Romantic Essential Oils (and how to use them)

For this week’s Natural Living Link-up, I thought I’d share some information about romantic essential oils and how you can use them to create a special moment (or several). Instead of laying out a small fortune on a dinner date that you probably won’t remember a year from now, why not indulge yourselves with a night in that you may never forget?

romantic essential oils and how to use them

This post contains affiliate links for trustworthy, quality oils.

Here are the top aphrodisiac essential oils that have been used throughout history. They can all be used alone or together….I’ll give you some ideas in a moment:

  1. Rose: The scent most commonly associated with love and romance. If you are springing for pure essential oil (and you should, because imitations pale in comparison and don’t have the same olfactory benefits), don’t choke on the price- you won’t need to use a lot of it to create a romantic atmosphere so it will last a good long time. It takes something like 10, 000 rose petals to make an ounce of the essential oil.
  2. Jasmine: A “warm” floral with a long history all over the world. A great enhancement for any of the others.
  3. Ylang-ylang: a sweet floral. A little is great and goes a long way; more is not a good thing with this oil!
  4. Sandalwood: Better known for meditation and church use, sandalwood is also a lovely romantic essential oil with a woody scent. If you don’t care for florals, this is sure to be a favorite. True sandalwood can only be harvested from trees at least 30 years old and 30 feet high, so the responsibly sourced Australian sandalwood is an eco-friendly and equally wonderful alternative.
  5. Neroli: Victorian brides used to wear neroli, also known as orange blossom, in their bouquets and headpieces. It’s not too sweet and it has relaxing properties as well as aphrodisiac.
  6. Not on my own list, but worth a mention, patchouli was used in certain romantic Tantric practices in India, which cemented its reputation. One drop of this powerful spicy and earthy scent is plenty in any blend!

The basic reason that romantic essential oils work is that inhaling a scent stimulates the limbic system, a part of the brain that contains your moods and emotions. That’s why, for example, certain smells make you think of a childhood memory or a vacation you had.  The more times you tie a scent memory in by using it in the same situation, the more powerful the effect as your brain makes the association. So use these often!

How can you use them? Three ideas to get you started:

Set the mood at least 15-30 minutes ahead of time by adding 1 drop each of rose and ylang-ylang plus 5 drops of neroli and one of the other essential oils I listed to your diffuser.

A foot rub with olive or grapeseed oil and any combination of the oils you like. One drop of each is plenty. Bonus points if you rub each other’s feet at the same time….share the love!

Massage. I’m not talking about the karate-chop, muscle squeezing kind here. This blend is better with long, slow movement with warm hands. Add a total of about 15-20 drops of romantic essential oils to half a cup of olive, grapeseed, or sweet almond oil.

 

I’m sure you can take it from here! Just a parting word of advice, before I turn you over to the link-up to share your own posts: A bath for two is only romantic if nobody has to sit against the faucet!

romantic essential oils and how to use them

 

 

natural living link-up image

 

Here’s the part where we want to see your natural living posts! Please follow your hosts if you link up, and sharing the link-up with the world afterwards is very much appreciated! We’ll pin and share too!
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8 Simple Rules for Romancing your Spouse

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. For many people it’s a chance for romancing your spouse, for many others it’s more about staying out of trouble. No matter which group you fall into, I’ve got some proven tips for you.

        1. Make the coffee A small cup of coffee
          There’s a certain undeniable luxury to having a hot cup of coffee ready and waiting for you when you get up in the morning. Why not spoil your spouse by getting that coffee ready for him or her?If you’re anything like me, you like getting results with little or no effort. That being the case, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Get yourself a programmable coffee machine. We have this one [affiliate link].
        2. Look at the sky
          Forest-night-sky-spruce-trees-stars - West Virginia - ForestWanderSharing a great sky view can be a powerfully romantic experience. Here are some ideas to get you started.
          Watch the sun rise. If you’re both early birds, why not watch the sunrise together? Odds are, there won’t be anyone else around, so it should be nice and peaceful.
          Not a morning  person? Try catching a sunset instead. Don’t let a few clouds stop you. Cloudy  days make for some of the reddest, most beautiful sunsets around.
          Take in a starry night. This one is really effective where we live. We’re out in the country, so there’s no city light pollution to contend with.
        3. Remove the kids
          You parents out there will back me up on this: having kids is great. It’s a life-changing experience. A little time away from your kids is sometimes just the thing you need to recharge your batteries.
          If you have kids, you likely already have some idea of what you can do with them. If not, here are a few to get you started: take the kids for a walk or to the park, get them doing a scavenger hunt or building a snowman.
          Another option is to distract the kids in the house and give your sweetheart a break in the outside world. Maybe they go to a coffee shop or a movie, maybe they go for a walk in the park or build a snowman. It’s none of your business, you’ve got your hands full with the kids.
        4. Go for a walk
          Just go for a walk together. In the woods, on the beach, where you first met. It’s better if it’s private. A stroll through a crowded mall just isn’t the same for romancing your spouse. Try holding hands as you walk, you can thank me later.
        5. Pick some flowersbouquet of flowers in a jug
          Some people put a lot of work into their flower gardens. Normally I wouldn’t advocate picking flowers from someone else’s garden, and in this case I still won’t. If it’s your own garden, and your partner won’t mind you picking flowers from it, then go for it.
          You can also pick wildflowers. It’s not about the money or the fancy flowers, it’s about the thought.
        6. Romance in the rain
          couple in the rainMaybe it’s just me, but I like the rain… usually. In any case, there’s something magical about sharing the rain with that special someone. It could be a gentle summer rain (sure… sounds like a commercial, but it’s still nice). Alternatively, a thunderstorm is a heck of a show – especially at night.
          I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you want to go out in the rain and get soaked or whether you’d prefer to stay dry under a roof or an umbrella.
        7. Massage/back rub/foot rubSpa Waterfall Massage on Galiano Island
          Whether it’s a shoulder rub, a back run, a foot rub, or some combination of them, giving your spouse a massage is a wonderful way to enhance the intimacy. Then there’s the added benefit of tension relief and muscle relaxation.
        8. Play with your food.
          Pancake with a heart-shaped egg in itIf you can cook, make something nice for your honey. You could make their favorite meal. If you can’t cook, fake it. Either way, have fun with it. Make heart-shaped cookies or red and pink muffins. It doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, that picture on the left is something I just made. I used instant pancake mix. When the pancake was cooked I cut a hole in it and put it back on the frying pan. After that, I fried the egg in the hole.

This post was written by Simon, my long-suffering spouse of many years and master of romancing his spouse. You can also find him at his corporate training blog, SimonBlairTraining.com.

8 Simple Rules For Romancing Your Spouse

 

Minecraft: Valentine’s Day themed math quiz

M15 has done it again! She’s created a Minecraft Valentine’s Day themed math quiz and I’m sharing it here. It can be installed right into your child’s Minecraft game, and the math questions are fully editable so you can customize for their individual needs.

Minecraft Creeper

She puts hours of work every month into making a themed Minecraft math quiz!  Here are the instructions she’s provided for you to get it set up, whether you already have an installed version of Minecraft for your kids or you want to try it out:

What You’ll Need to Play:
• A computer good enough to run Minecraft
• The latest version of Minecraft which you get get here: https://minecraft.net/
Game Controls:
As with many other games you move with W, A, S, and D.
To break block, you left click; to place blocks, you right click.
To jump, you press space bar and to fly you press space bar twice quickly.
To pause or quit press Esc.
How to Install the World:
To install the world all you have to do is open Appdata/ Roaming which you can do by pressing start
and typing %appdata% and click roaming.
Next open .minecraft folder and open saves. Now just move to folder called “February Themed Quiz”
into the saves folder and you’re done.

Minecraft Valentine's Day Glass Climb
How to Install Resource Pack:
To install the resource pack is almost the same as the world; just open Appdata/Roaming/.minecraft
and open the resource pack folder and move the resource pack inside.
Help! (FAQ)
I answered correctly and was teleported to the next question.
If you teleported to room 4, you didn’t answer incorrectly, you were just automatically moved to the next
room.

Due to the fact that room 3 was built over water you’re automatically teleported to the next room
in this case room three. This should be the only time you’re teleported for answering correctly.
I answered incorrectly in room 4 and died. How do I get back to it?
Go to room 3 and flip the correct switch twice and you should be teleported back to room 4 where you
can answer the question.
Warnings:
• Although it’s been slowed down, it might still give you a headache if you look
at the lava for too long.
• There are no flashing lights but always read the game warning.
• If you want to customize the questions I don’t recommend messing with the redstone.
If you have any other Minecraft Valentine’s Day math quiz  issues or questions please email M at Geckosissims at gmail.com

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Stinky shoes? How to remove shoe smell naturally

If you’re suffering from stinky shoes (and boots) in your closet or shoe rack, here’s the quickest and easiest way to remove shoe smell naturally!

stinky shoes how to remove shoe smell naturally

This post contains affiliate links.

I had been searching for a solution to the winter boot issue (besides all the washing of inserts that happens every week anyway), not to mention running the shoes that the guys jog the dogs in every evening. After a lot of trial and error, I hit upon a solution that’s so simple I was kicking myself…..or would have been, if I hadn’t been using the shoes to test this out at the time. Essential oils are antibacterial, antifungal and smell amazing so they’re a great choice.

You can make as many of these as you need, they won’t damage your shoes, and most importantly they work. To make stinky shoes a thing of the past, whip up a few of these inexpensive and natural miracle workers today.

You’ll need:

-Clean old cotton or wool socks, ideally ones without holes where the other half of the pair vanished in the wash

baking soda, a.k.a sodium bicarbonate, and lots of it!

essential oils (lavender, tea tree, and peppermint are the best but you may want to add others for a personal blend)

-(optional) dried pennyroyal (super helpful if you live in an area where ticks are a problem), lavender, lemongrass, and/or peppermint leaf

-a funnel or spoon

-rubber bands

 

Take a big clean bowl and pour in as much baking soda as you need (about 2-4 cups per pair of footwear that you want to remove shoe smell from, depending on size). Add in 20 drops each of lavender, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils. You can add in 5-10 drops each of whatever additional oils you choose too, but it’s really not necessary. Add in a tablespoon each of whatever dried herbs you’re adding, if you are. Use a clean metal spoon to mix it all together, trying to smush the oils in really well with the baking soda.

 

Take a sock and spoon or pour your mixture through a funnel into the sock to about the ankle. Use a rubber band to close it tightly. If you want it to look pretty (like if you’re planning to leave your inserts in a basket where they’ll be seen), you may want to add a ribbon over the rubber band and tie a bow. You may also want to use nicer looking socks than the  clean  but slightly mangy looking old sweat sock I’m using here!

how to remove shoe smell filling old sock with baking soda mixture

Insert  them into every shoe and boot in your closet and just remove them when you’re putting the footwear on!

how to remove shoe smell stuffed show deodorizer sock in shoe

Be happy this isn’t a picture of our chore-use wellies!

Every few weeks, you may want to open the socks and add a few new drops – maybe 15 total- of essential oils. Quarterly, you’ll want to replace the baking soda and add new everything – do it the same day you change your smoke alarm batteries. I worked this out, including the cost of the essential oils, to be a cost of 12 cents U.S. per set of inserts (I didn’t count the cost of socks since I’m using ones I already had on hand). Compare this to the price of Odor-Eaters inserts and you’ll find it’s an amazing bargain.  Say goodbye to stinky shoes and remove shoe smell naturally, forever.

natural living link-up image

Now it’s your turn! Link up your natural living posts below so we can read, pin, and share! Don’t miss the great posts by my co-hosts too:

Homemade Dryer Sheets with Essential Oils from Andrea at Homemade for Elle

Birdseed Favors from Cassidy at Freshly Planted

 

Easy Carved Love Stamps Craft for Kids

D8 made these easy carved love stamps today in about 15 minutes to send to family (you know who you are!), and he enjoyed it so much that I thought I would share the craft in case anyone is looking for a fun and fast way to send some love.

carved love stamps craft for kids

This post contains affiliate links.

One note: this is definitely a craft that needs attentive adult supervision, because the carving tools are sharp!

You’ll need:

Rubber stamping sheet (the thing you will carve – you can get several stamps out of one of these sheets)

a carving tool

-work gloves or some kind of protection for kid hands

-eye protection

blank cards and envelopes

ink pads

Take your rubber stamp and have the child draw a heart, or a word, or whatever love-themed thing they wish. D chose to write the word “love” for the inside, and a heart outline for the outside of the envelope. Remember that any words have to be written backwards!

Have the child put on their gloves and eye protection. I didn’t think of gloves until D lost  his grip briefly on the tool while carving and cut his other hand a tiny bit – not life threatening but if you can prevent it, why not?

easy love carving stamping craft cutting the cubber

Have your child carefully carve along the lines with the v-shaped cutting tool. For the end of each line they carve, they can slice the tool downwards to get a clean edge. It doesn’t need to be pressed too hard; just enough to dig a line is good. When they’ve got the outline, have them go back over and wobblier looking bits and try to carve it a bit more smoothly. Texture is an option too inside the lines, although D went more for the “it’s-almost-lunchtime” purist approach!

carved love stamping craft cutting rubber

With the carved face up, tip the ink pad upside down and have the child rub it all across the surface. Don’t worry when it gets onto the table, the ink is water washable!

carved love stamping craft stamping ink

Flip over, place down on your card carefully, and press down (being careful not to let it slide around).

carved love stamping craft pressing ink down

 

Lift off carefully and admire your carved love stamps.

carved love stamping craft finished

Let these dry for a couple of hours before you mail them or insert cards into the envelopes. Have fun!

Easy Carved love stamps craft for kids pinterest

Easy Sour Cream Coffee Cake

My Mum got this easy sour cream coffee cake recipe from her friend Judy in the early 1970s, and has been making it ever since. It was our eagerly awaited Christmas morning tradition when my brother and I were growing up and has become my own go-to recipe for a coffee morning with friends over the last 25 years or so. The beauty of it is that it is delicious but not overly sweet, and there are loads of variations possible. The kids can make it too, and it freezes really well.

easy sour cream coffee cake

This is my copy, in case you needed proof that it’s well-loved :)

sour cream coffee cake recipe pic

For you, I’ve made a printable recipe card because you’re going to want to make this a lot. Please let me know if it doesn’t work – it’s my first time adding a recipe card- and I’ll send you a copy.

*Easy Sour Cream Coffee Cake*

10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

*Easy Sour Cream Coffee Cake*

Ingredients

  • 1 cup softened Gay Lea butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Gay Lea sour cream
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour (I use unbleached organic)
  • Walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar to taste (see below for variations and substitutions)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and eggs together. Add vanilla and sour cream and blend until smooth. Add flour, baking powder and salt and blend again until it's a thick, slightly stiff but smooth batter.
  3. Grease your coffee cake pan (I always use a funnel because that's what my Mum always did, and it looks pretty, but it's not absolutely necessary).
  4. Add half the batter into the bottom of your cake pan. This is the hardest part of the recipe because of the thick batter, so the easiest way to do it is to drop blobs all around and then use a rubber scraper to spread them together to cover the whole bottom.
  5. Sprinkle in walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar to cover the batter fairly evenly.
  6. Add the rest of the batter and repeat with your nuts, brown sugar and walnuts on top. Bake for one hour. Let cool five minutes and serve warm.

Notes

This cake can be made ahead and reheated when you're ready to eat it. It also freezes very well, so you can make multiples for when you need a quick take-along treat for a get together.

A few variations I've made, just to get you started: add chopped apples or raisins, substitute sliced almonds and whole cranberries, make it with pecans instead of walnuts, add raspberries and reduce or eliminate the cinnamon, add lemon zest and some lemon juice and use poppy seeds instead of nuts.

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Why do I only use Gay Lea sour cream? Well, besides knowing some of the dairy farmers whose products are used by Gay Lea to make it right here in Ontario, it’s certified kosher and nut-free so I can make a nut-free version of this coffee cake (see recipe variations) without fear of setting off an allergic reaction when I take it to a get together. It’s super thick so it doesn’t leave my recipes runny, and I find that the 425 ml size lets me make this recipe plus I have enough left over to make some dip for veggies.

Gay Lea sour cream

You really can’t go wrong with this coffee cake! If you come up with other variations that work, please let me know so I can try them out  too. In the immortal words of Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake”.

 

Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign and I receive special perks (such as getting to eat lots of their sour cream!) as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Place value and regrouping with chocolate

It’s almost February, and we’ve hit the winter blahs a little bit, so what better way to rekindle the excitement for math than with chocolate?! We revisited place value and regrouping this week using three sizes of edible manipulatives for our ones, tens, and hundreds.

You could easily add thousands and higher if your local store has a good choice of chocolate……our nearest grocery store has very little, so we went with what we could find. It looks like Amazon (affiliate link) has a good selection too if you are better organized than I am at preparing for the activity.

place value and regrouping with chocolate

We used Peanut M&Ms for our ones, squares of a  bar for our tens, and mini Caramilk bars for hundreds.

First I wrote out a few sample numbers and D,8 had to recreate their place value with the “ones”, “tens”, and “hundreds”.

We did a few of these before we moved on to multiplication questions with carrying and regrouping. (Please excuse the terrible dark photos; we’ve had no sun for days.)

carrying/regrouping with chocolate

This was a little trickier because the M&Ms kept rolling out of line; if I was going to do this again I would use something like Hershey’s Kisses with a flat base! We persevered and D, who occasionally struggles with carrying/regrouping in his multiplication, really started to grasp the idea and move quickly in order to eat the results sooner!

 

Check out all the other fun posts from my blog friends online today:

Make Fractions Fun with Chocolate from Crafty Kids at Home
Chocolate Cocoa Writing Tray from Still Playing School
Chocolate Sight Words Writing from Natural Beach Living
Chocolate Chips Math from Sugar Aunts
Tracing with Chocolate from Sugar, Spice, & Glitter
Chocolate Cursive Handwriting Practice from Rainy Day Mum
What have you done with chocolate lately? Feel free to share links in the comments!

The Natural Living Link-Up #1

Welcome to a brand new Natural Living Link-Up!  This is a weekly (Wednesdays) link-up that will be co-hosted across multiple blogs, and you can share your posts here every week.

We will share your posts on social media and pin them to our Natural Living Link-Up Pinterest Board, so make sure you’re following the board if you want us to share there!

In future weeks, I’ll share my favorites from the week before, but since this is a brand new one, this week I will just plug in the link and ask you to please help us get the word out by tweeting and sharing the news about the new link-up on your social media channels! The more people who visit, the more views your shared links get so it’s good for all of us.

What qualifies as a natural living post? In our book, there are a lot of things. From kids crafts with natural materials, to nature study, to essential oils and natural cleaners, to homesteading, recipes……you get the idea. We want to see how you incorporate it with your own family, in your own situation! If you’re ever unsure whether your post is a good fit for the Natural Living Link-Up, feel free to ask me at theusualmayhem at gmail dot com.

natural living image

Here’s a pic from our daily life. :) Yours may look different. It’s all good!

Your cohosts for the Natural Living Link-Up, at this time, are:
Me, Erin, at The Usual Mayhem

Cassidy at Freshly Planted

Andrea at Homemade For Elle

Becky at Kid World Citizen

and we would love it if you follow us on social media!

 

Without further rambling, here’s Natural Living Link-Up #1!


 

Buoyancy and density science for kids: King Arthur’s sword

If you’ve wondered how to explain buoyancy and density science for kids, you’ll want to read on; this week we had great fun trying our own Camelot-inspired variation of this simple experiment that I found at Wonderville.

In D,8’s continuing King Arthur obsession, our version was a look at how the sword Excalibur might have floated up out of the lake to King Arthur. D had expressed some skepticism about the Lady of the Lake’s existence (but of course dragons,  magicians and evil sorcerers make perfect sense – I love how kids think!) so we used the buoyancy and density science experiment to look at how the sword might actually have floated up to the king.

density and buoyancy science for kids-king arthur's sword

You’ll need:

-two balls of clay or play dough,  the same size and weight.

-a large bowl of water.

-(optional) your King Arthur costume. This last one turns up a lot around here.

density and buoyancy science for kids-clay and bowl of water

Take one of your balls of clay and lower it into your bowl.

density and buoyancy for kids-lowering the ball of clay into the water

Watch it sink to the bottom.

density and buoyancy for kids - ball sunk at bottom of bowl

Now take your second ball of clay and shape it into a flat sword as best you can. Hollow out the middle slightly like a canoe. Lower it into the water and watch it float!
density and buoyancy science for kids-lowering the sword into the water

Once the clay sword became too soggy to use, we made a tiny toothpick sword and a smaller bowl of water and continued enjoying the ‘magic’ of the sword floating out of the water – when it breaks the surface it really is pretty thrilling!

A few other buoyancy experiments that you might want to try out:

Salt Water Density Science Experiment For Kids from Little Bins For Little Hands

Preschool Science: How Long Will A Lego Boat Float? From JDaniel4’s Mom

 

And, of course, you’ll want to read this week’s explorations for kids from my cohosts here at STEM Saturday!

Building Igloos with Marshmallows from Lemon Lime Adventures

Coding with LEGO from Little Bins for Little Hands

Polar Bear Science STEM Experiment from Preschool Powol Packets

Hands-on Sorting Vertebrates & Invertebrates from Stir the Wonder

10 Winter STEAM Challenges for Kids from Handmade Kids Art

10 Ice Science and Engineering Activities from The Science Kiddo

 

What explorations have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

 

 

Lego: 5 Reasons why you should use it with your kids

If ever there was a quintessential childhood building activity, Lego would be it. My brother had an old suitcase under his bed full of the stuff, and I remember spending many hours happily bickering over who got to use the wheels or the long strips in our creations.

As an adult, I am equally sold on its value for my own children, even if I dislike having that much plastic in their toy collection (as a side note, you can now buy these gorgeous wooden building bricks instead if you share my feelings on this). Why should every child have Lego to play with?

Lego: 5 reasons why you should use it

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Lego may just be the ultimate math and engineering learning toy.

Nothing else that I’ve ever encountered gives them hands-on learning practice on such a concrete way.  Calculating rows, numbers of bricks needed, building a structure that won’t fall apart when a rampaging dragon appears in their Lego city…….you just can’t beat it for sneaky teaching of these vital skills. They  have to be able to mentally visualize a 3-D creation and then pull it together. (How will I make that castle/forest/giant robot? What can I do to make this car actually move? )
Lego classic bricks set

 

 

2. It requires patience.

Bucket-loads of it are needed, because no matter how you try, Lego structures have to be built brick by brick and piece by piece; there’s just no getting around it.
Lego Frozen castle set

3. It encourages imagination.

With so many opportunities these days for kids to let a toy do all the thinking for them, Lego requires a sense of play and wonder that might otherwise be lost. This is probably my favorite thing about it.
Lego Millenium Falcon kit

4. It reinforces fine motor skills.

Every child needs constant practice in this area. It’s great for them all, but especially beneficial for kids with dyslexia and other challenges that may delay fine motor skills. If your child’s handwriting is big and messy, Lego building is going to help as much as, if not more than piles of copywork and they’ll enjoy it a whole lot more.
Lego Eiffel Tower architecture kit

5. It’s fun!

Yes, there are lots of good reasons why Lego should be in every child’s life, but the main reason is that it is a ton of fun, for kids and parents alike. Just make sure it goes away at the end of the day because nothing is less fun that stepping on a Lego brick at 3am in the dark!
Lego toy holder for easy cleanup

 

What’s your favorite thing about Lego?

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