Making The Decision To Be A Hypocritical Parent

 

Last night I made the decision to be a hypocritical parent.

You may have read in some of my previous posts that my partner and I are trying to control the make- up his 12 year old daughter applies for school and everyday use by educating her about pre-teen skin and the effects of adult make up.
We only allow her to use a light tinted moisturiser and clear mascara and have bought her the necessary toiletries for a good skin care routine in the morning and evening- not that she uses it which accounts for all the blackheads on her forehead (which is why she wants to use make- up in the first place!). I myself wear the bare minimum, using only eyeliner and mascara and have always made it clear that I don’t really approve of layers of make up, especially on young skin after knowing so many people who ruined their skin by 18 for doing this.

As of last night however, I made the decision that I wanted to start wearing more make-up. This includes primer, foundation, concealer, contouring powders, eyebrow pencils, setting mists- the works!

Now before you judge me, hear me out.

I have never been a confident person and never looked in the mirror and liked the person I saw there. I have never been a fashionable person nor someone that was ahead of the trend- I was never bad enough that I wore bin liners but comfort was always first over style.
I have also never been someone to wear lots of make up- which you could argue partly comes from not knowing the first thing about make up and how to apply it- but also because I have never believed it does your skin any good to layer on so much crap and leave it there for over 8 hours a day.

Two years ago, I developed eczema on my hands, wrists and most importantly (for this post) my face. It has got to the point that it makes me want to cry every time I see myself in the mirror- the red blotches, the dry scaly skin that just won’t let up no matter how often I moisturise it and the hideous contrast against my natural shade. I look back at photographs before I had eczema and I truly envy the girl in them for not appreciating the skin she had.

In the past month I have found myself watching YouTube beauty videos and reading forums about make up to covers eczema.
One comment from a woman struck quite a chord with me which went along the lines of “It is OK to wear a little too much make up if it covers an affliction that seriously effects how you see yourself” And she’s right.
What is so wrong with taking steps to help you feel less self conscious and ugly? As far as I’m concerned I’m stuck with this eczema until I die and I’m only 33. Am I really going to just roll over and accept that this is me for the rest of my life??

After doing some research I found that there are so many different skin care products out there to help maintain the health of your skin that wearing too much make up need not be an issue as long as you implement a decent daily skin care routine. There are even some great products out there to help dry and eczema-prone skin.

My partner is not a fan of a lot of makeup and especially hates how much make- up Miss E. puts on for school when she at her mother’s, so I have to admit I was a bit concerned about running this past him.
Thankfully however, he understands how much I hate the eczema and the effect it has on my confidence so he was happy for me try this out- As long as I don’t layer it on enough that it looks completely unnatural!

So after speaking to him, I spent £50 on various ELF (Eyes. Lips.Face) products- I chose them specifically because they had good reviews and were cruelty free- if I’m going to spend that kind of money on vanity items then I refuse to do it at the expense of a living being- and am hoping against hope that with the guidance from some of the YouTube videos I found, I too can create a ‘natural and flawless finish’.

One thing my partner and I did discuss- this is where the hypocrisy comes into it- was how this would look to Miss E.
As mentioned above, Miss E. is not allowed to put too much make up on and we have limited her to specific products we felt were the kindest available for her young skin without forbidding her to wear any at all.
I believe in setting an example for her however what example am I setting if I am doing the one exact thing we are forbidding her to do herself?
And it is difficult because I’m not her parent, I’m not even an “official” step- parent so what effect will this have on our relationship?

I am hoping she will be OK with it and understand- she is good at understanding things if you explain them to her.

After careful thought, I believe it is the reason why I want to try it out that sets our situations apart and removes some of the responsibility.
She is young and still growing. She has plenty of time to do whatever she wants to her body once she is old enough to make her own decisions but while she is a child it is our duty to ensure she stays as healthy as possible and that goes for her skin.
I don’t want her to have horrible skin when she hits 18 because shes been trowling on heavy foundation daily for 6 years like it’s going out of fashion.

I however, have grown up. I’ve spent the majority of my life not wearing make up and if by doing this I can get some semblance of confidence back I don’t think it’s a bad thing and I don’t think it’s something I should avoid because I should be on par with Miss E.
I also have a good daily skincare routine which will counteract any negative effects of the make up and to maintain what quality I can. (So I am being responsible about it.)

I hope this won’t be too much of an issue with Miss E. and I really hope it works. Many of the videos I’ve seen are incredible- What some vloggers have managed to cover up with make up and a bit of skill is incredible!

I only hope I learn to do this too so I can feel normal and pretty for a change, and not feel like my eczema rules my life.

 

Step- Parenting: Recharging your Batteries

 

It wasn’t until I met my partner and his daughter that I realised just how important it is to take time out for yourself.
Being a step- parent figure is incredibly hard, especially if your partner’s children aren’t as welcoming of you as you would like. It is a thankless job (I think in this day and age we deserve a ‘Step-Mother / Step-Father Day) made all the more harder because there is this unspoken expectation that you will automatically (and successfully) assume the parent- type role. This expectation isn’t just from external sources either, but can be an unconscious expectation of yourself.
‘Surely, my partner wouldn’t be with me if he didn’t see me being a good role model for his daughter?’
Whether this is true or not I can’t say but this is what I unconsciously assumed the expectation was and have since tried desperately to be the best role model and guiding figure I could be.
I have since learned that he didn’t expect me to be all- singing- all- dancing but that doesn’t detract from that fact that by stepping into an already formed familial unit, you feel an obligation to automatically assume a particular role.

I am still young(ish) and don’t have children of my own however, from conversations with friends who do, being a mother in general is exhausting. Tiring, never-ending, incessant and rewarding, they all agree they wouldn’t have it any other way because they’re “their kids” and they love them unconditionally.
So what does this mean for the step-parent? For me?
We go through all the same trials and experiences but we are fought all the way by the kids who don’t see us as an authoritative figure; by undermining partners who can’t see the potentially devastating effect their actions have on an already tentative relationship; and even our own consciousness second guessing if this is OK. And we do this for kids we don’t automatically love. We might be lucky enough to learn to love them but it is not an automatic, intuitive state for us- we are in this situation because of our love for our partners.

I have always said that I have been incredibly lucky with Miss E. and I will say it again- Since day one she has been nothing but lovely and accepting of me and I am very aware of how lucky I have been with her. I do love her and keenly want the very best for her and her future. However, this does not mean that this role and its transition has been easy.
Miss E. will listen to me when I ask her to do something but if she doesn’t want to, she will choose to ignore me and either push or overstep my boundaries. Unfortunately, this is because her father still (unconsciously) undermines me- despite telling me I can give her boundaries and say no if I feel I need to- on pretty much everything which means that I perpetually feel at limbo in our little unit when she is around.

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I do find this incredibly difficult as each time this happens, I feel that the path I’ve been on needs to be reset each time he undermines me because suddenly I don’t know where my parameters lie any more.
Am I not allowed to say that any more? Can I not do that? Is she allowed to do that in future? I thought you said you would support me?
I find this state of limbo incredibly unsettling and distressing because I feel like no matter what I do, there will always be that rejection and denial.
As I’m sure many of you are familiar, things like this eventually add up until you literally feel like you have nothing left to offer- that you’ve tried everything to get it right and still your efforts are shunned. For me it stacks up into this big ball of anxiety, frustration, resentment and displacement which I eventually vent hopelessly at my partner amid tissues and tears, exclaiming that ‘I can’t do this any more’ and that ‘I don’t know what you want from me’.

We have just had a fantastic weekend with Miss E, which unfortunately ended on a low note as I discovered the cake tin I lent her- my only one- to take her mothers day cake over to her mums, ended up in the bin because she ‘forgot’ to tell her mum that I wanted it back. (Before any of you ask, her mother is f***ing useless so yes of course she just binned it without checking with Miss E. if she needed to return it.)
I later found out that my partner was aware of this and they both “forgot” to tell me. Miss E is nearly 13 years old and I have been trying to teach her about taking responsibility and ownership for her actions, but obviously I am alone in this as neither parent (nor her) thought it right that she owned up and apologised.

Rude
That’s just RUDE.

Neither Miss E. nor her mother have offered to replace my tin- so much for responsibility and ownership!-  so I’ve just decided not to lend anything out again and she will have to improvise from now on.

This may seem trivial but I believe that if someone is kind enough to trust you with their property, you look after it or replace it if you don’t. At the moment I feel like I am the only one out of the four of us that believes that.

So today I have taken some time out and taken a day for me. I left the house at 08:30 am for breakfast and had a lovely smashed avocado and bacon bagel with a strong cup of tea before mooching into town to do some clothes shopping for my holiday in 5 weeks and to buy a new cake tin (Didn’t happen as couldn’t find one I liked- if i’m going to buy another one I may as well get a pretty one!).

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It seems mad to think that simple issues like the above can take such a toll on your patience but when you constantly find yourself in situations where you, the things you care about and your property are so easily overlooked and dismissed, it is easy to see how situations can escalate and stack up and tempers fray.

This is why it is so important to take time out for you on a regular basis.

I perpetually feel like I have completely subsumed myself into my partners life (I gave up my flat, sold a lot of furniture, given up my free time to plan meals and activities etc around my partner and his daughter) and it is the only way I can do something for me to combat these feelings and not feel guilty.
Giving yourself permission to do something for you is a double edged sword however. You shouldn’t have to give yourself permission to make you the priority- the child is your partner’s after all and not yours, you are still independent from your partner to some degree. But by giving yourself permission you remove all the guilt you would normally feel and you can really enjoy your day.
I try and do this at least once every fortnight and if I leave it for much longer I find my energy and patience reserves waning.

This morning was a beautiful, sunny morning when I walked into town and as it is Easter Monday there weren’t many people about which really made it so much better.
I sat at my table, looked out the window at the world waking up, enjoying my bagel and tea and started writing this post- I can’t tell you how easily these words came to me and how carefree it made me feel.

I am wondering if this is the routine I should adopt every fortnight if it feels this good.

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Pancake Day- 20 Pancake Topping Ideas To Tantalise Your Tastebuds

So it’s Pancake Day today and what better way to enjoy it than by trying something a little bit different with your pancakes.

Below are 20 Pancake Topping Ideas to inspire all you Pancake fanatics out there and get those imaginative juices flowing.


Creme Egg Pancake Stack
From greatbritishchefs.com.

Creme Egg pancake stack

 


Fluffy Banana Pancakes
From kitchentreaty.com

Fluffy Banana Pancakes recipe - Fluffy yet moist thanks to mashed banana mixed into the batter. Breakfast this weekend is made.


Pancakes with Berries and White Chocolate
From BBC Food.


Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup
From deliciousmagazine.co.uk

Pancakes-bacon-maple-syrup


Savoury Pancakes with Ham and Cheese
From BBC Food


Pumpkin Pancakes, Salted Caramel and Pecans
From ontheplate.co.uk

Pumpkin Pancakes, Salted Caramel & Pecans


Green Pancakes Stuffed with Mushrooms & Kale
From honestlyhealthyfood.com


Green Tea Protein Pancakes
From eatgood4life.com

gluten free green tea protein pancakes


Chocolate Chip Pancakes
justsotasty.com

Perfectly stackable, super fluffy Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Made with buttermilk for the perfect flavor & filled with mini chocolate chips. These are delish!


Hot Chocolate Pancakes
From handletheheat.com

Hot Chocolate Pancakes feature rich chocolate buttermilk pancakes with a thick chocolate fudge topping and garnish with mini marshmallows.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pancakes
From kevinandamanda.com

OMG These Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pancakes are UNREAL!!! Love this giant stack of pancakes!!


Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze
From livedan330.com


Oreo Pancakes
From grandbaby-cakes.com

Oreo Pancakes (or Cookies and Cream Pancakes) | Grandbaby Cakes


Fruity Mini Pancake Stackers
From eatsamazing.co.uk

Easy fruity mini pancake stackers - a fun and healthy breakfast snack or dessert idea that kids will love


Spinach Pancakes
From Weelicious.com

Spinach Pancakes from Weelicious


Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes
From lemontreedwelling.com

These Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes are light, fluffy, and bursting with lemon flavor! Try them with lemon poppy seed glaze for a sweet, tart, delicious start to your day.


Raspberry Swirl Buttermilk Pancakes
From wellfloured.com

Raspberry Swirl Buttermilk Panckaes - heathersfrenchpress.com #breakfast #berries


Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes
From crunchycreamysweet.com

Peanut Butter Jelly Pancakes Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes + Cookbook Giveaway!


Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes
From caramelpotatoes.com


Key Lime Pie Pancakes
From peasandcrayons.com

Key Lime Pie Pancakes EXIST!!!!! and they're beyond amazing

 

Beginners’ Bread

Today I made bread.

It was my first time and in all honesty I didn’t think it was going to work. this had nothing to do with concerns over the recipe or its instructions, it’s just me. When I try anything new, I invariably mess it up somehow.

If anything, this recipe is so incredibly easy that it’s pretty much fool proof (usually I am the one exception that tests this theory). With only 3 ingredients and a very easy step by step guide, this is the perfect recipe for first time bread makers who don’t have a bread maker or mixer.

I have to admit I did use my mixer however, this was- i’ll admit- completely unnecessary. I only used it because it’s brand new, unused and I have been looking for any excuse to finally try it out.

 

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Isn’t she beautiful? She’s a Kenwood ‘Barcelona’ kMix

With the bread, I was particularly concerned about the rising time and temperature. The instructions stated for it to be left to rise for 12 hours in an 18 degree environment. As I was baking / cooking for a good portion of yesterday it was easy to leave it in the kitchen for a good 4/5 hours during this time and afterwards as heat remained.
Once the room cooled I then moved it up to the bathroom as it is the toastiest room in the house when the heating comes on. Once we had gone to bed however and the heating goes off, the whole house cools (which was again, a worry).

Unlike my parent’s house we are not blessed with an airing cupboard (which would have been perfect) so not only did I not think it had received the relevant amount of time to rise in an ideal environment, but I doubted if the movement from one location to the next would have done it any good- in baking I have learned that consistency is the key (in texture and in method) so I did have my reservations about the inconsistencies of temperature and location during the 12 hours.

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Despite my reservations however, the bread has baked perfectly! The rustic and crunchy exterior gives way to a beautifully textured, aired and soft, chewy centre. Warmed up with butter this is delicious and I can’t wait to have it with my soup at work tomorrow.

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A rustic exterior with a soft and chewy interior- beautiful!

If you are interested in giving this a go, I used this recipe from Le Coin d Mel which is simple and easy to follow- perfect for any beginner.

 

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Step-Parenting: A Letter To Her Mother

 

To the mother of my partner’s daughter,

I wish we had a better relationship.
I wish we were able to work together for the good of your daughter.
I wish that discussing any issues and concerns with you wouldn’t be seen as a direct betrayal of my partner.
Were he to grant his permission for me to do this, I wish you would listen and acknowledge my concerns- you won’t.

I wish I didn’t have to put the below into a letter and hope you may chance upon it and read these words. I know you won’t.

I wish you paid attention to her daily routine.
I wish you realised that at 12.5 years old, washing your face and brushing your teeth should by now be routine.
I wish you were proactive enough to ensure she does this every day.
I wish you weren’t so oblivious that you allowed her to go 3 days at a time without doing this, resulting in hideously bad breath and a dirty, spotty face covered up with too much foundation.
I wish that being with her father and I wasn’t the only time we knew she did this.

I wish you cared about the state of her room.
I wish you were concerned about the disgusting state of her room at yours.
I wish you ensured she didn’t leave copious amounts of cups, plates and saucers lying around in her room for days on end to ferment and mould.
I wish you were worried about the large amounts of sweet and chocolate wrappers littering the floor and limit her intake of sugar.
I wish you were as worried as we are about the health of her teeth with all the confectionery she eats, especially when she isn’t brushing them.

I wish you would impose a bedtime routine.
It is nice that you afford her a certain level of autonomy concerning her bedtime routine (brushing of teeth and washing of face not withstanding) however I wish you wouldn’t allow her the freedom to stay up past 1.00 am every night watching YouTube videos after she has sneaked her phone up to bed, especially on a school night.
I wish you understood that it is neglectful when it gets to the point that she falls asleep in the car when we come to pick her up after school.
I wish your lack of parenting didn’t affect her to the point where it impacts on our time with her.

I wish you would be assertive and ensure she actually sleeps when she goes to bed.
I wish you cared enough about her and how you come across as a mother to give us more than a half arsed “well… she has had a few late nights” and casting a casual ‘haven’t you?‘ glance at her.

I wish you would put a stop to her having her phone at night.
I wish you cared enough to put a stop to her sneaking her phone up to her room.
I wish your lack of authority hadn’t encouraged her to twice attempt to sneak her phone upstairs after we sent her to bed- she knows that with us, her phone is to stay downstairs on charge once she goes to bed.
I wish I hadn’t had to worry about catching her in the act of sneaking it the first night.
I wish we hadn’t realised at 12:45 am on the next night- also a school night- that she had snuck downstairs and sneaked it up. She was still watching her YouTube channels when we went to retrieve it at this ungodly hour.
I wish it hadn’t encouraged her to lie about knowing where her phone was a few nights later resulting in us searching for it for half an hour (to no avail) before seeing her on Whatsapp an hour after she should have been asleep.
I wish you had raised her to understand that there are consequences for breaking rules.
I wish you would implement them like a parent should.

I wish her poor absence record wasn’t down to your lack of stoicism.
I wish you weren’t so lax about allowing her so much time off school for stupid reasons.
I wish that 1 time when she had Tonsillitis wasn’t the only real occasion she has had for not going to school.
I wish you and her father would take me seriously when I tell you that each time outside of that illness, she has admitted that her ‘headache’ and ‘leg pain’ wasn’t bad enough that she couldn’t go to school.
I wish you understood that she plays you to get time off because she knows you will let her.
I wish you would realise that in the 2 and a half years since I’ve been around, she has not once tried to get a day off school.
Not. Once.

I wish you saw the patterns of avoiding that German test on the Thursday, Friday and Monday, despite being with us over the weekend and being perfectly fine.
I wish you noticed how many last days of school before holidays she has pulled a sickie on.

I wish you realised that you are raising her to think that absence records don’t matter.
I wish you realised that you are raising her to be weak and give up too easily.

I also really wish you knew that as an asthmatic, you should not, ever, be giving her Ibupofen as a pain killer. It makes me sick to see how quickly she asks for it if she feels slightly off.

I wish you reminded her to take her inhaler everywhere.
I wish you knew she doesn’t bother taking it with her when she goes out with her friends from yours.
I wish you knew she had a minor asthma attack in town with her friends because she ‘forgot’.

I wish you would stop being lazy, thoughtless and callous when it comes to raising your pre-teen.
I wish you could see how detrimental your lack of parenting could potentially be to her development, not to mention her health.

I just wish you would stop being you and start being a fucking parent.

 

Kind regards,

The other woman that truly loves and nurtures your daughter (when you apparently can’t be bothered)

 

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Anxiety: Fight the Fear [Infographic]

As you may already know, I have struggled with anxiety for just over a year now and I have so far managed to cope without the use of medication.
It is a tough trek and there are still bumps in the road every now and then, some worse than others.

On the occasions when it hits bad, I do struggle to maintain my usual routines, especially socially. I start feeling claustrophobic and trapped by all my anxieties, responsibilities and by the people around me demanding of my time and attention. Eventually I invariably have to take time away from people to concentrate on getting back on track.

I have recently just dragged myself out of a bad experience with my anxiety and this is what has prompted me to write this post.
Mental health is equally as important as physical and emotional health and with everything so intrinsically linked I feel it is important to address this and attempt to help others out there looking for the same guidance I was.

It has taken me a long time and a lot of research and reflection to figure out just what anxiety is; to pin point where my anxieties come from; what sparks them and what I can do to try to overcome them.

When it comes to overcoming my ‘blips’ with the anxiety, time and again it involves allowing myself the time to go through the necessary stages before taking control and picking myself up again.

Anyone struggling with any form of mental illness will understand that everyone has their own ways of dealing with their issues and there no miracle cure or sure-fire process to follow as everyone is different and what works for one will not work for another. With this in mind, there are steps I found that have really helped with managing my own recovery and I thought I would share them in the hope that they can help others struggling similarly.

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I hope this proves useful in some way to anyone who is struggling with similar issues.


I would like to add that I am not an expert, merely someone who struggles with anxiety and this is simply what I have found helps me with my process.


 

 

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Biscuits to make with a Little Chef: Easy Peasey Lemon Biscuits


Fluffy, crumbly and flavourful lemon biscuits. So quick and simple to make, there really is no reason not to give them a go!


So this week I decided to bake some lemon cookies with our pre-teen.

Little Miss E loves lemon flavoured things so this was an easy, obvious choice. It was also the perfect way to spend an hour.

After looking on Pinterest (the ultimate ‘go- to’ place for fantastic baking ideas) and the internet, I finally found a recipe that was designed for us brits (measurements being in ounces/ grams and not cups- Note to self, buy some Cups!) on the Good Food Channel page.

These biscuits really are incredibly simple to make and came out looking (and tasting!) delicious.

I would definitely recommend these to anyone with a small amount of time (and ingredients) that are looking for fantastic results for very little effort.

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21 Things You Should Know About Essential Oils

The below list is taken from Crunchy Betty and I found this very helpful, informative and easy to understand. It offers useful advise and guidance on how to use Essential Oils and how not to use them.

  1. Essential oils are not really oils.
    They do not contain the fatty acids that constitute what we would consider an actual oil. Valerie Gennari Cooksley, author of Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate and Heal defines essential oils as “highly concentrated plant constituents possessing potent medicinal and cosmetic qualities.” However, I think Stephanie Tourles nailed it in Organic Body Care recipes when she said, “I consider essential oils the life forceor the soul of the plant.”
  2. Most essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
    This makes them an excellent addition to your homemade cleaning preparations. Oils that are best for cleaning are: Lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary.
  3. Essential oils are miniscule in molecular size
    This means they are absorbed well by the skin – making them perfect ingredients in personal care items intended to heal, soften, and nourish. However, they do not accumulate in the body over time – they simply offer up their healing properties and then pass on through.
  4. Scientific studies have shown that rosemary essential oil helps your brain perform.
    Specifically, smelling rosemary essential oil helps memory recall and performance on tests. Interestingly, this study also showed that groups that inhaled either rosemary or lavender essential oil felt much more relaxed than those who inhaled no odour at all.
  5. Fragrance oils and essential oils are NOT the same thing.
    As a rule of thumb, if you see the word “fragrance” or “fragrance oil” or even “perfume” on anything, you can assume this is synthetic and NOT natural. (Even if it says natural fragrance.)
  6. Essential oils are wholly natural and cannot be patented
    You will never see an essential oil in a pharmaceutical drug. As such, you can expect that the vast majority of mainstream healthcare practitioners will never recommend essential oils as therapeutic alternatives to drugs. More importantly, because essential oils cannot be patented, drug companies will not waste money studying them. This limits our scientific knowledge of essential oils GREATLY, and the majority of what we know about them are things that have been passed down through thousands of years of personal use and experimentation.
  7. Enormous amounts of plants are needed to produce essential oil.
    In fact, on the extreme end, it takes 4000 pounds of Bulgarian roses to produce 1 pound of essential oil. Other plants like lavender only take 100 pounds of plant material to produce a pound of essential oil. Still, can you imagine how concentrated essential oils must be, in light of how many plants are used to produce them?
  8. Most essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin. Instead, they should be combined with “real” oils (called carrier oils), waxes, butters, alcohols, or other diluting measures. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute, you may end up with an unfortunate reaction (and unhappy skin).
  9. There are a few essential oils that are generally recognised as safe to use undiluted.
    Of course, there has to be a few exceptions to the rule. Again, in Organic Body Care Recipes, the author points out that the only essential oils that are widely acknowledged as safe to use undiluted (sparingly) are: lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose geranium.
  10. Never use an undiluted essential oil on a baby or child.
    Children have much thinner, more delicate skin than adults have, and tend to be very sensitive to the potency of essential oils. In fact, even if you do use essential oil in a recipe for children, only use 
    half of the essential oil recommended in the recipe. That’s all they’ll need, anyway. (Here is a list of 19 essential oils that are safe for babies and children.)
  11. Avoid the following essential oils while pregnant or nursing (and skip EOs completely in your first trimester):
    Aniseed, cedarwood, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, ginger, jasmine, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage (this is only a partial list of some of the more common essential oils – view the full one here).
  12. To test if you’re sensitive to an essential oil (which is probably best to do before using it in a skincare preparation):
    Combine one drop of essential oil with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (like olive, jojoba, or sweet almond). Rub this on the inside, upper portion of your arm and wait a few hours. If no redness or itching develops, you’re most likely not sensitive to that essential oil.
  13. Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children – and avoid contact with your eyes.
    This is just standard safety precautions, but must be mentioned.
  14. Do not take essential oils internally, especially oils like wintergreen and eucalyptus.
    While some essential oils may be used well-diluted in something like toothpaste with safety, it’s generally recognized that there’s no need to take essential oils internally. In fact, there are several toxic essential oils that should be avoided even through skin contact. Luckily, these are NOT common essential oils, and most of them you’ll never find in the store.
  15. Not all essential oils are created equally, nor does more expensive necessarily mean “better.”
    There are certain brands I will use in a less therapeutic fashion (like for cleaning), because they’re far less expensive than their counterparts. When you see a wide fluctuation in price between, say, lavender essential oils, you can bet that the far less expensive one is likely lower in quality. 
    However, a small variation in price differences on the higher end will NOT mean a better essential oil. It will just mean a higher price. (A little birdie also told me that there are also only a handful of essential oil distilleries in the world, which means that most essential oils come from the exact same places – thus there is little difference in quality between the more “typically priced” EOs.) What I’m saying here is: Understand that you DO have to pay for quality, but that if you’re just using essential oils in non-therapeutic fashions, it’s okay to use less expensive oils (like the Beeyoutiful ones pictured at the top of this post, or NOW brand essential oils). But if you want high quality, I suggest using Mountain Rose Herbs or another ethical supplier that offers organic essential oils (grown without pesticides or toxic fertilisers).
  16. Test your essential oil to see how “pure” it is
    Put a single drop of it on a piece of construction paper. If it evaporates quickly and leaves no noticeable ring, it is pure. If you have a ring left, then it is likely diluted by the manufacturer with an oil of some sort (this test will not work for myrrh, patchouli, and absolutes).
  17. Essential oils will last for at least 5 years (if not 10), so one bottle could literally last you a decade.
    Hopefully that thought will help mitigate the cost involved in purchasing some essential oils. Because they are SO concentrated and only a tiny amount is needed in anything you do, they’ll last you a very, very long time. The only exception to this rule is citrus oils, which will see a reduction in potency after a year or two.
  18. Store your essential oils in dark glass bottles (which they were probably packaged in) and out of direct sunlight.
    This is simply to help preserve their potency.
  19. Remember that what you’re allergic to in food, you will be allergic to in essential oils.
    So if, for some reason, you can’t eat sage without breaking out in a rash, steer clear of sage essential oil (or any product containing it).
  20. Use Essential Oils to Help Your Mood.
    Lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, chamomile, lemon, ylang-ylang all help produce happy, joyous moods. Clary sage helps with PMS (although there have been reports that overuse of clary sage can lead to intoxication). Rosemary increases focus and concentration. Don’t forget the mood benefits of essential oils. Here’s an 
    information packed aromatherapy reference chart to refer to.
  21. The recommended usage of many essential oils is hotly contested throughout the aromatherapy profession.
    The majority of oils you find in the supermarket are absolutely safe (though you should research them before using them); however, once you start digging into the world of essential oils, you’ll find that professionals – even within the same organization – debate extensively over the use of certain oils. If you’re ever unsure about an oil or its use, do the research you can, and if you still cannot make up your mind as to its safety – avoid it. But, by all means, do NOT be afraid of essential oils. Just use them with care and respect, and all will be fine.

If you found the above helpful and wish to know more, I would strongly recommend visiting Crunchy Betty to learn more about Essential Oils.

 

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Anxiety: Tempering the Irrational Fear [Infographic]

Like many people now-a-days I struggle with depression and anxiety.  I have always been determined to avoid taking medication to temper the effects and because of this I have had to find my own way to balance / cope with the effects without letting it impact my working and personal life.

It wasn’t until recently when I had a week off work that I realised just how integral my daily routine was for my mental well being, especially when I was feeling so low and anxious.

Initially intended as a week off to play the latest of World of Warcraft (it was the latest expansion release and I have always taken  5 days off on the latest release to play it), it ended up being a bit of a sham.

Stocking up with munchies and easy to cook oven meals, I ignored my normal sleeping routine and slept very little when I did, only allowing maybe 5 hours of sleep. I drank copious amounts of tea rather than the usual fruit juice and water, and I stared at a screen from the moment I woke until the moment I slept.

This lasted 3 days and then my anxiety kicked in and the worst part about anxiety is you know when it’s happening.
You know that the anxiety is causing you to become irrational and erratic but you just can’t stop yourself.

The below steps are what helped me get control of my anxiety issues. It isn’t by any means a quick- fix solution but it is a starting point and gives you a routine to be pro-active and busy. By continuing to make sure I did as many of these things as possible every morning I began to feel happier in myself and slowly the anxiety subsided.

6-steps-to-a-happier-you

These six steps helped me sort my head and my issues out and because I was doing them for me and no one else, it allowed me to feel like I had gained a sense of self back, something I felt I had lost in amongst all the noise of the anxiety.

There are of course other things you can do to promote inner well being such as getting fresh air, smiling, drinking lots of water and eating healthily. However, with so much around these days concerning healthy living, these should already be in peoples peripheral and pretty much a no-brainer!


I would just like to point out that these steps helped me cope with my depression and anxiety issues however they are not a cure- all solution. My anxiety has peaks and troughs and will always re-emerge and then subside. There have been points where I did struggle and I did seek help. The important bit is knowing when you have reach the limits of your capabilities and when you need to seek alternative help.
If you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you need. There is no shame or weakness  in asking for help . Strength does come from within however it is the support and advice from sources around us that keeps us strong.


 

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The Reality of Owning a Bengal

I won’t lie, Bengals are a beautiful breed with their distinctive markings, eyeliner and little pink noses.
They make for some of the most entertaining, lovable and amusing pets around, and at £500 per kitty you would kind of hope so.

You would not be alone in assuming that the lifestyle of anyone owning a Bengal is a little bit majestic, luxurious and elegant, given the cost of these beautiful creatures.

You would in fact be wrong.

This is because these people own a Bengal.
If you value your home and your lifestyle, don’t buy a part feral overly curious cat. 

 

I am one of these people who own a bengal, we in fact have three, and thankfully my partner and I aren’t precious of our possessions. In truth, we love our Bengals very much. They are part of our family and we would never be without them.

There is Sushi and Pixel who are two brown rosetted sisters and Rocket, who is a snow seal spotted lynx point  male. They are each incredibly distinctive in their personalities and behaviours, and what they do and don’t like.

I would encourage anyone to have a Bengal as long as they happily accept the following:

  1. Bengals are not cheap to buy, especially if you want the lynx point (blue eyes).
  2. They are incredibly vocal. Constantly. Whether its chirruping at the birds and flies, nagging you to feed them / let them out / play or singing from the rafters at 4:00 in the morning purely because they feel like it, you will not find a quiet home where you find a Bengal- Exhibit A
  3. Bengals are very active and very curious (when they’re not sleeping). This will include trying to climb every curtain, every item of furniture, infiltrate every carrier and container and get under every mat and blanket. Your house is their playground and nothing is left alone. Exhibit B
  4. Bengals need space and adequate stimuli. It is not as simple as having a typical house cat. They need enrichment in their lives to keep them entertained. For us it includes shelves, floor to ceiling cat poles, floating boxes and hammocks, feather wands and toys, tents and cat tunnels, cat houses and ramps and scratch posts all over the house.Exhibit C
    Bengals can get very frustrated if they are bored and they will take it out on your other pets and become destructive so it is important they are provided with enough space and stimulation to keep them content. Exhibit D
  5. They require love and attention (as a cat these are obviously on their terms) but because they are more feral than most house cats, it is important they receive copious amounts of love and attention.
  6. Don’t turn your back. They are clever little things and I am always surprised at the ingenuity involved when our cats miraculously find their way up onto the roof, or into the back garden when all that’s available is a tiny window opened barely an inch.

If you can accept these then I strongly encourage you to get one because ours are a true joy and they bring any home to life.

If you are interested in seeing just what you have to contend with with a Bengal, check out our Youtube channel Hot Rocket Bengal Cats and see our 3 kitties in action.

 

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