Sunday, November 20, 2016

5 Ways to Survive Thanksgiving

As you prepare yourself for spending time with family and friends, consider these points to enjoy the afternoon and relish the meaning of the holiday.

Count Your Blessings
Take some time before the big day to reflect on all things you hold dear. Then, take it one step further and share those blessings in a tangle way. We all know the power of putting something in ink, or on social media. Writing our thoughts down seems to make them more permanent and real. Make sure that you are specific. Instead of just painting your husband's name on a rock, color your blessing with, "My husband helps me reach my dreams."

More Ways To Count Your Blessings

Bring a Treat
Are you hosting this year? You may want to provide the special women in your life with a small token of gratitude. Four-ounce canning jars make an adorable and economical way to gift homemade treats, such as hand and body scrubs. For only $1.25/person, you can whip up this Vanilla Sugar Scrub in very little time. 

In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar. Add in 1/2 coconut oil and stir. Adjust as needed for your liking. Next, add the tiniest amount of Pure Vanilla and stir. This usually makes six jars. 

If you are traveling for the holidays, place mixture in a full mason jar as a thoughtful hostess gift!

Other DIY hostess gifts

Conversation Busters
Instead of dreading and then dodging those conversations about politics or other sticky subjects, have a plan in mind when Cousin Eddie finds you on the back porch. Divert the uncomfortable topic to something all can agree on. Mom's delicious apple cobbler, how cute the kids look, or the beauty of the trees this time of year will all work.

Boost Your Immunity
Show up for the big dinner healthy and ready to fight off the unseen germs that guests and visitors may be carrying. Just dealing with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is enough to weaken your body's defenses. Try to drink eight glasses of water a day between now and then. We need to continually flush out toxins from our body and keep ourselves hydrated. Drinking water early in the day will help ensure a good night's sleep. Now, we know that sleep is underrated, but our bodies work best when we are rested and ready to greet the day.

An Easy Way to Get the Water You Need

Just a Bite
My sister makes beautiful and delicious desserts with wholesome ingredients, yet she manages to maintain a tone and slender physique. One of her secrets is immensely enjoying one bite of food. She has a heart for hospitality, so she savors the morsel of cobbler as much as the company she serves. Honor your hostess or your body this week by indulging in dessert. Remember that just one spoon may do the trick. 

More on my beautiful Sister

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Teacher 2.0

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: Teacher 2.0
I made it to Fall Break! For the last two months, I've enjoyed the challenges and joys of teaching full-time in an elementary school. The transition from subbing whenever I wanted to showing up early five days a week and leaving late most days felt abrupt at first. However, I knew that this day would one day come.

In 2007, I began my teaching career in the public schools and taught for five years. This length of time allowed me to complete the requirements for my SC Teacher's Loan and ensured my continuation of certain benefits. This period of time also showed me that I could not devote my energy and attention to what mattered most to me, AND continue to teach where I was.

So, I chose to focus on my family as my older son went through high school and my younger son navigated middle school. I thank God every day for the opportunities and treasures I received as a mom just because I was there. 

Now that I have a college freshman and tuition is not free, I check the full-time status box. After polishing my resume and applying for various non-profit jobs, I kept cringing over the thought of working during the summer, weekends, Christmas break, and Spring break. I just couldn't bring myself to identify with anything other than an educator. And now, after four years of tending intently to my marriage, my children, and my soul, I am humbled and grateful for the chance to inspire and facilitate learning, insight, growth, and character. 

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: Teacher 2.0Nine years later, I am not the teacher I once was. Experience, mistakes, mentors, and time have shaped me into a vessel filled with love, service, and purpose. 

My security in Christ gives me the freedom to look outside of my small world and focus on my students, my school, and my community. My pursuit of Jesus has brought balance and focus to my life, and the upgrade now allows me to enjoy both my family and work.

I'd love to hear what inspires you to find balance and focus in your life!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Coconut Oil for Health and Beauty

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: 5 uses for coconut oil

Quick, easy, and effective. Those three words sum up my health and beauty routine. If a product meets those criteria, it has a chance to become one of my regular natural solutions to looking and feeling good. So, you can see why coconut oil is a staple in our house. 

The internet is filled with 101 uses for coconut oil. I wanted to give you some tried-and-true, practical ways for incorporating coconut oil into your life. 

My number one way I use coconut oil is in my tea. I found this Coconut Manna by Nutiva at The Vitamin Shoppe one day when I was looking for coconut oil. Manna is made from whole coconut, while oil is made from raw coconut. The difference is in the processing. I like the grittier texture of Manna in my chai. Try about one teaspoon in your hot tea. Manna will dissolve after stirring and it adds a smooth, warm, and sweet treat to my chai tea. The Primalist has a great comparison of manna and oil.

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: 5 uses for coconut oil

The second way I incorporate the superfood into my health and beauty routine is by making a nighttime moisturizer with coconut oil and Frankincense. I literally just put coconut oil (not Manna) into a container and then mix the essential oil into it. That's it! So, the four ounce canning jars are great for storing this moisturizer. I've also just used small plastic beauty containers, as well. My recipe is 10 drops of Frankincense essential oil to 4 oz of coconut oil. Mix thoroughly and enjoy! I love how soft and nourished my face feels in the morning. 

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: DIY nighttime moisturizer

Ever since I started using YL essential oils, I've drastically cut down on the number of drugstore and specialty store beauty products I buy. I can now make lotions, creams, moisturizers, balms, and sprays with items in my house. I love using all natural, home made products that are inexpensive and made from items in my pantry. 

Ok, number three. Brownie booster! I like to use coconut oil in my brownies in place of vegetable oil. This does give the brownies a slight coconut taste. My favorite way to make brownies now is to add one drop of YL Peppermint to the mixed ingredients. This aids digestion and adds a pleasant twist to the chocolate treat. 
Beauty Begins with Biscotti: 5 uses for coconut oil

Homemade vapor rub comes in at #4. I don't store this product. Instead, I make it up as needed. You'll need to have coconut oil, a spoon, and RC next to you. Put a dollop of coconut oil in your palm and then add 5 drops of Young Living RC. Mix it up and apply to the chest and neck. This stuff is healing salve for my family and me when we have that chest tickle, cough, throat woes, or sinus stuff going on. 

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: superfood

I'll leave you with one more use for coconut oil. The superfood has replaced my vegetable oil in most of my cooking and baking. Recently, my older son came home for the weekend from college, so the smell of chocolate chip pancakes and eggs filled our kitchen. I used coconut oil to grease the griddle for flapjacks and prime the skillet for scrambled goodness. 

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: 5 uses for coconut oil

There are many more uses for coconut oil, but this is how I use it most often. My husband found this huge container at Costco, and it is well used. I'd love to hear how you use coconut oil in your health and beauty routine. I encourage and challenge you to find one way this week to incorporate nature's goodness into your life!

Beauty Begins with Biscotti: 5 uses for coconut oil