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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lemon and Baking Soda Shower Scrub

Just ask my husband. Cleaning the shower is probably my least favorite chore. What has been really frustrating is that I couldn't actually get the shower floor clean unless I used a toxic chemical solution like Comet or Soft Scrub. Well, until recently, that is. You would just laugh if you saw how excited and relieved I was to find out that a couple of ingredients mixed together was just as effective at making my shower fresh and super clean. 

Baking soda and lemon essential oil will change the way you clean. Here's the thing. I've tried using this combo quite a few years ago in the shower, but with poor results. I think I figured out why: timing and quality. 

First, rinse the surface with water. For best results, you'll need to sprinkle, or maybe dump, baking soda mixed with Young Living Lemon essential oil all over the area to be cleaned. Then let the mixture set for a while. Using a wet sponge or cloth, rub the paste that formed all over the mess and then rinse. You will have a clean and toxic-free shower or bath to enjoy!

When I tried this in the past, I used lemon essential oil I bought at a wholesome grocery store and scrubbed with the baking soda right after I sprinkled it in the bath. The new combination of letting the mixture soak in along with applying pure and potent essential oils does the trick!

You can make up the mixture in a small jar so that you can just sprinkle it on, tend to something else for a while, and then come back and scrub the grime away naturally. I recommend 1/4 cup baking soda and 10 drops YL Lemon essential oil. 

I just can't bring myself to show you the before and after pictures. Well, it's really the Before pictures that would do you in. Just trust me that this mixture will tear your mold, soap scum, and gross stuff to pieces. 

I'd love to hear about your success with this natural cleaner. Let me know how it turns out!