Essential Central: Thieves

Yo and hello!

So, in my first Essential Central post, I gave a very basic intro to Essential Oils. If you've never heard of or used essential oils, then you must be living under a rock. But seriously, go check out that post first, then come back to this one IMMEDIATELY because we're discussing my favorite E.O. blend of all time!  

Most E.O.'s come in two categories: singles and blends. For example, lavender essential oil is a single, meaning lavender is the only oil in it. The oil we're talking about today, Thieves, is a blend, or a combination of a few different oils. 

Thieves is exclusive to Young Living, but you may be able to find a similar blend from a different company if Young Living isn't for you. Thieves is made up of cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary essential oils. 

Why you need it:

1. Thieves is a purifying oil. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which makes it ideal for cleaning and diffusing. 

In my house, we diffuse Thieves during cold and flu season to keep the germs at bay. Because of its spicy scent, it's also great to diffuse around Christmas time. Mix it with some Citrus Fresh to get a really clean and uplifting scent going in your home.

2. Thieves can be taken as a supplement. 

With the addition of Thieves Vitality to the Thieves product family, you can now safely ingest it on the regular. Do your research first, and always use a carrier oil, especially if you're new to using it. I like to add a drop to a vegetable capsule (which you can get at Sprouts), and just take it like I would a vitamin.

3. Thieves can be taken as medicine.

Whenever I feel a cold or sore throat coming on, I'll put a drop of Thieves on a spoonful of honey and swallow it down. It doesn't have the most pleasant taste, but it severely shortens my recovery time, so I'll take it!

4. You can clean with the different Thieves products.

Young Living has a myriad of products in their Thieves line. Everything from toothpaste, to dishwashing liquid, to bar soap and laundry detergent. You want to clean something with it, they pretty much have a Thieves product for it.

Pro Tips:

1. Make a DIY carpet deodorizer by mixing 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of borax. Add 10 to 20 drops of Thieves (and whatever other oils you want) and let the powders absorb the oil. Sprinkle the mix on your carpets, wait for 10-20 minutes, then vacuum it up. You're good to go!

2. The Thieves wipes are kind of pricy, but you can make your own at home if you have the Thieves All-Purpose cleaner. Get some strong, durable paper towels and cut the roll in half. Put the half roll in a container and add two cups of water and a cap full of Thieves cleaner. Let them sit until they have absorbed all the liquid. Keep them sealed, and whenever you're in need a quick, antibacterial wipe, bust them out and get to cleaning. 

I am no E.O. expert, but I love what they've done for me and my family. They have improved our health, helped me out with cooking, and lifted my mood on more than one occasion, so they get an A+ from me. And Thieves gets an A++.

Which essential oils are you using regularly? Let me know!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Bits + Pieces: Easter and My Birthday

Man, it feels like it's been ages since I posted last!

We went out of town to visit my in-laws, and then came home and had my mom come to visit us, so I decided to take a mini vacation from the blog to really be present with my family.

Bits and Pieces Easter 2017

This little man has been growing like a weed and hitting every milestone on his way up! He's pulling up on EVERYTHING, and testing the waters at letting go of things to stand on his own. Soon, he'll be walking, and I feel like I'll never sit down again once that happens. He's also gotten his first tooth and is working on a second!

He is the busiest little guy! He has to investigate everything, leave no stone unturned. But he's at such a precious age, and I'm loving every (tiresome) minute of it!

Bits and Pieces Easter 2017.2

The hubs and I like to get slightly fancy for Easter, but we had a time of it trying to find a boy's shirt with any purple in it for Cayson. We finally found this collared romper (is it a romper if it's for a boy?) from Old Navy. Hey, clothing designers, men wear purple too, mmkay?

Last year on Easter, I was pregnant, and this year I had a 10-month-old baby on my hip! Exactly WHERE has the time gone?

Bits and Pieces Easter 2017.3

Above is me on my birthday. Another year older, and 10 years wiser, or at least it feels that way. I don't necessarily feel older physically. But emotionally, psychologically, spiritually...definitely!

In other news, I got my hair done for my birthday! I've always wanted multicolored hair, and I always see these girls (and guys) with lovely rainbow hair on social media, so I decided that this was the year I was going to give it a try. Peep the Instagram video below:

My hair stylist is AMAZING! If you're in the DFW area, look her up!

Currently:

Reading: I just finished The Girl On The Train, and it was REALLY good! To me, it didn't have as much of a twist as Gone Girl, but it was a great read. I'm still reading my mom's book, and I have yet to start Bossypants by Tina Fey. Anyone remember the 2017 Reading Challenge?

Watching: The Voice. This is the first time I've watched a full season of this show, and I like it. My husband says the shows seems to be more about the judges than the contestants, and I agree with him. I wish the people who won got more recognition in the industry. There are some really good voices on the show.

Planning: I'm still working on my in-laws' anniversary party. It's nice to be party planning, but I just really want this celebration to be amazing, so I'm a little nervous about it. I'm also in the beginning stages of planning my son's birthday celebration. He's coming up on a year...

Wanting: Clothes. Shoes. Nail polish. All the accessories. Help!

It's good to be back!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Beauty & the Beast and the Lessons to be Learned

This weekend, my husband and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. Major stud points given to my husband for letting me take him on a date to see it! Though it's quite funny, charming, and has it's action moments, it's not exactly a guy movie.

But it was lovely all the same. With a great cast, great costume and set design, great music and great one-liners, the live-action Beauty and the Beast gets two thumbs up from me.

Aside from the usual captivating Disney magic of the film, I wanted to talk about something deeper that stuck with me from about halfway through the movie until the end...

"Kill the Beast"

When it came to this part in the movie, where Gaston is riling up the crowd, effectively turning them into a mob, I was struck by a sudden sense of deja vu.

We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least...
...We’ll kill the beast!
— Kill The Beast, from Beauty and the Beast

I thought of the sad state of the world, of my country (the U.S.) in particular. I was reminded instantly of the terrible things that people have said and done to people they deem to be "different." I thought of racism and sexism that I've personally experienced. I thought of the Muslim Ban. I thought of how, for thousands of years, people with darker skin have been marked as evil, dirty, trash, less human…

It's the same burn-the-witch mentality that people have had for centuries. They don't like someone different. They don't like what they cannot relate to or understand. They don't like what makes them uncomfortable. So they create an enemy out of someone who means them no harm. They shut their eyes and ears, they erase the face and the voice, until they've completely dehumanized a person, and relegated them to a number, a statistic, a derogatory term.

Bring your guns
Bring your knives
Save your children and your wives
We’ll save our village and our lives...
— Kill The Beast, from Beauty and the Beast

People who are dissatisfied with their own lives are always looking for someone to blame for their unhappiness. They think all Muslims will come blow up their children at school. They think "illegals" are keeping them from getting jobs. They think affirmative action kept their child from getting a spot at a university. They blame environmentalist organizations and programs for the death of their particular industry. And I don't presume to know every single person's circumstances, but true instances like the ones I just mentioned are few and far between.

The truth is that the world is changing. It changes everyday. Are things the same as they were when I was child? Absolutely not, and I'm still in my twenties. I come across people all the time who live in a way that I don't personally understand or even agree with. But does that fact alone make them my enemy? No. They may live their life differently than I do, but if they are not harming themselves or anyone else, then they are not a threat to me.

There’s a beast running wild, there’s no question, but I fear the wrong monster’s released…
— Kill The Beast, from Beauty and the Beast

You see, there are beasts in this world. People who would rather stir up chaos and create controversy than have peace. People who would rather win at any cost, than see good prevail for the many. People who deal in fear and hatred, handing them out like tokens at a birthday party. There are those people…

Live-action Gaston reminded me very strongly of someone. I don't know how much of a spoiler this is, but Gaston was his own greatest fan and biggest admirer. He couldn't see anything or anyone beyond what he wanted or needed. He couldn't take 'no' for an answer (we all know that guy). And when attention was turned to him for a negative reason, he created an enemy where there wasn't one. He couldn't get what he wanted, and he needed someone to blame for that.

Let me tell you something. You can spend your life searching for an enemy, always looking over your shoulder and pointing the finger at someone you deem to be a monster. But keep living life that way and, pretty soon, you'll find yourself in a hall of mirrors where the only beast you'll see...is you.

And let us not forget that Gaston doesn't win in the end. 

The moral of the story is, we absolutely should kill the beast, just not the beast we immediately think of. We should kill the beast within ourselves. The beasts of hatred, jealousy, racism, bigotry, sexism and xenophobia.

You can't kill the beast by trying to change or get rid of others' differences. You have to kill the beast within by finding the courage and strength to change yourself and your perspective. The truth really will set you free, and the truth is that we are all human, despite our differences.

I really did love the movie, and I hope you'll go see it. You never know what you may learn from a movie made for kids…

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Good Eats: Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

I love food. I love to cook, I love to eat, and contrary to what my husband might say, I actually enjoy trying new foods. I'm not eating bugs though. Or rodents. Or any animal's organs. No, thank you.

Seriously, though, I really enjoy cooking. One of the awesome things about being married to Joshua, is that he loves food, too. We frequently cook together, and we both like variety when it comes to our weekly meals, so that allows me the freedom to try new recipes all the time.

I was inspired by a post I saw on Instagram from Well Done Food, and that's how this recipe was born! It's pretty easy to make, and you'll have plenty of servings, so it's perfect for both families and large gatherings.

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole Recipe

The best part about this recipe is that you can modify it to fit your needs. Use a chicken substitute if you're a vegetarian, or unsweetened almond milk and vegan cheese if you're lactose-intolerant. Add extra cheese if you feel like it's just not cheesy enough. Make it yours! 

I hope you like it! Let me know how it turns out if you decide to try it.

Happy Friday, pals!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

I Don't Want to Compete.

I read a post a couple of days ago, and it really resonated with me. It was one those posts where, you're reading, and all of a sudden you find yourself nodding along in agreement, almost like you're listening to a sermon or having a conversation with someone.  

I happened to read it after I had a hell of time making organic spaghetti with organic meat sauce FROM SCRATCH. And after reading it, I realized...I don't want to compete.  

I played soccer all through college. Before that, I was the commander of the unarmed drill team for my AFJROTC unit in high school. And many years ago, as a little tike, I competed in dance.  

I've always enjoyed the thrill of competition, and even more so the thrill of winning, but it's not so thrilling now as an adult. There is a significant difference between healthy competition and unhealthy competition, but because I'm competitive by nature, I often find myself in unhealthy competition.  

I'll find myself secretly competing with other wives, other moms, other Christians. Like...who can have the sexiest, most down-to-earth husband who rubs your back with one hand and does the cleaning with the other? And who can prepare an all organic, non-gmo, completely gourmet dinner while breastfeeding at the same time? Who can write the most profound, spiritual Facebook post that leads 20 people to Christ?  

Part of it is the advent of social media. But if I'm being completely honest with myself, social media isn't totally to blame.  

It's me. I'm my own worst enemy. I'm my harshest critic. I'm the most ruthless competitor against myself. And for what?  

Why do I run myself into the ground trying be some version of myself that I don't even care about?  

Of course, I think my husband's sexy. Of course, I want to be the best mom I can possibly be. Of course, I want to cook healthy, delicious meals. Of course, I want to show Jesus' love to those around me... 

So Why. Isn't. That. Enough?  

Like the author of the post said, what if I just want a simple life?  

One of the downsides of my generation (millennials) is that we all want to be great. We want to conquer the world, and make a name for ourselves. We want to be the best and brightest at everything.  

Don't get me wrong, that's admirable, when channeled in the right direction. And contrary to what many from older generations say, I do believe we actually work hard for the things we have. 

But what's our motivation to get those things? 

I don't want to live my life constantly trying to outdo everyone else.  And I don't want to spend my time always comparing my life to what others' lives look like. 

It's impossible to be THE best at anything. But I can always be MY best at whatever I'm doing. 

And if I enjoy what I'm doing, and I'm doing it for the right reasons, then I'm successful. If I'm always trying to be the best wife, mom, daughter, writer, and Christ-follower that I can be, then that's all that matters.  

I don't have to live up to the ridiculous expectations I've set for myself. I don't have to be a seven-figure "girlboss," who still manages to cook all of her family's meals and homeschool her children, while still having a deeply intimate relationship with her husband, and who makes it to church on time every single Sunday. 

Maybe that woman exists. Maybe she doesn't. But either way, I don't have to be her.

The moral of the story is...I don't want to compete with anyone anymore. And I don't want anyone to feel like they have to compete with me. I don't need to cross the finish line first. I just hope we all make it across.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Blogs I'm Currently Reading

LesLeigh J. - Top 10 Blogs

Today, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite blogs to read. Not a lot of bloggers share the blogs that they like to read and I don't know why. No shade, but maybe it's because they don't want to push anyone's content but their own? I don't really know.

Maybe I'm breaking all kinds of unwritten blogger rules right now, but these are blogs that I find helpful and/or inspiring in some sort of way. And who knows? If you like my blog, then maybe you'll like these too!

Fashion/Style:

1. Cara Loren- I have been reading Cara's blog for probably five years now. She was one of the first bloggers I cam across when I realized that blogging "professionally" was actually a thing. I love her style because it's realistic. She doesn't always push super high-end (expensive) fashion, and I appreciate that. Plus, girl's got mad styling skills! Check her out!

2. Poor Little It Girl- Cathy is awesome! Most of the outfits she pushes are actually affordable, and I LOVE that almost all of her posts are titled with song lyrics. Gotta love her appreciation for good music! She's also petite, so if you're looking for where to find petite clothing (it's not always easy), she's a great resource for that. Check her out!

Motherhood:

1. Lynzy & Co.- I've only been reading Lynzy's blog for a little over a year now. Until I became pregnant, and I didn't really have much reason to peruse mommy-content-heavy blogs. But now that I have my son, I enjoy reading blogs by other moms. Lynzy's content is incredibly helpful; I've bookmarked quite a few of her posts. Check her out, especially if you're a new mom!

2. Small Fry- This is one of the few blogs mom/kid blogs I followed before I was married or pregnant. I didn't read them religiously, but now I love their content. These ladies are always sharing helpful new products for babies and kids, and I enjoy seeing their "picks" for moms too. Check them out!

Food:

1. 100 Days of Real Food- I didn't get into Lisa's blog until my mother in law bought the book and told me about it. I love how easy her recipes are, and that they're kid-friendly. She doesn't push obsessively-healthy recipes. Just real, healthy, delicious food. She's also got another new cookbook out. Check out the first one here, and the second one here

2. Tutti Dolci- Laura is an AMAZING resource for yummy sweets and desserts. I have bookmarked quite a few of her recipes, and I even follow her on Instagram! Cookies, cakes, breads...you name it, she's got a great recipe for it. Check her out!

Creativity:

1. A Beautiful Mess- No surprise here, amiright? I'm pretty sure A Beautiful Mess was the first "professional" blog I ever stumbled onto. Back then, it was run primarily by Elsie, but in the years since, it's now run by both Elsie and her sister, Emma. They also have a host of contributors, all of whom push out great content. If you're looking for DIY beauty tips, recipes, or a great craft project, look no further than A Beautiful Mess!

2. Lovely Indeed- I've got to be honest, I'm not really big into crafting. At least, not on the daily. I love to craft for special events and occasions, though. Chelsea is a great resource for all things creative, whether it's party decor or simple DIY home projects. She makes the processes easy to understand and follow, and I love the way things turn out on her blog. Check her out!

Wellness:

1. Dr. Axe- As I mentioned briefly in my post about Algae Oil, I follow Dr. Axe. He's an actual M.D. who talks about wellness from a holistic approach, which is rare for the medical community. I love  that he gives the pros and cons to everything he posts about, and that he tells you exactly how something will impact your health in the short and long term. Look him up, you won't be sorry!

2. The Skinny Confidential- I've mentioned Lauryn quite a few times, and for good reason. I love her content! She's always trying some new, relatively-obscure beauty treatment or wellness supplement. She always shares helpful products and tips for a healthier lifestyle. Plus, you can a little bit of everything reading her blog. Check her out, if you haven't already!

Do you read any of these blogs? If so, which ones? And do you read any awesome blogs that I didn't mention? If so, please share!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J. 

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