Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lavender oil for sleepless nights with a pup

I've been an essential oil user ever since I realized tea tree oil works better for blemishes than any other commercial product. I've always kept botanical bottles in my cabinets, but usually for homemade deodorant or skincare products (or because sometimes work is only bearable if I can hold an open bottle of lavender oil up to my nose.) Like any of us looking for a simple, natural lifestyle (seems to be everyone, eh?), I've long know that essential oils have compounds that have actual effects on our physiology, but I've rarely used them (tea tree is the exception) for their compounds. I should also note that I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, so I've never felt like I needed to experiment with lavender oil.

Enter Basket: the lovable, crazy border collie pup.  This dude has gotten into the habit of waking us up in the middle of the night to play (I guess that's what happens when you nap literally all day), which is a minor problem for me, but a huge problem for my boyfriend. It's hard for him to fall asleep, and once he wakes up it's almost impossible for him to get back to sleep.

Last night, I persuaded boyfriend to put lavender oil on his feet, and I did the same. Basket, who sleeps in his crate next to our bed, sneezed a bunch in protest at first (I was concerned that he might have a bad reaction to the vapors) but we all settled in to sleep. I fell asleep right away, but that's not out of the ordinary; more surprising was that boyfriend and puppy slept through the night, too. Of course, lots of other factors could have been at play: boyfriend started a new job that is exhausting, Basket went for a walk around the neighborhood with my and met lots of new dogs and people (stressful and fun, which can be exhausting for a 12-week old pup). I don't think the lavender oil had much of an effect on the boyfriend, but he fell asleep a little faster than usual and I don't think that's something I'm going to write off as a coincidence just yet.

I usually use Aura Cacia or Nature's Alchemy oils because they are relatively affordable and can be found in local natural grocers. I'm definitely interested in trying out other brands -- I'm a firm believer that there is not one brand that trumps all others, but I do think it makes sense that some oils will have lower levels of certain compounds depending on a variety of factors like where it was grown, the season that it was harvested, proper farming practices and care, and the overall climate that year. We will see, I guess.

(I just realized I also use lavender oil on itchy bug bites and on burns -- it still surprises me how well it takes the edge off a burn/expedites healing time. So, I guess I do actually use lavender for "medical" reasons from time to time.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunday Comforts and Living Intentionally

Sometimes, the soul needs comfort food. Sunday was drizzly and slow, and filled with hot coffee and 50s music. The pup (recovering from some nasty puppy virus) curled up under the couch and napped on-and-off.

Family-life has been a little crazy and a little sad lately. Boyfriend played Fallout (I'm not a huge gamer, but man, post-apocalyptia is somehow soothing when shit hits the fan), and I lounged with the recovering pup and pulled out the ol' tarot cards. Sunday was a big thinking day, and I think I'm better off for it.

I've been playing a thought exercise: What would it look like if my aspirations and aesthetics (no matter how indulgent) were fully realized? What elements of that life speak the most to me? Why not try to make that a reality? I love my 9-5 job, but I've been tinkering with the idea of picking up a side gig that would, admittedly, be a little indulgent. I can't jump wholeheartedly into something without considering it from all angles, though, so that's where I'm at. Investing (literally) in a new project is a scary prospect -- we have a mortgage now, after all. At the same time, it's nice to have this business-life yang to balance out the family-life yin.

How are you doing, honestly? What would your ideal lifestyle look like? Why not chase that?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Witches and Spice Bottles

One of the perks of having your own place is being able to shape the ~feel~ to match your aesthetic. For example: I would love to live in Miyazaki's bathhouse or one of the his witch-houses, so I'm arranging and displaying spices in a way that feels about the same. I would love to have an authentic, floor-to-ceiling apothecary drawer filled with spices and herbs -- for now, this is a close second. Don't ever be afraid to favor your soul's aesthetic over practicality. Indulge!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Very grateful for a lot of things lately (new house with boyfriend, perfect pup, promotions at work), but I wanted to call attention to something small.

Today, I am very grateful for peppermint oil. I left my Advil at home by mistake, and naturally had a terrible caffeine-withdrawal headache this morning. A few dabs of peppermint oil along my forehead and temples and ~*~like magic~*~ no more headache.

Thanks, peppermint oil.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Basket the Border Collie

PS - This is why I have been MIA...

Ginger Garlic Miso Sauce

I'm giving away a big secret today, so we've got to keep this on the down low. This, my friends, is the most important sauce to ever happen to steamed vegetables. You see, I used to work at a magical place that served something very similar to this. I was never one of the sauce preppers, so I can only guess the recipe -- I've been trying (and failing) since I left to recreate it, and I've had a breakthrough.

You must keep in mind: This is not the original sauce. I wish I could deliver up all of its secrets, but I literally cannot. Plus, my favorite sauce was actually a mix of two sauces, so that's what I've recreated below. I feel like that's a nice legal disclaimer.

(Gee, lots of build-up, amirite?)

Ginger Garlic Miso Sauce

You will need:

2 garlic cloves
2-3 inches of fresh ginger, juiced (peeled will work too, but the consistency will be off)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1.5 tablespoon of soy sauce, nama shoyu sauce, or tamari sauce (any of these will do)
1.5 tablespoon of lemon juice (bottled is better than fresh here, folks)

2 tablespoons of olive oil (you can add more if the sauce is too thick)
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of red miso paste (if you can't fine red, another miso paste will still do it)
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder

Throw all of this into a blender (I use a KitchenAid Diamond blender -- it's no Vitamix, but it gets the job done) until all of the elements are well mixed. The sauce should be smooth as silk, unless you used peeled ginger.

This stuff goes on top of everything. It's great on salads and salad wraps, it's great on rice, it's great mixed in with lentil soup. It's best on steamed vegetables (kale, carrot, beats) with rice, quinoa, avocado, some crushed almonds, and a little bit of cheddar cheese. I could literally eat this everyday (and I did, actually, when I worked at this restaurant). Boyfriend loves it too, so we make a bunch of this and keep it in the fridge to use all week. This sauce will last all week, but its best in its first few days. You will definitely have to re-mix the sauce as you go.

If you try it out, let me know what you think.