Making February a bit brighter

Last week, I overheard an exchange between two colleagues who were complaining about February, referring to it sarcastically as everyone’s favourite month of the year. Many years ago, I might have agreed with them and rolled my eyes at yet another cold winter month, but these days, I refuse to join the pity party. Instead, I focus on self-care, and at the risk of sounding nauseatingly sweet and obnoxiously bubbly, I will confess that I do seek the silver lining. February is a month I celebrate. Here are a few special occasions and favourite rituals that help to make my February a bit brighter:

Aquarian birthdays. Dear reader, you might dislike astrology and think of it as bogus pseudoscience at best. Some days, I agree with you. However, I also happen to really like Aquarians and their eccentric, artsy, often off-the-wall quirky personality traits. A friend who studied astrology gifted me ten years ago with a birth chart, which showed that my Moon sign is in Aquarius. Perhaps that is one reason why I feel such a connection to these fascinating people. The youngest Wanderlust Junior is my favourite Aquarius and we celebrate his birthday this month. The birthdays of my children are as important (or perhaps even more important) to me as they are to them. The births of my children were the most pivotal moments in my and Mr. Wanderlust’s lives. So bring on the celebration. This year, it will be a small one for us, but we are making the most of it.

Valentine’s Day. Again, some of you might dislike this consumerist pseudo-holiday. And once again, I nod my head. Yet, amid the worldwide sadness, confusion, and anxiety that affects us at this time, I think we can use any excuse to celebrate LOVE. To me, Valentine’s Day is not a reason to spend money on overpriced chocolate and heart-shaped everything for a romantic partner — though that is a perfectly valid way to celebrate and I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to chocolate. Instead, it’s an invitation to reconnect to the love that resides within us and abounds all around us. It’s a reminder to take better care of ourselves, to practise self-love, and to express gratitude toward our friends and loved ones.

Shrove Tuesday. In the interest of refraining from over-scheduling our weekday mornings, we celebrate Shrove Tuesday on the Sunday prior with a fancy pancake breakfast. It helps that Sundays are traditional pancake breakfast days in our household, but we make this one ever more naughty with extra chocolate chips in our pancakes, and perhaps even a bit of Nutella on the side. Oh my!

Tea. After experiencing several health concerns that were exacerbated by coffee consumption, and after attempting to give up my love affair with java for the past several years, I have finally given it up. I still enjoy an espresso or a flat white from time to time (about once a month, to be exact), but tea has become my choice for a hot beverage. I love Earl Grey in the morning and drink green, rooibos, and mint tea throughout the day to stay warm and hydrated.

Essential oils. I enjoy using my oil diffuser to freshen the air in our home and keep the Wanderlust Juniors breathing easy at night. A few drops of eucalyptus oil work wonders for night-time congestion.

Electric blanket. At the end of the day, I look forward to snuggling in bed with Wanderlust Juniors while reading books to them before bedtime, then continuing to read my book until my eyelids become heavy. The warm fleecy blanket is a life saver on cold nights and makes bedtime reading even more enjoyable. The key is to remember to unplug it before falling asleep.

Fireside yoga. On chilly mornings, the thought of rolling out my mat in front of the blazing fireplace makes it much easier to get out of bed, and my muscles and joints thank me.

Epsom salt baths with lavender oil. This is my favourite weekly treat before bedtime, usually on Saturday nights.

Your turn! What helps to make your February a bit brighter? Please leave a comment below.

And remember, this is the shortest month of the year, so let’s enjoy it while it’s here. Spring surely must be lurking somewhere around the corner.

Peppermint lip balm

When the weather outside is frightful my skin becomes particularly dry. I turn to my favourite sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, and essential oils to keep my skin and lips healthy over the winter season.

A playful, crafty mood and a shot of curiosity led me, several years ago, to create a recipe for peppermint lip balm that smells beautiful and works wonders. In addition, it can be made at home in under 15 minutes with a few ingredients:

  • Beeswax. I purchased a large 1 lb block of beeswax from a local online pharmacy two years ago, and still have plenty remaining. If using a block of beeswax, you will need to utilize a knife on a wooden chopping block to chip approximately 3/4 cup of beeswax. You may also purchase smaller beeswax pellets, which would save you some time and an arm workout.
  • Cocoa butter: approximately 1/2 cup.
  • Sweet almond oil: approximately 2/3 cup.
  • Peppermint essential oil: a few drops.
You will also need a few small containers for the balm. With this batch, I filled 12 small plastic containers that I found in the craft aisle of the local dollar store. I keep one for myself and gift the rest to family and friends.
The preparation is simple:

Melt the beeswax, and cocoa butter in a metal bowl over boiling water (double boiler technique), using a metal spoon to stir constantly, then carefully add the sweet almond oil.

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Melting beeswax and cocoa butter over a double boiler.

2. Add a few drops of peppermint oil. I added approximately eight drops to this batch and some might find it a bit spicy. The mint certainly will feel slightly cooling upon application.

3. Carefully and slowly pour the mixture into the prepared containers, dividing evenly. Allow the mixture to cool completely before screwing on the lids.

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Once completely cooled, the balm will feel solid. Only a tiny amount is needed to protect your lips from harsh wind and below-freezing temperature.
Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Sealed with a kiss. Ahem… My recipe for healthy lips

About two months ago, I shared with you my recipe for delicious lip balm to keep your lips soft throughout the winter season. That season is still going strong in Ontario, and I have been playing with my new Young Living Essential Oils, combining them with staple ingredients from my kitchen pantry to create a lip scrub that smells beautiful and further helps to keep my lips healthy (and kissable). This recipe takes less than five minutes to create and is also a great quick gift idea for someone you love (just be sure to double or triple the amounts listed below to make a larger batch). I keep it in a small jar on the bathroom counter and Wanderlust Juniors have started using it as a hand scrub. Creativity at its finest!

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*** A note about Young Living Essential Oils: I have never been one to give into trends. However, after hearing many praises sung in the name of Young Living Essential Oils, I decided to try it. Having been a regular user of essential oils for the past several years and enjoying their many benefits, I am familiar with many brands that are on the market. I was very impressed with the quality of YLEO and decided to sign up as a distributor. If you are looking for excellent pure essential oils, you have my recommendation for a great brand. If you would like to support me as a distributor by placing an order, please use my number: 3565905. Thank you in advance for your support.

DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner and All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

As promised last week, I wanted to share with you my quick go-to recipe for an all-purpose disinfectant spray. I use this spray on everything: my yoga mats; bathroom mirrors; wiping sticky hand prints and dust from surfaces; door handles; kitchen counters, and so on. I will confess sheepishly that the pleasant, clean scent of the spray alone makes me want to pick it up and clean everything around me. All you need is a few minutes and a few basic, clean ingredients to create this magical product.

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DHARMA WANDERLUST YOGA MAT CLEANER AND ALL-PURPOSE DISINFECTANT SPRAY

Ingredients:

  • Small spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Pure white vinegar
  • A few drops of essential oil (I recommend tea tree oil for its disinfecting properties, but I also enjoy calming lavender; eucalyptus or fir needle have a clean, fresh scent)

Method:

  1. Fill about 2/3 of the bottle with water.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with vinegar.
  3. Add a few drops of essential oil. I like to add about 3 drops of tea tree oil and then one or two drops of lavender and/or other oils. I don’t recommend mixing more than two oils at a time.
  4. Screw on the lid, shake well, spray your mat or any other surface in your home, and enjoy a chemical-free cleaning experience!

Do you have a favourite DIY cleaning recipe? Please share it in the comments below. 

Do you know someone who would enjoy this blog post and the recipe? Please share it with them via social media or email. 

Show your skin some DIY love!

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In the colder months of the year, I am susceptible to very dry, itchy skin and chapped lips. After years of trying the different specially formulated lotions and lip balms available on the market and ending up with disappointment (at the best) and a bad allergic reaction (at the worst), I started using natural, pure moisturizing ingredients. I enjoy playing with my collection, creating my own skin care products. Here are my go-to items:

  • Sweet almond oil: An excellent overall moisturizer. I use it as a massage oil, eye makeup remover, and facial moisturizer. We recently discovered that our cat also is a big fan of sweet almond oil and I often find her on the bathroom counter, licking the bottle. Since the bottle is usually hidden inside the cupboard, she goes to great lengths to try to lick the oil off my face!
  • Shea butter: The richest moisturizer of which I know. I slather it on my hands and feet at bedtime and wake up with incredibly soft skin.
  • Castor oil: I have to confess. I haven’t had a ‘real’ haircut in a salon in the past six months. I’m in the process of growing out a pixie cut and my hair is finally starting to resemble a short, layered bob. To keep those pesky short layers healthy in the process of patiently growing out my hair, I turn to castor oil for a deep conditioning treatment. After brushing my hair before bedtime, I work a small amount of the oil into my hair and massage my scalp. It’s not an attractive look, but I leave the oil on overnight and wash it off in the morning shower. Castor oil is not only a great ingredient for soft hair but also for soft skin. Instead of washing my hands after applying the hair treatment, I simply let it absorb. I have also, under the direction of my Naturopath, used castor oil in conjunction with a heat pad to relieve muscle cramps and other aches.
  • Essential oils: I love aromatherapy and the wonderful effect essential oils have on the nervous system. My favourite soothing oils are lavender and/or lavandin. I have a tiny bottle of pure lavender oil that Mr. Wanderlust and I purchased during a tour of a lavender factory in Provence more than nine years ago while on our honeymoon in the region. I use it sparingly, as just a drop of the oil goes a long way. I also enjoy fir needle oil, eucalyptus, peppermint, patchouli, sandalwood, geranium, and tea tree oil. I use these oils in conjunction with shea butter or sweet almond oil, adding them to my DIY scented moisturizer, massaging them into the soles of my feet at night, adding them to my bath, or simply using them as perfume. I stopped using conventional perfume years ago, replacing it with essential oils.

I use essential oils and a couple of basic kitchen ingredients to make a ‘universal cleaning spray’ for disinfecting everything from my yoga mat to the bathroom counter. I promise to share the simple recipe with you in an upcoming blog post.

A combination of coconut oil and shea butter makes an excellent moisturizer for the lips. About a year ago, I started to concoct my own lip balm using a few of my favourite clean and natural ingredients. I use it myself on a daily basis and gift it to others at Christmas to help us enjoy the winter season with healthy skin.

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DIY LIP BALM 

Ingredients:

  • 200 mL pure shea butter
  • 100 mL pure coconut oil
  • approximately 100 g pure beeswax
  • 5-6 drops of pure peppermint essential oil

Method:

1. Chop the beeswax and allow it to melt over a double boiler, stirring constantly using a metal spoon.

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2. When the beeswax is almost completely melted, add the shea butter and coconut oil. Continue to stir.

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3. Add the peppermint oil. Stir. Remove from heat.

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4. While the mixture is still hot, pour into small plastic containers, filling them about 3/4. I use plastic containers purchased at the local dollar store.

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5. Allow to cool completely before twisting on the lids. The balm should be solid.

6. Enjoy, and pop a few containers into Christmas stockings! One batch is enough to fill 10 containers.

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What are your favourite DIY skin care recipes? Have you found innovative ways to use oils? Please share them in the comments below.

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!