Down and Dirty Guide to: Essential Oils

A Beginners Guide To-

Pin this image!

Hello friends! Today I want to talk to you about essential oils.

About a year and a half ago, I became interested in learning more about essential oils after listening to several friends and acquaintances rave about them. What were they? Why was I just now hearing about them? Were they just a fad? Why would I want to incorporate them in my life? Were they hippy mumbo jumbo?

I set out on a quest to discover all of these things, and like any normal human, I turned to Google for answers. I immediately realized it was going to be very difficult to discern fact from fiction and to get the answers I was looking for about oils. There is just so much (often contradictory) info out there. I longed for a simple, broken-down, absolute beginner’s guide to oils.

And so a year and a half later, I’m writing one.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care practices, as well as in aromatherapy. They are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds found in plants. Some come from the seeds, others come from the flowers, roots, bark, etc. They are extracted through various methods, such as steam distillation and cold pressing, and in this potent form are much more powerful than the plants from which they were extracted.

Put simply – essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts.

When I say they have “long been used…” I mean LONG. Although essential oils have only gained more popularity in the Western world recently, oils have been in use since (at least) the times of ancient Egypt. Essential oils were also popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and China. There is even mention of essential oils in the Bible.

So now that you have a basic understanding of what essential oils are. . .

WHY ESSENTIAL OILS?

I know what you’re thinking; if essential oils have been around for so long, why have they only become popular in the West recently?

I think it is fair to say that in the past decade there has been a definite push toward a more natural, toxin-free, and sustainable lifestyle. Being derived from plants, essential oils definitely fall into this category.

Oils are reputed to be a natural remedy for many common ailments such as headaches, inflammation, viruses, bacterial infection, skin issues, and much more, as well as boosting the immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and more.

You can also clean with essential oils, and they smell amazing when diffused (more on this below!)

Photo Jun 12, 6 15 52 PM

HOW DO I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Now that we’ve covered the what and the why, how should you use essential oils starting out?

Some of the first oils I bought were:

  • lavender
  • lemon
  • rosemary
  • tea tree
  • eucalyptus

I had done a little research, and it seemed that these oils were used frequently in different recipes that caught my interest. When I say “recipes,” I simply mean combining different oils to suite different purposes. You can diffuse your oils, blend them with together for topical application, use them in steam inhalation, or put them to use in homemade face wash or cleaning products! There are so many possibilities.

After personally testing many different recipes, here are some of my favorite blends that I make in 10mL roller bottles. Other than diffusing, this is how I most often use my oils, and I would not hesitate in recommending these to beginners. When making these concoctions, you will need a carrier oil, which will vary based on what you are using it for and personal preference. For more on carrier oils, try here.

Headache/Pain Relief Roller

  • 10 drops copaiba
  • 10 drops panaway (blend)
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 10 drops lavender
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on wherever the pain is. (You could also make this in a cream with coconut oil as the carrier oil – I love coconut oil.)

Seasonal Relief/Immunity Roller

  • 5 drops thieves (blend)
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 10 drops lemon
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 5 drops R.C. (blend)
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on over your sinuses, on your chest, or on your feet for sweet relief.

Skin Blemish/Wound Salve/Anti-Aging

  • 5 drops lemon or purification (blend) or tea tree or copaiba*
  • 5 drops lavender
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

If it has to do with your skin, this is your best friend. I’ve rolled this on everything from wrinkles to bug bites to scratches to blemishes. (* – I use a couple drops of each)

416_Orr_drying-500x333

Finally, I think my favorite use for essential oils is diffusing. Some of my personal favorite combinations are:

  1. Lavender + Cedarwood + Citrus — for sleeping
  2. Purification (blend) — for making my space smell enticingly clean and odor free
  3. R.C. (blend) — for breathing easily
  4. Tea Tree + Eucalyptus + Peppermint — for calming and focus
  5. Thieves (blend) + R.C. (blend) — for combating a cold/sinus congestion

One of the great thing about oils is that as you learn more about them, you begin to understand how they compliment one another, and what works and doesn’t work for you.

And there you have it! My down-and-dirty, absolute beginner’s guide to essential oils.

If you have questions, comments, essential oil recipes/uses, or anything else, please comment below! I would love to hear from you! (Even and especially if it is to correct me or make this post better!)

Keep up with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and find me on Snapchat at shelby.briley!

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Photo by: Jeff Rose

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby


Further reading:

The New American Herbal – Stephen Orr

Herbs; An A-Z Guide Gardening, Cooking & Health – Reader’s Digest

hello oils.

 

 

 

Make Christmas Memorable for Your Family While Keeping it Simple

Merry Christmas season, readers! It’s Tera here on Oak and Earth today. This time of year is by far my favorite, for so many reasons! It is a time for family, a time of giving, a whole season of yummy foods, a time for Christmas lights and hot chocolate, and most of all a time to celebrate and remember the true reason for the season: the birth of our Lord and Savior! I have the most special memories of the holidays from my childhood years, and the excitement and fun my family had during the Christmas season has most certainly carried on in me into adulthood!

 I was reflecting recently on Christmas time and my own little family, and I tried to think of ways to make this a memorable time of year for Norah (and us), while keeping our main focus on the true meaning of Christmas and not getting wrapped up in the common mindset of, “more is more.” I want to instill meaningful and treasured memories into Norah’s core for Christmas time that teach her what principles are important to have and to pass down, and that will tug her heart strings (in a good way) for years to come. Simple moments that create a lifelong impact. So, I have created a list of some simple things you can do as a family that will make great memories, give quality time, and can respect even the most frugal holiday budget. I’m sharing my list below, and I hope you can be inspired for your family by some of these ideas! ‘Tis the season!

1.   Christmas Lights Outing  

Photo Dec 06, 2 25 00 AM

Downtown Siloam Springs, AR

This is an easy way for you and yours to have some fun during the Christmas season! My family would do this every year after our Christmas Eve service, but this is something you could do any time during December! Many of your local neighborhoods will have some fun light displays, or your downtown square (for us NWA folk, the Fayetteville square, for example). Some houses even connect their light displays with one of your local radio stations, and it’s really fun to see the lights flickering to the rhythm of the music! Your kids would love it if you all dressed in your comfy, festive Christmas pj’s, whipped up some hot chocolate, and hopped in your car together for a ride around town to see the pretty lights! It’s a nearly free activity (minus a little gas), and the kids will love starting this tradition with you!

 2.  Trim the Tree as a Family 

Photo Dec 08, 6 53 12 AM

Photo Dec 08, 6 52 04 AM

My Christmas mantle in my pretty new house!!

Another fun memory I have from my childhood is helping my mom and siblings decorate our Christmas tree together each year! We would all get a new hallmark ornament every year to add to the collection. My own Christmas tree now is full of all of these ornaments (plus Jeremy’s and now Norah’s). There is something super special about those homemade ornaments and little hallmark collectibles that make a Christmas tree so sentimental and nostalgic! Pick a day where the whole family can be a part of this; and if you want to make a whole afternoon of it, visit a local tree nursery and choose a real tree to take home and decorate! The prices are usually very reasonable and it’s a fun and neat experience for the family. Set your tree up, stick some cookies in the oven, and choose a favorite Christmas movie to watch while you all have fun decorating (our tradition is The Polar Express). Let your little ones have a role in making the tree pretty! You can “touch up” some bare spots after they go to bed and disperse the ornaments that are stringing around the bottom half of your tree up and throughout (they’ll never know the difference), but, in the meantime, let them feel special and like they have an important part of this Christmas tradition! They’ll grow to love it, and their decorating skills should improve over the years ;). For the teeny tots who are still trying to grasp what a Christmas tree is, and from whom you’d like to spare some of your favorite glass ornaments from the game, “throw it on the floor,” try purchasing a mini tree and some plastic ornaments and set it up next to the big tree. We did this for Norah and let her decorate her special tree while we did the big tree and she loved it, (and we purchased her tree for $8)! Until they can better understand the concept of the ornaments and the tree, this is another way to get the littlest tots involved, and they’ll have their own special tree to decorate!

3.  Do an Advent Series Together 

Make some time during the month of December  for everyone to reflect on the ‘reason for the season’ by doing an advent series together. There is nothing more important that you can instill into your children’s hearts (or your own for that matter) than the love of Christ. Make sure in the hustle and bustle that your family stays grounded and that you make some quality time for this! I realize we are already part way through December, but this is something so important that I am adding it anyway to encourage you to do! You can play a little catch up, or just pick up where you are! It will help your whole family remember what matters most during Christmas, and you will instill this most important thing into your kids’ lives–and this is something you can’t put a price tag on! I am linking a great advent series for the whole family to partake in HERE. If you want to save money for budget purposes, there are some great online resources to pull verses and stories from to read each night as a family. Try doing this at a time where everyone is always together, like at the dinner table either before or after a meal (while everyone is still gathered). Making a routine like this is a good way to keep from having to try and squeeze it in at the end of the night while kids are dispersing to bed, or forgetting to do it altogether! After a long day at work or school, this is a great way to end each evening this month and will be so impactive on your kids’ hearts!

Photo Dec 06, 12 24 08 PM

My sweet little family at our church; New Life Church, Fayetteville

Free online resources:

4.  Christmas Cookie Decorating 

You can’t go wrong with a fun day of baking and decorating (and eating)! Tune in on your favorite Christmas pandora station, and you have a festive party right in your own kitchen! Google or Pinterest some easy sugar cookie recipes, pull the sprinkles from your pantry, and check Target’s Christmas aisles for some adorable (and cheap) Christmas cookie cutters! This is something you can do whether you have two or twelve people, and have fun doing it without breaking the bank! Take it to the next level on your baking day by trying a salt dough recipe and making some homemade ornaments that the kids can decorate and hang on the tree! This is a low stress, low cost way to get festive and celebrate the holidays, and will be a fun tradition the whole bunch can look forward to each year.

Fun cookie cutter set HERE ; Delicious sugar cookie recipe found HERE ; adorable and easy salt dough ornament recipe HERE !

5.  Christmas Caroling            

This is an outing to get your extended family and friends involved in! Take a big group around the neighborhood and sing some popular and well-known Christmas songs together! My family has not ever done this, but I think it sounds like a super fun way to spend an afternoon, and would love incorporating this into our yearly festivities! The more the merrier for this activity, so a little planning may be required to get the group together, but it would be well worth the effort, and would create fun memories for the whole family! End the night with some hot chocolate and a nice fire (because you can’t go wrong with hot chocolate)! This is a free way to lift people’s spirits and put a smile on their faces. If you want to go the extra mile this season, look into caroling at your local nursing home and share some love and Christmas cheer with our beloved elders…no one would love and appreciate it more! This is a totally free and fun way to get the whole family involved in some fun times together, and share some great memories!

6.   Gingerbread House Contest

  Nothing like some friendly competition to make for a fun night! You can purchase gingerbread house kits for fairly cheap at the store; why not buy two and make a friendly contest of boys vs. girls and have some fun?! You can have as small or as big of teams as you want, and that makes this activity super universal and accommodating to any family size! Spend the evening dressing your gingerbread houses up, and have some friends be the judge (without them knowing whose is whose). Let the winners choose the next Christmas movie for movie night, or spice it up with a bigger incentive for the winners! This is a tradition that your kids will want to repeat next year, and they’ll cherish their memories!

7.  Downtown Parade (or your town’s Christmas festivities)             

Photo Dec 06, 2 43 00 AM

Photo Dec 06, 3 14 40 AM

Photo Dec 06, 2 56 52 AM

Photo Dec 06, 3 15 40 AM

Aren’t my besties totally adorable holding children?? 😉 We were able to enjoy the downtown parade together this year!

Going to our annual downtown Christmas parade is a tradition my family has held for years. It’s always a fun night of warm bundles, a hot drink in hand, and lots of pretty Christmas floats! Check your calendars for your town’s holiday festivities and make it a family affair! Bundle up, grab some extra blankets and a warm beverage (you know what would be great for this? Hot chocolate), and share some laughs together. If you missed this year’s, make it a goal to try it next year and start a new tradition together!

8.  “Christmas” Game Night

IMG_6382

“Louie” themed socks and hot cocoa are my secret to winning 😉

Here’s another fun idea for the entire family and even some of your friends to join in on! For the last few years, my husband’s side has done a fun game night together for our Christmas tradition, and it has been a huge hit! You can find some Christmas themed minute -to -win it games for your inspiration on Pinterest, or even google, and most of them look super fun! Get the group together, share some yummy snacks (and maybe some hot chocolate), split into teams, and let the laughs begin! What’s nice about these games, is that any supplies you may need can most always be found at the dollar store, so you can stretch your dollar and enjoy lots of games. Make your prizes as big or small as you want, or nix them all together and play just for the fun of it. There will be guaranteed a ton of laughs, and with or without the prizes, everyone will look forward to next year’s annual game night! Here are a few links to some very fun minute to win it ideas you can try:  Here , here , and here !

9.  Christmas Angels

Teach your kids the importance of giving during this holiday season. Magnify this and make it a higher priority than being on the receiving end. If we are honest, most of our kiddos who live in a warm and safe home do not really need much for Christmas! I’m not saying our kids don’t deserve gifts, or that we shouldn’t let them receive any. It’s so fun to watch Norah open her gifts and seeing her face light up! But, the more important thing we can give them is to teach them selfless love and share what we have with those who go without. Go to your nearest Christmas Angel tree and choose a couple angels to give a nice Christmas. Let your kids have a big part in choosing the Angels and the gifts. It’s important to show our kids that there are some big needs in our communities, and that they can have a part in making Christmas special for someone who otherwise wouldn’t have the same experience. Partake as a family in spreading love this season, and make it a tradition to give to others in a very tangible way every Christmas! If you don’t have Christmas Angel trees in your area, research some places that you can donate items and help make Christmas special for someone else!

IMG_6183

Here is our littlest angel, to give you all the feels!! *sigh*

10.  Wise Men Gifts

One principle we really want to keep incorporated into our Christmas as a family is simplicity. The excessiveness that is so common during this time of year we believe takes away from the specialness and “sacredness” that simplicity holds. Keep your gift giving simple with your kiddos this year by trying the Wise Men Gift method. This is a concept I first heard from Oak and Earth’s Bethany, whose family started doing this several years ago. Whether your budget is $3,000 or $300, this is a concept that you can easily incorporate into your family’s traditions. It’s very simple: each kid (and/or spouse) would receive just three gifts, and their stockings. You can arrange them however you choose; two smaller gifts and one big gift, three small gifts, one “Santa” gift, and two from you–there’s no method to it other than keeping the number simple with 3. We loved the idea and decided to start this tradition with Norah! It’s an awesome way to keep the sweetness of Christmas time by not drowning our kids (and our finances) in “more.” Our little ones will expect only what they are used to when it comes to gifts, so why not start this tradition now and keep your gift giving sweet and simple. 

If you want more ideas for gift giving methods, here are a few others you can try:

  • Do the “4 gifts” (something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read)
  • For older kids (this is what we do for my husband’s side), draw names and each person gets one person a gift or two.
  • Sock exchange (buy your kids some christmas socks and fill them up with goodies, much like a stocking), or just their stockings!
  • Encourage your kids to read and grow their imaginations by giving books for gifts!
  • If you are opting for “no gifts” this year, try donating to a charity in honor of each of your children. It’s a great way to give back and will be a special way to honor your kids.

I absolutely love getting to start new traditions with Norah, and I’m excited to start with some of these ideas together as a family! Keeping our holidays sweet and simple by focusing more on the memories and fun, and less on the “things” will hopefully create a special place in Norah’s heart for this time of year, much like it did for me! I hope I have given you some ideas that you can start incorporating into your family festivities each year too! No matter how you choose to spend the holidays, try to do some fun things as a family that will make it memorable for everyone!  If you want some fun and creative date ideas to do with your special someone, make sure to check back in a couple days for Bethany’s “12 Dates of Christmas” post coming soon! Also be sure to keep up with Oak and Earth this month, as we have several holiday inspired posts that we can’t wait to show you!! Follow me on Instagram @terapianalto if you don’t already, so you can stay informed on all of our blog happenings, and make sure to hashtag any Oak and Earth experiences you have with #OakandEarthBlog. We love your feedback and would love to know what you would like to see us write about on here! We’ll do our best to try out your ideas! Wishing you the sweetest and merriest Christmas yet!


Photo Dec 08, 6 56 32 AM

Happy Month of December, and Holiday’s best,

Tera (with Jeremy and Norah, and Louie)   -xo

Homemade Baby Food Pouches

Hello, reader! It’s Tera again. This week, I thought I would share with you my experience with dabbling into the world of homemade baby food (in squeeze pouch form). The idea for this post was sparked by my sister in law, and fellow baby mama of a tot, as we visited about how we want to learn some good ways to incorporate healthy foods into our children’s diets, without having to pay Gerber (and other brands) the big bucks. Initially, $1.72 doesn’t sound too bad, but when I total up the cost of weekly pouches devoured, it nears the $30 mark…that’s a week’s worth! If I totaled that number for a whole month, it puts a dent into the grocery bill. But of course, toddlers tend to be a bit finicky, and this is no exception at our household. So getting them to try carrots, broccoli, spinach etcetera, is not an easy task. Having these pouches is so convenient for this very reason, and for many of you moms out there, it’s justifiable to spend the money to get your tots to eat veggies and love them (without them even realizing it)!

For me and anyone else out there who is on a budget, or who likes to find easy ways to save back some money each month, recreating these pouches at home was worth the try. I’ll admit, it was a bit intimidating and seemed like it would take forever and be more difficult than what it’s worth. And honestly, it was a bit of trial and error with a few of them. But, I am here to tell you what I did right (and wrong), and to tell you that it is actually quite easy!

closeuppouch pouches

So first in my process, I needed pouches to store the food in. I went with this brand from WalMart:

freshsqueezepacket

For the general process of filling and storing the food, this system works just fine, and for this starter kit, it was only $10. However, these pouches are not reusable, and a pack of 50 pouches is $15. Depending on how many pouches you go through a month, it may or may not be monetarily beneficial for you. They do make reusable pouches like these that I would probably choose to use for my future endeavors, just to be the most efficient.

For this post today, I’ll share with you four recipes that I tried and liked. The really nice thing about doing these at home, is you can be as creative as you want to with mixing different veggies and fruits. Most of the combos I did were some that I have bought before and knew Norah would like. But there are really endless possibilities of different combos!

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal

blueberryoatmeal

For this breakfast recipe, there are a few simple steps before pureeing. Here are the ingredients I used (roughly measured out for you):

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

bananacinnamon

You’ll want to cook your oatmeal first so that it is tender. I also steamed the blueberries for about 1 minute in the microwave to make them extra soft. Once these steps are done, add ingredients to a food processor or blender. If you steam blueberries, add some of the liquid steamed from them. Otherwise, you may need to add some water until you get your desired texture. When all the ingredients are blended and smooth, store fresh in these pouches, or freeze and use throughout the week/month! That’s the best part about making these yourself. I found it easiest to store in an ice cube tray, for what it’s worth, but find what works best for you! This recipe makes a yummy breakfast for your tots! Super easy, and toddler approved. You could also sneak some spinach in this recipe to add some healthy greens. Just make sure to steam the spinach beforehand!

Broccoli, Peas and Pear

broccolipearpea peas

This next recipe is also fairly easy. My tip for this (and any recipes with leafy greens, or harder veggies), would be that if you find you can’t get a smooth pureed texture from a food processor, to stick with a blender. Sometimes the blades blend this stuff up better. I have also heard that the Ninja, Nutribullet, and Baby Bullet work wonders for this kind of stuff…next investment?

Ingredients for this:

  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 3/4 cup broccoli (or spinach)
  • 1 whole pear

The most time consuming part about this process is steaming the fruits and veggies. Though it only takes a matter of minutes, the more ripe you can get your produce, the faster. Make sure you steam all of these ingredients to make them soft. If you’re making a few different recipes like I did, steaming a lot of your ingredients together saves time and saves you a step for each one.

steamvegggies steamedapples

After you steam the pears, broccoli and peas, and they are tender and soft, they are ready to be blended. If you have a food processor with a grater, it might be helpful to grate them before pureeing them, but it’s not necessary. This combo needed some added water to make it thinner. If you have water from steaming, try adding some of it! The steaming process brings a lot of vitamins and nutrients into the water, and adding that to your recipe gives your baby the most nutrients possible! When you have a smooth puree, store fresh in the pouches or freeze and save for later! Getting the system down? For this recipe you could also try spinach instead of broccoli, apple in place of a pear, or try adding a big spoonful of plain greek yogurt for added protein!

Avocado Banana

avocado avonana

This one is by far the easiest. There is no steaming involved, and takes no time to blend up!

You’ll just need:

  • 2 avocadoes
  • 2 bananas

Slice both and add the “meat” to your blender. You may need to add a little bit of water to thin it out. Once it’s done, store fresh or freeze for later. Since avocadoes brown quickly once they’ve been sliced, make sure you freeze if your little hasn’t eaten within 24 hours. Also try adding a pear or some greek yogurt for added protein and flavor!

Pumpkin Apple

pumpkinapple

This recipe is also very easy. I didn’t have a sweet potato for this combo, so I used some canned pumpkin!

You just need:

  • 1 can of pumpkin ( or a steamed sweet potato)
  • 2 apples
  • (optional) 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Steam your apples beforehand until they are tender. And if you use sweet potato, it will need to be peeled and steamed too. Once this is done, add all of it to a food processor or blender and mix up! Also add some of the steam water until you get desired texture. Make sure it is well blended. Store fresh in pouches or freeze! This combo is great because you could easily mix it up. Use sweet potato or carrots (steam first) instead of pumpkin, or add some cooked oatmeal and cinnamon to make a healthy breakfast pouch! Just make sure if you use tougher veggies, that you blend them until smooth and a soft puree.

The process of making baby food seems much more intimidating than it really is! It was fun taste testing and mixing different combos. If you can dedicate 1-1.5 hours a week making and storing, your tot will have tons of fresh, healthy snacks that won’t break the bank! Try choosing a few ingredients to mix and match each week, and switch up ingredients the next. If you freeze and store, you’ll have all varieties to choose from. It also gives you a chance to ad-match and get weekly deals on different produce items so you can be cost efficient!

Here are a few more combos I’ll be trying next:

  • raspberry, banana, brown rice (greek yogurt)
  • blueberry, sweet potato, oats
  • avocado, fig, mango
  • green bean, pears, greek yogurt

berryrice spinach closepouch pears

What are some of your combos and tips from your experience?! Keep up with Oak and Earth through my instagram handle @terapianalto for weekly updates and posts, and hashtag your Oak and Earth experiences #OakandEarthBlog !

xo-

Tera

An Outlandish Obsession

In 2012 I decided to step outside of my comfortable OBU bubble to study abroad and become a Sassenach (Outlander) at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

photo 2

Just another Sassenach, in Edinburgh, Scotland (PHOTOCREDS: Becca Cahan – my wonderful penpal of 13 years)

I learned a lot on this trip about Scotland, the world outside of America, and myself. I had traveled before on mission trips to Nicaragua and South Africa but this was the first time it was just me, out in the world, figuring things out first hand. I can’t say enough good things about the experience. It really grew me both spiritually and in maturity and I would definitely recommend studying abroad or working abroad if you ever have the opportunity.

Well ever since my return to America in the summer of 2012, I’ve harbored a deep love for Scotland. It was William Shakespeare who penned the phrase, “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” and although he was obviously not speaking of Scotland, I think that it applies. Few countries have had such a turbulent history as Scotland. The glens and lochs are abounding with mystery and legends that I could never do justice, but that brings me to the point of this post (or the main point at least!): Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

10351532_679482812110931_145092558468731850_n

Outlander TV Series on Starz, Based on Gabaldon’s Book Series

Last August I stumbled across an episode of Outlander on the Starz channel and I was immediately hooked. I quickly got caught up on the series and eagerly awaited the new episodes every week. The cinematography alone is amazing, providing stunning views of my beloved Scotland, but the show goes beyond that. The drama of the Highlands pulls you in as you watch Claire (the heroine) be violently uprooted from her life and thrust into a world far different from her own. I’ll start out by saying if time travel, kilts, bad-A heroines, and romance aren’t your thing, you probably won’t like the series, but hey, don’t knock it till you try it!

So here I am, in the midst of the series at a cinematic cliffhanger, when suddenly I discover it is only a half series and the next half won’t be airing until April! (Lucky for those of you reading this now, you have time to get up to date before the newest episode premiers Saturday!) This simply would not do.

Enter the boyfriend: Jeff Rose. So Jeff sees my anguish, and being the caring sort of person he is, begins buying me the books. Seriously it was like he was my drug dealer. I was polishing those babies off in no time (there are 8). I just had to get my fix! Maybe it was all apart of his master plan… You see, Jeff and I are long distance, so maybe he was only buying me the books in a devious plot to spend more time together. The fiend! Whatever his motive was, I now possess the entire series. Those who know me best know I am an avid reader, not to be daunted by the large volumes and big words,  so let me tell you that if you can’t stomach getting into a series that spans over 30 years of drama in the lives of the main characters, and weighs in at approximately 1000 pages per book, then this series probably isn’t for you. However, I still highly recommend at least watching the TV series!

Now I don’t want to get into the plot(s) of the novels too much because I don’t want to risk spoiling it for all you potential readers/watchers out there. I actually want to focus on some ways that the series has affected me specifically.

So like I said, the series immediately drew me in because of my own experience in Scotland, but I was delighted to find that the heroine mentioned above, Claire, was in the medical profession. Now this got her in quite a bit of trouble with superstitious 18th century highlanders, as you might imagine, but I loved that Gabaldon wove in so many medical elements, because I am actually in the process of trying to get in to medical school currently. In the series, deprived of the medical advances of her own times, Claire turns to the wonderful world of Botany to aide her in caring for patients. This proved inspirational to me. I have always been a bit of a nature freak, so it seemed an excellent idea to me to learn more about medicinal plants and home remedies! Who knows when the planet will be plunged into total anarchy and we will all have to learn to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, right? Well…maybe. Regardless, I have taken up the study of Botany as a pastime, and it really is quite fascinating! My long-term goal is to be able to identify and know how to use these medicinal plants (and also edible plants)  in the wild, and not just in a photograph. It’s not an easy process but its definitely rewarding. This, in turn, has lead to me taking steps toward living a more sustainable lifestyle. I started by planting a small herb garden. Right now I only have mint, sage, and rosemary, but I’m hoping to expand in the future.

You know, I hear so many people preaching about eating organic, free-range, no hormones, no steroids, buying local, no GMOs… the list goes on. All of that stuff is great if you have the time, money, and know-how, but for most people in America making a drastic lifestyle change like that is simply not feasible.  So here is my two cents.. How about:

  1. Do your research
  2. Start small

Seems doable right? Things don’t happen overnight. (Except zits – they most definitely do) So what is my point in this possible rabbit trail? Well maybe I don’t have a single, salient point, but I think for me, trying to buy local when possible and attempting to grow/raise my own when I can is a good place to begin. For now, I’m definitely loving the learning process. And of course, loving the books that I just have to buy to aide in that process (can I get an “amen” from my fellow nerds?!).

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

An Outlandish Obsession

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Starting small, with sage, rosemary, and mint

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

King Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland (PHOTOCREDS: Becca Cahan)

In later posts, I plan to enlighten you on some specific home remedies, foraging recipes, DIY sustainability projects, and plant spotlights (like, “getting down with dandelions” or something… btw, did you know that they are edible as well as medicinal and can be used to treat infections, liver problems and more?!). but for now I just want to highlight a few books and blogs that you should definitely check out.

  • The Feast Nearby, Robin Mather
  • Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary Gladstar
  • Herbs, an A-Z Guide, Gardening, Cooking & Health, Reader’s Digest
  • The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, Brigitte Mars and Chrystle Fiedler
  • Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  • http://shelfassurance.com/2015/04/books-on-screen-outlander/   (My dear friend Jessica’s amazing blog, most recent post highlighting OUTLANDER!!!)
  • http://wellnessmama.com   (I love this website/blog and have pinned countless things from the wealth of knowledge she has available here)
  • https://shelbybriley.wordpress.com   (My personal blog, mostly featuring my travels)

As always, live healthy and love hard!

– Shelby aka Sassenach

photo photo 1

IMG_2009

For photos of my travels and more check out my Instagram handle @hopelesswanderer_sb