to find two of our absolute favorite grocery stores that we frequented often when we lived in San Francisco: Nijiya and Safeway.
Nijiya is a Japanese supermarket and an absolute gem. We love to grab ikura (salmon roe) and tekka maki (smaller sushi rolls, and we adore raw tuna). We can’t wait so we usually just consume in the car! Just do it! We have also appreciated finding some harder to find produce there such as daikon, and enoki mushrooms. I love their miso and edamame as well as sake.
Safeway is a wonderful and large grocery that we love for two reasons: It has just about everything you could possible think of and need so you can accomplish most of your shopping there, and it’s fairly affordable! There is plenty of parking on the lower level and the store itself is on the top level. They have an outdoor patio on the upper level where you could grab a bite at the deli and eat outdoors. but it was closed when we visited due to Covid. You will also need to wear a mask anywhere you venture indoors (as of the date of this post, July 2021).
I saved the best for last, Foodland Farms. I have heard Foodland Farms referred to as “the Hawaiian Whole Foods, and also as “Whole Foods on Steroids.” Unfortunately, it also shares higher prices as a characteristic of Whole Foods, and as a result, we only bought some specialized items there such as crab legs, shrimp (amazing!!), some fruits, and a few pantry items. The wine section was epic, and also wine can prove to be harder to find on North Shore since it is a dry county. So stock up here!
It is important to note that Hawaiians are huge on respect and the environment. You will want to purchase some reusable bags while you’re there as they frown on waste and you will bag your own groceries as well. They also are on island time, and view someone rushing around, impatient and in a hurry as rude. So just relax!
These three stores in combination are the reason my eyes light up each time I open up our fridge or look in our pantry. It’s so fun having this bounty of foods available to us that we can’t find back home.
Processing emotions in a healthy way looks very different when you’re an introvert. Where extroverts may vent and confide in others or go to therapy, introverts can be more at risk of keeping things in. So we have to have strategies and coping skills to allow us to process our feelings too. Here are 6 techniques that any introvert can use to process and move through emotions, and can even help you move to more positive emotions.
1. Quiet time. While someone outgoing can feel replenished by talking with others, it’s draining to an introvert. Quiet time, and especially meditation can help you to recharge your battery and feel refreshed, especially if you have a job or other situations on a daily basis that require you to be social.
Meditation isn’t nearly as complicated or hard as you might think. Just sitting in a quiet place and clearing your mind of thoughts is a form of meditation – no need to chant or repeat a mantra necessary. If you are experiencing negative emotions, clearing your mind and shifting to no emotion will provide you great relief. And if you find sitting and meditating challenging, take a nap!
2. Journaling. It’s so important to have an outlet to express how we feel. Journaling is a great and safe way to release and process our thoughts and feelings. Not only is journaling amazing for releasing and sharing the things that have happened to us, it is a good way to help us create and plan for what’s ahead.
When you’re journaling, a great technique is to make a list of positive aspects. Whatever you’re having negative feelings about, try shifting to thinking of positive qualities about that topic or individual and it will provide you with relief. There aren’t many concepts that don’t have positive aspects.
If that seems too difficult, or you’re too upset to write on that topic, consider making a general list of positive aspects – things that are going really well in your life or things that you are grateful for. Sometimes you’ll find you need to completely change the subject to feel some relief.
3. Get outdoors. When emotions are getting the better of you, there is no better distractor than Mother Nature. Taking a short walk or just standing outside and watching the clouds move across the sky or the trees blow in the breeze will soothe you and calm you. Grounding is effective too. If the weather is nicer, try taking a barefoot stroll: this is grounding. It shifts your energy and can be very relaxing.
4. Tap into your five senses. By tapping into one or more of your five senses you can calm yourself pretty quickly. Take a deep breath, and if you’re at home, feel the texture of a nearby blanket or fabric. If you’re at work, feel the smooth surface of your desktop or workspace. If you’re driving, just feel the texture of your steering wheel with your fingertips. Have a healthy snack or a drink of water. Turn on one of your favorite songs, or sometimes it’s helpful to turn the music off and listen to the air conditioning or heating unit which may sound like white noise. Look around you and notice your surroundings. Tapping into your five senses may sound simple, but it forces you to be present and stops the momentum of your worry or concern.
5. Self-care. Indulge in a form of self-care. For you, maybe that’s a relaxing bath, getting your nails done, or making yourself a cup of tea. Do whatever you know brings you peace and calms you.
6. Get crafty and be creative. Creativity is one of the best outlets we have available to us. Whether it’s creating art, music, writing, or maybe a craft like knitting or baking, it gives us a way to express ourselves and in the act of creation we feel a sense of renewal. You may or may not consider yourself to be artistic, but regardless of that, you will find that expressing yourself and making something new will force you to be present and be in the here and now.
In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’s character Maria sings “My Favorite Things,” where she recounts the things that bring her joy, and help her cope when she is down, and to her list I would add all of the above. I hope this list inspires you and brings you hope, calming and peace.
Several years ago, my mom was becoming more and more forgetful. I worried about her and at times I was even afraid for her. Later, she was diagnosed with dementia and the beginning stages of Alzheimers. I researched foods, essential oils and natural regimens to help my mom. Now, years after she has passed, I still use these protocols to support memory for my family, since memory-related illnesses are genetic. I hope sharing these here can help others as well.
First, I want to share some foods that you will want to make a part of your weekly and perhaps even daily diet. I began my research by reading about the benefits of coconut oil. You can find tons of research and articles on coconut oil and ways to use it. Have a tablespoon a day to boost memory.
There are so many memory boosting foods you can enjoy at breakfast time. Eat plenty of bananas and almond or peanut butter which are good for the brain, and I love these together! Greek yogurt is also excellent. I love the Chobani coconut with either ground chia or flax seeds mixed in. Flax seed and chia seed are among the top foods for brain health, and they have very little flavor, but add a nice crunch. They are excellent for smoothies as well. Avocado toast with a sunny side up egg on top would be amazing, since avocado and eggs are both good for the brain. Add blueberries to your list (or any berry for that matter). Berries help with memory since they are high in antioxidants, and caffeine improves focus so go ahead and have that second cup of coffee.
Several essential oils boost memory and brain health. Some single oils include: rosemary, frankincense, vetiver, basil, and cedarwood. Powerful essential oil blends include: Brain Power, Clarity, Common Sense and Grounding. I use Young Living Essential Oils, and they also have several other products for memory that I use regularly.
Other Products to Support Memory
Young Living offers several products to support memory. Mindwise (a tablespoon a day), Ningxia Red (a shotglass a day of this antioxidant Powerhouse), and Omegagize (an Omega 3 fish oil supplement). If you would like to learn more about Mindwise, I wrote a post on this product specifically. You can purchase Young Living Products here.
In addition to Young Living Products, I also take a turmeric supplement daily. Be sure to take one that includes black pepper, otherwise, the body cannot effectively absorb the turmeric and it just passes right through you.
Foods and Products to Avoid
It’s important to know what you can do to help with memory, but just as important to know what to avoid. Avoid exposure to aluminum. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s and other memory related illnesses. Avoid drinking from aluminum cans, and avoid deodorants containing aluminum. You would be surprised how many brands do!
Cut out artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, Splenda, Sweet and Low, and Equal. You can read so much research-based literature out there on the link between artificial sweeteners and decreased memory! It is linked to Alzheimers. This was very upsetting to me and I became very passionate about educating others on this.
Finally, avoid sugar, gluten and processed foods to stay clear-headed. This would be good advice for anyone, but especially anyone seeking clarity and a sound mind.
If you happen to be in the Middle Tennessee area, Montgomery Bell Tunnel, the historic tunnel at Narrows of the Harpeth in Kingston Springs, belongs on your to do list.
Why go? The hike is short, and the view is beautiful. This was honestly what drew me to this particular park. My youngest is six and doesn’t have a lot of stamina to do a longer hike and my oldest is recovering from an injury. They have been wanting to go to a waterfall since that is kind of the “cool thing” to do this summer, and this hike was very doable for them and rewarding.
Part of the reason I felt led to write this post, is that after we arrived at the parking lot, we, along with several other carloads of visitors, were not clear on how to get to the tunnel. It is not very well marked! We failed twice before finding the correct path.
Our first attempt, we walked down the wooden set of steps right behind the lot. This will take you to the back of the tunnel and it is actually blocked off.
The second attempt, we continued further down the road past the parking lot, following some of our fellow visitors. This too was a dead end and ultimately led to private property. So don’t do that.
We decided to set out by car and my oldest was in charge of looking for a possible trailhead. On our third loop around she saw it! There are steps before you get to the parking lot that lead to the trailheads. We had passed it.
All of this to say, when you arrive at the lot, you will need to backtrack about 1/8 mile to the steps and then you will see the three trails. Be sure to take the one marked Historic Tunnel. From there it is an easy hike. If this post has helped you or if you ever struggled finding this tunnel, let me know in the comments!
If you are traveling with kids, or even if you’re not with kids, you might like knowing there is a charming sweet shop 20 miles away, called Sweet Charlotte. You might enjoy visiting – you could grab a hot dog, old fashioned soda, candy, shaved ice, or fudge. Check out my post on Sweet Charlotte if you would like to know more.
History Lesson: It is interesting to know that the tunnel is believed to be the first full-sized tunnel in America and was formed with gunpowder and slave labor. It was to divert water for industrial purposes.
The Narrows of the Harpeth is located at 1254 Narrows of the Harpeth Rd Kingston Springs, TN 37082.
Approximately 30 miles south of Clarksville, and 54 miles west of Nashville, this charming sweet shop will surprise and delight you!
Our family stumbled on it coming back from a trip to the beach at Montgomery Bell State Park. That day, it wasn’t in the cards for us. It was a Monday and Sweet Charlotte is closed on Monday. But we could tell from the exterior alone (so cute!!!) that it just had to go on our bucket list and made a point to come back at a later date.
Sweet Charlotte delivers smiles in several ways! You can grab lunch, sweets, and cute photo ops all in one stop.
Their hot dogs, known there as “sloppy dogs” are a must. They are huge and delicious. Be sure to try one of their unique topping combinations. We ordered these for lunch and the loved their hot dog/shaved ice combo that also came with a bag of chips. My husband and I got our dogs with our choice of one of what must have been 100 different old-fashioned sodas to choose from.
Their soda offering is unreal. We found quite a few blasts from the pasts and rare finds including Ale 8, Peach Nehi, Big Red, Double Cola and so may more. These are all in glass bottles.
My oldest daughter has braces, so we did not go in this direction, but they make so many different flavored popcorns, in-house. It is one of the things Sweet Charlotte is best known for. They do tastings of popcorn so you can try before you buy. Our girl has already asked us to bring her back her when gets her braces off!
Sweet Charlotte also offers so many old-fashioned candies as well as some of the most fun modern candies: sour balls, taffy, chick-o-stick, peanut butter bars, bit o honey, butterscotch and more. My children loved that they had the original Pop Rocks, Fruit Stripe gum, and cinnamon toothpicks caught my eye – remember those?
We came on a very mild day, temps in the 70s. We enjoyed eating at their outdoor picnic tables. It is a covered area so you could enjoy it rain or shine.
There are two murals which are fun for taking photos, but they also offer old-fashioned photographs where you dress up in old fashioned clothes and are taken in black and white. The entire store and grounds is a feast for the eyes.
Oh, and I almost forgot, they have a working water well. Both of our girls enjoyed trying out the well and had never seen one, much less try one for themselves. Just one more reason to visit this adorable place.
If you are planning a trip here, consider visiting the beach at Montgomery Bell State Park (20 minutes away), take a hike to the tunnel at Narrows of the Harpeth (30 minutes a day), or visit the Country View Amish store (4 minutes away) on the same day, to really enjoy your visit to this area to the fullest.
Picky eaters are not only tough customers, but it seems like the foods they will eat aren’t always the healthiest. This has been true of my six-year-old little girl.
There is a short list of foods she is willing to eat, and we have tried all kinds of strategies to encourage her to lengthen that list and try new things, often to no avail.
What has been successful is taking a look at the foods she will eat, and trying “upgrade” her the highest quality we can of those foods.
What I’m finding, and I really believe this, is that as we ramp up the nutritional value of the foods she will eat, and we have found a good pre/probiotic for her, she is now more open to trying new foods because our body craves what we feed it. When we feed it junk it craves junk. Now that she is taking in more nutrition she is craving more nutrition!
Here are 10 of our Aldi favorites that meet her seal of approval for taste, and mine for nutrition:
Whole pineapple. This is a big-time upgrade from canned pineapple since there are no preservatives and it’s not stored in an aluminum can, which is a concern in and of itself. Fresh pineapple tastes better and it will save you money. Pro-tip: You can test to see if a pineapple is ripe by pulling one of the inner-most leaves. If it comes out easily, it’s ripe. And don’t be intimidated by its spiny exterior. Watch a video or two on youtube of how to break down a pineapple. It’s easier than you think!
String cheese. This is a step-up from American “cheese” which actually isn’t a cheese at all. My kiddo loves the mozzarella and Colby spiral.
Ancient Grain bread. This is real bread with actual nutrition! Did you know the most popular brands of bread on the market, aka white bread, are white because the flour has been bleached? Bread should be brown, through and through. Also our wheat supply has been tampered with so even whole wheat sandwich bread can upset your tummy. They are processed to remove bran and natural oils so they will have a longer shelf life. I will be honest that we did use whole wheat sandwich bread as a transition bread and eased her into the Ancient Grain.
Mandies. My daughter loves these little mandarin oranges. There are an upgrade from the fruit cups that are often packed in syrup and definitely have preservatives added. Pro-tip: When shopping for healthier food for your family, a good rule of thumb is to shop the perimeter. The greater majority of junk food and foods containing preservatives are found on the aisles. By avoiding the aisles and shopping the outermost parts of the store (dairy, meat, breads, fruits, vegetables) you are much more likely to be putting healthy items in your shopping cart.
Simply Nature Unsweetened Apple Squeezes. These applesauce squeezes are not only missing the added sugar of the name brand Go-Go Squeeze, my kiddos prefer them.
Rainier cherries. This is a new fruit for our picky eater. There is only a short window that you can find them available (typically June-July). She loves these as well as any other raw cherry. These are an upgrade from the bright red cherries that come in a jar and no doubt have sugar and food coloring added – two things that will ramp her hyperactivity up at lightning speed. If your child is hyperactive, try cutting back food coloring (especially red) and sugar for one week and watch the difference it makes.
Edamame. My little girl likes very few vegetables. I could definitely count on my fingers how many she will eat. Edamame is one she loves, maybe just for the novelty of shelling them. I mean really, eating them is a fun experience. Aldi doesn’t always carry them, but when they do, they are going in the cart.
Simply Nature Lemonade. No GMOs and Organic. We add her prebiotic/probiotic to this lemonade, and it is delicious when combined. If your child doesn’t take one, Young Living makes an amazing one. It will help him/her to digest sugars and junk foods the body doesn’t normally or quickly break down. You can find them here and my referral number is 2183425 if you are asked for one. You’re welcome!
Simply Nature White Cheddar Puffs. Not only are these non-GMO and organic, but they also are an upgrade from their bright orange name brand counterpart.
Oven Roasted Turkey. This a premium one-pound pack and a step up from the name brand pack we bought previously. She loves a wrap with this turkey. In fact, she discovered today that she likes them with her mozzarella string cheese added.
These ten products are just a few ways that we have upgraded our picky eater’s diet by increasing the quality. I would love to know any of your favorites in the comments, or to know what products from this list you are excited to try.